12.26.2015

December Favorites



FAVORITES MENTIONED

READING GLASSES
Original Penguin / The Les Glasses

TECH
Apple / iPad Mini 4

ORGANIZATION
Bullet Journaling
RinceyReads / How I Bullet Journal

YOUTUBE

12.24.2015

'Tis The Night Before Christmas, So What Should You Read?



I'll be the first to admit that these might not be the most original suggestions for the perfect Christmas reads. In fact, I've recommended most of them before! But that's only because these recommendations are engaging and family-friendly stories that are perfect for snuggling up for some reading on Christmas Eve or Day.


1. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe - C.S. Lewis
This might be the most obvious one on the list. I mean, just look at that cover! Probably the most famous volume of the Chronicles of Narnia, this is a perfect story to share with adults and children alike. Follow the Pevensie siblings through the wardrobe and into Narnia, a snowy world ruled by the White Witch. With their arrival, Christmas will finally return to the endlessly wintery land.

2. The Hobbit - J.R.R. Tolkien
Over the past four years or so, it has become a tradition for me to read something by J.R.R. Tolkien during December. Out of all of Tolkien's works, I personally think The Hobbit is the most wintery and appropriate for Christmas. It feels like a real, old fable and if your younger family members haven't yet heard the story, Christmas is the perfect time to introduce them to the tale of the little Hobbit that left his cozy hole and changed the world of Middle Earth forever.

3. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - J.K. Rowling
I'll say it yet again: almost any Harry Potter book will fit the bill for the perfect Christmas read. Rowling writes the most beautiful descriptions of Christmas time and I love that she focuses not on the presents, but on the friends and family that make the holiday truly magical. The Sorcerer's Stone has a particularly moving Christmas scene (it's Harry's first real Christmas ever), but I will always think of The Goblet of Fire in relation to winter and Christmas. Blame the Yule Ball!

4. A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
I would like to correct myself; A Christmas Carol is definitely the most obvious choice for Christmas! Almost everyone knows the tale of the infamous miser Scrooge and for those who don't, the text itself is relatively short, humorous, and easy to get through. Not to mention that it is a great way to discuss the true meaning of the holiday season with younger readers. Want to experience A Christmas Carol in a whole new way? Check out the New York Public Library's recording of Neil Gaiman giving a dramatic reading of the whole text!

12.11.2015

The Best of Vlogmas: 3 Ladies You Must Watch

As I start writing this post, I'm going to make an assumption about you, nameless reader, and that assumption is that you are an Internet-savvy sort of person. You are reading this blog, aren't you?

Now, if you're an Internet person like me and spend a significant amount of your free time on YouTube, you probably already know what Vlogmas is. For those of you who don't, let me explain: Vlogmas is the abbreviated term for a project in which people vlog every day until Christmas, starting the first of December. It seems that every year more content creators participate in the event and with so many videos out there, it can be a little overwhelming.

So I went ahead and narrowed it down to my three favorite people to watch this Vlogmas. Yes, I realize these videos don't represent the widest slice of of life (all three are British women), but these are my genuine favorites and the videos I look forward to watching every single day of Vlogmas.



1. Lily / LilyPebbles

If you're looking for the best of the more "traditional" Vlogmas videos (it was started by lifestyle and beauty vloggers), then Lily is your girl. She is a beauty and lifestyle blogger and vlogger and her Vlogmas videos share life behind the scenes. She works on decorating her new flat, shows her viewers around London, and eats amazing looking food. And for a cuteness bonus, the family puppy and her little nieces and nephews make regular appearances.



2. Jen / Jen Campbell

I have previously referred to Jen as the "fairy godmother of Booktube" and her Vlogmas videos are living up to that title. Author, poet, bookseller, and book lover extraordinaire, Jen's videos so far have included a bookish Christmas gift guide, a collection of beautiful children's books, and her thoughts on all of the books she read in November. My personal favorite has been her weekly vlog. As an aspiring writer myself, I loved getting a peak at what exactly an author does all day and, as Jen reveals, that's quite a lot!



