Book Review: Easy is the Descent by Emily Heng

Author: Emily Heng

Publisher: Self

Release date: January 5, 2017

Purchase from Amazon

synopsis

Kie is no stranger to magic—not since her mother signed her life away to the world of witches and the supernatural, that is. With a contract in place binding her to their world, Kie must now escort the newly deceased souls from earth to the hereafter all while attempting to maintain some sort of normalcy in her own life.

And just when she’s beginning to get the hang of things, the first body shows up.

Witches around the city are turning up dead, and Kie is caught right in the middle of it; causing rising tensions between the two factions of witches—those born with their abilities, and those who have learned to harness them through other means—and unless Kie can prove her innocence, it can only lead to one thing: war.

NO SPOILERS LIE AHEAD. YOU’RE WELCOME.

I was instantly hooked by the beautiful cover and intriguing summary, only to be disappointed and unimpressed.

Let me begin by addressing the elements I really enjoyed in this novel like the diverse cast. Our protagonist, Kie is Korean (I believe) while the male protagonist, Grey, describes himself as “Euroasian.” The descriptions aren’t too clear, which I would have loved because I’m always so fascinated with the vast cultures of our world. I also enjoyed the magic system and the difference in old vs. new magic. Old magic comes from the earth, it is something that a person is born to while new magic is made when a deal is struck with another magical being. There are tensions between these two different kinds of magic and the tension rises when witches are being murdered.

This brings me to my third point: this is a crime mystery novel enriched with the element of magic! Kie and Grey are on a mission to solve the murder by attaining information illegally…I liked this so much because Grey proves to be resourceful! By working together, Kie and Grey form an unlikely bond of friendship, trust, and an inkling of romance. I liked this budding romance because they did not get on well at their first meeting.

The story was fast paced, while the chapters were too long. I think the chapters could have easily been split, especially when there are like 3-4 breaks within a chapter. That’s just a personally preference, though.

One of the MAJOR things that I disliked about this novel was the writing, more specifically the grammar. There were an abundance of grammatical mistakes that irked me. Simple mistakes, too. For example:

Shut up.” She said, automatic, rolling her eyes skyward.

Hey, I resent that accusation.” He said, mild.

From the glimpses she caught, nothing seemed to be amiss, but.

Her doubts from the night before still niggled at her in the cold light of day, weighed heavily at her thoughts.

As an English major, and more importantly as a writer myself, these kinds of mistakes are unacceptable. It’s easily fixable, but these were made more than once throughout the novel and it is why I knocked it down a star. I am kind of upset that I paid $3 for this when it wasn’t thoroughly edited.

The other reason for a star loss was the fact that I just wanted MORE. I wanted more magic, I wanted more relationship bonds. A possible romance was denied to me! By expanding on Kie’s magical world, this book could have been so amazing! Like I wanted to know more of the support group and each individual’s magical abilities – or maybe just more description on the magic of those she’s closest to like Petra’s and Taissa’s.

Easy is the Descent was good, but it could have been so much better if it was thoroughly edited and if there was more added magic.

addy3star

My Most Anticipated Reads of 2017

most-anticipated-reads

There are so many wonderfully diverse, epic, and beautiful stories being released this year and I can hardly contain my excitement! I want to be BLOWN away by everything that my hands can get a hand on. I want to fall in love with characters and uniquely explored worlds. I want to be utterly shocked by stunning revelations. I want it all! I’m hoping that these lovely reads will do just that 😉

January

The Bear and the Nightingale: Russian fairytales? Yes, please! Now!

By Your Side: #autobuy I’m a sucker for a Kasie West contemporary. They are swoon-worthy!

February

Empress of a Thousand Skies: A beautiful sci-fi space adventure. I haven’t read one in so long. Bring it on!

We Are Okay: A story of loss and heartbreak. I loved Nina’s Everything Leads to You so I’m positive I’ll love this one, too!

The Hate U Give: An #ownvoices insight to the #BLM movement. THIS book will change the world, I know it.

The Education of Margot Sanchez: A coming of age story written by a Latinx writer. YAS!

March

The Bone Witch: Necromancy, magic, and witches – all elements that I LOVE.

Strange the Dreamer: Laini Taylor is a goddess and this world is riveting, dangerous, and magical. #autobuy

April

Defy the Stars: Another #autobuy author and a sci-fic novel set in space! Also, look at that gorgeous cover!!

