August 2017 OwlCrate Unboxing

owl-crate-unboxing

Hi y’all!

About a year ago, my lovely mom decided to gift me an OwlCrate subscription, and I’m so grateful that she did. It’s a great way for me to read new books, and I love all the bookish goodies these boxes contain. Enjoy!

August theme: something wicked this way comes


BOOK OF THE MONTH : The Hearts we sold by Emily Lloyd-Jones 

When Dee Moreno makes a deal with a demon—her heart in exchange for an escape from a disastrous home life—she finds the trade may have been more than she bargained for. And becoming “heartless” is only the beginning. What lies ahead is a nightmare far bigger, far more monstrous than anything she could have ever imagined.

With reality turned on its head, Dee has only a group of other deal-making teens to keep her grounded, including the charming but secretive James Lancer. And as something grows between them amid an otherworldy ordeal, Dee begins to wonder: Can she give someone her heart when it’s no longer hers to give?

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Rapid Fire Book Tag

Hi y’all! I saw this tag on Bujo Books, and I thought it’d be fun to share a little about myself and my bookish habits. The Rapid Fire Book Tag was originally created by the booktuber GirlReading .

1. E-Book or Physical Book? If I had a choice, I’d always rather have a physical book than an e-book. There’s something special about holding a physical copy of a book, turning the pages of paper while reading, admiring a beautiful cover in person, and having a bookshelf overflowing with books. Although I do prefer e-books while I’m traveling because books can get heavy!

2. Paper back or Hard back? I’m a hard back kind of girl. Always have been, and always will be.

3. Online or In-Store book shopping? I love walking into a bookstore and browsing  for books, but I have to begrudgingly admit that I buy most of my books online for convenience sake.

4. Trilogies or Series? This is a hard one! Three is such a good number of books, not too many and not too little. But sometimes I just want MORE. I don’t want to leave the world and characters, so I’ll have to go with series because who doesn’t want more books?

5. A book you want everyone to read? The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. It’s magical and beautiful and simply splendid. PLEASE GO READ IT IF YOU HAVEN’T! YOU WILL NOT REGRET IT!

6. Heroes or villains? Heroes! I’m always rooting for the hero, but you’ve gotta love a good villain.

7. Recommend and underrated author. Kristin Cashore. Love her book Graceling and I feel like it’s totally underrated. Fans of fantasy definitely need to check out her books!

8. Last book you finished? The last book I finished, while writing this post, was Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller (review to come). It was such a fun read with an awesome MC and a ton of sass. I’m currently reading When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon, which I am loving!!

9. Weirdest thing you’ve used as a bookmark? Gosh, I know I’ve use a bunch of weird things as bookmarks, but off the top of my head I can only think of wrappers & receipts. Is that weird?

10. Used books: Yes or No? YES! Half Priced Books is my go-to bookstore.

11. Top tree favorite genres? Fantasy, Dystopian, Contemporary!

12. Borrow or buy? Buy! Owning your own copy of a book is just something special. It’s yours and yours alone, and you can do whatever you want with it, like lend it out to friends or reread it!

13. Character or plot? Character! Your plot could be amazing, but if I can’t connect to your characters then your book and I most likely won’t get along.

14. Long or short books? Lately short books because I have almost zero time to read with college.

15. Name the first three books you can think of… Divergent by Veronica Roth, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han, The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare

16. Book that makes you cry or laugh? Lord of Shadows was the last book that made me cry. THAT ENDING!! Although I do tend to cry a lot in movies & books. The last book that made me laugh was When Dimple Met Rishi. The initial meeting had me legit dying!

17. Our world of fictional world? FICTIONAL>>>

18. Audiobooks, yes or no? Ummm… I’m not sure, since I’ve never tried listening to an audio book. The idea kind of freaks me out for some weird reason. Any good recommendations?

19. Do you every judge a book by it’s cover? UGH… *hides* YES, all the freaking time. Whoops!

20. Book to movie or book to tv series adaptation? Movie, I guess. I haven’t watched a TV series of a book I’ve read, but I have watched The Vampire Diaries & 13 Reasons Why. I’ve seen more book to movie adaptations, and I’ve enjoyed most of them. Also it gives me a good excuse to make my friends read books!

