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Thursday, July 28, 2016

Book Review: 100 Days of Cake By: Shari Goldhagen

"No idea where I'm going, but I pedal so fast to get there that it hurts"
(139) 

Book Title: 100 Days of Cake
Author: Shari Goldhagen
HARDBACK
Amount of Pages: 339
Publisher: Atheneum Books For Young Readers
Release Date: May 17, 2016
Geared Towards: Teens
From: Library




Summary (From Front Flap): Every other senior at Coral Cove High School might be mapping out every facet of their future, but Molly Bryne just wants to spend the rest of the summer (maybe the rest of her life) watching Golden Girls reruns hanging out with her cute coworker at FishTopia. Some days, the are the only things that get her out of bed.

You see, for the past year, Molly's been struggling with depression, above and beyond industry-standard teen angst. Crushing on her therapist isn't helping, and neither is her mom, who is convinced that baking the perfect cake will cure her-as if icing alone can magically make her rejoin the swim team or care about the SATs. Ummm, no, not going to happen.

But when Molly finds out FishTopia is turning into a lame country diner, her already crummy life starts to fall even more out of her control, and soon she has to figure out what-if anything-is worth fighting for. 

Wdebo's Review: I do have to admit that I mainly only started to read this book because of the cover. It's so pretty and eye-catching. However, the book just did not reach the same caliber that the cover had presented which left me feeling very disappointed.

I was interested in seeing how the book would tackle such a heavy topic such as depression. The novel did show some of the highs and lows of the disease but I just could not connect with the protagonist at all which I really wanted to especially given the topic. However, there was something so hard for me to like about her and other characters. As for Molly's best friend, Elle, she was just not a likable character either. She was basically a walking tree-hugging, vegan stereotype. Additionally, for someone who identified as a feminist she was always slut shamming Molly's sister, V. Going as far as saying that her dress warrants her with STDs and how she is everything wrong with America. She does get better towards the end of the novel, but still not a character I particularly cared for. As for Alex, he was painted as a true swoon-worthy love interest, from the constant longing to the sensitive, beautiful musician. Though he wasn't a bad character, it just felt very trite. I did however like the character of Molly's mom she is trying whatever she can to try and help her daughter which includes baking 100 cakes in 100 days.

I thought the concept of the 100 cakes was very interesting. It did make the book much better and I liked seeing how the book progressed as the different days with the different cakes as their chapter headings. However, for the writing, I was not satisfied with how events would suddenly occur but not really have a buildup, except for the thing with Dr. B which was one of the few moments that made me feel for Molly. The writing itself wasn't too intriguing in the beginning but towards the last 50 or so pages, a lot of events occurred and that was when my interest was piqued for the story. Additionally, I really have to complain about the amount of pop culture references added into it. I'm not sure if the author did so to try and appeal to a younger audience since she started out as an adult novel writer or if she wanted to make it seem more grounded in the present, but it just really did not work and made it seem like it was trying to hard.

Cafe Cover Chit Chat: As stated above, I really like this cover. The cake is so eye-catching compared to the background and the whole color and font scheme of the over is lovely (A) 

All in all, definitely not a book I particularly liked reading. Though there were a few good moments in the story, it took me so much longer to finish than it should have.

Grade: C+

Wdebo :)

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Book Review: A Week of Mondays By: Jessica Brody

"Because when you find what you're looking for-when you finally get it right-everything else is just noise" 
(449)

Book Title: A Week of Mondays
Author: Jessica Brody
HARDBACK
Amount of Pages: 451
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Release Date: August 2, 2016
Geared Towards: Younger Teens +
From: Publisher
I was not paid for this review~



Summary (From Front Flap): Sixteen-year-old Ellison Sparks is having a serious case of the Mondays. She gets a ticket for running a red light, she manages to take the world's worst school picture, she bombs her class election speech, and, to top it off, Tristan, her gorgeous rocker boyfriend, suddenly dumps her. For no good reason!

