Friday, November 27, 2015

Book Review: Outspoken by Lora Richardson

ISBN: 1516935721
Published: August 18th, 2015
Publisher: self-published
Read from November 14th to 21st, 2015
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Penny Beck is a girl who says yes when she means no. She keeps to herself, follows the rules, and does what she's told. After a disastrous experience with her boyfriend, she's determined to change from the spineless person she's always been into the strong woman she wants to become. All she needs is a little practice. On a cross-country trip to check on her grandpa, she strives to become bolder and more outspoken with the strangers she meets. Penny's plan is to practice saying and doing what she wants without worrying about what anyone else thinks. Then she meets Archer, an introspective loner to whom she finds herself drawn. She realizes she does care what he thinks, very much. Will Penny be able to stick to her plan, or will she revert back to her people-pleasing ways?


This is another one of those books lately where it was okay, but I just didn't get into it very much. I'm starting to wonder if it's entirely me or the books. I don't know. What I can tell you is that at times, it was just really hard for me to get into Outspoken. There were points in the book where I got caught up in how cute Penny and Archer were together, but a couple of pages later I was struggling to stay as into the book.

I liked the concept of Penny wanting to use the summer to actually speak her mind, but it didn't feel like that actually was a large part of the book. It was brought up occasionally, but it never felt to me like Penny was really trying to do that. Of course, we don't get to see her before she makes that decision, but most of what she does didn't feel like an exercise in saying what she wanted. To me, it only felt like that a couple of times throughout the book, and I wish that had been more focused on.

While I did think Penny and Archer were cute together, I almost feel like their relationship took up the book too much, and there was too little focus on Penny's growth as a person. In the end, it felt like it was essentially a romance book and nothing more. There's nothing wrong with that, but I felt like there were beginnings there for a good story about Penny finding herself. And, in the end, it didn't feel like that aspect of the story got that satisfying of a conclusion.

The other big thing that took me out of the story over and over again was the dialogue. So much of the dialogue felt unnatural to me. It was a struggle to believe that people would actually say things like that out loud because the way it was worded didn't flow naturally or like how you would expect words to flow in conversation. That took me out of the story almost every other page it feels like and became very distracting.

In the end though, it was a cute story with a cute romance. People who enjoy cute romances might enjoy this book, and I really liked the romance aspect of this book.

I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Life Post: Thanksgiving 2015

Happy Thanksgiving to all of the Americans! I hope you had a good one. Personally, I got to eat way too much food today, and we all know that's the sign of a successful Thanksgiving. This was the "small" Thanksgiving of the year too. Both sides of my family get together, but neither of those happen on the actual day of Thanksgiving. Because so many people tend to have other family get togethers on Thanksgiving, both families decided to do theirs on different days. Because of that, my family is just about the only one within both families that doesn't have a larger family Thanksgiving actually on Thanksgiving. So my parents, siblings, grandma, and I have a smaller Thanksgiving actually on Thanksgiving before the bigger family ones. This year my aunt and uncle were there as well. It was nice to spend time with all of them. I appreciate the "actual" Thanksgiving because we get good food, and there are less of us, so it's less hectic.

Of course, I appreciate getting to see all of my extended family too. It's just that those days are both going to leave me feeling much more exhausted (and I feel kind of exhausted from today already). It doesn't help that immediately after my mom's side of the family's Thanksgiving, I have to drive several hours back to school, and we'll probably get in late. That Thanksgiving being on a Sunday every year is really not convenient for me with college, but I have to deal with it.

I'm sure I'll be sick of Thanksgiving food by the time the weekend's over, but at least tomorrow is a rest of sorts. I can try to prepare myself for two straight days of Thanksgiving dinners. It helps when I remind myself that I'll be living off of dining hall food again afterward.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Life Post: Thanksgiving Eve

I didn't even realize until now that it's been a week since I've posted anything at all here. As far as school's concerned, things have actually been calmer recently than they were at other times in the semester. I think that made me slack off a bit with the blog because it was nice to just not worry about it for a bit. I don't know. I expect things to get a bit crazier after Thanksgiving break though because we'll head right into finals.

