Friday, May 8, 2015

Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi (Book Talk)

Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi
Book 3 in the Shatter Me trilogy

Genre(s): Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopia, Romance
Publication Date: February 4, 2014
Publisher: HarperCollins
Format: Paperback // 416 pages

Filed under: love triangles, superpowers
With Omega Point destroyed, Juliette doesn't know if the rebels, her friends, or even Adam are alive. But that won't keep her from trying to take down The Reestablishment once and for all. Now she must rely on Warner, the handsome commander of Sector 45. The one person she never thought she could trust. The same person who saved her life. He promises to help Juliette master her powers and save their dying world ... but that's not all he wants with her.
Please note that this is a book talk, which means there will be SPOILERS. If you have not read Ignite Me, the third book in the Shatter Me trilogy, I would not advise reading any further!

Although it's been a while since I've read Unravel Me, I can't believe I forgot how beautiful Tahereh Mafi's writing is. I'm sitting here trying to figure out exactly how to coherently say how I feel about Ignite Me while Tahereh's writing things like, "I am a pile of bones on the floor and no one knows it but me" (p. 314) and I'm just like ... HOW?! One of the things I love most about reading in the poetic, diary-like format is being able to see everything that Juliette thinks and how she wrestles with her emotions.

"And we are quotation marks, inverted and upside down, clinging to one another at the end of this life sentence. Trapped by lives we did not choose." (p. 301)

I can't stop thinking about how beautifully crafted the characters are. Kenji will forever be my favorite — the fact that he is both funny and serious at all the right times makes it so easy to love him. And WARNER, oh man. To be honest, I didn't care much about him in Shatter Me and Unravel Me, but Ignite Me SEALED THE DEAL. So many swoons in this last book, I tell ya. He kind of reminds me of Klaus from The Vampire Diaries — the "villain" you hate but end up loving after being exposed to who he really is.

Did Adam seem a little too emotional to you? Not to say that being emotional is a bad thing. It just didn't really match up to who he is. His outbursts and need to control Juliette made me want to yell at him. James was very cute, AS ALWAYS. I loved the part when he addressed the relationship between Juliette and Warner. So innocent, so adorable!
     "Why do you call her 'love'?" James asks. "I've heard you say that before, too. A lot. Are you in love with her? I think Adam's in love with her. Kenji's not in love with her, though. I already asked him."
     Warner blinks at him.
     "Well?" James asks.
     "Well what?"
     "Are you in love with her?"
     "Are you in love with her?"
     "What?" James blushes. "No. She's like a million years older than me."
I have never been this emotionally invested in so many fictional people from the same world. Each character is so clearly written and defined. If you pulled any piece of dialogue out, you'd know exactly who was talking to who.

Although I generally loved this book, I did end up feeling confused about certain things - like how the heck Juliette got so powerful and became this bullet-dodging, ground-shattering superwoman - but I can overlook it. Tahereh did such a great job with character development, and everything else going on (world building, action, etc.), was something extra — the cherry on top for me.

What are your thoughts on the Shatter Me trilogy? Is it one you'll be re-reading? When did you realize you loved Warner? (Just admit it.)

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Defining My Rating System

I've always struggled with rating books, mainly because the universally-used five-star scale can differ among everyone. Marking a book as "one star" is easily understood as terrible (and marking a book as "five stars" is easily understood as amazing), but when things fall in the middle ... it tends to be unclear. Before I started blogging, I believed giving a book three stars was mean. But now, giving a book three stars means I thought it was all right. (If I see a book rated between 3 and 3.5 on Goodreads, however, I will hesitate to add it to my "to read" list. But that's another story for a different day.)

One-star and two-star ratings are the easiest for me to describe. It's clearly divided in my mind, and I don't think I have (or will) ever rate a book 1.5 or 2.5 stars. It gets a little more tricky between 3 and 4.5. There's a difference between 3.5 and 4 in my mind, but the reason I'd choose 3.5 over 4 (and vice versa) really depends on the specific book.

To make things a bit clearer, I've briefly described what each rating means to me below. That way when you're reading one of my reviews and you see a 3 or 3.5 star (or pineapple, in this case) rating, you know exactly what it means. The description may not always be 100% accurate, but that's the beauty of a review! It explains how I made that decision in more detail :)

This was a terrible book and I hope to never speak or hear of it again. I had a bad experience and felt forced to finish it. I would only recommend for you to stay away!

Examples: On the Road by Jack Kerouac

It wasn't entirely awful but I didn't enjoy it that much. It seemed promising but I was disappointed, probably due to a mixture of bad writing, dull dialogue, plot holes and lack of exciting events. It did not meet my expectations, and I would not recommend it to anyone.

Example: Looking for Alaska by John Green, Love and Other Perishable Items by Laura Buzo

There wasn't anything that stood out to me, it was just okay. If I borrowed this book from the library, I would probably refrain from adding it to my collection.

Examples: The Maze Runner by James Dasher

This book was good, but there's something missing. It may also have taken me a while to get into.

Examples: Paper Towns by John Green

I liked it, but there may have been some things influencing the direction of the story that bothered me. I would still consider re-reading it.

Examples: The Giver by Lois Lowry

I generally loved it! There were one or two SMALL flaws, but it was easily overlooked.

Examples: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Everything about this book was beautiful — the writing, the characters, the plot. I loved it deeply and can see myself re-reading over and over again.  It was probably something I finished in one sitting or at two in the morning. I own this book and would HIGHLY recommend it!

Examples: Open Road Summer by Emery Lord, We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

So there you have it! I'd love to know if you feel the same way as I do, or if it's completely different! Do you struggle with rating a book, especially if it was "just okay" to you? Are you afraid to give a book one star? How would you define a 3.5 or 4.5 star rating?