As far as Mondays go, it doesn't get much worse than this. And Ellie is positive that if she could just do it all over again, she would get it right. So when she wakes up the next morning to find she's reliving the exact same day, she knows what she has to do: stop her boyfriend from breaking up with her. But it seems that no matter how many do-overs she gets or how hard Ellie tries to repair their relationship, Tristan is always set on ending it. Will Ellie ever figure out how to fix this broken day? Or will she be stuck in this nightmare of a Monday forever?

Wdebo's Review: Have you ever wished you could redo a day where it seems everything that could go wrong does? That's what Jessica Brody's new book delves into. I have been a fan of Jessica Brody since reading her story, 52 Reasons to Hate My Father (which this book also includes an easter egg for!) and was very excited to start this one both because of her and also the synopsis. Though it did begin slow, it was a fun book to read as you see Ellison try, fail and grow throughout the course of the novel.

I wasn't too big of a fan of  the beginning of the novel because it felt very shakily as well as slightly awkwardly written. It was trying too hard to be hip and fit in with a teenage audience (way too much Urban Dictionary references) but as the story progressed it molded itself better and became much more enjoyable. I think it also may have tied in with the characters themselves. Towards the beginning of the novel, Ellision was not a very likable character. She was so whinny and overly dramatic but she slowly got better as the story progressed. It helped to show her character growth. However, even towards the beginning when Tristan was being a "dreamboat," I just could not stand him and those feelings did not change at all throughout the story. Even when he was trying to be suave and swoonworthy he was just none of things, he just felt so bleh all the time. I also feel that **spoiler alert** falling in love with your best friend is just such a cliche path to walk down, and so I was hoping it wouldn't end up like that, but even though it did I have to admit that it was a cute ending and I couldn't help but to squeal at the end. **spoiler end** 

Though this book was a light and fluffy read, it was a fun way to pass a few hours. I do have to admit that I was impressed by the gradual changes of the weeks and just how planned the novel felt, but I wish that it went into why Ellision got stuck in the Monday cycle.

Cafe Cover Chit Chat: The cover looks cute and the polaroids give a good understanding of what the novel is about. (A-)

All in all, though the novel did not posses the strongest beginning, this book was definitely a fun way to pass a couple of hours and to get sucked into teenage drama on repeat which definitely makes for an interesting story.

Grade: B+

Wdebo :)

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Singin' Saturday: We Ain't Them - Childish Gambino

Title: We Ain't Them
Artist: Childish Gambino
Language: English

Wdebo's Notes: Every time I listen to Childish it just reminds me of my last year of undergrad. One of my friends loved rap and hip hop and so that Summer was spent discovering and listening to lots of different rappers, one of them being Childish. This is one of my new favorite songs by him. I love the chill flow as well as the life story narrative.

Listen and Love!

Wdebo :)

Friday, July 22, 2016

Book Review: Glass Sword By: Victoria Aveyard

"If I am a sword, I am a sword made of glass, and I feel myself beginning to shatter"

Book Title: Glass Sword
Author: Victoria Aveyard
HARDBACK
Amount of Pages: 444
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: February 9, 2016
Geared Towards: Older Teens
From: Library
Extra Info: Book #2 in the Red Queen series. Sequel to Red Queen.



Summary (From Front Flap): Mare Barrow's blood is red-the color of common folk-but her Silver ability, the power to control lightning, has turned her into a weapon that the royal court tries to control.

The crown calls her an impossibility, a fake, but as she makes her escape from Maven, the prince-the friend-who betrayed her, Mare uncovers something startling: She is not the only one of her kind.

Pursued by Maven, now a vindictive king, Mare sets out to find and recruit other Red-and-Silver fighters to join in the struggle against her oppressors.

But Mare finds herself on a deadly path, all risk of becoming exactly the kind of monster she is trying to defeat.

Will she shatter under the weight of the lives that are cost of rebellion? Or have treachery and betrayal hardened her forever?

