Monday, March 19, 2018

Music Monday (9)

Music Monday is a weekly event hosted by Lauren over at Always Me.  Every Monday, you share one or two of your favorite songs you've been enjoying that week to help other people discover new music!  Here are my picks for this week:

Writing's on the Wall - Sam Smith
From the soundtrack of Spectre (James Bond)

Normally, I'm not a huge fan of Sam Smith (I don't know what it is, but I just don't like his style of music or his voice) but I LOVE this song and I think he does such a great job capturing the desperate edge to it.  I've been listening to this on repeat for weeks!

I Write Sins Not Tragedies - Panic! at the Disco

I always love Panic! at the Discos' videos and this is no exception.  Do you ever just go browsing around your old Spotify playlists and you find those songs that you loved forever ago and you had forgotten that you loved?  This song is one of those!

Imagine - John Lennon

Do songs ever just kind of pop into your head into nowhere and then you get obsessed?  That's this song.  I've heard it before, of course, and I liked it, but I just hadn't listened to it in a good two years.  Then, suddenly one day a week ago, I just thought of the song and it's been in my head ever since!

Have you heard any of these songs before (I hope you've heard Imagine!!)?  What have you been listening to recently?

Friday, March 16, 2018

50/50 Friday (76): Best/Worst Graphic Novel/Manga You've Read

50/50 Friday is a meme hosted by Carrie @The Butterfly Reads and I and focuses on the opposite sides of books (best/worst, differing opinions, etc).  Every week will have a new topic and several advance topics will be listed in the tab labeled 50/50 Friday!

Today's Topic: Best/Worst Graphic Novel/Manga You've Read

I'm only going to do a 'best' because I haven't read that many graphic novels and the ones I have read have been pretty good (or I can't remember anything about them...).

Standalone to date

"A superb new graphic memoir in which an inspired artist/storyteller reveals the road that brought his family to where they are today: Vietnamerica  
GB Tran is a young Vietnamese American artist who grew up distant from (and largely indifferent to) his family’s history. Born and raised in South Carolina as a son of immigrants, he knew that his parents had fled Vietnam during the fall of Saigon. But even as they struggled to adapt to life in America, they preferred to forget the past—and to focus on their children’s future. It was only in his late twenties that GB began to learn their extraordinary story. When his last surviving grandparents die within months of each other, GB visits Vietnam for the first time and begins to learn the tragic history of his family, and of the homeland they left behind.

In this family saga played out in the shadow of history, GB uncovers the root of his father’s remoteness and why his mother had remained in an often fractious marriage; why his grandfather had abandoned his own family to fight for the Viet Cong; why his grandmother had had an affair with a French soldier. GB learns that his parents had taken harrowing flight from Saigon during the final hours of the war not because they thought America was better but because they were afraid of what would happen if they stayed. They entered America—a foreign land they couldn’t even imagine—where family connections dissolved and shared history was lost within a span of a single generation.

In telling his family’s story, GB finds his own place in this saga of hardship and heroism. Vietnamerica is a visually stunning portrait of survival, escape, and reinvention—and of the gift of the American immigrants’ dream, passed on to their children. Vietnamerica is an unforgettable story of family revelation and reconnection—and a new graphic-memoir classic."

I absolutely loved this.  It documents the life of GB Tran's family (nonfiction) and their experiences in Vietnam.  I just read this about a month ago and while I don't have really any experience with graphic novels, I have to say, it was incredibly well done.  The timeline is a little wonky, but if you're good at keeping track of people as they age, you'll do just fine.  Also, there's a key at the front which is incredibly helpful and I only found it once I finished the book.  Typical Laura :)  I highly recommend this though, even if you aren't very well-versed in graphic novels like me!

Have you read this or another nonfiction graphic novel?  What did you think of it?  Do you have any favorite graphic novels?  Make a post and link up down below!

Next Week's Topic: Best/Worst Classic Novel

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

January + February Wrap Up

Yes, I am horribly behind on everything (I still have two Guides to write!) but I'm slowly catching up.  That involves doing these two wrap-ups squished into one!

January and February have actually been a dream.  I've been rereading waaaay more than I should be but on the whole, I'm reading a good number of books and keeping the momentum going.  I do need to be reading more R&R books but I'm hoping to remedy that ASAP!  Anyway, more about it at the bottom.  For now, STATISTICS!!  (aka my life force)


Pages Read: 10,246

Total Books Read: 31
Rereads: 12

(there's a preview of my March progress too!) (I always do this graphic for my yearly wrap-ups but I didn't think to do it for monthly ones until I saw it on Di's blog and I thought 'oh my goodness why haven't I been doing that, it's brilliant!'  So here you go)

Reviews Posted: 18

Distribution of Ratings:

(all those five stars are from the many rereads I did these two months!)

