Sunday, September 17, 2017

Zoo Eruption

Crowds of kids jump, leap, and dance their way through the amusing park. But the animals behind cages of metal bars and smudged Plexiglas are not amused. Tigers and lions take cat naps in the afternoon sun. The wolves hide in the shade, and the giraffes search for snacks to go with their afternoon tea. Polar bears wade in icy water and penguins snooze atop their iceberg mountains. Buildings house reptiles, bugs, birds, and creatures of the night, but even those animals sleep in the dark of day. Balloons and music from the carousel fill the surrounding air. Laughter is masked by the chattering of monkeys and the sweet smell of fried food. Chaos, noise, color, and warmth erupt from every corner of the park, seeping into every visitor’s veins, so they all turn into ape-like creatures and monkey about hooting and hollering while swinging their arms about and bloating their cheeks to make faces.

And it makes me think of you, or more what you do to me.

When you stare at me with your Ent eyes, when you hold my hand and rub your thumb across my skin, I feel like the jittery bats of the night caves, swooping from invisible wire to invisible wire. The whole zoo—the noise, the color, and chaos—erupts when I see you. The monkey emerges, banging around in my internal organs, begging to be heard and noticed. My heart roars loud like the lions, tigers, and bears. But all I can do is stare silently with wide eyes like the jaguar atop the rocky cliff, watching her prey through the Plexiglas and wishing I could think of the words to explain how you make me feel.

My slimy frog with a slimy frog!

Sunday, September 10, 2017


Recently, I finished reading Silence by Shusaku Endo. I first heard about this book when the movie adaptation was released at the end of last year, beginning of this year. (I was mainly intrigued because it starred Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver, and Liam Neeson.) But then I did my research, looking up the plot synopsis and themes on Wikipedia and I knew I had to read this book.

Basically, the story follows a Jesuite priest during the 17th century as he travels to Japan to do missionary work. Only the Japanese government doesn't want Christianity in their country. If captured, the priests undergo torture until they renounce their beliefs or die. During all of this, as the priest hides and experiences various forms of torture, he wonders at the silence of God. People are renouncing their faith, being spit on, being tortured, and dying yet God stays silent.

It's definitely not any easy story to read, and I'm not sure how I feel about everything that was said within the pages. But there are a lot of ideas woven throughout the novel that hit hard and made me think. Here are a few of the more noteworthy quotes I found the most intriguing.

"But Christ did not die for the good and beautiful. It is easy enough to die for the good and beautiful; the hard thing is to die for the miserable and corrupt." 

"Men are born in two categories: the strong and the weak, the saints and the commonplace, the heroes and those who respect them. In times of persecution, the strong are burnt in the flames and drowned in the sea; but the weak, like Kichijro, lead a vagabond life in the mountains."

"Sin, he reflected, is not what it is usually though to be; it is not to steal or tell lies. Sin is for one man to walk brutally over the life of another and to be quite oblivious of the wounds he has left behind."

"True love was to accept humanity when wasted like rags and tatters."

"At first it was silent, but pierced him with a glance that was filled with sorrow. And then it seemed to speak to him: 'When you suffer, I suffer with you. To the end I am close to you.'"

"It was to be trampled on by men that I was born into this world. It was to share men's pain that I carried my cross."

"I was not silent. I suffered beside you."

"But Our Lord was not silent. Even if he had been silent, my life until this day would have spoken of him."

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Books and Waffles

I started this year with a few goals. Most were related to reading books and writing books. But one of the goals was to post at least once a week on this blog. Over the past six years of blogging, I've had seasons where I blog a lot and seasons where I don't blog at all. Recently, I've felt I was trying to make this blog "too many" things all at once. I want to post book reviews but also discuss my writing and my life. I just can't see that happening.


I created another blog called "Books and Waffles." This is going to be my main hub for book reviews or Top Ten Tuesdays or discussing books. I like waffles, I like books, and I thought those two things went together nicely.

Steve Trevor also goes nicely with books and waffles. 

But I'm not abandoning "The Dancing Lawn." This place has become my little corner of the Internet. Instead, I'm giving this blog a focus. Mainly writing, though I'm sure other topics will show up. I might still discuss books or post quotes from books I adore. I'm probably going to post more writing, such as prose poetry.

Basically, this blog will still be updated. Maybe not weekly. It won't be about books any more. But that's okay because I'm not going to stop talking about books. (I don't think that's even possible.) You can follow "Books and Waffles" to read my book reviews and other bookish discussions. (There's a link on the tabs at the top!) You can stay here to learn about my characters, the stories I'm writing and dreaming about, and the ideas in my head that want to put to page.

So welcome to "The Dancing Lawn." Here, we like to laugh and dance with fauns. Here, we gather to save Narnia. Here, we are whisked away into an adventure. Join me?

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Beautiful People: August 2017

So I was planning to answer August's Beautiful People about one of the characters from Thieves of Bakkaj, the high fantasy serial story I'm writing with a few friends. But it just wasn't going to work this time around. Most of the questions would have similar answers of "well, he doesn't have a house or money to buy food, so it's irrelevant!" Alas.

Instead, I debated between several characters to spotlight, and on a whim, decided to go with a new character. One of my biggest writing dreams is to write a so-called "urban" fantasy novel. As in a fantasy story set in modern day times, most likely modern day America. Stories like The Raven Cycle or Percy Jackson or Supernatural. Not the future or the past, not another world. Our world but... with magic.

Meet Evie (name is pending, as are most details about the world and plot, so you know, don't judge me if things change). Her family is part of a magic society that is mostly unknown to the regular world. She can use magic, and she works at a magical pet store that sells magical creatures. However, there's been a recent shortage in certain creatures, such as dragons, due to many hunters in the world hunting them down for sport. Right now, the basic premise of the story is that she and another magic user set off to find hidden dragons in the wilderness and bring them into safety, where they won't be killed off. (Hey, I said it's a work in progress!)

The Questions

What are they addicted to/can’t live without?
She'd probably say bewitched coffee brew, but in reality, she'd mope if she didn't have a book to read.

Name 3 positive and 3 negative qualities about your character.

  • She's friendly to almost anybody right off the bat unless you do something that enrages her.
  • She has a knack for cooking and baking, even without using magic.
  • She's loyal to her friends and family, so if you're on her good side, she'll defend you until her last breath.


  • She doesn't often hold her tongue, saying whatever comes to mind.
  • She isn't often open-minded about her opinions and beliefs. She has a hard time seeing the other side of things, which makes her often judgmental about others.
  • She's naive about how the world works.

Are they holding onto something they should get rid of?
Probably tons of knick-knacks and old trinkets she's had for ages. She keeps almost everything from school--papers, awards, badges, etc.--and she has a hard time getting rid of old clothes because she thinks she can use it to make something new. Upcyling is her thing along with cooking, reading, and taking care of animals.