21. A movie or tv show you preferred to it’s book? Um… I feel like this isn’t a thing that really happens. The book is always better! But I guess I’d have to say The Vampire Diaries, since I loved that show and had no interest in reading the books.

22. Series or Standalones? SERIES!!! GIMME MORE GIMME MORE!! I never want it to end!!

COMMENT DOWN BELOW!

I tag all of you!

Agree or disagree with me?

THANKS FOR READING VIVALABOOKS!

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The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco | Book Review

 RATING: slow start, great world (3) // AMAZON

PAGES: 432 PAGES | PUBLISHER: Sourcebooks Fire

FORMAT: ebook | SOURCE: netgalley AGE GROUP: YOUNG ADULT

GOODREADS SUMMARY

Let me be clear: I never intended to raise my brother from his grave, though he may claim otherwise. If there’s anything I’ve learned from him in the years since, it’s that the dead hide truths as well as the living.

When Tea accidentally resurrects her brother from the dead, she learns she is different from the other witches in her family. Her gift for necromancy means that she’s a bone witch, a title that makes her feared and ostracized by her community. But Tea finds solace and guidance with an older, wiser bone witch, who takes Tea and her brother to another land for training.

In her new home, Tea puts all her energy into becoming an asha-one who can wield elemental magic. But dark forces are approaching quickly, and in the face of danger, Tea will have to overcome her obstacles…and make a powerful choice.

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*review copy provided by the publisher via Netgalley for an honest review*

Cover ThoughtsThe cover is absolutely gorgeous! I love the regal purple accented with the gold designs, and I wish I had an actual physical copy of this book just to admire its cover. The skull in the middle is ominous yet not totally terrifying, which I believe complements the book. I like the little detail at the top of the book of the girl sitting on the cliff holding her knees to her chest looking up longingly at the sky. Could this girl be Tea?
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Fair warning that the beginning of The Bone Witch is snail-pace slow to the point where I almost DNFed the book. It took me about a little over 30% of it to finally become interested in the plot and characters. Chupeco spends a great deal of time introducing characters and the world she has created through incredibly detailed descriptions. Due to the intensive world building there’s a lot of time spent describing every little thing, making the book move very slowly. Although I had a tough time getting into The Bone Witch, (I actually had to put it down & come back to it a few months later) I’m glad I buckled down and powered through because I found out it was well worth it! Chupeco creates an intriguing & unique world containing interesting, complex characters with plenty of surprising secrets. Once I got through the slow beginning, I flew by the second half of The Bone Witch.

One of the reasons I had trouble getting into The Bone Witch was due to the format of the book. It alternates between the POV of a bard in the present and Tea’s POV of the past, which is the main part of the story. I didn’t fully understand what was going on at first, so I was confused between the shifts of time and characters. Once I got over my confusion, I enjoyed getting a glimpse into the present between parts of Tea’s tale of the past. It made me more eager to find out what had happened. Most of the book focuses on Tea discovering her affinity for the dark while training to become an asha and the trouble & politics that come with that responsibility. In contrast, through the bard we meet an exiled and mysterious Tea with a vendetta that we don’t fully understand. Continue reading

The Reading Quest

There’s this Reading Challenge that has been popping up all over the internet called The Reading Quest hosted by Aentee from Read at Midnight. It’s a reading challenge where you have to choose a character class—Knight, Bard, Rogue, or Mage—and complete their path on the epic bingo board below (designs are by CW of Read, Think, Ponder). When I first saw this it instantly reminded me of a board game, but much better because it involves tackling my TBR list, which needs major help! #TheReadingQuest will start on August 13th and end on September 10th. Readers will try to complete the books on their path and other side quests in order to collect points and level up. If you’re feeling ambitious you can even tackle other quests after finishing your own. For more information, check out the Sign Up Post on Aentee’s blog!

I decided to pick the Mage character, because I’d definitely be able to wield magic if I could and the path includes a lot of books that I own since I’m a huge Fantasy fan. I’m starting out at Level 1 with 10 EXP & 10 HP. Hopefully I’ll be able to blow through my TBR, and gain points to level up quickly! I also included the Knight path below in case I decide to be overly ambitious.

