Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday #99

Hosted by the Broke and the Bookish!

Top Ten Things I Am Thankful For

I'm pretty much thankful for anything and everything. Books, video games, food, my lovable cat, my parents, and my friends. But here, let me expand the list!


I might as well start with the basics. I am really thankful for my PS4. It is really pulling me through these rough times. And even though it is taking away time from reading (and my other work for that matter), it's completely worth it.

My apartment. I love my apartment, and I especially love that I have heat and air conditioning and I don't think I have to worry about going over my electric bill. Maybe. I guess we'll see. But every time I come home from work, I get excited because I have my own amazing place, and I hope that never changes.

I'm also really thankful for my cat, Primrose. Just today I was like "I cannot believe I actually adopted a pet." I'm so proud of past Val.

Super thankful for these books, because they got me back into reading. And of course The Book Thief is there, no surprise.

The internet. And wifi. Because I do not think I could live without either at this point.

And then on top of that, I'm going to have to add my phone and of course my laptop. It's such a close tie between my laptop and my PS4 at this point, aha. Either way, I am thankful for it all.


The fact that I am 21+, and I can drink alcohol, and I would never EVER go back to being under 21. Ever. I am so thankful that I can buy and drink beer and wine and just be treated like an adult (sometimes).

My parents, obviously.

And lastly, YOU of course. I'm really thankful for having the opportunity to blog, and reach 400 (!!!) followers, something I never thought I could do. And of course, I'm so thankful for the friends I've made (and talk to almost every day, you know who you are). 

What are you thankful for?

Monday, November 21, 2016

Review: Of Fire And Stars

Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst
Publisher: HarperCollins
Release Date: November 22nd, 2016
Source: Edelweiss
Date Read: 11/7/16 to 11/8/16
400 pages

Betrothed since childhood to the prince of Mynaria, Princess Dennaleia has always known what her future holds. Her marriage will seal the alliance between Mynaria and her homeland, protecting her people from other hostile lands. But Denna has a secret. She possesses an Affinity for fire—a dangerous gift for the future queen of a kingdom where magic is forbidden.

Now, Denna must learn the ways of her new home while trying to hide her growing magic. To make matters worse, she must learn to ride Mynaria’s formidable warhorses before her coronation—and her teacher is the person who intimidates her most, the prickly and unconventional Princess Amaranthine (called Mare), sister of her betrothed.

When a shocking assassination leaves the kingdom reeling, Mare and Denna reluctantly join forces to search for the culprit. As the two work together, each discovers there’s more to the other than she thought. Mare is surprised by Denna’s intelligence and bravery, while Denna is drawn to Mare’s independent streak. Soon their friendship is threatening to blossom into something more.

But with dangerous conflict brewing that makes the alliance more important than ever, acting on their feelings could be deadly. Forced to choose between their duty and their hearts, Mare and Denna must find a way to save their kingdoms—and each other.

I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review. Quotes taken from ARC may or may not be in the published edition.

To be honest, I have heard not so great things about Of Fire and Stars. And because of that, I may or may not have had extremely low expectations. But in the end, that worked out for me! Because surprisingly, I enjoyed this book. Even to the point where I was asking Shannon and Holly, “did we read the same book?”

Now, does this mean the world building wasn’t lacking? Well, no. Though the book was quite bland, it wasn’t the train wreck I was expecting.

What first drew me into this book was the f/f relationship in a fantasy setting. Denna is to the future queen of Mynaria, being engaged to the prince. However, two problems arise. First, her affinity for magic increases in a place that does not tolerate it at all. And second, she doesn’t feel herself drawn to the prince, but rather the princess. Who is, surprise, not at all “princess-like” and rather ride horses all day rather than find a prince to marry.

The plot itself isn’t that intriguing. Someone is assassinated, the blame is put on the people who are able to use magic, Denna and Mare have to hide their love. It’s easy to predict. Now that I think about it, the side plot of what’s-his-face wanting to marry Mare didn’t quite work now that I think about it. (Spoilers. Highlight to read) I’m pretty sure he wanted to use her as collateral against her country, but I could’ve sworn her father couldn’t care less. Hmm. Not sure if that plan would have worked (End Spoiler).

Even though the plot was meh, and the world-building was extremely lacking, I at least was still entertained. Hence the 3 stars and not 1. Not only that, but the slow-burn romance between Denna and Mare was pretty well done. Plus, the fact that there just aren’t many books out there with both a main f/f relationship and set in fantasy. It was quite refreshing in that regard. But to everything else? Not so much.

Overall I would highly suggest borrowing this book. Though it’s not the best book I’ve read, I’m really glad it features f/f relationship, especially in times like these.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

All About Self-Care

I blatantly copied Shannon’s idea for this post. Because I can. To be honest it has been really hard to get back to blogging and books since the election. Combine that with family matters, in which I had to travel to Canada for (coincidentally I did escape the country, haha), it’s been rough. How do I go back to everything with what’s been happening?

Here I’ll be listing what I’ll be doing for, pretty much the next four years, or at least the next couple of weeks.

