Sunday, February 26, 2017

Rex Update // 6 weeks after 2nd surgery

IMG_9228

Rex only has two more weeks of crate rest left!
(despite how it appears in my pictures, he does actually spend the majority of his time in his crate.)

He has started being extremely fussy lately. I think each day he tries to hit a higher squeaky cry so we'll let him out. And apparently, Deacon caught him the other day trying to push at the latch on his crate with his tongue. Because he's a devious little genius.


IMG_9252
IMG_9111


He's been walking really well and has so much energy whenever he gets to go outside. His stomach has been a little upset the past few days, but nothing as bad as it used to be. And he got to go on a short car ride a few days ago to pick me up from work, which he loved.

By our next update, he'll have had his 8-week checkup and will (hopefully) get to be a regular dog again. =)

Thanks for all the love and support!

--Emily

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

books I probably didn't like as much as you.

I...am a jump-on-the-bandwagon type of reader. I have a select number of bookworm friends and reviewers I follow that I trust and will pretty much consider reading anything they say is worthwhile.

But...I also often disagree with their tastes, and the tastes of the majority.



Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.
This week's topic: Ten Books I Loved Less/More Than I Thought I Would (recently or all time)
My topic: books I liked less than everyone else



  

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking // Susan Cain
This book took me literally three months to trudge through and I got very very little out of it. Too many case studies that didn't mean anything. Too tiny font. And the poor contrast of the red text on a gray background just makes my eyes scream. Please get it away.


All the Bright Places // Jennifer Niven
This was my only 1-star read in 2016. This was my only 1-star read since 2014.
I hated it so much that I recently sold my copy to the local bookstore.
This book. was. awful.
It was destructive. It glorifies suicide. It does not offer any help or support to its readers.
It's a John Green ripoff. Its characters are one-dimensional. It's poorly written. 
Should I say more?
(It's books like this that make me cringe anytime the book blogging community praises literally anything with "diversity." Diversity should only be praised if it's handled correctly. And that is not this book.)
(Also I'm not against this topic in YA. I did an entire project over suicide in YA for a young-adult fiction class in college. It's not the topic that angers me; it's this book in particular.)




  

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland // Lewis Carroll
If I had a quarter for every blog post I see with a Alice in Wonderland reference, I'd be pretty well off right now. It seems like if you're a reader, then you obviously love this book. And I will say that I appreciate it. Lewis Carroll's use of words is extradorinary. I love "Jabberwocky." I like the Disney movie, and I liked Heartless. I just...did not enjoy this when I was a kid. Maybe I should reread it to see if it makes more sense (or at least, see if I can embrace the nonsense). It just wasn't my thing.


The Secret Garden // Frances Hodgson Burnett
I didn't read this one as a kid. I picked it up back in 2013 (I was 20). Maybe I would have liked it better as a kid, but I doubt it. I just found it so incredibly boring. Just...so boring. How do kids read this?




  

These Broken Stars // Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
I've talked about his one a lot so I'm going to keep this short. This book was so everywhere and I have no words. Just...no words. It was so weird.


Ender's Game // Orson Scott Card
My Goodreads review: No character development. Overly simplistic writing. Repetitive plot.
Also I want more female representation. 




  

The Winner's Curse // Marie Rutkoski
I did not hate this book. I went on and finished the whole series. It was just...okay. There was never a time where I felt immersed in the story. I always felt like I was looking through a foggy window. I never really connected with anyone or anything, even after reading the rest of the trilogy. 


Throne of Glass // Sarah J. Maas
Cue the assassin who never assassined? Seriously, where was the fierceness and bloodshed? Celaena was a huge letdown in this book. Also hated the audio narrator's voice.
But I read book 2 on kindle and it was much, much better. I just bought book 3.




  

If I Stay // Gayle Forman
Again, this was okay. It just wasn't for me. I barely remember a thing about it.


A Certain Slant of Light // Laura Whitcomb
Oh gosh, I hated this book so much. I don't think I read the same book as everyone else. People just love this book, but I was utterly disappointed. The concept is so intriguing, but it didn't deliver.


