Thursday, December 01, 2016

Diversity December Bingo

Thursday, December 01, 2016 with No comments
There's a fun event happening this month on Twitter - #DiversityDecBingo. The point is to score BINGO by filling out the card below (though you get total props for filling out the entire card!):

I'd like to give it a go this month, and see how many of these squares I can knock out. I'll update this post with my reads as I finish them, and mark off the bingo boxes as I go. 

Now, reading diversely is something I aim to do on a regular basis, but it's pretty cool that a bingo card exists to help diversify my diverse reading (lol). It's important to put yourselves in the shoes of others and understand that your world is not the only world out there, especially now in the aftermath of this year's election. What better way to do that than to read diverse novels that are actually written by diverse authors? 

I would love it if you would join me! And don't forget to check out the hashtag #DiversityDecBingo on Twitter to see how everyone else is doing, and to get some great recs on books to add to your TBR!

Non-Western Real World Setting

Set in Japan.
Labels: ,
GirlxoxoEstella's Revenge, & Traveling With T have teamed up to bring us the December blogger event, #AMonthOfFaves2016, in which daily writing prompts are provided (M-F) as a way for bloggers to share their experiences over the past year. It's a great way to re-cap our thoughts on 2016, so I decided to join in on the fun! 

Let me tell you, 2016 was not the best year for me, and was emotionally and mentally draining, thanks mostly to a family crisis that is still affecting me. Because of this, you may have noticed that the number of posts on this blog has declined dramatically. It's my goal for the next year, however, to bring this blog back to where I want it to be, and what better time to start than now, rather than wait for Jan. 1? 

So I'll kick off this event by focusing on some of the good that happened this year, and writing out a list of my favorite things:

Thanksgiving Week In My Planner, In Honor Of The Gilmore Girls Revival

This planner is an absolute life saver! While it may seem expensive, it's high quality, you'll get your money's worth if you actually utilize it throughout the year, like I do. I've had a hard time remembering to use a planner in the past, but this planner is GORGEOUS, and I've had a lot of fun jazzing it up with stickers and washi tape, which makes planning a whole lot more fun. But even without the decorating, the planner looks great, and you can even pick out a custom cover to make it personalized. I had an EC last year, as well, but this year is the first year I actually started decorating it, and I can say without a doubt that it won't be my last!

Earlier this year, I got the chance to spend four glorious days in the city of New Orleans, LA for a convention that I was attending. I had never been there before, but it was on my bucket list. I had an amazing time, and completely fell in love with the city. I hope that I can go back one day, but until then, I have some great experiences and memories to hold on to!

Just Ranch by Hampton Creek
This year, Target started selling the vegan Just Ranch dressing from Hampton Creek, the makers of Just Mayo. I've been a fan of their mayo since I discovered it in my local WalMart (especially their Sriracha mayo!), but when I found a bottle of Just Ranch in the condiments section at Target, I nearly cried tears of joy! It is delicious, and I always make sure to have some on hand. Vegan ranch was never available where I live, so I just went without it. But now, I pretty much put ranch on whatever I can!

Un-Du Adhesive Remover
I don't know how long this stuff has been around, but I cannot believe I had never heard of it before! Un-Du is one of the best adhesive removers I've ever come across - not only does it completely remove a sticker or label without damaging your paper or item, but it leaves the sticker residue on the sticker, so that you can reuse it again! Plus, I've tested it out on paper with handwriting (both pen and pencil), and it doesn't smear the writing when you wet the page! The paper doesn't warp, either, and it dries quickly.

The Bobby Bones Show
This isn't in any way new to me, but I have just been grateful this entire year to still have the BBS to listen to every morning. I always download the podcasts and listen to them while driving or when I'm at work. This show definitely makes the day go by faster, and gives me something to look forward to. It's been #1 in my heart since '07, and is still going strong.

iPad Air 2
I never thought I'd have one, but I saved enough money at the end of last year to get one, and I am so glad that I did! I use this baby all the time - more so than I use my laptop now. Honestly, I thought I would mostly use it to read manga & comic books, since storing them electronically takes up way less space then keeping them in physical form, but I actually use it more for Netflix, Hulu, and web-browsing. It's lightweight and easy to carry, and I'd recommend it to everyone. I love Apple products, but have only ever splurged for their iPod before, as it's the best on the market, and I love listening to music more than anything else.