If 10 is completely organized and 1 is completely messy, where do they fall on the scale?
It usually depends on what she's organizing. Her life: 8 or 9. She has things down pat. She knows what she wants to do and how she wants to do it. She doesn't want anybody to mess up her plans. (Ha ha, guess what happens?) But her room is a disaster. She has stuff shoved in her dresser drawers and piled around her bed. Her desk is a dumping ground for half-finished projects, dead plants, and trinkets she's picked up at the fairy market. Her closet is exploding with more stuff as well.

What most frustrates them about the world they live in?
How people use magic. She doesn't understand why some people are greedy with their magic or use it for shady business. She wants everything to be a colorful and comforting as the coffee shop or the menagerie she works at where magic just seems to thrive.

How would they dress for a night out? How would they dress for a night in?
For a night out, she'd pull on a cute dress, leggings, boots, and a jean jacket. She might even put her hair up. For a night in, she's all sweatpants, baggy shirt, and big, fuzzy socks with her hair in a simple braid or bun.

How many shoes do they own, and what kind?
She owns half a dozen pairs, all for different uses and occasions. Boots for style and for rainy or winter weather (charmed, of course, not to get damp). Flats for special occasions with magic inserts so her feet don't hurt. Sneakers for comfort that give her a boost of energy. Sandals for style and warm weather; they sparkle with a self-esteem lift. Converse because they're cool.

Do they have any pets? What pet do they WISH they had?
She doesn't have any pets, but her siblings do. They have a pair of guardian lion-dogs, lucky fish, and a healing hawk.

Evie, however, wishes she could have a dragon for a pet. She's interacted with some dragons at the menagerie, but often, dragons are rare to recent hunting expeditions.

Is there something or someone that they resent? Why and what happened?
She doesn't often resent people unless they do something to make her mad. That being said, she currently resents the new boy who moved in down the street. His family is part of the magic community and he attends school with her, but he ignores her every time she tries to approach him. She doesn't know what his deal is, but she's given up trying and decided to hate him instead for being rude.

What’s usually in their fridge or pantry?
All sorts of food, both regular and magical-based. The typical eggs, milk, sugar, flour, and butter, along with shots of charisma, anti-burn powder, salt and peace shakers, truth syrup, and filling bread. She's usually making a variety of baked goods, so she stores them in the fridge and pantry as well. Her house us normally well stocked for cooking or munching on a snack.

Are you participating in Beautiful People? Link-up with us!

Friday, August 18, 2017

Book Review: 'Waste of Space' by Gina Damico

There are never enough outer space adventures to please me. I want characters blasting off across the galaxy in cool spacecraft. I want epic space pirates and interesting aliens. I want to drool over gorgeous planets and starry landscapes. And I want more of those outer space adventures to be funny. There are not enough comical intergalactic journeys. Think Guardians of the Galaxy but in book form. I need it.

I thought Waste of Space by Gina Damico was going to be the hilarious, space adventure I needed in my life. But it isn't. It's more satire than comedy, and no one actually goes into outer space. Was I disappointed, though? No. Because the book was still ridiculous.


"A shady cable network teams up with a group of ambitious scientists to create an ill-conceived reality show, Waste of Space. The premise? Cram ten wildly different teenagers into a spaceship and blast off. However, the production is a sham and the world knows it, but the teens on board don't know that the spaceship is actually in a warehouse in the middle of the Arizona desert. Chaos ensues."
Waste of Space was definitely not what I was expecting. For some reason I read the synopsis wrong and thought this book was documenting a show where teens encounter problems while in outer space. Which is sort of what happens, minus the "in outer space" part. Instead, this is a satirical look at the craziness of Hollywood's reality TV shows and what happens behind the scenes.

The story is told through a compilation of video and phone message transcripts, sort of similar to Illuminae and Gemina (though not as pretty or detailed). I liked the set up because it was different than other books and I wasn't expecting it. Plus, it was fun to read how this show became a complete train wreck through the conversations and video transcripts.

Some parts of it weren't as intriguing to me, mainly at the beginning. I almost stopped reading it because I had a hard time remembering the vast amount of characters and their personalities. Sometimes the transcriptions dragged on as well, but most had a point and kept the story moving. I'm glad I continued through because the ending of the story flipped everything upside down and was so ridiculous and insane it was amazing. Fantastic plot twists, people!

My favorite character was Nico because he was a precious cinnamon roll and became more important than it would seem. Also, I think at this point I have a thing for characters named Nico because I love them all and they're all so precious and should be protected at all costs, but alas.

Overall, Waste of Space wasn't what I was expecting, but it surprised me by being ridiculously fun with crazy cool science fiction plot twists that I was not expecting either. Basically, it was stellar. If you like satire and a good poke at reality TV shows plus a sprinkle of science fiction, give this book a chance.

~I checked out Waste of Space by Gina Damico from my local library and chose to review it of my own free will. All opinions are my own.~

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Top Ten Tuesdays: Book Recommendations for Dragon Lovers

Top Ten Tuesday is back! *screaming crowds* The prompt for this week is to list recommendations for a particular group of people, such as animal lovers, Ravenclaws, fans of Star Wars, etc. So, unsurprisingly, my list is recommendations for dragon lovers! If you love dragons and need to find good books involving dragons, try out a few of these titles!

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien: A booklist for dragon lovers would be incomplete without the "king" of all dragons, Smaug. So of course, I'm going to recommend The Hobbit. This book has one of the greatest (though not biggest) dragons of literature. There's plenty of dragonish adventure, including lots of "I am fire" and "I am death" and burning cities on lakes and trying to eat dwarves. Plus, gold. Lots and lots of gold. I promise you'll be pleased.

DragonKeeper Chronicles by Donita K. Paul: Every book by Donita K. Paul includes dragons. Even a cute, Christmas-y contemporary romance. She's basically the Queen of Dragons (in my opinion), so any book by her will do. The DragonKeeper Chronicles will introduce you to the world she's created with all sorts of dragons and other fun characters, including goofy wizards and extra cool furry critters.

How To Train Your Dragon Series by Cressida Cowell: Wait, wait, hold on... How to Train Your Dragon is a book? Yes. And while the story is very different than the movies, it's still just as wonderful. Mainly because Toothless is a tiny yet sassy dragon that refuses to do anything unless he gets fish or riddles. I aspire to be just like him when I grow up. These books are just fun and hilarious, full of a lot of misadventures, viking beards, and smelly fish. But hey, who wouldn't want that in their life?

Wings of Fire Series by Tui T. Sutherland: I recently discovered these fantastical books, and upon reading the introduction pages--before I even started the story--I was in love. These books include so many different types of dragons from mud dragons to starry night nebula dragons to river dragons and rainbow dragons to everything kind of dragon. Plus, they are so much! The characters are dragons and they can talk and do amazing feats and learn all about who they are based on what kind of dragon they are. It's just so cute and basically a dream come true.