MAGE: As wielders of spells and witchcraft, these players will conjure and summon their way through the First Down path on the quest. Their tomes contain magic and whispers of alternate lands. | Read At Midnight

MAGE QUEST

The First Book of a Series: This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

A Book Set in a Different World: Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes

A Book Based on Mythology: The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan OR The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan

A Book That Contains Magic: Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter

A Book With A One Word Title: Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Knight QUEST

The First Book of a Series: Heartless by Marissa Meyer

A Book With A Verb In Its Title: Looking for Alaska by John Green

A Book with a Weapon on Its Cover: TBD

A Book With a Red Cover: TBD

A Book That Has a TV/Movie Adaptation: Every Day by David Levithan

SIDE QUESTS

Potions (a book concocted by 2+) : TBD

Multiplayer (buddy read a book): TBD

Grind (a book with 500+ pages): Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

Open World (read whatever you want): Eliza and her Monsters by Francesa Zappia

Time Warp (book set in either the past or the future): The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

Expansion (read a companion novel or a short story): TBD

Animal Companion (book referencing an animal in the title): TBD

Are you going to join #TheReadingQuest?

THANKS FOR READING VIVALABOOKS!

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Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh | BOOK REVIEW

 RATING: DIDN’T LIVE UP TO EXPECTATIONS (3) // AMAZON

PAGES: 393 PAGES | PUBLISHER:  G.P. Putnam’s Sons

FORMAT: hardcover | SOURCE: hardcover | AGE GROUP: YOUNG ADULT

GOODREADS SUMMARY

The only daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has always known she’d been raised for one purpose and one purpose only: to marry. Never mind her cunning, which rivals that of her twin brother, Kenshin, or her skills as an accomplished alchemist. Since Mariko was not born a boy, her fate was sealed the moment she drew her first breath.

So, at just seventeen years old, Mariko is sent to the imperial palace to meet her betrothed, a man she did not choose, for the very first time. But the journey is cut short when Mariko’s convoy is viciously attacked by the Black Clan, a dangerous group of bandits who’ve been hired to kill Mariko before she reaches the palace.

The lone survivor, Mariko narrowly escapes to the woods, where she plots her revenge. Dressed as a peasant boy, she sets out to infiltrate the Black Clan and hunt down those responsible for the target on her back. Once she’s within their ranks, though, Mariko finds for the first time she’s appreciated for her intellect and abilities. She even finds herself falling in love—a love that will force her to question everything she’s ever known about her family, her purpose, and her deepest desires.

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Cover ThoughtsI love looking at a cover after reading the book and finding hidden symbolism I wouldn’t have noticed before. I believe that the bird on the cover is a phoenix, which is the traitor shogun’s crest. Also the throwing stars play an interesting part in the book. I like the mash up of purple and orange, which unexpectedly complement each other. Also I love how the silver lettering looks like knives and swords.
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I had SO MUCH hope for Flame in the Mist. This was a book that I spent hours researching and reading about, especially when I shouldn’t have, like during finals (whoops). It was supposed to be a mash up of Mulan and 47 Ronin, which sounds absolutely epic. Everyone was raving about it, including multiple bloggers I trust. Renee Ahdieh wrote it, whose work, The Wrath and the Dawn, I previously enjoyed. I mean, the book is set in feudal Japan! There aren’t many YA books that feature Asian main characters, much less Asian settings, so I was looking forward to the diversity offered in this book. Flame in the Mist had all the ingredients to be a recipe for success, but I over-hyped it in my mind and it sadly did not live up to my very high expectations.

I’m not saying that I didn’t enjoy the book. It was an alright read, but there just seemed to be something lacking. My main issue with Flame in the Mist was the hype surrounding the book that led to my exaggerated expectations. First off, I don’t believe the book should be compared to Mulan. Yes, there is cross-dressing in the book, but that’s where I believe the similarities end. Mulan took place in China and Flame in the Mist is set in Japan, and the storylines are completely different. I agree that the story could have been inspired by Mulan, but I believe comparing it to Mulan might lead to unrealistic expectations.

