Review: Dove Arising

Sunday, December 28, 2014

I received a free e-ARC of Dove Rising from Penguin First to Read in exchange for an honest review.

Title: Dove Arising
Author: Karen Bao
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Release Date: February 24, 2015

Summary (via Goodreads)
Phaet Theta has lived her whole life in a colony on the Moon. She’s barely spoken since her father died in an accident nine years ago. She cultivates the plants in Greenhouse 22, lets her best friend talk for her, and stays off the government’s radar.

Then her mother is arrested.

The only way to save her younger siblings from the degrading Shelter is by enlisting in the Militia, the faceless army that polices the Lunar bases and protects them from attacks by desperate Earth-dwellers. Training is brutal, but it’s where Phaet forms an uneasy but meaningful alliance with the preternaturally accomplished Wes, a fellow outsider.

Rank high, save her siblings, free her mom:  that’s the plan. Until Phaet’s logically ordered world begins to crumble...

Dove Arising follows Phaet, a fifteen-year-old girl living in a lunar society. She is quiet and knows how her life is going to be: work to be a Bioengineer in the Agricultural Department, be with her family and best friend Umbriel. Her world is shaken when her mother is arrested, and Phaet has to put her life aside to join the Militia earn enough money to keep her family out of Shelter. But things aren’t as they seem in the lunar society or even in Phaet’s family.

Karen Bao has created one of the most refreshing main characters that I have read in a long time. Phaet is very quiet but stands out in her own ways, using her intelligence, determination, and skills to surpass expectations. It is rare to see such a quiet character in a book, but while her mouth might not be speaking to other characters much, her mind is constantly observing and cataloging. She can be pretty dense about some things, but it makes her interactions more interesting to read because the reader can see what she cannot, particularly when it comes to her interactions with Wes, another Militia trainee.

Dove Arising is intricately developed world full of compelling plotlines and modern issues seen in the future. The lunar society is science focused. It is in their mottos, part of their education, and even used in law to swear over Darwin’s The Origin of Species. There are interesting takes on government system and social class that are more thoroughly developed that many dystopias. Phaet and others are faced with racial and gender issues. Though the lunar society looks down on their Earthbound ancestry, some of the unlikeable characters remark on Phaet’s Asian heritage as well as other characters. Karen Bao takes all these elements and touches on each to make a fully realized fictional world with all of it’s good and bad elements.

One of the book's weaknesses is the abruptness. There are some moments where I got lost because it switched from a situation such as preparing for an event to the actual event without any distinguishable transition. It was a bit like plotline whiplash: the plot is going, a scene comes out of nowhere, and you have to slam on the breaks in order to not hit it. This abruptness is also found in some of the additional world information. I love little details that make the world of books more real, but some of the information in the book is not included very smoothly. While all of them are interesting details, there are many moments where this took me out of the story.

Overall, Karen Bao’s Dove Arising is an easy to read and follow young adult book. Though there are a few construction issues, I would definitely recommend it to anyone and am excited to read the next one.

Rating: 4 out of 5. What do I have to do to get the next book right now?

Nerdy Favorites #1

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Confession time: I'm a wishlister. Yup, you caught me. I have them on sites, in my browser, in notebooks, everywhere! And I thought I would share a little bit of what's on my wishlist with all of you. Here is a little list of things that I have been loving lately.

With Sam Wilson taking up the Captain America mantle and the Captain America: the Winter Soldier DVD pretty much being played in a loop on my TV, the urge to buy this print by Mechinism has grown even stronger.

Loving this 80s inspired Guardians of the Galaxy tank!

I'm a sucker for a good book cover, and this version of Harry Potter and the Prison of Azkaban is gorgeous.

I'm a die hard jeans wearer, but these olive-colored boyfriend khakis are tempting me.

My love of Donald Duck is calling me to snag this Donald and Daisy Duck sweatshirt.
My bags tend to get years of wear and tear, and this quality black and army green Hershel backpack could probably withstand that. Probably...

This cute little elephant would be perfect to put silverware instead of precariously placing them on the drying rack. Plus the water come out of the trunk!

The Maze Runner Screening Review (SPOILER FREE)

Friday, August 29, 2014

Note before reading: I wrote this review right after seeing The Maze Runner Screening, but silly me, I forgot to post it! Enjoy!