What are some of your favorite things from this year? Please let me know in the comments, or join in the fun by creating a blog post of your own!

Monday, November 28, 2016

The adventures of writer Newt Scamander in New York's secret community of witches and wizards seventy years before Harry Potter reads his book in school.

Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them is a sort-of prequel to the Harry Potter series, in that it takes place well before HP, but is itself its own story (even if you have never seen or read Harry Potter, you can still enjoy this movie).

The first of five films, Fantastic Beasts follows the adventures of Newt Scamander, who arrives in New York City only to discover that some of the creatures he had brought with him have escaped. Meanwhile, there have been some mysterious occurrences throughout the city, putting the Magical Congress of the United States of America on high alert.

Main Cast
Eddie Redmayne as Newt Scamander
Katherine Waterston as Tina Goldstein
Dan Fogler as Jacob Kowalski
Alison Sudol as Queenie Goldstein
Colin Farrell as Percival Graves

I went to see this film on Black Friday with a couple of friends. I had heard more good than bad about this movie beforehand (while still managing to stay away from spoilers), and since J.K. Rowling herself had written the script rather than someone else, I was rather excited. 

A bit of backstory on my wizarding world experience: I absolutely LOVE the Harry Potter series. I feel that it really helped shape me as a person, and had a huge impact on my life. I am not, however, as big a fan of the movies as I am the books. I'm not trying to sound snobbish or anything, but I honestly feel that all of the magic and wonder and feelings to be gained from the world that Rowling created can only be experienced through reading the books. While the movies are okay enough, they only show the story that the director wants to tell, they cut out a lot of key details as well as some beloved characters (Peeves!), and they aren't really open to interpretation (and don't allow for imagination) like the novels. Plus, I feel that there is a bond that forms between reader and story that cannot be experienced by film, and if you like the films but have not read the books, then I am sorry to say that you are missing out! *rant over*

So anyway, back to Fantastic Beasts.

From the very beginning of the film, I was completely enthralled. I fell in love with Eddie Redmayne's portrayal of Newt Scamander almost immediately, and also started having strong feelings about wanting a Niffler. What completely threw me, however, was how much I ended up loving [Slightly spoilery, but not really? I just feel you should see this movie without expectations, so highlight to read just in case: Jacob Kowalski, a secondary, No-Maj, character. He was definitely my favorite character after Newt! I could say so much more, but in my efforts to be as spoiler-free as possible, I'll just stop there.] *end of possible spoiler*

I felt that Rowling did a fantastic job on the script, and the director and cast did an excellent job on bringing the story to life. Overall, the film was just as witty and enthralling as the HP novels were. I don't want to get into details on the characters or plot, because I feel that the best way to view this film is with as few expectations as possible, but I will say without a doubt that I thoroughly enjoyed this film, and will be buying it as soon as it's released to DVD & Blu-ray. I may actually even go back to see it in theaters again, if I get the chance to. Maybe IMAX this time? At any rate, I cannot wait for the next installment in the series. I'm so excited!

My Rating:

5/5 Stars!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Hot Head by Damon Suede

Monday, November 14, 2016 with No comments

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire...

Since 9/11, Brooklyn firefighter Griff Muir has wrestled with impossible feelings for his best friend and partner at Ladder 181, Dante Anastagio. Unfortunately, Dante is strictly a ladies’ man, and the FDNY isn’t exactly gay-friendly. For ten years, Griff has hidden his heart in a half-life of public heroics and private anguish.

Griff’s caution and Dante’s cockiness make them an unbeatable team. To protect his buddy, there’s nothing Griff wouldn’t do… until a nearly bankrupt Dante proposes the worst possible solution:, a gay porn website where uniformed hunks get down and dirty. And Dante wants them to appear there—together. Griff may have to guard his heart and live out his darkest fantasies on camera. Can he rescue the man he loves without wrecking their careers, their families, or their friendship?

"...people should not be punished for loving and hoping and holding their hearts open."

This may be the best M/M romance that I've read so far. To be honest, the majority of M/M novels that I've read have been written by women (the only ones that weren't were geared toward a teenage audience, so there weren't any sex scenes), and I must say, it was a verydifferent experience to read an 18+ M/M novel that was actually written by a gay male author. 

