Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer | Book Review

First Published: 2006
Young Adult, Dystopia
Miranda’s disbelief turns to fear in a split second when a meteor knocks the moon closer to the earth. How should her family prepare for the future when worldwide tsunamis wipe out the coasts, earthquakes rock the continents, and volcanic ash blocks out the sun? As summer turns to Arctic winter, Miranda, her two brothers, and their mother retreat to the unexpected safe haven of their sunroom, where they subsist on stockpiled food and limited water in the warmth of a wood-burning stove.
Told in journal entries, this is the heart-pounding story of Miranda’s struggle to hold on to the most important resource of all--hope--in an increasingly desperate and unfamiliar world.

Good god, I loved this book so much! 

Honestly, I didn't really expect to. Me and dystopians have a rocky relationship - I just don't really like the genre and the depressing situations and stories it tells. That doesn't stop me from trying out really hyped dystopias, but more often then not I'm underwhelmed by them.

Life as We Knew It wasn't one of those dystopias. First, despite it being super popular on GR, I hadn't really heard anything about it prior to the book being on sale on amazon. But the cover looked familiar, and I read the synopsis and something just clicked, so I decided to just get it.

Best. Decision. Ever. 

Most dystopias start after the end, in a world ravaged and ruined, and introduce us to the new rules and reality of that world, but Life As We Knew It shakes that old and tried formula by starting not after the end, but before it even comes.

We get a glimpse of normal, every day life. Life we could very easily be a part of, because it's our world, until something big happens to shake everything down. Something moon-sized big, and everything goes bat-shit crazy.

But what's even better about this novel is that there is no quest to save the world, no chosen one, or rebellion, or people trying to uncover what's really going on or anything of that sort. Instead, we have one family... struggling to survive. To keep each other alive as life as they knew it cease to exist.

And it was beautiful.

Miranda's narration was both thought provoking and inherently human, chronicling the end through the eyes of a teenage girl. And she's just that; a teenage girl. She reacts as a teenage girl, even though she's forced to think past it and make tough decisions. And I thought it was absolutely brilliant.

Her mother, Laura, and her two brothers, Matt and Jon, complete this four people unit, and they were all fantastic because they were flawed. Sometimes, they let things get to them. They fought. They worried. Sometimes, they were unfair.

And it made it all that more perfect.

This book is slow - no way around that, especially since the agonizing wait and the uncertainty is such a big part of the story - but in no point did I get bored. I was riveted, and so connected to the characters and their stories that I teared up, especially in the good times, because I could literally feel how precious they were to these people.

Word of warning, though; this book will make you want to stock on food, water and batteries and really savor every pint if ice-cream and chocolate you get to eat. It will make you irrationally paranoid when you hear of earthquakes or tsunamis. And it will make you thankful you're not living in that version of our world... yet.  

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Listen to Me by Kristen Proby | Book Review

Fusion #1
First Published: 2016
Adult, Contemporary
Seduction is quickly becoming the hottest new restaurant in Portland, and Addison Wade is proud to claim 1/5 of the credit. She’s determined to make it a success and can’t think of a better way to bring in new customers than live music. But when former rock star Jake Keller swaggers through the doors to apply for the weekend gig, she knows she’s in trouble. Addie instantly recognizes him—his posters were plastered all over her bedroom walls in high school—he’s all bad boy...exactly her type and exactly what she doesn’t need.
Jake Keller walked away from the limelight five years ago and yearns to return to what’s always driven him: the music. If he gets to work for a smart-mouthed, funny-as-hell bombshell, all the better. But talking Addie into giving him the job is far easier than persuading her that he wants more than a romp in her bed. Just when she begins to drop her walls, Jake’s past finally catches up with him.
Will Addie be torn apart once again or will Jake be able to convince her to drown out her doubts and listen to her heart?
This book was a surprise hit for me. I got it on a whim because it was on sale and I liked the cover, and figured it would be a nice romance to immerse myself with (I love the theme of everyday person falling in love with someone who lives in the limelight) 

But I didn't really think I would like it as much as I did. Maybe it's wrong of me to be like this, but I always approach books I don't know much about with a grain of salt, and I knew absolutely nothing about Listen to Me.

Listen to Me's first win is by having a crew of women who are smart, sassy, funny and successful. There is something so damn bad-ass about women who know what they want and make it happen, and Addie is just one of those people.

Listen to Me's second win is having a rock star that is not a douchebag. You'd think those would be plentiful in the romantic genre, but they so often fall into piggish, jerky assholes that for some unfathomable reason get the freakin' girl, and I can't understand or stand it. Not Jake Keller, though. He has a healthy sense of self esteem, of course, but he was such a sweetheart! More rock stars should take his lead in literature... and possibly in RL.

Listen to Me's third win (yes, this book has many good things about it) is the banter and the relationship these two develop. I love banter. It's my bread and butter, and theirs was golden and so fun to watch, and they made a cute couple that stood on equal terms.

But Listen to Me's biggest win is the friendships it depicts. Whether it was Addie's friends, Jake's or an intermix of the both, all the relationships were strong, healthy and supportive. This is such a fantastic example of how friendships should be, and it was emphasized through the top notch dialogues between them and the love and care that shined through every word. Truly heartwarming!

The one thing I didn't like? It was a freaking kiss on the cheek. For god's sake, get over yourself!

Monday, October 31, 2016

Life Is Strange: A Choice Game With No Choice (Spoilers)

I know I don't normally make gaming posts, and that's because I'm not a big gamer. But sometimes, I like to immerse myself in a good game... or at least, watch someone else play it on Youtube. This is how I got to Life Is Strange - a choice game where your decisions effect the outcome of the story, butterfly effect style. Or do they?

