The Art of Lainey by Paula Stokes | Book Review

Thursday, July 28, 2016
Title: The Art of Lainey
Author: Paula Stokes
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: May 20, 2015
Source: Purchased
Buy the Book: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Book Depository
Soccer star Lainey Mitchell is used to getting what she wants, and when her boyfriend Jayson breaks up with her for no reason, what she wants is to win him back before the start of their senior year. Lainey and her friend Bianca check the interwebz for tips and tricks, but the online dating advice is all pretty lame. Then the girls stumble across a copy of The Art of War. Didn't someone once say that love is a battlefield? Jayson isn't going to stand a chance once Lainey and Bee go all Zhou Dynasty on him... Old school strategy and subterfuge meet modern-day dramarama in the story of a girl who sets out to win at all costs and ends up discovering what's really worth fighting for.

 What I thought

You know the feeling of wanting to write something but not being sure how to write it? That's how I feel as I write this review. This is by no means an indicator of me not liking this book. Because I did, like it I mean. However, to make things easier on myself I'm just going to make a list. Yes, a list. Get over it.

What I liked

  • Lainey's and Bianca's friendship. Granted, they talked a lot about boys, but their friendship was still strong.
  • Swearing in another language!
  • Micah. I'm a big fan of his.
  • Realistic portrayal of teenage boys.
  • Realistic 'what am I doing with my life?' teenage angst.
  • Great kiss scenes.
  • Quirky writing.
  • Lainey (most of the times).

What I didn't like

  • How predictable it was.
  • All the boy talk, all the time (don't look at me like that).
  • Kendall and Lainey's friendship. Just once I want girls to not tear each other down. Just once.
  • Jason Chase. Ugh.
  • Not enough of the sibling relationships shown.

Final thoughts

Overall, I really enjoyed the book.  Micah is a keeper. The cute was strong in this one. I wish there had been more of the other themes explored. Still, pretty satisfied with this read.

A Bunch of Things I Wish I had Done Because of Books | Top Ten Tuesday

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday is a feature hosted over at The Broke and the Bookish, in which every Tuesday we list ten things (or more, or less) about that week's topic. This week's topic is ten things book have made me want to do or learn after reading them.

1. Geocaching

What is geocahing, you ask? Well, it's a world treasure hunt of sorts. That's right, you heard me right. There's an official page and everything. The page gives you coordinates to little caches people have hid and you go looking for them. There's things in these caches and you can take one as long as you put one back in. I learned about this wonderful activity because of Justina Chen's North of Beautiful.

2. How to use a dagger

This is not because of a particular book, but rather because a bunch of them. I mean, imagine how badass it would be to actually know how to use a dagger? The fear I could instill in the heart of my enemies!

3. Complete a summer bucket list

I seriously want to just do crazy stuff during the summer. Skinny dipping? Sure, why not. Kiss a stranger? Did he brush his teeth? Sure, let's do it. I don't know, it looked so fun when Emily from Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson did it that I just want to try it.

4. Go on a road trip with my friends

I've traveled by car plenty of times... with my parents. So, I want to go on a road trip with my friends. Just set out and have a great time, prepare some great playlists and have a great time. Maybe even get lost.

5. Kiss someone

Me, I've never kissed someone. My lips remain untouched. Yup, you heard right. So, books have made me want to kiss someone. At this point sometimes it feels like anyone will do, but then I remember the books and I go: No, Laura, it's okay to wait for someone you click with, but also please do hurry up.

6. Travel Europe by myself

Really just to travel by myself, but I feel like Europe would be a great place to start. Books in which the protagonist sets off to travel by herself are my faves and it's something I would love to try myself someday.

7. Include more diversity into my own work

I've been writing since I was pretty young. Ever since I could write story time at school was my favorite thing ever and while my classmates groaned at having to write a short story, I loved it. So, in my reading journey I've noticed a lack of diversity and this has made me want to incorporate some of it in my own work.

8. Ride a horse

Why? I don't know. Would I be any good at it? I don't think so. I still want to ride a horse at least once in my lifetime. It seems like it could be fun, or catastrophic, either way I'd have a story to tell. Also can you imagine my hair rustling in the breeze as I heroically ride into battle? Who wouldn't want to see that?

9. Learn a foreign language

I already know two languages (and other two but I'm by no means fluent in them at all) but I want to learn more. I've seen how characters in books travel and although most of the world does have some knowledge of English I think I would like to know the language of the people I'm speaking with. Even if it's just a little bit. Also multilingualism is cool. Also, you get to learn swear words other people can't understand.