3. Rosianna / Rosianna Halse Rojas

Rosianna has probably the most unconventional Vlogmas videos of the three, which is actually why she is one of my favorites. A Brit who moved this past year to Indianapolis, Indiana, Rosianna's videos seem pretty simple. She shares her love of vegan food, Taylor Swift, and cruelty-free makeup. She shares book and movie reviews as well as snippets of her ever day life. What sets Rosianna apart and makes her the unique vlogger that she is is her honesty. She is very open about her struggles with food, body image, and depression. That may sound dreary but, trust me, Rosianna is actually a breath of fresh air in my day. She is a deep thinker and even her daily vlogs include discussions about topics that most female twenty-somethings will find compelling and oh-so relevant.


Those are my picks for this year's best Vlogmas vloggers. Thankfully, all three lovely ladies are super organized and have created playlists for Vlogmas 2015, which I have linked above. Grab a drink and a snack because I expect you'll be unable to watch just one video. So happy watching and happy holidays!

12.04.2015

Slowly / November Playlist





  1. Let A Good Thing Grow / The Hill and Wood
  2. I Met Up With The King / First Aid Kit
  3. Could've Sworn / The Brendan Hines
  4. Little Room / Norah Jones
  5. Wiser / Old Man Canyon
  6. Small Mistakes / The Brendan Hines
  7. The First Time / The Hill and Wood
  8. Heavy Storm / First Aid Kit


12.01.2015

What I Learned from NaNoWriMo 2015







Today is the first of December, which means that another year of NaNoWriMo has come and gone. Back when I filmed my NaNoWriMo Tag video, I was full of inspiration and felt ready to seriously buckle down and get writing.

Unfortunately, as you can see by my stats above, I wasn't exactly successful. I obviously did not make my 50,000 word goal. I didn't even get halfway there! But I refuse to look at this experience as a failure, because I actually learned quite a bit about myself and how I write best.


1. I'm a writing marathoner, not a sprinter. 
I did my best writing when I had several hours, or even a whole day just to sit and dedicate to my NaNo project. It was a lot harder for me to get anything written if I was just sitting down at the end of the day for a couple of hours. I think this is mainly because it took me a little while to get warmed up and into the groove of writing.

2. I'm a method writer.
By this I mean that I found it easiest to write when I was totally absorbed in the world of my story. My story was fantasy set in medieval Japan, so that meant I was listening to a lot of Studio Ghibli soundtracks and watching Japanese cultural documentaries and anime. This might sound very weird, but I now know that it is difficult for me to write genre fiction while consuming other genres through movies or television.

3. I distract myself.
My worst distractions did not involve tv shows I'd rather be watching, games I'd rather be playing, or browsing Tumblr. Instead, my biggest problem was my own brain, which seemed keen to keep skipping way too far ahead in the story. This made it difficult to focus on the section I was actually writing and is definitely something I need to work on if I plan to keep writing seriously in the future.

All in all, I actually felt like I had a fairly productive NaNoWriMo even though I didn't make my word goal. Most importantly, I feel far more inspired and motivated than discouraged and hope to get the first draft of this novel completed by the end of the year so that I can start revising and polishing it into the detailed story it is in my head.

How did you all do with your NaNoWriMo goals? Did you learn anything about your own writing styles and habits?

11.02.2015

The NaNoWriMo Tag





It's November, which means it's finally NaNoWriMo time! Just in case you have never heard of NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, it is a challenge in which thousands of people around the world attempt to write 50,000 words of a novel draft in the thirty days of November.

I couldn't be more excited to participate this year and plan on doing weekly update posts here on the blog throughout the month.

If you would like to join me and be my reading buddy, you can find my NaNo profile HERE.

10.31.2015

October Wanderings







For someone who normally sleeps in and takes it pretty easy on the weekends, I had quite a bit going on last weekend. I went to a Halloween themed concert and then drove to a completely different part of the state. I'd say that counts as a busy weekend.

I've been to Kern County before, but it never ceases to amaze me that such a different landscape and such a different lifestyle exists just four hours from my Southern California home. It really just reminds me how big and diverse of a state California is and that I should be so incredibly grateful to live here.