Wdebo's Review: As someone who read Red Queen at an insanely rapid pace, I could not wait to pick up Glass Sword and see what happens to Mare and her fellow newbloods. Though the book did start out slowly and was hard to hold my attention, as soon as the action picked up so did my interest and I could not put it down until the last page.

Once again, I am greatly impressed by Victoria Aveyard's ability to spin the intriguing world of Red and Silver bloods. The plot is well wrapped with various twists and turns that made the story very immersive and intriguing. It definitely did not follow a linear pathway as I thought it would. There were so many dips and surprises until it reached the end and I honestly cannot wait for the next installment of the story! However, I do have to admit I do agree with the issue that was brought up in the book of how Mare is only paying attention to the Newbloods in training them and keeping them safe but not paying attention to the commoners. It feels like there are lots of deeper issues that can be brought out to light in the story and dug deeper into but I guess since there is so much going on in the novel that didn't happen and is a shame because that could have helped make the book a lot stronger.

Once again, as with Red Queen, I was not really invested in any of the characters but I do enjoy reading about them. However, something that I appreciate about Victoria Aveyard's writing is her ability to know when to use and when to let go of characters. But I really did wish that she can make the relationships between various characters stronger and leave a deeper impression for me, it would help me become more deeply involved in the story. However, apart from that issue, I do have to admit that I greatly enjoyed this sequel and it was a great addition to the series!

Cafe Cover Chit Chat: I am starting the get used to the blue background, but I really do love the crown and how the blood colors stand out so much (A-) 

All in all, a wonderful addition to the series! Fans of Red Queen should start reading Glass Sword right now!

Grade: A-

Wdebo :)

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Anime Review: Tanaka-Kun Wa Itsumo Kedaruge

Title: Tanaka-Kun Wa Itsumo Kedaruge
English Title: Tanaka-Kun Is Always Listless
Japanese Title: 田中くんはいつもけだるげ
Author: Nozomi Uda
Air Dates: April 9, 2016-June 25, 2016
Tags: Slice of life, Comedy, School
Extra Info: Found on MAL



Summary: Tanaka lives his life in a constant dream-like stupor. He spends his days wondering blearily between home and school carried around mostly by his best friend, Ohta. It follows Tanaka's day to day life as he unsucessfully tries to escape all of the drama that somehow always manages to catch up to him. Flanked by a colorful cast of characters that make his life way more exciting than he wants. What's a guy who's only concern is to find a good napping spot to do?

Wdebo's Review: Tanaka-Kun started out as a web comic which is evident in the anime because each episode contains a few short stories that works its way into a full episode much like a web comic does. When you're watching the show it's very simple and presented at face value, nothing too deep is shown on screen so it's a nice show to watch as a short break from life. The story itself is presented in both a lighthearted and relaxing way which I loved.

Both the tone as well as the music was simple and relaxed. I loved the OST, especially the opening song. It just made me happy every time I listened to it. The ending song was very happy and a little bit more upbeat than the rest of the show's tone but was still nice.

Tanaka is a very amusing character to watch. And his little gimmicks just made it better, I especially loved the fast food episodes. His interactions with other characters were also very fun but for something about a guy who just wants to spend his days sleeping and in peace, there was a lot of emphasis on romantic connection towards him that I just wasn't really interested in watching. However, after watching the show I do have to say I ship Ohta and Tanaka now.


I loved how simple the story was. It felt nice to just come back from work and watch this show for half an hour to take my mind off life. It was just such a nice break from everything. The gentleness of the show is also depicted in the artwork which I really liked. Very soft lines and general cuteness ensues. 

All in all, a fun little show to watch that will transport you into the relaxed life of Tanaka which I am sure everyone needs once in a while. 

