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Thursday, December 3, 2015

Book Review: The Selection (The Selection #1) By Kiera Cass

"The Selection was no longer something that was simply happening to me, but something I was actively a part of. I was an Elite."
(p. 327) 

Title: The Selection
Series Title: The Selection (Book 1) 
Amount of Pages: 327
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: April 24, 2012
Geared Towards: Teens
From: Library
I was not paid for this review

Summary (From Front Flap): For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon.

But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn't want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she's made for herself-and realizes that the life she's always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.

Wdebo's Review: I am not ashamed to admit that I am a lover of reality television, especially dating shows. The dystopian Bachelor-esque premise as well as its gorgeous cover was honestly what attracted me to the book in the first place. Though the intent was good, the execution was lacking. However, even with that, the story, for some reason, was still so addictive. 

The first thing that truly stands out to me after reading this book was just how cheesy it was. America is painted as such a perfect person, and you're reminded of it constantly. From her beauty to her kindness and of course we cannot forget about her one little candid/stubborn quirk which of course is a quality the Prince finds endearing. Some of the things that America gets herself into are so over the top can be classified as truly "why America why?" moments. Additionally, even after reading 300 pages I felt like I couldn't connect with any of the characters, even America who I am supposed to be rooting for the most. 

Additionally, for a book that is set up in a dystopian society, there is not much in that regards that was brought into the novel. More succinct and enticing backstory, action or fear could have been written in. Honestly, nothing felt very dystopian-like except for the dating gameshow plot. It honestly just seemed like a twisted monarchy with an added caste system. There was so much room for additional plot that could have been added to create a richer story but those details were sadly left behind. 

However, despite its many flaws, I do have to admit that the story was addicting. I completed it in one sitting and I still had no idea how. Even though I did find myself shaking my head at the story multiple times, I still wanted to see what happens. Even though I am not sure if I will be continuing with the series, I am happy that this book was able to provide me an entertaining couple of hours.  

Cafe Chit Chat: Absolutely gorgeous cover. The blue dress and icy background are such a great mix. (A) 

All in all, though this is definitely no literary gem, if you do decide to pick it up, it is a great way to spend a couple hours. 

Grade: B-

Wdebo :)

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Book Review: Sophomore Year Is Greek To Me By: Meredith Zeitlin

"And I know it's my grandmother. 
And she's crying. 
And then she opens her arms to me, and it's like no one else is there but us." 
(p. 184) 

Title: Sophomore Year Is Greek To Me
Author: Meredith Zeitlin
Amount of Pages: 336
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
Release Date: April 21, 2015
Geared Towards: Young Teens +
From: Author Publicist
I was not paid for this review

Summary (From B.O.B): When Zona's mother married an American and moved to New York City, her huge Greek family cut off contact. Now her dad wants to uproot her entire life to move to Athens for the second half of her sophomore year and meet possibly hostile relatives on their turf? Thanks...but no thanks. 

Wdebo's Review: Because of college, it's been such a long time since I've been able to read a book for fun. So I'm not sure if it was the fact that I hadn't read a YA book in so long, but it was difficult for me to get into Sophomore Year is Greek to Me. It started out very slow and Zona was personally just not a preferable character. I felt like I spent most of the time in the beginning, questioning and hoping that I did not act like her as a high schooler. Her constant whining and groaning just made it difficult for me to connect to her as a character. However, I really enjoy how the setting and characters were laid out in the beginning, it was very easy to understand the story from the get-go without much guessing involved. I also really liked Zona's NY friends, you could truly feel how much they cared for each other which was great.

As the story progressed, so did Zona's maturity. The writing as well began to become more and more engaging. It was great to see Zona grow as a person. I really enjoyed seeing her learning to embrace her family. I did appreciate how this story is family oriented. It centers around Zona's close knit ties with her father and her dog, Tony, as well as her embracing her Greek side who have just learned about her existence. And since these topics were a bit part of the story, I really wished it was delved in more then it was. It felt as if the writing could have explored more of the issues she faced.

The story was divided into four main sections: Zona in New York, Zona in Athens, Zona with family and Zona post family. Each section presented a new issue for Zona to experience and conquer and I feel like they could have been tackled more in depth. Additionally, I was not sure about Zona's time in Athens and her new group of friends. Personally, her Athens friends just did not impress me much. They were just not very good friends and had some questionable actions. Zona could have done so much better.

I did really like how her family time was described. It was sweet to see them learning how to interact and make up for lost time; however, some of the conflicts between the uncles that were brought up felt unfinished or rushed when the story ended. However, other conflicts that were brought up throughout the books I felt were well ended. It showed that life is not a fairy tale and even if it doesn't end badly, it is not perfect and we still have a lot to do even when there is a conclusion or answer. Zona had to deal with some real world shit and she handled some of those issues admirably and for others, as stated before, it could have been better molded.