Number of Authors Read: 19
Number of Series Books: 22
Number of Standalones: 9

The Books:

Evil Under the Sun - Agatha Christie (Hercule Poirot #24) (5 stars) (Review)
Five Little Pigs (Murder in Retrospect) - Agatha Christie (Hercule Poirot #25) (4 stars) (Review)
Mrs. McGinty's Dead - Agatha Christie (Hercule Poirot #30) (4.5 stars) (Review)
After the Funeral - Agatha Christie (Hercule Poirot #31) (3.5 stars) (Review)
Third Girl - Agatha Christie (Hercule Poirot #38) (4.5 stars) (Review)
The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding - Agatha Christie (Hercule Poirot #35) (3.5 stars) (Review)
Getting Off - Erica Garza (4 stars) (Review)
The Clocks - Agatha Christie (Hercule Poirot #37) (3.5 stars) (Review)
Wicked Charm - Amber Hart (3.5 stars) (Review)
Hallowe'en Party - Agatha Christie (Hercule Poirot #39) (4 stars) (Review)
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them - J.K. Rowling (Hogwarts Library) (5 stars) (Review to come)
I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter - Erika L. Sanchez (4.5 stars) (Review to come)
In Search of Gods and Heroes - Sammy H.K. Smith (Children of Nalowyn #1) (3.5 stars) (Review)
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian - Sherman Alexie (5 stars) (Review to come)
Children of the Morning - Shanna Lauffey (Chronicles of the Harekaiian #2) (4 stars) (Review)
The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini (5 stars) (Review to come)
Vietnamerica - G.B Tran (4 stars) (Review to come)
The Sun is Also a Star - Nicola Yoon (4.5 stars) (Review to come)
Hotel World - Ali Smith (3 stars) (Review to come)

As you could probably tell, these past two months (January especially) have been excellent Agatha Christie reading months.  I posted a LOT of reviews in Agatha Christie roundups.  And, bonus, I haven't had that many low-rated books!  (seriously, only a couple with 3 stars)

A lot of the books in the last half, I read for one of my classes in university (Perspectives in Popular Texts) so I'm thinking of doing roundup posts for those (I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter, Part-Time Indian, Kite Runner, Vietnameria, Sun is Also a Star, etc).  By the end of the semester I'll have read something like 15 or 16 books for that class so there will be a lot of reviews heading your way!


Crown of Midnight - Sarah J. Maas (Throne of Glass #2) (5 stars) (Review)
Queen of Shadows - Sarah J. Maas (Throne of Glass #4) (4.5 stars) (Review)
Fire - Kristin Cashore (Graceling Realm #2) (5 stars) (Review to come)
Cinder - Marissa Meyer (The Lunar Chronicles #1) (5 stars) (Review to come)
Scarlet - Marissa Meyer (The Lunar Chronicles #2) (5 stars) (Review)
Cress - Marissa Meyer (The Lunar Chronicles #3) (5 stars) (Review)
Winter - Marissa Meyer (The Lunar Chronicles #4) (5 stars) (Review to come)
(2) Touched - Corrine Jackson (Sense Thieves #1) (5 stars) (Review to come)
A Monster Calls - Patrick Ness (5 stars) (Review)
A Long, Long Sleep - Anna Sheehan (Unicorp #1) (5 stars) (Review to come)
The Last Thing - Briana Gaitan (Hollywood Timelines #1) (4 stars) (Review)

This was also a great few months for rereads!  I reread some old favorites and I rerated several of them (most notably I upgraded Cress from 3.5 to 5 stars) and I'll be doing a 'Changing Attitudes post on those in the next month or so.  And yes, I read Touched twice!  I'm not sure what it is about that book, but it's strangely addicting for me.  Do you ever have those books that feel like they know you or something and you get really attached to them?  That's me with Touched.

Currently Reading:

This is a book a bought a while ago and I'm slowly working my way through reading each story and writing a teeny tiny mini review on each.  I'm about 60% through and I'm mostly enjoying it.  I'm thinking the average star rating will end up being around 3.75.


