Monthly Archives: August 2016

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

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Vampire Academy is six book series about vampires in a boarding school. Specifically, three kinds of vampires: Moroi, vampires who are alive and use magic, Strigoi, immortal, undead and evil vampires, and dhampir, half-vampire half-humans who usually guard the Moroi against the Strigoi. The series follows Rose, a dhampir, who has to protect her best friend, Lissa, a Moroi princess.

I wasn’t sure if I was going to like this book, but I heard so much about this series I knew I needed to at least read the first book. So I did, and I really liked it. It was a solid four out of five stars for me. I thought the world was really interesting, and the characters were good too. Rose and Lissa’s friendship is great. I really liked seeing them together through their ups and downs. The mystery and twist was pretty good. It’s such an easy and light read that I wasn’t trying to guess what would happen, so I ended up pretty surprised at the end which is always a nice feeling.

There were a couple things I didn’t like though. The romance that kind of started kind of made me cringe, with its slut shaming and age difference, but it didn’t really go anywhere in this one so it was fine on the whole, I guess. I’ll just have to see if it actually develops in a better way in the future books. Also, there was this whole thing that Rose has bigger boobs than all the other girls since she was half human, and that made her so much more attractive that I could have really went without ever having to read. Also, the last thirty pages of the book weren’t that great. It was rushed. I hate when character development is told to me, and there was so much put in such little space.

I will definitely continuing this series when I can. I’m reading it through the library so whenever I go back and the second book is in will determine when I will. But I am excited for it even with its flaws. I hope the series simply gets better and better as it goes.

In Perfect Light by Benjamin Alire Saenz – Book Review

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I cried sad tears. I cried happy tears.

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I swear, one day, Benjamin Alire Saenz will be the death of me.

Going into this, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. Benjamin Alire Saenz is my favorite author. I’ve read most of his novels, short stories, and poetry. I keep coming back to his writing looking for heartfelt stories with realistic characters going through real-life issues, and he always delivers. Another important factor about his stories is that they always revolve around Mexican-American people, and that is incredibly significant to me, as a Mexican woman. Still, some of his previous works have not really impressed me, such as Sammy and Juliana in Hollywood and He Forgot to Say Goodbye. These are the last novels I’d read by him, and I figured maybe I wouldn’t be able to connect with his older works as much as I have with his newer ones, such as Everything Begins and Ends at the Kentucky Club and Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. I was wrong.

In Perfect Light is one of the most beautiful, carefully crafted works of fiction I have ever had the pleasure of reading. This story is painful, so painful, but so worth the pain. I’ve noticed this trend in Saenz’s novels, that of sorrowful journeys leading to a hopeful, brighter ending, and that is just what this one offered. I love these type of stories the most.

“Maybe it’s better if people think you’re stupid or slow. They don’t expect anything. I live in a world that doesn’t expect anything of me because it’s already decided I don’t matter.”

We follow the very different lives of Andres and Grace. The former is a young man who keeps getting into trouble with the law, and who carries the weight of a terrible past on his shoulders. And the latter is a woman who struggles to show her affection to her son, and debates on the right choice to make regarding her new circumstances. Both of these characters come together through counseling, and we learn about both of their heartache.

I wasn’t kidding when I said I cried. At one point, this book seriously took my breath away. Everything that happened took me by surprise, and it felt like it was happening to real people I cared about. I wanted to reach into the pages and make things better for everyone. I couldn’t believe how much Saenz managed to hurt these poor characters, but it never got to be that bad. It kept me hopeful throughout. I usually hate sad books, but this wasn’t just another sad story. This felt genuine. The hardships shown were not in vain; they were there for a reason, and the conclusion was worth getting to.

“He walked into his apartment, opened a window, and looked out into the night. He remembered the boy who used to count stars.”

I could sit here and praise Saenz, praise this book and every single word written in it, but I have no further words to describe how much I loved it, and how much it means to me. I think everyone could take something from this novel.

The Olympics Book Tag

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The Opening Ceremony: What book did you think had an incredible opening?