--Emily
currently listening to: Dear Hank & John, Ep. 81

~~~
Did you dislike any of these?
What books did you like less than everyone else?

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Nimona + Everything Leads to You + Sleeping Giants // Mini Reviews

2.16.17

Nimona // Noelle Stevenson

I set out to read this book after hearing Kristina Horner rave about how awesome it is. It didn't disappoint.

Short Synopsis: Mysterious, rambunctious shapeshifter becomes sidekick to notorious villain who actually has a heart of gold.

Format: paperback (graphic novel)

Overall Feeling: overwhelming endearment and adoration.
I just can't explain how great this book is. It's so charming. It's funny, stunning, heart-wrenching, suspenseful. The list goes on. I haven't read many graphic novels, but I really enjoyed this, and I think it would appeal to a broad audience. (Also fun fact: Noelle Stevenson designed the cover of Fangirl. So she's just clearly awesome.) I rarely like sequels but I would read a dozen more books about these characters.

Rating: 5/5 stars



Everything Leads to You // Nina LaCour

This book went on my radar after reading a review by Loony Literate. Only a few people that I know have read it, but all of them have liked it. And I think that cover is gorgeous.

Short Synopsis: Production design intern finds clues leading to legend actor's unknown granddaughter.

Format: paperback

Overall Feeling: pleasant sigh.
Upon finishing this book, I promptly marked it at 5 stars because I was just so happy and satisfied. I've since knocked that down slightly because I like to reserve 5-star ratings for books that completely floored me and/or changed my life. This book did not change my life, but I really really liked it. The friendships, love interest, plot, family, etc. were all written very well, and avoided most of the cliches that you see in YA.

Rating: 4.5/5 stars




Sleeping Giants // Sylvain Nuevel

I picked this up after seeing it in the library on campus. The paperback version had just come out. I knew very little about it, but had seen a positive review and thought it was time for a sci-fi.

Short Synopsis: Secret organization tries to assemble pieces of giant alien robot scattered around the world.

Format: paperback (library copy)

Overall Feeling: ambivalence.
I was really into the first half of this. I had no idea where anything was going, and things happened that really shocked me and kept me turning the pages. But the more pages I flipped, the less interested I became.

I think the main flaw of this book is its scope. Each chapter is set up as a "case file." There are no dates, just numbered files. But the thing is...you don't get all the case files. Sometimes, they're sequential, but sometimes they skip like 40. They might be facing a problem in one chapter, then the next chapter is 6 months later and you just have to figure out what happened from the context. I was fine with that at first, but I think it really took away from the story overall. It was hard to feel close to any of the characters or their work on the project.

The epilogue was pretty good, though. It made me want to read the next one.

Rating: 3/5 stars



--Emily
currently listening to: Move Your Body by Sia

~~~
Have you read any of these books?

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Ships I Ship // Albus and Scorpius

CursedChild

Spoiler Alert: This post contains minor spoilers for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Nothing about major plot points but some about how relationships end up. 

This post started with me linking up for a Top Ten Tuesday (this week's topic: Romance freebie!). I wanted to do top ten ships I've shipped recently, but I haven't really been reading a lot of romance? Then I thought I was just going to post some mini-reviews, but that didn't seem too festive for Valentine's Day.

So instead I want to talk to you about the dreaded Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

I read this back in August, so it's been awhile. Most people read it, threw it at a wall, then promptly erased it from memory. I get that. There's a lot of things about it that feel so wrong.

But today I don't want to talk about the part of the book that everyone hates. No major spoilers here.

I want to talk about Albus and Scorpius.


ALBUS: I can’t, okay?
SCORPIUS: You can’t what?
ALBUS: Just—we’ll be better off without each other, okay?
            SCORPIUS is left looking up after him. Heartbroken.


Scorpius is literally the best thing about Cursed Child. He has more personality than even the characters from the original series, and is much more lovable and adorable than anyone else in the story. He's like when you see a cute puppy and you can't contain your need to just squish it with love.

And from the very beginning, Albus and Scorpius are great friends. They meet in the same way that Ron and Harry do; Scorpius offers sweets to Albus on the train to Hogwarts. And then they both get sorted into Slytherin, and become best friends through difficult times (including the death of Scorpius' mother, rumors that he's Voldemort's son, and Albus living in his father's shadow).

But it's really hard to deny that there's more than just platonic love/friendship between them.


ALBUS: I don’t think Voldemort is capable of having a kind son—and you’re kind, Scorpius. To the depths of your belly, to the tips of your fingers. I truly believe Voldemort—Voldemort couldn’t have a child like you.
Beat. SCORPIUS is moved by this.
SCORPIUS: That’s nice—that’s a nice thing to say.
ALBUS: And it’s something I should have said a long time ago. In fact, you’re probably the best person I know. And you don’t—you couldn’t—hold me back. You make me stronger—and when Dad forced us apart—without you—
SCORPIUS: I didn’t much like my life without you in it either.


