Saturday, November 30, 2013

2013 Holiday Gift Guide for the Bookish Friend

Photo Credit: LiteratiClub
(Okay, I lied about the hiatus. I might not be able to participate in all the bookish memes, but I can still post my own material. But it will be sporadic until December 13. Hello again. :))

When it comes to book lovers, we can never go wrong with gift cards to their favorite bookstore. But if you're looking for something more tangible, try this list of gift ideas. 

Friday, November 29, 2013

A Not-So-Glamorous Hiatus

Hi! I'll be gone for two weeks for finals and other deadlines for papers, which are approaching fast. 

See you in two weeks (so around December 13th). Hope your Thanksgiving was great, and enjoy your Black Friday shopping. >:) 

Talk to you again soon!

Monday, November 25, 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (#6)

This is a wonderful meme hosted by Book Journey. 

This week, I'm mostly reading for classes. There are papers coming up, and therefore any extra reading goes to research and, I must admit, holiday guides. 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Sunday Scoop #8: Weekly Reads

Hello all, welcome to the Sunday Scoop. Thanksgiving is coming up so soon, and I'm looking forward to making pies and enjoying time with the family. Still not sure how much to pig out on, but Thanksgiving just comes once a year... 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

2013 Holiday Gift Guide for the World of Warcraft Fan

Are you acquainted with an hardcore WoW fan in your life? Maybe they talk about the game all the time, or you just know that they play and love it. Or, maybe you're a fellow WoW player. Here are some awesome Azerothian goodies that would make great gifts. 

This is the first gift guide of a bunch that I'm planning to make. 

(Disclaimer: This is an educational guide. This is not my wish list!)

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Top Ten Books I'd Recommend to My Teenage Brother

Hello! Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week, I'm going to give a list of the top ten books I would recommend to my teen brother. Some of these I've already recommended to him, and others I haven't but would love to once Christmas break starts. I'm going to limit the list to books I've already read because I feel weird about recommending a book that I myself haven't read. Do people even do that? 

This list is influenced by the fact that my brother enjoys fantasy and historical/political intrigue. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (#5)

Happy Monday to you! This is a meme hosted by Book Journey

This week, I'm checking out: 

Broken by C.J. Lyons

Amazon | Goodreads

From Goodreads:
The only thing fifteen-year-old Scarlet Killian has ever wanted is a chance at a normal life. Diagnosed with a rare and untreatable heart condition, she has never taken the school bus. Or giggled with friends during lunch. Or spied on a crush out of the corner of her eye. So when her parents offer her three days to prove she can survive high school, Scarlet knows her time is now... or never. Scarlet can feel her heart beating out of control with every slammed locker and every sideways glance in the hallway. But this high school is far from normal. And finding out the truth might just kill Scarlet before her heart does.

Lathe of Heaven by Ursula Le Guin

This one is for my sci-fi class. 

From Goodreads:
George Orr is a man who discovers he has the peculiar ability to dream things into being—for better or for worse. In desperation, he consults a psychotherapist who promises to help him—but who, it soon becomes clear, has his own plans for George and his dreams.
The Lathe of Heaven is a dark vision and a warning—a fable of power uncontrolled and uncontrollable. It is a truly prescient and startling view of humanity, and the consequences of playing God.

Thanks for checking out my Monday reads! What are you up to?

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Sunday Scoop #7: Weekly Links and Reads

Hello, welcome to the Sunday Scoop. I hope you're enjoying this holiday season. This is one of my favorite times of the year. I'm looking forward to spending Thanksgiving break with my two families! This week (and possibly the next), the scoop will have a holidays flair to it. 

  • Celebrating Thanksgiving with friends? Check out this Friendsgiving guide on setting up a dinner party with friends. 
  • Books to Movies: Based on the series by V.C. Andrews, the Flowers in the Attic trailer is here. I read the series when I was ten. Some parts were hard to read because these girls grow up enduring different types of parental abuse. Child abuse is something not often dealt with head-on in YA fiction, and I appreciate this series offering people a way to put themselves in the shoes of a teen who doesn't have that ideal, stable home life. 
  • The Lamest Boyfriends in Fiction from Barnes and Noble blog. I giggled at the mention of Mr. Rochester's disguise as a fortune teller. That was so ridiculous! Hahaha. And of course, Edward Cullen is also on the list. 
  • Also from B&N is 4 Types of Books to Avoid Before Bed...especially if you have something important the following day. I'm guilty of reading books I can't put down and books that inspire my inner writer! 
Thank you so much for reading! What are your Thanksgiving plans? 

