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Friday, April 18, 2014

Book Review + Giveaway + Blog Tour: Ask Me By: Kimberly Pauley

Title: Ask Me
Author: Kimberly Pauley
HARDBACK
Amount of Pages: 304
Publisher: Soho Teens
Release Date: April 8, 2014
Geared Towards: Teens
From: Publisher (ARC)
I was not paid for this review 



Summary (From B.O.B): Ask Aria Morse anything, and she'll have an answer. Blessed (or cursed) with the power of an oracle, she does her best to avoid people and their questions, which she can't help but answer with cryptic remarks and she doesn't understand. Then Jade, a girl from her high school, disappears.

Aria would do anything to just stay out of it. But everyone in her small town wants to know what's going on, and each time she overhears a question about Jade, Aria finds herself revealing a new fragment of what might have happened. But nothing seems to match up, like pieces from completely different puzzles.

Aria may be the only one who can find out what happened to Jade, but the closer she gets to discovering the truth, the closer she gets to becoming the next target.

Wdebo's Review: My first exposure to Kimberly Pauley's writing was in high school when I read her Sucks to Be Me series. I remember liking the book for Pauley's humor and sarcastic tone which made it a nice light read. However, I was not entirely sure how I would like this book. Even though I did enjoy Sucks to Be Me, the tone of both novels are entirely different. STBM is much more humorous while Ask Me deals with much darker themes. However, after finishing the novel I was pleasantly surprised by the writing.

The prologue helps to set up the conflict presented in the novel but has nothing to do with what Aria does. For some reason, when I first started the story I could not wrap my head around that idea so I found it very confusing. Also, that section was supposed to be dramatic and make your sympathetic nervous system go crazy as you witness the crime being committed but it honestly just fell flat for me. This was why I was reluctant to start this novel, after reading that two page prologue it seemed flat and trying too hard. The first few chapters weren't too exciting. They just helped to build up the scene and characters. It just did not hold my attention all that much and I put it down for a few days. However, when I picked it up again the storyline suddenly escalated and I was sucked into the story and had a hard time putting it down.

The plot itself had an interesting twist ( a girl with the power of the oracle); however, it was still pretty obvious what was going to happen. I knew who the murderer was towards the beginning of the novel even though that did take away from the excitement, it was still a fun ride to see how Aria reaches the conclusion.

Aria is a character that I was pretty neutral about. Nothing about her stood out greatly. She was annoying at times but other times she seemed to just be there. I was amused by the fact that Aria is a music obsessed girl (who tries to drown out other people's questions with her music device) and instead of having her obsessed with The Beetles or Nirvana like most authors do, Pauley wrote her as being a total lover of pop punk bands like MCR, Mayday Parade, etc. Even though I love those bands but it is still strange to see their names in a novel like I'll be reading and I'll see the lyrics and go "oh I listen to that song so much."

Cafe Cover Chat: I both like and dislike the cover. I like the image that they are trying to present with the girl's windblown hair shown the mass of emotions and issues blowing at her and what the curved words in the background are trying to present. However, those words also bother me a lot because they just seem so cheesy. It just does not seem very professional and more tacked on-photoshop style. Also the brownish hue makes it seem more blah instead of melodramatic, which is what I feel like they were trying to go for (B-).

All in all, though Pauley's writing might not be strong enough to truly grasp and master this storyline, the premise and timing of the story made it an entertaining read that can occupy its reader for a few good hours.