Speaking of Thanksgiving break, I'm writing this from home. In some ways, this semester is flying by, and in others, it's dragging on. It's strange to think that this is the first "real" break of the semester. There was fall break, but since fall break isn't one that's required of us to leave, it never feels like it's on the same level as the other breaks.

I'm excited about Thanksgiving tomorrow and then our two bigger family Thanksgivings over the weekend. I never really know what to consider my favorite holiday, but if it's not Christmas, I'd definitely say it's Thanksgiving. I can't deny that getting to eat Thanksgiving food really helps set it above some other holidays, if nothing else.

When it comes to writing, I'm also not really working on anything huge right now. I'm trying to put together pretty detailed character profiles for my characters in The Society. Considering I've been working on that story for years, you'd think I'd have done that already, but I haven't. I thought it might be a good idea, and while it's taking longer than I even expected to really flesh them out, it's not the same level of work that actually writing or re-writing a story is, so that's kind of nice over a holiday.

Speaking of writing, I posted over on my writing blog for the first time in around a month (embarrassing). I wrote about friendship in The Society. I've talked before about how much I appreciated when friendship played a strong role in the stories I read (or watch), so that post gave me a bit of a chance to talk about that same idea as it pertains to my own writing.

I also posted three Youtube videos since my last life post, so bear with me here. I reviewed After Freedom, which is a book that explores what life in South Africa is like since the end of Apartheid for a wide variety of South Africans. Then I also reviewed two episodes of Reign, so if you want to hear me talk about the big event that happened in the episode before last, you can find that over there.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Book Review: This Ordinary Life by Jennifer Walkup

ISBN: 1941311881
Published: October 26th, 2015
Publisher: Luminis Books, Inc.
Read from November 4th to 12th, 2015
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Sometimes Hope is the Most Extraordinary Gift of All.
High-school radio host Jasmine Torres's life is full of family dysfunction, but if she can score the internship of her dreams with a New York City radio station, she knows she can turn things around.
That is, until her brother Danny’s latest seizure forces her to miss the interview, and she’s back to the endless loop of missing school for his doctor appointments, picking up the pieces of her mother’s booze-soaked life, and stressing about Danny’s future.
Then she meets Wes. He’s the perfect combination of smart, cute, and funny. He also happens to have epilepsy like her brother. Wes is living a normal life despite his medical issues, which gives Jasmine hope for Danny. But memories of her cheating ex-boyfriend keep her from going on a real date with Wes, no matter how many times he asks her.
Jasmine can’t control everything. Not who wins the internship, not her mother’s addiction, not her brother’s health--not even where her heart will lead her. She wishes she could just have an ordinary life, but maybe what she already has is pretty extraordinary after all. 


This book had me interested from the beginning because of the fact it centered around a girl whose brother has epilepsy, and on top of that, the boy she starts to fall for is epileptic as well. I enjoyed that aspect of the story as it provided representation and was more unique than many stories I have read. I also thought it was interesting that the main character was a radio host at her school because that's not a dream I've read of many characters having. And then, on top of all of that, there's the fact that her mother is an alcoholic, and that issue is handled very seriously throughout the story.

After reading the book though, I feel like the story had a lot of potential that just didn't come through for me. I wasn't a fan of the writing style, and I got a bit bored with the story. Despite all of the aspects of the story that should have drawn me in, when I saw them being played out it felt like there were too many cliches for me to feel interested. It was like I'd seen it all before just a few too many times.

I did enjoy parts of the book, but I don't know if I would recommend it to anyone. The story just wasn't there for me in the end.

