Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery

Today is finally the day Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery is now available to download for mobile devices. Hurray! Has anyone started playing the game? Did you venture to Diagon Alley to get your books and your wand? Did you befriend Rowan and take the Hogwarts Express to Hogwarts? What about the Sorting Ceremony? What house are you in? So far I currently finishing my flying lesson. I am in Ravenclaw of course. Check out the beautiful Ravenclaw Common Room below.



Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery is a stamina based RPG mobile game. When you first start the game, you can create your own character. Afterwards, you befriend Rowan right before you venture to Diagon Alley to obtain your school books and your wand. Some backstory about your family is also introduced around this time. You get to hop on the Hogwarts Express to head to Hogwarts and Mcgonagall sorts all the first-years with the sorting hat. Just to give you heads up, you get to choose your house which is a relief. After all, the sorting hat takes in consideration what house you associate with the most.

After you get sorted, you can check out your common room before starting to do tasks and lessons. Some of the lessons I've done so far is learning Lumos with Professor Flitwick and making a cure for boils with Professor Snape. Madam Hootch is currently teaching me how to summon a broom. There are other things like chatting with certain characters, befriending characters and playing Gobstones that will help you get further in the game. By completing lessons, you get rewarded with stamina energy, coins or gems. Sometimes you will be rewarded attributes such as courage, empathy and knowledge. These attributes will come in handy later on. With coins and gems, you can purchase different hairstyles and clothing or you can save them to play a game of Gobstones or to replenish your energy.

Of course there is a Malfoy type of character who will try to get you in trouble or even worse, expelled. Don't let this person taunt you too much. This person will definitely try to do whatever it takes to set you up to lose house points. Keep your guard up but remember to enjoy the game. Don't get too caught up with bullies.

Here's my profile page. You can always adjust your character in terms of looks and name whenever you want. As you can see below, you can track your house points you've contributed, what rank your house is for the House Cup and see what levels are achieved overall and for your attributes. Overall all the game is pretty solid but it is slow to load. Again, the game just released today so I assume some updates will fix some bugs and hopefully the creators will eventually take players suggestions in consideration to improve the game.


Let me know how are you enjoying the game if you are currently playing. I hope there is more interaction between users in the future because I would love to interact with some of my blog readers via Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery. 

Friday, April 20, 2018

Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion by Elizabeth L. Cline

Title: Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion
Author: Elizabeth L. Cline
Publisher: Portfolio Hardcover
Publication date: June 14th 2012 (first published January 1st 2012)
Pages: 256
Source/format: Library//Hardcover

Rating: ☆☆☆

Synopsis (from goodreads.com):

Until recently, Elizabeth Cline was a typical American consumer. She’d grown accustomed to shopping at outlet malls, discount stores like T.J. Maxx, and cheap but trendy retailers like Forever 21, Target, and H&M. She was buying a new item of clothing almost every week (the national average is sixty-four per year) but all she had to show for it was a closet and countless storage bins packed full of low-quality fads she barely wore—including the same sailor-stripe tops and fleece hoodies as a million other shoppers. When she found herself lugging home seven pairs of identical canvas flats from Kmart (a steal at $7 per pair, marked down from $15!), she realized that something was deeply wrong.

Cheap fashion has fundamentally changed the way most Americans dress. Stores ranging from discounters like Target to traditional chains like JCPenney now offer the newest trends at unprecedentedly low prices. Retailers are pro­ducing clothes at enormous volumes in order to drive prices down and profits up, and they’ve turned clothing into a disposable good. After all, we have little reason to keep wearing and repairing the clothes we already own when styles change so fast and it’s cheaper to just buy more.

But what are we doing with all these cheap clothes? And more important, what are they doing to us, our society, our environment, and our economic well-being?

In Overdressed, Cline sets out to uncover the true nature of the cheap fashion juggernaut, tracing the rise of budget clothing chains, the death of middle-market and independent retail­ers, and the roots of our obsession with deals and steals. She travels to cheap-chic factories in China, follows the fashion industry as it chases even lower costs into Bangladesh, and looks at the impact (both here and abroad) of America’s drastic increase in imports. She even explores how cheap fashion harms the charity thrift shops and textile recyclers where our masses of cloth­ing castoffs end up.

Sewing, once a life skill for American women and a pathway from poverty to the middle class for workers, is now a dead-end sweatshop job. The pressures of cheap have forced retailers to drastically reduce detail and craftsmanship, making the clothes we wear more and more uniform, basic, and low quality. Creative inde­pendent designers struggle to produce good and sustainable clothes at affordable prices.

Cline shows how consumers can break the buy-and-toss cycle by supporting innovative and stylish sustainable designers and retailers, refash­ioning clothes throughout their lifetimes, and mending and even making clothes themselves.

Overdressed will inspire you to vote with your dollars and find a path back to being well dressed and feeling good about what you wear.

M Y  T H O U G H T S

I normally don't read non-fiction books but I do read some based on my interests. Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion caught my eye when I was browsing a blog about fast fashion. Because I wanted some more in depth detail about how fast fashion came about and why people are consuming fast fashion like there is no tomorrow, I borrowed the book from the library.