10. To live as fully as I can

Books have made me want to have adventures and live life as fully as I can and for that I'm indebted to them. Forever. 

What about you? What are some things books have made you want to do?

The World Isn't a Big English Only Place | Discussion

Thursday, July 21, 2016
Life is a diverse place. This is a fact. Fiction lags a little bit behind. This is also a fact. Most people in the world are bilingual. Also a fact. Now, why does fiction seem to be such a constraining, English-centric place? Particularly YA.

Now, my first theory is that most of YA is produced by English speaking authors and its audience is targeted as English speaking. Translations are produced, but I think that might be a topic for another day as might be the lack of translated YA works in the English market. It's something I'm passionate about, being both an aspiring translator and author myself.

My second theory is that it's just easier to make all your characters monolingual. I mean, you don't have the hassle of translating or producing writing that can come across as clunky and choppy. However, the bilingual brain is both of those things at times.

I grew up being bilingual. Spanish was spoken at home. English was taught at school hand in hand with Spanish. I am fortunate enough to live in a place where both English and Spanish are appreciated and used. Conversations happen in both languages, sometimes at the same time and I think in both languages. Dream in both languages, even. So growing up, the lack of bilingual people in the fiction I so adored was something that I accepted as normal. However, whenever a character was bilingual my face couldn't help but break out into a huge smile.

Language is as part of the human experience as anything else. It's what we use, after all, to communicate and to name our feelings and experiences. It's part of who we are and now as a linguistics major I understand that it also has a lot to do with the society we live in. I won't go into the details, but it's there.

It's so there that you get stared at if you have an accent, or told to learn English, or have people assume a lot of things because of what language you're using. It's a reality, we judge people by the way they use speech as much as we do by the way they look.

Bringing it back to books, I think we have a lack of bilingual or multilingual characters in YA. I know it feels like a battle and writing wise having someone speak two languages might be confusing for the readers and might make writing harder, but truth of the matter is: most people are bilingual. The world isn't one big English only place and I think we should pay more homage to that linguistic diversity in the world.

This discussion belongs in the We Need Diverse books as much as the discussion on more representation of all sorts. Language is tied to identity as much as skin color, or gender, or sexual orientation. It's something I don't think we speak of enough and I think we should. Why? Because for the little kid that speaks Spanish or Arabic or Korean or any other language that is not English it feels important and great when you see someone in fiction that speaks and thinks like you.

I Got Some E-Mails | Book Haul (#1)

Tuesday, July 19, 2016
So, I bought some books. I blame all of my e-mail subscriptions to various book buying sites. It's complicated, okay? Now, I know and you know that you are really here for the books, so onward!

Barnes & Noble impulse buys

1. Wanderlost by Jen Malone
2. Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk
3. The Rose & the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh
4. Flamecaster by Cinda Williams Chima
5. The Star Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi

BookOutlet too cheap to pass up buys

1. The Way We Bared Our Souls by Willa Strayhorn
2. Stand Off by Andrew Smith
3. Mosquitoland by David Arnold
4. Tonight the Street Are Ours by Leila Sales

Video Haul

5 Reasons Why You Should Keep a Journal

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Journaling is a love of mine. My journal and I we're in a deeply committed relationship in which something happens to me and I immediately tell it all about it. No one can boast that much knowledge of the intricacies of my very complicated and always contradictory mind.

As such, I'm an advocate for journaling. Besides, have you seen all the pretty journaling videos over on YouTube? Just bless. Not that you need all the pretty crafty things to journal. You just need yourself and an outlet, and you're all set for your journaling journey.

Why bother?, you ask, as you think back to all those unfinished diaries you held back in middle school with those good for nothing locks or overly complicated voice activated ones that were hella expensive and straight out of a TV commercial. Well, let me tell you.

1. You get to look back on all the beautiful and embarrassing things

Years down the road you're definitely going to want to remember that one time you spazzed out in a Subway because of a cute guy. While your friends watched on as one watches a freak accident: with morbid fascination and powerless to stop it. Trust me on this. All kidding aside, a journal is a portal into time. You will record all these things and get to look back on them one you're older and maybe shake your head or smile, but point is, they're going to be there to look back to.

2. There's something out there for you

You might be thinking journaling isn't for you because pouring your thoughts and feelings out to some piece of paper just isn't your cup of tea. Well, think again. People keep all sorts of journals. Some are the feelings kind of journals, but others aren't. There's a journaling format out there for you. Find it and journal on!