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis: There's a reason The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is my favorite Narnia book, and no, it's not because it's the only book in the series with a dragon . But I will say that the dragon portion of the book is one of my favorite parts of the story. The whole situation of the dragon and how it is resolved always spoke to me, and I'm always grateful for C.S. Lewis' ability to speak truth and wisdom to me despite his books being published several decades before I was even born.

The Neverending Story by Michael Ende: To be honest, when I started reading The Neverending Story, I wasn't sure what I was getting myself into. But basically, I loved it. And Falkor the Luckdragon is pretty much the best. If you like awesome stories where characters jump into the books and become heroes and dragons fly around and rescue people, read this book.

The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini: Despite having a grudge against these books for a long time, I finally admit they are decent and I did enjoy them, especially later on in the series when 1. more dragons show up 2. Eragon isn't worthless anymore and 3. draaaagon baaatttles! If you like dragons, want a piece of something popular, and really like dragon battles, feel free to suffer through the first two books of this series (like I did) to get to the good parts.

Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin: This is probably my favorite picture book in existence, though there are others I enjoy. I mean, that title alone intrigues me, but the story inside and the art work is just as fun and hilarious. It's worth reading, especially to find out WHY dragons love tacos and what happens when they eat them.

Fairy Tail by Hiro Mashima: Okay, so this manga is completely crazy and bizarre, but it's also super fun. Mainly because of Natsu, who is a wizard with dragon-like abilities. No, really. And it's ridiculous. When he uses his dragon abilities, the fight sequences are so hilarious and over-the-top that I can't help but love it. There's more to the story than Natsu fighting, though, so if you think you can take on this bizarre adventure, I say go for it.

Beowulf: Now I know some translations of Beowulf are awful, so I'm suggesting you all read the translation by Seamus Heaney because it's beautiful. If you love dragons, you might be a little sad at the end of this book, but I still think it's freaking cool adventure story with tons of dragon and monster references and big battles and feasting. I mean, who wouldn't want to read about that in beautiful, poetic verse?

There are probably a ton of dragon-related books I could recommend to dragon lovers, but I'll limit this list to the top ten. Let me know in the comments if you have any other dragon book suggestions for me to read. I'm always looking for another dragon book to ride read.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Book Review: New World: Rising by Jennifer Wilson

The June Owlcrate box came with not one book, but two: The Sandcastle Empire by Kayla Olson and New World: Rising by Jennifer Wilson. Both are YA dystopian stories that happen to have green and white covers, which makes for a great color scheme. The problem with reading multiple YA dystopians in a row is that when one is fantastic and the other isn't, it's hard not to compare them. Such is the case with The Sandcastle Empire and New World: Rising. The Sandcastle Empire is gripping and powerful. Meanwhile, New World: Rising has a few interesting points to it, but unfortunately I felt a lot of it has already been done previously.


Since she was eleven, Phoenix has been on her own, trying to survive in the violence-filled city of Tartarus. The city is made up of different tribes, each with their own agendas and thirst for blood. But when Phoenix saves a little girl from one of the tribes, she's suddenly thrust into a new place, a new world, and she doesn't know who to trust or if she can survive. 

New World: Rising includes a lot of elements that came be found in other dystopian novels. The tribes of Tartarus reminded me of the factions in Divergent. Phoenix trying to survive on her own reminded me of Day in Legend. The Sanctuary and the Walls reminded me of Attack on Titan and The Hunger Games. While there isn't anything wrong with a book being similar to other stories, it's hard for me personally to enjoy a story if it feels too similar to everything else.

In addition, I didn't like Phoenix. Since she's the narrator of the story, it was hard to enjoy because she told us everything--she was good at this, she could memorize that, etc.--but I didn't see it. I wanted to know how she learned to survive at age eleven to become this super awesome assassin-scavenger-spy person. It would have been nice for more backstory and more depth to Phoenix.

The same goes for the world-building. It had interesting twists. The utopia is really a dystopia, different tribes of Tartarus were detailed and unique, and there are other forces at work than just the perfect city and the tribes. But I wanted more. I often was confused about the different tribes and didn't feel like I truly grasped which was which. I also wanted to know more about how this world came to be. Why did the tribes form? Why doesn't The Sanctuary let people in or out? I just wanted more. Perhaps this more is explored in the other books in the series, though.

Third, the romance was cliche and insta-love, so I was kind of "meh" about it. It happened quickly and would disappear for a while, then come back full force. I felt there should be more important things going on then finding someone to kiss. That being said, I was also intrigued that the guy noticed Phoenix because she was stealing books from an old library. I mean, I guess if you're going to fall in love in a dystopian world you should definitely pick someone who can read, right?

Despite shortcomings, there are things about New World: Rising I did like. The cover is pretty cool. I like the colors and the artwork. I like that there is a focus on a younger girl, Mouse, and that Phoenix chooses her actions in order to protect and care for her. That was a nice change than other dystopians where the main character seems to only care about themselves or their immediate love interest. Though, I wish there had been a bigger reason why Phoenix saves her in the first place. Continually, Phoenix claims she doesn't know why she did it, and I find it hard to believe that someone who has been trying to survive on her own for six years wouldn't have a reason for helping someone else. Even something simple like Mouse reminded her of herself when she was left to fend for herself or that she wouldn't be able to live with herself for letting a child die at the hands of murderers.

 I also liked that Mouse was mute and the other characters learned sign language in order to communicate with her. That was a nice representation that isn't often portrayed in dystopian books. The book was also fast paced and easy to read. There was a lot of action and exciting scenes. Phoenix also learns truths about life and humanity and that no one, even those we love, is perfect, which did make for an interesting twist.

New World: Rising is a simple and short dystopian novel. It's not a bad book, and it was entertaining. I might look into the other books in the series since it was a fast read. If you're a fan of dystopians and want something else to add to your pile, pick this one up.

~I received New World: Rising by Jennifer Wilson in the June Owlcrate subscription box and chose to review it of my own free will. All opinions are my own.~

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Fandom Friday: Most Quotable

This week's prompt for Fandom Friday is dedicated to most quotable or quoted fandoms. When I first read the prompt, my mind came up blank. I quote a lot of fandoms. All the time. Sometimes it depends on what which fandom I'm currently invested in or who else is with me.

However. I probably make references to Lord of the Rings or Star Wars daily. I also used to quote Doctor Who (as well as Sherlock) a lot, but since I've stopped watching it, those references don't come up as often. Here are some of the ones I can recall saying more recently. Don't judge me on why.

"What about second breakfast?"

"I'm going on an adventure!"

"A shortcut to mushrooms." 
(Honestly, no idea why I say this, but I do whenever someone says "shortcut.")

"There will come a day when [fill in the blank], but it is not this day!"

"My precioussssss..."  

"I love you." 
"I know."

"This will make a fine addition to my collection." 
(Probably talking about books. Not lightsabers.)

"Hello, there!"
"General Kenobi!"
(Don't ask because I really don't know.)

"Biting is like kissing only there's a winner."

"Hey, who turned out the lights."

"Don't blink."

