Saturday, June 30, 2018

"Cursed" by Jennifer L. Armentrout

10:30:00 AM

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Book: Cursed

Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout

My Rating: ★★1/2

Synopsis: Dying sucks
...and high school senior Ember McWilliams knows firsthand. 

After a fatal car accident, her gifted little sister brought her back. Now anything Ember touches dies. And that, well, really blows.

Ember operates on a no-touch policy with all living things--including boys. When Hayden Cromwell shows up, quoting Oscar Wilde and claiming her curse is a gift, she thinks he's a crazed cutie. But when he tells her he can help control it, she's more than interested. There's just one catch: Ember has to trust Hayden's adopted father, a man she's sure has sinister reasons for collecting children whose abilities even weird her out. However, she's willing to do anything to hold her sister's hand again. And hell, she'd also like to be able to kiss Hayden. Who wouldn't?

But when Ember learns the accident that turned her into a freak may not've been an accident at all, she's not sure who to trust. Someone wanted her dead, and the closer she gets to the truth, the closer she is to losing not only her heart, but her life.

For real this time.

      I want to preface this by saying that Jennifer L. Armentrout is probably one of my favorite authors. Her characters, writing, and romance have always drawn me and and really stuck with me. That being said, I did not like this book. Like, at all.


      This book really disappointed me, though I guess I shouldn't have been surprised considering this is probably one of her least talked about books. I've actually not come across another booksphere person who has talked about this book. It's a shame because the premise for this book is something that Jennifer could have really drove home, but for me, it just fell flat.


      Nothing about this book was redeemable, which is really strange cause there is at least one thing that should have been done write, but wasn't. The writing and plot fell really flat for me. Nothing really happened until the last 15% of the book, and everything before was just unnecessary drama and padding. Jennifer tried to cram all the action, drama, climax, and resolution in a short amount of time, and it just didn't work. If this book wasn't written by her, I probably would have just straight up DNFed it.


      Now let's get to the most disappointing part of the book: the romance. If there is one thing Jennifer L. Armentrout can do write, it's romance, but this was not one of those cases. This relationship was so unhealthy, creepy, and in my opinion, quite toxic. Hayden, the main love interest, has been STALKING Ember, the main character, for damn near two years before they even fucking meet each other ! Then, when they get together, he's possessive, creepy, and just everything come off of him screams ISSUES. He does some pretty shady shit and Ember just glosses over it and forgives him, like the whole stalking thing.


      Overall, I'm sad that I didn't enjoy the book, but I don't regret reading it. It just goes to show that everything your favorite authors put out aren't going to necessarily be good.


      Have you read "Cursed"? If so, I'd love to hear your thoughts about it down below in the comments. If not, have you read Jennifer L. Armentrout's other books? What are your thoughts on her works?

Friday, June 29, 2018

Friday Reads: June 28, 2018

2:41:00 PM

FRIDAY READS: JUNE 28, 2018

      My research project has kinda been at a stand still this week since my project mentor was out and I couldn't do anything without him, so, fortunately for me, unfortunately for the project, I got to do some reading.

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      I've been listening to "Cursed" by Jennifer L. Armentrout on audiobook this past week and am finishing it up today. I'm gonna be honest, this is definitely my least favorite book by her, which is a shame because I've loved everything else she has written. Now I understand why there has been little to no buzz about this book. It's a shame because the main relationship in this book is super fucking toxic, and that really puts me off. I'll write up a full review later, but let's just say I'm disappointed.

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      As a part of my effort to reread some of my favorite books, I've picked up "To All the Boys I've Loved Before". The timing was absolutely perfect because the trailer for the Netflix movie adaptation came out this week, which as a side note, I loved the trailer but I can already tell it's gonna be hella different than the book. I first read this book in the beginning of high school and now I'm almost at the end of my undergraduate career. Even within the first few chapters of the book, I could point out things that bother me now and definitely seem immature. Despite that, the cuteness of all the relationships and the swoonworthyness of Peter is still deeply rooted in me. This second Peter was back, I could feel my heart strings begin to tug. This book sure does bring out the feels in me.