Wishing you all a safe and fun Halloween weekend!

10.28.2015

Creepy Reads for Halloween





HALLOWEEN RECOMMENDATIONS
Mary Shelley / Frankenstein
Nathaniel Hawthorne / Young Goodman Brown / The Birthmark / Roger Malvin's Burial
Henry James / The Turn of the Screw
Original fairy tales
Charlotte Bronte / Jane Eyre
E. B. Hudspeth / The Resurrectionist
Chuck Palaniuk / Fight Club

10.26.2015

My Jane Austen Collection





Happy Monday, everyone! If you are reading this, then I am currently somewhere in the Mojave desert on an impromptu work trip. That unfortunately means no "new" content from me today, but I did forget to post my most recent video, My Jane Austen Collection, last week.

So here you go, a little Austen goodness to tide you over. Hope you all had a fantastic weekend!

10.23.2015

Wild One / October Playlist





  1. Rebel / Beach Weather
  2. Wake Up / Arcade Fire
  3. Salesman At The Day Of The Parade / Rogue Wave
  4. Throw It Away / Kina Grannis
  5. On the Bus Mall / The Decemberists
  6. Mykonos / Fleet Foxes
  7. I'll Never Leave You / Rogue Wave
  8. Oh Father / Kina Grannis
  9. Wolf / Beach Weather
  10. Come Back Home / We Are The In Crowd

10.09.2015

September Favorites



FAVORITES MENTIONED

MOVIE
The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

MUSIC
Daniel Pemberton / The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Soundtrack
My September Playlist / Old School

DAY TRIP

BOOKTUBE VIDEOS

10.02.2015

A Quick Note About #YearofMiyazaki

Happy Friday, friends!

Today I just have a quick note about my Year of Miyazaki project. As of right now, at the beginning of October, I have only watched and made a discussion video about one Studio Ghibli film. Because of all the changes that ended up happening midway through 2015, I actually kind of forgot I was doing this project. With 20 films I have yet to watch, I don't think this is a project I will be able to complete in 2015.

So I've decided to push this out to 2016, rather than canceling the whole thing. I'll still be watching all of Studio Ghibli's filmography, just not right now.

That's all I have to share for this quick update. Have a great weekend everyone!

9.26.2015

A Necessary End | Holly Brown







TITLE / A Necessary End

AUTHOR / Holly Brown

PUBLISHER / William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins

DATE OF PUBLICATION / July 7, 2015

NO. OF PAGES / 386

STARRED RATING / ★.5


Within the pages of Holly Brown's A Necessary End, I discovered some of the most twisted characters I've yet to encounter.

Meet Adrienne and Gabe, a couple that has been together since high school and now lives in California's Bay Area. Gabe is a car salesman and Adrienne teaches at a local elementary school, but their seemingly happy life is darkened by the fact that they are unable to have children of their own. Adrienne has become obsessed with finding a baby she can call her own and makes contact with a potential birth mother, the beautiful nineteen year old Leah. Despite a previous bad experience with a birth mother, Adrienne is convinced that Leah is the one and opens up their home to the girl, even when Leah lays down some pretty shocking conditions.

Meanwhile Gabe, still haunted by his younger brother's suicide, isn't so sure he's interested in becoming a father. Not that his feelings really matter, because Adrienne is determined to get Leah's baby, no matter the cost.

All of the characters in this book are sickening in their selfishness and obsessive behavior. Adrienne is completely single minded to the point that she is willing to throw away her relationship with Gabe and ruin Leah if it means finally getting the baby she's always wanted. Gabe is a middle-aged man with a juvenile mindset, who can't seem to understand why Adrienne would want to throw away their life of weekends at the casino and nights of streamy sex. And Leah, well, that girl was trouble from the second she walked in. You just didn't know exactly how it was going to manifest.

I think part of what makes this novel so scary is that these characters and situations actually seem plausible. There are women out there who want children so badly that they're willing to do practically anything, and there are men who couldn't care less. Even more sadly, there are horrible people willing to prey on these weaknesses. Holly Brown has done a fantastic job of writing characters that are horrifying in their realness.

