Biography, nonfiction

Book Review: The Amazing Book is Not on Fire by Dan Howell and Phil Lester

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Title: The Amazing Book is Not on Fire
Author: Dan Howell and Phil Lester
Publisher: Ebury Press
Length: 224 pages, Hardback
Genre: Non-fiction, Humor, Autobiography
Rating: 3 Folded Pages

Blurb:
Hello reader,

In this book is a world. A world created by two awkward guys who share their lives on the internet!

We are Dan and Phil and we invite you on a journey inside our minds! From the stories of our actual births, to exploring Phil’s teenage diary and all the reasons why Dan’s a fail.

Learn how to draw the perfect cat whiskers, get advice on what to do in an awkward situation and discover which of our dining chairs represents you emotionally. With everything from what we text each other, to the time we met One Direction and what really happened in Vegas…

Review:
As usual I am bearing my soul for this blog. I’ll just come out and say it, I am a Youtube Junkie. Seriously. I’m so glad Youtube got rid of the thing on the original profiles that told people how many youtube videos a person has watched because mine would be embarassingly high. That being said, a lot of Youtubers are coming out with books (I reviewed Zoella’s young adult novel here) and I couldn’t resist picking this one up when I saw considering how much I love Danisnotonfire and AmazingPhil. They are so funny and relatable. Their youtube videos almost always pull me out of a bad mood.

My love for them is why it pains me to say what I’m about to say. It wasn’t that great.

Hear me out. I did really enjoy reading this. It was like their Youtube videos in book format and why wouldn’t a certified Youtube addict and bibliophile love a mash up of her two favorite things. However, this book was a little bit too much of their Youtube content.

I feel like several pieces of the book were just their videos converted to text format and given cute typography and graphic design. It definitely doesn’t help that to advertise said book they made Youtube videos of the pages that weren’t already Youtube videos.

Before reading this, I had hoped to learn more about them as people. Granted there was some of that, there wasn’t nearly as much as I wanted. If I wasn’t already a fan of them, I wouldn’t have read past the first 20 pages.

My conclusion, in all honesty, is that only people who already like them should get the book and I’d suggest not trying to read it cover to cover like I did.

Fantasy, young adult

Book Review: Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

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Title: Howl’s Moving Castle
Author: Diana Wynne Jones
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Length: 336 pages, Mass Market Paperback
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Rating: 4.5 Folded Pages

Blurb:
In the land of Ingary, such things as spells, invisible cloaks, and seven-league boots were everyday things. The Witch of the Waste was another matter.

After fifty years of quiet, it was rumored that the Witch was about to terrorize the country again. So when a moving black castle, blowing dark smoke from its four thin turrets, appeared on the horizon, everyone thought it was the Witch. The castle, however, belonged to Wizard Howl, who, it was said, liked to suck the souls of young girls.

The Hatter sisters–Sophie, Lettie, and Martha–and all the other girls were warned not to venture into the streets alone. But that was only the beginning.

In this giant jigsaw puzzle of a fantasy, people and things are never quite what they seem. Destinies are intertwined, identities exchanged, lovers confused. The Witch has placed a spell on Howl. Does the clue to breaking it lie in a famous poem? And what will happen to Sophie Hatter when she enters Howl’s castle?

Review:
I’m sure everyone is sick of hearing me say this, but yet again this was a reread. I loved the Studio Ghibli film of the same title though it’s very obvious once you read the book that the movie is VERY loosely based on it. My friend made me read it when she saw how much I loved the movie and she wasn’t wrong. Although the two are very different both are amazing.

The basic characters are all the same, Sophie, Howl, Calcifer, Witch of the Waste, Michael and so on. But with the book the plot and conclusion is a little bit different. Also, you get so much more from all the characters. I feel like the movie didn’t have the proper time to flesh out the characters like the book does considering there are so many.

Sophie is so stubborn and annoying but in the most perfect way. You can really see the effect the witch’s spell has on her in the book. The movie, I don’t think, does that justice. Sophie’s emotions are so raw and real and her change in character brought on by the spell is amazing to read.

Howl, Calcifer, and Michael all have their own unique personalities as well that are so fleshed out and yummy. I might be just a tad biased though because this book holds a special place in my heart. I think this is the third or fourth time I’ve reread it in about 8 years.