Choice games are still a fairly undeveloped area of gaming, because despite the premise of having choice... most of them end up leading to the same place, with just slight branching changes based on dialogues you picked and choices you made. So you might determine how many people will survive the game (i.e Until Dawn), but it won't change the development of the narrative and its progression.
So this brings us back to Life is Strange, a game in which you play as Max - a girl who is obsessed with photography and attends a prestigious photography program in her home town after moving away years ago.

Max is your normal shy, geeky girl (who's also quite judgmental and prone to just staring at people really close to their faces as she inter monologues about them) who feels out of her element and has a hard time making friends.

One day, after witnessing a murder, she discovers she can control time (because plot) and here the game really starts, as you manipulate time to save people, make yourself look better in front of others, and possibly uncover something sinister going on in town, alongside with your childhood best friend Chloe.
The game is fairly interesting and has it's gut wrenching moments, and the story is quite good. At any given time you have a bunch of decisions you can make, and while they don't really affect the general narrative, they do affect your reception by other people, more than anything. However, there are some BIG decisions that can affect characters in the story. Or at least, the game wants to make you think so.

The entire game is based on you choosing what to do... but at the end of the day, none of it matters.

Your actions throughout the game - the multiple rewinds to change the outcome of certain decisions and the way you keep saving your best friend from death - lead to the town being wrecked by a huge tornado, as you've offset the balance of the world. Bringing us to the final decision Max is faced with... go back to the very first decision you made and let your best friend die, or say screw-it and let the whole town die.

Either option you pick, you're negating every other choice you've made in the game.

In one option you literally undo every decision as you go back to the start point, and in another you kill every person you've saved, befriended, or made enemies with throughout the game, making everything mute
You comforted Vicotia after she got paint splash all over her? Woopse, she's dead now so that don't matter! Maybe you should've taken that humiliating photo of her after all. You've prevented Kate from committing suicide? Joke's on her, she's dead anyways! You saved Alyssa from TP attacks, soccer balls to the head and falling into a burning building? You really shouldn't have wasted the energy. And Warren. Dear, sweet Warren... dead by the side of the road somewhere.

The final choice in the game leaves you with absolutely no choice but to erase everything you've spent an entire game to build.

This is a "choice" game where the player doesn't really have any choice at all. He can either choose to submit to "fate" and let it have its way, or measure the life of one girl to be worth that of an entire town and iron things out that way. That is the only choice the player can really make in this ten hours long game that pretends to be based on making choices.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Fire and Brimstone by R.L. Mathewson | Book Review

First Published: 2016
Adult, Contemporary Romance
What happens when a Bradford with questionable OCD, a tempter and a reputation for making his employees cry falls for the woman that refuses to accept the fact that he’s fired her and was terrifyingly more of a Bradford than he was?
Well, we can’t share that here, because it would be seriously inappropriate, but we’re sure that you can see where this is leading…
To the altar or a stint in the slammer, either one is possible when it comes to the Neighbor from Hell Series.
Author’s Note: This book along with the rest of the series is intended to make you smile, let you relax and forget the drama and stress that plagues our lives even if its just for a little while. This is a drama free book. My goal is to put a smile on your face and I hope this book does that.
After the last couple of NFH books, I was a bit worried about starting this one. They were fun and everything... but they really weren't all that great. But I really needed a fun book, and no one writes fun like Mathewson, so in I went.

And guess what? Fire and Brimstone is a complete return to form for Mathewson and the delightful NFH world, making this my favorite story in the series (alongside Zoe and Trevor's book).

First of all, Lucifer and Rebecca had palatable chemistry together that blossomed into an adorable relationship (or rather, was already kind of adorable even when it was purely antagonistic) and of course - many laugh out loud moments. This couple, and the gang around them, just put a smile on my face.

Their story was fairly angst-free, but by no means boring or even remotely close to that. They were entertaining as heck, and they definitely made each other better... although we kind of figured that out from the get go haha

The only issue I had with this book and prevented me from capital L loving it was Rebecca's backstory, because it simply made no sense.

SPOILER I can totally see her being misdiagnosed and considered a hypochondriac in her childhood when Coeliac wasn't all that known, but do you really expect me to believe that in our modern times with all those doctors that she saw, none of them did the needed checks to find this disease until Aiden? Who happens to be Lucifer's brother?

Very convenient, Mathewson. Too convenient. Especially considering the book itself acknowledges how gluten free products have gone a long way and how a lot of restaurants and shops have them? Coeliac is not an obscure condition! 

And, excuse me, you dumb parents, did you really just say Coeliac doesn't exist???? Are you fucking kidding me? END SPOILER

Now that that rant is over, I'll end this review by saying I really recommend this series. It is SO much fun, and we all need fun in our lives :)

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Christmas From Hell by R.L. Mathewson | Book Review

Christmas From Hell by R.L. Mathewson
First Published: 2015
Adult, Contemporary Romance
Duncan Bradford is used to putting other people first even the annoying little jinx that lives next door, but when the unexpected happens and he starts to see her in a whole new light, he decides that it's time that he acts more like a Bradford and takes what he wants.

By the end of The Game Plan, I was actually really interested in Duncan Bradford, the Bradford to drop anything and uproot himself to take care of his injured brother. This was so sweet and unexpected, especially since The Game Plan doesn't feature Duncan all that often, that I was immediately ready for his book.

Luckily, it was out.

Annnnnnnnnnnd... it was utterly forgettable.
I remember... I remember not being impressed. I remember.... I remember not liking Duncan all that much (oh, man! Really?? I was so looking forward to this!). I remember... she was accident prone? And he was mostly over her shit? Oh, and she baked! I remember that! And... Er... Er....

DID I REALLY READ THIS JUST TWO MONTHS AGO?? What is going on? Where did everything go? I just wrote three reviews about the rest of the series, even books I read after this one, and I can't recall almost anything from this one? Jesus. Maybe I just imagined I read this? Goodreads says I did, and so does Kindle, but maybe there're all wrong.