And I mean, Scorpius is clearly in love with Albus.


SCORPIUS: If I had to choose a companion to be at the return of eternal darkness with, I’d choose you.

~~~

SCORPIUS appears at the back of the stage. He looks at his friend talking to a girl — and part of him likes it and part of him doesn't.


And when Harry is an awful parent and forbids their friendship, even Draco tries to get them back together.


DRACO: I'm not here to antagonize you. But my son is in tears and I am his father and so I am here to ask why you would keep apart two good friends.


But even though Scorpius is the best part of the book, he's also the worst part. Because the writers never give us what is clearly there. Instead, Scorpius has a huge crush on Rose throughout the entire thing, which is just stupid. There's no chemistry there.

And it's a really wasted opportunity, in my opinion. There is very little (i.e., pretty much none) LGBTQ+ representation in Harry Potter. Yes, we know that Dumbledore is gay. But he's not openly gay within the series.

I'm not asking for another Carry On. (Except yes, yes I am. Rainbow please write a sequel.) I'm not saying that Albus and Scorpius have to be Simon and Baz. I'm saying it's a shame that their clear chemistry was downplayed.

BUT. We do get this in their last scene together (after Scorpius finally asks Rose out):


SCORPIUS reaches in and hugs ALBUS.
ALBUS: What’s this? I thought we decided we don’t hug.
SCORPIUS: I wasn’t sure. Whether we should. In this new version of us—I had in my head.
ALBUS: Better ask Rose if it’s the right thing to do.
SCORPIUS: Ha! Yeah. Right.
            The two boys dislocate and grin at each other.
ALBUS: I’ll see you at dinner.


Is that not loaded with subtext? I mean, really? That's their last scene together, guys. Scorpius saying HA YEAH RIGHT as he's really saying Albus I don't love Rose I love you and only you to the depths of my soul and can't we please be together don't you see that we belong together?
It feels like the writers are just playing with us. They know we ship them. They WANT us to ship themIt's basically one step behind Korra and Asami ascending into the spirit portal holding hands.

Related image

So in my head, they definitely ended up together and lived happily ever after and all really was well.
#Scorbus


--Emily
currently listening to: Shape of  You by Ed Sheeran


~~~
Did you like Cursed Child? Do you ship Albus/Scorpius?
Also did you like this post? Should I make a shipping series? Let me know what you think!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Rex Update // 4 weeks after 2nd surgery

IMG_9007

Rex has now crossed the halfway point in his healing process! He still spends most of the time in his crate, but I've been letting him sleep in my office with me whenever I'm working on the computer. He's so much more relaxed there.

He's even started popping his leg up again whenever he wants belly rubs.


IMG_9017
IMG_9036

For weeks three and four, he went up to seven-minute walks, which is just enough time to run him to the park and back. Now, he's up to ten-minute walks, so we have enough time to loop around the block and back.

We've also started letting him sleep in the bed with us at night, which means no more taking turns sleeping on the couch in the living room. We're all a bit happier about it. And now I get morning snuggles and kisses. =)

We haven't had any problems with him biting the bars of his cage yet like he did last time, but he does start whining anytime he thinks there's a possibility that we're leaving the house. I can't make coffee without him making a fuss. So we've started leaving Netflix animal shows on for him while we're gone. (He just got through one that was all about baby animals and it was so adorable.)

He's walking really well and has started wanting to run around. There have been a few times when he'll pull his leg up or skip a step, but those are usually on cold days. The weather has been really nice the past few days, and he's been having a great time.

The only real issue we've come across is a dog that lives a few doors down. Her owner lets her run around the street freely, and a few times she's run up to us and started barking whenever we try to go on walks. But she's been chained up the past few days, so hopefully it becomes less of an issue.


--Emily
currently listening to: Let Me Keep This Memory by U137

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

books I wish had pictures in them.

This week is pretty open-ended, so I decide to take inspiration from last week's topic about visuals. Because books with visuals are the best. It wasn't on my list last week, but I think the little illustrations at the beginning of each chapter in the Harry Potter series kinda make the series (please tell me the other editions have little illustrations at the beginning of every chapter like the original US edition). Why don't more books have things like that?