Alex & Eliza: I am utterly obsessed with Hamilton so this is so perfect ❤

May

The Seafarer’s Kiss: A modern retelling featuring f/f romance! Gimmeeee 😛

When Dimple Met Rishi: Diversity reigns again when two Indian-American teens have been arranged to be married. RomCom material = a very happy Emma 😉

Always and Forever, Lara Jean: #autobuy I just love these characters so much and need to know that Lara Jean x Peter stay together!

Eliza and her Monsters: A deeply relatable story about life online and writing fanfiction.

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Are any of these lovely reads on your list? What are you most excited to read this year?

Emma

 

New Year, New Resolutions

Related image2017 has been a good start to the new year, thus far. One of my new year’s resolutions is NO SODA and I’m happily here to report that I haven’t had soda in 10 days! Although, I miss the sugary carbonated goodness, I’ve found that I don’t need soda. However, I do intend to give myself a little bit of a break from my rule on holidays! So…umm when’s the next holiday? Oh, right. Easter O.o

Another one of my resolutions is to bike ride the Red Rock loop. It is 13.1 miles of excruciating uphills and dangerously steep downhill portions. The beautiful desert landscape is my backdrop as I’ll probably be cursing why I ever wanted to do this tough trek in the first place … 😛

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It looks flat but don’t let it fool you!

Physical fitness is on my mind for 2017. Why? Well, during the last few months of 2016 I did some pretty incredible things like completed a triathlon! I also ran two 10k, and 3 5k races 🙂 Running made me feel capable like I could do anything that I truly set my mind to. It also made me feel incredibly strong and boundless. In 2017, I want to do more races. The next triathlon is in April so I have plenty of time to train and get a better time!

Excuse my face.

Excuse my face.

I only set two resolutions this year: NO Soda and fitness. I did this because there are goals in my life that I have to do like apply to my education program, be healthy, travel, get good grades, read lots, and write often. I need to do these in order to have a good peace of mind. Being healthy and traveling coincides with fitness as Kevin and I often travel out of town for our races. Reading is a given and writing will get me to my dream of being an author.

Lastly, I was given an incredible chance to work with Entangled Publishing as an intern in December. It is amazing reading manuscripts that are filled with creative new ideas that the market has not seen! I hope to continue working with them in 2017 🙂

2016 was filled with amazing feats and accomplishments; I hope to push these feats a little bit further in 2017 with hard work, dedication, and perseverance.

What are some of your 2017 resolutions?

Emma

My Favorite Reads in 2016

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2016 was a better year for me when it came to reading! I surpassed my small goal of 25 books for the year, ending at 28! I’m a pretty proud penguin for that accomplishment. I read two adult fiction books, poetry, and NA. I also explored diverse reads written by incredible #ownvoices authors. As for the books I read, I pretty much loved everything I got my hands on. I’m easily pleased so picking just 6 favorites was a challenge.

So, without further ado here are my favorite reads in 2016:

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My reading goal for 2017 is to read more #diversereads, to keep on stepping out of my comfort zone, and to explore all the wonder and imaginative worlds that are out there for the taking!

I’m going to push myself to read 50 books next year. The trouble is finding the right balance 😉

I hope you all had a great reading year! What are some of your favorite reads of 2016? Let me know in the comments below!

Much love always,

Emma

Book Review: Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch

Love & GelatoAuthor: Jenna Evans Welch

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Release date: May 3, 2015

Purchase from Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

synopsis

Lina is spending the summer in Tuscany, but she isn’t in the mood for Italy’s famous sunshine and fairy-tale landscape. She’s only there because it was her mother’s dying wish that she get to know her father. But what kind of father isn’t around for sixteen years? All Lina wants to do is get back home.

But then she is given a journal that her mom had kept when she lived in Italy. Suddenly Lina’s uncovering a magical world of secret romances, art, and hidden bakeries. A world that inspires Lina, along with the ever-so-charming Ren, to follow in her mother’s footsteps and unearth a secret that has been kept for far too long. It’s a secret that will change everything she knew about her mother, her father—and even herself.

People come to Italy for love and gelato, someone tells her, but sometimes they discover much more.

MINIMAL TO NO SPOILERS LIE AHEAD. YOU’RE WELCOME.

Love & Gelato was an abundance of sweetness, adventure, heartbreak, and even more sweetness. From the beginning, I was thrown a huge curve ball filled with heartache and sympathy for Lina. Hadley, Lina’s mother, is diagnosed with terminal cancer – her world is turned upside down when Hadley delves into stories of a man named Howard who lives in Italy. We quickly learn that Howard is Lina’s father and it is Hadley’s last wish for Lina to go to Italy and get to know the man who has been absent from her life for seventeen years. Lina’s life changes in Italy by startling revelations, friendships, and a budding romance.