The protagonists, Griff Muir and Dante Anastagio, are best friends that work together for the New York City Fire Department in Brooklyn. The story is told in third-person from Griff's point of view, and describes the struggle that Griff goes through with his overpowering attraction towards his straight best friend. Everything about this novel was hot, hot, hot! Plus, I just could not help but picture Kevin McKidd as Griff and Jon Bernthal as Dante - I don't know why (they're just the actors that popped in my head while reading the character descriptions!), but I felt they fit the roles perfectly.


I think what I liked best about this novel, however, was the fact that it touched upon the very real subject of hate crimes and assaults towards the gay community. I see a lot of m/m romances which feature characters that are afraid to come out to their friends and family for fear of their response, but not a lot of them actually touch upon the subject quite like this novel does. I also liked that this novel illustrated how gay bars aren't just places for gay men and women to hang out, or for people to find someone to hook up with or date; instead, it showed how they're actually safe havens, where LGBT+ individuals can go without fear of judgement or retaliation. This isn't really how they're depicted in the media.

Anywho, I breezed through this novel quickly, and I was a bit sad when it ended - I wanted more! According to Goodreads, there seems to be a sequel in the works, but I haven't seen any updates or anticipated release information anywhere, so it may be a while before it's released (if it's released). I'm keeping my fingers crossed, though!


The Department of Emotional Integrity (DEI) documents all relationship activity. A 'relationship score' is given to keep people accountable for their choices. The score is public for all to see, and affects various aspects of daily life. Two couples, teenagers and early 30s, face different but intersecting challenges in their relationships within the rules of the DEI.
I found this movie randomly when browsing through Netflix, and it caught my eye. I love indie romance films - especially if they take place in some type of sci-fiction-y alternate universe (TiMER, anyone?). Plus, the fact that this one featured a mostly Asian-American cast made it a certainty that I'd watch it, as I don't think I've even seen a romance movie with Asian leads that wasn't a foreign film. Every actor was fantastic!

One of the couples featured in the film
Turns out, this movie was created by Wong Fu Productions, a company that I'm actually familiar with thanks to YouTubers like KevJumba (Kevin Wu) and Nigahiga (Ryan Higa) who've worked with them on a few projects. Apparently, Everything Before Us is their first feature film, and was originally released on Vimeo after being successfully crowdfunded on Indiegogo. MAN DO I LOVE THE INTERNET!!!

Anyway, this movie was fantastic, and certainly gave me a lot to think about. The story was great, and different from any movie I've seen before (a definite plus!). I don't want to give anything away, but I will say that it was very....unconventional.

My favorite character had to be Randall (played by Randall Park from Fresh Off The Boat), the DEI agent that worked on the relationship "cases" featured in the film. His character was full of dimension, and really stood out to me every time he was on screen. Of course, the entire film was well done and filled with talented actors - I'm really glad I stumbled across it. If you're looking for a romance film that has actual depth and "realness" to it, then I highly recommend this!

My Rating:

4/5 Stars!

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn't thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she'd claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.

Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper and resonated in unimaginable ways. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie—magical, comforting, wise beyond her years—promised to protect him, no matter what.

A groundbreaking work from a master, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is told with a rare understanding of all that makes us human, and shows the power of stories to reveal and shelter us from the darkness inside and out. It is a stirring, terrifying, and elegiac fable as delicate as a butterfly's wing and as menacing as a knife in the dark.

Wow. I knew going into this that it was going to be good, due to all of the buzz and positive reviews it had gotten (plus, it's Gaiman), but it wasn't until I picked it up and had begun reading that I knew it would be amazing. The thing about Neil Gaiman is that he is a true weaver of tales - he uses metaphors and language in a way that truly makes his books feel like home. There is a sense of comfort that emanates from his novels in a way that I have never seen before - they are not just books, they are dear friends you never knew you missed. The Ocean at the End of the Lane is no different.

This novel is of the magical realism genre, which is no surprise as everything Gaiman writes has a feel of magic to it. Overall, I'd say that the tone of this novel was reminiscent to that of the movie Stand By Me, as they give off similar feelings of intangible childhood nostalgia, and that sad pang of realization that arrives when you experience that loss of childhood innocence. In other words, this one gave me all the feels.