There were, however, a couple of places where this novel fell flat for me. The first was the seemingly endless descriptions of poker games. Maybe it's because I'm not a card player myself, but I found the lengthy passages describing specific poker moves and strategies so incredibly boring that I eventually started skimming those passages.

Secondly, the ending was entirely disappointing. Holly Brown did such a fantastic job of creating suspense and constantly throwing a wrench in the different character's plans, but in the end I felt she rushed through the ending and it showed. We ended up with one of those nice little endings were things are suspiciously happy and almost all the loose ends are all tied up. I hate endings like that generally, and this one was just so unplausible and out of character that it significantly lowered my opinion of the novel.

All in all, A Necessary End is a unique twist on a pyschological thriller that definitely had me creeped out at every turn. I, for one, would never want any of these people to be left alone with a baby.

Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I was not paid to review or feature the book, and this review is my 100% honest opinion. This is not a sponsored post.

9.22.2015

Battleship USS Iowa


When my family asked what I wanted to do for my birthday, I said something different. So what did they come up with? They took me to visit the Battleship USS Iowa in Los Angeles!

It might sound a little odd, but it was honestly a great time, despite the near 100 degree heat. They offer a fantastic self-guided tour that teaches you a lot of history about not just the battleship, but about the experience of men who served on the ship in different periods of history. So if you're interested in American or military history, or just want a chance to climb all over a historic battleship, I would highly recommend a visit!















9.18.2015

Old School / September Playlist





  1. The Girl from Impanema / Nat King Cole
  2. The Lady is a Tramp / Frank Sinatra
  3. Rumor Has It / Adele
  4. Jimmy, Renda-se / Tom Ze & Valdez
  5. Sway (Quien Sera) / Dean Martin
  6. Come Fly With Me / Frank Sinatra
  7. Bust Your Knee Caps / Pomplamoose
  8. Take Care of Business / Nina Simone
  9. Lovesong / Adele
  10. L-O-V-E / Nat King Cole

9.11.2015

The Millennium Trilogy / What I Love About Lisbeth Salandar




Last week I finally finished The Girl who Kicked the Hornet's Nest and completed the Stieg Larsson's original Millennium Trilogy. And if I'm honest, I already miss it.

I remember when these books first hit shelves, mainly because of the hype around the mysterious character Lisbeth Salandar. She was skinny, sexually ambiguous, tattooed, and antisocial. She was a genius with computers with fuzzy moral standards and an uncanny ability to kick the crap out of men twice her size.

In a word, Salandar was spectacular and the genre had yet to see anyone like her.

Of course, there is more to love about Larsson's novels than one kick-ass character. I also personally love that Blomkvist was a journalist, partially because I love the idea of writers being in the thick of the mystery and partially because it allowed Larsson to add that oh so popular crime-fighting civilian while avoiding all of the potential pitfalls of the trope. Blomkvist's crazy investigative skills and impressive contacts could be explained away by his profession instead of creating all kinds of problematic plot holes.

I also have a bit of a love/hate relationship with Larsson's writing. When he goes on and on about some political history or introduces yet another new character with a complex background that he wants to discuss in detail, I do find myself drifting a bit. Sometimes, he verged on over-informing, on over-explaining. And yet when he stops in the middle of a gripping legal scene to describe in detail how Blomkvist and the others take their coffee, I am hooked. I didn't even realize how tense and suspenseful the novel was until I finished it at three in the morning with a horrid feeling of "That's it?"

However, I think that what I like the most about the Millennium Trilogy is that Lisbeth gets herself into trouble and then gets herself back out of it. Although at first it seems Blomkvist will be the one to save Salandar - he is the one that does all the research, running around, and reputation-shattering writing and publishing, after all - ultimately, he cannot finish the job without Salandar's unique set of skills. And thus, in a series of novels so concerned with society's treatment of women, Salandar proves to be strong enough to help out the male Blomkvist and chooses to save herself.