There is no way this book, about a character I was so looking forward, ended up being so mediocre my brain disposed of the information when I closed it. No way.

.... Right?

Technically, this is not really a review, but no one can convince me a book being this forgettable doesn't say a lot about the book in question, and its quality. No one. I honestly debated about the rating for this one a lot because apparently I gave this one four stars initially (or so Goodreads said), but then I looked at it after reading the eighth novel and I was certain I had meant to give it three, and now it feels like even three might be half a star too much. idk.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Double Dare by R.L. Mathewson | Book Review

Double Dare by R.L. Mathewson
First Published: 2015
Adult, Contemporary Romance
Marybeth still couldn’t believe that she’d survived this long with a friend like Darrin, but somehow she’d managed to beat the odds and not give in to temptation and smother him with a pillow while he slept.
Of course some days were more difficult than others…
For twenty years he’s been biding his time, waiting for the right moment to make his move and now that it was here…
He couldn’t seem to stop screwing up.
Oh no. This was my least favorite NFH book thus far.

One of the main things I love about the NFH series is how much damn fun it is. Every book is hilarious, with physical comedy, witty back-and- forths, and most importantly... almost no angst. All books need to have their "dramatic moments", but they tend to end quickly and efficiently in this series. Just like I love them to.

But no, not in this one.

This is the only  NFH novel where the main duo is already a closeted couple at the beginning of the novel... and herein lies it's problem, I think. Normally, Mathewson does such a fantastic job illustrating to us how two people move from contemplating to murder one another to passionately in love in a way that is absolutely delightful.

But in Double Dare, we have two people who are already in love... but aren't together properly. Because... reasons *ceue in drama. An endless stream of drama.*
While Mathewson had a plausible reason for why this couple is not together, she just didn't pull it off all that well. Instead of understanding the characters' plight, I was mostly annoyed with Merybeth's bullshit and wishing she'd cut it off by at least a half.

Maybe if Darrin and Merybeth stopped changing their minds every five seconds, maybe if they'd decide to be together and just be together, maybe if every moment of happiness wasn't followed by we can't be together...

Maybe then this novel would've been as enjoyable as the rest of the installments in the series. But it wasn't, so.... 

Saturday, October 22, 2016

The Game Plan by R.L. Mathewson | Book Review

First Published: 2014
Adult, Contemporary Romance
Spend the next 40 years in prison or break her lease early?
Normally she’d be able to say that this one was a no-brainer, but things have definitely changed since she was forced to move in across the hall from Danny Bradford.
A lot of things……
She wanted to get through one day, just ONE day without Danny Bradford doing something to test the limits to her control, but with that damn smile of his and his habit of leaving her contemplating manslaughter, she didn’t see that happening anytime soon.He loved his family, but some days…….
It was too much, but that was okay, because his small neighbor living across the hallway provided him with endless hours of entertainment. Not on purpose of course, but did it really matter as long she made him smile?
So this book is one of the better and more interesting installment to the fun and eccentric Neighbor from Hell series, and one I genuinely enjoyed very, very much.

First of all,loved Daniel, because here is the first NFH character that has real, tough issues. With his army background, his problems with his dad and his injury, Danny is less of a cocky, carefree hottie (although he is that, no doubt), and more mature and tortured.

But bear in mind, all of the NFH books are romantic comedies that are meant to put a smile on your face and make you laugh out loud, so don't look for too tortured or too serious with this one, but it was enough of both to make Danny a compelling main character and set him apart from the rest of the Bradford crew.

Jodi, on the other hand, is our comic relief. This girl is hilarious... but unintentionally so. If there is something that can go wrong in her vicinity, it probably will, and pain killers are always a big no-no. When you absolutely have to give her one, make sure to lock her in a room with Danny. He can handle it.... sort of.

The comedy in this installment is mostly slapstick, but it's such over the top, eccentric fun that I didn't mind (I'm not usually a fan of slapstick).

I've said it before and I'll say it again; I recommend this series for whenever you're looking for a fun, funny book to pick you up and leave you smiling.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Never Seduce a Scot by Maya Banks | Book Review

First Published: 2012
Adult, Historical 
Eveline Armstrong is fiercely loved and protected by her powerful clan, but considered "touched" to outsiders. Beautiful, fey, with a level, intent gaze, she doesn't speak. No one, not even her family, knows that she cannot hear. Eveline taught herself to read lips and allows the outside world to view her as daft, content to stay with her family. But when an arranged marriage with a rival clan makes Graeme Montgomery her husband, she accepts her duty—unprepared for the delights to come. Graeme is a rugged warrior with a voice so deep and powerful she can hear it, and hands and kisses so tender and skilled he awakens her deepest passions.
Graeme is intrigued by his new bride, whose silent lips are ripe with temptation, whose bright, intelligent eyes can see into his soul. As intimacy deepens, he learns her secret. But when clan rivalries and dark deeds threaten the wife he has only begun to cherish, the Scottish warrior will move heaven and earth to save the woman who has awakened his heart to the beautiful song of a rare and magical love.
Writing this review makes me want to re-read this novel RIGHT NOW. 

I've told you guys this before - while I have reached a point of strongly disliking all of Banks contemporary novels (minus perhaps that one KBI novel), I have yet to find one of her historicals lacking. And Never Seduce a Scot is one of her best works to date.

When I read this for the first time in 2012, and the second time a year later, I had no point of comparison with Banks's "bad books" (which, by the way, are hugely popular. I seem to be the one defective on that front). Looking at it now, I am more impressed with this novel than ever. Especially as I see in my original review words such as "outstanding--as always", when that's no longer the case.

I don't know what it is about historicals, but they bring the best in Banks. They make her beautifully paint the world and setting these characters are in, they make her convince us this couple is perfect for one another, they make her detail the whens and hows and whys of their love by showing us the process.