 Isis: The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka. It opens up right when this otherwise ordinary man has turned into a “monstrous vermin” and if that doesn’t sound like an incredible opening, I don’t know what does. 

Nicole: Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan. I recently started this book and find it hard to put down since the opening is so interesting.

 

The Games: What is your favorite fictional competition?

 Isis: Can I say Quidditch? Because Quidditch. 

 Nicole: Quidditch. I don’t even know another option.

 

The Original: The modern games are based on the original Greek competition. What is your favorite book based on a classic?

Isis: I haven’t read the book version of it, but I adore the Lizzie Bennet Diaries. This     webseries is based off of Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen and it is brilliant. I have the          book as well, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, and I’ll be reading it soon, hopefully!

 Nicole: I don’t think I have one. I own some, but I haven’t read them yet.

 

The Eternal Flame: What is one ship that you won’t let die, even after the books made it clear it was never going to happen?

Isis: SIMON AND NICK from Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky   Albertalli. I realize that Nick was super duper straight and crushing on a girl the entire time okay? I get it. But no one can convince me that Simon and Nick were not perfect soulmates who would have been wonderful together. Learning that Nick was not Blue shattered my heart and I think part of me eternally died because of it. If you couldn’t tell, I’m pretty bitter about it. Still. 

Nicole: I can usually spot the endgame couple easily, and typically don’t attach myself   to any couple that much. But I really shipped Rose and Lissa from Vampire Academy     together even though they were both straight. They had a great friendship that could have easily been made into a great romantic relationship.

 

Gymnastics: What’s a book that had so any twists and turns it left your head spinning (in a good way)?

Isis: Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan. I have never read such an    action packed story full of endless twists that made my head spin. It was fun, nonetheless. 

Nicole: I think I’ll have to agree with Isis here.

 

The Controversial Judge: What’s a book that you have a totally different opinion about than most other people?

Isis: The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. Everyone and their mother seems to           adore this book. I simply don’t get it. The book was okay. Pretty ordinary. I didn’t like the romance, but that’s probably because I didn’t like any of the characters either. The story  just didn’t pull me in. 

Nicole: Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi. I hated this book, and most people seem to love it even if they acknowledge its flaws. I couldn’t love any part of it. It made me so mad.

 

Beach Volleyball: What is your favorite fictional duo?

Isis: I’m trying so hard not to mention Aristotle and Dante (only because I always            mention them, in everything). So instead of them I’m going to say Penryn and Raffe from   the Angelfall trilogy by Susan Ee. Those two made quite the badass duo and I couldn’t get enough of them. 

Nicole: I really liked the relationship Victor and Sydney had in Vicious by V.E. Schwab.

 

Weightlifting: What is the most massive book on your shelf?

 Isis: Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. I have absolutely no idea when I’ll ever get to it.

Nicole: The Complete Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and preface by         Christopher Morley.

 

What is a book that you just tore through with world record speed?

Isis: Oh man, I recently read Harry Potter and the Cursed Child in one day. I realize it’s a short play, but for me, reading an entire book in one day is a huge achievement. It also        helps how good it was. 

Nicole: The Dragonbreath books I recently read were all done in one sitting. I never do that.

 

Synchronized Swimming: What is a book series that you kept reading, even though you didn’t even have any idea why?

Isis: A couple of years ago I was pretty head over heels with the Cut & Run series by       Abigail Roux and Madeleine Urban. I read through the first eight books like it was       nothing. I mean I spent so much money, time, and emotions on that entire series. And I   didn’t know why. I mean, I loved the characters and I was so invested in their lives but          the books started getting so bad so fast and I knew I should stop, but I couldn’t. The ninth    book I read most recently and I knew I had hit rock bottom. It wasn’t even good. 

  Nicole: I don’t have one. I haven’t read that many series, but if I don’t like the first book     I usually don’t pick up the second one. Even if other people say the series just gets better.

 

The Tortured Fan: What fictional family, group, nation, organization do you irrationally root for no matter how many times they break your heart?

Isis: I’ll always, always root for Prince Robot IV from the Saga comics. He doesn’t really     have a group, unless you count him as part of the “villain” group. But whatever group         he’s in, I’m rooting for him. 

