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Our Endangered Democracy: A Teenage Perspective

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When I woke up this morning, politics was the furthest thing from my mind. I was thinking about all the homework for my AP classes I had to complete today. Then, I emerged from my online Calc class, and felt the collective shock of the millions of Americans watching as Trump supporters stormed the Capitol.

I couldn’t help but watch in horror at the photos of protesters climbing over walls and breaking windows. I saw a video posted of a guard allowing himself to be photographed with a protestor.  Multiple news outlets announced that a woman has died from shots fired. 

Thankfully, the mob seems to be under control, (or at least according to the New York Times), yet it still feels as though our democracy has been thrown off balance. Whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat, we must agree that this is unacceptable, and certainly not American. 

As a teenager, I should be able to look up to my leaders, but how can I look up to my president when he’s telling people trespassing and vandalizing government property that “we love you” and still claiming that the election was fraudulent. 

As individuals, we must continue to speak out against injustices such as this. As a nation, we need to do better.

Book Review: American Royals

Titles: American Royals | Majesty

Author: Katharine McGee

Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers

Format: Print

Release Dates : September 3rd 2019 | September 1st 2020

Genre: Young Adult fiction

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes and Noble

What if America had a royal family?

When America won the Revolutionary War, its people offered General George Washington a crown. Two and a half centuries later, the House of Washington still sits on the throne.

As Princess Beatrice gets closer to becoming America’s first queen regnant, the duty she has embraced her entire life suddenly feels stifling.

Nobody cares about the spare except when she’s breaking the rules, so Princess Samantha doesn’t care much about anything, either . . . except the one boy who is distinctly off-limits to her.
And then there’s Samantha’s twin, Prince Jefferson. If he’d been born a generation earlier, he would have stood first in line for the throne, but the new laws of succession make him third. Most of America adores their devastatingly handsome prince . . . but two very different girls are vying to capture his heart.

Rating: 4.5 ⭐

Originally, I had given both books five stars but the more I thought about it, the more I realized I actually liked the first book a lot better. The second book felt like it was too caught up in the romances over all the political drama. I’ll get more into this in the spoiler section. 

Character wise, I’d have to say Nina and Samantha were probably my favorite. I did like Daphne in the first book but reasons (again I’ll explain later). I could relate to Samantha about constantly being compared to your siblings no matter how much you love them. I enjoyed Nina and Sam’s friendship. It had a lot of rough bumps like many friendships do but they still supported each other throughout it all. 

The series has many similarities to Gossip Girl and the Crown (at times being a little too similar to the latter) so if you like either or both of those- you’ll enjoy these books.

Now onto what I like to think of as the actual review! I love chaotic characters which is why I liked Daphne in the first book because she brought the drama. She was a terrible person in general but still entertaining. It was when the second book hit that her “I’m the queen bitch” energy got annoying. I mean she had the nerve to threaten Beatrice (and Beatrice took it which I cannot for the life of me understand). If there is a book three, which I think there will be since so many plot points were left unresolved, I want to see her get some karma for everything she did. 

As for something I liked? None of the girls (minus Daphne) came running back to their original love interests. I enjoyed all the friendships and the fact that they all had respect for themselves over the guys that hurt them. That being said, this was a series that heavily focused on the romances themselves so I don’t think the girls will stay single (or in Beatrice’s case engaged) for that much longer. 

Overall, it was a fun series but I think it needs a third book to wrap everything up.

5SOS Album Book Tag

I was tagged a while ago by Lauren over at Lala’s Book Reviews (which by the way if you’re seeing this thank you for tagging!). She created a book tag based off of the band 5 Seconds of Summer, a band I happen to really enjoy. 

Rules : 

  1. Mention the creator (Lauren @Lala’s Book Reviews)
  2. Tag some people at the end
  3. Thank the person who tagged you
  4. Have fun and listen to 5SOS!

Long Way Home || Stop Time with a Book That Makes You Want to Live in the Moment

I’d have to say Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. The main character Cath is very similar to me in many ways and reminds me to get outside and be social every once in a while. I guess I would say that this book makes me want to stop time because I don’t have that much longer as a highschooler. I’d like to be a little more extrovertive by the time I reach college so I can enjoy it fully. 

Gotta Get Out || A Character Who Face Many Challenges That Strived for a Better Life

Inej Ghafa. She was kidnapped and forced into prostitution then turned into an assassin and still strives for a better life. She has a lot of grit and hope despite all her challenges and I highly respect her for that. 