I also felt like the character of Alex as a romantic interest felt a little too pushed. It felt like the story was trying to take on too much topics and should have taken some of them out.

Cafe Cover Chit Chat: I really like this cover. The blue, model and decorations contrast each other very well and the set up is adorable. (A) 

All in all, though the story did have a rocky start as well as some plot issues, the novel does become more and more engaging and ended satisfactorily.

Grade: B

Wdebo :)

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Singin' Saturday: Summertime Record-Yuki Yucky

Hi All! Long time no talk! I am currently in my last year of college and am entering into my busies term (AKA thesis writing hell) but will be graduating in September so I will have much more time to post and read! Can't wait to see y'all then~

Title: Summertime Record (Piano Version)
Artist: Yuki Yucky
Langauge: Japanese
TTS: None

Wdebo's Notes: I love this song so much and Yuki Yucky's piano version is absolutely gorgeous. The original is a vocaloid song and is part of the Kagerou Project which is about teenagers with supernatural abilities.

Her voice is absolutely gorgeous and I have spent many hours listening to this song while doing homework.

Listen and Love!

Wdebo :)

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Book Review: Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children By: Ransom Riggs

"But if it meant that I'd finally be able to put my grandfather's mystery to rest and get on with my unextraordinary life, anything I had to endure would be worth it" (P. 64).

Title: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
Author: Ransom Riggs
Amount of Pages:352
Publisher: Quirk Books
Release Date: June 7, 2011
Geared Towards: Teens
From: Library
I was not paid for this review.

Summary:Jacob grew up listening to his grandfather's fantastical childhood stories filled with peculiar children. There was a girl who could levitate, a boy who was completely invisible and another girl who had the ability to manipulate fire. Though there were photographs, Jacob labeled all of those stories as fiction and only listened to humor his grandfather. However, when Jacob's grandfather dies under mysterious circumstances, Jacob has to investigate and deem whether what he believes is truth or fiction is actually so.

Wdebo's Review: I heard about this book when it first came out a few years ago. At that time I was in high school (AKA the years when I actually had time to read); however, I never did have the chance to find the book and indulge in it. The premise of the story greatly interested me especially the trove of old, strange looking photographs. Though the idea behind the story was super interesting especially within the YA genre, the execution was not the best.

The story began rather promisingly. I was sucked into the story at the very beginning especially with the promise of exciting adventures as well as strange photographs. However, after a while it just did not seem to hold me as greatly as the earlier parts of the story had. And towards the end, I honestly just started skimming through it till I finished. The action of the entire of story was pushed way too back and did not have enough time to brew and simmer and greatly take a hold of the reader.

While reading it, Jacob's interaction with other characters became more and more 2D and impersonal. It was hard to be gripped by what was happening, it just seemed like he was moving around because he was told to. Riggs was trying to paint him in a passionate search for his grandfather's past however it was having a great amount of difficulty reaching me. I did enjoy seeing the home in the beginning; however, after a while though there was mystery and intrigue that was surrounding it, it just did not hold, each strange thing that was learned about was instantly resolved. Miss Peregrine herself was hard to decipher after now I am not sure whether she is slightly evil or good, she was not fleshed out as much as I wanted her to be, there was an effort made but it was not as complete as I wanted it to be. And that felt like how it was for all of the characters.

Jacob was the character that was discussed in most depth, obviously since he was the main character. However, so much more could have been done with him. I was not the biggest fan of how he was portrayed there was something about him at times just seemed slightly annoying. He also seemed so much younger than the sixteen years old he was supposed to be, I honestly thought he was like twelve when I first started reading the book. The relationship between him and Emma was pretty interesting but just not delved into that much. There were so many parts of the story where it was only scratched at the surface so you only know about a little bit. Which was a shame because there was so much that could still have been discussed.

The best parts of the story was the photographs, from the author's notes it was interesting to see how Riggs was trying to piece this story together from the different photographs that he had found from various collectors. However, in points of the story that is very evident. You can see the quilted aspect of the story which made it seem choppy and rushed together. But there were parts of the story that fit together nicely it was just a shame that was not how it was for the entire story itself.

Café Cover Chit Chat: I really like this cover, as stated above, the strange photographs are one of the main reasons why I had decided and been intrigued by the storyline itself. The back cover also has some of the weird...peculiar photographs as well. (A)

All in all, though not the best story especially given the fascinating premise, it was none the way an enjoyable way to pass a couple hours if you just need something to pass the time.

Grade: B-

Wdebo :)

Friday, April 18, 2014

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

Title: Ask Me
Author: Kimberly Pauley
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 :)



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 :)