Sunday, 22 May 2016

SST Review: Genius - The Game by Leopoldo Gout + GIVEAWAY!

Sunday Street Team was created by Nori @ ReadWriteLove28! For more info, click here

Genius: The Game (ARC)
By: Leopoldo Gout
Pages: 304
Published: May 3rd, 2016
Published by: Feiwel & Friends
Format: e-ARC
Source: Publisher for SST
My Rating: 4/5 stars
Sypnosis:
"Trust no one. Every camera is an eye. Every microphone an ear. Find me and we can stop him together.

The Game: Get ready for Zero Hour as 200 geniuses from around the world go head to head in a competition hand-devised by India's youngest CEO and visionary.

The Players:
Rex- One of the best programmers/hackers in the world, this 16-year-old Mexican-American is determined to find his missing brother.
Tunde-This 14-year-old self-taught engineering genius has drawn the attention of a ruthless military warlord by single-handedly bringing electricity and internet to his small Nigerian village.
Painted Wolf-One of China's most respected activist bloggers, this mysterious 16-year-old is being pulled into the spotlight by her father's new deal with a corrupt Chinese official.

The Stakes: Are higher than you can imagine. Like life and death. Welcome to the revolution. And get ready to run."

___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___. ___, ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___, ___ ___, "___ ___ ___ ___, ___ ___. ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ I just ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___."

Add GENIUS: THE GAME to Goodreads right here!

This review for Genius: The Game is posted as part of the Sunday Street Team hosted by Nori @ ReadWriteLove28! More more info on the street team, click here. Thank you to Nori and the publisher for sending me a copy to read in exchange for an honest review!

Like always, I’m always excited to start new books. It’s been awhile since I’ve read a lighter book, so I was super excited for a chance to take a break from brooding teens and such to read this one, which from the synopsis alone had me thinking of the fun it would include. The promise was quite fulfilled and with that I rate Genius: The Game with a 4/5 stars.

This book was a whirlwind from the start. Reading the synopsis, alone, had me absolutely hooked. I’m a huge sucker for competition, in general, but in books, it can have my heartbeat racing as if I were actually running a marathon. And even though it was much more of a competition of wits and innovation, I was still intrigued at how the main characters were going to end up winning. The Game was an interesting set of challenges that will for sure have you trying to figure out the puzzle for yourself.

Secondly, I absolutely loved the characters. Rex was funny, yet so caring that I wanted to hug him; Tunde was the genius I’ve always wanted to be; and Painted Wolf was basically my favourite character ever and everything I aspire to be. Not only was the cast of characters epically diverse, but they were so distinct from each other, each of them had different motives for why they wanted to be in the game. The writing of their voices had their own quirks and was absolutely hilarious at times.

Their friendship with each other (aka via internet most of the tie) reminded me of the friendship I share with a lot of people which are exclusively online. The moment where they all finally met made me tear up a little because I know exactly how they felt when they finally got to meet their friend in person. They worked so well with each other to try and win the game, they complement each other so well.

Lastly, I loved the little twists with the villain and their motives because it wasn’t exactly what I thought it was going to be. It took me by surprise, but was still completely reasonable. The ending was a little unclear, especially without a sequel planned, but I think it summed up the end of that particular journey with the characters.

Final Verdict:
Genius: The Game was an epic novel with really diverse characters. This competition will have you flying through the pages and trying to find out what happens next. I recommend this novel for those who love competitions, and really great friendships! 

Giveaway!

About the Author:
Leopoldo Gout is the producer behind many films including Days of Grace, which A.O. Scott of the New York Times called "a potent and vigorous film." He is also a writer, artist, and filmmaker. Leopoldo is currently involved in various film and television projects including major adaptations of the Alex Cross series, with the author James Patterson and the upcoming film adaption of Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life.

Will you be reading Genius: The Game?

Sunday, 15 May 2016

SST Review: OUTRUN THE MOON by Stacey Lee + 3 GIVEAWAYS!

Sunday Street Team was created by Nori @ ReadWriteLove28! For more info, click here!

Outrun the Moon (ARC)
By: Stacey Lee
Pages: 400
Published: May 24th, 2016
Published by: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
Format: e-ARC
Source: Publisher for SST
My Rating: 5/5 stars
Sypnosis:
"San Francisco, 1906: Fifteen-year-old Mercy Wong is determined to break from the poverty in Chinatown, and an education at St. Clare’s School for Girls is her best hope. Although St. Clare’s is off-limits to all but the wealthiest white girls, Mercy gains admittance through a mix of cunning and a little bribery, only to discover that getting in was the easiest part. Not to be undone by a bunch of spoiled heiresses, Mercy stands strong—until disaster strikes.