Ten hours. It’s not a short time, especially when you are waiting for something. Especially since you also decided to get in the Comic Con line at 2am on little sleep, sped through the exhibit hall at its opening, and hightailed it over to the Gaslamp Theater to be one of the first fifteen or so in line to see The Maze Runner screening. I’ve even got the sunburned face, the achey knees from sitting too long, and the friendship bonds that can only be formed by sitting side-by-side in line to prove that ten hours is in fact a really, really long time.

But some things are just worth it.

Written by James Dashner, The Maze Runner is the story of Thomas, a boy who wakes up in the center of a giant maze with no recollection of his past other than his name. The center of the maze is the safe area called the Glade and home to a group of boys who, like Thomas, woke up there without an inkling about why they are there. When a girl, Teresa, shows up with a note saying that she is the last person to be sent to the Glade, things start to take a turn for the Gladers and the only solution seems to be to solve the maze.

The Maze Runner movie is nothing short of the enthusiastic SPECTAULAR that James Dashner tweeted that Thursday morning. The movie captured a Glade that I’ve only pictured in my head and made it real, and I would even say better than I had imagined. The graphics in the film were so convincing that it was easy to forget the Glade and the Maze weren’t real. However, the real masterpiece of the CGI in this film was the Grievers, terrifying and worth every grey hair I left the theater with.

It’s rare to see casting for a movie adaptation that is so close to the book. Dylan O’Brien gives life to the main character, Thomas, by exuding that quiet determination and questioning attitude that were so vivid in the book. His performance during the most intense scenes was incredibly convincing – truly phenomenal acting that really captures the viewer.

The character that I felt truly came to life on the screen was Gally, played by Will Poulter. When I first read The Maze Runner, I thought of Gally as a bully. However, after reading all the books and going through a few rereads, I had found Gally to be one of the most dynamic characters in the series, and I was truly amazed that  Pouter captured that Gally in the film. He shows a character who is a leader that is set in Glader-created societal rules and who is afraid of the changes Thomas brings into their community, which threaten the only life he can remember. Pouter really did this complicated character justice on the screen.

There are limits to film just as there are to books, and making the transition between the two can leave some things lost along the way. I was lucky enough to have a quick talk with Dashner at a signing the next day about some of the decisions in translating his book to the screen. Though I cannot reveal most of that discussion without revealing some movie spoilers, I will say that Dashner did clear up a few questions that I had about moving the story outside of Thomas’ first person account. I’m sure many avid fans will understand this choice toward a screen-friendly and less internal film when they finally see it. So rest assured, the book’s transition to film was treated well in the hands of James Dashner and Wes Ball.

The only qualm that The Maze Runner has given me can be summed up in two little by weighty words:

Two. Months.

Two months biting my tongue when I get questions about the Grievers, Teresa, and the Glade. Two months of seeing trailers and posters. Two months not being able to gush about that one scene where Thomas and Minho are in the Maze and—wait, I can’t talk about that. Most importantly, two months of no way to watch the movie in a theatre and see it all over again. It’s really going to be a rough two months much longer than those original 10 hours of waiting.

For now, the only people who know the experience I went through are down to a mere two hundred who sat in a San Diego movie theatre that night, and what we experienced was something heart-stopping, imaginative, and exceptional.

I really cannot wait for you all to experience The Maze Runner movie on September 19th too, you shuck-faces.

Geek Drink: Kitsune Eyes

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

When I visited Rome with my sister, she spent two days convincing my to try a Campari spritzer, but she made the severe mistake of trying to describe the taste as "like medicine" which did not sound appealing at all to me.  (I mean how would that sound good?) However, on our second day after walking around the Vatican Museum for hours, we made took a nice break at a little cafe and got one. Thank goodness, it did not taste like medicine to me! It was refreshing and fruity (and not in the gross Jolly Rancher fruity way some liquors can go) and I was hooked!

So when I got back to California and my little seaside town, I was craving to make the drink at home. I have to admit Campari is a bit pricy for me ($26 for a bottle yikes!), but I use it so sparingly that I feel like I can make it last. The drink that I have ended up making is a mix of the Campari Orange and the Campari and Tonic into something I like to call: Kitsune Eyes.

