Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Book Review: In Real Life by Cory Doctorow and Jen Wang

I love reading. Books are amazing. They are a form of escapism, yes, but they are also inspiration, joy, and... well. Goodness. I think in some ways I have used my appetite for reading to define parts of my personality, so it made sense for me to review some of what I read! Here we go...


Title: In Real Life
Authors: Cory Doctorow and Jen Wang
Publication Date: October 14th 2014

Synopsis: "Anda loves Coarsegold Online, the massively multiplayer role-playing game where she spends most of her free time. It's a place where she can meet people from all over the world and make friends.
But things become a lot more complicated when Anda befriends a gold farmer - a poor Chinese kid whose avatar in the game illegally collects valuable objects and then sells them to a players from developed countries with money to burn. This behaviour is strictly against the rules in Coarsegold, but Anda soon comes to realize that questions of right and wrong are a lot less straightforward when a real person's real livelihood is at stake."

My thoughts: The artwork in this book is just beautiful. I love how colourful it is, I love that there's all different body shapes in the book - how the main character is a little plump, a little shy. I love that this book came into my possession just as I was getting back into gaming (on Guild Wars 2) with friends.

This book takes a serious subject and then works it into an intriguing story. And things don't go completely smoothly, either. I love that the story isn't just some beautiful fantasy where the main character comes along and fixes everything - because it doesn't always work that way.

I do think that the book took some liberties with the subject matter - making the in-game characters a lot more life-like and including some distinctly human moments within the RPG - but I think they had to so that they could make the story work. Anda and her in-game character are awesome, and while I think this story would have benefited from a slightly closer look at female gamers (it is touched on briefly, but not much), I was really drawn to her story.


I received a review copy of this book from First Second Books.

You would like this book if: you like gamer girls; you love beautiful artwork.

Rating:  9/10

If you'd like to keep up to date with what I'm reading, follow me on Goodreads here!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

To-Do Listing~

I recently read a blog post by a dear human being (who goes by the name Transcendancing) with her to-do list. Within the post, she mentioned how much she loved seeing other people's to-do lists and leaving motivational comments and such. And I realised that I totally agree! I love seeing lists of many kinds on people's blogs - often because it makes me feel more organised by extension (or osmosis?).
I am having one of my not-so-well days (not as good as my really well days, and not nearly as bad as my euch no-outside-bed days), so I thought I would list a few things here, to make me feel more organised. By all means, comment below with your thoughts and suggestions (I can't promise I will take suggestions on board, but I like hearing from you!), or let me know what's on your list!

(Side-note: 'To-Do List' doesn't sound very good to me... perhaps I will come up with a new name for them sometime, like 'Active Items' or 'Sparkle Points to be Gained'!)

LIFE To Do:

  • get back into the FODMAP diet - more recipes and more cooking will lead to more joy and commitment
  • go swimming! I miss it...
  • collect the piece of pottery I painted over three weeks ago...
  • get back to writing! (I took a few days off from it and haven't gone back yet.) find the joy in it again!
  • start learning about book proposals and such~

UNI To Do:
  • Unit Outline #2 - read and mark assessments in diary
  • get readings and start for next week~

WISHLIST (current):
  • AKMU Album - Play
  • G-Dragon Album - Heartbreaker
  • SHINee mini-albums that I don't have....

Onwards~~

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Harry Potter Reading Challenge

It could be a very silly idea (in fact, it probably is), but for my final week of holidays before I go back to University for second semester, I have dared myself to read all seven Harry Potter books in seven days.
Xin thinks I will get through five at most - he may be right. I started yesterday and managed to get through book one, and have started book two today. I worry.

Now, a few provisos to the challenge - I am not to put my health in danger at any point for this. That means, I sleep if I'm tired. I stop if my eyes start to hurt. I do other things like get exercise and spend time with other human beings. I eat. You know, the usual.

Xin has agreed that, if I manage to complete the challenge by midnight on Friday (first of August), then he will buy me the seventh book - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - in the children's UK edition, to match my set. I foolishly have the adult edition, which just looks bizarre, but I have never bothered to remedy the situation.



Anyway! That's what I will be up to this week! Have you ever done any reading challenges? How do you think I will go with mine? Also, if you have the time or the inclination, feel free to read some Harry Potter with me! Just let me know what you're reading and how you're going with it :D

Love to all who read~

Friday, July 25, 2014

Spoonie Diaries #1: Brain Fog

This week I want to talk about brain fog - and I might not make a huge amount of sense while I do it, as I actually am experiencing some pretty heavy brain fog right now due to a virus I seem to have caught. (Honestly, I am having to bribe myself to push through this with chocolate and booktube videos, because blergghhh.)

Here's a general definition (that I found here) just for your reference: "Brain fog may be described as feelings of mental confusion or lack of mental clarity." Basically, to me, brain fog feels like standing on a cliff of some kind (bear with me here) and looking out over a beautiful ocean filled with my thoughts, but I can't really quite access my thoughts because there is just fog and cloud everywhere kind of blocking it.