Today I'm linking up with The Broke and the Bookish for a Top Ten Tuesday.


  

The Scorpio Races // Maggie Stiefvater
I. want. to. see. the. capaill. uisce. And also Thisby, and the festivals, and everything.
The closest I can get is fanart and it's just not doing it for me.


The Night Circus // Erin Morgenstern
This book is just so visually stunning even without actually seeing it. Can you imagine all the back/white/red wonderfulness? 
It would be like if Tim Burton threw a rave.




  

The Lunar Chronicles // Marissa Meyer
This is now somewhat of a dream come true? The graphic novel Wires and Nerve literally just came out and I neeeeed it. But I really want the whole series in a graphic novel. Please, Marissa. Please.


Percy Jackson and the Olympians // Rick Riordan
Why doesn't this series have beginning-chapter illustrations?
Rick really needs to step up his game. 




  

Dorothy Must Die // Danielle Paige
I can hear you now: but Emily we literally have the most wonderful, beautiful movie what else do you need?
Well this retelling is creepy and dark and brutal and I need pictures please.


The Graveyard Book // Neil Gaiman
In all fairness I'm not sure if this book actually has illustrations or not because I listened to the audiobook (which was great, btw. full cast. highly recommend). But I'd like to have some pictures too. Can audiobooks come with companion illustration books?




  

Ender's Game // Orson Scott Card
Honestly, I didn't like this book. I felt it boring and mechanical and just...bleh. Pictures would have helped tremendously. 


These Broken Stars // Amie Kaufman
I somehow read this book in a single day but didn't really like it. It was so weird. It was maybe the weirdest book I've ever read (my review on Goodreads: this book is weird). Partly because they're on a weird planet for most of it, which would have made some great illustrations. 




  

I'll Give You the Sun // Jandy Nelson
Like the Night Circus, the language in this book is so visual and breathing, and it's about art, and I just feel like it really needs some illustrations here and there. (Again, I listened to this on audio, so it might actually  have illustrations? But I'm assuming it doesn't.)


Made You Up // Francesca Zappia
Look at that cover! Can you imagine if this book had included illustrations? 
I want to see what Alex says!