I know that this review is about as lame it gets, but I fear that anything I have to say about this novel would be sub-par, and wouldn't give it any justice. I don't really know what I can say about this novel, other than READ IT! If you are a true lover of books and stories (which you must be to be visiting a book blog), then you will appreciate a lot of what this book has to offer. Do NOT pass this one up!


Tuesday, April 26, 2016

My Top Ten Bookworm Delights

Tuesday, April 26, 2016 with 2 comments
This week's Top Ten Tuesday is about our top bookworm delights, which I'm taking to mean the little bookish pleasures that I receive or take notice in. Honestly, being a reader is a pleasure in and of itself, but I am a huge nerd when it comes to reading, and nerds love taking pleasure in all the "little things" related to their fandoms, so I had no trouble at all coming out with this list. Without further ado, here are my top ten bookworm delights:

1) When There Are Designs On The Page Ends.

Such as the red birds that are printed on the side of Ketchup Clouds, by Annabel Pitcher:

If anyone knows what this style is called, can you please tell me? Also, if you know of any other examples of books that also have designs on the sides (other than the spine), I would love to know! I have no idea if there is a proper term for it, but it was a nice surprise to see it - I LOVE the extra touch!

2) When An Author Uses Your City As Their Setting In A Book.

I'm from El Paso, so trust me when I say that almost nothing ever takes place here, be it movie, book, TV show, your cousin's bat mitzvah, etc. NOTHING. So when something does happen here, I take notice. And yes, I get delight from it. So thank you, whoever decided to make Jaime Reyes (a.k.a. the Blue Beetle) from El Paso. THANK YOU!!!

3) When You Read A Book That Puts You In Research Mode.

Like when Me Before You had me researching what Dignitas was (it's real, people!!!) and things that a paraplegic individual could do for fun, or when The Martian made me look into what would and what wouldn't be possible to do when trying to survive on Mars.

4) Finding A New All Time FAVORITE Book To Love.

There is nothing like that feeling you get when you are reading a new book and you just know that it's going to be a new absolute favorite! As they say, "Nothing beats a first kiss!" And, on that note....

5) When You Read A Book So Good That Afterwords You CAN'T EVEN.

Do you know that feeling of "book shock" you get when you finish reading something so amazing that you just can't do anything else afterwards but sit in silence with your feelings and stare at the ceiling? I absolutely love that feeling. In fact, I crave it. It's actually what keeps me from devouring one book after another, because sometimes I need to finish processing my feelings before I can even think about starting a new book.

6) When The Book You Had Put On Hold Ages Ago Is FINALLY Available To Pick Up At The Library.

I love it when I get a call from the library to let me know that a book is ready for me - especially when it's one that I had forgotten about, or one that I'd been waiting on!

7) When You Find Someone Who Not Only Loves To Read As Much As You Do, But Who Enjoys Nerding Out About It, Too!

I recently became a part of a *small* online community on FB that nerds out about books as much as I do (we know each other from a larger group that we're all in), and it has been one of the best discoveries, ever! It's just so much fun to nerd out about books with other people who love to read! I love the internet.

8) When A Book You Love Is Released In A Gorgeous New Special Edition.


Such as the illustrated versions of Harry Potter that are in the process of being released; or this gorgeous illustrated edition of The Princess Bride; or the special edition of Fangirl that was released with amazing fanart included on the inside covers. I love, love, LOVE special editions.

9) Cracking Open A Book And Immersing Yourself In The Smell Of Its Pages.

Yes, that's right - the smell. It doesn't matter if the book is old or new, I'll take a whiff of it either way. I love the smell of a good book! 

10) Basking In The Magnificence Of Your Bookshelf.

I don't know what it is about my bookshelf, but I just can't help but bask in its glow every time I see it. I love re-arranging my books until they're just right; I love adding new books; I love running my fingers along the spines, and stealing secret glances at it whenever I enter my room. Am I crazy? Maybe. Or maybe I'm just in love.

Do you and I share any bookish delights? Is there something missing from this list that should definitely be on here? If so, feel free to let know about it in the comments!