Book Review: RELIC by Heather Terrell (Books of Eva #1)

Released on October 29, 2013
Amazon | Goodreads

Note: I received this book as an e-ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


From Amazon: "For fans of Game of Thrones and The Hunger Games: high fantasy and dystopia meet in this high-stakes tale of a civilization built on lies and the girl who single-handedly brings it down." 

The dystopian nature of this futuristic, post-apocalyptic world might bear some resemblance to The Hunger Games series, but this book has no magic in it at all. What might make it fantastical is the fact that its set-up is a bit far-fetched: we are looking at a dark-ages sort of civilization populated by the descendants of survivors of a flood that wiped out modern civilization. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Truth or Dare: (Truth) What are the top 3 worst (or best) things about being a blogger?

Hello all. :) Welcome to the Truth or Dare meme, hosted by Jenna Does Books

The TRUTH question this week is: 
What are the top 3 worst things about being a blogger?
I haven't had this blog up for very long yet, so I'll be drawing from recent experiences. However, a lot of these are double-edged swords. They can be the best things about blogging, too!

1. It's a commitment that I make by myself. 

 I am responsible for posting stuff to the blog, and there are no external deadlines.

On the bright side...without external deadlines comes a freedom. If I have something up, I can take a break for a week or so without worrying about being fired.

2. Time sink. 

 Sometimes I set aside an hour for a post and it takes me longer, especially when it's a book review. 

However, it's been one of the more fulfilling things I've done in my spare time. Blogging about books seems to come a lot more naturally to me than some of the other things I've dabbled in, such as jewelry crafting and painting. Probably because I've been reading all of my life.

I can't think of another bad thing about blogging, so I'll give a good thing:

3. Meeting wonderful people. 

 I've met some great people who have shared my interests or introduced me to some fantastic books. Being a blogger is not just about writing my own blog; it's also about connecting with people in order to celebrate each other and the things we love in life.

Thanks for reading. Are you a blogger? What have been some of the best or worst things about blogging for you?

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

"Waiting On" Wednesday: World of Warcraft: Dawn of the Aspects by Richard Knaak

Hey all, "Waiting On" Wednesday is a meme hosted by Breaking the Spine, which spotlights upcoming releases that we're excited about. 

This week, the release that I'm totally excited about is the hard-copy release of World of Warcraft: Dawn of the Aspects by Richard Knaak. It was first released serially online as separate e-books, adding up to a total amount of five mini-books. I didn't hear much buzz about it but had discovered it by surprise. I kept up with it, and am very pleased to see it released in paperback! 

Knaak is one of my two favorite authors who have written the WoW series. His battle scenes give me goosebumps all over my arms just because they are so epic. This book is about the dawn of the race of dragons. In present-times, they are an old, intelligent race, but the plot of the story takes us back to when some proto-dragons started to develop self-consciousness that distinguished them from the rest of the pack. Here, we will also see the rise of undeath at its ancient origin. 

Genre: Fantasy / Adventure / Dragons

World of Warcraft: Dawn of the Aspects

by Richard Knaak

Release Date: November 19, 2013

From Amazon: 


Uncertainty plagues Azeroth’s ancient guardians as they struggle to find a new purpose. This dilemma has hit Kalecgos, youngest of the former Dragon Aspects, especially hard. Having lost his great powers, how can he—or any of his kind—still make a difference in the world? 

The answer lies in the distant past, when savage beasts called proto-dragons ruled the skies. Through a mysterious artifact found near the heart of Northrend, Kalecgos witnesses this violent era and the shocking history of the original Aspects: Alexstrasza, Ysera, Malygos, Neltharion, and Nozdormu. 

In their most primitive forms, the future protectors of Azeroth must stand united against Galakrond, a bloodthirsty creature that threatens the existence of their race. But did these mere proto-dragons face such a horrific adversary alone, or did an outside force help them? Were they given the strength they would become legendary for . . . or did they earn it with blood? Kalecgos’s discoveries will change everything he knows about the events that led to the Dawn of the Aspects.

Thanks for reading! What are you looking forward to this week?

Monday, November 11, 2013

BLIZZCON 2013 : Where I've Been This Weekend

I was quiet this weekend, but part of it was because I spent Friday and Saturday in Anaheim. Blizzcon was great. My sister-in-law, husband, and I were in it for the World of Warcraft stuff, but there were also panels and competitions for Starcraft and Diablo. 