--Emily
currently listening to: Dear Hank & John, ep. 80

~~~
What book do you wish had pictures in it?
(also do other Harry Potter editions have beginning-chapter illustrations? This is very important.)

Sunday, February 5, 2017

on my decision to go cruelty-free.

IMG_8809

So a few months ago, I was at the store with Deacon and needed to buy eyeshadow. (I don't wear a ton of makeup, but I have a few standard things I wear to work so  I don't look like I'm 12 years old.) So I went to pick up the Maybelline palette that I usually wear. Meanwhile, Deacon was googling things on his phone. Then he looks up and says, "You know, they're not cruelty-free."

I was really irritated at first. It wasn't something I had ever thought about. I just bought the makeup I knew that I liked and that worked well for my everyday wear. I ended up just getting the eyeshadow anyway.

Since then, it's really weighed on me. It's the kind of thing that is hard to ignore once you do start thinking about it.

So after a ton of research, I've decided to go cruelty-free with all my products.
(including cosmetics, skincare, hair care, soap, deodorant, etc. pretty much everything except for toothpaste) 

This does not mean that I'm throwing away everything in my makeup bag. I'm going to continue to use what I have. But when it runs out or when I need to buy something new, I'm going to consciously buy cruelty-free products.

Image result for zootopia gif



So what is cruelty-free?

Well, it's complicated.

The definition: manufactured or developed by methods that do not involve experimentation on animals.

Easy, right? A bottle says NOT TESTED ON ANIMALS, and it's cruelty-free. Simple.
Except it's not.

The main issue: a company may claim to be 100% cruelty-free even though their parent company still tests on animals.

A good example of this is Nyx Cosmetics. They're known for being cruelty-free, but they were bought by L'Oréal in 2014, which does test on animals.

Now, there is divided opinion on this subject. Many people say that your money is a vote, and if you're buying Nyx then you're sending a message to L'Oréal that you'd rather buy cruelty-free. I respect that, but I don't really feel the same way. If I have a choice between buying from a company
that is 100% cruelty-free and a company that is owned by someone that tests on animals, I'm going to choose the former. That's why when possible, I'm going to avoid buying from companies if their parent company tests on animals.



But what if they only test on animals if required by law?

"Required by law" = they sell in China.

For the past six months or so, I've been using Organix Hair shampoo and conditioner and have really liked it. And on the back of the bottle, it says NOT TESTED ON ANIMALS. It's there, in all caps. But it's not true.

Image result for zootopia gif

A lot of companies that claim to be cruelty-free say that they "only test on animals when required by law." This really means that they choose to sell their products in China. China is the only country that requires products to be tested on animals. If a company sells in China, then they are not cruelty-free.



But wait! It's certified by PETA!

A lot of people think that if a product is on PETA's list, then it must be cruelty-free. But PETA's list is not really that reliable.

To get on PETA's list, a company has to “sign PETA’s statement of assurance or submit a statement verifying that neither they nor their ingredient suppliers conduct, commission, or pay for any tests on animals for ingredients, formulations, or finished products.” The problem is that these claims are not verified. Many companies on the list buy from suppliers that are not cruelty-free, sell in China, and/or are owned by companies that are not cruelty-free.

 Leaping Bunny's list is more reliable than PETA. They're more selective and require companies that sign to agree to independent audits so that their claims can be verified. That said, a company can still be Leaping Bunny certified even if its parent company is not. And the market is changing all the time, so be aware of companies that were formerly Leaping Bunny certified that have since undergone changes, such as Burt's Bees.



So why go through all the trouble?

Is going cruelty-free starting to sound like a chore? Why not just buy what I want to buy? Is it really worth all the research/headache/stress/etc.

Yes, it is. Even though it's definitely going to be easier to just buy whatever you want to buy, animal testing just isn't necessary for products to be great. And even though it can be complicated, there are brands out there and resources to help along the way. Most of my information comes from CrueltyFreeKitty.com, where the author is constantly researching and updating and compiling lists to make the whole process much easier.

Image result for zootopia gif

But please note that even though this is my decision, it doesn't have to be yours. I'm not trying to make you feel guilty about the products you love. (I really love Maybelline, and it's hard to give them up!) You do you.

That said, as I make my switch, I'm planning to do some comparison posts of what I was using vs. what I switched to, so keep an eye out for those if you're interested in learning more! And if you're already using cruelty-free brands, be sure to leave me your favorite product in the comments.


--Emily
currently listening to: Midsummer Field by U137

Friday, February 3, 2017

January Wrap-Up

2.1.17banner

events

- We had an ice storm. Campus actually shut down for an entire day. Do you know how rare that is? And then the next Monday was MLK day, so I got a 4-day weekend.


- My blog stats have magically shot up. This month, I started posting on a consistent schedule. I don't know how much that has led to the jump or if there's some other explanation, but it's more than doubled from what I typically see.



thoughts

- I've decided to go cruelty-free with all my cosmetics, skin care, hair care, etc. This was something that Deacon brought up a few months ago, and I decided to make the switch with my cosmetics. The further I got into it though, the more I wanted to just switch everything. I've been doing a lot of research into it and will post about it soon. (In the meantime, feel free to leave me any specific brand recommendations in the comments!)

Image result for zootopia gif


- I want to move to Wordpress. I'm pretty much sold on the idea. I want more control over my content, and I feel like my blog would reach more people on a different platform. I want to keep the content pretty much the same, I just want to have sole rights to it all and have control over what it all looks like and have my own domain name.

I'm really struggling with coming up with a name, though. I'm pretty certain I'll have to rename my blog completely, and none of my ideas are available domains. I've been thinking about it constantly for the past few weeks and haven't had any luck. (please send me suggestions)


- My NaNoWriMo draft might not entirely suck. I've been reading back through what went down in November and it's not as bad as I thought it would be. I've actually been enjoying it quite a bit. So there might be hope.


rex report

IMG_8871

Rex had his surgery on the 11th. Everything went well and he already has his stitches out.


tv shows

The Legend of Korra (finished Book Three, started Book Four)
A Series of Unfortunate Events (watched Ep. 1 but did not like it)
One Tree Hill (finished Season 1, currently on Season 2)

Image result for korra flying gif


movies

The Minimalists (it was...meh)
The Force Awakens (rewatched - love it)
The Truman Show (liked it)

Image result for force awakens gif


books

Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway (liked it)
A Gathering of Shadows (really liked it)
Nimona (loved it)

    

currently reading: 

Everything Leads to You by Nina Lacour

--Emily
currently listening to: Clean by Taylor Swift 

~~~
How was your January?