The plot itself is a little confusing and a little frustrating but I think it was like that in the movie as well. Honestly, you get a lot more explanation in the book and it helps clear up the confusion I had with the movie before I read the book.

I do think the Jones waits a little too long to reveal everything. The ending is a whirlwind of action and resolutions and it can almost give you a headache there’s so much information dumped on you.

Still aside from that tiny flaw, I thoroughly enjoyed my reread and I look forward to the next time I reread because I’m sure I will many more times in the years to come.

nonfiction, Podcast

Podcast Review: Reply All by Gimlet Media

I’ve recently become obsessed with podcasts and I wanted to do a review of my favorite. (I might review others if this goes over well, we’ll see.)

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Title: Reply All
Hosts: Alex Goldman and PJ Vogt
Producer: Gimlet Media
Length: Typically 30-40 minutes
Genre: Non-fiction, Technology
Rating: 5 Mics (Folded pages just didn’t quite work for this one)

Summary (Courtesy of the Gimlet Website):
Reply All is a show about the internet, hosted by PJ Vogt and Alex Goldman. The show launched in 2014. We publish new episodes on Wednesday nights.

Our show is downloaded around 2 million times per month. If you are new to the show, you can start from the beginning, or try a few of these episodes which we like a lot.

Review:
I never used to be one for podcasts (or audiobooks on a related note) but in September a blog I follow on Tumblr recommended this podcast. It was described as a show about the internet and it intrigued me. I listened to about 30 episodes in one sitting. This is my first time doing a podcast review so please me if it’s a little rough.

I think what captivated me first was PJ Vogt’s voice. He has a voice that you kind of want to listen to forever. It’s soothing and smooth. It makes you want to listen. Alex Goldman also has a nice voice but something about PJ’s voice reminds me of Danny from Game Grumps and I also really like his voice.

The chemistry between the two hosts is also great. They play well off each other and you can tell that they are more than just co-hosts to each other. They’re friends and they love what they do. I’m not sure why but I’m always incredibly happy when I listen/read/watch projects by people when you can tell how much they love it.

It only took two episodes to realize the stories they talk about are the kind of stories I want to hear about. So while PJ’s voice captured me and I loved the hosts’ chemistry, their stories are why I’m still obsessed over 4 months later. I think I would consider this is journalistic kind of podcast. They find weird, interesting, funny, romantic, or all of the above stories on the internet and give you a summary mixed in with them interviewing the people who are involved in said stories.

Now, I don’t think it’s any secret that I pretty much live on the internet. There usually isn’t something I haven’t heard of and the amazing thing is that of all the stories they’ve reported in the 56 episodes they have released thus far I have only heard of one. It makes me incredibly happy when there’s a new thing on the internet that can give me new information. The stories are all incredibly unique and they somehow know where to find them.

The music used in the show is also very good. I tend to get the jingles stuck in my head. But I think the feel of the intro music totally matches the theme of the show. With a theme like technology/internet, it’s a feat well accomplished.

I’m not sure my review is really doing this podcast justice. I also don’t really know what else to comment on. So please find a few of my favorite episodes below!

Episode 1: An App Sends A Stranger To Say “I Love You” 
I know it’s a little cliche but this episode is still probably my all time favorite. I think this episode totally encompasses everything this show is about. It’s hilarious, somewhat emotional, and just an interesting story.

Episode 3: We Know What You Did
This one was SUPER interesting. No spoilers, but I learned so much from this. I definitely suggest giving it a listen.

Episode 13: Love is Lies
This is bar far my favorite episode. It was just SO intriguing and you kind of learn the inside on something everyone is curious about but no one (Americans, at least) have so little knowledge about in the general public.

Wrap Up/TBR

February 2016 Wrap up and March TBR

feb 2016 wrap up

This is much later than usual and I’m sorry! I went on vacation for 10 days in the beginning of March and everything was so hectic I didn’t have a chance to make this post. But better late than never. February was a pretty fab month for reading. I didn’t read a lot but everything I read was GREAT.

February Wrap Up

Books Rated 5 Folded Pages:
Books Rated 4-4.5 Folded Pages:
Books Rated 3-3.5 Folded Pages:
Books Rated 2-2.5 Folded Pages:
  • None!
Books Rated 1-1.5 Folded Pages:
  • None!!
Books I’ve given up on (when I get 5 books total I’ll make another DNF post):

Total books for January: 7 (9 if you count my DNFs)

March To Be Read

This is a VERY loose TBR. In that, this is kind of what I’m planning on reading soon but in no means will go out of my way to read right now. I don’t want to feel pressured to read.