Yes, it's frustrating as heck sometimes. No, I haven't found anything that genuinely lifts it once it descends. Aside from rest, but that's something that helps only occasionally... it's not terribly reliable. I will say that I have found paracetamol helps sometimes, but not always (again), and also it depends how I'm going in general, because if I've been taking a lot of paracetamol for something else, then I kind of become desensitised to it's assistance... Fun!

Now, to those that haven't had brain fog, it may sound relatively okay. To be honest, it's not the worst thing ever - it's just freaking frustrating. The thing you need to remember is that brain fog often turns up with other symptoms - like a headache, or body aches, or something like that. It feels a lot like having a really bad head cold and then trying to work through all that mucus and ick.

For someone who not only adores writing and reading, but also kind of relies on them for her (hopeful) future career, brain fog is just rage-inducing. Imagine you are sitting down to write something - say, an essay for work or university, or a blog post, and then you realise that all your thoughts are flitting about and really hard to grasp. You feel a general ache in your head, and find yourself furrowing your brow and trying to remember how to spell simple words like 'blast' or 'blue'. You may laugh at yourself a few times when this happens, until it starts to get a bit more frustrating. You sat down over an hour ago to write a page long assignment, for goodness sake.

Yes. Having brain fog is a practice in patience - with yourself. Brain fog consistently brings me back to myself and reminds me how lucky I am to be able to read and write normally, and also reminds me to slow down and just recognise that rest is one of the most important things in my life.

When brain fog appears, slow down. Drink more water, take your time to do things, stretch your body a bit. Get some fresh air. All of these things help, even if they don't relieve it. If it keeps getting worse, you may need to lie down for a while and get out a comfort tv series or youtuber (no, don't trap your favourite youtuber for your own benefit, you strange person, I mean get on to their channel and watch some old videos. like I do.) and just take some time for yourself. If brain fog happens while you're out - at work, or school, or whatever else normal human beans get up to - just do what you can to support yourself. That will probably end up being the main message of this series of blog posts - look after yourselffff.

Do you get brain fog sometimes? How do you cope with it? See you next week for the next Spoonie Diary entry! :3

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Book Review: Kalona's Fall by P.C. and Kristen Cast

I love reading. Books are amazing. They are a form of escapism, yes, but they are also inspiration, joy, and... well. Goodness. I think in some ways I have used my appetite for reading to define parts of my personality, so it made sense for me to review some of what I read! Here we go...


Title: Kalona's Fall
Authors: P.C. Cast and Kristen Cast
Series: Part of the House of Night Novellas series (Book Four), which I believe are stories that come from the original House of Night series.
Publication Date: Due to be released by Hachette in August, but the Kindle edition will be available July 29th I believe.

Synopsis: "From warrior and lover to enemy and betrayer, the terrible secrets of Kalona's past are revealed...He was laughing with her as he spread his wings and lifted her from the ground, twirling her around. Nyx gasped and clutched his neck. Kalona tightened his arms around her.
'Trust me, Goddess. I would never let you fall.'
From the Sun and from the Moon, two winged brothers are born: golden Erebus, playmate and friend, and mysterious Kalona, warrior and lover, companions of the Goddess Nyx.
From the first, Nyx loves them both deeply, but differently. With Erebus, she can talk and laugh and dance, and take joy in the games he plays amount the humans of the Earth. With Kalona, the fire in her body burns bright, and she can rest in the solace of his strength and protection. But for Kalona, Nyx's nights are not enough. Every second he is not with her he is filled with doubt and longing, and every time he fails to please her, he cannot forgive himself. Ruled by anger and jealousy of his brother, and consumed by his love for his Goddess, Kalona seeks the power to prove his worth, and to claim once and for all that Nyx eternally belongs to him."


My thoughts: Let me just state that I haven't read any other books by P.C. and Kristen Cast, so I have very little experience with the House of Night books, and as this is a novella that stems off from that series, I am rather inexperienced and confused as to how this story fits in to everything else. Having said that, though, I think it still makes sense as a standalone novella, even if I'm probably missing some glaring points.

I'm afraid I did not like this book at all. It clocks in at 150 pages - novella size - but I still felt it a bit of a struggle to get through. The premise was very interesting, particularly the Casts' creation of the world and the departure of the Gods and Goddesses - I found all of that fascinating. Unfortunately that part ended quite swiftly and then I found myself saddled with the character of Kalona, who I found extremely one-dimensional. He survives on his obsession with Nyx, and his jealousy of not just his brother Erebus, but of anything that comes into contact with Nyx.
The writing I found to be a little stilted at times, and boring at others. I didn't really care about what happened to Kalona, because he hadn't proven to me that he was a decent individual in the first place. He was born and then BAM he was jealous of everything. I am sure if I knew how this story fit into the rest of the series I would appreciate what was happening a little more, but during my reading of this book I just felt frustrated and bored.


I received and unsolicited copy of this book from Hachette.

You would like this book if: you like the House of Night books, I think.