Out of My Limit || A Couple That Are in Different Social Groups

Nina and Jefferson from American Royals. SPOILER ALERT….it didn’t work out but Jefferson is a prince and Nina is basically what they call a commoner despite being best friends with the princess. 

America doesn’t have any royals obviously but at least in this book I can pretend to date a prince in this book. 

Everything I Didn’t Say || A Book Where the Character Tried to Fix a Broken Relationship

Also from American Royals (I recently read this duology so expect a couple of answers to be from here) is Daphne Deighton. She ruined her relationship with Ethan after trying everything to be a princess and tried to fix it too late.  

I felt a little bad for her but then again….it was her fault things went so terribly with them and she was horrible to the rest of the cast. 

Jasey Rae || A Book That Should Have a Modified Ending

Ruin and Rising. Anyone who has read the book knows what I mean. 

Independence Day || A Character Who Leaves a Toxic Relationship

Lauren mentions Dreamland by Sarah Dessen. I actually read this book a long time ago (honestly forgot it existed). I think she leaves him? I don’t remember much from this book except one scene where the boyfriend beats the main character and goes to jail for it. It’s probably a good thing I don’t remember much of this especially considering I think was I was eleven at the oldest when I read it. 

I Miss You || A Morally Gray Character That You Can’t Get Enough Of

Kaz Brekker in Six of Crows. By far, he is one of my fav characters for being as ruthless as he is. 

Never Be || A Couple Always Lived for the Present Moment

Pretty much any couple that knows they won’t end up together. I’d have to say Jace and Clary lived for the present moment even when they shouldn’t have. 

Too Late || A Book with Unrequited Love

I couldn’t tell you any of the characters’ names or really any of the plot but I am positive there was unrequited love in Taxonomy of Love. 

Tomorrow Never Dies || A Group of Characters Who Lead a Rebellion

I have to say Hunger Games. Really any YA dystopian novel has a rebellion but Hunger Games was the staple of teenage rebellions. 

Beside You || A Book with a Long Distance Relationship

…They’re not technically dating but Kaz and Inej from Six of Crows creates a long distance relationship. I mean, at the end of the duology she decides she’s going to own a boat and sail the world while Kaz stays in Ketterdam. I’d say that’s a long distance relationship.

Heartbreak Girl || What Character Makes You Heart Ache because They Aren’t Real

All of them. The fact that none of the characters are real kills me because I want to go on magical adventures too. 

Unpredictable || A Book That Had You Constantly Trying to Figure Out What Was Happening

Stalking Jack the Ripper had so many twists and turns throughout the series it was crazy. Definitely would say it had me constantly re-evaluating my guesses of who the killer was even in the fourth book. 


Tagging: I realized now that I don’t actually know any book bloggers so if you are a book blogger and see this post consider yourself tagged (and tag me in your posts so I can read your blog!)

Blog Tour: Mortal Sight

Seventeen-year-old Cera Marlowe wants a normal life; one where she and her mom can stop skipping town every time a disturbing vision strikes. But when a girl she knows is murdered by a monster she can’t explain, Cera’s world turns upside down.

Suddenly thrown into an ancient supernatural battle, Cera discovers she’s not alone in her gifting and vows to use her visions to save lives. But why does John Milton’s poem Paradise Lost keep interrupting her thoughts?

In a race against time and a war against unearthly creatures, will decoding messages embedded in the works of classic literature be enough to stop the bloodshed and protect those she loves?

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

I flew through the majority of this book in two days. I’m not usually that fast of a reader but the writing itself isn’t overly complicated. There’s no over flowing prose or flowery descriptions here. I do have to say though, I’m not used to such a casual writing style so there were times that I was a little annoyed. I like the main character. She has flaws, she’s fairly relatable and she’s fierce. The only concern I had for her was her treatment of females her own age, mainly Harper. The rivalry was not needed and only took away from the story. 

That leads into the side characters. I was having trouble pinning their age. At some moments, they seemed much older only to find out they’re all around Cera’s age. The only exceptions were Harper (who acted like a brat for the majority of the book) and Juniper who genuinely acted young. I liked the majority of them though (although I’m having some difficulty seeing why so many girls fight over Maddox he doesn’t strike me as that impressive). 

My main grievance with the novel is how Harper and Cera acted together. Their relationship in the beginning felt petty and incredibly unnecessary, especially considering it was over a guy. This novel was not the time and the place for a stereotypical mean girl (not to mention one who’s blonde seriously?). If I wasn’t so annoyed by their squabbles, I feel I would’ve enjoyed the main plot and book more.