On April 18, an historic earthquake rocks San Francisco, destroying Mercy’s home and school. With martial law in effect, she is forced to wait with her classmates for their families in a temporary park encampment. Mercy can't sit by while they wait for the Army to bring help. Fires might rage, and the city may be in shambles, yet Mercy still has the 'bossy' cheeks that mark her as someone who gets things done. But what can one teenaged girl do to heal so many suffering in her broken city?"


Add OUTRUN THE MOON to Goodreads right here!

This review for Outrun the Moon is posted as part of the Sunday Street Team hosted by Nori @ ReadWriteLove28! More more info on the street team, click here. Thank you to Nori and the publisher for sending me a copy to read in exchange for an honest review!

Stacey Lee is one of those authors that came to my attention during a Twitter chat that was raising awareness of diversity in books. When I learned she wrote diverse characters, specifically Asian MCs, I was instantly craving for want because as Chinese myself, I find it so rare to see Asians in YA novels. So, when I heard Outrun the Moon was coming out, it easily became one of my most anticipated novels of 2016. My luck was even better when I was able to take the opportunity to participate in this SST hosted by Nori! Featuring a strong and diverse female character and the very real struggles of living in old Chinatown, I rate Outrun the Moon with an awesome 5/5 stars!

First of all, like many others, I’m not a huge historical fiction reader, but when I do end up reading the genre, I love it. The best thing about this book is how it blends the history with fiction to make it the best sort of historical fiction in my honest opinion.

Mercy Wong is the epitome of what I love in a character. She’s quick-witted, persevering, strong-willed, and very caring. Chinese aside, I could identify with her in so many ways. Like her, I will try and try again to achieve my goals which often are for the benefit for my whole family which she and I also care deeply for. Throughout the novel, she is hilarious when speaking her thoughts and is constantly trying to make the best of each scenario which is something I admire since I can never quite do.

Also, the historical accuracies in this novel are 💯💯💯💯💯💯💯👌👌👌. My great grandfather lived in a Chinatown in Canada during the same time period, and the stories my grandfather used to tell me fit right into what Mercy and the other Chinese people had to experience in San Francisco’s Chinatown. The novel does no such thing to hide the white supremacy and condescending looks people would cast at those who were Chinese, and the accuracy of it was so on-point at times I had to constantly remind myself that while so much has improved, this still happens to some people all over the world and really needs to be stopped. Also, I loved how the novel went into detail about Mercy’s life and what that was like because I really loved the little references to Chinese culture. I could relate to it so much.

I also really loved Outrun the Moon for its great female friendships that Mercy developed while at St. Clare’s. The group of friends were so unlikely, but they worked so well with each other! It was so cute and, in a way, it reminded me of my own friends, in the sense that we help and stick by each other no matter what. I thought the characters were all written really well.

Lastly, the writing is absolutely spectacular. Stacey Lee has this way of writing such poetic sentences that really speak to the reader. It really works with the Chinese idioms/saying of which Mercy constantly quotes from her mother. They provide lots of encouragement and add lots of beauty to this story.

Final Verdict:
Outrun the Moon was a fantastic heart-breaking story of hope and seeing the beauty in dark situations. I will constantly be recommending it for it has such a great Chinese female character who is an inspiration for everything I want to be. She doesn’t let society define her for what she is on the outside, and sets off to prove almost everyone wrong. If you love diverse books with great friendships and historical fiction, Outrun the Moon by Stacey Lee is the one for you.

Giveaways!

For full information about the rules for these giveaways, please refer to this post right here!

The San Francisco Getaway:  


The Show Me San Francisco:  


The Hand Knit Shawl:  


About the Author:
Stacey Lee is a fourth generation Californian with roots in San Francisco Chinatown. Born in Southern California, she graduated from UCLA then got her law degree at UC Davis King Hall. She has lots of experience with earthquakes, having skinned her knees more times than she wants to remember diving under tables. One day she hopes to own a hypoallergenic horse and live by the sea. See what she's up to on Twitter & Instagram: @staceyleeauthor. 

Will you be reading Outrun the Moon?