"I don't have friends."

"Bored!" *shoots wall*

"Thank you. Bless you."

"I will burn the heart out of you."
(Don't. Ask.)

In general, I usually make reference to fandoms more than I quote word for word from them. Merlin, Narnia, Marvel movies... you can probably find me making references to those all the time in addition to the other fandoms I mentioned. But again, it usually depends. Sometimes I even quote from movies or TV shows I've never seen, only know from the Internet. Like Sirius Black saying, "I've done my time. Twelve years of it. In Azkaban." (Which is actually quoted wrong here since he really says, "I've done my waiting.") For a long time, I said that, for whatever reason, and I hadn't seen any of the Harry Potter movies. Now that I've seen them, I feel less fake referencing it. I also like to say, "You fugly" when referring to something ugly, which comes from Supernatural.

I also say this a lot.

My life is basically just one reference after another from fandoms, though usually Lord of the Rings takes the cake with the most. Everything comes back to Lord of the Rings, it seems. My life is just one long phase of Lord of the Rings.

(And don't even get me started on all the musicals I randomly sing in my head as I go about my day.)

What are some your most quotable fandoms? Link-up with us at The Fangirl Initiative!

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Comic Book Conglomeration: July 2017

Some of the comic books I read in July are the best I've read this year. But here's what I thought of all the books I've read this past month.

Civil War II by Brian Michael Bendis and David Marquez
I knew going into this it would be devastating, but I didn't realize how devastating it would be. I wasn't even halfway through the volume before several well-known characters had already died or were severely injured. And it only got worse. The first Marvel Civil War was hard because it pitted two of my favorite characters against each other, whereas this one I didn't have as hard of a time choosing a side. (Freedom first, always.) But both sides are valid and have reasons for their actions, which makes Civil War such a hard comic to read, no matter the issue. There isn't one answer; things aren't black and white. I also didn't feel this one had as huge of impact. Sure, things exploded, but it was like the explosion was contained. I guess we'll see how it affects the next series of comic books.

Civil War II: Choosing Sides by Declan Shalvey
I wasn't as impressed with this comic. I expected it to show different heroes choosing a side for the Civil War, but it didn't really do that. (Unless I'm a complete doofus and missed it.) Instead, it highlighted several heroes and how they reacted to certain parts of Civil War, such as the deaths. It's probably better to read other comics that intersect with the Civil War story arc before reading this one. It did have highlights like Justin Trudeau boxing with Tony Stark or the cover variants for the different issues.

Gotham Academy, Vol. 3: Yearbook by Brenden Fletcher, Dustin Nguyen, Derek Fridolfs, and Rafael Albuquerque
This volume of Gotham Academy was so much fun. It's basically a montage of various adventures the students had during their first year at Gotham Academy. Maps, of course, is still my favorite, and I freaking adore her obsession with Batman and her desire to be the next Robin. (And the fact that Batman saw her fanart is seriously the best thing to ever happen.) This volume was definitely more light-hearted, even though it did have a conflict linking the stories together, but it was still a lot of fun and worth a read if you love the Gotham Academy crew.

Injustice: Gods Among Us: Year 5, Vol. 3  by Brian Buccellato
This volume wraps up the Injustice comics and slips right into how the video game begins. Since I haven't played the video game, I was looking for a more solid ending. (But I guess that's why I should probably play the video game.) Still, it was intense and had a lot of stuff that was better than previous volumes.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Vol. 4: I Kissed a Squirrel and I Liked It by Ryan North, Erica Henderson, Jacob Chabot, and Rico Renzi
This volume was bizarre. It starts off with a choose-your-own-adventure issue, which was so much fun. Then there's Mole Man and lots of squirrel and koi puns throughout. Still, it's worth a read because Squirrel Girl is amazing.

Ms. Marvel Vol. 6: Civil War II by G. Willow Wilson, Takeshi Miyazawa, and Adrian Alphona
Remember when I said Civil War II was devastating? I think Ms. Marvel's intersection to the Marvel Event was the worst (that I've read so far). But this is also probably the best Ms. Marvel comic I've read yet. It packed a punch as I witnessed Kamala struggle with the two sides of the war and come to a decision about right and wrong. It hurt a lot, but the best thing about Ms. Marvel comics is that no matter what she faces, what she goes through, how much damage happens... there's hope in the end. And I have hope that Kamala Khan will be just fine.

What comic books have you read recently? Any recommendations for me?

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Fandom Friday: Fandom Doppelgangers

The Fangirl Initiative recently added a new weekly link-up for fangirls and fanboys: Fandom Fridays. I haven't had a chance to participate yet since I was in Florida the other weeks, but I'm participating this week, even though today isn't Friday. (It kind of bothers me not to post Fandom Friday on Friday, so maybe in the future I'll rearrange my blog schedule to fit it in like I started doing with Top Ten Tuesdays.)

This week's prompt is to discuss five characters from fandom that I relate to the most or get compared to the most. *shrieks* There are so many characters I relate to that it's hard to narrow down. But I'll do my best!

1. Bilbo Baggins (The Hobbit)

If I was forced to only pick one character I relate to, I wouldn't hesitate to pick Bilbo Baggins. Despite being tall, I am a hobbit at heart. I'd love to relax at home all day, eating food and reading books, maybe even tending the garden. But I'm also like Bilbo because I want to have adventure and go places, but the moment I step out of my house, I wonder "What in the world am I doing? I should go home immediately." The struggle is real. Bilbo Baggins has a big heart, which includes a bit of a Tookish heart, and I definitely have that. Plus, when people knock on the door, I creep around my house, hiding and trying to figure out who it is before I open the door. You know, it's the little things.

2. Rapunzel (Tangled)

While I'm not nearly as energetic or outgoing as Rapunzel, I definitely feel kinship with her. We're both a little naive, and we often trust people easily. Plus, when I am excited about something, I definitely do the squee-and-jump-up-and-down thing she does. Rapunzel has a soft soul, believing in the impossible and the romantic as well as believing in people. I am the same, at times, even if I won't admit it or show it. We're both creative, her with painting, me with writing. And I may or may not be dating Flynn Rider.

3. Newt Scamander (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them)

I didn't jump on the Harry Potter bandwagon until I saw Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. It wasn't that I didn't enjoy reading Harry Potter, I did. I loved the world that was created and many of the characters, but I didn't connect to any one particular character. Until I met Newt Scamander. Within moments of Newt walking across the screen, I knew I had found someone to connect with. Newt is a shy guy, who likes to talk to animals more than people. He walks to his own beat, does his own thing, and doesn't let anybody stop him. He's adorkable and goofy in the best possible way and loyal once he gets to know someone. These aspects of him made me feel known. I would much rather talk to animals or books than people. I like to do my own thing, and sometimes I'm a little goofy. I'm loyal to those I'm close to, and I'd like to think I stand up for what I believe. Plus, who wouldn't want a suitcase full of fantastic creatures?

