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" 

Book Title: Kill the Boy Band
Author: Goldy Moldavsky
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"

Book Title: The Program
Author: Suzanne Young
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" 

Book Title: To All the Boys I've Loved Before
Author: Jenny Han
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.'"

Title: One of Those Hideous Books Where the Mother Dies
Author: Sonya Sones
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."

Title: Con Academy
Author: Joe Schreiber
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 :)