Friday, May 26, 2017

Six Years of Blogging + Giveaway

Hello, friends, dragons, and random person on the Internet! Today is a special day.

Six years ago, I decided to start a blog. I had no idea what I was doing. I just knew I wanted to discuss books and writing and maybe my life. (Plus, I was promised I could get free books in exchange for reviews, and if that doesn't motivate me, I don't know what will.) Six years ago, I was a junior in high school and had no idea how much books and writing would mean to me. As I look back over the years and all the posts I've written, I'm glad I started this blog. It's helped me grow in my writing, strengthened my ability to schedule and plan posts, and given me a place to share my thoughts without worry.

Six years later, I don't know if my blog is the same as what it started. I definitely still focus on books still, but I also include snippets of writing and deep insights of my mind and heart. I also revamped the site, changed the URL, and try to keep a consistent schedule. Overall, I'm proud of the hard work I've put into this small space on the Internet.

In celebration of such a feat, I'm hosting my own giveaway! I received a new, hardback copy of The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli in my April Owl Crate box and decided to show my appreciation for my followers and readers by giving it away. In addition, the book has a signed bookplate and a cute sticker that matches the cover! All you have to do is enter the rafflecopter below! Due to shipping costs, this giveaway will have to be U.S. only.

Thank you for reading my blog, taking the time to comment or liking a post on social media, and reminding me that my words and my thoughts matter! I appreciate all of you, and I'm glad to still be here after six years.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Book Review: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay by J.K. Rowling

I have a confession to make: I didn't read any of the Harry Potter books until about four years ago, and I didn't watch any of the movies until last month. I know, crazy.

Growing up, I wasn't allowed to read the books until I was in middle school when my parents decided I was old enough to choose my own reading material. But by then, most of the books had been published and the hype was slowly dying down (if you can say it ever "died down"). Simply, I didn't really care about the books. I was well on my journey reading through Lord of the Rings and introducing myself to the YA genre that I didn't think about Harry Potter until the summer after my first year of college. It was then that I was working in a library and had a lot of time to read while at the desk that, on a whim, I picked up the first book and began to read.

The extent of my Harry Potter collection consists of the book on top. I know, sad. 

And I enjoyed it. I could tell Rowling was a good writer, that she had good characters and wonderful world-building. But I didn't get swept away in the story like I did with Narnia or Lord of the Rings. Maybe it was because nobody was talking about it anymore. Or maybe I read them too fast or all at once to truly appreciate them.

It wasn't until Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them released in theaters that I truly got caught up in the "magic" of the Wizarding World. I watched that film, and I was swept away by the world-building, the characters, the creatures, and the magic. Maybe I related to Newt more than Harry or maybe it was because I love time-period pieces or magical creatures. Maybe it's because it wasn't about teenagers that (no offense, Harry) make a lot of dumb decisions. But I was... enchanted by Fantastic Beasts. And now that I've watched the movies and discussed the books with my boyfriend, I feel the magic of Harry Potter carrying me away. Finally.

So there was no doubt that I would read the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them screenplay book, even if I knew ahead of time that it was a script and followed closely with the movie. It didn't take me long since it isn't a long book.

I did, however, just order both versions of Fantastic Beasts, the screenplay and the textbook. 

Yes, it's word-for-word, action-to-action the movie. I don't think they added in any of the deleted scenes or anything that may have changed between the script and the final production. (Which is odd since sometimes movies keep improved actions or lines.) But it was still fascinating.

I was swept away by the illustrations by Minalima. The cover, of course, is brilliant but inside, the story is surrounded by the fantastic beasts and other little details that are absolutely gorgeous.

I think there were a couple things I picked up on while reading that I didn't catch during the movie. For instance, it'd been a while since I read or watched anything related to the Wizarding World, so I missed a few jokes that I noticed after watching all the movies and re-immersing myself in the world.

Mary Lou: "Are you a seeker? A seeker after truth?"
A beat.
Newt: "I'm more of a chaser, really."

Overall, the screenplay for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is pretty close to the movie. I probably could follow along with the screenplay as I watched. But the detail that Rowling put into her screenplay to make this story come to life and the beautiful illustrations that decorate the pages definitely make this book worth reading. If you're a fan of Harry Potter or Fantastic Beasts, give this book a try. It doesn't take long, and it's still as magical as ever. (And now I need to re-read the entire series!)

This is the best shirt I own. I've worn it like 10 times in the past two weeks. No regrets. 

Have you seen Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them? What did you think? Let me know in the comments.

~I chose to review Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: the Original Screenplay by J.K. Rowling of my own freewill. All opinions are my own.~ 

Friday, May 12, 2017

Series Review: Anne of Green Gables Series by L.M. Montgomery

I have a love-hate relationship with classics. Some classics, like Jane Austen's novels or Little House on the Prairie, are my absolute favorites and I will read and re-read them over and over. Others, not so much. Sometimes the stories don't capture me, sometimes the writing is bogged down by old styles, and sometimes I just don't care to read it. But every once and while, I read a classic that hits home. The Anne of Green Gables series by L.M. Montgomery are some of these classics.

Years ago, I read Anne of Green Gables and fell in love with Prince Edward Island, Gilbert, and of course the spunky, red-haired main character. But I never read the other books. For one, I was young, and classic books became boring after characters grew up. Another thing, I watched the movies, loved those more (don't hate me), and didn't think I needed to read the rest of the books.

