Update | Where I've Been + What I've Been Doing

Even though I know this a book blog, it always makes me really happy to be able to connect with my readers behind the screen. I haven't written an update post in a while, so here is my attempt at coming back from a semi-long hiatus to write a post about where I've been and what I've been doing. Hope you guys enjoy it.

Where I've Been

Since my last update post, I finally finished high school! I graduated on June 21st with my twin sister, Kristina. Right before graduation, I left to take a 10 day trip to Japan. Our first stop was the city of Tokyo, the capital of Japan. It had been on my bucket list to go to Japan for years now since I had been learning the Japanese language for three years now.

What I've Been Doing

This summer, I've been working two jobs to save up for college. I know I shouldn't have signed up for so many things, especially during the summer before I head to college, but I was interested in too many things to just settle with one! Ever have that moment in a store where you like the look of two things and can't decide what to get, so you buy both of them? 

Other than working, my off days have been super chill. I've spent them catching up on blog posts and hanging out with friends who I won't see in college. 

I've also started writing for a new website called Frolic. Frolic is an entertainment site with articles for booklovers by booklovers. It is meant to provide fun and intriguing articles about books and pop culture. I am so excited to be a contributor because lately I've been in a blogging slump and writing for them has encouraged me to be more creative and flamboyant. Earlier in June, I wrote an article about my favorite bookish tattoos from Instagram. Read it here

I have another article coming out today about books that will make you care about the environment. You can read it here! Finally, I was able to bridge the gap between my love for the environment and my love of books. 

I move in for college during the last week of August, so I'm trying to schedule a lot of content for you guys in the meantime. However, as college comes around the corner you will be hearing less of me throughout the school year. Thankfully, I have two wonderful co-bloggers (Yingchao and Gabby) to help lighten the load and provide unique content. I want to thank you all for supporting my blog and any of my other social media platforms. Talk to you real soon! 

Unpopular Opinion: I did not like A Court of Frost and Starlight

Title: A Court of Frost and Starlight
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Pages: 229 pages
Release Date: May 1st, 2018
Source: Hardcover
Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Young/New Adult
Rating: 2.5 stars
Hope warms the coldest night.

Feyre, Rhys, and their close-knit circle of friends are still busy rebuilding the Night Court and the vastly-changed world beyond. But Winter Solstice is finally near, and with it, a hard-earned reprieve.

Yet even the festive atmosphere can't keep the shadows of the past from looming. As Feyre navigates her first Winter Solstice as High Lady, she finds that those dearest to her have more wounds than she anticipated--scars that will have far-reaching impact on the future of their Court.

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I wanted to like A Court of Frost of Starlight, but I'm fairly certain I'm at the point where I'll be hesitant about purchasing another Sarah J. Maas novel. Although I was abroad when ACOFAS was released, I was luckily near a Waterstones Bookstore and was able to obtain a copy on release day. But when I started reading it on the plane the next morning, I wasn't entirely sure if it was the story I had been waiting so eagerly for.

To be frank, ACOFAS was disappointing in the way that not only was there hardly any plot, but it read so much like a piece of fanfiction that I rolled my eyes more times than there were even number of pages. The "story" takes place months after the events of ACOWAR, during the Winter Solstice, which also happens to be Feyre's birthday. Our beloved characters spend the majority of the book shopping for gifts, being unsure of what to shop for, and finally opening the presents they received from each other.  There is a small side story that dives a bit into Cassian's past and another pertaining to reaching out to Nesta. But otherwise, it was like a classic Hallmark Christmas movie featuring the Inner Circle and friends (minus conflict).

As a fluffy read to purely kill time, ACOFAS could have been enjoyable. But throughout the read I couldn't help but wonder where the intrigue and suspense from a "classic" Sarah J. Maas story had gone. For years, her stories have always had a way of slipping beneath my mind and keeping me on my toes until the final page. And despite the enormous lengths of some of her work, there was never a second where I could let out my breath. With ACOFAS, I only managed to finish it while reading on my multiple flights last month. Needless to say, this book hardly held on to my attention.

But I wouldn't have been quite so bothered, had this novella been more about the underlying story (the one with Nesta and the big reveal) and less about the sexual tension between Feyre and Rhysand that was crystal clear on every. other. page. Not to mention the sexual tension between all the ships in this book. Is sex the only thing the most powerful people in the Night Court seem to think about during their gatherings and free time? And I'm pretty sure I would lose my mind if I ever heard another bloody mention of the word MATE. and...gentlemales ? ...question mark ?

