August 24, 2015

Organizing my Priorities (But Not Quitting)

There comes a time in your life where you realize that you just simply cannot do everything. Most of the time, this realization comes with a fair amount of anger, regret, more anger, sobbing, and chocolate to compensate for the bitterness in life. 

I have had this moment several times now, and I have still refused to succumb to those ugly emotions (but I have caved in to the chocolate). Most recently, in the face of the returning back to my studies and sports (yes, I am somewhat athletic, surprise!), and my copious amounts of miscellaneous activities, I have decided to fight the seemingly inevitable breakdown. I am going to organize my priorities, starting with my blog and online presence.

August 22, 2015

My Life as an Optimistic Reader

The glass is always half-full, right? That is the classic answer to the age old question if a half a glass of water is half full or half empty. It labels you as a optimist, which is not a bad thing.

I think that the glass is entirely full. If you really think about it, the glass is half-full of water AND half-full of air. Hence, the whole glass is full with something. It is definitely not the standard answer, but it is the one that I relate the most too.

Along with this cliche, I am also a fan of every cloud as a silver lining, when life gives you lemons you make lemonade, and things will always get better. I try to live my life by these cliches that have been said so many things that some people believe that they are starting to lose their meaning. For me, these words have been a lifeline, something to constantly remind myself that living a happy life is possible. So, I try to incorporate optimism into every aspect of my life. I have also found a lot of optimism creeping into my reading life. 

August 20, 2015

Mini-Reviews | Summer disappointment, my first DNF review, and Dessen nostalgia

It's Not Summer Without You
It's Not Summer Without You (Summer, #2)
Author: Jenny Han
Series: Summer #2
Release Date: January 1, 2010
Pages: 288

One of the main reasons that I loved The Summer I Turned Pretty was the nostalgia and feelings it ignited. Those emotions were still present in this part of the series, but I really had a harder time connecting with Belly and her experiences. I can only take so much summer drama and boy troubles before I feel like bashing my head in a wall. It's Not Summer Without You walked that line very closely. 

A lot of the same issues from the first book, like the wishy-washy love triangle, continued into this book. The continuation is not the problem, the execution was. The same points were reiterated repeatedly and the same angst was apparent on every page.

I still adored the flashbacks. This time, they were more recent and built up the plot and tension beautifully. I love books that can keep me in suspense and wondering all throughout the book, and It's Not Summer Without You succeeded in that factor. 

I did enjoy the dual perspectives. We actually got two sides of the story this time. This double insight, along with the detailed flashbacks, helped me truly understand, relate to, and ultimately love the characters in this book.

I really wished for more from this second book, but I ended up with more angst and drama than sweet summertime feelings and nostalgia.

The Witch Hunter (The Witch Hunter, #1)The Witch Hunter

Author: Virginia Boecker
Series: The Witch Hunter #1
Release Date: June 2, 2015
Pages: 368

I love the cover, the synopsis, and the thought of a struggle between witches and witch hunters, but I only got through 40 pages before I decided to DNF this book.
It is a sad and rare day when I completely give up on a book, especially so early in the game.

I was enjoying the story for the first 15 pages. The world-building looked promising, the characters were alright but needed some work, and the foundations of the plot were being laid. I would have been happy to continue that story.

Then, the main character got insanely wasted. At the age of like 16. In the first 20 pages of a book. That rubbed me the wrong way and gave a terrible shadow to the main character. 

But, then I encountered a characterization technique that I am not a fan of--using extreme, and most likely unnecessary, emotional and physical trauma to as characterization. 

I am not going to consider this a spoiler, because it happened in the first 40 pages of the book, but it is quickly revealed that the main character has been forced to spend nights with the king. Then, she was accused of being a witch as a way to avoid delving further into that unsavory topic. It was just cast away like it did not matter. If you are going to use a technique like that, own up to it and directly address the awfulness. Not avoiding it with random plot twists.

I did not get past page 50 of this book. The issues in the book were brought up too abruptly and then dismissed too nonchalantly for me to continue the story. 

Saint AnythingSaint Anything

Author: Sarah Dessen
Release Date: May 5, 2015
Pages: 417

I have had my ups and downs with Sarah Dessen. I loved all of her early books, like The Truth about Forever and Along for the Ride. But recently, I have not been in love with her books. I disliked The Moon and More, so I was hesitant to read Saint Anything. I am glad to report that this one is reminiscent of her earlier work and I really enjoyed it. 