This book. THIS BOOK, you guys. It made me cry just by having a heroine that is so relatable and adorable that her hurts and insecurities make it impossible not to feel for her. Banks makes it near impossible to separate Eveline from myself.

Eveline simply made me happy. Her mannerism and the way she treated love interest and fellow MC Graeme got me grinning like mad. She is just the sweetest, kindest of souls, but she isn't weak or meek. Au contraire - her disability showed the vast inner strength of this character because of all she had to overcome and the way she never gave up. I loved reading of a disabled character, but I doubly loved reading about this disabled character.

Banks does this character justice by fitting the POV to her disability when we were looking through her eyes, even though the book is written in third person. We never knew what the people around Eveline said unless she knew. It was such a nice and meaningful touch to the whole package.

As for her partner in life, Graeme is the kind of historical highlander that makes me think it won't be all that bad to live in the middle ages and have one of my own. He is a warrior to his bones, but also a caretaker at heart. And the way he treats Eveline, even though she has been forced on him and he has no knowledge of her disability is just heartwarming - this is how man should treat women, even nowadays (ahemTrumpahem). Not to mention it was very hard to hold a smile back when he was overwhelmed by his lady love... either because of her cuteness, or her strength.

These two together is magic. I've always loved the trope of marriage-before-love, because there is something so compelling about the idea of fate conspiring to bring two people together because they are simply destined for one another. And Never Seduce a Scot does this trope down to perfection, with how they are around each other, how they support each other, and how they grow to love each other.

Around these dashing leads we get a glimpse of the rest of the Montgomerys and Armstrongs, who'll all have their own story eventually (if the publishing business gets its shit together). All of them sound promising and make one excited for future ventures, which is great in a series of standalones like this.

I highly recommend giving Banks's historicals a shot, even if you're like me and don't like her contemporaries!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Wolf with Benefits by Shelly Laurenston | Book Review

First Published: 2013
Adult, Paranormal Romance
Ricky Lee has no plans of getting serious about anyone, but he will protect Toni Jean-Louis Parker. Not just because he’s been hired to do so, but because it’s the right thing to do. And if that means traveling around the country with one complicated She-jackal, dealing with chocolate-eating wild dogs, instigating trouble between his brothers, and having the most amazing sex he’s ever had…well, who said his job didn’t have perks?
Toni doesn’t know how she keeps getting herself into these situations. But even she has to admit there’s something about Ricky Lee Reed that she finds kind of interesting…and downright sexy. Now they just have to survive long enough to figure out if what they have is worth fighting for…
It's not a secret that I really love the Pride series by Laurenston. Whenever I need a funny, light, crazy romance to pick me up I know I can count on her because that's exactly what her books deliver!

Wolf with Benefits is perhaps the best example of that, as it's not only trademark Laurenston but my favorite book in the series so far! A big part of that is because the romance took more time to develop between Ricky Lee and Toni, which is the only major weak point in the rest of the novels. Not here. Here, we are able to grow comfortable with the idea of them as a couple as the novel gives us time of them just being around each other and talking with each other and not having sex with each other (lol).

And of course, they worked really well as a couple. They were cute, they brought each other up, they protected each other... the whole package!

Another subject that I liked a whole lot more in this installment was the family bonds. The Pride series features totally messed up families, and sometimes, it's just slightly too much. In Wolf With Benefits, the dysfunction is more outward than inward, albeit it's not lacking inwardly either.

However, this family units around each other (mostly thanks to Toni's mad organization skills) when needed and would die for one another, a vibe that is sorely missing from some of predecessors in the series.

Eight books in and I still look forward to more books and romances set in this world (and, possibly, more love stories set in this particular family!), which is quite the accomplishment!

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Top 4 Sites to Keep Up With Your Hobbies!

Here's something you probably don't know about me: I love keeping everything organized. I love lists. I love managing lists... and I love doing so easily. I'm a busy woman; I see TV shows, anime, manga, foreign drama and read books in my spare time. And I don't have the ability to keep everything sorted out on my own.

There are a few sites I use in order to easily keep track of my different hobbies, making it possible to effortlessly and seamlessly switch back and forth between them, even after taking long breaks. Took a three years break from anime? Pssssh, don't worry, you can slide right back into it with minimum hassle and bustle!

So without farther ado, here are four sites I would lost my mind without!!

So, this probably comes as no surprise at all because this is a bookish blog and Goodreads is the site for keeping up with your reading, but I figure I ought to include it in here in case someone is not in the know.

Although Goodreads has some issues that I can discuss very passionately, it's still the best site that I've been able to find for book lovers to keep up with their reading. It allows you to mark what you've read (even down to the precise edition), what you want to read, what you're currently reading, what you dropped, as well as write reviews, create shelves, update where you are precisely in a book, vote on lists, take quizzes, interact with other book lovers, and more!

This is one of the largest databases for books out there, and it's constantly updating.

Without this site, I'd be absolutely lost, and it's what opened my eyes to the reading community on the internet.

More often known as just "MAL", My Anime List is a site that literally defined my life. As a young girl, I watched Inuyasha, Digimon and some other anime on TV, but I was not exposed to the large and incredible industry of anime and manga until I found this site.

This is basically Goodreads for anime and manga - you can mark anime as "watching", "completed", "on hold", "dropped" and "plan to watch". The site constantly updated with the newest anime news, allows you to interact with other reader/watchers through reviews, groups, recommendation and community posts, and it's just generally a great place to keep up with what you're reading and watching.

It literally saved my life as I just returned to anime after a couple of years of hiatus, and I'm picking up exactly where I left off instead of fumbling and trying to figure out where the heck I was.

Sidereel is not as developed as Goodreads or MAL and doesn't allow you to categorize shows into "watched", "to watch" and the likes, but instead allows you to "track" shows, thus showing you when new episodes come out and enabling you to mark episodes as "seen".

You can also start lists (thus creating a "to watch" list instead of tracking the shows), write reviews, comment on news and the likes.