Grade: B+

Wdebo :)

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Book Review: Red Queen By: Victoria Aveyard

"They've pulled me inside out, swapping Mare for Mareena, a thief for a crown, rags for silk, Red for Silver. This morning I was a servant, tonight I'm a princess."
(104) 

Book Title: Red Queen
Author: Victoria Aveyard
PAPERBACK
Amount of Pages: 383
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: February 10, 2015
Geared Towards: Teens
From: Library Summer Reading Program
Extra Book: First book in the Red Queen series


Summary (From the Back of the Book): MARE BARROW'S WORLD IS DIVIDED BY BLOOD-those with red and those with silver. Mare and her family are lowly Reds, destined to serve the Silver elite whose supernatural abilities make them nearly gods. Mare steals what she can to help her family survive, but a twist of fate leads her to the royal palace itself where, in front of the king and all of his nobles, she discovers an ability she didn't know she had. Except...her blood is Red. 

To hide this impossibility, the king forces her into the role of a lost Silver princess and betroths her to one of his own sons. As Mare is drawn further into the Silver world, her actions put into motion a deadly and violent dance, pitting prince against prince and Mare against her own heart.

Wdebo's Review: I wasn't quite sure what this book was about when I first picked it up but I saw the high Goodreads ratings and knew I should check it out. The story sucked me in from the very beginning and wouldn't let go until the twist at the end. After putting it down, I cannot wait to pick up the second book!

The novel was very well written and paced in a way in which important details were introduced at the right moment so the story never felt interrupted in order to catch readers up to speed. Additionally, I was impressed by how well built the world was. There were lots of good details added in and the environment was also manipulated efficiently which made this story a very fun read. My main complaint with the story was that even though I found the world to be well produced, there were parts of the story that were just too similar to other pop culture references. For example many of the characters and driving forces were akin to Game of Thrones including a very Joffrey character. Additionally, the main character was similar to many dystopian character found ubiquitously in the genre from Katniss to America of The Selection. Mare was written as the stereotypical headstrong girl from the depths of the slum who captures the heart of the haves she finds herself dropped into and the have-not back at home with that "special" sparkle of hers.

Speaking of characters, though Mare is similar to many other characters before her, I still really enjoyed reading her journey through the story. She interacted well with many characters in the novel and I really liked how the author was able to seamlessly introduce so many different characters as the story continued on. However, I really wish that there could have been a strong friendship bond instead of romance between any male character. Additionally, as stated before, there were characters that seemed to be like tropes found in other novels of the same genre and it would have been better if they could have had more depth added to them and given an even more colorful story.

Cafe Cover Chit Chat: I really like the crown dripping in dark crimson blood, but I feel like the background was too simple. I understand why they wanted to make it that simple, so that they could bring more attention to the crown, but it would have been nice if there was a little bit more pizzaz going on in back. (B+) 

All in all, though some aspects of the story seem quite cliched and trope-like, the story as a whole was very enjoyable and a great way to immerse yourself into a new world that you will be clamoring to know more about as you breathlessly read till the last page.

Grade: A-

Wdebo :)

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Singin' Saturday: Passion For Publication - Anarbor

Title: Passion for Publication
Artist: Anarbor
Language: English

Wdebo's Notes: I have been a fan of Anarbor for quite some time now and have been waiting for them to release new music since they announced their hiatus a couple of years ago. But they have announced a new album coming out in July earlier this month, and I am so excited! (They even posted a new song!) To celebrate them coming back, I've been listening to their old songs and currently have this song on repeat. It's just so reminiscent of the pop punk I would listen to back in the good ol' days and makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside.

Listen and Love!


Wdebo :)

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Manga + Movie Review: Doukyuusei

Title: Doukyuusei
Japanese Title: 同級生
Author: Asumiko Nakamura
Published: July 2006 to July 2007
Movie Aired: February 20, 2016
Sequels: Sotsugyousei, Sora to Hara, O.B., Dousoukai
Tags: Slice of Life, Shonen-ai
Extra Info: From MAL



Summary (From manga):
A boy met a boy.
They were in the flush of youth
Their love felt like a dream, like sparkling soda pop. 