      Anyways, that's what I'm reading/listening to this weekend. I'm also going to try to get some writing down, but we'll see if that happens.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Top 5 Wednesday: Books You Want to Read Before the End of the Year

9:30:00 AM

TOP 5 WEDNESDAY: BOOKS YOU WANT TO READ BEFORE THE END OF THE YEAR

      It has been forever and a day since I've done a Top 5 Wednesday. I mainly stopped doing them because I couldn't consistently come up with books for the prompts that weren't the same handful of books over and over again. A big reason why that happens is because I have a terrible time remembering books, even books that I supposedly enjoyed a lot. I'll delve into that in a later blog post. Anyways, I came across this week's topic and realized this was one I could actually do without being repetitive or having to dig, so without further ado, here are the top 5 books from my TBR that I want to read before the end of the year.

5. Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

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I was absolutely obsessed with the trailer for this movie when it first came out. I couldn't stop watching it because for some reason it just gave me so many feels. I'd like to read the book before the movie comes out, but I'm already pretty certain the movie is going to be quite different from the book, which is fine because it still looks really good.

4. Rejected Princesses: Tales of History's Boldest Heroines, Hellions, and Heretics by Jason Porath

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I love history and this book covers the badass women in history that have pretty much just been glazed over. 

3. Misfit City Vol. 1 (Misfit City #1) by Kirsten Smith

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I tried to read this during the school year, but unfortunately I just didn't have time, so I finally want to finish it before the year is over.

2. Let's Talk About Love by Claire Kann

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This book has an asexual black girl which is what describes me exactly. I've never read a book with an asexual MC, so I'm really excited to read a book where I will for once in my life be represented in.

1. The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

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I absolutely love Holly Black's works, and the fact that I haven't had time to get to this yet has killed me. She is the reason why I don't absolutely hate Fae books anymore.

Well there you have it! Those are the books that I will try my damnest to finish before the year is over. Hopefully I'll actually be able to finish them before the summer is over. Have you read any of the books on my list? If so, what did you think? I'd love to hear your thoughts down in the comments.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Tuesday Tunes: Lizzo

9:30:00 AM

TUESDAY TUNES: LIZZO

        My last LGBT+ artist in honor of PRIDE month is Lizzo. I came across Lizzo's work towards the end of last year, and I absolutely adore her. She is a queer, plus-sized black woman who doesn't give a damn what anyone else has to say. Her messages about body positivity and loving yourself are exactly what everyone should listen to. I also highly recommend watching all of her music videos. She features women of all sizes and shades, and it's such a refreshing look.



        My favorite song by her at the moment is "Fitness". It basically surrounds the idea that all the effort she is putting into her body is for her and no one else, and I can really relate to that. We live in a society that puts so much weight on appearances, and it's completely ridiculous. Anytime someone tries to change themselves, people assume it's for the world, but sometimes you just want to change for yourself. The lyrics, "Independent, athletic / I been sweating, doing calisthenics / Booty vicious, mind yo business / I been working, working on my fitness," really highlight the overall theme of Lizzo and most of her works.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Tuesday Tunes: "Forbidden" Album by Todrick Hall

9:30:00 AM

TUESDAY TUNES: "FORBIDDEN" ALBUM BY TODRICK HALL
     
      Continuing with my theme of LGBT+ artists for Pride Month, this week I am highlighting Todrick Hall and his newest album, "Forbidden".

      I was first introduced to Todrick Hall while I was in high school by my best friend, and I've loved him ever since them. His Youtube videos were so unique and entertaining that he just drew me in from the start. Some of his most known works are Disney covers and mashups as well as popular artist mashups, but all with a very queer twist. All his videos are so lively and just bring me a lot of happiness. His videos were also the first time I was introduced to drag in good light, and he made me appreciate the art and opened me up to an entire community. 