1. Drown out my fears and anxiety by playing pretty much all the video games. At the moment I am playing The Witcher 3, and I am contemplating starting over because I am a completionist, and I start having multiple saves. Plus, it has such a steep learning curve, and it was pretty hard for me to get into it until I realized I missed a couple of things.

2. Start reading my favorite blogs again. I don’t even want to check my Feedly at the moment, because there’s most likely 500 unread posts.

3. New York Times crossword puzzles. Yeah, I am addicted to crossword puzzles. I ended up buying a NYT subscription and though I’m not sure if I’ll keep it, I do love the puzzles. I might just end up paying for the crossword puzzles by themselves if I see that I have enough time to do them. You know, along with all the other things I do nowadays.

4. Retail Therapy. If only I had all the money to support this haha!

5. Donate. Honestly, this is more important to me than buying actual things, though I did buy Evie’s sticker *points to button on sidebar* to distribute to my friends. Two organizations I will be donating to later this month are Planned Parenthood (loving how 12.5% of donations were in Mike Pence’s name LOL) and ACLU.

6. Create graphics. I was able to download Adobe Illustrator from my university for free, and I’m learning how to use it. It’s surprisingly very different from Photoshop, but it’s allowed me to open different file formats that PSD could not. Now I can manipulate all those freebie vectors I've hoarded from Creative Market these last two years.

7. Cuddle with my cat. Who probably hates me for leaving her alone for a week. Sorry Primrose. I promise to spoil you when I get home.

8. Watch all the TV shows. There are some I’m looking forward to, such as A Series of Unfortunate Events. I’m still in the middle of The Office, and I’ll probably watch it until I get tired of it. Or until my favorite couple gets married. I also started Supergirl, but the DC series feel a bit too cheesy for me, which is the problem with I had with The Flash. I might try the second episode, or I could just go straight to Daredevil S2 and Luke Cage.

9. Watch all the movies. Next week Moana is coming out, which I am pretty excited for. Fantastic Beasts is coming out this weekend, but I’m still not sure whether I actually want to see it. I guess I’ll see what everyone says about it. ALSO KUNG FU PANDA 3 IS ON NETFLIX.

When you can quote the entire movie, because of how many times you've watched it

10. Have hope in the people. Do I have hope in Donald Trump and his team? No, not at all. Do I have hope in everyone protesting against him and donating? Yes. Do I have hope in the organizations that will fight to protect all of our rights? Yes. Do I have hope that more people will speak out? Yes. Do I have hope that the people who did vote for him will be ultimately disappointed and realize they will be paying more in taxes? Yes. Bottom line, even though there is little I can do in this matter, I still have faith in people. Hate will never be normalized.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday #98

Hosted by the Broke and the Bookish!

Top Ten Books I Have Added To My TBR Recently

I think the title is self-explanatory. As of this year, I have been reading a lot of Young Adult. And although that will still be my focus, I'm slowly shifting away from the genre. There was a time in my life where I wasn't ready for adult fiction. And although I have read a couple of books in that genre, I didn't really go out of my way to look for new titles. I still don't think I will, but rather focus on the ones that are already out.

Hence why I have added a bunch of adult titles to my TBR. Though I do have YA here to balance it out, haha.

It's Not Like It's A Secret doesn't come out until May 17th, which I'm sad about because it's the first Asian, f/f romance I've personally seen. In other words, I need it.

I am really excited about Girl Code coming out, even though it is teen non-fiction. Yes it's about programming, more specifically programming a video game. And sure, that is not even my field, BUT STILL. I think this will be a great read, especially to teens who are thinking of majoring/working in STEM.

I'm not sure WHY I have just heard of The Princess Saves Herself In This One, but I need this one in my life. I've been looking for more poetry, but rather anthologies of them, and not all classics. This seems like a very good place to start.

I had All The Birds In The Sky on my radar before, but again, because it was adult, I didn't really think to pick it up. But a world with both science and magic? Together? That sounds amazing.

Another title with "Bird" in it! I don't exactly know what The Bird And The Sword is about, but it's adult fantasy, and I have seen multiple reviews praising it. I'm hoping that it's something different than what I'm used to reading!

Just the title of Quarter Life Poetry: Poems for the Young, Broke, and Hangry interests me. Also, poems, about millenials. You know, the generation everyone hates? Don't worry people will soon pick on the next generation. I don't know what they're called though. But anyways, this features poems about post-college life, which is where I am now.
And what would this list be without a WWII book? Yep, so of course That Burning Summer is on the list.

Freedom Swimmer is about my mom's past pretty much. The cultural revolution in China, and all that jazz.

Not sure why I didn't have The Fallen Kingdom on my list earlier, because this is the last book in The Falconer series, and I'm both scared and excited to see how it ends.

Remember when I mentioned poetry? It's the reason I added milk and honey to the list, also I've been seeing it around as well, and I am interested.

Any poetry recommendations? What are some books you added to your TBR recently?