I’ve been loving all the contemporaries that have fallen into my hands. Love & Gelato is one of them. I loved Lina as a stubborn, cautious, and running enthusiast. Her mother’s death is still raw and I liked how it was portrayed. It isn’t easy to move on and I just…liked that Lina encompassed that grief well without hindering the will to live. In its own way…it is a beautiful thing. I also love how Lina is so cold towards Howard and steadily warms up to him as the story progresses. Her feelings towards her father are aligned to how Hadley “see’s” him.

Now, you may be wondering why I put quotation marks around “see’s.” Well, things aren’t always how they seem and Lina figures that out on her adventures through Italy.

The journal that her mother left Lina spurs her into action to see Italy as Hadley had experienced it when she was younger. It is through the journal that she sees the romance between Hadley and her father unfold. The journal also brings her new friend, Ren, on the adventure! I love love loved the incorporation of the journal in the novel. It was a story within a story and I enjoyed the glimpses of Hadley’s life and how it affected Lina.

Opposite of Lina was Ren, the half-American/half Italian boy she meets and grows fond of. Ren is quirky, sweet, and adorable. He was an unexpected character in both friendship and romance. Speaking of unexpected characters – Howard was too. He didn’t act like a repentant father, but it didn’t make me hate him. In fact, I liked him a lot. He often tried to explain the situation, but Lina pushed him away until she was ready for the truth.

And boy does that truth hit you like a semi-truck.

Lastly, that ending. I cried. Literal tears of just happiness 🙂

All in all, Love & Gelato is a sweet contemporary novel with a bit of heartbreak entwined. It’s a story that heavily relies on voice and if you love Lina, just like I did, you’ll love her adventure in Italy!

addy5star

Simply Sunday #31

simply sunday

Simply Sunday is a reading meme hosted by Books For a Delicate Eternity. It’s where you share your favorite quote; be it from a book, movie, novella, song, ect.

My favorite quote this week is from L.H.Z.:

You love him despite the burden of Atlas resting on his shoulders, and he loves you despite the death still clinging to your lips, and the blood drying at it’s corners. What a pair you make.

Why I Chose It

I’ve been enjoying short, profound, Tumblr poetry. It’s modern and simple, yet, demonstrates the depth of human emotion. I think that when it comes to love we love the other person no matter their flaws, mistakes, and burdens. We accept the bad parts just as we do the good. L.H.Z. depicts this same concept with a little more angst, depth, and bleakness to an emotion that is often seen in light.

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I hope everyone has a happy holiday! I’ll be stuffing my face and going into a food coma 😛

Emma

Book Review: Prom Queen Perfect by Clarisse Davide

Author: Clarisse Davide

Publisher: self-pub

Release date: July 7, 2016

Format: E-book

Purchase from Amazon

synopsis

Being perfect isn’t supposed to be this hard.

Alex dela Cruz has it all. Looks, money, and a killer sense of style.

When the annoyingly gorgeous Adam Cordero calls her selfish, she decides to prove him wrong by transforming Christy Marquez from an invisible misfit into a ruling princess of Asia Pacific Academy. Great hair? Check. Flawless red lipstick? Check. Instant popularity? A slightly too big check.

But now, Alex is on the brink of losing the plastic tiara she’s supposed to get as prom queen, her best friend, and her heart to the unlikeliest of candidates. Too bad she isn’t letting anything—or anyone—get between her and that tiara.

NO SPOILERS LIE AHEAD. YOU’RE WELCOME.

Prom Queen Perfect was everything I needed in an incredibly sweet and short (to my utter dismay) story about childhood friends turned high school frenemies/sweethearts. I plunged into this novel blindly; not really knowing or expecting how I’d feel. At the end, I felt a WHOLE LOT FOR ALEX AND ADAM.

Alex dela Cruz is that popular girl in high school that everyone hates but wishes to secretly be. She rules Asia Pacific Academy with an iron fist; no one dares to undermine her superiority. Well, except Adam Cordero. Adam is the only one who tells Alex that she is selfish, which sends her into an obsessive spiral of proving him wrong. Her project? Turn Christy Marquez from invisible to popular.

What I liked most about the plot was the fact that yes, it sounds cliche, but it is executed well with stunning metaphors that are unique to Clarisse Davide. The amount of emotion also blew me away as I felt overwhelmingly giddy for Alex in her bouts of clarity over love.