     His newest album/visual album "Forbidden" was quite the dark turn away from his usual works and it through me off edge, but in a good way. It takes a look at what life would be if black was the majority and being gay was the norm. It addresses race and sexuality in a very powerful and poignant way that I have only ever seen in other works done by Janelle Monae. 


      My favorite song without a doubt is "Lullaby", which is actually sung and performed by Brandy. Her voice is so smooth and clear and just gives me goosebumps. The visuals that go along with it are just as stunning. The juxtaposition of these women dancing in all white with their babies in this dark room make my breath stop. 


      As far as my favorite song actually by Todrick on the album, it is definitely "Painting in the Rain". This song is such a powerful take on hypocrisy and bigotry through the idea of "painting in the rain". You can really hear the emotion and importance he feels in this song, and I feel like this song is what really captures the message of the album. 


      Overall, despite this album being a detour from his usual material, I really appreciate it. He demonstrates the intersection between race and sexuality and how they still need to be worked on today. So if you haven't gotten the chance to watch and listen to his newest work, below is the visual album as well as the album on Spotify. I highly recommend watching the album because it has a narrative you can't get in just the music.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Tuesday Tunes: Hayley Kiyoko

10:00:00 AM

TUESDAY TUNES: HAYLEY KIYOKO

     In honor of PRIDE month, I've decided to highlight LGBT+ artists each week on "Tuesday Tunes". (As a side note, if you know any asexual artists, please send them my way). So the first person I will be writing about is Heyley Kiyoko.

     Before last month I had never Heyley Kiyoko. Out of nowhere she appeared everywhere on my timeline on Twitter and Tumblr. I didn't really look into her, but all I knew was that she was an LGBT+ WOC and I was down with that. Then she came out with "What I Need" with Kehlani, who was featured on my last "Tuesday Tunes", and I decided it was time to give her a chance, and I'm really glad I did because it turns out I did know who she was. She played my favorite character on "Lemonade Mouth", Stella and I had no idea. Funny how things like that happen.

     My favorite song of hers so far is hands down "What I Need" with Kehlani. It's such a fun summer anthem with a nice techno pop beat. Her voice blends really with Kehlani's. The music video was also really great because it featured these two LGBT+ WOC in a relationship, and that is hardly ever present in mainstream music or media in general. You can listen to the song below. 

      
      Overall I wish I had discovered her sooner because like I said before she played my favorite character from "Lemonade Mouth" and I definitely would have been supporting her sooner. Below is her new album release.

    

Monday, June 4, 2018

"Bound by Duty" by Stormy Smith Trilogy Review

9:30:00 AM

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Series: Bound by Duty

Book: "Bound by Duty", "Bound by Spells", and "Bound by "Prophecy"

Author: Stormy Smith

My Rating (Overall): ★★★ 1/2 (3.8 technically)

Book 1 Synopsis: Amelia grew up in a world of half-truths. She knows she's an Elder, but has no idea what that means. Her father reminds her daily that she must maintain control, but he refuses to explain why. Even worse, she's betrothed to the prince of the Immortals and doesn't even know his name. 

Finally breaking free to live a few normal years at a community college, the last thing Amelia expects is to find her best friend in a cheeky southern girl, or fall for a self-assured human who sees her for who she is, not what she will become. 

As she learns more about herself, Amelia realizes the line between love and duty is a thin one. As her power continues to increase exponentially and her questions are slowly answered, Amelia must make the ultimate choice. The question is, will her head win the battle, or her heart? 

      "Bound by Spells" has been on my TBR shelf since before I started this blog, so at least four years if not more. I don't know why I put off reading the book for long because I owned it. Well I finally read it and...