Saturday, 7 May 2016

Star Wars and Me

 
Star Wars and I have a pretty close relationship. Like books, the Star Wars saga have once been my saviour when things turned dark. So, I was absolutely ecstatic when I heard there was going to be a new Star Wars movies and literally couldn't wait for it or May 4th this year. Not only is it my brother’s birthday, but it’s also Star Wars day, and let me just say that I had an awesome time geeking out. But let's rewind to the origin of my Star Wars love.

My dad has always been a huge fan of the original trilogy and after I was born, the prequel trilogy was just coming out in theatres. So at the mere age of 3 (or whenever I started to understand things), I was already exposed to the Star Wars universe. Once I started understanding movies, my dad immediately made me watch Star Wars, and I was immediately in love. Whenever we went to Burger King, I would collect all the Star Wars toys they had, and I would play with them and my dad for long amounts of time.

This love obviously dissipated for a while there as I started getting into princesses and power rangers and other cool stuff like that. (I was a weird child. Anyways when I started to get back into that stuff, I was around nine or ten and started to actually understand the story. I was fascinated by the story of a guy who was torn between doing good and bad and what he thought was right, while saving his loved ones, and the galaxy around him. The story George Lucas crafted is beautiful and one of which I believe is a masterpiece.

I was also into LEGO and now literally own all the Star Wars sets from 2009-2014. To be clear, that's a lot of money right there, over $5000. (I know, imagine all the books I could have bought with that. But hey, I don't regret that stage of my life.) During this time, I started reading all there was on Star Wars, the comics, encyclopedias and went to watch the cartoons they've made, including the Clone Wars series. I was intrigued by the massive universe George Lucas has started and was determined to know all of it.

Well, guess what? I did read almost every resource available to me, and the concept art from the Star Wars concept books reignited my art interest. Now you think, “well with all this knowledge, I bet you never really got the chance to show it off.” And that's where you are wrong haha. I actually got the chance to write an hour presentation about my knowledge of Star Wars in sixth grade for an independent study project where I basically just geeked out for a whole hour. (To all those people who were my classmates, I'm so sorry.) Probably one of the highlights of that year to be honest. 

Then I started reading. This includes YA novels, and also basically every book about Star Wars written. It’s been fun. But after all these years, Star Wars still hasn’t left me, and I am so glad for it. In an epic tale of the dark and light forces of the world, I can’t thank Star Wars enough for an awesome childhood, ultimately leading me onto this path of reading which has led me to so many awesome friends. Let's just say that I'll definitely be marathoning Star Wars on Sunday.
 
Do you like Star Wars?

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Anime Review: Haikyuu!! (#GetYouIntoHaikyuu)

Haikyuu!!
Studio: Production I.G
Producer: Mainichi Broadcasting, TOHO animation
Genre: Sports, Comedy, Drama, School, Shounen
Episodes: 25
Episode Length: 24 minutes per episode
My Rating: 5/5 stars
Synopsis:
"Inspired after watching a volleyball ace nicknamed "Little Giant" in action, small-statured Shouyou Hinata revives the volleyball club at his middle school. The newly-formed team even makes it to a tournament; however, their first match turns out to be their last when they are brutally squashed by the "King of the Court," Tobio Kageyama. Hinata vows to surpass Kageyama, and so after graduating from middle school, he joins Karasuno High School's volleyball team—only to find that his sworn rival, Kageyama, is now his teammate.

Thanks to his short height, Hinata struggles to find his role on the team, even with his superior jumping power. Surprisingly, Kageyama has his own problems that only Hinata can help with, and learning to work together appears to be the only way for the team to be successful. Based on Haruichi Furudate's popular shounen manga of the same name, Haikyuu!! is an exhilarating and emotional sports comedy following two determined athletes as they attempt to patch a heated rivalry in order to make their high school volleyball team the best in Japan."

This past week, Wren and I hosted #GetYouIntoHaikyuu which was a watchalong of a sports anime called Haikyuu! It was so much fun, and we hosted a chat at the end. So for this review, both Wren and I are excited to share our thoughts and feelings on the show!

Characters

Wren:
Hinata isn’t a bad main character. I love his pure determination. Sure, he might not be the best receiver, but does he let that drag him down? No! He actually uses it to his advantage, wielding his faults like a pro. He doesn’t back down from a challenge. Hinata would make an amazing role model.