Wdebo's Review: I discovered Doukyuusei roughly five years ago and since then this manga has been one of my favorites both as a BL and as a general romance story along with Seven Days. That's why when it was first announced last year that Doukyuusei would be getting an anime movie adaption I could not wait, especially since Seven Days had gotten a two part live action movie earlier that year as well. I have been waiting for the movie to be subbed and posted online for me to watch for a while and finally got around to watching it today and it is still as cute as I remember it to be.

Doukyuusei is the first book in the series and starts out following the two protagonists, Kusakabe and Sajou. Kusakabe is a fluffy-headed, laid back musician who meets his fellow classmate, Sajou, a studious quiet boy with no musical inclination. Kusakabe decides to tutor him to be ready for their class' musical program, but they unwittingly start to fall for one another. The pacing of the story is very important and gives the story a stronger presence. For the first book, it starts out slowly, folling the boys as they fall in love, kiss and gradually develop deeper feelings for one another. Though it is slower, it gives it a very gentle, calm tone that is very sweet to watch. This is especially evident in the movie (which followed the plot of the story well) and its usage of its gentle OST to greatly exemplify that air. What I did love about the story was that it just shows the gradual feelings of the characters intensifying for one another, it does not base its plot on unnecessary drama such as a love rival or gigantic misunderstanding. Additionally, if you continue from Doukyuusei and read more of the books, it adds more to the characters as the protagonists go through school, graduate and start college/post grad life. Also more characters, fellow students and teachers, are added in to the ensemble and the plots follow their love lives as well.

Additionally, one of Doukyuusei's more unique features is the art style. The author is famous of her artwork which uses more feathery and flowy lines that also adds to the gentleness exuded by the story and characters. However, it takes a bit to get into when you first start into the story, the lines seem a little rough and characters a bit strangely proportioned in the manga; however, in the anime movie it was more smoothed out and worked out better than I felt the manga had.

And finally as stated before, the OST for the movie is wonderful. I love its gentle tones which compliment the story perfectly. It can be seen even in the trailer:



All in all, this manga/movie is wonderful and gives such a gentle touch of romance to a simple school based story and is definitely worth a read/watch.

Grade: A

Wdebo :)

Monday, June 20, 2016

Book Review: Kill the Boy Band By: Goldy Moldavsky

"And I may have only been a teenager, but I knew a truth that he had obviously never grasped: The joy you find as a teen, however frivolous and dumb, is pure, and meaningful. It doesn't matter that it might ferment and taste different when you're older. That's the whole point of being a teenager-not worrying about the future" 
(63) 

Book Title: Kill the Boy Band
Author: Goldy Moldavsky
HARDBACK
Amount of Pages: 312
Publisher: Point
Release Date: February 23, 2016
Geared Towards: Teens
From: Library




Summary (From Front Flap): Just know from the start that it wasn't supposed to go like this. All we wanted was to get near them. That's why we got a room in the hotel where they were staying. 

We were not planning to kidnap one of them. Especially not the most useless one. But we had him-his room key, his cel phone, and his secrets. 

We were not planning on what happened next.

We swear. 

Wdebo's Review: I am not embarrassed to say that I have been apart of many fandoms, from my South Park days to Supernatural and etc. However, I can say that I have never been a teenager obsessively in love with a boy band before so I was interested in reading the novel. Though it was entertaining at parts, my feelings for this book are pretty scattered.

The writing of the story fluctuated. I would be reading it and enjoy the pacing as well as its satirical, dark humor but then it would suddenly switch gears and I would feel like I was reading a really bad One Direction knockoff fanfic. I wish the author could have continued with that humorous tone throughout the whole novel and not throw in some of the unnecessary fluff and filler that wriggled its way in. At one point I would be enjoying the story and then I would suddenly be cringing hardcore and really want to put down the book. Additionally, some of the dialogue was just ehh. Reading the book made me feel like my Tumblr dashboard was narrating a story to me with the jargon used as well as bringing up of some hot-button Tumblr notes. Though it was pretty spotty for me, the novel as a whole was pretty enjoyable. It has a more gritty humor completely opposite of the sweet vibe given off by Fangirl (if fans of that book were wondering whether or not to pick this one up because of the similar topic).