But of course, I decided I wanted to read the other books. I wanted to find out when Gilbert and Anne fell in love, what happened after they got married, if the events in the third movie actually happened. (They didn't, at least not to Anne and Gil. It happened with their children, sort of.) I started last year, making my way through each book, and finally finished all eight last week. I technically still have the final book The Road to Yesterday, which is a collection of short stories, to read, but I finished all the books in the main series.

I was so afraid when I read beyond Green Gables that I would be bored or feel disconnected with Anne, who was growing up and learning to hold her tongue. Anne is such a fun character. She has a wild imagination that I understand, and she speaks her mind, which I can only dream of doing. Plus, there's Gilbert--who is, in my opinion, the best literary gentleman to ever exist--and he's just so sweet and caring. I was afraid when they "grew up," he would get boring and not be the dreamboat and kindred spirit Anne (and I) came to love.

I was wrong, though. It seems that no matter how old Anne and Gilbert are, there is still room for adventures and imagination. Somehow, despite the books being written decades ago and taking place over a century ago, I related a lot to what Anne went through as she learned to grow up. She went to college, watched as her friends got married and moved away; she fell in love and discovered what she loved about life. She dealt with loss and life and change.

I also enjoyed reading about their children. They are a rambunctious and unique bunch. Reading about their births, adventures, and growing up was touching. The last book, of course, deals with heavier topics as World War I affects their lives, but it also holds important truths about life. All the books hold important truths, which is why I think I hold them all in such high regard.

Yes, these books are old. Yes, they take place during a different time. And yes, Anne and Gilbert grow up and have children. But they're still good. They're relatable and profound. I've learned a lot from Anne-girl, and I will treasure these books for the rest of my life. I plan to re-read them in about ten years, then twenty years, and so forth and see what else I can glean from these pages.

L.M. Montgomery's books taught me to have an imagination, to make time for adventures, and to know that I don't need sunbursts or marble halls, just scope for the imagination and dreaming, sweet dreaming.
"I don't want sunbursts and marble halls. I just want you. You see I'm quite as shameless as Phil about it. Sunbursts and marble halls  may be all very well, but there is more 'scope for imagination' without them. And as for the waiting, that doesn't matter. We'll just be happy, waiting and working for each other--and dreaming. Oh, dreams will be very sweet now." -Anne to Gilbert, Anne of the Island (229)

Do you have a classic series you hold dear to your heart? Let me know in the comments!

~I chose to review the Anne of Green Gables series by L.M. Montgomery of my own freewill. All opinions are my own.~

Friday, May 5, 2017

Comic Book Conglomeration: April 2017

April went from being a slow, low key month to a hectic whirlwind. A lot happened near the end of the month as I scrambled to finish Camp Nanowrimo and read all those books I checked out from the library. Still, I read quite a few graphic novels during April, and I have to say I think I enjoyed all of them.

Squirrel Girl Vol. 1 and 2 by Ryan North and Erica Henderson
Oh gosh! Squirrel Girl is... obnoxiously hilarious? Absolutely wonderful? Practically perfect in every way? All of the above? Yes, all of the above. I was a little unsure if I could handle a comic about a girl who is part squirrel, but man, oh, man, I was surprised. These comics were a wild ride of squirrel puns (seriously, I laughed so hard), kick-butt action (because she really does save the day), and wonderful shenanigans (Doreen in college is my life). Basically: she's freaking awesome and I'm so stoked that Marvel is putting her in a live-action TV show.

Food Wars Vol. 6-8 by  Yuto Tsukuda and Shun Saeki
I devoured these volumes (pun definitely intended). It's diving into an exciting segment of the manga with a huge cooking competition. I spend most of the time reading these manga drooling over the food and laughing at all the craziness. It's fun.

Hawkeye Vol. 5: All-new Hawkeye by Jeff Lemire and Ramón Pérez
This is the first Hawkeye comic I've read that wasn't written by Matt Fraction, but you know what? It's still just as good, possibly even better. This one had a more serious turn than Fraction's humor, but the artwork and writing is phenomenal. The interlacing of Clint's past and his present stories stole my breath away. I look forward to reading more.

All-new Captain America Vol. 1: Hydra Ascendant by Rick Remender
Ever since they announced that Sam Wilson would take over the Captain america mantle, I've been eagerly waiting to read his comics. Fortunately, I wasn't disappointed. Yes, Sam Wilson is not Steve Rogers--how he saves the day, how he fights, how he chooses what to do is different. But it's also all Sam Wilson. This comic did great showing us Sam's backstory--how he became a hero and why--alongside a present mission that was just as cruel and creepy as any other Captain America story. Also, I'm now a huge fan of Steve Rogers' adopted son Ian, aka Nomad. More of both, please!

Barakamon Vol. 12 by Satsuki Yoshino
I am, and forever will be, Barakamon trash. Honestly, this is one of my favorite mangas simply because of how adorable it is. Still, there are a lot of deeper aspects to this story than one would think looking at the cover artwork or reading the synopsis. This volume especially dived into those deeper elements, making me both smile and tear-up at how these characters relate to one another. Wow.

Attack on Titan Vol. 21 by Hajime Isayama
I FINALLY KNOW WHAT'S IN THE FREAKING BASEMENT. *ahem* Seriously though, this volume was a whirlwind. At every turn, I felt like I got smacked in the face again. This manga deserves all the hype it receives. Everything that occurs within these pages is phenomenal and exciting. It left me with more questions but also anticipating what's next for these courageous characters.

What comics, manga, or graphic novels have you read recently? Share your recommendations in the comments!

~I checked out these titles from my local library and chose to write mini-reviews of each of my own freewill. All opinions are my own.~