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"

Book Title: 100 Days of Cake
Author: Shari Goldhagen
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" 

Book Title: A Week of Mondays
Author: Jessica Brody
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
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."

Book Title: Red Queen
Author: Victoria Aveyard
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 :)