4. Matt Murdock (Daredevil)

When I first watched Daredevil, I was shocked to find a lot of similarities between myself and Matt Murdock. I didn't expect this pushed-to-the-side superhero to mean so much to me, but he did. From his deep friendship with Foggy to his unstoppable need to save his city to the war within his heart and mind, I feel Matt Murdock deep in my soul. He has a lot of pent up anger for injustice, and he's often times reckless as he tries to save the city. But he doesn't give up or in. I'd like to think if faced with a similar situation, if there was no other way to stop injustice, that I, too, would rise up to the challenge. He struggles a lot with juggling his religion with what needs to be done to stop the injustice, which I think is one of the best depictions of the Christian faith ever portrayed in entertainment. It's not beating around the bush or promising a happily ever after; it's life, lived day in and out, trying to find a balance between human nature and the will of God. I know that kind of struggle. In addition, Matt Murdock became a lawyer to help people. Everything he does is for others, from his friends to random strangers who need assistance. I, too, want to help people, to bring them hope.

5. Jane Bennet (Pride and Prejudice)

Often overshadowed by her sister Elizabeth, Jane Bennet is a quiet soul. She's shy, she's pretty, and she's optimistic. Jane sees the best in people, even when they hurt her. She doesn't let it stop her from hoping that something good will work out in the end. I definitely connect with Jane more than the other Bennet sisters (though I wish I could be as quick and outspoken as Elizabeth). Jane is sweet, and often, people say I'm sweet. But I'm also shy and misunderstood, just like Jane. There's nothing wrong with being like Jane though, after all she does get her man, who is just as sweet and adorable as her.

Bonus: Toothless (How To Train Your Dragon)

I cannot have a list of doppelgangers without including my ultimate fandom twin: dragons. I am a dragon, it's a truth universally acknowledged by everybody who knows me. And if I'm any specific dragon, I'm most like Toothless from How to Train Your Dragon. Toothless is kind of goofy, kind of silly, but all kinds of adorable. He loves Hiccup and is loyal to a fault once he gets to know you. He can also be super sassy, which is practically my second language. Toothless is a pretty epic dragon, and I think I relate a lot. Especially with the breathing magical blue fire orbs thing.

Of course, I relate to many other characters, including the Eleventh Doctor (Doctor Who), Lucy Pevensie (The Chronicles of Narnia), Obi-Wan Kenobi (Star Wars), Eleven (Stranger Things), Belle (Beauty and the Beast), Armin Arlet (Attack on Titan), Iku Kasahara (Library War), Groot (Guardians of the Galaxy), and more!

Are you participating in Fandom Fridays? Tell me about your fandom doppelgangers and don't forget to link-up!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Unpopular Opinion: The Most Disappointing Books I've Read So Far in 2017

Recently, I've learned I'm a book snob. I used to never DNF a book unless I really couldn't get into it. Now, I DNF books left and right without feeling a thing. So I thought I would list books I've read recently that didn't live up to my Book Snob Expectations. Since there aren't 10 books published this year that I was disappointed in (I'm actually surprised), I'm going to discuss books I read this year, regardless of publication date, that left me dissatisfied.*

*If you enjoyed any of these titles, have no fear. I have ridiculously high standards sometimes, and most of these books received 3-stars from me despite my irritations. I feel that most of these could have been better, but if you enjoyed them, great! There are tons of books I read so far this year that received similar ratings. I just didn't have any expectations going into it, like I did with these.

1. The Raven King by Maggie Stievfater
Don't hurt me. Please. I inhaled the first three books of The Raven Cycle in a matter of weeks. I was eagerly looking forward to the grand conclusion, and I had high hopes based on Goodreads reviews. But... I was not satisfied with The Raven King. (And I learned that Goodreads reviews lie.) The Raven King had a lot going on, which is probably the biggest problem. There was too much happening without enough explanation. And the whole build-up to Blue kissing Gansey? Garbage. SPOILER There was no explanation for why he died because she kissed him. Like yeah, there was a prophecy about her or whatever that said she'd killed him, but there wasn't a concrete reason?!?? He died because of the prophecy, not because of Blue. And I just couldn't handle that. Then it didn't even matter because they simply brought him back with *waves arms* MAGIC. I wanted him to die! As harsh as that sounds, I think the story would have benefited if he'd died. (The CYCLE would have been complete, and it would have been great.) But instead, it wrapped up into a nice, little present of GOOD FEELINGS and HAPPINESS. But just... ugh. Also what the frick-frack happened to Noah? He was my favorite ghost boy ever, and he just disappeared. I'm angry. 

I'm sorry. I wanted so, so badly to love this. But I felt like I was ripped off with that ending. It could have been better.

2. Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth
I tried. I tried so hard to read this book. But I gave up after about 100 pages. The beginning chapters were intriguing, I was like... okay, maybe this will work. But then it just. got. so. slow. Nothing happened for ages and ages. And it was a disaster. I read several Goodreads reviews (I really shouldn't trust it, though) and decided to give up. Because who has time for 500 pages of slooooowwww reading that isn't worth it in the end? Not me. (Aka Book Snob Mode has been engaged.) Plus! Plus, it ripped off Star Wars almost word for word. Did you really think we wouldn't notice that "the current" sounds an awful lot like... I dunno, THE FORCE? The best thing about this book is the cover, honestly.

3. Defy the Stars Claudia Gray
The cover of Defy the Stars is absolutely gorgeous, but I couldn't get into the story or connect with the characters. I wanted to. And I might give this another try when I have more time, but for now, I've marked it as DNF, and occasionally, I give it sad faces from across the library.

4. Wintersong by S. Jae Jones
Why??? Okay, so the premise of this book sounded cool, and I freaking loved the references to "Goblin Market" by Christina Rossetti. I was hooked. And while the story is great, it kind of just... didn't work? There was a lot of content that could have worked better as an adult book, and then there were parts that just dragged. I don't know. It wasn't bad, but it didn't live up to my Book Snob Expectations.

5. Caraval by Stephanie Garber
This book had its highs and lows. The concept was great, the descriptions were gorgeous, and the plot was a wild adventure. It had a lot of potential. So. Much. Potential. And I felt like parts of it, especially the ending, didn't live up to that potential. It definitely could have been better. And now I'm a sad panda because of it.

6. Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller
Go. Away. Just go away. Again, this book had a lot of potential, but I can't believe I finished reading it and didn't give it up. There was so much about it that annoyed me. (Like I wanted to strangle the main character???? That's not normal.) And it was predictable and vague and at times booooring. The pirates were boring?! How is that even possible? I'm also a pirate snob, so you know, there's that.

7. The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet by Bernie Su and Kate Rorick
Why does this even exist? It was garbage. All garbage. Don't even bother reading it. Nope, not even for Darcy's letter. (Everything in the letter is revealed in the show anyways, so whatever.) Honestly, I'm still angry about this book.