Rating:  4/10

If you'd like to keep up to date with what I'm reading, follow me on Goodreads here!

Book Review: Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

I love reading. Books are amazing. They are a form of escapism, yes, but they are also inspiration, joy, and... well. Goodness. I think in some ways I have used my appetite for reading to define parts of my personality, so it made sense for me to review some of what I read! Here we go...



Title: Eleanor and Park
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Publication Date: Already out - has been for a little while. Should be available at your library or book shop!

Synopsis: "Eleanor is the new girl in town, and with her chaotic family life, her mismatched clothes and unruly red hair, she couldn't stick out more if she tried.
Park is the boy at the back of the bus. Black T-shirts, headphones, head in a book - he thinks he's made himself invisible. But not to Eleanor...never to Eleanor.
Slowly, steadily, through late-night conversations and an ever-growing stack of mix tapes, Eleanor and Park fall for each other. They fall in love the way you do the first time, when you're young, and you feel as if you have nothing and everything to lose."


My thoughts: I'm just going to take a moment here and talk about the covers for this book - the one you see above is the one on the paperback edition I received from Hachette. There's also another one for the hardback edition, which is equally as gorgeous. I love the simplicity of these covers! Just beautiful.

Onto the book. I read this in one sitting. Sitting still for that long took a little effort, but reading this didn't. Rainbow Rowell just has this amazing ability to make you fall in love with her characters as they fall in love with each other - yes, they are cute, but they also deal with some real issues. In this book (and I will try not to give too much away) the question of remaining in an abusive relationship is raised, and what to do when that happens. I know a lot of people would say 'no question - get out of there', and that's all well and good to say that, but I really believe that you don't know how you'll act until (god forbid) you're IN the situation in question. I think Rowell addresses this issue in a real way, if in a way that is a little lighter than you'd expect.

I have to admit that I think I related to this book so much because the two main characters are an Asian guy and a Caucasian girl, and they both bond of nerdy things. It reminded me somewhat of myself and Xin, and so I must admit to being a little biased towards this book for that reason. But I maintain that Rowell just creates characters that are so wonderful to read, and the story is such a wonderful accompaniment, that I find it really hard to put her books down when I start reading them. Heck, I just picked up this book to read a few passages to refresh my memory, and I got sucked in quite instantly. I've read her other book, Fangirl, twice already and want to read it a third time. I have been trying desperately to hold myself back from reading Landline, her most recent book, for a while now so I can finish other books. I know that once I pick it up, I will be lost.

Eleanor and Park is just a gorgeous story that will leave you wanting more of Rowell's work. I hope that, if you choose to give it a go, you enjoy it as much as I did.


I received a review copy of this book from Hachette.

You would like this book if: you like cute romances with a bit of serious stuff thrown in; you feel like a comforting read.

Rating:  10/10

If you'd like to keep up to date with what I'm reading, follow me on Goodreads here!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Book Review: The Stratford Zoo Midnight Revue Presents MACBETH

I love reading. Books are amazing. They are a form of escapism, yes, but they are also inspiration, joy, and... well. Goodness. I think in some ways I have used my appetite for reading to define parts of my personality, so it made sense for me to review some of what I read! Here we go...




Title: The Stratford Zoo Midnight Revue Presents MacBeth
Author: Ian Lendler and Zack Giallongo
Series: A series of a kind - I believe the next one is Romeo and Juliet.
Publication Date: September 30th 2014 by First Second Books

Synopsis: "The Stratford Zoo is like any other zoo...until closing time!
That's when the animals come out of their cages to perform Shakespeare's greatest works. They might not be the best actors, but they've got heart. (Also fangs, feathers, scales, and tails.)
Ian Lendler's hilarious tale of after-hours animal theater is perfectly paired with the vivid, adorable artwork of Zack Giallongo. So take your seats and prepare for Shakespeare's greatest tragedy as you've never seen it - funny! And with tacos!"

My thoughts: This book was a really fun read. It's around 70 pages, so it's quite quick, and the illustrations are amazing. There's so much colour and it features quite a few characteristics of the actual animals, which I find awesome.

The story, however, has been quite watered down as I think this is created for children - and those who have read Macbeth the play will know that it is quite bloody and filled with huge blocks of text about blood. Not really kid-friendly. I applaud the way the author has approached this and tried to make it more accessible to kids, but I'm not entirely sure it works - and that isn't a statement on the author's ability, just on the scope for a Shakespeare play to be effectively modified. There is a lot of grit to Macbeth, and I think quite a few things get lost in translation to this book.

If I were to read this without thinking of it's relation to Shakespeare, I think I would really enjoy it. I am interested in seeing how they go with the next book, Romeo and Juliet, but I think I will leave my sceptical hat on for now.


I received a review copy of this book from First Second Books.

You would like this book if: you like colourful animal characters, you like jokes involving ketchup-as-blood.

Rating:  6.5/10

If you'd like to keep up to date with what I'm reading, follow me on Goodreads here!
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