     I really enjoyed the first book. The concept of Mages, AniMages, and all the other fantasy elements that were incorporated weren't like any I had encountered in another series. Of course there was the whole "chosen one" and "mating/bound" tropes which I could have done without, but they weren't as annoying as they had been in other books I had read. I thoroughly enjoyed all of the characters that I read about. They all had complex personalities and motives and no single character was like the other. Even the main bad character, Queen Julia, was an interesting character to read about because her motives weren't entirely evil, she just went about shit in a really bad way.


     The premise that fertility and magic were linked together was one I don't think exists in any other series, or at least none that I know about. This is explored the most in book two and I think the author did a good job of connecting the two because the idea that one was related to the other wasn't completely ridiculous as one might think.


     My least favorite book in the series was surprisingly the third book. The first half of the book felt like filler and not at all important. Then when things finally picked back up, I felt like they went off in a direction that didn't entirely made sense. Suddenly Greek mythology was introduced and used to try to connect things that honestly didn't need to be connected or that seemed out of place in the world that was already built. I felt like the author was really reaching with the world building in the final book and honestly a little burnt out because the feel of the book just felt off to me.


      Overall, I initially enjoyed the series until the end. The main romance between Ame and Aiden was cute until the whole mate thing came full swing and he was saying shit like "you are mine" and blah blah blah other male-dominated shit I could have gone without. The ending was tied up far to quickly and in a way that was so anti-climatic. I was expecting this big showdown between Ame and the Queen and it lasted for a hot second without a fight. If the author went back and redid the final book, I feel like the series would have ended on a stronger note and would have been more successful.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

May 2018 Wrap Up

12:32:00 PM

MAY 2018 WRAP UP

      May was an interesting month to say the least. I had final exams which signaled the end of the school year. The beginning of the month was kinda rough to be honest. I had quite a bit of shit go down and had to re-evaluate my life and the direction I want to take with my career. I made a very hard decision and decided I will be pursuing a PhD (probably in Neuroscience) instead of a MD. I've come to peace with it, but it took awhile for my family to come around to it. At the end of the day, I'm happy with my decision and know that it was the right thing to do. I really see myself being happy with this route and I already know that my mental health is going to improve tremendously, which is something I have been continuously putting more time and effort into. 


      Anyway, onto reading and whatnot, after exams were done, I finally had time to read. After going through a "Veronica Mars" tv show binge, I really got into the mood to read and did a decent amount of reading. I'm working full time this summer doing research, so I have a good amount of time to read, but that's not always what I want to do with the spare time I have.

Books I Read
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My Favorite Book: My favorite book this month was hands down "Torn" by Jennifer L. Armentrout. I listened to the first book on audiobook about a year ago and loved it, but as I'm wont to do, I didn't continue on to the second book. Well, I finally came around to listening to the second book and I loved it just as much as the first book. I really just love Jennifer L. Armentrout's writing, characters, and humor. I plan on listening to the final book soon and doing a series review, so look out for that.

My Least Favorite Book: Without a doubt, my least favorite book was "Meet Cute" by Various Authors, which you can read the review for that here. I just wasn't a fan of everything. As I say in the review, there are some stories that I really loved and others I thought were absolute trash.

My Life

      As I mentioned earlier, the semester ended and I decided to change the direction of my career, so I'm not going to go into that. On a completely different note, I finally picked back up my very first WIP that I started way back in high school, like 5 years. I don't know why, but I finally got the motivation to finish it and I had a eureka moment and figured out the direction for it and how I want it to end. If you guys are interested, I'll write a post about it and maybe include an excerpt. So far I've written like 27 chapters and in my head I'm about 2/3 done. It was always my goal to finish it by the time I graduate college, and seeing as I graduate this December, that might actually be a possibility. 

      So that was my month for the most part. How was your month? I've been so out of the booksphere that I have no idea what's going on, so if there are any books or people I should check out, let me know down in the comments!

My Rating System

★★★★★ This book is a gift from the literary gods
★★★★ This book was pretty damn good
★★★ This book had potential but missed the bar
★★ I probably didn't finish this book or it was god awful
★ Why does this book exist?

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