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Saturday, April 16, 2016

Singin' Saturday: I'm From a Star - Alien Huang

Chinese Title: 我來自那顆星
English Title: I'm From a Star
Artist: Alien Huang
Language: Mandarin Chinese

Wdebo's Notes: I've been obsessed with this song and video since it first came out back in December. But since I'm going back to Taiwan this May, I wanted to revist some songs that I've liked to choose what songs I want to sing during karaoke and this is definitely one of them. The song is cute as is the video!

Listen and Love!

Wdebo :)

Friday, April 15, 2016

Book Review: Will Grayson, Will Grayson By: John Green & David Levithan

"'It's been a bit of a crazy day for Will Graysons everywhere'" 
(P. 111)

Title: Will Grayson, Will Grayson
Author: John Green & David Levithan
Amount of Pages: 310
Publisher: Speak
Release Date: April 6, 2010
From: Library
I was not paid for this interview~

Summary (From the back of the book): One cold night, in a most unlikely corner of Chicago, two strangers cross paths. Two teens with the same name, running in two very different circles, suddenly find their lives going in new and unexpected directions, culminating in heroic turns-of-heart and the most epic musical ever to grace the high school stage.

Wdebo's Review: Our names are always seen as something that belongs to and defines us so the idea of someone having the same name and especially being able to meet them is just such a strange little concept. (It even made it as a challenge for GISHWHES). So the concept of the story was very interesting and the fact that it has two superstar authors writing it out just made it a book that I've been meaning to read for ages. Though it was an enjoyable book (especially given that I live in the Chicago suburbs so it made it easier to picture the areas and scenarios), there were parts that I was just not entirely satisfied with.

Both John Green and David Levithan are a couple of authors that I really like and have been reading from since high school. I like how well their styles, though different, blended into a well formed duet of voices. However, though I did relatively enjoy the story there were still some parts that I had to question. As much as I've enjoyed most of the John Green's books, it's not hard to notice how he relies on his one go to character, the male protagonist who pines over the beautiful and pretentious manic pixie dream girl. Though each book's male and female character do differ, they all basically follow the same path and this book is no different. Though Will and Jane's story is similar to other John Green books, I do honestly love John Green's writing and so it's still fun to read even if I can pretty much figure out what will happen from the beginning. There is just something about his writing that makes it enthralling even if all of stories do follow the same pattern.

On the other hand, though I typically do like David Levithan's writing, I was just not feeling the beginning of Naperville Will Grayson's story. It seemed to be trying too hard to capture that angsty teenage voice and just came off as annoying. However, as the story gradually continued he became a slightly more likeable character, which I was happy about, because I would not have liked to dislike a whole half of a book.

I also find it finally how even though the title is the two protagonists' names, the story, especially from the middle onwards seemed to be focusing the most, not the the male leads, but on the ironically named Tiny. Towards the end, it seemed to be Tiny that showed his growth and depth the most. Even the protagonists seem to be side characters to the one man show that is Tiny Cooper. On the plus side, he was a very entertaining character so it was not a con just surprising.

Cafe Cover Chat: The light background is a fun little touch especially since the story is trying to structure and market itself as a fabulous musical. (B+) 

All in all, though there are some issues to the book. It does have some fabulous authors to create a fun little novel to help entertain the readers for a few hours.

Grade: B

Wdebo :)

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Book Review: Royal Wedding: A Princess Diaries Novel By: Meg Cabot

"Things I'm grateful for: 

1. Shooting stars.

2. Lab-engineered diamonds

3. That I'm engaged to be married to Michael Moscovitz" 
(P. 122) 

Title: Royal Wedding: A Princess Diaries Novel
Author: Meg Cabot
Amount of Pages: 448
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Release Date: June 2, 2015
Geared Towards: Adults/Older Teens
Extra Info: This comes after the 10th Princess Diaries book, Forever Princess. [Review found HERE

Summary (From the Back of the Book): For Princess Mia, the past five years since college graduation have been a whirlwind of activity: living in New York City, running her new teen community center, being madly in love, and attending royal engagements. And speaking of engagements, Mia's longtime boyfriend, Michael, managed to clear both their schedules just long enough for an exotic (and very private) Caribbean island interlude where he popped the question! Of course, Mia didn't need to consult her diary to know that her answer was a royal oui. 

But now Mia has a scandal of majestic proportions to contend with: her grandmother has leaked "fake" wedding plans to the press that could cause even normally calm Michael to become a runaway groom. Worse, a scheming politico is trying to force Mia's father from the throne, all because of a royal secret that could leave Genovia without a monarch. Can Mia prove to everyone-especially herself-that she's not only ready to wed, but ready to rule as well? 

Wdebo's Review: Princess Diaries is one of the book series I grew up reading along with Harry Potter. I've grown up reading about Mia juggling her life being a princess, rocking it as a friend, and falling in love with Michael. It's been about 7 years since I read Forever Princess so reading Royal Wedding just gave me all of these nostalgic feelings.