Kageyama is a child prodigy. Let’s not attempt to dumb it down. He’s amazing. I love his character development. He is originally a stubborn king who doesn’t pay attention to anyone else, but, by the end of the series, he trusts everyone else. He plays on a team at last.

Kageyama and Hinata are awesome together. I love their teamwork. The two of them work well together, complementing each other’s skills. Just watching them practice is amazing. I’m in awe.

Overall, the teamwork in the entire anime is strong, even with the other teams. They work together, as an unit not as a single player. Each has their own part to play. And they do it very well.

Sugawara is awesome. He’s calm and collected. But has so many emotions. You never see the yearning within him. He’s very good at controlling his feelings. He is very smart, and I admire him. He lets Kageyama take the setter position. But he watches from the sidelines and learns so much about the other players.

Daichi is kinda ignored at times. But he’s a super cool character! He’s the captain. While, the series focuses on Hinata and Kageyama, Daichi’s there. A strong and steady leader who offers up his best advice and supports the team. I’d like to be a leader like him, one day.

And not to forget Asahi. He’s a quiet and kindred soul. But he carries the weight of the world on his shoulders. He took the brunt of the loss to the Iron Wall Team (whose name I forget currently.) He feels so much. He looks like a roughhousing bad boy, but he’s so quiet and nervous.

Nishinoya is by far one of my favorites. He’s a delinquent. And he’s a perv. But he’s a fantastic libero. Without him, I surely doubt that Karasuno would be able to receive a lot of the serves. He’s creative in his receiving, even using his shoe to throw the ball into play. Sure, he’s a comedy character, but I love him nonetheless.

When you are first introduced to Nekoma, you think, ‘Wow. They’re exactly like Karasuno!’ I know this was on purpose, but the similarities just showed the vast differences between the two teams. The two of them are so vastly different. Not that Karasuno is weak and Nekoma is strong. But they have different strengths and weaknesses.

I love Kozume's story. His story reminded me of...well...me. I saw a part of myself in him that I’d never seen before in any character. He was a loner. And it seemed like it didn’t faze him. But he had friends and a team to support him. So maybe there’s hope for me after all.

I didn’t particularly understand the introduction of the girls team. Why did we need to know about them? They didn’t become cheerleaders to the boys team or anything. While they had an interesting story, it wasn’t expanded, so I felt like they were useless.

Oikawa is kinda boring. Cute and smart doesn’t mean a lot to me. Plus, I hated how he antagonized Kageyama. Sure, his story is fascinating, but that doesn’t mean that an eager kohai is bad.

Em:
These characters are so adorableeeeeee. I love them all! In this season, the main characters are mainly the only ones developed due to the short time span. But Hinata and Kageyama are amazing. Individually they learn and grow so much, it makes my heart hurt. It’s like watching children grow and ahhhhh. Their banters and relationship grew and developed so much throughout the story that I was hooked and eagerly awaited the next season to see where their abilities would take them. But that aside, I noticed a lot of common sports anime tropes in this one. Of course, I wasn’t surprised because I mean what is an anime without its stoic, dark haired, sports-obsessed- genius boy. I know for me, I didn’t mind too much because I quite like that character trope lol. While this anime does have all those commonalities, this one does something quite different. Haikyuu made me root for all the teams playing, even if they were against the protagonist team. In Kuroko no Basket or Diamond no Ace, I would always root for the main characters team because the author pointed that slant. I feel that Furudate-sensei left it open for viewers to interpret and that’s what I loved about this one.


Plot


Wren:
The episodes leave off a lot and force you to watch the next one. It really builds up the tension, even ending an episode in the middle of a match. Which is a so so for me. I don’t mind furiously watching 3 or more episodes a day, but I have a life (sorta). I gotta do my homework and all.

The first half is super boring because they aren’t in tournaments. They go through a lot of practice matches. Which aren’t REAL matches. Well, sorta. They do act like they are real matches. In the first half, we see a lot of slow-motion and a lot more dramatization. Which I didn’t really like.

On the other hand, the second half is much more interesting. The matches speed up, and you really get to see Karasuno in action. I loved this half much more. It felt like watching an actual tournament. And there was a lot of tension because of this.

Somewhere in the middle, the show introduced the opposite of Karasuno. By this, I mean, showing the game from the opponent’s viewpoint. And it was amazing. You got to see the people who lost and their emotions. (Especially the team that Daichi’s friend was on.) It made me love this show.

And right about there, (ep 16, I think) this show acknowledged it was a show.