A big portion of the novel was the characters. The characters helped move the plot along with their antics. There is a belief that many boy band fangirls are wildly obsessed with them and this story plays off that stereotype. All of the characters have their own quirks that lead them to not choosing the best path to go down. I wasn't too interested in Sloane, the protagonist, but was fascinated by Erin's portion of the story. When we find out what happened to her, I was hoping the story would bring it in something deeper and incorporate it into a more intricate story.

Cafe Cover Chit Chat: I have always been a sucker for a pink and black color balance and even with just words the cover just stands out (A-) 

All in all, the novel imagines just what would happen if "crazy fangirls" were to meet their idols and find out they were not as magical as they appeared. Though there were parts of the book that were just off and did not resonate with me, it was still a fun and awkwardly bumpy ride.

Grade: B-

Wdebo :)

Friday, June 17, 2016

Book Review: The Program By: Suzanne Young

"James is the best at hiding the pain, disguising the feelings. He knows what it takes to stay out of The Program. He'll keep us safe.

He promised"
(31)

Book Title: The Program
Author: Suzanne Young
PAPERBACK
Amount of Pages: 405
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: March 4, 2014
Geared Towards: Teens
From: Library's Summer Reading Program
Extra Info: First book in The Program series



Summary (From the Back of the Book): Sloane knows better than to cry in front of anyone. With suicide now an international epidemic, one outburst could land her in The Program, the only proven course of treatment. Sloane's parents have already lost one child; Sloane knows they'll do anything to keep her alive. She also knows that everyone who's been through The Program returns as a blank slate. Because their depression is gone-but so are their memories. 

Under constant surveillance at home and at school, Sloane puts on a brave face and keeps her feelings buried as deep as she can. The only person Sloane can be herself with is James. He's promised to keep them both safe in and out of treatment, and Sloane knows their love is strong enough to withstand anything. But despite the promises they've made to each other, it's getting harder to hide the truth. They are both growing weaker. Depression is setting in. And the program is coming for them. 

Wdebo's Review: I have always liked dystopian novels where people try to overcome some sort of warped system. That's why when I read the summary for the book, I knew I had to read it. Though I did enjoy the story there was one crucial part that kept me from enjoying it to the maximum capacity.

I really enjoyed how the story was laid out as well as the pacing of each section of the book. The addition of various details as the story progressed to better understand various parts of Sloane's life were also well done. Although I would have liked to see a greater contrast of before and after the program, to see a growing dread towards the increase of suicides as well as the Program itself. It would have made a nice comparison such as what was done in The Handmaid's Tale.

While I did enjoy the storyline and how it was laid out, I was not particularly wild over the characters themselves. Sloane was not a character I truly connected with, I felt very apathetic towards her which is not something I want to feel for a main character in a dire situation. I did feel sympathy for her but nothing more even though I wanted to. Additionally, when Realm was introduced towards the middle of the story, I was hoping that he would be a benign helper on the side, but of course he turned into another "love interest." I really wished that there would be a platonic guy friend instead of just another guy who falls for her because the comfort people can provide to others is not always strictly romantic. However, my disinterest was the only thing that kept me from not liking the book from the full potential.

Cafe Cover Chit Chat: I think the cover is pretty good. The stark white walls and the bright uniforms really help to stand out (B+) 

All in all, though this novel did provide an interesting premise and storyline, the characters were not as sturdy as I would have liked them to be leading it to not have been as strong of a book as it could have been.

Grade: B+

Wdebo :)

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Book Review: To All the Boys I've Loved Before By: Jenny Han

"I suppose there's only one thing I can do. I'll write him another letter. A postscript with as many pages as it takes to X away whatever feelings I have left for him. I'll put this whole thing to rest, once and for all" 
(59)

Book Title: To All the Boys I've Loved Before
Author: Jenny Han
PAPERBACK
Amount of Pages: 355
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Release Date: April 15, 2014
Geared Towards: Young Adult
From: Library's Summer Reading Program



Summary (From the Back of the Book): Lara Jean keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. They aren't love letters that anyone else wrote for her; these are ones she's written. One for every boy she's ever loved-five in all. When she writes, she can pour out her heart and soul and say all the things she would never say in real life, because her letters are for her eyes only. Until the day her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly Lara Jean's love life goes from imaginary to out of control. 