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READING SLUMP | HEAD IN THE CLOUDS

Head in the Clouds is a feature on Vivalabooks where I discuss my thoughts on certain bookish topics. Today we’re going to talk about… READING SLUMPS!

We all know about the dreaded reading slumps. We all fear them. We try to avoid them as much as possible. But it happens to the best of us. And I fell into one of the worsts reading slumps in my life during June and July.

It started with the lack of reading throughout the school year because it was my first year in college and I had trouble making time for school and lacrosse and my friends. Most of the time when I wanted to relax I opted to watch Netflix or take a nap because I was that tired or my eyes were dead from studying. When I got home I was ecstatic to finally be able to have time to read again, and hit up Half Price Books to get some recent releases I couldn’t wait for. Unfortunately I got caught up in the hype of a book, and it fell short of my expectations. I was expecting an amazing read that would blow me off my feet, but I felt off-put by the ending and was left feeling unsatisfied. It was an alright read, but I had been expecting more, wanting more.

It was beyond disappointing for the first book I picked up from my year-long hiatus to have been such a bust. I had such high expectations and they were not met. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think the book was necessarily bad, but it was missing an important wow factor. It had been so hyped up by others and in my mind that it ended up falling short of the vision in my mind. This unfortunate turn of events led to my massive reading slump.

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AUGUST 2017 BULLET JOURNAL SETUP | PLAN WITH ME

Hi, it’s been a while, but I thought I’d jump back in with a Plan With Me post. I started bullet journaling about a year ago, and I’ve recently been having more fun with my layouts. Overall this month’s layout took me about 2.5-3 hours, which seems daunting but I like to plan while watching TV. (This means that I could have finished my layouts much quicker if I didn’t have a distraction.) Also this layout took me a bit longer than most, since I added a lot more doodles than I usually do. I’m really happy without how my August layouts turned out, so I hope y’all enjoy!

For August I decided to go with a cactus theme, which was inspired by In Liquid Color and Ann Le. I had some trouble figuring out what to do for this month’s theme, but I stumbled upon In Liquid Color‘s YouTube video and loved the idea for August. If you’re ever stumped on a month’s theme, I’d recommend searching “plan with me *insert month*” in YouTube.

This is my August cover page, which was inspired by In Liquid Color.

This is my monthly habit tracker. I like the idea behind having a monthly habit tracker, but I’ve had trouble in the past consistently filling it out. I’m going to try it again, hopefully filling it out before I go to sleep. Although I’m not the best at keeping track of my habits, I had a lot of fun with this particular page due to all the little doodles. I didn’t realize there were so many different ways to draw cacti!

 

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Recent Releases I’m Excited To Read

While I’ve been at school, it’s been difficult to find time to read, so I’m very behind on the new releases even though I’ve been dying to get my hands on some of them. Since I haven’t been keeping up with the publishing world, I thought it’d be fun to share a list of some of the recent releases I’m excited to get my hands on!

I received this book in the March OwlCrate, so I’m definitely going to pick it up since I already own a copy. Plus, I’m in the mood for something different, like a pirate book, especially since there’s a new Pirates of the Caribbean movie!

I was a big fan of A Study in Charlotte, so I cannot wait to finally read the sequel. I need more Watson & Holmes in my life! Plus I seriously need to get my hands on hard copies of these books, because those covers.

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley, and I started it in the beginning of the 2nd semester. I’m interested in continuing this story since the premise was very intriguing and I haven’t read a book about necromancy in a long time.

As an Asian, I’m always excited to read about books set in countries in Asia. I’ve never been to Japan, even though I desperately want to visit, but I’m fascinated by the country and its culture. This one sounds like a cute love story in a really cool setting!

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June 2017 Bullet Journal Setup | Plan With Me

Hi, welcome to a new feature on the blog! I started bullet journaling about a year ago, and I love it so much. It’s a fun way for me to plan out my days, and I love how customizable it is. The process is relaxing and it lets me still be a bit artsy, which I love. I’m in no way an expert, and I’m still learning new tips and tricks. But I thought it’d be fun to share my layouts!