I received this book from Story Cartel in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Life Post: Coffee and Batteries

Saturday's are by far the best day of the week. Getting to sleep in a bit later and not worry about getting up to go anywhere is the greatest feeling. I did actually get up this morning to go to Starbucks, but since I hadn't gotten Starbucks in quite a while, that felt more like a treat than anything even if it meant getting dressed before I would have been otherwise.

Of course, then I managed to spill coffee on me and my notebook. Thankfully, it wasn't a school notebook, so I didn't stain any school work. I did, however, stain the cover of my notebook where I write down the random ideas and things that I have. (Admittedly, I don't use it has much as I should because I wind up pulling my phone out and using the notes app more than half the time. But the notebook still goes with me just about everywhere.)

Then the batteries in my camera went dead when I was in the middle of filming a video, and I remembered that I was supposed to get more of those and hadn't. Luckily, my sister's giving me some she isn't using, so I'll be able to actually finish filming that video later today. I hadn't wanted to make a trip to the store just to get batteries, so I was going to put it off otherwise.

Other than those two little events, I've had a nice, relaxing day, and I'm incredibly thankful for that after the craziness of the past week.

Yesterday, when my camera had working batteries, I uploaded a review of Little Mix's Get Weird album over on Youtube, so you can check that out if you're interested.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Life Post: No Time in the Day

This is going to be a quick post. This week has been exhausting, but I wanted to post something short anyway. My practicum is only several days from being over, which is crazy. On one hand it will be nice to have some time in the day again, but on the other, I really have enjoyed being at the school.

The practicum has been taking up almost all of my time though. That and classes and homework. I haven't had time for much of anything else, but that will hopefully change a bit once the practicum is over. I'm not actually sure it will all that much because finals are so close, but we'll see.

Over on Youtube, I've posted two videos. Just today I posted a review of The Shadow Cabinet by Maureen Johnson, which I loved. I also don't think I had uploaded my wrap-up and TBR for the month yet when I last posted.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Life Post: The Weekend is Over

I had such a nice weekend of doing almost nothing. I hardly had any homework. I didn't write anything that wasn't school related. Mostly I just relaxed. It was amazing and so needed. Just after waking up today, I already feel tired again, but for that small period of time, it was such a nice feeling of having slept.

Today was a good Monday too though. I wish I had been able to sleep in more, but I can't complain all that much about waking up to go to the high school I'm currently at because I really do love that school. I'm a little sad that I'm not going to be there much longer because it's been a great experience.

Since my last life post, I posted a vlog over on Youtube about my Halloween weekend, which included my sister's rowing competition.

Reign Review: Season 3 Episode 4: "The Price"

So far for season three of Reign, I've reviewed all of the episodes over on Youtube, but I knew that sooner or later reviews would start going here too.

This episode was kind of huge. I wasn't expecting Francis' "death" to come this early on! Actually, very little of this episode was what I expected to happen. I'd always figured there was a possibility they wouldn't actually kill Francis off because they wanted him on the show, but I didn't think we'd get a "he dies and then comes back" storyline. Funnily enough, I just read a book that did the same thing with a character, so that was actually on my mind while watching this episode.

I'm interested in seeing what they do with it. I liked the use of Delphine. I haven't really liked her much, mostly because I didn't find her very trustworthy even from the beginning, and I liked finally seeing her do something that made me turn around to her a little bit.

There's still a chance that Francis could die I suppose, but I think we've reached the point where it's clear he won't. I'm not going to lie, it would have been cool to see what they would have done with the show if Francis had died. Obviously, that would have been historically accurate, and I also think it could have brought about some really interesting things for the show. However, I have to be happy that Francis is still alive, and I still think they could do a lot of interesting things now that they've diverged from history enough that Francis has survived.

Elizabeth has quickly become one of my favorite characters. She's a lot like Catherine in a lot of ways that make Catherine my favorite character. I love so many of her lines about being a female ruler and her insistence on not marrying because a husband would force his rule onto her. I'm loving having her on the show. There's also this bit of irony hanging over all of the scenes where she talks about Mary being a threat and how she can never get the throne.