Now Blomkvist and Salandar's adventures have been picked up by a rather brave man, the journalist David Lagercrantz. His first Millennium novel (because I think it's safe to say that the original trilogy stands on its own), The Girl in the Spider's Web, came out earlier this month and I cannot wait to dive back into the world Larsson first created. Of course, I think I'll have to wait awhile to distance myself from Larsson's last novel.

If the passionate ramblings above are any indicator, I think Lagercrantz has some very large shoes to fill.

8.28.2015

Ease / August Playlist





  1. We the Monsters / Her Heels
  2. Tennis System / Esoteric
  3. Dayplayer / Caveman
  4. Rogue Wave / Per Anger
  5. BRONCHO / Class Historian
  6. Tennis System / The Summer After
  7. Dayplayer / Peak
  8. Rogue Wave / Bird On A Wire
  9. We the Monsters / Message to Home

8.26.2015

Bout of Books Wrap Up



DAILY CHALLENGES
I only completed the first two challenges, which you can find in my readathon check-in post.

READING ACCOMPLISHED
Fudoki / Kij Johnson
To Kill A Mockingbird / Harper Lee
55 pages of Teach Us to Outgrow Our Madness / Kenzaburo Oe


8.22.2015

Fudoki | Kij Johnson






TITLE / Fudoki

AUTHOR / Kij Johnson

PUBLISHER / Tor Books

DATE OF PUBLICATION / October 1, 2004

NO. OF PAGES / 316

STARRED RATING / 


This is fantasy as I've never read it before.

Kij Johnson's Fudoki follows an aging imperial princess Harueme as she clears out her belongings so that she can retire to a monastery to live out her final days. As her attendant Shigeko sorts through trinkets, robes, and burns old notebooks full of writing, Harueme writes down the story of a young cat and the adventure that sends her away from her home in the capital and on a long journey to the other end of the empire. As Harueme also muses on her own life and her past encounters with her one love, a guard from a far off province named Domei, she writes a story that has our little cat girl facing kami (gods) and having to readjust to life after mysteriously turning into a human woman called Kagaya-hime.

When I first heard about this over on Mercedes' YouTube channel, I immediately added it to my to read list. I didn't know much about the plot, other than the obvious based on the cover. But I have honestly never encountered fantasy quite like this before, and now that I've written that out I'm starting to wonder if this should be more correctly classified as historical fiction, or historical fantasy. The story felt so authentic and seamless that it was easy to see that the author did her research and did it well.

The tale Harueme tells of Kagaya-hime is so compelling not only because of the tragedy the young cat faces and overcomes, but because of how it serves as a reflection and extension of Harueme's own life. One of the great takeaways for me was how much this novel reveals about court life in 12th century Japan, particularly that of a woman. There is a heart-breaking passage where Harueme, recalling her brief attempt to run away from the court and her would-be husband, admits:

"walking is hard. It had been twenty? twenty-five? years since I had walked with vigor; and then I'd been a girl" (254).

This about broke my heart. Harueme's life has been one of confinement and constant scrutiny, never more than earshot away from her attendants or a screen away from a man who would share her bed. She has never really seen the streets of the capital, let alone the different provinces or roads throughout the empire. It really is no wonder that she would craft a tale about a little cat who becomes a woman that is completely independent and able to not only fend for herself, but can actually best men at their own sport of war.

In addition to the plot and characters, Kij Johnson's writing is a joy in itself. She manages to capture the very soft, lyrical quality that is characteristic of Japanese literature, making Fudoki read like an authentic Japanese myth rather than a work of modern fiction. The pacing is also quite similar to Japanese literature; the plot is gripping, yet the pace is as steady as Kagaya-hime as she journeys on the Tokaido. Although I found I could put this down for hours at a time without feeling the burning desire to pick it up again, the novel also continued to linger in the back of my mind and I never really stopped thinking about it.

All in all, I am glad that Kij Johnson has written another novel in this same universe (The Fox Woman), because I don't think I'm ready to leave it entirely. Fudoki is definitely one of the best books I have read all year.