Sidereel is also a great database, covering the upcoming shows and telling you when a show you're tracking has been renewed... or worse, cancelled! I'm kind of uneven when it comes to watching TV shows (I can watch 10 episodes of a show in a single night, then watch nothing for the next two months), so Sidereel is a great tool for me to keep up with what I'm watching.

Life Sidereel, MDL is also slightly less developed than MAL or Goodreads.

The site allows you to keep track of foreign shows and movies by marking them as "Currently Watching", "Completed", "On Hold", "Dropped" and "Plan to Watch" but not much else. Like Sidereel, you can create lists, read articles, find recommendations, see the top shows/movies and even participate in forums.

My main issues with this site is that it's a bit clumsy when it come to the shows; you can't mark new episodes seen from the shows page easily, and on a personal level it's just not as comfortable as Goodreads or MAL, but this is honestly very subjective.

This is a good place to keep track of your dramas and find new stuff to see!!

Did I Introduce You to a Good New Site To Keep Up With Your Hobbies? Do You Know of a Similar Site for Movies?? I've Been Looking!

Sunday, September 18, 2016

How to Watch 16 Anime in One Month (Or So)| Bundle Review

Despite not blogging, I have been spending the last two months doing a lot of things I love on my free time. Such as...  ANIME WATCHING. Like, non-stop, over-the-top, finish-one-start-another mentality. It's been such a long time since I allowed myself to get lost in anime, and I forgot how much I loved it and the stories it tells. 

I ended up watching 16 anime, and they were all enjoyable in one way or another. Here's a short round up with recommendations for the casual or not so casual anime fan! Click the titles to get to their "My Anime List" listing where you can find more on the plot, characters and etc :)

There have been a ton of anime I watched in this month that weren't things I planned on watching, or didn't think I'd love so much but kind of had to give a shot to because of all the hype. Turns out, I was head over heels in love with them. Who would have thought!!

These three anime have the Big Three: great/unique plot lines, fantastic individual MCs and wonderful relationships, whether they be crazy relationships, meaningful relationships or antagonistic relationships.

No Game No Life // 12 Episodes 
This was such a random pick for me. I saw it on some WatchMojo list (I think it was about cute anime girls), went on MAL and saw it had high ratings and decided "what the heck?". I swear to god I spent half the time wondering what the fuck I was watching, but in the best of ways as I was smiling and laughing so hard through it all. The rest of the time I was just so impressed by the genius and scheming of these two siblings, who never lose a game. 

Recommended to:  People looking for an anime that is a ton of fun, has laugh out loud moments, great relationships between characters (and siblings) and a unique story-line. 

Boku Dake Ga Inai Machi (AKA Erased) // 13 Episodes 
Completely different from our previous entry but just as addictive, The City Where Only I Don't Exist is a psychological thriller with a supernatural twist. Our hero has the unique ability to go a few minutes back in time, but a traumatic event in the present sends him all the way to the events that started it all; three child murders that happened in his hometown eighteen years ago.. and he's the only one who can prevent them and change the future. 
Building on the butterfly effect, this anime is beautiful, touching and thought provoking, utilizing its 13 episodes ran to the max.

Recommended to: People who are looking for a deep anime with great story line, wonderful characters and animation and legendary relationships. 

Noragami / Noragami Aragoto // 12 & 13 Episodes Respectively 
These two seasons of the Norgami series are somewhat of a mix between our first and second entries; with crazy antics but not shortage of deep and feel-filled moments. 
Despite this series being very popular, it somehow missed me and I only randomly found it on MAL and started watching it, and not a day later I was finished with both seasons. 
Having messed up gods, great action and wonderful relationships (seems to be the theme of this category, doesn't it?) make this one heck of a show.

Recommended to: People who love contemporary fantasy and mythology, and appreciate good characters and building friendships. 

Like in all forms of entertainment, we have the romantic department! These four shows focus on the more romantic plot lines, and are (for the most part) feel good, fun shows to help you feel all warm and fuzzy on the inside! 

Akagami Shirayuki-Hime (Snow White of the Red Hair) // 12 Episodes 
This adaptation of one of my favorite manga is a fun, feel good romantic story about a beauty named Snow White with her unique (and danger inviting) red hair and Zen, the second prince of his country who meet by coincidence one day and became entangled. These two have a sweet, innocent progression of love that is delightful to watch and partake in.
I honestly have nothing bad to say about this anime, aside that I admittedly prefer the source material. Despite being very faithful, for some reason it failed to capture my heart the way the original managed so whole heartily. 

Recommended to: people looking for an innocent, heartwarming romance set in alternate, more medieval times. 

Tonari no Kaibutsu Kun (The Monster Next Door)// 13 Episodes 
Another adaptation of a great manga, this romantic comedy is about two very straight forward teenagers who face love head on for the first time in their lives. One is a straight-A student who loves studying and the other is a (cute) delinquent who's only acting out because he literally has no idea how to interact with human beings (like, seriously).
The product is a fun, funny and refreshing anime that is just a delight, especially if you've grown tired of the regular formula.

Recommended to: people looking for a YA contemporary romance that is both cute, straight forward, and doesn't beat around the bush. 

Sukitte Ii Na yo (Say I Love You) // 13 Episodes
Say I Love You is a contemporary romance about a loner girl and the most popular boy in school, who change each other's life as they begin dating. It's a very honest and straight forward story, with lots of feels and interesting side stories that make the experience richer. The source material is another of my favorite romantic manga and I loved this adaptation of it.

Recommended to: People looking for a more mature YA contemporary that also takes a peek at more serious issues such as self image and obsession.