With Sodah (left), one of the best WoW healers in the game. A great thing about his team is that they can play under pressure and adapt to circumstances. His team, Skill-Capped, eventually won.

 There were evangelists outside the convention for both of the days we were there. They hoisted yellow banners, so on the second day, a couple of guys stood outside with the Horde banner too. 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Top 8 Places to Read A Book

If I had a room dedicated solely to the purposes of a personal library, I would stash some love seats and blankets there and read there wherever I can. However, since that's not an option right now, there are other wonderful places to read, including the ones in public. A change in surroundings can be refreshing! 

1. Bed

Pros: I can read naked, read half-asleep without fearing my stuff getting stolen, rest my back, and get some precious alone time. Also, I can fall asleep right after or before I read.
Cons: The little room gets stuffy sometimes, and sometimes I need a break.

Monday, November 4, 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (#4)

Hey all. Here are the books I finished today and will be reading this week. This meme is hosted by Book Journey

I'm reading Relic for fun this week. It came out October 29. It's very fantasy-like, and is set in a very cold place. The characters go through training for their Testing, in which they search for relics. 
Set on Mars, and the Martian creatures are adorable. I read this one for my science fiction paper. Let's hope it rules.

David Copperfield by Charles Dickens

My class and I are halfway through this massive tome.  We'll be continuing it for at least two more weeks, but I'm enjoying the different story arcs. 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Sunday Scoop #6: Weekly Links

Happy Sunday to you. Hope your weekend has been going well. Any post-Halloween partying? To those who are participating in NaNoWriMo, Good luck!

  • Holidays are coming, and along with them come the feasts! From Refinery 29 is a guide on how to stay healthy during winter, and to prevent the weight gain that comes from eating too many slices of pie. Okay, well, that one applies to me. I like pie. 
Thanks for checking out the Sunday Scoop. Enjoy your first full week of November!

Book Review: The Woodlands by Lauren Nicolle Taylor

The fiercely defiant face of Rosa on the cover was what drew my initial curiosity about this book. Once I started reading, I was sucked into the The Woodlands, a dystopian thriller full of defiance, love, adaptation, and hope in the face of oppressive circumstances. 

The Woodlands

By Lauren Nicolle Taylor

(The ebook is free on Amazon right now, by the way.)

Goodreads Summary:
When being unique puts you in danger and speaking your mind can be punishable by death, you might find yourself fighting to survive. Sixteen-year-old Rosa lives in one of the eight enclosed cities of The Woodlands. Where the lone survivors of a devastating race war have settled in the Russian wilderness because it’s the only scrap of land left habitable on the planet. In these circular cities, everyone must abide by the law or face harsh punishment. Rosa's inability to conform and obey the rules brands her a leper and no one wants to be within two feet of her, until she meets Joseph. He's blonde, fair-skinned, green-eyed, and the laid-back complete opposite of Rosa. She's never met anyone quite like him, and she knows that spells danger.
But differences weren't always a bad thing. People used to think being unique was one of the most treasured of traits to have. Now, the Superiors, who ruthlessly control the concrete cities with an iron fist, are obsessed with creating a 'raceless' race. They are convinced this is the only way to avoid another war. Any anomalies must be destroyed.
The Superiors are unstoppable and can do anything they want. After all, they are considered superheroes by the general public. But not everyone sees them this way. When they continue to abuse their power by collecting young girls for use in their secret, high-tech breeding program, they have no idea that one of those girls has somehow managed to make friends even she didn't know she had. And one man will stop at nothing to save her.

Since this is a dystopian novel, let's talk about how this futuristic society works:
  • The Superiors want absolute loyalty, and in order to create that loyalty, it must dissolve all other competing loyalties that each person has: family, ethnicity, common history - things that bring people together against outside forces such as the oppressive government. 
  • Children are taken away from parents at the age of 18 (or sooner, if the parents have another kid - only one child per household) to learn a trade, and to leave their hometown forever. This destroys any loyalties a person may hold for their family or home community. 
  • Children are indoctrinated from a young age with pro-government lines and pledges. 
  • The government has a goal of creating a superior race: One race, created by the mixing of all the other races to create a race of people who look exactly the same. Their ideal look is that of light brown skin and blue eyes. It would be the perfect sort of nationalism - one in which the government is literally the creator and parent of each person. 
  • Marriage: people are matched with partners, usually from different hometowns and races, and they are expected to produce one child. The goal is that, given time, with enough racial mixing and ethnic erasing, the future generations will have no sense of ethnic identity. 