Even though Prom Queen Perfect is abundantly sweet, there are still some issues that Alex overcomes like the estranged bond between her and her mother, what it means to have a best friend, the act of selflessness vs. selfishness, and of course, how it feels to be in love.

I also loved the diverse cast from a diverse author! That was gold and god, soooooo good. I literally devoured this book in one sitting and all I wanted was MOAR.

 

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At 58% I made a note: Slowly falling in love is one of my favorite things to read.

It is. It really is. The relationship between Alex and Adam was everything my little heart desired. I was grinning like the mad Cheshire cat from Alice in Wonderland. It was that SWEET AND JUST ASDFGHJKL.

I also highly enjoyed the relationship between Christy and Alex. It was an unexpected friendship. It was interesting how their bond grew, broke, and was mended back together as authentically as any friendship in real life.

Prom Queen Perfect is a beautiful, whirlwind of a story about learning to be not-so-perfect and showing the world who the girl behind the facade really is. I truly loved this so much and just want more of Alex, Adam, and Christy in my life.

addy5star

What Makes Me Happy

musings of a writer tres

2016 has been a year of heartbreak. We’ve lost beautiful souls, been broken by the election, and have been affected by the mass onslaught of deep rooted hatred towards poc. This post was inspired by Reagan @ PeruseProject and is an effort to look at the good things in life that simply make me happy.

It is important to be happy, but it is also important to act. We must not dwell on the bad and if we choose to do so, then bring about change. Speak up if you see someone being threatened because of their gender, sex, color, ect. Do not sit idly. Do not go gentle into that good night.

Below is a list I’ve accumulated of things that make me happy.

  1. Tea. Any kind of tea, but it has to be loose leaf with a tsp of rock sugar for a little bit of sweetness. My favorite kind of tea is from Teavana.
  2. Books. It wouldn’t be a proper list if I didn’t mention that I love books. I prefer books over flowers 😉
  3. Rainy days. The sound of rain is soothing. It makes for a perfect day!
  4. Fluffy socks. With the holiday season upon us, this is a must in my wardrobe 😀
  5. Mugs. I recently purchased a Narwhal mug from Suko and it is the most adorable thing on the planet. I love cute animated mugs!
  6. Hot chocolate. One of my favorite things to look forward to when fall and winter come around!
  7. Sweaters. I wish I could wear them all the time!
  8. Running shoes. I’ve gotten so used to wearing them all the time that any other kind of shoe hurt my feet >.<
  9. Pens. Since the beginning of my college career, I use nothing but pens. I love collecting all types!
  10. Candles. My favorite scents are coconut and cotton candy. I don’t like holiday scents…sorry.
  11. Bookmarks! One of my favorite shops on Etsy for these bookish items are CraftedVan and ReadandWonder.
  12. Yoga pants. Does this need an explanation???
  13. Stars. I love looking up at the sky at night. One of my favorite things to do is drive up to the mountain at night and look at the sky in all its glory; away from all the city lights that dampen the beauty of nature.
  14. Loved ones. I love every single person that is part of my life. My family, friends, and boyfriend.
  15. Hiking. I love being out in nature and challenging myself in new feats by hiking difficult trails.
  16. Swimming. When I was little I used to pretend I was a mermaid. I still do.
  17. Nail polish. I’m a little bit of an addict when it comes to this. All I need now is some holo nail polish because I am a #holosexual.
  18. Netflix. After long days of school and work, this little gadget is there for me to watch whatever my heart desires. I just finished The Flash and OMG. LOVE.
  19. Doctor Who. One of my favorite shows ever. I also love the cast and will follow their work to the ends of the earth.
  20. Fur babies. I love animals. Dogs, cats, rabbits, hamsters, ect. I often go to the animal shelter with my boyfriend to play with the dogs and cats. I wish we could take them all home. But alas, I am mildly allergic.

Spread the happiness! Share some of the things that make you happy 🙂 Lastly, remember to always have courage and be kind.

xx

Emma

Simply Sunday #30

simply sunday

Simply Sunday is a reading meme hosted by Books For a Delicate Eternity. It’s where you share your favorite quote; be it from a book, movie, novella, song, ect.

My favorite quote this week is from M.A.W:

we’re all killers.
we’ve all killed parts of ourselves
to survive.

we’ve all got blood on our hands.
something somewhere had to die
so we could stay alive.

Why I Chose It

I am in constant war with myself. I am my worse enemy. I’ve lost parts of myself in order to fit in, to make others happy, to simply survive in this world. This poem illustrates the harsh reality that I (and maybe you) have gone through, and even though it isn’t the most happiest thing in the world, it is still part of us. The beauty lies within survival and the strength I’ve had to keep on fighting.