I decided to call this drink Kitsune Eyes after one of my favorite characters from Teen Wolf, Kira Yukimura, who is a kitsune on the show. A kitsune is a supernatural fox and trickster spirit that comes from Japanese folklore. On the show, kitsunes have these golden-orange glowing eyes that reminded me of the color of this drink! Just so happens that I was watching Kira owning all of the boys on the lacrosse field yesterday, and so I thought why not name a drink after this awesome  and sometimes socially awkward kitsune who kicks butt!

Kitsune Eyes (serves one)
Orange Juice
Tonic Water
Half a lime

Fill a glass two-thirds of the way up with ice. Add two shots of Campari to the bottom of the glass. Pour in the orange just until the glass is about two-thirds of the way full and then top off with some tonic water. Stir the drink enough to mix the flavors but still leave the beautiful gradient effect.  Now for the lime, I sliced a wheel for a little garnish and squeezed the remainder into the glass to add a bit of sourness. If you are not a fan of sour, add an orange slice or even some strawberries. Finally pop a straw in, prop your feet up, and rewatch Kira's new skills on the lacrosse field!

Obsessed with: Patterned Shorts

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Since I live by the coast, it's sometimes hard to realize that it's actually warm, summery weather right now in most of the US. We get a lot of nice and clear days, but the clouds, patches of fog, and sea breeze are usually around to keep everything cool. Because of this, I don't really get the opportunity to wear shorts very often (though with my uber pale legs, I might be doing the world a favor!) But I have to admit, I have been loving the patterned woven shorts and culottes trend that has been happening. These types of shorts are very versatile outfit-wise, dressed up with a blazer and ankle boots or down with a cozy sweater. Now, I am a curvy girl, and these wide-legged shorts seem to work so well with my body type and make me feel comfortable and confident. Honestly, they seem to look cute on almost anyone! I own the zigzag patterned ones from H&M because when I was in Rome with my sister, I saw them everywhere and on all sorts of women, and each time they looked amazing. Might be a Sisterhood of the Traveling Zigzag Shorts type of thing!

1. Patterned Shorts from H&M 2. Mono Check Print from ASOS 3. Print High Waisted Woven Shorts from Nordstrom

4. Woven Shorts from Nordstrom 5. Alice & You Folk Print Relaxed Short from ASOS 6. Patterned Shorts from ASOS 

How are you guys feeling about this trend? Do you own a pair or can you not stand them? Do you end up wearing them when you dress up or more casually?

I've Been Scarlet Nerded By You

Who are you?
Hey there, future readers. I'm Steph! Living a life as an avid reader and TV and movie fan, my time gets taken up by minor freak outs via plot twists and favorite characters being killed off way before their time. But in those other rare moments, I am a college student studying Literary Studies, an major book enthusiast, a very amateur photographer (how does a camera work again?), and a general nerd over anything that interests me. I enjoy adventuring to hidden gem places, making a good old-fashioned mess of my kitchen, and trying to see a little extraordinary in the ordinary.
What does "Scarlet Nerded" even mean?
It is actually a quote from on of my favorite shows, MTV's Teen Wolf.  "I'm a nerd by association. I've been scarlet nerded by you."-Stiles Stilinski, Teen Wolf. Not only is Stiles one of my favorite characters ever, but I just fell in love with that phrase: "scarlet nerded." On the surface, it seems awful, like the word "nerd" is Hester Pryne's vicious A. And sometimes, it can be taken like that. However for me, I enjoy my nerdiness. So if I am to be scarlet nerded, well then I am going to rock that it! What a better way to do that then name my blog after it!
Currently obsessed with:
Patterned shorts, In The Flesh, rose gold, The Front Bottoms, floral prints, Niel Gaiman, Hawkeye comic series
Forever obsessed with:
The Goonies, any supernatural themed books, tv shows, or movies, cozy sweaters, 90s alternative, Teen Wolf, sushi, novelty coffee cups, Remus Lupin
What is this blog going to be like?
In all honestly, I'm not too sure yet. I plan on posting things on Monday and Thursday just to start out. I would like it to be a mix to everything that I like: a little book reviewing, a little fashion, a little cooking,  a little diy, and a little nerdy goodness. I have been reading blogs for a while, and they never really come out like they started. They evolve into something that both the readers and the writer likes. So I guess we both will just have to see.

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