Nicole: I don’t know if this means villains, but I have to go with the Potter family. Harry, James, Lily. I will defend them all, but I don’t know if that really answers the question right.

 

Closing Ceremony: What book had an ending that just blew your mind?

Isis: Stranger on the Shore by Josh Lanyon had a pretty fantastic ending. I guess by the   time everything was revealed I already knew the mystery, but I wasn’t expecting so many     things. It was just a really memorable ending. 

 Nicole: Angelfall by Susan Ee.

TV Show Spotlight

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Name: Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

Seasons: 1

What It’s About: The title is pretty self-explanatory. This fantastic show centers around Rebecca, a successful, intelligent lawyer, who one day stumbles with her ex-boyfriend from her teen years, and moves across the country to be closer to him. It is just as ridiculous as it sounds, and equally hilarious. Rebecca meets a cast of fabulous characters to make her epic stunts even more entertaining. Oh, and everyone breaks into song every so often.

My Thoughts: I had never been interested in watching this show. The title turned me off from it. I’d heard some good things about it, but I’ve never been into musicals, so that also didn’t help. However, I had run out of shows to watch, and since Netflix currently has the entire first season, I had no reason to put it off any longer. And let me tell you, it was brilliant! There is so much to love about this show, starting with Rebecca, who is endearing and insane but so easy to empathize with. I just adored her. And every other character is so wonderful and charming. The cast is so diverse, and it deals with topics of sexuality and feminism. The songs are witty, hilarious, and so much fun. I can’t think of a single thing that I dislike about this show. It is just that good. And I want more!

Rating: 10/10

Frank Einstein and the Antimatter Motor by Jon Scieszka- Book Review

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Frank Einstein loves science, and is always experimenting with new inventions. He’s staying with his grandpa, another lover of science, while his parents travel the world. In this book, there’s a science fair that Frank really wants to win. Not only for a trophy, but because the first place winner gets a lot of money, and his grandfather is struggling to pay the bills for his shop.

I really liked this book. I gave it four stars out of five. The art style is beautiful. I loved all the pictures, and diagrams scattered throughout the book. The story itself was good as well. I think it’s a really great children’s book that parents would love for their kids to read as well. It will have the kid having fun reading while also learning about science. I really liked all the focus on science because the books I usually read have artsy characters, not scientific ones.

There are currently three books of this series out now, but the fourth is coming in September. I don’t know if I will pick up the rest for myself like I might with the Dragonbreath series. I do know if I had to read the rest, I wouldn’t be mad about it.

Dragonbreath Books 1-3 Review

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The Dragonbreath series by Ursula Vernon follows Danny Dragonbreath. He’s a dragon, and the only mythical creature in his school of reptiles and amphibians. So life can be tough for him, especially since he can’t breath fire. These books are a mix of text and comic book panels so reading them goes by fast. With every one of these, I read them in one sitting.

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I rated the first book three stars. I would have to say it’s my second favorite out of the three I have read. It follows Danny as he has to redo a paper for school. Sounds boring like that, right? But since it’s Danny, and his assignment is over the ocean, he decides that instead of going to the library he will go to his sea-serpent cousin, and experience the ocean first hand. In this book, I felt the picture placement was a little off, but I still enjoyed it. Danny and Wendell’s friendship has to be one of the top things I like about this series.

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The second book is my favorite out of the three. I rated it four stars. The pictures were beautiful, and the story was great in every way. This story was a bit more out there with it dealing with ninja frogs instead of just doing a homework assignment. Maybe that made it more enjoyable. 

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The third was my least favorite, but I still gave it three stars. It’s a lot more out there than the second book. Just look at the cover. It was a little much for me. But the art was still amazing, and Danny’s and Wendell’s friendship is still so strong and sweet. So it kind of evens out.

There’s currently eleven books in this series with the eleventh barely coming out this year. There’s a good chance there will be more to come. Honestly, I didn’t pick up this series for myself. The ten-year-old I watch did, and I read them along with him. He’s going back to school soon, but I might just pick up the rest of the series by myself to follow Danny on more of his funny adventures.