Tuesday, November 13, 2018

9 Book Series I'm Putting to a Stop

I'm always looking through and editing my Goodreads shelves, trying to give myself reasons to talk about the books I've read. So I thought today, with the new year approaching very soon, would be a good time to share the series I've decided to stop reading.

It's time to move on to better things, says the girl who has SO MUCH TROUBLE putting that into practice. I hate the feeling of leaving a book unfinished. In 2015, I read a third of The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater, put it down, and picked it back up EIGHT MONTHS LATER. Just couldn't let it go, even though it initially put me in a reading slump.

I've learned to be pickier about the books I choose to read since I only have so much time in one day. My tastes have definitely changed since I started book blogging, and I've gotten to know myself and my preferences much better after trial and error.

Here are the nine series I've started but will not continue:

The first book, You, stands strongly on its own, and I'm not invested enough in Joe's story to continue on.

I read A Wrinkle in Time back in March to prepare for its movie release (I shared some thoughts in my Books I Read in March post) and sadly didn't enjoy it like most people have. A lot of the hidden themes didn't make sense to me—I can't imagine how it would be for younger readers. Perhaps I just enjoy books that don't leave things open-ended? Also, I still haven't seen the movie ... πŸ‘€

There wasn't anything I extremely disliked in Reign of Shadows, I just have no interest in following this story anymore. I feel this way about a lot of the books on this list—they're not downright dreadful, I just have many more better books to read.

I listened to the first book in this series and cringed the whole way through ... the narrator would make these raspy/growling voices, which added to the atmosphere but definitely gave me second-hand embarrassment. In addition, there were bad cases of insta-love, AND a love triangle. (I normally don't mind either, but only if they're done well.) I can't decide if it would've been different had I read the book instead, but either way I'm okay with leaving this series behind.

This is another series I started by listening to the first book, Poison Princess, and I felt the same way as I did while listening to The Madman's Daughter. I don't know how to describe these characters in a coherent way—all I can say is: I can't even. It might just be the way the narrators spoke, but even so I don't want to read on because the "romance" was bad. And I think paranormal isn't for me so I should probably stay away. This is why I no longer read fiction via audiobook, lol.

Love is Red was the featured book during my internship at HarperCollins Publishers three years ago. We got to see the cover process, its publicity package, and even meet the author. It was an experience I'll always be grateful for, but still I did not like this book. It was poetic, and creepy, and fantastical, and thrilling—the list could go on and on. I have no problems with books that can be categorized under multiple genres (Ryan Graudin is the best at this!) but it felt more like she couldn't decide what to write.

A Wicked Thing takes place right after the Sleeping Beauty we all know wakes up from true love's kiss. But what happens after? I'm all about fairy tale retellings (thank you, Disney) but the execution for this story was, I hate to say, disappointing. Not much happens because Aurora is locked up in her room most of the time, and the lack of action/plot made it dull.

I read the first book in this series, The Maze Runner, a LONG time ago on recommendation from one of my college housemates who loved it way before the movie was even announced. It's just been too many years since I've been in that world, and now there are many more dystopian stories I'd rather pick up. I could probably be convinced to watch the rest of the movies (if you've seen them, please tell me if they're worth it or not) but I'm okay with not knowing what happens next. Maybe I'll look on Wikipedia if I get curious πŸ˜‚

Salt & Storm is another book with details that escape me. (I did, however, read it four years ago so I don't feel too bad about that.) I know the story was somewhat interesting because I finished it, but it moved slowly so it was hard to get through. Like I mentioned earlier, my reading tastes have changed—or rather, I know the type of books I like now, so I'm okay skipping out on Drift & Dagger.


Are there any series you're not reading anymore?

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Books I Read in September 2018

one science fiction, two contemporaries, one suspense/thriller
three physical copies and one ebook
three 4 stars and one 5 star
three women and one male
three YA and one adult
two 2018 releases
four books read
1386 pages

I found this a little hard to get into, which makes sense because there's a lot of world-building involved. And I want the backstory and all the details, but the plot seems to get lost in it, if that makes sense? I decided to stick with it because of all the good reviews, and thankfully it got better. Warcross was entertaining overall, especially the scenes where Emika and her teammates are battling it out together. The romance wasn't convincing to me, although I am curious to see what their relationship will be like in the next book. The last third went by quickly and I will definitely be reading Wildcard since I'm sure there'll be more action in this duology ender. I'm looking forward to seeing this team work together to take down the baddie.