8. The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli
I read 20 pages of this book, read a few Goodreads reviews (again, why?), and gave up. I just knew I wasn't going to like it. It felt like it was pushing an agenda, which okay whatever. But it wasn't something I wanted to read. It has a lot of high reviews, so if you liked it, great. But it wasn't just not my thing.

9. The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi
This was pretty, but where was the plot? the pacing? I love the concept, especially the inclusion of Indian mythology, but this book had a lot of problems. The pacing was awful and the plot kind of dissipated part way through. It needed more time to stretch and flesh out. But there were also beautiful, beautiful moments. *sigh*

10. When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
*groans* Don't even get me started. Just read my rant if you really want to know how much I hate this book right now.

What books have you read recently that disappointed you? Do you have any "unpopular opinions" about certain titles?

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Things I Learned in Florida

Last week, I spent seven days in the Ocala National Forest in Florida, helping at a summer camp as part of a missions trip with my church. It was my first time going to Florida, and while I didn't go to a beach or Disney World, what I did experience was amazing. I would definitely go again, so here are a few things I learned (and should remember) about the Ocala National Forest and Florida.

The team that went. 
  • There is no dirt. The dirt is sand.
  • It's either hot or hot and humid. Nothing else.
  • Gators croak and dig deeper in the water if you throw rocks at them.
  • Kids are kids no matter where they are from or what kind of life they live.
  • Drink lots of water.
  • Florida has deer and squirrels.
  • Florida also has snakes, lizards, toads, and bugs everywhere, so watch out.
  • There are also bears.
  • Don't think about what's in the lake water.
  • Palm trees can be short and tall.
  • The lizards are fast.
  • Drink lots of water.
  • Cockroaches like to hang out in bathrooms.
  • Mosquitoes are bigger and darker, which makes it easier to squash them.
  • Don't touch the mossy vegetation hanging from the trees because there are probably ticks.
  • Hot dogs are God's favorite food because they are made from a little of every creature He created.
  • Don't lose your team flag.
  • Be flexible.
  • Wear sunscreen and bug spray or you'll regret it.
  • It thunderstorms every day.
  • Drink lots of water.
  • Bring extra clothes, especially underwear. 
  • If you have to use the bathroom, you aren't sweating enough.
  • Don't slide, you might get a splinter.
  • It takes longer than an hour for 40+ girls to shower, even if they are short showers.
  • Everybody is somebody. There aren't any nobodies.
  • Dirt is good. But we aren't not dirt. We are gifts from God.
  • Follow the instructions.
  • No PDA (pronounced: Puh-dAH)
  • Drink lots of water.
  • Bring your water bottle everywhere.
  • Andrew. Amber. Michael. Matthew. Come here. Sit down. Get back here. Listen. Get off me. Don't hit.
  • You can bribe kids with single digit dollars into doing almost anything.
  • If you don't like what's for dinner, eat it with a smile anyways.
  • Water is your favorite drink and whatever is being served is your favorite meal.
  • Say Amen.
  • The Forest is loud. It is also quiet.
  • Drink lots of water.
  • Girls talk a lot.
  • If you sneak out, you will regret it.
  • If you are wet, wait about ten minutes and you'll be dry.
  • Most bugs in Florida want to bite you.
  • If a big white van pulls up, get in.
  • The sky is blue, even when it's thundering.
  • The sky is also huge.
  • The Forest in Florida is basically a jungle and a forest smashed together. Meaning you can get attacked by a bear and trip over vines and jungle-y ferns at the same time.
  • Bugs literally drop from the ceiling. So do children.
  • There are gigantic red ant things and gigantic red wasp things. Both sting. 
  • Pool sticks are for playing pool. Not hitting.
  • Drink lots of water.
  • The best way to arm wrestle is to scream.
  • If your feet can't touch the bottom of the lake, find someone who is taller than you.
  • If you hear Pastor Dave's voice, stop talking and listen.
  • Breakfast is at nine. If you're late, your breakfast is cereal.
  • Drive 75 mph in a 55 mph zone. 
  • Make sure your navigator knows he or she is the navigator.
  • If you feel something land on your legs, smack it.
  • 3AM doesn't exist.
  • Drink lots of water.
Dinner after the camp week was over! Do we look tired?

Friday, July 21, 2017

Book Rant: When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

WARNING: This post includes spoilers and an unpopular opinion about a highly praised YA novel. Read at your own discretion.

Often times as bookworms (or as I like to call myself bookdragons), we focus on the books we love, the stories that sweep us away, and the characters we befriend. We like to ignore the stories we didn't like, leaving them in a dark corner of our bookshelves to collect dust. We can be afraid to share our opinion, to admit that something about a book didn't work for us, especially when a book is highly praised by so many other readers. We don't always want to talk about aspects that we're tired of reading.

One YA trope I'm tired of is when two characters, often times who barely know each other, fall madly in love and sleep with one another without consequence or discussion.

For example, let's look at When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon.

When Dimple Met Rishi is an adorable YA contemporary romance about two Indian-American teens who hold varying beliefs about tradition and are arranged to be married by their stereotypically oblivious parents. So there's Dimple, who is this headstrong young lady who doesn't hold to Indian traditions and would rather go to college for computer science and have a career than please her parents who want her to get married and become the typical housewife with ten children. Enter Rishi, a hopeless romantic that upholds tradition, believes in kismet, arranged marriages, and Indian gods, and wants to please his parents to no end.

This sounds like a fantastic story waiting to happen. Until it actually happens. For one, I thought Dimple would stay this headstrong, geeky girl throughout the novel, maybe pushing Rishi along to follow his dreams while Rishi would nudge Dimple into embracing some of her Indian traditions. Instead, we get a messy, convoluted story with one of the worst female characters I've read and the precious cinnamon roll Rishi, who deserves so much better than Dimple.

All because of (can you guess?)... sex.

Ah, yes. The stereotypical, I've-only-known-you-for-three-weeks-and-I-hated-your-guts-two-weeks-ago-but-we-share-something-special kind of sex.

Kill. Me. Now.

Now it wouldn't have been as big of a problem for this story, mainly because it's a YA contemporary romance and at this point I expect the characters to sleep with one another, but it's the way it happened that miffs me the most.

Dimple hated Rishi. And I mean truly hated him. She threw her perfectly good iced coffee at him when they first met, tried to switch partners during the coding camp, and complained every other sentence about how much she disliked him. Yet after one fun (and unnecessary) "team bonding" exercise, she starts to change her mind.

Her loathing of him doesn't last longer than a good twenty-four hours, we forget completely about the awesome STEM-focused coding camp they are attending, and soon everything involves kissing. For pages. Pages and pages upon them kissing or thinking about kissing. Even when Dimple has this firm belief in not having a relationship right now, but instead, focusing on college and career goals.