Overall, this book makes me quite anxious about the upcoming Kingdom of Ash and the spin off trilogy to the ACOTAR series. If the bulk of Kingdom of Ash is anything like ACOFAS, I might just read the final chapter of it at a bookstore and wave goodbye to Sarah J. Maas books for good. It's said to be nearly 1000 pages and I probably won't be surprised if the word 'mate' makes an appearance a minimum of 800 times.

Notes On A Book: Stay Sweet by Siobhan Vivian

"Notes On A Book" is new series on the blog hosted by blogger Gabrielle (Gabby). These post-it notes resemble real notes that she took while reading the book. This series will provide a quick, succinct review that will give readers insight into what Gabrielle was thinking at the exact moment of reading each page of the book. 

Title: Stay Sweet
Author: Siobhan Vivian
Pages: 368 pages
Release Date: April 24th, 2018
Source: Hardcover
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
A summer read about first love, feminism, and ice cream.

Summer in Sand Lake isn’t complete without a trip to Meade Creamery—the local ice cream stand founded in 1944 by Molly Meade who started making ice cream to cheer up her lovesick girlfriends while all the boys were away at war. Since then, the stand has been owned and managed exclusively by local girls, who inevitably become the best of friends. Seventeen-year-old Amelia and her best friend Cate have worked at the stand every summer for the past three years, and Amelia is “Head Girl” at the stand this summer. When Molly passes away before Amelia even has her first day in charge, Amelia isn’t sure that the stand can go on. That is, until Molly’s grandnephew Grady arrives and asks Amelia to stay on to help continue the business…but Grady’s got some changes in mind…

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ARC Review: What If It's Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera

Title: What If It's Us
Author(s): Becky Albertalli, Adam Silvera
Pages: 448 pages
Source: ARC from Bookcon
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBT, Romance
Rating: 4.5/5
Arthur is only in New York for the summer, but if Broadway has taught him anything, it’s that the universe can deliver a showstopping romance when you least expect it.

Ben thinks the universe needs to mind its business. If the universe had his back, he wouldn’t be on his way to the post office carrying a box of his ex-boyfriend’s things.

But when Arthur and Ben meet-cute at the post office, what exactly does the universe have in store for them?
Maybe nothing. After all, they get separated.
Maybe everything. After all, they get reunited.
But what if they can’t quite nail a first date . . . or a second first date . . . or a third?
What if Arthur tries too hard to make it work . . . and Ben doesn’t try hard enough?
What if life really isn’t like a Broadway play?
But what if it is?

Pre-order Now!

What If It's Us definitely lives up to the hype that has been building. Usually, I tend to wait a few months before diving into a book that's super-hyped, unless it's by one of my all-time favorite authors. I was lucky enough to obtain an advance copy of this Albertalli-Silvera masterpiece at Book Expo, and as my first Adam Silvera read, I was certainly not disappointed. 

As a gal who grew up in New York City, my favorite part about this book was definitely being able to instantly recognize the places our cute couple visits in the city. This story cracked me up and knocked me down emotionally, so many times. It's the kind of love story that tugs at all your heartstrings and makes you believe in fate, in the universe, and in love. It's the kind of love story that makes you wish you were in love right now and had someone who would take you to have fun spontaneous dates.

The story begins immediately with a meet-cute and progresses into a whirlwind of adventures. For a story that ultimately takes place over the course of two months spent in the city, it felt as if time simply flew right by. I loved Arthur and Ben like they were my best friends. They're both cute, quirky, hilarious, and also relatable with their flaws. The chemistry between them feels so incredibly real that I could almost imagine seeing them sitting over coffee at a cafe in the Village. The dynamic between ALL of the characters is also real and raw. There were awkward friendships that didn't sugarcoat the reality of relationships. And the story reminds us that it's always important to acknowledge that no relationship-whether romantic, familial, platonic, or other-is ever perfect and it takes obstacles and hurdles to build the foundation of a relationship. It is also okay for friendships to be rocky and unstable.

I also became much more appreciative of New York City after finishing this book. Arthur and Ben's dates make me want to explore this city, while I still have the opportunity and appreciate the beauty and whimsy that simply radiates from it. Sometimes, after living in the same place for all your life, you grow to take it for granted. Throughout these years, I've definitely taken for granted the ease of transportation, the daily endless adventures, and the bustle of the city far too many times that I've forgotten at one point or another, NYC's magic has touched everyone who now call themselves a New Yorker.

What If It's Us comes out on October 9th and I cannot recommend this book enough! Go preorder it so you'll have it in your hands on release day because this is a book that can be read multiple times over for its sensational cuteness and incredible characters. Seriously, this book manages to describe the spirit of an entire city within a 400-page novel. But one more thing... I couldn't help but wonder if Adam and Becky intentionally gave their characters' the same initials as their own...

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