This sequel follows the events that happened in To All the Boys I've Loved Before, which is about a girl named Lara Jean who faces the consequences of her secret love letters after they get mysteriously mailed out. If you want to know what I thought about this series starter, you can read my full review here!

My reading experience was strange, at least with the first 80-ish pages, because I felt like we weren't getting any new information. Then I realized I knew what was going on because it was in the MOVIE. I guess they included the beginning portion of this second book and I had no idea. But it didn't change my feelings—I still think P.S. I Still Love You is a solid sequel. I don't want to say too much because of how things ended in TATBILB, so I'll just leave you with three things: 1) Lara Jean still brings it with her naΓ―ve and sassy internal monologue, 2) The Song Covey family is still a big part of the story, and 3) I loved that it was a proper reflection of how tough and complex relationships (both friendship and romantic) are.

I picked up The Poet X because it made this year's National Book Awards longlist under the Young Adult Literature category, and now I know why. It's a powerful story about family differences, growing up, and finding yourself, and you can tell how heavy the content is from the way Xiomara writes her heart into these poems. The Poet X is a great example of "show, don't tell" and it's really impressive that this story says SO MUCH in such a small amount of words. I don't normally read poetry or books written in verse because I'm afraid I won't "get it" but because I liked this one, I'd love to hear your recommendations.

Believe Me was a roller coaster of a story. If you didn't get whiplash, did you even read this book??? The entire thing was pretty much plot twist after plot twist. (Which I liked, even if some of it was doing too much.) You think you have something figured out, but then you turn the page and J.P. Delaney's probably like: 😏😏😏This was an intense, creepy, and dark read—definitely my kind of thing. Side note, and pretty much irrelevant to my mini review but something I still wanted to share: I felt personally offended because the main character called Elf a "terrible movie." Okay Claire, sure.


I know this is a little late, so I won't ask you to tell me what you read in September ... haha.
Share your most recent read and tell me what you liked (or didn't like) about it!

Friday, October 19, 2018

The Weekend Line-Up #4: Kelsea Ballerini, TATBILB, and unexpected reads!

Welcome back to another installment of The Weekend Line-Up! I haven't written one of these in literally more than two years, but I'm going to try and bring it back. For those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about, this is a feature I introduced in October 2014 that highlights what I'm planning to watch, read, and listen to during the upcoming weekend.

Two of my best girl friends are coming over tomorrow to have lunch and hang out, so we'll most likely watch this in the background while we chat and paint our nails. So reminiscent of our college days, haha. We've all seen TATBILB separately, but agree that it's worth watching again! I do admit that I cringed at some parts the first time I watched it (I just have this GIF playing in my head of Peter Kavinsky saying, "leggo" over and over again lol) but I get second-hand embarrassment REALLY easily so yes, I know I'm being a little dramatic. Since then, I've seen it twice in full—something that I rarely do with anything—and I love it so much. I hope it has always paved (or will pave!) a way for more YA rom-coms to be adapted. I really want to see The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord as a movie!

This book has been really slow going (and by that I mean I'm reading only ten pages a day. Not to say that ten pages is "too little," but that I normally read a lot more if I'm interested.) It's not exactly boring, but it seems like all the ~suspenseful~ events happened before the book started and the past is being revealed chapter by chapter. It's more character- than plot-driven, and I normally like my mysteries to be IN THE MOMENT. Like more Gone Girl than The Couple Next Door. Although Gone Girl was pretty slow at first too ... but that's a different conversation for another day πŸ˜…

I started watching The Lizzie Bennet Diaries after Sam from Thoughts on Tomes talked about classics she wanted to see modern adaptations of, and I'm hooked. After the first couple of episodes, I really wanted to read Pride and Prejudice so I just pulled it off my shelf and dove in. It's been on my bucket list for ages now, and I even added tabs because I was supposed to start it last year. Studying classics is not something I've learned to do, so it's quite intimidating to be reading a well-loved story but the videos are a great guide. I'm about to start chapter three, aka I've only read eight pages πŸ˜‚

I had the sudden urge to read an R.L. Stine book, but I didn't choose Goosebumps! I actually found out about the series re-boot earlier this week so I wanted to start with book one. When I was in elementary/middle school, I loved the "choose your own adventure" series (I just looked it up and it's called "Give Yourself Goosebumps.") I would borrow those books from the library but I had to hide it from my mom because she didn't like it when I read or watched anything horror-related. I have this vivid memory of me hanging out on my parents' bed (it was the furthest place from the kitchen/living room) reading one of those books, haha ... anyway, I impulsively started The New Girl this morning and it's not creepy at all! I'm only about 35 pages in so things could change.