Paradise Kiss // 12 Episodes 
Para Kiss is one of the older shows I've seen on this binge watch. It's one of those that has been on my TBR for ages but I didn't really like the character designs and I'm shallow so I just never got it.
I ended up really enjoying the show, even though I occasionally found it over the top with the overly eccentric characters and intriguing relationships (that totally clashed with the realistic ending haha)

Recommended to: People who are looking for a more serious and mature contemporary romance that tackles growing up themes and a more realistic outlook on the romance itself.

Really self explanatory, is you ask me...

Natsume Yuujinchou 3 / Natsume Yuujinchou 4  (Natsume's Book of Friends) // 13 Episodes Each
Before we start you need to know I adore Natsume Yuujinchou;  it's such a unique and special anime. These are sequels but it's not entirely necessary (though recommended 'cause they're awesome) to watch the first ones.
I loved being back in this world watching the beautiful and atmospheric chronicles of my favorite Natusme in anime, Natsume Takashi, and his everyday life as his kind and beautiful self takes on helping demons and humans alike with disregard to his own well being because he is just a precious cinnamon roll like this and must be protected at all costs.
This is a series about selflessness, love, equality, and how a power can be both a curse and a gift, depending how you look and use it.

Recommended to: people looking for an atmospheric anime with episodic chronicles that has little angst and is all about the characters and their stories (especially the tots adorbs main one). 

These are the strange and complicated anime that I've watched in this month. Most of them are not things I planned on watching but kind of sneaked on me. Unlike the Surprise Favorites they didn't jump to the top of my list, but I actually enjoyed them all for their various themes and stories!

Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei // 12 Episodes
If you're looking for a random, totally unique and laugh out loud type of anime, Zetsubou Sensei is the one you should check out. Maintaining an in-story logic and continuity despite all the nonsense that goes about, this anime manages to be funny while actually throwing out thought provoking messages at you from time to time.
Not to mention the animation style is fantastic, merging all types of animation from stop motion and the likes within the regular anime animation.

Recommended to: people who like comedies and randomness, and are looking for something that would make them laugh their socks off.

Bungou Stray Dogs // 12 Episodes 
So this one is a bit of a mixed bag for me. Lots of people love this anime to bits and pieces, but for me it just didn't manage to smoothly incorporate the comedy and action, despite trying really hard. It was either one or the other, but it never managed to be these two things at once, making the transitions a bit sudden and abrupt. The characters are unique and interesting, and both this and Zetsubou Sensei use the author Dazai and his obsession with suicide for comedic purposes, which was interesting albeit morbid (worked better in Zetsubou Sensei tbh). I will see season two if there'll be one, but it's not one I'm holding my breaths for.

Recommended to: people who like alternate worlds, the supernatural, comedy and... uneven geometric hairstyles (seriously, this anime loves them).

Gakkougurashi (School-Live) // 12 Episodes 
I can't say too much about this one, but I will say go into this blind and don't let the cutey design of this anime deter you from watching it, because it carries a strong punch. I cried while watching this. I felt despair. I felt hope and happiness. In other words; I was transfixed! It took a year of my best friend nagging me to finally watch it, and then I was kind of kicking myself for taking so long because it was fantastic! Fingers crossed for season two!

Recommended to: people who like to be messed with emotionally. 

Angel Beats! // 13 Episodes 
I heard a ton of incredible things about this anime, but I'll confess it never really caught my eyes. The poster completely fails to bring through what this anime is about, even remotely. Despite having a hard time with the animation at the beginning (it was so weird looking and uneven to me, especially their faces!), I soon started enjoying this emotional roller coaster masquerading as an action series. Just about everyone in this show are cinnamon rolls who deserve better, tbh. I wasn't weeping like so many others while watching this, but you just might and it's a good anime nonetheless.

Recommended to: people who are looking for an action anime with substance, and aren't afraid to shad a tear or two in the process! 

K-On! // 13 Episodes 
Why is it so difficult to finish a thirteen episodes series?! I've been trying to watch K-On! for a few years. I originally reached around episode 9 and stopped. Then I decided to re-watch it and finish it a while later aaaaaaaaand stopped around episode 9 again. I decided to forego watching the first eight episodes of this series and just watch from episode 9 on in order to finally, finally finish this series. Ultimately, I feel like this just wasn't interesting enough to hold my attention for long. The characters are cute and fun, the music is great but... that's it, for me. Nothing more.

Recommended to: people who like slice of life, daily-life shows and music. Very low on action and the likes.

I absolutely loved The Prince of Tennis. It was the first sports anime I'd seen and it exposed me to how awesome sports could be in anime - all the flashy borderline superpower like moves, the dramatics, the way a single match can be as tension filled as saving the world... so I was really happy when I found out that the episodes that weren't adapted from the manga in the original series got a series of mini-seasons when I wasn't looking! I was super excited to watch this and then... and then... I was bored the whole time!! And the animation seemed kind of bad (though I can't remember if it was like that originally too and I just didn't notice). It wasn't good, it wasn't interesting, and I basically yawned my way through. Super disappointing! 

Recommended to: I don't. I recommend the original series, or Kuroko no Baske if you're looking for awesome sports anime. 

Thursday, September 1, 2016

How to Make the Most of An Unplanned Hiatus

Hello, it's me... I was wondering if after all these months you'd like to meet to go over everything....

For the past couple of months I've been pretty inactive on the blog front, doing only the occasional bargain post as, while I wasn't blogging, I was still reading. In fact, the only thing I wasn't doing for the past couple of months is blog. Aside for that, I've been surprisingly... prolific. 

As everyone who loves blogging knows, sometimes... you just don't feel like doing it. At all. You sit in front of the computer, and you think to yourself "ahhh, I really need to write a post today. I'm falling behind". And then you click on a new tab and drown yourself in another 4 hours of watching anime instead. Because, why not?

I doesn't start because of some big event. There doesn't need to be some internet troll to take the blogging fun out of things and push you into a place where you don't love blogging anymore. It's like a reading slump, or a watching slump, it something that happens.