As can be seen by the title, the book is about a wedding and more specifically is about Mia and Michael's wedding. My favorite couple from my childhood is finally getting married and that's why I was so excited to read this book! However, even though the book is titled Royal Wedding it just felt like there was a lot of details and talk about planning and getting ready for and all that was going wrong with the process of the wedding but just seemed to skim over the wedding itself. Since it is a princess diaries it makes sense that it does focus on the problems that Mia is met with before everything gets nicely resolved in the end, but I would have liked more specific wedding details! Additionally, as usual, Mia does tend to whine quite a bit in the story, but as someone who has read so many of these books before, it was something I am used to and find oddly comforting.

As usual, each character has a very specific voice and since Meg Cabot has been writing these characters for 10 (and a few extra) books, the voices are very defined. That is something I really love about the Princess Diaries series, all of the characters are so specific, and so every time I read the books I just feel like I'm catching up with old friends once again.

Cafe Cover Chat: The cover is very minimalist and cute but not my favorite (B) 

All in all, as someone who grew up reading the series. I greatly adored it and I'm sure anyone else who loves reading about Mia's life and antics will enjoy it just the same.

Grade: A-

Wdebo :)

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Singin' Saturday: Honeydukes - Joey Richter & Mary Kate Wiles

Title: Honeydukes
Artist: Joey Richter ft Mary Kate Wiles
Language: English

Wdebo's Notes: I watched the short, I Ship It, back in October when I was studying for my OATs and I loved it so much. It's a short, cute film that centers around Harry Potter, what more can a girl want? This song is absolutely adorable. It's the perfect love song to show to the awesome Potterheads in your lives!

Listen and Love!

Wdebo :)

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Book Review: Liv, Forever By: Amy Talkington

"I looked around-no one was coming-so I leaned on the well, trying to calm down. I looked into its blackness. Abyss. Something suddenly rushed up from the dark, and that cold chill slapped me in the face. My head whipped back from its force. And that's when everything went black" (87)

Title: Liv, Forever
Author: Amy Talkington
Amount of Pages: 288
Publisher: Soho Teen
Release Date: March 11, 2014
Geared Towards: Teens
From: Publisher
I was not paid for this review

Summary (From book): When Liv Bloom lands an art scholarship at Wickham Hall, it's her ticket out of the foster system. Liv isn't sure what to make of the school's weird traditions and rituals, but she couldn't be happier-especially when Malcolm Astor, fellow artist and scion of one of the school's original families, starts falling for her. Fellow scholarship kid Gabe Nichols warns her not to get involved with a "Wicky," but things are finally going Liv's way, and all she wants to do is enjoy it. 

But Liv's bliss is cut short when she is viciously murdered. In death, she discovers she's the latest victim of a dark conspiracy that spans 150 years and many, many lives. Gabe, cursed with the ability to see their ghosts, turns out to be Liv's only link to the world of the living. 

Liv must rely on Gabe's help to prove to Malcolm that she's still present, lingering with the other spirits. Together, Liv, Gabe, and Malcolm fight to expose the terrible truth that haunts Wickham Hall before more lives are lost. 

Wdebo's Review: I am a giant fan of the supernatural and mystery genres so I was really excited to start the book once I received it. However, no matter how much I tried, the writing was just so hard for me to get into when I first started reading. I took a break from the book many times before I was actually able to complete it. In the beginning, the writing seemed like it was trying to hard to fit in as a teenager and just didn't seem to be pulling it off all that well.

Additionally, the story started out super cheesy. It begins with a scholarship student ending up at a prestigious school in which she miraculously catches the eye of super popular dreamboat and they start going on their own secret rendezvous.

However, towards the middle, the story started to pick up speed as the mystery is revealed piece by piece and you figure out what happened to the girls and also what caused the murders. This was the part of the book that really hooked me into the story and made me want to keep going and finish it. However, though there were lots of enjoyable parts of the story, it was very predictable. The ending of the story was very obvious and easy to guess from the beginning. And though I did like the idea of the story (I am a sucker for boarding school novels), it didn't have as much depth as I would have liked to have read.

As for the characters, though the main characters were enjoyable they were pretty flat. They all fit into a stereotypical box. We had the main character super sleuth, the dreamboat, and the quirky male sidekick. I was hoping for more dimension and interesting features but I just didn't see that.

Cafe Cover Chit Chat: I love the ghosty atmosphere that the cover is going for. (B+)

All in all, though this book did incorporate many interesting ideas that could have made for a great plot, the details and writing left much to be desired. However, if you are just looking for a paranormal story with a healthy dose of romance to help kill a few hours then this would be a nice book to pick up!

Grade: B

Wdebo :)

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 :)