Kelsea Ballerini's Unapologetically
I've been meaning to give Kelsea Ballerini's 2017 album a listen for a while now, so thank you to Spotify for featuring "High School" on my Discover Weekly playlist! Country pop is a genre I love, but I never seek it out on my own. I guess I just don't know where to start looking? She sounds a lot like Taylor Swift, especially in "Roses" (both vocally and style-wise) but is still different in a lot of ways. First impression favorites: "Get over Yourself," "In Between," "High School," and "Unapologetically."


What are your plans for the weekend?

Monday, October 15, 2018

Our Favorite Wedding Photos

Joseph and I got married in San Ramon, California earlier this August, and I'm so happy to be sharing some of the photos from that day with all of you! Enjoy πŸ€—

Joe picked out my engagement ring all on his own! I knew I wanted something unique with a vintage feel, and he did an excellent job. I went with a simple wedding band so it could stand out.

This wooden bridge was the perfect "first look" location, but my gown and veil got caught every time I moved. Luckily, you can't see any of the splinters on me but it was hard to ignore.

I took this seating chart idea from a wedding featured on Ruffled and just changed up the colors. The rose gold wall grid is from Amazon (I originally bought a larger one from Urban Outfitters but it was delivered bent out of shape) and I used the Uni Posca Paint Marker in 0.7mm to write all the guest names. It splatters a bit, so I wouldn't recommend it unless you're going for that effect. For the table names (they're all musicals!) I used the Uni Posca Paint Marker in 1.8~2.5mm.

It took me so long to write everything—I had to start over many times because the guest names weren't centered (and I ended up allowing some of them to be off-centered because I was getting tired)—but I love how it looks together. I wish it was hung from the ceiling instead of laying on the easel, but don't ask me how that would work πŸ˜‚

The table cards were supposed to be displayed in little log holders (you can kind of see them in the picture below) but I think it would've been hard for our guests to read. Either way, the tables still look good!

This doughnut wall was another DIY project that Joe helped me with! We purchased all of our supplies from Home Depot (white pegboard + dowels) and sawed the dowels into pegs at the store. Joe's groomsmen were at our house the day before our wedding to help us finish preparing and they smoothed the pegs with sandpaper. We're so blessed to call them friends—they didn't complain one bit and kept asking, "what's next?" Our day wouldn't have been as beautiful without them.

I had to tuck my veil between my elbow and body right before walking down the aisle because there was a rose bush nearby, and I forgot to release it! I was trying too hard to keep from crying. (I still cried.) That's why you still see it sandwiched in the picture (left) above. It doesn't look too obvious though ... hopefully :p

If you're wondering what I'm saying in the picture (left) above ... "LOOK! The doughnuts!" If you recall that beautiful wall of doughnuts—there wasn't a single one left when we walked into the reception so we didn't get to see it in person! Luckily, our day-of coordinator asked us which ones we wanted so she could save us some. Bless her soul. But the sad part is that I didn't even finish mine 😭

I think the photo above (left) is my most favorite one from this set! Everything looks and feels natural, which is so hard to achieve, strangely enough, when people are watching.

One of our friends made our cake (you can see her other creations by searching @kneadandnourish on Instagram!) and she's actually in this picture. Well, half of her is πŸ˜†

Joe's sister was so kind as to choreograph our first dance. To stay with the musical theme, I chose "Can I Have This Dance" from High School Musical 3. And it turned out so well, our guests loved it! I can't wait to see what it looks like on video. We both agree that this was our best run-through, which is such a relief. What you don't see pictured: so many sweat and tears (from me) while practicing our dance. There was no rehearsal I came away with dry eyes. Neither of us are dancers, but Joe caught on a lot quicker than I did so his patience was definitely tested. If you truly want to know how much you love your partner, learn a dance together ... haha.

I was originally going to keep my gown on for the whole night, but practicing our dance was already difficult wearing workout clothes. So I bought this dress from BHLDN four days before! (I do not recommend last minute shopping.) It took one night to ship and my mom helped me alter the bottom since it was too long for me. Luckily, the material made it easy to do so with scissors. But my maid of honor had to trim more off the night before since I kept stepping on it during our last minute practice.

Okay, but why is my left hand like that? πŸ˜‚

Photographer: Danya Chen Photography
Venue: The Bridges Golf Club
Dresses: Oleg Cassini (gown) + BHLDN
Bridesmaids' dress: Weddington Way
Earrings: Marchesa