Grade: B

Wdebo :)

~~~

Giveaway!


Friday, January 10, 2014

Giveaway: "Roomies" Survival Kit/Gift Pack

Roomies is a novel by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando. I have "Roomies" on my TBR shelf and can't wait to open it up and explore, especially since I adore Sara Zarr's works.

And now for the awesome part, a giveaway! One lucky winner will receive a "roommate survival kit"which includes earplugs, home spa essentials, a signed copy of "Roomies" with a note from the authors and other things of greatness-all in a shower caddy!

All you have to do to enter is to fill out the Google Docs below with your name (or alias) and email. Also, to earn three extra entrees, you can write a roommie story! (about your sibling, or someone from camp, school, etc)

Here is mine:

Freshman year of college, I didn't really have the best of luck with roommates. I had one roommate, Maddie, for a quarter. Even though we were civil to each other, we never really talked. She was really good friends with the duo across the hall from us, while I got along more with my friend from high school who lived a couple of doors down from me and Ellen and Soo, who lived at the end of the hall. 

After Maddie left, I savored the half a quarter that I could have the whole room to myself. A few people inquired about it, but no one really stayed until my second roommate. She moved all of her stuff in on a Friday and moved all of it back out the next Sunday because of her anxiety. I called her my weekend roommate. 

My last roommie was, Emily. Emily and I were polar opposites. While I tried to bring as little stuff to school as possible, Emily did not. Her side was filled to the brim with shoes, pillows, etc etc. All of which were a very bright shade of pink. Everything she owned was pink which greatly contrasted my un-colorcoordinated side. She was nice and we would have small chat, but since we were so different and held different interests and also since we only had a quarter to get to know each other, it was hard to actually get close.

During Sophomore year, Ellen and Soo (who I became really close with) became my roommates and we are living together now in our apartment as juniors. Soo and I connected because we are both science majors hoping to work in the medical field. Ellen and I are really good friends because we basically have the exact same interests. Ellen and I would stay up late at night discussing feminist theory or our latest tv show obsessions. Or the three of us will have impromptu dance parties, blasting whatever we feel like listening to (typically Disney music) and singing and dancing like there's no tomorrow. So, even though my Freshman year roommies did not work out well, luckily, my new roommates did. You just have to keep looking for that or those perfect people who will be accompany you in whatever stage of life you have reached. 

Contest open only to US residents (sorry!) and will end on January 17, 2014 at 11:59 PM.



Roomies came out on December 24, 2013, so if you do not win the prize, you still have a chance of reading it by checking out your local bookstore or library!

If you want check out Sara and Tara's tour dates!

*January 12, 2014-New York, NY: McNally Jackson
*January 15, 204-Salt Lake city, UT: The King's English
*January 16, 2014-Provo, UT: Provo Library
*February 4, 2014-San Francisco, CA: Books inc, Opera Plaza
*February 5, 2014-Petaluma, CA: Copperfield's Books

Wdebo :)

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Singin' Saturday: Mother - 96Neko

Title: Mother
Artist: 96Neko
Language: Japanese
TTS: None

Wdebo's Notes:  I've been at school since August and just got back home last week for Winter Break and haven't seen my mom at all yet because she's been in Taiwan. However, she's coming home today and I'm so excited! I love this song so much because it's the perfect representation of my feelings for her. Our family is not very candid while expressing our affections for each others so we never say anything out loud. That's why I basically sent my mom this song earlier this school year to tell her that even though I don't say it, she is still one of the most important people to me.

Also, I love 96Neko and her voice is wonderful in this song. It has a gorgeous melody and honestly brought tears to my eyes when I first heard it. But I don't know if that was just because I was really stressed out over school when I first listened to it and just missed my family so much.

Listen and Love!


Wdebo :)

Friday, December 20, 2013

Anime Review: Free! - Iwatobi Swim Club

"The water is alive. Once you dive in, it will immediately bare its fangs and attack. But there's nothing to fear. Don't resist the water. Thrust your fingers in the surface and carve an opening" 

-Haru

Title: Free! - Iwatobi Swim Club
Japanese Title: Free!
Amount of Episodes: 12
Status: Completed
Air Date: July 4, 2013 - September 25, 2013
Tags: Swimming, Comedy, Slice of Life, School
For: Teens



Summary: Free! follows three teenagers, Haru, Makoto and Nagisa as they try to establish a swim club in their high school. On their path, they recruit track star and theory specialist, Rei, bubbly/fangirl, Gou Kou, and gentle (?) teacher, Miho.

Haru, Makoto and Nagisa share a deep history in that they were all in the same swimming club during elementary school with the all-mighty Rin. Rin, the shark-toothed hot head, who has just gotten back from Australia and is about to shake their simple plans to create a swimming sanctuary.

Wdebo's Review: (Warning: Review will contain a ton of gifs. You have all been warned) To be serious, I wasn't really expecting much from the anime when I first started and did not come in with very high expectations. Therefore, in the beginning, I was mainly just blinded by the beauty that is all of the half naked swimmers bodies. Honestly, Kou was literally me in anime form:



When the anime started, there was barely any storyline. I was just in it for the shapely male bodies. There was clothing getting ripped off at any possible minute and I approved (thanks mainly to Haru who strips anytime he comes in contact with water.) 


This anime was very blatantly marketed towards those who were attracted to males and it showed. Boi, did it show.


I


Was Totally 


Fine With 


That


The amount of fanservice they were able to stuff into this anime was very impressive. I do have to admit that it was refreshing to see oversexualized male bodies compared to females. 