I finished exactly 1 thing on last month’s TBR and honestly I think even that is a bit of a feat.

Fantasy, romance, young adult

Book Review: An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

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Title: An Ember in the Ashes
Author: Sabaa Tahir
Publisher: Razorbill
Length: 464 Pages, Hardback
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Romance
Rating: 4 Folded Pages

Blurb:
Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free.

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.

It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.

But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.

There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

Review:
I’m not sure if something’s wrong with me or not but I think this book may have been overhyped. I definitely didn’t love it as much as others seem to. That’s not to say I didn’t like it but I’m not sure it deserves all of the glorifying it’s received since it came out.

I like Laia. She seems very real. She’s destined to save the world or something but she still has doubts about herself and her skills. I like that. I’ve had enough of the heroines who just decide they no longer have fear and suddenly have skills. It’s a breath of fresh air.

I also like Elias. He just wants to escape the hell he’s been forced into. He’s not really out to save the world or anything. He’s sweet but doesn’t know where he stands and I like that about him.

Honestly I love all the characters. From Cook to Izzi, to Keenan and even the Commandment because she’s evil but that kind of person exists in the real world and we even get to see bits of other sides of her.

Tahir does an amazing job with her characters honestly. I really enjoyed them all. Her writing is also beautiful.

So why don’t I love this?

I found it incredibly boring at some parts. I’m not exactly sure why either. The book was mostly action packed and yet there were certain parts where I was like oh my god is anything different going to happen.

As I write this, I’m realizing it might have to do with lengthy exposition. As much as I like Laia and Elias, I think Tahir may have spent too much time writing out their inner monologues that say the same things about the character over and over in different words. It was boring. There’s a reason one of the biggest pieces of writing advice is “show, don’t tell” and I think Tahir did a little too much telling sometimes.

Aside from this, I absolutely loved the book. I’m looking forward to the sequel. I’m also hoping it will be better. This was Tahir’s debut novel after all so I’m hoping she grows from book to book.

Fairytale Retelling, romance, science fiction, young adult

Book Review: Winter by Marissa Meyer

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Title: Winter (The Lunar Chronicles Book 4)
Author: Marissa Meyer
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Length: 832 Pages, Hardback
Genre: Science Fiction, Romance, Young Adult, Fairytale Retelling
Rating: 4 Folded Pages

See my review for the first 3 books in The Lunar Chronicles here.
Warning: This may contain spoilers for the first 3 books.

Blurb:
Princess Winter is admired by the Lunar people for her grace and kindness, and despite the scars that mar her face, her beauty is said to be even more breathtaking than that of her stepmother, Queen Levana.

Winter despises her stepmother, and knows Levana won’t approve of her feelings for her childhood friend–the handsome palace guard, Jacin. But Winter isn’t as weak as Levana believes her to be and she’s been undermining her stepmother’s wishes for years. Together with the cyborg mechanic, Cinder, and her allies, Winter might even have the power to launch a revolution and win a war that’s been raging for far too long.

Can Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter defeat Levana and find their happily ever afters? Fans will not want to miss this thrilling conclusion to Marissa Meyer’s national bestselling Lunar Chronicles series.

Review:
This was probably my most anticipated book of 2015. Unfortunately it came out during my great November/December reading slump so I didn’t get to it until this month. Mostly because the book was on hold for forever at my library.

This book is massive. The paper is just slightly thicker than bible paper and I think how big it is lends itself to why I found the book very stop and go with action. I found some parts weren’t actiony enough and other parts were almost too actiony.

The book is still a super satisfying ending to an amazing series but I almost wish it was split into two books and the action bits more detailed to help offset some of the slowness.

I both liked and disliked Winter. Some parts with her were very annoying but in others she was endearing. I don’t think she stands up well to the other characters in the series though. She falls kind of flat compared to Cress, Cinder, and Scarlet. Jason also seems very two dimensional.

I don’t want to give much away so that’s all I’ll say on the matter. I think Cinder is still my favorite book in the series and while this ending is satisfying I feel like it was missing something in the writing and I wish it would have had steadier pacing.