Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Review: Life After Juliet

ISBN: 1633753239
Pages: 304
Source: Entangled Publishing
Publication Date: July 5, 2016
Initial Reaction: 
Becca Hanson was never able to make sense of the real world. When her best friend Charlotte died, she gave up on it altogether. Fortunately, Becca can count on her books to escape—to other times, other places, other people... 
Until she meets Max Herrera. He’s experienced loss, too, and his gorgeous, dark eyes see Becca the way no one else in school can.
As it turns out, kissing is a lot better in real life than on a page. But love and life are a lot more complicated in the real world...and happy endings aren't always guaranteed.
The companion novel to Love and Other Unknown Variables is an exploration of loss and regret, of kissing and love, and most importantly, a celebration of hope and discovering a life worth living again.
 
I haven't read Shannon Lee Alexander's debut Love and Other Unknown Variables and from what I've read, the two stories are intertwined. However, I was able to dive into this story without any trouble and I ended up really enjoying it.  Becca Hanson has become a ghost after her best friend died and has escaped into the world of books. When her school decides to put on a rendition of Romeo and Juliet, Becca finds herself signing up to be part of the stage crew. Not only is Romeo and Juliet a cheesy love story with a tragic ending, but it was also Charlotte's favorite play. Before she knows it, Becca is interacting with people and even reciting lines on stage. 

Life After Juliet is a story about making new friends and moving on past grief. At first, I was a bit hesitant going into the story because I've been in a crazy slump for the past couple of months and I didn't want to be bogged down by all the emotions. While this book definitely leaned on some heavy elements, it was so uplifting to be able to experience Becca's journey and how she changes her life after Charlotte's death.

As far as the characters themselves, it's hard to pick a favorite. Becca's love for reading is her safe haven and shield from the world. It was so interesting to see her grow from hiding behind her pages and counting the days in pages to experiencing all that high school has to offer. Her interactions with Max and his group of techies as well as the drammies was so much fun. I absolutely adored the development of the characters and the plot line as opening night for the show approaches

. I didn't even address Max and Becca's relationship and I don't have a word to describe it. Both of them have experienced the grief of losing someone and both have dealt with their grief in different ways. Seeing them grow together and build a friendship that turns to something more just made everything so heartwarming.

I didn't want grief to play a big part in this story because I was afraid it would turn the novel into a bit of a downer but grief plays such a vital role in the plot. Becca sees everything as with and without Charlotte and the story reveals how she takes that filter off to view life through the eyes of a normal teen. Life After Juliet has its deep moments but there are several moments of teenage fun and angst sprinkled in that makes it an overall well rounded read. 

3.5 out of 5 stars

Friday, July 1, 2016

June Wrap Up

Hello everyone! I can't believe that June is officially over because that means I'm officially out of high school and headed for college. I swear my mind is still not accepting that fact. If you guys have read my past posts you'd know that I'm currently in Taiwan and the past couple of weeks have been insane so I didn't get to read as much as I would have liked. Technically, I still read a lot but I feel like I haven't...anyway, let's get into the wrap up!

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Summary (Linked to Reviews);
November 9 by Colleen Hoover - 4/5
A Stolen Kiss by Kelsey Keating - 3.5/5
Finding Dandelion by Lex Martin - 3/5
The Faerie Ring by Kiki Hamilton - 3/5
The Torn Wing by Kiki Hamilton - 3/5
The Seven Year King by Kiki Hamilton - 3/5
The Faerie Queen by Kiki Hamilton - 3/5

Total Pages: 2579
Reading Progress: 71/100

I did a pretty bad job with reviews this month but I promise I'll have a series review up soon for The Faerie Ring series by Kiki Hamilton as well as reviews for a couple other books. I still need to get my review for the Raven King up as well so that is going to be my top priority in the upcoming week. Summer is finally here which means more reading and I don't know where to begin! How was your month?