Males: 


Females:



As stated above, the storyline was basically non-existent in the opening of the show. The main problem that was presented was the mystery surrounding Rin and his history with the boys, especially Haru. It dwelled on why Rin and Haru had such animosity between, wait, scratch that, mainly why Rin was always so competitive with Haru and Haru was so apathetic, well, until the dramatic ending that is. Damn, that ending was really something.

The story honestly seemed pretty tacked on in the beginning, like the author was like, "Hm, I really should add in some conflict instead of drawing hot anime guys swimming around with each." However, as the anime progressed and I became more and more attached to each of the characters, I became fairly invested in each of their backstories, especially what occurred between Haru and Rin. Truthfully, after finishing the program, I still have lots of unanswered questions. And some of the explanations did not make that much sense to me personally. However, I did like how it still went along the whole brotherhood and harworking theme that underlies many anime (especially shonen ones). The bond between Haru and Rin was really sweet and the change in Rin's personality in the last couple of episodes was an appreciated amazement. 

I was surprised by how much I liked all of the characters. This is a very rare occurrence especially since female characters are typically given a very submissive, whinny role which I can never stand. Though Kou and Miho are definitely not in the spotlight and are supporting characters, they still had their part to play (though it was smaller than I would have liked). They were not too annoying and were a welcome addition to the cast. The show was very humorous and the characters were a great reason why.

So, we've talked about the beauty that is the male protagonists' bodies which shows the wonders that is animation. I really liked the quality of animation except for the fact that at times I felt that the scenery details were foregone instead focusing upon the details of the characters, which is totally understandable but you aren't going to find Black Butler level details in here. Everything is just pretty but not beautiful. There definitely could have been more added to art of both the landscape and the people.

The music choice was very hit and miss for me. Sometimes I liked it other times I did not. Some of the songs (mainly the calming instrumentals) fit the mood perfectly and were a welcome addition to the scene, other times, uhhhh...one word...Dubstep. They played fucking dubstep in the "tense" scenes. Now don't get me wrong I love EDM except for the fact that it's very strange to experience it in anime, especially a swimming anime. The opening and ending songs also took some time for me to get used to, but after a while they did grow on me. They're just not something I would have on repeat all the time. 

Free! was seen as a somewhat controversial anime this summer which is understandable in the fact it is peppered with sexy half naked guys but not in that it was up against Attack on Titan which used blood like how other animes used cherry blossoms. 

Free! held a lot of homosexual undertones because you obviously cannot have so many wet and naked guys together in the same vicinity for so long without at least one of them wanting to jump the others' bones. Am I right? Coughs. The most obvious "couple" that comes to mind is water-loving Haru and the perpetually glommy Rin. Seriously, the sexual tension between the two was so palpable, I was gonna take it and smack both of them for not realizing their chemistry. (Even though I am definitely a Rei X Nagisa shipper myself). 

Finally, the specials that were bundled with the anime were really cute and adorable. 

All in all, Free! is a fun little anime to enjoy but nothing to be taken as a completely serious plotline. It is just a nice way to pass the time. Fun for all! 

Grade: B+ 

Wdebo :)

Watch it HERE
Watch 50% Off (A wonderful parody of the show) HERE

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Book Review: Zom-B By: Darren Shan

"Twisting and turning, racing along corridors, tears streaming down my face, I pant and stumble, but never fall or falter. Never look back either, afraid of what I might see, zombies or Dad, one as bad as the other" (169).

Title: Zom-B
Author: Darren Shan
HARDBACK
Amount of Pages: 192
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: October 16, 2012
Geared Towards: Older Middle Grade Readers +
From: Publisher (Review Copy) 
I was not paid for this review

Summary (From Front Flap): When the news starts reporting a zombie outbreak in Ireland, B's father thinks it's a hoax-but even if it isn't, the two of them joke, it's only the Irish, right? 

That is, until zombies actually attack the school. B is forced on a mad dash through the sepentine corridors of high school, making allegiances with anyone with enough gall to fight off their pursuers. But when they come face-to-face with ravenous, oozing corpses, all bets are off. There are no friends. No allies. Just whatever it takes to survive. 

Wdebo's Review: I got this book last year and have been reading it on and off and was finally able to complete it today. There was just so much going on with this book, so let's get started with this review. 

I was struggling with whether or not I wanted to post up that summary especially given that zombies were only briefly mentioned in the prologue, the beginning chapters of the book and brought back up again during the later half of the book. I probably would have completely forgotten it was supposed to be a zombie book if it wasn't for the title and the cover. 

The novel itself is very thin and simple and went by very quickly. It tried to tackle way too much with the amount of space it was given.Yes, I know that this is the first book of the series; however, the way the author tried to introduce all of the topics he wanted to talk about into this one small book just did not work very well for me.