Book Review: Ninth House

Galaxy “Alex” Stern is the most unlikely member of Yale’s freshman class. Raised in the Los Angeles hinterlands by a hippie mom, Alex dropped out of school early and into a world of shady drug dealer boyfriends, dead-end jobs, and much, much worse. By age twenty, in fact, she is the sole survivor of a horrific, unsolved multiple homicide. Some might say she’s thrown her life away. But at her hospital bed, Alex is offered a second chance: to attend one of the world’s most elite universities on a full ride. What’s the catch, and why her?

Still searching for answers to this herself, Alex arrives in New Haven tasked by her mysterious benefactors with monitoring the activities of Yale’s secret societies. These eight windowless “tombs” are well-known to be haunts of the future rich and powerful, from high-ranking politicos to Wall Street and Hollywood’s biggest players. But their occult activities are revealed to be more sinister and more extraordinary than any paranoid imagination might conceive.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Leigh Bardugo didn’t disappoint with this book. It had everything I came in looking for: mystery, fantasy, ghosts, and wow was it dark. I’m not surprised with that at all, especially since this is a new adult novel and from how dark Six of Crows was (I mean Kaz’s backstory is dark). 

I love Alex. I love that she’s fierce and unafraid to take what she needs and stand up for girls that can’t defend themselves. The feminist power in this power was perfect. I was hoping that Dawes and Alex would become friends because I am so sick of seeing female characters pit against each other and they became friends! It made me so happy to see it. 

To be honest, I liked pretty much everything about this novel. There’s nothing that I can really pinpoint for being lackluster or just okay. The only reason this book wasn’t given five stars from  me was because it isn’t something that I would re read. 

I was not expecting that ending. It was a little sudden which is another reason why I didn’t give this book five stars. I mean Belbahm is a soul eating Wheeler like Alex? First off, I wasn’t expecting Belbahm to have much of a role other than helping Alex out and then to find out Alex and people like her can possess living bodies? It was something to process for sure. 

I was not surprised, however, about Darlington potentially coming back in the sequel as a demon. Maybe if I hadn’t read Bardugo’s other books I would have mourned him more while they implied he wasn’t coming back but she made some other characters come back from the dead in some of her other books (Mal I’m looking at you.) I’m not mad about him coming back though. I really like Darlington and hopefully the romance him and Alex grows? I mean it was hinted at throughout the book.

Character Costume Ideas For Halloween

It’s been a long time since I last posted! Life with school and extracurriculars has gotten way too hectic, but because Halloween is one of my favorite holidays, I wanted to post something festive! The result is me talking about fictional characters I would love to be for Halloween. 

Not only is Five Hargreeves one of my favorite characters in Umbrella Academy, I’m a big fan of the outfit (with alterations of course). Maybe I’m just a huge fan of assassins and blazers but either way, he’s a character I would want to be. 

I already have the Camp Half Blood t-shirt and the hat. She’s also a great character. I don’t have someone to be Percy Jackson with me but she’s so awesome, it doesn’t matter. Also, I went as her in fourth grade and I feel I need to do her costume justice after that. 

She’s a badass assassin with a cool outfit and knives. That’s all the reason I need.

I love 1800’s clothes and all the ones that Kerri Maniscalco describes that Audrey Rose wears makes me want to replicate any of them. She’s also another badass character I’ve had a great time reading about this month.

If I went as her, I would wear the black and gold kefta that the Darkling gives to her because one, that’s an entire Halloween vibe and two, I think black and gold are really pretty colors together. My hair already looks almost white in some lightings too so I wouldn’t have to dye it.

 

What can I say? I love a good morally grey, dark haired, killer. Also if I go as him I get to use the cane and buy new gloves. 

Writing During Confusing Times

I shouldn’t be surprised this virus is still here.  Cases in the United States are higher than ever yet it feels like people have completely forgotten about the pandemic. I mean, my school starts in person (alternate half days but still) in two weeks. 

The future is unpredictable and it’s stressful. So how can anyone write when we’re so worried about everything else that’s going on? I’m sure some writers will say the answer is simple: just write. I think it’s more complicated than that. It’s hard to stick to a writing routine when your schedule can change at any moment. 