Monday, November 7, 2016

Review: Timekeeper

Timekeeper by Tara Sim
Timekeeper #1
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Release Date: November 8th, 2016
Source: Edelweiss
Date Read: 10/18/16 to 11/4/16
368 pages

Two o’clock was missing.

In an alternate Victorian world controlled by clock towers, a damaged clock can fracture time—and a destroyed one can stop it completely.

It’s a truth that seventeen-year-old clock mechanic Danny Hart knows all too well; his father has been trapped in a Stopped town east of London for three years. Though Danny is a prodigy who can repair not only clockwork, but the very fabric of time, his fixation with staging a rescue is quickly becoming a concern to his superiors.

And so they assign him to Enfield, a town where the tower seems to be forever plagued with problems. Danny’s new apprentice both annoys and intrigues him, and though the boy is eager to work, he maintains a secretive distance. Danny soon discovers why: he is the tower’s clock spirit, a mythical being that oversees Enfield’s time. Though the boys are drawn together by their loneliness, Danny knows falling in love with a clock spirit is forbidden, and means risking everything he’s fought to achieve.

But when a series of bombings at nearby towers threaten to Stop more cities, Danny must race to prevent Enfield from becoming the next target or he’ll not only lose his father, but the boy he loves, forever.

I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review. Quotes taken from ARC may or may not be in the published edition.

Timekeeper wasn’t on my radar until someone mentioned it on Twitter. That, and the fact that it was on EW as Read Now, made me pick it up. Maybe I’m just ignorant, but this may be the second book I’ve seen that is not only fantasy, but also features a m/m relationship. I’m always on the lookout for fantasy books with same-sex relationships, hence another reason I was so highly anticipating this.

Saying that, I did very much enjoy Timekeeper. We’re introduced to this unique world, where time is controlled by clock towers essentially. If a clock breaks, the area surrounding it is affected, potentially even causing time to stop altogether. This is what happened to Daniel’s father, who got stuck in a stopped town, Maldon. Three years later, Danny has followed in his father’s footsteps in becoming a clock mechanic, mainly to find a way to bring his father back. But time proves that it may not be that easy.

And it doesn’t help that Danny pretty much fell in love with a clock spirit. Who no one knows about because not only no one knows they exist, but it’s apparently forbidden to fall in love with the clock you’re fixing.

The book starts off really strong, with the introduction of this fascinating world run by clock towers. Whether it’s due to the splitting of time by the gods, or pure magic, either way no one knows for sure how time is truly controlled. To them, having magical clock towers all over the world is perfectly normal.

Then there’s the clock spirit, Colton. I found Danny and Colton’s relationship lovely, along with innocent. Here we have a clock spirit that has never talked to anyone, but so deeply cares about his town. And then we have Danny, who isn’t defined by his sexuality, but rather more on his determination to rescue his father. Along with Danny and Colton, we have a multitude of characters who each have their own histories. Even though there wasn’t enough time to explore each character, it was enough to allow me to distinguish between each of them. And sometimes, especially in the first book of a series, that’s fine with me.

The one thing that did irk me a bit was the rushed ending. I don’t think it helped that the ending was full of “X explained what happened to Y”. I’m pretty sure I encountered that sentence or a variation it at least three times. Enough for me to notice it at least.

Overall, I enjoyed reading Timekeeper immensely. I’m eagerly awaiting the next book, even though I thought this would be fine as a standalone.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

An Innocent Life #18: What Is This Motivation You Speak Of?

I am a very tired person.

It's almost come to the point where I am too tired to come up with posts, or even read and review certain books. But I am slowly chugging along, week after week. I look forward to the weekend every Monday! And next thing I know, it's Sunday again! How does that happen?

A photo posted by Valerie (@innocentsmiley) on

It doesn't seem like I did a very good job keeping track of my favorite posts last month. I'll do better next time (Something I tell myself every day HA)

Shannon @ It Starts At Midnight discusses whether a ship can sink a book for you, or if you're totally still on board because everything else is awesome.

Michelle @ Tea & Titles talks about the 5 star rating, and her problems with it.

Lastly, Aentee @ Read At Midnight has compiled a master post of her event, #CritYourFaves. I went through some of them and discovered some incredible posts!


A photo posted by Valerie (@vlangloisx3) on

And as amazing as it was, I'm not sure I would wait that long again. Also I'm pretty sure I cut almost half the line to get in? Who knows. But it was fun, even though a couple people fainted around us. Who knew it could get to 80 degrees in November?

Like I mentioned before, life has really gotten to me. And I don't think it helps with what happens on Twitter, which is a reason why I don't go on as much as I used to. Mainly because I do not have the energy to get involved. It's also made me realize how I need to view blogging as a hobby, and not as a job. I didn't really do that in the past, but there have been moments where I get pressured to read and review certain books. I think it helps that I have cut down on my requesting, like I only have three to review for November! Yay! Isn't it weird how we all want the shiny review copies, but then get so burned out by them? ANYWAYS. 

I hope you have had more motivation and inspiration than me! I plan to be around, hopefully. Thanks so much for continuing to read my blog!
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