Wdebo's Review: As a person who is very well versed in the art of one-sided love, there is a big what if portion that always pops into one's mind. What if this person were to find out about how I feel about them? What if they are disgusted? But what if they feel the same way too? This books helps to answer those questions.

I was first enticed into reading this novel by the gorgeously layered cover as well as the storyline because of reasons stated before. However, I did try to read The Summer I Turned Pretty earlier this year and was not able to finish it, so I did have a slight worry that this novel would turn out that way for me as well. But I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the novel. From the very beginning I was pulled into the story. I enjoyed the writing very much except for one thing that nagged at me. The story, especially in the beginning, would be progressing smoothly and building a strong rhythm but it would suddenly halt and zigzag awkwardly into a side route as it tried to explain or expand upon something that was brought up and just felt like it was hastily tagged on and not very smooth. However, that was mainly a problem I noticed towards the beginning of the novel and thankfully did not really occur towards the middle or the end of the story.

I enjoyed reading about all of the characters except for Chris. Chris is a tough girl bad-ass who didn't give a fuck about what others say, but it just did not come through Han's writing at all. I just felt that Chris was just kind of awkwardly written. It felt like an older person trying to "talk hip" to fit in with teenagers around him. It just did not work for me. Apart from Chris I felt that the others were well done. I did like Lara Jean's character, I'm usually not too keen with super timid main characters but it worked well for her. And every character's personality matched their behaviors and actions well throughout the novel.

I also love how they attached all of Lara Jean's letters into various parts of the story and they really helped to color her as a person in seeing what attracted her to every guy.

Finally, I'm pretty surprised that there is going to be a sequel to the novel. I really liked how the story ended, it did start going down a pretty predictable path but was a fun read and I was pleasantly surprised with how things played out and the ending was tied up really nice. So even though I enjoyed the story very much, I am not sure if I want to continue with the sequel, but I might if I just see it lying around.

Cafe Cover Chit Chat: As stated above, I absolutely adore this cover to the point that it was one of the deciding factors as to why I decided to check out the story in the first place. It is beautifully composed with the color scheme and the lettering. I love the lettering of the cover, the handwritten cursive is so beautiful. (A+) 

All in all, To All the Boys I've Loved Before is a wonderfully written story. Though it did include some hiccups in the beginning, it really pulled through into a nicely written novel to accompany you for a few pleasant hours.

Grade: A-/A

Wdebo :)

Monday, June 13, 2016

Book Review: One of Those Hideous Books Where the Mother Dies By: Sonya Sones

"Aunt Duffy put her arm around me, 
then pointed to this enormous face up on the movie screen
and said, 'There he is, Ruby.
That's your daddy.'"
(9)

Title: One of Those Hideous Books Where the Mother Dies
Author: Sonya Sones
HARDBACK
Amount of Pages: 268
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Release Date: April 27, 2004
Geared Towards: Teens+
From: Library




Summary: Ruby was a normal teenager surrounded by all the people she loves. Her mom, aunt, best friend Lizzie and gorgeous boyfriend Ray are constants in her life that she would never want to give up. However, when Ruby's mother passes away, she is ripped away from all she has known and dropped into LA to live with her scumbag father. The man who has never been there or even visited her in the past 15 years of her life and who also happens to be the world-renowned actor-Whip Logan. Her father is beloved by everyone, just not her. 

Wdebo's Review: I remember seeing advertisements for this book when I was in elementary school and so when I saw this book sitting on my library shelf, I knew I had to check it out and finally get around to reading it. I was surprised to see that the book was written in verse but I thought it worked well for the story, it truly helped to move the plot along as well as bring in a good rhythm for the writing.