Well, you know what? I believe in taking that slump all the way. If I already don't feel like blogging, no point in worrying and trying to force the mojo to come back. It will do so on it's own, in it's own time. In the meantime, why not spend that time you're not blogging doing other things you love? 

You love reading? Then read. Don't think about reviewing those books, don't let yourself feel guilty. Just read. That's how you find yourself two months later with 16 books read and having one of the most prolific reading month of the last year ᕕ( ᐛ )ᕗ

You love watching anime? Then go crazy and watch all the anime your free time allows. An episode is normally around 20 minutes long, so you can jam in 3 episodes in an hour, and four hours later you have finished a 12 episode season! Banazi! And if you feel like tackling longer anime, there are some great ones out there too. Personally, in this hiatus I focused on short anime and I've had the time of my life with 13 anime that were a ton of fun to watch, and felt like they took zero time out of me! \(^_^)/

You love foreign drama? Then find one that doesn't make you crazy with just how dramatic those dramas can be and immerse yourself in 16 hours of it because dear god their episodes are soooooooo long it feels like you're watching three seasons instead of one series but they can also be soooooo good. o(^o^)o 

You like knitting? knit. You like drawing? draw! Rid yourself of the ridiculous sense of guilt and do what you love until you feel like you can return to the love of blogging! 

I'm not sure I'm there yet, but I have reached a point where I want to talk to you guys about the things and shows that occupied my time in the last two months, so this is what I'll do. That's the plan. The whole plan. Does it suck? Maybe. But am I having fun with it? Heck yes! 

Friday, July 29, 2016

Why Harry Named His Children After These People / Potterhead July

One of the biggest controversies in the Harry Potter community is Harry's children. More specifically, who they were named afterYou can't delve into the Harry Potter hub without finding rants and memes like these on the subject
Well... you're going to get none of that today, because I might be one of the rare creatures who is fine with Harry's naming style, and feels like there is a very strong symbolism to it.

Out of the bat I'm going to say I will not be discussing James Sirius Potter, as there is hardly any cause for complain in his name. Rather, I will be talking about the real source of outrage in the community - Albus Severus Potter, named after Albus Dumbledore and Severus Snape - and a little bit about Lily Luna Potter.

So... why did Harry name his child over his worst nemesis and the mentor who groomed him for death? Well, whenever I think of Harry's children, I get his feeling like he named them after things he learned and valued throughout the series. 

#1 The Bravery of Not Fearing Death 
When Harry says he named his child after the bravest men he ever knew - what he is actually talking about is the bravery of not fearing death... Which is one of the biggest themes in the Harry Potter universe.

It's the bravery Voldemort lacks, the one that motivates his actions throughout the series (wanting to be immortal). It's the bravery that saved Harry's life - Lily (and James) sacrifice themselves so Harry could live. It's the bravery that saved the wizarding world - if Harry wasn't brave enough to "die", the unplanned Horcrux wouldn't have been destroyed and Voldy would have remained un-kill-able.

From the very first novel in the series, J.K has put a very strong emphasis on the importance of not fearing "the great next adventure", which is echoed in this final sacrifice Harry makes. (Don't forget - J.K is really big on closing a circle. The entire seventh novel mirrors many moments of the first one).

To an extent, all of Harry's children are named after people who held this kind of bravery (in abundance). Lily and James, obviously. Sirius, who looked death in the eye and smiled hello. Luna, who was kind of the bravest of them all... and then Dumbledore and Snape. The two people that Harry watched die (and could clearly remember it). The two who played the game until the very last moment of their life. The two people who showed Harry he shouldn't fear death, and that he can face it, for the right reasons. 

So, death and bravery is a pretty big theme here.

#2 The Duality of People - Being Human Means Being Gray
But what else separates these two from other worthy names? Well... both turned out to be not quite what we thought they were. Both were revealed to be a lot grayer than we originally expected. Both Snape and Dumbledore proved there is more beneath the surface, on both sides of the coin.

For almost the entire series, Snape was the villain of the story. As bad as Voldemort is, I'm fairly certain most of us hated Snape even more than Voldemort. Voldy is this arch nemesis, this big bad wolf in the background, but we actually see very little of him throughout the series. The more prominent villain is Snape, with his bullying, his sneers, his grumpy-bitter attitude, his taunts and insults and the feet he keeps tripping our heroes with throughout their academic lives.

So Harry's shock was even bigger than ours when he found out Snape has an almost infinite, unwavering, immortal capability of love. Sure, it's almost obsessive. And yes, Snape could've chosen differently and maybe even gotten the girl. But can anyone deny that he loved Lily? That despite all his bitterness and anger and hatred he protected Harry from the onset? You can say a lot of things about Snape (and none of them would be untrue), but you can't deny this. He died to protect what Lily loved.

Snape proved that not every bully is bad all the way, and that love can do a lot to redeem someone.

In fact, in the collective memory of the fandom, a lot of people (me included) consider the line "After all the time? Always" to be one of the most memorable lines in the series, and one of the most touching.

What about Albus? Well, Albus proved not to be all he was played out to be, either. He was The Mentor, the man Harry idolized... Harry would have done anything to impress him. From the very first book, Harry came to him about everything and trust and relied on him. So, it was (a lot) heartbreaking to find out he was grooming him for death. Damn. Albus Dumbledore was a man who made the hard choices. But his choices sucked.

Personally, I left the Harry Potter story feeling like Albus was a dick. He always "knew better"... and made a lot of mistakes, he never shared a piece of himself, leaving Harry to find whatever he could though books with questionable validity - and unable to even protect his mentor against all the backlash because he doesn't fucking know. Nothing we, or Harry, know about Dumbledore's past came from the man himself. And ultimately, he let Harry believe and trust in him when the only ending Dumbledore could see was Harry's death. And for his purpose, he used everyone around him - including Snape.

So, Dumbledore proved that good men can do bad things, and that great man can make mistakes, and that you never know.