One of the most amusing parts of this episode for me was Catherine's attempts to gain the favor of the council members who need to name her regent. I really loved those bits. Actually, I'm a bit disappointed that Francis being okay means that's probably over.

Lola's starting to realize that Narcisse is still a terrible person, a fact which really shouldn't be all that much of a surprise. I'm so frustrated right now. As I've said time and time again, I hate them together, and I'm still upset that they actually wound up being married. Now I feel really sad for Lola because I really don't believe Narcisse can ever stop being terrible.

And the big finale of the episode is, of course, the death of Mary's mother. I am very interested in seeing where they go with that. What will happen in Scotland? Will we finally get to see more actually in Scotland? I've been hoping for something like that for a while. I'm really looking forward to see where the show goes.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Life Post: Sleep

My alarm for tomorrow morning is currently set for 8:30, and I am so thankful that I don't even know how to put it into words. It's been a ridiculously long time since I've gotten to sleep in that late, and after the amount of sleep I've been getting this whole week, that sounds like heaven.

Thankfully, it was a good week. A lot of awesome stuff happened. It was also just very long and busy and tiring. I'm so happy to go to sleep and actually sleep for a full eight hours. It's going to be amazing. Have I even said that yet? I'm honestly so out of it, and I have been for days. I don't even know what I'm saying anymore, and I've said so many stupid things in the past couple of days.

Now, I'm off to go get ready for bed.

I don't want to forget though: I posted a vlog on Youtube the other day. It includes the regatta we went to last weekend because my sister went and joined the rowing team this year. So there's that.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Life Post: I'm Tired

I'm actually surprised that it's been four days since I last posted. Everything's blurring together this week, so I can't remember when anything happened anymore. I taught my first lesson in a high school classroom today, and that along with a million other stuff for my classes has meant I have essentially no time for anything else. Or sleeping. I don't really have time for sleeping either, and that, of course, doesn't make everything else any better.

There's just a bit longer to go though. That's what I keep telling myself. And I should hopefully be able to sleep in this weekend. Actually, I have to sleep in this weekend because I don't think I could make it if I didn't.

I posted a review of The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson over on Youtube if you're interested.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Naruto Shippuden Review: Episodes 271-275

Exactly a month since my last review actually isn't all that bad of a wait for me. I can't believe I managed to watch five episodes during the last month considering how crazy the entire month was for me. It feels like it's been so much longer than that.

Now, I know that Naruto has had a lot of strange filler, but what was up with episode 271? I didn't expect much from that episode as soon as I realized it was about Sakura getting amnesia, but then, suddenly, it wasn't just amnesia but some alternate dimension person and just what? I still can't figure out what was going on. I can't figure out if the Sakura in the episode is the "real" Sakura in an alternate universe or if it's an "alternate" Sakura in the "real" Naruto universe. I have no idea what happened in that episode, and I watched the entire episode in a state of bewilderment.

Episode 272 and on made a lot more sense, and I enjoyed them so much more. Episode 272 really wasn't all that spectacular overall for me, but after having just watched 271, it was a welcome relief. I think it was a nice story as far as filler goes. A million times better than Sakura getting amnesia.

Episodes 273 and 274 are essentially two parts to the same story and one that I really liked. I enjoyed just about everything about those two episodes. I'll admit that I don't pay all that much attention to Choji most of the time, and these episodes made me feel really bad about it for a little bit. That one bit where he was talking about how no one would want to marry him really got to me, and the bits with the butterfly. I thought the whole thing was nicely done.

When I started episode 275, I was excited because I already had an idea of what was coming. I've been waiting and waiting for Naruto to finally realize what's going on, and now he has. I particularly liked the note that Iruka wrote for him ("Come back alive, no matter what."). That was such a nice moment.