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Review: The Vengeful Half

ISBN: 978-0692641941
Pages: 316
Source: YA Bound Book Tours
Publication: March 3, 2016
Initial Reaction:
Olivia might look human, but she’s grown up with a heavy secret: her mother is a potion-maker who fled her home in a parallel world, the Hidden Lands.
Alfred is the blind, charismatic young heir to the illegal potions trade. When Olivia's mother is kidnapped by the magic dealers with whom she once made a bad bargain, she has no choice but to trust Alfred's offer of help. They travel to a strange new world of bootlegged American pop culture, lifelike doll people, and reincarnation. Alfred finds himself putting his position on the line to defend Olivia against his family’s conniving plans. Maybe he has morals…or maybe he’s just falling in love.
When Olivia escapes from an attack by a curiously familiar sorceress, she learns that potion dealers weren’t the only thing Mom was hiding from. Dark secrets lurk in Olivia’s past, and now Olivia must kill or be killed by the girl with whom she once shared everything...
 
The author drew illustrations! I have to admit, that was the driving factor for me with this story. The Vengeful Half is a fun fantasy novel with a fascinating story line and illustrations that add a bit of wit and humor. Olivia is a normal teenager until a blind heir to an illegal potion empire comes asking for help from her mother to lift the curse she placed on his grandfather. His arrival turns her world upside with her mother being kidnapped and her being thrust into a world out of a fantasy movie with political intrigue and social injustice.

Like I mentioned before, the illustrations were a huge thing for me. They added a lot of inside dialogue and jokes along with some character profiles that made the story a lot of fun to read. I didn't know what to expect with the illustrations but I'm kind of in love with them. They're not super simple but they're not elaborate either. It's like the author decided to sketch some scenes throughout the story to see how things would play out if the novel turned into a comic.

Okay, beside the illustrations, I loved how the author included so much history and world building. It's always fascinating to see the foundations of fantasy worlds and we get to learn about all the critical events through Olivia as she tries to understand the world that she is truly from. Everything from the history lessons to the flashbacks. The society from the high elite to the poor working class is introduced with so much history that it was just so exciting.

As for characters, I was so afraid there would be some sort of love triangle but everything turned out okay. Since this is the first book in a series, I'm glad to see how the relationships were established and I can't wait to see them grow. There are some questions I have about a couple of details and I have a certain ship in mind but I'll just have to wait to see how things unfold.

The plot is riveting and definitely keeps you engaged however it might be the fact that I'm fighting jetlag right now or I just got too caught up in the history to pay attention to current detail, but I found myself getting confused throughout the story in terms of what was going on. Despite that, it's definitely worth the read and I'm definitely keeping an eye out on the future books!
3.5 out of 5 stars

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Riv Adventures: Lunch at 春水堂


Hello everyone! Today I've got another lunch adventure to share with you guys! It is currently Day 4 of Taiwan and we've been a department store for three out of the four days. My cousin took us to a little restaurant inside a department store for lunch and I went a little picture crazy. 












I actually restrained myself and didn't get bubble tea until the fourth day and it tasted so delicious! I ordered a jasmine milk tea with boba and the boba pearls were so tiny I almost choked the first time. They're like little bullets if you're not careful!

My mom ordered some sort of milk tea and it tasted so bitter in comparison to the bubble tea. She didn't know that her tea didn't come with boba so she ended up ordering two tea cups full of little boba pearls. I wish I got a picture before she dumped it into the tea pot.

As you can probably tell from the mouthwatering photos, the food was absolutely delicious. I shared that gigantic bowl of noodles with my cousin and I have to admit I'm not a huge fan of the Chinese medicine taste but it was still delicious.

My personal favorite out of everything has to be the fried doughnuts though I don't think that's the accurate name for those heavenly golden pieces of dough. The fries were also pretty good (of course) and the taro cake was amazing (but hot).