It’s not been easy for me to write. It’s taken me forever to write this blog. Part of the problem is motivation- the other seems to be time. There’s so much time now, I’m not entirely sure what to do with it all so I do what makes the most sense: nothing. Doing nothing is great when I need to recharge, but not helpful when I want to get something done. 

I’ve come up with some solutions to combat my procrastination. First, get it done early. I know I have a lot more energy in the morning than I do in the afternoon. After lunch, all I want to do is catch up on one of my Netflix shows or listen to an audiobook. By getting it done early, I not only have the rest of the day to do nothing, but I won’t feel guilty or think about it for too long either. 

I also have to think of the task in smaller parts. I’ve heard this tip from a lot of author tubes and blogs and it’s helpful. When I think of writing sentence by sentence instead of page by page, writing feels a lot more manageable and I’m more motivated to start. 

Speaking of motivation, once you have it- don’t lose it! If you stop in the middle of what you’re doing to get food or scroll through social media, you won’t want to finish what you started when you come back to it. Trust me on this one. 

Obviously no one is perfect (I’m definitely not) so if you don’t get around to writing that page or working out don’t beat yourself up over it. This is easier said than done. Try to think about what you did accomplish that day. You’ll find you did more than you thought.

Blog Tour: Mayhem

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A YA feminist mash up inspired by The Lost Boys and The Craft.

It’s 1987 and unfortunately it’s not all Madonna and cherry lip balm. Mayhem Brayburn has always known there was something off about her and her mother, Roxy. Maybe it has to do with Roxy’s constant physical pain, or maybe with Mayhem’s own irresistible pull to water. Either way, she knows they aren’t like everyone else. But when May’s stepfather finally goes too far, Roxy and Mayhem flee to Santa Maria, California, the coastal beach town that holds the answers to all of Mayhem’s questions about who her mother is, her estranged family, and the mysteries of her own self. There she meets the kids who live with her aunt, and it opens the door to the magic that runs through the female lineage in her family, the very magic Mayhem is next in line to inherit and which will change her life for good. But when she gets wrapped up in the search for the man who has been kidnapping girls from the beach, her life takes another dangerous turn and she is forced to face the price of vigilante justice and to ask herself whether revenge is worth the cost. 

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

DISCLAIMER: I received this E-ARC from Wednesday Books in exchange for a review. All thoughts are my own and are not intended in any way to hurt anyone’s feelings or offend the author.

When I first got the email about Mayhem, I wasn’t entirely sure I was going to read it. It has a lot of elements that I love (I mean magic and murder? Count me in) but I wasn’t sure if I was going to find the time to read it. I’m so glad I did. I probably binge read the second half in two days which if you know me is very fast- especially when I’m reading an ebook. 

I liked it. I didn’t love it – that’s why it didn’t get four stars or five – but I liked it. I don’t feel strongly about any of the characters except for Lyle who is a piece of trash. When you read the book, you’ll see what I mean. I liked Elle. I also liked Mayhem. Neve is probably the most interesting character. I can’t say why because I believe I would be spoiling the book so I’ll mention that in the spoiler section. 

I’m gonna be honest- I was pretty much neutral about everything. Although I have not experienced it myself, I thought the domestic abuse was portrayed well. I genuinely felt for Roxie and Mayhem. I also didn’t mind the romance between Mayhem and Jason. I was skeptical about it in the beginning because romance usually dilutes the main plot but I thought it was a cute add on. I like Jason. There’s one more thing I liked but it counts as a spoiler so I’ll talk about it in a minute. 

Before I move on though – what kind of person names a character Boner?? He was a good character but that name was questionable. I couldn’t take any scenes with him seriously because of the name. Now…onto the spoilers. 

My favorite scenes were when Mayhem was reading the diary and when she was using her powers. It was during those parts that I wanted to keep on reading. The whole book is well written- those scenes just had something extra about them. 

And why is Neve the most interesting character? I will say I didn’t understand the whole “water makes non Brayburns crazy sort of thing” but I liked how Neve was an example of it. I think that alone would have made the book very interesting especially since the Sand Snatcher (at least I think that’s what he’s called) took a backseat after he was killed. Unfortunately the plot didn’t take the dark turn I wanted it too. It ended with a lot of loose strings. Like why and how did Neve suddenly become not crazy? Did they all just live happily ever after? Even after all that magic stuff? 
Like I said. Good, but not great. If you’re interested in reading it, I would still recommend Mayhem to you; it just wasn’t exactly a top ten read for me.