That last episode has gotten me so excited to watch the rest. I feel like it's expected that I'll say something like that each time in these things, but it's true. Naruto finally leaving that island feels like such progress, and even though I'm not going to be surprised if there's more filler soon, I'm excited for getting more of the actual story. And I'm really just glad that the island is gone finally.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Book Review: On Wings of Air by J.L. Griffin

Expected publication: November 25th, 2015
Publisher: One Good Sonnet Publishing
Read from October 18th to 30th, 2015
Synopsis from Goodreads:
In a world divided by an ancient enmity involving the very gods themselves, forces move, threatening to upset the delicate balance between the people of the air and their enemies on the ground.
Skye, prince of the Skychildren, is betrayed and exiled from the sky realm. Wounded and cast down to the earth below, he is unable to escape capture by the detested Groundbreathers and is assigned to serve as the slave of one of the Groundbreather princesses. Escape, however, is paramount, as his kingdom is being threatened by a madman, and he resolves on trying to find a way back to the sky realm.
While certain that his disdain toward his heathen captors and their reprehensible god is justified, Skye finds himself thawing toward the Groundbreathers—most especially toward Princess Tierra, who is different from the rest of her people.
Complicating matters are the whispers he hears of the existence of a creature of legend, one which has the ability to destroy all life. As events spiral out of control, Skye begins to follow a path he could not have imagined, and he discovers that the secret of the Fenik is one which threatens the very existence of his people.


This book has a very interesting premise. I love the idea of Skychildren who live in the clouds and that they have ongoing conflict with the people on the ground. The idea of them having a belief in the same two gods but each group worshiping a different one and believing theirs was the superior one was also fascinating to me. So much about the world building in this novel was fantastic. It basically made the book for me.

The story itself wasn't quite as exciting to me. I found it hard to get into the possibility that Tierra and Skye would be together. (Slight spoilers following, but nothing that doesn't come relatively early in the book.) While Tierra never embraces the idea of being cruel to the Skychildren slaves like her family, I couldn't stop feeling uncomfortable with the idea of a romance between someone who had been forced to be a slave and the person who had been declared their master. I think the book did as good of a job with that storyline as a book could have, but the very idea behind it made me uncomfortable. It was hard for me to actively root for them to be together.

There were also some parts of the ending that felt rushed to me. Thinking about the entirety of the book, the beginning and middle seem to spread out events at a reasonable pace, and then there's so much packed into the end that it feels like too much in too short of a time frame. I think the ending would have benefited from having some of what happened spaced out a bit more.

That being said, I did enjoy the book. The world it takes place in is such a cool one, and the story held my attention and was enjoyable. I can imagine plenty of people really enjoying this story.

I received this book for free from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Life Post: School and a Regatta

It's been more than a week since my last post. Most of my days have been more of the same, but now I have the added bonus of spending all of my mornings at a high school here in Indianapolis. That means a bit less sleep for me since I have to be up to get there, but it's really not all that different from when I was waking up before. The school I'm at is a really great school. I like it there, and the teachers I'm getting to observe are fantastic ones. I'm happy to be there.

That being said, everything is pretty exhausting right now, so I'm thankful for the weekend. My parents came up yesterday because my sister joined the rowing team and had her first competition yesterday. They came in seventh out of eight, and she managed to bruise her shoulder before even getting in the boat. It was her first competition though, and as she said, at least she managed to stay in the boat.

It was freezing out there. At one point, we walked over to where they loaded and unloaded the boat in order to see them load, and by the time we got done, my feet were hurting really badly from the cold. Even though it was freezing, I actually wound up with my shoes off and curled up in a blanket in order to warm them up. That worked a little, but they didn't fully go back to normal until I put my shoes back on and kept them under a blanket.

Today I'm hoping for a much less eventful day. The time falling back meant I got an extra hour of sleep, and now I have some work that absolutely has to be done before tomorrow. So I'm working hard on that. Hopefully I'll get through that quickly though and have a relaxing Sunday afterwards.

Oh, I almost forgot, but I reviewed episode three of season three of Reign and posted it on Youtube yesterday, if you're interested.