 

This month I decided to go with a beach & wave theme, since it’s finally SUMMER! This is my June cover page, and the waves were inspired by AmandaRachLee. Even though the waves didn’t exactly turn out how I expected, I ended up liking the geometric twist I had accidentally added. Blue is my favorite color, so it was fun getting to mix & match different shades of blue in the waves. I wanted to give it a bit more of a beach vibe, so I used a peach colored marker to make some sand.

 

This is my monthly habit tracker. I didn’t have one during the school year, but I wanted to start using one again for the summer. I think it’ll help me make the most of the summer by keeping me accountable! I like to track health habits, like my sleeping patterns or if I eat vegetables or no sweets. This month I’m going to be taking a summer course, so I decided to track my studying. Also I’m tracking my blogging and reading habits.

This is my June monthly spread. (Inspired by bluelahe.) I used to do both a vertical month-at-a-glance spread and a calendar spread, but I found the calendar spread to be more effective for myself. This month I added the future log, so I can keep track of things I have planned for next month.

This spread is more boring, so I might add some color to it later. I wanted to create a space for books I wanted to read in June, and I love the idea of a monthly memories spread. I did one last summer, and it was so much fun to look back at all things I had done over the month. Also I decided to start a gratitude page again. We have so much to be thankful for, but we take so much for granted. I like how this page reminds me to be thankful for even the smallest of things.

This is my first weekly spread for June, and I’m really excited about it. (Inspired by studykouffee.) I usually go for a more simplistic layout and keep it black & white, but I wanted to experiment and have some fun with this spread. I decided to stick with blue tones for the waves theme, and I added some quotes for fun.

If you’re interested in starting your own bullet journal check out this blog post by twirling pages. You can also find more information on the bullet journal website.

Some blogs you should check out:

Instagram Pages:

Youtube Channels:

Do you bullet journal?

would you want to try to bullet journal?

link up your bullet journal posts!

THANKS FOR READING VIVALABOOKS!

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Nemesis By Anna Banks | Book Review

 RATING: Better than expected (3.5) // AMAZON

PAGES: 367 PAGES | PUBLISHER: Feiwel & Friends

FORMAT: ebook | SOURCE: netgalley AGE GROUP: YOUNG ADULT

29770764GOODREADS SUMMARY

The princess didn’t expect to fall in love–with her nemesis.

Princess Sepora of Serubel is the last Forger in all the five kingdoms. The spectorium she creates provides energy for all, but now her father has found a way to weaponize it, and his intentions to incite war force her to flee from his grasp. She escapes across enemy lines into the kingdom of Theoria, but her plans to hide are thwarted when she is captured and placed in the young king’s servitude.

Tarik has just taken over rulership of Theoria, and must now face a new plague sweeping through his kingdom and killing his citizens. The last thing he needs is a troublesome servant vying for his attention. But mistress Sepora will not be ignored. When the two finally meet face-to-face, they form an unlikely bond that complicates life in ways neither of them could have imagined.

Sepora’s gift could save Tarik’s kingdom from the Quiet Plague. But should she trust her growing feelings for her nemesis, or should she hide her gifts at all costs?

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*review copy provided by the publisher for an honest review*

Cover ThoughtsI’m not the biggest fan of covers with faces on them, but I found this one drew me in immediately. I think it might have been the silver paint covering her whole body and the intricate tattoos. Going into Nemesis, I didn’t realize it drew from Egyptian culture, but the cover makes a lot more sense after that realization.
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I loved Anna Banks’s The Syrena Legacy series. Not only was I fascinated by the mythology behind her story, but I had such a great time with her witty characters. Although I read the synopsis before I began Nemesis, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I found the beginning to be a bit slow, but I was completely engrossed into the story by the end and I cannot wait for book 2.

Nemesis follows Princess Sepora, who is the Last Forger in all 5 kingdoms. This means Sepora can create spectorium, which is used as an energy source in this world, but the existence of Forgers is guarded in secrecy. After Sepora learns of her father’s sinister plans involving her power, she runs away to the neighboring kingdom Theoria, a desert land with advanced technology. A few unfortunate incidents and a bit of luck later, Sepora finds herself sold into Theoria’s Falcon King’s harem, leading to an unexpected friendship.

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