Review: Imaginary Friend

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Imagine… Leaving your house in the middle of the night. Knowing your mother is doing her best, but she’s just as scared as you.

Imagine… Starting a new school, making friends. Seeing how happy it makes your mother. Hearing a voice, calling out to you.

Imagine… Following the signs, into the woods. Going missing for six days. Remembering nothing about what happened.

Imagine… Something that will change everything… And having to save everyone you love.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Going into this book, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. I don’t remember much from reading Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower but I know it wasn’t close to the horror genre. The beginning caught my attention. David Olson (although I know he doesn’t really talk he shows up quite a bit) is an interesting character. He reminds me a little bit of the imaginary friend in The Shining- one of those characters where you’re not sure if they’re helpful but scary or just plain scary.

 A lot of elements in Imaginary Friend reminded me of Stephen King’s works in fact. The main resemblance I saw was the underlying religious theme (good versus evil or in this case Devil versus God) and the number 217. Of course Stephen King doesn’t own 217 but to use it in a horror novel….I think you can see where I’m going with this. The plot goes along a lot faster than a traditional Stephen King novel which I was glad (although I will say 700 pages is a lot) and the writing style was different. 

I was mostly neutral about the characters. I was rooting for them and everything but I’m going to be putting any of them on a favorite characters list. Christopher’s mother was probably my favorite. She was badass. And she was smart. Maybe I’ve seen way too many horror movies where the characters never act smart enough but she consistently assessed the situation and made the best move she could. I held a lot of respect for her character.

When I think about it, I liked the beginning of the book. The horror was there, the characters were interesting to some extent, and I was engaged in the plot. It was the ending that lost me. I’ll give more detail in the spoiler section because it’s the direction that Chbosky took with the story that I was not a fan of. 

Now to the ending. It reminded me of The Stand. For those who haven’t read The Stand, pretty much what happens is the good and evil face off (the evil being led by the devil). In short, the bad people all blow up and die. In Imaginary Friend, Christopher who is being trained to become God defeats the devil who is not the hissing lady. I didn’t see that coming- mostly because it made a lot of sense for the hissing lady to be bad. I mean- she’s the one that spread the itch thing that made everyone try to kill each other. And now you’re telling me she’s good? I can get behind the nice man being evil but some of the things the hissing lady has done are questionable. 

It turns out the whole book was about how everyone has some good in them (or at least that is what I got from it.) The reason why I didn’t like that was because I was not looking for a happy ending. If I wanted a happy ending, I would’ve picked up a romance novel. 

So that comes to the question you may or may not be asking. If you hated the book so much why did you give it three stars? Great question. The writing wasn’t bad so a single star didn’t fit and I didn’t give it two stars because the horror element was that good. If more people had died, maybe I would’ve rated it higher. 

I suppose where I’m going with this review is if you are someone who wants horror but also an optimistic ending, read this book. If you scare easily but still love to read creepy things, consider this book and avoid reading at night.

My Summer Writing Goals

Summer is here!! I could not be more excited. I still have time that needs to be dedicated to summer work but now a lot more time has opened up to allow me to write again! 

It’s been a while since I’ve been able to dedicate so much to writing so I’m going to start with some small goals. 

  1. Write for ten minutes every day. One of the greatest challenges I have is finding time to write every day even when I have nothing else planned. Even on busy days, I know I’ll be able to find ten minutes to write, even if I have to split it up in five minute increments.
  2. Finish Joyce Carol Oates Masterclass.  I started this class a month ago but had to stop because the amount of schoolwork was too much. I found it helpful and informative when I watched it then so I want to learn more from it now. 
  3. Write three short stories. I’m not putting a word count on these stories. I tend to write on the shorter side so creating a goal of writing three 5K word short stories isn’t feasible. 
  4. First draft of untitled fantasy novel. Although there’s no title for it yet, I have had a lot of fun writing this book. If I succeed in completing the first draft of the novel this summer, I’ll be on my way to write the second draft for Nanowrimo in November. 
  5. Post a blog for KEAP at least every other week. KEAP is my environmental blog where I discuss scientific innovations and (obviously) the environment. It’s been neglected now (like this blog) for at least a month. It’s time I start posting more frequently on it. 
  6. Post a blog a week for writing/reading blog. Like KEAP, this blog has been neglected for too long. I want to talk about books more and now I can. In the process, maybe I’ll improve my writing!

That’s it for my summer goals! It would be amazing if I completed them all, but even completing half of these goals is a victory.