The prologue talks about a boy who prays to a mysterious man to save him during a zombie apocalypse and it goes to to talk about the protagonist, B and their father. It is pretty crazy that I had no idea B was a girl until the very end of the story. I had been picturing a teenage boy trying to be tough all the time, so reading that B was a girl came as a bit of a shock. Then the zombies are kind of forgotten and instead the novel focuses on B's abusive and racist father. The first half of the book discusses the topic of racism and how B believes she is only going along with her father's behavior in hopes of his love and approval, that she didn't feel any true hatred towards any minorities. I'm not entirely sure what Shan was trying to create with this mental struggles because I think that he was trying to create a sympathetic character in which the readers could empathize with B's struggles with her father and then her struggles as she tries to get out of her school alive during the surprise zombie attack. However, this humanization failed to reach me. I felt no true feelings for B. Her character, instead of seeing her in a sympathetic light, I just wrote her off as whinny and annoying. She seemed like she was just trying to brainwash herself into believing a lie about herself. She just tried to make herself out to be more of a innocent player than she actually was. I do like how Shan tried to incorporate such an important topic like racism into the story but it just seemed like it was not a topic that was developed enough, strangely, much like the rest of the subject matter presented in the book.

Everything in the story felt too rushed. It wasn't the fact that it didn't have enough detail, all of the story matter and detail felt too superficial, which is why this story went by much more quickly than it should have. Shan had an interesting plot in the making, there was much potential for an exciting, deep storyline to be woven but it just fell flat. These two topics should have been woven together much more tightly than they actually were. There was effort, just not enough to truly create a on-the-edge-of-your-seat atmosphere that I seek in post-apoclyptic/zombie stories.

Cafe Cover Chat: I like it, it works well for a zombie novel. (B+)

All in all, a fairly generic take on zombie stories that tried to take on more than it actually could and so by doing so it did not really work for me at all. I don't think I will be checking out book #2 anytime soon. 

Grade: C+

Wdebo :)

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Singin' Saturday: Under the Mistletoe - Never Shout Never ft. Dia Frampton

Title: Under the Mistletoe
Artist: Never Shout Never ft. Dia Frampton
Language: English
TTS: None

Wdebo's Notes: I have had this song on repeat since the beginning of December. I absolutely adore the feel of this entire song. It's very curl up together in front of the fireplace type of music. It's so warm and comforting. Such a good song to listen to in order to get into the Christmas/Holiday spirit! Both Dia and Christofer's voices are so comforting.

Listen and Love!



Wdebo :)

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Book Review: Little Fish: A Memoir From a Different Kind of Year By: Ramsey Beyer

"i make lists about everything.

some of them are really old, some are new, some i'll make up as we go"

Title: Little Fish: A Memoir From A Different Kind of Year
Author: Ramsey Beyer
HARDBACK
Amount of Pages: 272
Publisher: Houghton Miffin Harcourt
Release Date: September 2013
Geared Towards: Teens (Ages 12+)
From: Zest Books (Review Copy)
Extra Notes: This is an illustrated novel
I was not paid for this review


Summary (From Front Flap): Ramsey Beyer was a teenager from a small town in Michigan, looking forward to her first year living in a city far away from home. She chronicled that year in a series of zines featuring personalized lists (such as "things I can't wait for" and "top 10 worst sounds") alongside comic illustrations. Through her blog, Ramsey also reflected on her struggles with loneliness, friendship, and potential romance. Ten years later, Little Fish weaves all of these materials into a poignant, beautifully illustrated, and deeply reflective graphic memoir detailing her transformation from an eighteen-year-old small-town teenager to an independent, city-dwelling college art student. The blending of new artwork with old lists and new reflections on past events allows us to see Ramsey's formative year with the excitement of a teenager and the wisdom of an adult. 

Wdebo's Review: Most of the books I review are full length novels, so reviewing Little Fish is a little bit difficult because this is a very interestingly organized book.

As someone who is about to become a college junior, I have been in undergrad long enough to have had time to mull over my freshman experience, but I have only been in this institution for short enough that I can clearly remember my thoughts and feelings when I first came to this school.

The entire work was organized through comic, list and doodle form. It was a great way to explore the journey of Ramsey through her first year in art college. The main idea to take from the book is not the minute details of Ramsey's journey but the patterns and the pathways that she explored. All of our lives, though greatly different, have many similarities, including our explorations of new milestones. College is a life-changing experience that a good percentage of the world's population has the privilege of experiencing. However, the change from home life to college life is a great shock and as exciting as it is frightening. Reading this story really allowed me to reminisce on my experience as a freshman undergrad as I tried to navigate through campus, trying to meet new people and find a little section of campus that I felt like I could blend in with and call my own.

However, since the story goes by pretty fast, I am not entirely sure it's one of those books you should have on your shelf, I believe many people should read it, but maybe consume a library copy of then novel instead.

I recommend this story for anyone who is currently going through a big change, be it going to college or starting at a new job, etc. We go through so many changes in life and it may be frightening but everything will always work out in the end and the journey is a wonderful memory to keep with us as we continue through life.

Cafe Cover Chit Chat: I like the cover, it is a good symbolism of what Ramsey went through. She started out in a small town and migrated to a big city for college. (And that is also shown through the fishbowl she is holding in her arms).

Grade: B+

Wdebo :)