8.20.2015

Bout of Books 14 Progress Check

Hello, fellow readers! Welcome to my Bout of Books 14 progress check. I'll be the first to admit, I haven't been doing the best job reading this week, even though that's the point of participating in the readathon. Even though I haven't had that much work, I keep finding something else that needs to be done or captures my attention. So reading wise, I don't have too much to report.

READING ACCOMPLISHED
Fudoki / Kij Johnson / read the last 114 pages
To Kill a Mockingbird / Harper Lee / as of 8:30 p.m., read up through page 185
Total Page Count So Far = 299 pages

I'm starting to wonder if To Kill a Mockingbird was a bad choice for a readathon, because I have been reading it in shorter spurts than I normally read, say, more contemporary novels. But I just kept thinking about it and I highly doubt I'd be able to focus on anything else. Just because I like being a tease, I won't say how I'm enjoying it so far. That'll have to wait for my readathon wrap up.

I've also participated in some of the challenges, though I honestly haven't done much better than in my reading. I missed the challenges for days 2 and 3, but enjoyed doing the day 1 and 4 challenges quite a bit!

CHALLENGES ACCOMPLISHED

Day 1 - Fictional World Travel
1. Northanger Abbey / Jane Austen / England
2. Things Fall Apart / Chinua Achebe / Nigeria
3. A Book of Common Prayer / Joan Didion / fictional "Boca Grande" in South America
4. The Girl Who Played with Fire / Stieg Larsson / Sweden & Eastern Europe
5. The Yellow Birds / Kevin Powers / Iraq
6. The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet / David Mitchell / Japan


Day 4 - Four Seasons Book Covers
Winter / Ranger's Apprentice Book 3: The Icebound Land / John Flanagan
Spring / The Awakening / Kate Chopin
Summer / The Island of the Blue Dolphins / Scott O'Dell
Fall / The Hobbit / J.R.R. Tolkien

And that's all I've got to share, folks! I will, of course, be sharing a wrap up video some time next week. Until then, what have you been reading?

8.19.2015

Shortcomings | Adrian Tomine







TITLE / Shortcomings

AUTHOR / Adrian Tomine

PUBLISHER / Drawn and Quarterly

DATE OF PUBLICATION / October 2, 2007

NO. OF PAGES / 108

STARRED RATING / ★★★



8.14.2015

Bookish Instagrams You Need to be Following


Nicole shares her love of all things bookish across several different platforms, namely this Instagram account and her blog. She's even started making BookTube videos! If you like all things nerdy, beautiful composition (think a Tumblr inspired), and books upon books upon books, I would definitely suggest you check Nicole out in one of her capacities!


Although this is a relatively new bookish Instagram account, it is honestly one of my favorite. The photography features mainly literary fiction in beautiful compositions and situations. What makes this account different from all the others, however, is that each picture is accompanied by a brief and equally beautiful mini review. Or, maybe I should call them tiny because, you know, TinyBookReviews! And yes, I'm aware that my humor is painful.



If you like pictures of bookshelves, Ashley is your girl. Also the brilliant mind behind the identically named Climb The Stacks BookTube channel, Ashley mostly shares pictures of library and bookstore shelves and stacks of the books featured in her upcoming videos. My favorite part of her Instagram account, however, is the pictures she takes of the books she brings with her on her many hiking adventures.

Obviously, there are so many more book-related Instagram accounts out there; these are just some of my current favorites. Hopefully I'll be making more of these posts in the future, but I'd love your help.

What are your favorite bookish Instagram accounts?

8.07.2015

Bout of Books 14

Bout of Books

You gotta love summer readathons! This past week was the Booktube-A-Thon and in little more than a week's time, Bout of Books 14 will get under way. This is my first time "officially" participating with an announcement post and everything, but this is a readathon that I have followed for the last few years with enthusiasm.

If you'd like to sign up for Bout of Books yourself, head over to the Bout of Books blog. If you want more information on what Bout of Books is all about, see the blurb below.

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, August 17th and runs through Sunday, August 23rd in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 14 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog.
--From the Bout of Books team

TBR coming soon!