3. You become more aware of everything

I've found that I'm more aware of my feelings and others and just of everything. If something funny or weird or whatever happens I'm already thinking of penciling into my journal. You think you will have nothing to write about, but once you start doing it you find that there's more material than you thought.

4. It's quite cathartic

I like to think of my journal as my very own vomit bucket. Feeling vomit bucket. Not an actual vomit bucket, that would be gross. However, in your journal you get to write whatever you want. Whatever. You. Want. Do I have you sold, yet? I mean, it's a great way to say things you can't say in real life and to vent and cry and laugh. Also you may or may not have a hit list in there. Only you know.

5. The notebooks!

I don't know about you, but I've always loved notebooks. Stationary, really. Office Depot, Hobby Lobby, Michael's and various stationary stores are second only to bookstore in my store heart. This is perhaps the shallowest reason for starting a journal, but also an important one because the possibilities are endless. Don't even get me started on the pens! My faves are GellyRoll in case you were wondering. Also, who doesn't love buying or decorating notebooks? Now, go buy one and start journaling.

Just be careful and don't go picking up strange notebooks that reply back. God knows you don't want to be possessed by Lord Voldermort. Possession aside, do you journal? And if not, have I convinced you to start?

All You Will Ever Need to Know About Me | Top Ten Tuesday

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday is a feature hosted over at The Broke and the Bookish, in which every Tuesday we list ten things (or more, or less) about that week's topic. This week's topic is Ten Facts about the gloriousness that is me. So on to the slightly egotistical post!

1. I like going to Barnes & Noble and just sit there

That is my literal face after entering the magic sanctuary of books. Then I will proceed to find the nearest available couch and sit there and stare at books. Why? Because there's nothing in this world that is as beautiful as books, except maybe me. Oh, who am I kidding? I've got nothing on books.

2. I have no control of my body when reading

I will read in public and you bet that if something cute happens I will smile and maybe even squeal. If I'm angry I will make a fuss. I will react with my whole body because the emotions can be too much. Also, how else will a guy fall for my slightly awkward charm? 

3. I write most blogposts at school

What can I say? My apartment is just too distracting and I don't actually write in class. Just at the library or the student union or some other place that isn't actually my house. Do you know how hard the siren song of k-dramas and Netflix is to resist?

4. I keep a review journal

This is a fairly new practice for me, but I've found that it helps me review better. I'll be reading a book and if something annoys me I just write it down. Also if I really like something. Just whatever strikes my fancy about the book will go in there. 

5. I have a slight obsession with We Got Married

That might as well be my face when I watch it. For all of you who are unfortunate enough to not know what We Got Married is, it's a South Korean variety show in which celebrities pretend to be married and it's the high light of my week. Is that kind of sad? Sure. Do I care? Not really. Why? Because this show is awesome and indulging and a guilty pleasure of the highest kind.

6. I've been having a slumpy reading year

I've got to say this time last year I had read way more books. I just... have been busy doing other stuff. Like trying to write and getting drunk and 20 year old stuff like having an existential crisis every other week. All in all, I'm learning to not mind not reading as much as I'd like and remind myself that it's okay. It's all good and I'm still boss.

7. I compulsively start novels and never finish them

The last time I finished a novel I was still in high school. That was like four years ago. I've started plenty since but I haven't finished a single one. I'm sure there's a deep psychological reason for that but I just can't bring myself to write that last period.

8. I hate being interrupted while I read, yet I love to read in public places

Believe me, I don't. But I do. The bus, my living room, outside, the student union, these are some of my favorite reading places. Maybe it's because everyone else is going around me busy and I'm living in my own little world, or maybe I'm just a walking paradox and good luck to anyone trying to make sense of it.

9. I don't have any recollection of watching the 5th Harry Potter movie

I know I've watched it. I know I've watched it at least twice. I know this, yet I can't remember a single thing that happens in it. It's like someone cast a spell on me to forget what happened in the movie forever and ever. I swear, it's super bizarre to me because I will be having a conversation about this movie and of course I've watched. Can I tell you what my favorite part was? Well, no, because I don't remember a thing. I might be due for a re-watch. See if something sticks this time around. (Also can you imagine the irony if I had used a gif from the fifth movie for this one.)

10. I wear combat boots year round

My mom hates it. My best friend doesn't like it that much either. I just love my combat boots and even in the scorching Texas heat I will wear them because they're my fashion staple. They're me and I am them and I love them to pieces and I will never stop. If I were a book character, the writer would have to describe my boots and it'd be my thing. So yes, I'm not moving on to sandals any time soon.