Monday, May 4, 2015

March + April 2015 Recap

It's a bit strange thinking about March because it feels so far back. After three months of experiencing post-grad life (also known as unemployment), I started a new job! It's been about a month now, and I'm so thankful to be working. It's full-time so I spend most of my days there, but it hasn't been too bad because I'm always busy. Compared to my packed days in April, nothing much happened in March. Due to some health issues, most of my time was spent at home. I wouldn't consider the problems that serious, but it has been taking a toll on my body both physically and mentally :(

But enough about the things I can't control. Here are some of the happier things that happened in March and April:
  • March began with a trip to the theater to watch Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella with Stephanie. We didn't have the best seats, but we could still see and enjoy the music. Wicked is still my favorite musical thus far but if Cinderella happens to visit your city, go see it!
  • One of my friends, Sandra, had been wanting to visit a hill in our city (to light-hike on, emphasis on LIGHT) and she asked me to tag along, so I said yes! I don't normally adventure the outdoors (I spend a lot of time cleaning and reading at home) but I love fresh air ... as weird as that sounds. And spending time with Sandra, of course :)
  • There were two big book sales in April - my public library's and Chronicle Books' - both of which I was able to find some great things. My favorite find was, hands down, Burial Rites by Hannah Kent. The title actually caught Sandra's eye first — she thought it said "Bridal Rites" LOL.
  • A bunch of girls around my age at church got together and started a book club! We just started reading Living the Cross Centered Life by C.J. Mahaney and our first discussion session was yesterday. It's been great hearing what everyone thinks and being able to encourage one another.



FavoritesIgnite Me by Tahereh Mafi, The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord
LovedMs. Marvel, Vol. 1: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson
Liked: The Life Intended by Kristin Harmel, Through the Woods by Emily Carroll, Last Will and Testament by Dahlia Adler
Was Okay With: Love, Lucy by April Lindner, Locke & Key, Vol. 2: Head Games by Joe Hill, Paper Towns by John Green
Could've Skipped: A Wicked Thing by Rhiannon Thomas

Number of books and pages read in March and April: 10 // 2,931 pages
Number of books and pages read in 2015: 22 // 6,213 pages



1. Muji's 0.5mm Gel-Ink Ballpoint Pen in black
I have gone through at least four of these in the past year or two, and I'm so sad they never have any refills in stock whenever I visit. If you know of a pen similar to this one, please let me know! I bought the same pen in 0.38mm and it's not the same (#firstworldproblems.)

2. Baublebar's Crystal Zelda Collar Necklace
I don't usually think to wear jewelry, but I've been making more of an effort for work so I can appear "put together." It goes great with a lot of my outfits (which isn't really saying much because all I wear is black) and it's very nice in quality. Very Great Gatsby-esque :p

3. boscia's Makeup-Breakup Cool Cleansing Oil
WHY DIDN'T I LEARN ABOUT THIS OIL SOONER? I've been trying to find a better way to take my makeup off (see ya, wipes!) and this product is the answer. All I have to do is rub it gently around my eyes and it washes right off with water. THAT'S IT. It might seem expensive, but you really only use 2-4 drops a day.

4. Urban Decay's Cannonball Ultra Waterproof Mascara
With the help of this, my eyelashes actually exist. I love that it dries fast and doesn't clump.

5. First Aid Beauty's Ultra Repair Cream
My skin has always been pretty good but at the beginning of this year, I started getting dry patches on my face. I'm not sure if it's because the weather is different back home, but I knew I needed to find a different moisturizer. The smell of this cream is a bit strange but it works well for me!





What were the best parts of March and April to you?
Did you read anything worth mentioning?

Friday, May 1, 2015

If You're Thinking About Taking A Break ...

Hello again, everyone! I have finally returned to my little corner of the internet :)

Taking a month-long break in April was very refreshing, but it is so nice to be back. I love tossing recommendations and chatting freely with you all about the books we read. I had intended to step away from everything related to blogging but I ended up planning a couple of new features and changing some old content. My goal while being away was just to worry less — and preparing for the future definitely helped with that.

If you've been burnt out from blogging, I'm here to tell you that it is 100% okay to remove yourself for as long as you need. Because I took that time off, I was able to work on a couple of things:

1. Refining my bookish goals
At the beginning of this year, I wanted to read at least four new releases each month for review purposes but also reduce the number of unread books on my shelf. I ended up spending more time reading new releases (which, for the most part, were just okay reads) and neglecting the books I actually wanted to read. Since starting a new full-time job, I realize I have to be a LOT more picky about the books I choose to read.

For the rest of this year, I've decided to stop requesting advanced copies from publishers and stop borrowing new releases from the library. I don't always need to be the first one to read a finished copy, and the books will always be around. (It's not like they disappear after the first month of publication!) I want to read for enjoyment, not because I know I have to write a review.

2. Improving content
I've wanted to do more than just write book reviews, but I've always used the time dedicated for planning to "catch up" on writing posts instead of think about what it is I actually want to do. Having a full month to just brainstorm has been great — I've come up with some exciting things for the future (hint: it has to do with fairytales!) and it has me eager to start writing again. (You know this is a big deal because writing, in general, has always been something I struggle with. If you have any tips, please help a sista out!)

I have also decided to remove a couple of features, for reasons I will probably list another time. Publishing quality content is important to me, and I don't want to force myself to write just to "keep the blog going."

If you've stuck around during my break — thank you. I can't wait to share my ideas with you all :)

If you're a blogger, do you worry about not blogging enough?
Are you afraid of taking a break and being away?
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