So it's during a particularly heated kissing scene, which is only a few weeks after they meet mind you, that Dimple decides that she wants to have sex. And Rishi, being the precious cinnamon roll he is, tells her that right now it's probably not the best moment, considering they are both racing with hormones and emotions and what decision do you think they were going to make during that time anyways? Plus, there's a hint of him wondering if that's what he wants--or if he wants to respect his morals/traditions/parent's opinion and do the right thing? (To which, Dimple complains it's their life, not their parents and they don't have to listen to their parents' wishes. I really wanted to slap her at this point, except I really wanted to slap her at every point.)

So they wait to make that decision at a later time when both are in the right frame of mind. Except only a few pages later, they're making out again and decide right then and there to have sex.

No discussion. Not decision-making. No talking about it afterwards either. Just do it and move along.


Where did that come from? What happened to all of Rishi's morals and beliefs? They just flew out the window when Dimple walked in? And also, why the heck did Dimple want that? Over and over in the story, she talks about how she doesn't want a permanent or long-distant relationship. She wants to focus on her school, on a career. Yet again, the moment Rishi shows up, she throws caution to the wind and wants a relationship (then doesn't want it, then wants it again, until I was whiplashed so hard I can't believe I could still finish reading this book).

And it was after they sleep together that Dimple wonders if Rishi loves her. Again, I ask: WHAt?! If you don't love someone, why are you sleeping with them? Have YA books stooped so low that it's okay to do that? That doesn't sound healthy to me.

I was angry. Angry because this was the perfect opportunity to spotlight a religion and set of traditions that are not the "stereotypical" or "cliche" Christian way but has high morals and beliefs. And it was thrown out the window, for what? To have realistic depiction of teens? To have a steamy sex scene in a YA novel? I just don't get it.

I've heard a lot of excuses about this kind of content in a YA book, for both insta-love and built-up relationships. It's realistic. It's normal. We need to show teens having safe, healthy sex. But honestly, I know a lot of teens who are not having sex, who aren't even in a relationship, and don't want to read about characters in the majority of YA books having sex. Instead, they want clean reads, books that show characters making the decision not to have sex or drink alcohol or use drugs. Characters who change the world, not the bedroom.

It would be great to spotlight people who have morals and beliefs beyond the "stereotypical" Christian books. (Though, if you write Christian books and you do it well, props to you. People need you to keep writing also.) Because a lot of people in our world have morals and beliefs. Even Dimple's belief of women being more than just a housewife would have been nice to see. But that part of her personality kind of faded away, came back for a moment, and then just dissipated. (Along with her interest in coding and computers.)

The book community is constantly (to the point of suffocatingly) looking for books that represent all people. Diverse reads are highly sought, which is great and which is why When Dimple Met Rishi is so highly praised. But I think to be truly representative of all people, we also need books where characters make the decision not to have sex or not jump into a romantic relationship because there are some teens that aren't in relationships or are choosing not to have sex. There are also teens that don't swear or drink alcohol or do drugs. I know these teens, I see these teens every day at work. It's possible to write books that are clean, there are some out there, but we need more. We always need more. (And we need better written ones.)

Who says that only Christian books have to include characters who are abstinent or drug-free? Or only Christian books can spotlight religion? There are so many diverse religions and people groups in America--in the world--that share similar beliefs and lifestyles such as not consuming alcohol or using foul language or having premarital sex. If the book community is begging for such diverse reads, why can't we show those lifestyles also? I would love to read a rip-roaring space adventure without a cliche conversion story or a high fantasy where the characters don't have to cuss up a storm every two paragraphs or sleep with every person in sight like they're some kind of feral animal.

Sometimes there needs to be a point where a character realizes there are more important things to do than get a girlfriend or boyfriend. I mean, if we can have a highly successful Spider-Man movie where Peter doesn't kiss the girl, I think we can have a YA novel where the romance doesn't overshadow the plot or where the characters don't sleep together by the end of the book.

When Dimple Met Rishi had a lot of great moments, especially representing Indian tradition. I just wish it had gone a step further and shown a different lifestyle that is often overlooked in YA. There were other problems I had with the novel as well (like the plot that disappeared once the kissing started or the unnecessary side drama), but I won't go into that right now. I wanted to like this book, and I'm not swearing off Menon's writing forever. I will definitely try more of her books in the future. But sometimes, I feel like I'm asking too much from YA, and maybe this expectation is the perfect example of why I normally avoid YA contemporaries. Because usually they are not my cup of tea. (Or iced coffee, eh?)

Is there a common trope/element of YA (or another genre) that you're tired of? Let's discuss it.

~I borrowed When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon from my local library and chose to write this post of my own free will. All opinions are my own.~

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Beautiful People: July 2017

For some writers, July means scrambling to write as many words as possible for Camp Nanowrimo. For me, it means I'm in the depths of editing--at least this time. And surprisingly, it's going well. Maybe it's the story, maybe it's my motivation, maybe it's something else entirely--either way, I'm going to keep at it while it lasts. So for Beautiful People this month, Sky and Cait decided to feature questions not about characters, but about the authors to commemorate Camp Nanowrimo's craziness!

So sit down, grab the closest mythological beast (for cuddles, obviously), and learn about me, the author.


How do you decide which project to work on?

(Me, basically)

Usually, the project picks me. Whatever story (or character) won't leave me alone is what I focus on. But sometimes I have to postpone stories in order to edit or move forward with long-term projects. (I still keep a notebook or computer document handy to write down any ideas that come my way, though. Don't want to lose those!)

How long does it usually take you to finish a project?
What is this word... finish?

Just kidding! It really depends on the story. If I'm participating in Nanowrimo, sometimes I can finish a first draft in a month. If I'm working on editing, I have no idea how long it'll take, considering I've never finished editing a project yet. But mainly, it depends on what story I'm telling, what part of the process I'm focused on (read: drowning in), and what else is happening in my life.

Do you have any routines to put you in the writing mood?

Ha ha. Just kidding. Not really? I just have to be focused. So if something is distracting me or I need to do something first, I have to do that in order to focus on writing. Most of the time.

What time of day do you write best?
I'm most productive at night, when it's quiet, but I'm usually always writing. Even if I'm not writing on my computer or with a pen to page, my mind is dwelling on writing, forming stories and worlds, learning about characters--it's all there.

Are there any authors you think you have a similar style to?
According to the "I Write Like" website, I have a similar style to... Agatha Christie

Not sure that I do, but okay then. I'm not sure who I have a similar style to, though. (If anybody has read my work, let me know in the comments who I'm similar to!)

Why did you start writing, and why do you keep writing?
I can't recall why I started. As a wee child, I must have had an idea and decided to write it down. But I keep writing because it's the best way I can communicate. It's the best way for me to express myself. And it's the best way to make me feel alive. (Annd....)

What’s the hardest thing you’ve written?
That 20 page lit theory paper in college was a disaster.

(Me, when I finished)

Is there a project you want to tackle someday but you don’t feel ready yet?