8.03.2015

July Reading Wrap Up




BOOKS READ
1Q84 / Haruki Murakami
The Gate / Natsume Soseki
Manhattan Mayhem / Mystery Writers of America, edited by Mary Higgins Clark

CURRENTLY READING
Shortcomings / Adrian Tomine

8.02.2015

Road Trip Reads


I went on a very brief and rather impromptu road trip this weekend for a family event up in San Francisco. It's about an eight to ten hour drive on a good day, which means that I pack quite a few different things to keep me entertained. I made a video about this a few years ago but today I thought I'd share what I'm bringing with me this time.







First of all, the books! I am only going to be gone three days but, given that I can be quite the indecisive reader, I brought two of the books I recently took out of the library (and my Kindle). That might seem like overkill, especially once I talk about the rest of what I'm bringing, but that's just how I roll.

I'm also bringing along my computer because I have quite a few videos filmed that need editing. If I can find a good internet connection along the way, I won't hesitate to upload! And last but certainly not least, I've packed the seriously long outline and rough draft of my current writing project. Hopefully being stuck in the car will inspire me to make some progress!

7.29.2015

The Gate | Natsume Soseki






TITLE / The Gate

AUTHOR / Natsume Soseki

PUBLISHER / NYRB Classics

DATE OF PUBLICATION / Dec 4, 2012 (Originally published in 1910)

NO. OF PAGES / 256

STARRED RATING / ★★★.5




If you like beautifully written novels where nothing much happens, this is the book for you.

Natsume Soseki's The Gate tells the story of Sosuke and his wife Oyone as they live quiet and uneventful lives on the outskirts of early 20th century Tokyo society. The couple already lives a life of little comfort when they find themselves suddenly burdened with supporting Koroku, Sosuke's younger brother, through the rest of his schooling. The novel follows about a year in the life of the young couple as they take in Koroku, continue their basic daily routines, and revel in each other's presence.

And that's about it. Something I learned about myself while reading this novel is that I actually really enjoy fiction with the very basic plot of just following someone's everyday life. The Gate's plot is brilliant in its ordinaryness, breathtaking in its quiet happenings. For some reason, it actually reminded me quite a bit of Jane Austen's Emma. The main action in this novel is the entrance and exit of new and different characters while the main character's daily life doesn't actually change that much.

Soseki somehow makes everything seem beautiful and poetic, from huddling around a brazier to changing clothes to Sosuke clipping his nails in the very last scene. Like the other Japanese literature I've read, Soseki's writing is so descriptive and yet simultaneously so subtle, and I now wonder if all those more modern writers learned this from Soseki himself.

I will say I wasn't completely enthralled with certain plot decisions, such as Sosuke's sudden decision to up and visit a Zen monastery. That whole section felt oddly disjointed and out of place and jerked me out of the world of the novel entirely. But as a whole I think this is a beautiful work that I would recommend to someone interested in getting to learn more about Japanese literature and Japanese culture.

7.24.2015

Sunkissed / July Playlist




  1. Fall Out Boy / Fourth of July
  2. Lorde / World Alone
  3. Fun. / Out On The Town
  4. The Postal Service / Such Great Heights
  5. AMBER / Heights
  6. Cody Simpson / Pretty Brown Eyes
  7. BTS / Miss Right
  8. Fall Out Boy / Favorite Record
  9. AMBER / I Just Wanna (Feat. Eric Nam)
  10. BIGBANG / We Like 2 Party
  11. We Are The In Crowd / Come Back Home

7.22.2015

1Q84 | Haruki Murakami






TITLE / 1Q84

AUTHOR / Haruki Murakami

PUBLISHER / Knopf

YEAR OF PUBLICATION / 2010

NO. OF PAGES / 925

STARRED RATING / ★★★.5



7.18.2015

Books as Memories (Or, Why I Will Always Love Physical Books)







Ebooks or physical books? This is not a new discussion in the age of Kindles and digital editions of our favorite novels. Even so, this was never something I ever really thought much about. But in the past few months I've taken to borrowing Kindle editions of books from my library and I've had plenty of opportunity to decide which reading experience I prefer.