Life isn’t about winning and losing. It’s about learning from your mistakes. And changing your ways. This show proclaims this message loud and clear. You have to get up when you’re knocked down. It’s a fact of life. And this show is by far the best example of getting back up I’ve ever seen.

Em:
Okay, so this anime is sort of a typical sports anime. There are those cliffhangery moments at the ends of episodes and they make you keep watching which is great. But it’s not great WHEN YOU HAVE TO WAIT A WHOLE NOTHER WEEK FOR THE NEXT EPISODE. Well at least when I originally watched it, that’s what happened. At least this time I got to binge watch it lol. Personally, I was hooked from the beginning. After watching Kuroko no Basket, I needed a good sports anime to get me going and Haikyuu started airing around that time. The plot I found, picked up right away and had these amazing lessons that were packed into beautiful animation and characters. As Wren said, the message is loud and clear with this one. And it’s absolutely beautiful.

Art

Wren:
Okay...I’m not a huge fan of the art. At times, it looks off. The proportions don’t seem right or something. Plus, the shading on the characters is really distracting for me.

Also, that ball animation! It’s great. I love how they gave the ball life and motion. Like a really volleyball.

Em:
Oh my Lordy, the art was magnificent for this anime. Furudate-sensei has this amazing and unique style of drawing which I love so, so much. It’s so different from the other major sports animes since it has all the extra lines that make the story so much more fun and cute! Honestly his style is absolute goals.


Soundtrack


Wren:

The first OP is insane. I love it. It sets the perfect tone. I’m ready for an awesome battle. I got pumped up. I wanted some awesome volleyball action. I was ready!

The second one is much more tame. Which I don’t like. The second half is made up of the tournament. The calmer OP doesn’t match the intensity of the matches. The first OP would suit the second half much better.

Admittedly, I didn’t listen to the endings. I’m not a huge fan.

But in the second half, there was this background song that I ADORED. It was so cool. I don’t remember what episode it starts in, though.

Em:
I don’t really pay attention to the music all that often lol. I loved the OP and EP from what I remember. The in-episode music was pretty good. I sometimes watch anime without sounds since it doesn’t make a big difference to me lol.


All in all, this is one of my favourite animes ever. The friendships and teamwork is one of my favourite things ever, and deserves the 5 amazing stars we gave it! If you are into sports or anime, I highly suggest you try this one!

 Will you be watching Haikyuu?

Monday, 2 May 2016

April Wrap-Up + May TBR


Okay so this month literally went by so fast I barely got anything done at all in terms of reading. But man, I’ve been blogging a lot. For the past two weeks, I think I got a post out there at least every three days or so which is a huge record for me hahaha, especially for not scheduling anything. But I almost completely failed my reading goals I think lol. Here’s what I set out to read last month:

- The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig
- Signs of You by Emily France
- The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater
- Heartless by Marissa Meyer
- Strange and Ever After by Susan Dennard (re-read) 
The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

Ahahaha, so now let’s see what I actually read…

- Heartless by Marissa Meyer
- The Outliers by Kimberly McCreight
- Strange and Ever After by Susan Dennard (re-read)
- Outrun the Moon by Stacey Lee

So not totally horrible, but like 2/6 girllllllll??? What were you doing this month?? I was writing a hell lot of blog posts, playing badminton, and doing homework like crazy, that’s what lol! I still plan on finishing these ones as soon as possible, but since it’s now May… finals for my semester are coming up and well school is always first priority! Anyways, let’s set some low expectations for May, here’s my TBR:

- The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig
- Signs of You by Emily France
- The Serpent King by Jeff Zenter
- The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan

There we go, low expectations so I can exceed them and feel happy about it lol! So some news about me in the blogosphere from April:

- I celebrated my six month blogiversary and wrote about 5 reasons why you and I should continue blogging!
- I’m running a giveaway for some awesome swag! See my pinned tweet for details.
- I am starting another blog, that I’ll be co-blogging on with Claire and Duane called Wandering the Pages!

Anyways, I thinks that’s all for the news! I hope I’ll be able to get through all these books and my schoolwork as well! Blogging will definitely be sparse in May since I have to focus on an essay worth a lot of my English mark; I mean at least for that I get to re-read the Throne of Glass series. I’ll try to keep this blog and the other blog as active as possible! I hope you enjoyed today’s wrap-up post and TBR. If you have a wrap up / TBR post, let me know in the comments below! Thanks for reading as always!