My sister actually remembered the last time we came here to eat and I couldn't even remember ever eating here. The restaurant itself is really relaxing with the simple wooden fixtures and paintings. The people there are also super nice though we still got some looks for speaking English.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Riv Adventures: Lunch at the Garden Villa

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Hello everyone! I'm finally back with another post and I can't even begin to tell you how great it feels to be back. The past week was pure craziness from packing for vacation to graduating high school. My brain hasn't even completely processed the fact that I am no longer a high school student. Emoji 
While I continue to freak out internally, I knew that with my trip to Taiwan this summer, I wanted to incorporate some lifestyle/travel posts into this blog so here I am with my first one. I'm fighting jet lag to this get this up on the same day that it happened so here it goes.










Today we went to eat at a fancy buffet luncheon located inside a hotel called The Garden Villa. Once I get my vlog up for this week, I'll link it HERE and you guys can see more of the interior since I forgot to take pictures. But I did get pictures of the food so I guess that's the important part.

They had a pretty good vegetarian selection which was great since Claudia's staying with me for the next six weeks and we were afraid that she wouldn't be able to eat a lot of things. We ended up stuffing ourselves up and I have to confess that I'm kind of in love with truffle butter. They had this little station with a bunch of cheese, crackers, bread, and two different butter spreads. I might have died and went to heaven.

This restaurant also had a CHOCOLATE FOUNTAIN which gives it immediate bonus points. My sister was stuffing her face with chocolate covered marshmallows. I tried to be a bit more healthy so I decided to cover some pineapple with chocolate and it turned out to be pretty good.

The best part of all the food is definitely the crème brûlée which I remembered loving the last time I came here over two years ago. Since it's expensive and pretty hard to make, it's almost like a luxury food and it tasted absolutely delicious!!

So that's my little food diary post for the Garden Villa! It's not super high scale fancy but since it's in a hotel, there is a certain air of fancy. It was kind of hilarious walking around with Claudia and trying to sneak pictures while speaking English. I'm not sure what got us more stares. EmojiEmoji


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Top Favorite 2016 Releases So Far

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Hello everyone! This week's topic for Top Ten is to list your favorite 2016 releases so far. I have six that I've read and really enjoyed (out of the few 2016 releases I have read) and three that I haven't read yet but I'm really excited to get to. With that being said, let's get started!

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The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater - Words cannot express how much I LOVED this book. Definitely one of my favorites of this year. This book was an absolutely beautiful conclusion to a beautiful series.
The Bird and the Sword by Amy Harmon - I was so excited when I heard Amy Harmon was releasing a fantasy novel and this book was absolutely everything I ever wanted and more. It's fantastic, beautiful, and perfect.
The Midnight Sea by Kat Ross - I picked this up for a blog tour and I was so blown away by this novel. It's a fun mix of history and fantasy and I cannot wait for the second book!

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The Syndicate by Sophie Davis - Sophie Davis has been an author that I have loved for a long time now so I was so excited when I got the chance to review an ARC of this novel. It's so much fun and full of time travel and historical awesomeness!
Love Me, Love Me Not by Alyxandra Harvey - I read my first Alyxandra Harvey last year and I loved it. Love Me, Love Me Not did not disappoint. It was a great combination of lyrical writing and star crossed lovers. 
Eleanor by Jason Gurley - This book was something that I was no expecting but I absolutely loved it. It's so beautifully written and definitely leaves an imprint on you after you finish.

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The Winner's Kiss by Marie Rutkoski - I promise I will read this trilogy this summer! It's HAPPENING!
Passenger by Alexandra Bracken - I haven't read her Darkest Minds trilogy but I love the concept of this book and I really want to get to it soon.
Truthwitch by Susan Dennard - This is a book that everyone and their mother has read and loved and I want to read it so badly but I want to read Susan Dennard's other trilogy first so this one will have to wait :(

So that's my list! Sorry for my recent absence on the blog, I've been sick and so busy with high school graduation and packing and everything. Anyway, let me know what made it on your list this week!!