Convenience
Obviously, an e-reader wins when it comes to convenience. If you have an ereader, you have direct access to so many books. You can purchase them from so many different online stores or borrow them from your library's digital collection. You can travel with a whole library at your fingertips and yet so much more room in your bags.

Ease of Use
I'm sure we've all had that embarrassing and painful experience of using your phone while lying on your back, only to drop it right on your face. I can speak from experience that this experience is even worse when it's a 400-plus page book you're dropping on yourself. Kindles and other e-readers quite literally streamline the reading process by encapsulating thousands of chunky texts in a slim tablet. When I lived in San Francisco, my Kindle completely revolutionized my public transportation experience. It's much easier to hang from a handhold on the bus and turn the page on a Kindle than to try and flip through a worn out paper back. If you have bad eyes, you have the option to enlarge the text and if you like to annotate, you can do so without worrying about losing your pencil.

Books as Memories
Having said all that, it may seem like I am writing an advertisement for the Kindle or, at the very least, prefer ebooks to physical books. That could not be more wrong. Regardless of convenience or how easy reading becomes with an e-reader, I will always have a strong love for physical books as little memory objects.

While an ebook is simply a bunch of pixels and coding that happen to come together to tell a story, all of my physical books bear physical scars of each reading. Most of my books have worn looking spines and many also contain notes and doodles in the margins. Dog ears and sticky notes run wild. But most importantly, each mark and fold is a physical reminder of the time and place where I consumed that story.

What do you think? Do you prefer ebooks or physical books, and why?



6.27.2015

Life Changes... And Goes On













Why, hello there! It's been a while.

The last two months have been interesting, to say the least. I made a couple of big life decisions and moved, again. I won't really go into it here because that's not what this blog is about, but I will say that I feel lighter, happier, and like my life is moving in the right direction again.

This greater life change has inspired me to be more honest with myself and make the corresponding changes to other areas of my life. And that includes making some changes to this blog.

I had a lot of fun writing beauty and lifestyle posts but ultimately, that's not what I'm passionate about or enjoy discussing. "They" say to write what you know, so I've decided to convert this over to a blog about books and reading. I will be keeping some of my current features, such as monthly favorites and #YearOfMiyazaki, but for the most part my content will completely transition over to be more in line with my YouTube channel.

It may seem a little dramatic to dedicate an entire post to this transition, especially given that I have a very small audience at this point, so I'll cut myself off now. All you really need to know is that some things will be disappearing and in the future there will be less skincare, and more books.

Wishing you all clarity of mind and happy reading.

Marisa

4.03.2015

March Favorites



FAVORITES MENTIONED

MUSIC
Band / Tennis System
Kpop / BTS / 4Minute

ART
Lyra Aquarelle Watercolor Pencils

FOOD
Blue Diamond Vanilla Almond Breeze Almond Milk

YOUTUBERS
Lily / LilyPebbles

BEAUTY & SKINCARE
Mask / Skin Food Hydro Fitting Seaweed Mask Sheet

3.15.2015

#YearofMiyazaki and The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness




If you guys haven't been able to tell already, I like to have multiple projects going at the same time. It keeps life interesting and I can honestly say I don't remember the last time I actually felt bored or like I had nothing to do.

A new project I'm starting this year over on my YouTube channel is my Year of Miyazaki (#yearofmiyazaki). I have been a fan of Studio Ghibli films since I was a kid; in fact, I think it's safe to say that Studio Ghibli played an even bigger role in my young life than Disney movies did. With #yearofmiyazaki I'm attempting to watch all of Studio Ghibli's full length films in 2015. I'll be working my way through the list above and have decided to just pull names out of a jar because I was finding it too difficult to pick which order I was going to watch them in. I just recently decided that I'd like to get as many people involved as possible, and so I'll be posting the discussion videos here on the blog as well!

A couple of weeks ago, I decided to kick off the project by watching the 2014 documentary The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness. It's an absolutely beautiful and fascinating documentary that I have to admit I've actually watched more than once by this point.

In case you'd like to do the project with me, I'll be watching Kiki's Delivery Service next!