What I Liked:

  • I couldn't put the book down I love how Taylor sprinkles hints before shocking us with the revelation. The questions kept me going as I tried to piece together the hints. The story drops just enough hints for me to suspect there is something more than what's being shown, and even throw in a few guesses in the right direction before tying up the loose ends later on. 
  • Twists - They kept me on my toes. I kept reading to find out what was really going on. 
  • Rosa's smart and observant - She's good at seizing people up, but occasionally errs on the side of being too judgmental. We get to meet characters through her eyes, even when she turns out to be wrong. She is disgusted with weak-willed characters, partly because her mother failed to stand up to Rosa's cruel stepfather because she was too scared and meek. 
  • Most characters are more than they appear - There aren't really any two-dimensional characters here. The characters that surround Rosa may act a certain way (thus causing Rosa to form certain judgments), but they are hiding an inner complexity. There are no single-minded characters; everyone acts a certain way for a reason that isn't apparent at first. 
  • Rosa and Joseph don't hit it off right away - She's not going to be lovey-dovey right away. She has her own issues to deal with, especially considering her own personal history of being abandoned by her mother. Rosa struggles with her trust issues, but Joseph is patient and considerate. I would like to learn more about why Joseph is so devoted to Rosa, though. 
  • Clara isn't as naive as she sounds - As the perfect foil, Clara embodies the good and hope in the world to Rosa. "I know you don't understand it, Rosa, but I love this baby. I am her mother. That is a strong bond. My love is MY choice, don't ruin it. (111)" Where Rosa is mistrustful, Clara is trusting and optimistic. But that quote indicates that Clara is mindfully hopeful about motherhood - she's loving and hopeful because she chooses to be. Clara is a lot wiser than she shows with her light demeanor, and rises to protect Rosa in her motherly way. 
  • The concept of the maternal instinct is questioned - Rosa doesn't immediately feel the expected motherly love towards the fetus, which she refers to as "the leech." After having read through a lot of tropes about parental insta-love (which is pretty nice), finding this sort of ambiguity towards unplanned parenthood is refreshing and honest. 

What I Didn't Like:

  • There are certain coincidences that are rather convenient for the plot, especially concerning the placements, relocation, and matching of Rosa and Joseph. I can't talk too much about this without spoiling, so I'll leave it here.
Overall, I'm really glad I read The Woodlands. The writing here is amazing. Questions after questions led me throughout the book, and the answers, when given, packed an emotional punch. I didn't want to leave Rosa at the end of the book. I'm still dying to know what happens in the sequel, The Wall.

The society divided into circles (like districts), the oppressiveness of the governments and the weak mother coupled with the strong daughter are similarities that The Woodlands has with The Hunger Games. If you enjoyed The Hunger Games, then you'll probably enjoy this book too. 

To be honest, I liked The Woodlands more than The Hunger Games because the characterization is a lot more complex here, and the plot isn't limited to a survival, must-win game plot. 

My Rating:

Thanks for reading! Have you downloaded The Woodlands yet? It's a great book!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Back From Midterms & Some Thoughts on Childhood's End (Clarke) and A Canticle for Leibowitz (Miller)

Hey all, sorry for my absence this week. I've had midterms and papers due, along with this is the worst reading record I've ever done - I didn't finish reading a book for fun for two weeks! 

I did finish some books for my classes (mostly sci-fi): 

Childhood's End by Arthur C. Clarke 

A giant alien spaceship hovers above Earth just as humans are on the brink of destroying themselves through wars. Within 50 years, it changes human society by ending crime, violence, and wars. However, along with the end of conflict is also the end of creativity and innovation. But why are the aliens doing this for the humans? Instead of being the colonizers of planets, the human race finds itself colonized by powerful aliens with more advance technology. And later on, worse than colonized. 

Deals with the cyclical nature of humankind as it progresses from a dark age, middle age, renaissance, and high-tech age before it destroys itself and re-enters the dark ages again. We begin in the second dark age, a thousand years after the end of the total war that wiped out major cities and threw the survivors back into the dark ages. This was published during the early years of the Cold War, with the memory of the atomic devastation of Hiroshima still fresh in the minds of many. 

Now I'm back and happy to get back to blogging. Coming up will be a review on The Woodlands by Lauren Nicolle Taylor. Thanks for stopping by!