I have a lot of projects I'd like to tackle someday. My idea bank won't stop. I have plenty of Pinterest boards to help me gather ideas for when I'm ready. A lot of ideas--like the Airplane Novel or my fairy tale retellings or my Peter Pan retelling--would require more research and re-reading stories. Other stories, like my space opera and my superhero novel, just require having time to do so. (And probably the best mood/frame of mind to do so.)

What writing goals did you make for 2017 and how are they going?

(Me explaining my 2017 goals)

I never publicly announced any writing goals for 2017, but I think the big thing I want to focus on is editing and rewriting my library novel. I'm in the depths of editing now, which requires re-reading the story and figuring out what needs to be fixed and improved. So I'd say so far it's going well. A lot better than earlier this year when I found it difficult to write or edit anything. If I could finish this story up enough for beta readers by the end of the year, that would be stupendous.

Describe your writing process in 3 words or a gif!

Okay, okay. Just kidding. It's more like this:

(Three gifs, sue me.)

What does your writing process look like? Let me know if you're participating in Beautiful People!

Friday, July 14, 2017

Book Review: The Evaporation of Sofi Snow by Mary Weber

Ever since I read the Storm Siren trilogy by Mary Weber, I've been waiting for another book by this lovely author. When I learned she was releasing a YA science-fiction novel, The Evaporation of Sofi Snow, I was stoked and placed the book as one of my most anticipated reads for 2017. I finally finished the book toward the end of June (come on, I had to read all the library books I had checked out first), and while the ending left me eagerly anticipating the sequel, I thoroughly enjoyed the story. (And the cover is absolutely gorgeous, and I'm still not over it.)


Sofi Snow, an online gamer and hacker, assists her brother Shilo in the Fantasy Fighting arena, which consists of real and virtual games put on by Earth's ruling corporations. When a bomb takes out part of the arena--and supposedly her brother with it--Soft sets off to find answers, clear her own name, locate her brother, and effectively disappear. But to do so means confronting the Delonese, an alien race that live on the ice planet that currently orbits Earth, and teaming up with someone from her past--someone who hurt her. 

My Thoughts

This book had it all: a female character who is good at hacking and gaming, diverse characters, sibling relationships, excellent world-building, and a focus on real-world issues that are often times overlooked or left unaddressed. I was thoroughly impressed with how much was packed into this 350-page book and how well Mary Weber addressed all those issues.

Sofi Snow is a badass. She not only escapes confinement with practically nothing, but she can navigate a computer system with just as much ease, and that's awesome. I'm glad there's a least one book out there with a female character who thrives in the gaming/hacking world. It was a nice change of pace than other YA novels. Miguel was an interesting character. I liked that he was bilingual and had crazy colored hair. I knew there was much more to him than surface level, so I enjoyed watching his character unfold and reveal itself in surprising ways.

The world-building was definitely interesting and well-developed. There was a lot of cool technology incorporated, yet it still felt reasonable and believable. The government system, the games, even the strange aliens and their world was incredibly detailed and thought out. The reason I'm so wary of a lot of YA dystopian is that I feel like the world-building is only half-there (and the plot is only half-there as well). But that is not the case with The Evaporation of Soft Snow. This world feels alive and lived in, it feels like a natural progression from our world.

Of course there were a few things here and there that didn't work for me. Sometimes there was too much information or too much going on that I couldn't keep up. It also referenced Miguel's blackmail photos for ages without revealing even a hint of what it could be. (I honestly prepared for the worst and was surprised when it wasn't as bad as I had thought.) But she does an excellent job touching on a lot of real-world issues. From human trafficking to mental illness to how girls are treated because they're friendly (not flirty), this book highlights a lot of issues, both big and small. And I'm thankful that Mary Weber chose to include these things instead of ignoring them. The book also as a largely diverse cast, which she based on people from her own life. I think that was important and impactful as well.

Now, we have to talk about that ending. That ending. Mary Weber's first book, Storm Siren, ended on a pretty huge cliffhanger that left me screaming. I never thought she would do that again, but I was wrong. (Why was I wrong? Why didn't I see it coming?) The Evaporation of Sofi Snow ends. It just ends without a significant resolution, without even a warning. It ends. And I am so angry! Now I have to wait almost a whole year to find out what happens next. (The agony!)

Overall, I enjoyed The Evaporation of Sofi Snow. It's similar to Ender's Game, The Hunger Games, and Neon Genesis Evangelion, for all different reasons. (Which sounds pretty awesome to me.) I liked the characters, the world-building, and the story. I liked the focus on family, on forgiveness, on doing the right thing, making the right decisions. There are a lot of twists and turns with this story, and it definitely did not disappoint. Mary Weber, you rocked it once again!

~I purchased The Evaporation of Sofi Snow by Mary Weber and chose to write a review of it of my own free will. All opinions are my own.~

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

TFI's 2017 Summer Reading Mission: Challenge Accepted

The Fangirl Initiative is hosting a summer reading challenge, which includes the opportunity to win a bookish surprise! All you have to do to enter is post photos of the books you're reading for each prompt on social media with the hashtag #TFIMission. (Full details of the challenge on the website.) Here are the books I have read or plan to read to fulfill each prompt.

1. Book related to the beach or ocean: The Sandcastle Empire by Kayla Olson. (Completed! You can check out my full review of this amazing book here.)

2. Something that takes place in a different place than where you live: When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon. This book takes place in San Francisco. (Completed!)

3. Finish a series you've already started: Forever and Always, Lara Jean by Jenny Han. This is the third and final book in the To All the BoysI've Loved Before series. (Completed! I just finished this book. It was insanely adorable and had a perfect ending.)

4. Graphic novel (or comic book): I read a lot of comic books and graphic novels, so this one wasn't hard to complete. I could use Lumberjanes Vol. 5 or 6, Hawkeye Vol. 6, Civil War II, Gotham Academy... etc.

5. Book you wouldn't normally read (whether because of format or genre): I'm planning to read Silence by Shūsaku Endō. This is a hard prompt because I read a lot of different genres and formats. I don't, however, typically read such serious, historical books, but I've been intrigued by this book since I first heard about it.

6. Book that inspired a movie or TV show: I plan to listen to the audiobook of Wonder by R.J. Palacio later this summer. The movie comes out in November. If not this, then maybe The Death Cure by James Dashner, since I never finished that series and the movie is scheduled to release early next year.

7. Released this year: Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab, though I have a couple that could have worked. (Completed! This book ripped me to shreds.)

8. Book you own but haven't read: The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness. I've been interested in this series for a while but just recently found a copy and added it to the top of my TBR list. It doesn't hurt that a movie adaptation is in the works with Daisy Ridley and Tom Holland.

9. Book you picked for the cover: The Evaporation of Sofi Snow by Mary Weber. This is sort of a stretch because I probably would have read this book no matter what, but you have to admit that cover is gorgeous and I can't get over it.

10. Book recommended to you: The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch. I've had several friends recommend this to me forever ago and several more recommend it to me more recently. I figured I should give it a try.

Let me know if you're participating in the challenge or any other reading challenges and what books you're planning to read!