Though I did enjoy the novel, I found the story to be a little bit on the cliche side. Everything that happened in the story was pretty easily guessed and it was obvious what type of ending the novel would have. Additionally the main character, Ruby, was the epitome of dramatic teen angst. Her emotions and actions are understandable but the fact that the storyline just followed the predictable route just made the emotions that the writing was trying to evoke slightly flat which I found to be disappointing because I wanted to feel more emotion than I was given.

However, even with that, I was still able to read this book in one sitting. And though it was predictable I still found it to be a fairly entertaining and well paced novel.

Cafe Cover Chit Chat: The cover is ok. It shows the main character in her new home but nothing truly jumps out. (C) 

All in all, though a fairly predictable novel it was still a fast and enjoyable read.

Grade: B-

Wdebo :)

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Singin' Saturday: Remembering You - Shennio Lin

Chinese Title: 道聽塗說
English Title: Remembering You
Artist: Shennio Lin
Language: Mandarin Chinese
TTS: None

Wdebo's Notes: I saw a quick preview of this song when I was karaoking in Taiwan last month and was instantly hooked. I absolutely love this song. Shennio Lin's voice is lovely and though it is one of those sad love songs, it is still very catchy and just perfect to be played on repeat (as I have been doing for the past forever).

Listen and Love!

Wdebo :)

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Book Review: Con Academy By: Joe Schreiber

"She's so right. I am in over my head. At least it's nothing new. 
I'm still holding out my head, and Andrea's still smiling as she shakes it."
(55) 

Title: Con Academy
Author: Joe Schreiber
HARDBACK
Amount of Pages: 236
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers 
Release Date: August 4, 2015
Geared Towards: Teens
From: Library



Summary (From Front Flap): Meet Will Shea, a con artist who has bluffed his way into one of the nation's most exclusive private schools. But Will isn't the only scammer at Connaughton Academy-Andrea Dufresne is there too, and the ivy-covered campus isn't big enough for the both of them. 

So they make a bet-and the winner gets more than just a high school diploma. In this twisty tale of secrets, lies and deception-it's hard to figure out who's double-crossing who. May the best con win! 

Wdebo's Review: I have always enjoyed stories about hackers or con artists, so I quickly picked this book off the library shelves even without reading the summary. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed reading the book. It was a true pageturner for me, I just could not put it down until I was done. However, even though it was a fun and light read, that was all it was, it did not give me any deeper connection to the story or the characters. 

I like how the story started out as Will telling his lie and if readers did not read the summary before (like me) you will start going along with his fake backstory until the sudden reveal of his deception. Afterwards, the writing was light and easy to breeze through as you follow Will through his bet with Andrea and to the little twist at the end. 

Even though you are going on this journey that was supposed to get suspenseful at times, I just did not feel any intense emotions from the story which did disappoint me. Stories with con artists should have those moments where you are cheering for the protagonist to pull off whatever heist they are involved in and feel the various emotions that they are racing through, but I just did not get those. Additionally, I hoped the ending would have been better constructed, it wasn't bad and I actually did like it, but it did seem a bit rushed and could have been better tied together and elaborated on. 

As for characters, I did like them, they were fairly interesting in their own way but they felt flat to me. A lot could have been done to flesh out and truly draw out each of the characters, and a few of them started to have that, but it just felt unfinished and I really wished the author had done more in that regards so I could truly connect with the story especially through the characters themselves. 

However, even though there was those faults that I found with that story, I did enjoy it and it was quite fun to read. 

Cafe Cover Chit Chat: I think the cover is cute with the poker chips and the little devil paraphernalia. (B+) 

All in all, though the story was not deeply fleshed out, it was still a fun con game story that can help you kill a few hours!

Grade: B+ 

Wdebo :)  

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
TTS: HERE

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
PAPERBACK
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
PAPERBACK
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
TTS: N/A

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
HARDBACK
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 :)