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Do you have a favorite quote this week? Let me know down in the comments below! 🙂

Emma

Book Review: I’m Not Your Manic Pixie Dream Girl by Gretchen McNeil

Author: Gretchen McNeil

Publisher: Balzer + Bray

Release date: October 18, 2016

Format: Hardcover, 352

Purchase from Amazon | Barnes & Noble

synopsis

Beatrice Maria Estrella Giovannini has life all figured out. She’s starting senior year at the top of her class, she’s a shoo-in for a scholarship to M.I.T., and she’s got a new boyfriend she’s crazy about. The only problem: All through high school Bea and her best friends Spencer and Gabe have been the targets of horrific bullying.

So Bea uses her math skills to come up with The Formula, a 100% mathematically guaranteed path to social happiness in high school. Now Gabe is on his way to becoming Student Body President, and Spencer is finally getting his art noticed. But when her boyfriend Jesse dumps her for Toile, the quirky new girl at school, Bea realizes it’s time to use The Formula for herself. She’ll be reinvented as the eccentric and lovable Trixie—a quintessential manic pixie dream girl—in order to win Jesse back and beat new-girl Toile at her own game.

Unfortunately, being a manic pixie dream girl isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and “Trixie” is causing unexpected consequences for her friends. As The Formula begins to break down, can Bea find a way to reclaim her true identity and fix everything she’s messed up? Or will the casualties of her manic pixie experiment go far deeper than she could possibly imagine?

MINIMAL TO NO SPOILERS LIE AHEAD. YOU’RE WELCOME.

I didn’t really know what to expect from I’m Not Your Manic Pixie Dream Girl. Within the first three chapters I was inwardly groaning to myself: Ugh…not another cliche high school hierarchy story. After those three chapters and the explanation of what exactly a manic pixie dream girl is…well, I was hooked. 

The main protagonist, Bea “Trixie” Giovanni, is an incredibly smart, sassy, and stubborn biracial filipina on the brink of a unique and creative experiment. Her love for math helps her concoct a formula using applied math to real life. Her reasons for this experiment is to help her best friends Gabe and Spencer deflect bullying and to climb the social ladder in their senior year of high school. Bea’s reasons to use the formula on herself is to win her ex-boyfriend back from the clutches of Toile, the epitome of a manic pixie dream girl. Well, at least it starts out that way.

Bea’s personality greatly shifts throughout the story, which gets kudos from me. It is important for the character to grow and flourish rather than stagnant. No one wants to read about a character who is too set in their ways. I love the moments of clarity for Bea like when she realizes what her intentions have become by using the formula and the matters of her heart.

One of my favorite things (which in truth is becoming a thing I look for in books) is the amount of diversity. You’ve got a non-white strong female lead, a gay supporting character who does not die and is used as a sympathetic tool for main character, endearing portrayal of LGBT romance, and a romantic interest that is not part of the jocktocracy, i.e. not popular or is in a sport.  I loved Bea so much that I could honestly say I’d like to be friends with her. She is the kind of girl that likes to keep to herself, that loves math so much that she lives and breathes it. Her friends accept her for who she is just like she accepts them. There are a handful of times where Spencer tells Bea that she does not need to change for anyone, much less a guy who is fickle. #friendshipgoals

Then, there is Gabe who is just FABULOUS. I really like how McNeil addressed the stereotypical tropes of a gay young man, but also stayed true to Gabe’s true personality and wishes apart from the formula that made him a star. The portrayal of gay romance is also sweet, highlighting that love is never easy no matter what gender is preferred.

Lastly, the last character of this lovely platonic triangle is Spencer. There aren’t enough words for Spencer other than:

Spencer is the kind of guy we all want. The guy who values a girl’s worth and doesn’t demand change just to suit his needs. He is artsy, smart, and stubborn yeah, there are times Bea and Spencer butt heads. He is the voice of reason throughout the story. And boy, I wish Bea would have listened to him sooner. She could have avoided a lot of the mess created by the formula. But hey, if she didn’t make them…well, we wouldn’t have had such a whirlwind of a story!

This book also highlights feminism (the good kind), family relationships/dynamics, and what it means to be yourself. It is an outstanding hoorah! and is sure to fill you with unbelievable happiness and empowerment. I’m pretty sure my face was plastered in a goofy smile 89% of the time while I read.

Check out my Goodreads for a play-by-play reaction of this book!

addy5star