I had quite a few rewatches (The Proposal, Day After Tomorrow, Signs, Ella Enchanted, Doctor Strange, London Has Fallen, Men In Black, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, Moana, National Treasure, and Apollo 13) but I also had a good amount of new-to-me movies!  Favorites include Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, Baby Driver, and Loving Vincent.  I saw The Shape of Water and while I did like it at the end, I definitely should have read what it was about before going to see it (and there is a serious plot hole with the main character's vocal chords!).  It is beautiful on a big screen, though.  Geostorm was good, but as a biology major, I had some science issues with it (where is all the random water coming from that the satellites just shower over everything???  How does that even work?).  Baby Driver was seriously SO good!  I loved how they timed everything to the music.  It really emphasized the atmosphere and theme.  Dunkirk was just all right.  I think it's really interesting if you're familiar with the situation to start with but I came into it cold which was the wrong decision.  Bring it On is just ridiculous.  Definitely don't watch it.  Armageddon was ridiculously sexist and I wasn't expecting it because it was made in 1998!  It gets good near the end, but I don't recommend it.


It's been a really good few months for TV too!  I had stalled on Grey's Anatomy for a while because I was dreading a character death (I just finished season 11 and I'm so glad I got it over and done with because it was so heart wrenching).  I'm trying to stretch Sherlock out for as long as I can because I know that when I get to the end of the 4th season, I'm going to be inconsolable for weeks (I just finished season 3).  And it always takes them FOREVER to film new seasons!  I finally finished all the seasons of Criminal Minds on Netflix (12) and I was not ready for it to end.  Luckily, they're still filming new seasons so a new season should be up on Netflix within the next year (and in the meantime, I'll rewatch them all obsessively).  The Great British Baking Show is just my go-to show when I really don't want to deal with the emotions and stress of regular series TV shows.  It's just so lovely and wholesome and funny and I recommend it if you haven't seen it already!  There are currently 4 seasons on Netflix!  I spent a lot of my winter break sewing and crocheting (I finally finished a full size crocheted blanket!!!) and in the background, I always like to watch either Forensic Files, or Mysteries at the Museum.  They're just good shows that you don't have to pay complete attention to and you don't have to constantly watch the visuals to get the gist.

On the Blog:

50/50 Fridays:



Life Update:
Whew this is getting to be a long post!  Now I remember why I try to always do wrap-ups once a month instead of two months in one...

Like I said above, I spent January mostly sewing and crocheting because I wasn't working.  I actually finally crocheted an entire blanket which I've never had the patience for before!!  I also finished sewing a black velvet dress (which I adore but I somehow made the waist too small so I'm going to put in some darts and alter it a bit) and a blue and gold poofy off the shoulder dress!  The lighting where I live is terrible but I've put pictures of the patterns that I used (but I did alter them slightly) down below!  What the models are wearing is what I made with exception to the color.

A new semester at uni has begun (I started at the very end of January) and it's going pretty well so far!  I switched my major plan so now I'm double majoring in English Creative Writing and Biology which definitely fits my career aspirations a little better (and, who am I kidding, it also has a nice contingency plan built in).  I'm taking this course called Perspectives in Popular Texts for my English degree and we basically read a bunch of #ownvoices YA books which is so awesome!  I'm thinking of doing round-ups for all those reviews like I did last semester.

I've also recently been obsessed with ALL the soundtracks including The Greatest Showman, Hamilton, Moana, Les Mis, and Phantom of the Opera!  I'm either going to do a Music of the Month post soon or a whole bunch of Music Monday's!

Spring break is coming up soon (in the next few weeks) and I'm really excited to get away from school for a while!  My family (with the exception of my brother) are going to be going on a cruise to the Bahamas so that'll be fun.  I'm not sure how much reading I'll get done (probably mostly rereading as I won't be taking my laptop to write reviews!) but it'll be nice to relax.

My blogoversary is also coming up in a week or so and I'm really excited!  I've actually been planning a giveaway for a while (this one will be US exclusive but I'm planning an international one to take place either during the summer or the early fall too!) so that's exciting.

I'm very, VERY behind on all things relating to the blog (I'm behind two Guide's, my R&R pile has yet to substantially dip below 35, and I'm constantly playing catch up with 50/50 Friday's) but I'm hoping to remedy that within the next few weeks.  After spring break things should really calm down a bit (midterms and scholarship applications are really concentrated on the two weeks preceding and proceeding spring break).

Unfortunately, I ended up being really busy when the Olympics were going on and I didn't get to watch a single performance!  Not even the opening and closing ceremonies!  Every time the Olympics are on, I at least get to watch some of it, but this year was just not having it.  I'm hoping to watch whatever was recorded though (especially the ice skating routines!!).

Whew!  That's all for now!  How have the first two months of your year been?  Are you keeping up with your challenge goals?  Do you agree with me that baking and crime shows are the cream of the TV crop?  What's your favorite winter Olympic sport (ice skating, say ICE SKATING because it is THE BEST)?
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