The characters were complex and completely bared to the reader. In contemporaries, I believe that the characters drive the book. Without good characters, no one will care about the plot. Fortunately, Dessen nailed her characters with this one.

One twist with this book was that the romance was not really the main act of this book. The relationships and their ensuing issues did not really come into play into the second half of the book. The true focuses of this book was family, friends, and forgiveness. All of Dessen's books have these elements, but none as strong as Saint Anything. 

The family issues were also intense with this plot. I love how Dessen shed light onto the problems without casting them off or exaggerating. I felt every one of the blows that this family suffered, almost as if they were my own.

Nevertheless, the romance was still spot-on, like with all of Dessen's novels. It was slow-burning, born out of friendship, and deeply rooted in trust, loyalty, and understanding. I love deep relationships like this, especially because they are so hard to build up in the span of a mere 400 pages.

Saint Anything is by far the darkest, most complex, and most character-centered books that I have read by Sarah Dessen. It reminded me of her earlier works, which also happen to be my favorites of her work. Now I have another favorite to add to that list.

August 18, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday | Auto-read Authors

This is a weekly list meme hosted by the wonderful bloggers at The Broke and the Bookish. 

I am cheating a little bit with this week's topic. I am supposed to be talking about the authors that whenever they publish a book you run out to the bookstore to buy it (or even do something crazy like pre-order it). But honestly, I do not buy that many books. And if I do, they are on sale. Unfortunately, not all of the books that I want to read from my favorite authors are always on sale. So, I am not able to buy them on my (very) limited budget. 

On the other hand, there are some authors that write books and I will read ALL OF THEM (or at least try my very best to). I am talking about wrestling in the library for the last available copy, or something even crazier like placing a hold on the book months before it is released just so that I can be the first one to read it.

Without further rambling, here in my prestigious list of auto-read authors.

August 11, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday | Authors I Have Read the Most Books From

This is a weekly list meme hosted by the wonderful bloggers at The Broke and the Bookish. 

I love a lot of authors. Just look at my Goodreads if you need proof. But, there are some coveted authors that I read more than others. Some might call them favorites (I like to call them addictions), but I devour all of their books,  no matter what they write. 

August 6, 2015

Review | The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas

The Burning Sky

The Burning Sky (The Elemental Trilogy, #1)Author: Sherry Thomas
Series: The Elemental Trilogy #1
Release Date: September 17, 2013
Pages: 464
Review by: Tessa

Who knew that one ruined elixir could start a life of infinite danger? Iolanthe certainly did not, or she would have never attempted to fix that stupid potion. 
Controlling lightning and calling it to strike the potion seemed like a good idea at the time, it was a pretty important potion, but it caused all kinds of unwanted, and potentially fatal, attention to be cast on Iolanthe. Apparently, she is the greatest elemental mage of the generation, and everyone would like to take advantage of her. That would have definitely been good to know before she called down that darn lightning. 
Prince Titus was one of the many people surprised, impressed, and envious of that lightning strike. No one has been able to bend lightning to their will since the golden age of mages, which was hundreds of years ago. The powerful mage that accomplished this feat might be the only person who can help the prince fulfill the prophecy proclaimed by his mother. In order to complete his destiny, the prince must battle the corrupt, and immensely powerful, Bane who controls the prince's realm with a iron, bloody hand. 
In order for the plan to succeed, the mage and the prince must be willing to sacrifice everything to their cause. Unfortunately, Iolanthe and Titus do not exactly see eye to eye on this whole destiny thing.

August 4, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday | Fairytale Retellings

This is a weekly list meme hosted by the wonderful bloggers at The Broke and the Bookish. 

Who does not want to be a princess, a hero, or both? 

If you said you don't then you are obviously in denial. 

But, since not many countries operate on a monarchy anymore, finding a prince to marry is a lot harder than it used to be. So, I have to settle by living the princess lifestyle vicariously through the wonderful world of fairytale retellings. It helps that there are so many amazing ones to choose from. 

Retellings are contorted versions of the fairytales that we all know and love, including Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, Snow White, and many more. 

And, since I am such a rebel, I am also including retellings of other classic stories.