Lily Luna
And then, there is Lily Luna. Luna is the only living person to have been honored by Harry. But why? Well, because Luna showed Harry the most important thing. 

Be yourself, be unapologetic about it, and don't be afraid to be different. 

Where Snape and Dumbledore taught Harry that not everything you think is true, and that mankind has a lot of faucets to it, and are generally gray... Luna taught Harry that sometimes - you can be exactly what you appear to be, so long as you are being yourself. And being strange, or different, won't make you any less awesome.

So basically, through his choices of names, Harry instilled in his children some very important messages. First, be brave. Second, not everyone are as they seem and that's okay. Humans aren't just black and white. And finally, be yourselves, and don't be afraid to be unique. 

A side note about Luna: I feel like they chose Luna for a second reason... Luna's translation is moon. And as Lupin could not be used because, you know, Teddy should have the option available if needed, Luna is the next best thing. A way to honor both of these fantastic human beings!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The Harry Potter Spells Tag! | Bookish Tag

Hello everybody! 

To be honest, I've been wanting to do some bookish tag for ages. I don't usually get tagged at these sort of things, and when I do I tend to suck because I forget and end up doing them six months later, but because I felt like doing one I searched google and found this gem. Originally by TurtleSympathy on YouTube, but the video is unavailable and I found it on jessethereader

Anyhow, this tag takes spells from our beloved Harry Potter series and connects them to books based on themes! Can you think of a better tag?? 

Okay, yes, this is the Harry Potter Spells book tag, so using HP itself might be kind of cheating, but in all honesty there is no other book that defines childhood and good memories for me quite like Harry Potter. Harry Potter is my childhood. It accompanied me in the worst and best of times, it gave me happiness and joy as an angsty young adult. 

Written in Red wasn't a book I thought I'd read. I'd seen it around but the cover really put me off so I never delved any deeper. Then I saw a few favorable reviews one after the other, and the book was discounted on kindle. So... I one clicked, and started reading. I wasn't even twenty pages in when I knew this book would be an all time favorite, and it was. It took me by surprise with how absolutely fantastic it was and with the twists, the turns and the general plot and characters of this phenomenal story. Can't recommend it enough!

I admit that I've been watching a lot of anime and reading a lot of manga so I had to go to Goodreads and literally check this, and then I was like "oh right, how could I forget this book??".

The Genius and the Muse is a book I wasn't expecting much out of, but ended up being a wonderful read that dealt with love, how it can go wrong and how, if people just spoke to one another, it might just go back to being right. Also, this book showcases a love story from various different point of view, and it does so wonderfully. Total rec! :)

The Time Traveler's Wife was the first adult book I've read. Up until that moment, I have only read YA and MG, and adult novels seemed... I don't know, boring, I guess? Well, I actually didn't know this book was going to be so explicitly adult, although looking at it now it wasn't half as scandalizing as I remember. But I was sixteen, I think, and hadn't read anything of its like before.

So maybe "adult" is not quite a genre, more like an age range, but I consider it for this question because this is really the most substantial of those "introduction" books. Most of all because this book is what made me start reading them, even though I wasn't head over heels in love with it. But it opened my eyes to this age-genre and I've never looked back.  

I had to think long and hard about this one, because the books I read tend to be amusing as a side note, not as the main focus. I don't often read comedies because they tend to be full of slapstick (which I dislike) and I'm often attracted to different type of stories.

But then, the first book that really came to mind is The Princess Bride. One of the funniest movies I've ever watched, the book is just as funny, albeit in a different way. It's a book that laughs at a lot of things, while confusing and confounding the reader and messing with their heads. If you love the movie you'll probably love this; same type of humor, and a lot of the jokes in the movie are directly taken from the book! 

Okay, so with over 36,000 ratings on Goodreads The Thief is definitely not the most underrated book out there. However, I feel like people just don't know it. When I talk books with people, very few talk about this book or remember its existence but it's such a magnificent book (and series) that I don't understand how this happens. How is it not on more people's Top Ten lists and such? It deserves all the awards and attention!

Okay, so I actually love spoilers (*gasp* what??) and most of the spoilers I have read have been intentional and I don't exactly regret them, and the one accidental spoiler I've read I'd prefer not to talk about, I'm going the route of "books I'd like to forget I've read".

Hush, Hush is such an atrocity and was such a huge waste of my time that I wish I'd forget I'd have read it as it makes me rage to this day and I don't like having such strong, negative feelings about a book.... (However, I would like my review to stay available to me so I won't accidentally read it again *shudders*)

I actually remember very few of my high-school reads, I had to really go back in my head for this. גיא אוני (The Valley of Strength) is a book I've read for a report (out of very specific list). If I recall correctly, I asked my bookish grandmother which book she thought would fit me out of the list and this was it. All I remember about it is that it didn't feel like torture reading it (I hated the required reading, especially because it had such high and mighty ideas of what should be considered "literature" and what shouldn't) and... that's it. 

Err, this was a no brainer. I cried so much tears in The Fault in Our Stars I thought I just might dehydrate. Good god, this book couldn't hurt more even if it came behind you with a knife and stabbed you in the kidneys....

First of all - I'm interpreting this as books that the world depicted in them can kill you and as much as I love them I would never consider living in them because dangerous af. Originally I thought maybe I'd use Written in Red for this one because that book (and series) can be BRUTAL, but as I already mentioned it once in this tag I decided to look for something less obvious. 

The second book that came to mind is... Blackbirds. Good god, this book is brutal and gritty, and someone dies every other chapter or so. I won't survive three days in this world, if I were to encounter Miriam. Also, in this world I could find out the way and date of my death and I DON'T want that. No thank you... 

What do you think of my picks? Have you read any of these books? Are you planning on doing this tag sometime? If so, make sure to leave a link because I would love to see YOUR picks! :D