It's crazy to see how much clothing a person buys in a year, only to get rid of the clothing to buy more. Years ago clothing quality was impeccable and people owned less articles of clothing. With the ever changing trends, clothing has become cheap in quality and price. However, is it worth clothing falling apart after a few washes or having threads snagged from poor seams and hemlines?

Reading about how clothing is made and the conditions of the factories opened my eyes to fast fashion. Clothing is being produced at an alarmingly rapid rate. Old clothing are being casted off into the landfills. Quality in fashion is not the same as before. It's a flawed system.

Sewing is becoming a lost art. It's cheaper and easier to buy clothing from the box store but what's sacrificed is quality. The quality of vintage clothing (pre-1980s) are much better than the quality of clothing we buy today. I totally agree with this too since I love shopping for vintage clothing at consignment shops. The seams, the stitching and even the fabrics are much sturdier.

Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion is a fairly fast read for people interested in the fashion and clothing in general. After reading the book and doing more research online, I spend more time analyzing what I should buy and looking at clothing tags for the material breakdown and the origins of make.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

The Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene Goo

Title: The Way You Make Me Feel
Author: Maurene Goo
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Publication date: May 8, 2018
Pages: 336
Source/format: e-ARC from Publisher

Rating: ☆☆☆1/2

Synopsis (from goodreads.com):

From the author of I Believe in a Thing Called Love, a laugh-out-loud story of love, new friendships, and one unique food truck.

Clara Shin lives for pranks and disruption. When she takes one joke too far, her dad sentences her to a summer working on his food truck, the KoBra, alongside her uptight classmate Rose Carver. Not the carefree summer Clara had imagined. But maybe Rose isn't so bad. Maybe the boy named Hamlet (yes, Hamlet) crushing on her is pretty cute. Maybe Clara actually feels invested in her dad’s business. What if taking this summer seriously means that Clara has to leave her old self behind?

With Maurene Goo's signature warmth and humor, The Way You Make Me Feel is a relatable story of falling in love and finding yourself in the places you’d never thought to look.

M Y  T H O U G H T S

When a joke goes wrong and causes a fire at Elysian High School, Clara Shin is teetering the line of getting suspended along with her arch nemesis, Rose Carter. Her father sentences Clara to work on her father's KoBra food truck which is a Korean/Brazilian fusion restaurant on wheels. The kicker is that Clara will be working KoBra with Rose.

Clara is sassy, tends to not think before she acts and is always getting into trouble. She has no filter. Her father thinks that with hard work, she will learn to keep a cool and perhaps learn from Rose. On the contrast, Rose is an over achiever. She is captain of the dance team since freshman year and is part of the debate team. She takes summer courses at the local community college on top of her high school course work.

Hamlet Wong works at the neighboring coffee kiosk and often visits the KoBra truck with iced drinks. Although it is plainly obviously to Clara's father and Rose that Hamlet likes Clara, Clara denies it and claims Hamlet is not her type. However, Clara and Hamlet become close over the duration of the novel. Their relationship is adorable! From flowers to grass jelly flavored kisses, the excitement of going on a date radiates from the pages.

Maurene Goo created a book that is unique and humorous. I found myself chuckling when Clara has a witty comeback. However, I do agree that she needs to control herself sometimes and needs to think before she speaks. Goo did an amazing job with the character development in The Way You Make Me Feel. Clara, along with several other characters like Rose, grew a lot from the end of school until the end of summer.

Each character has their own personality and they work well with the whole cast. Patrick and Felix are supportive of Clara for most of the time but I would have loved to see more backstory and interaction. However, I absolutely loved Clara's dad, Adrian. Clara's father raises Clara solely while Clara's mother is a social media "influencer" and travels the world. Clara's parents never married and her parents were only 18 when Clara was born. Adrian is a single parent who works hard trying to provide for his daughter as well as trying to be a good parent.

Although Clara tries to reconnect with her mom by impulse buying a ticket for a flight and hopping on a plane to Tulum, she realizes that her father has always been the one to support and to root for Clara. Adrian is possibly one of my favorite fathers in a YA book. He cares about his daughter yet he sets boundaries between him and Clara as a learning experience for Clara. He is a lovable dad and he is a fantastic relationship with his daughter.

This family dynamic differs from Rose's where Rose's parents are super strict and they quiz each other on important current news over dinners. Rose starts off being uptight but slowly eases up throughout the book. She engages in typical teenage things like gossiping about boys with Clara which helps her unwind. The contrast of a wealthy lifestyle of the Carters, the Wongs and Clara's mother compared to Clara and her dad are significant. Money can't buy everything. Friendship and family bonding are priceless. Happiness can't be bought.

With the delicious lombo and picanhas, I was definitely craving the Korean Brazilian fusion food from KoBra. Throw in a sugarcane lime drink and I would be all set. The Way You Make Me Feel is a light and funny contemporary that is perfect for the summer. Goo created an exceptional book combining food, travel, romance, humor, friends and family all in one. She creates long-lasting memories of a lifetime.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Top Ten Books on My Spring TBR 2018

 

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish and the meme moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. This week's Top Ten Tuesday asks bloggers to list their top ten books on their spring TBR. The following books are in no particular order and it was hard to even narrow down my selection to only ten books.


1. Legendary by Stephanie Garber is one of my most anticipated books for the spring, let alone the year. After reading Garber's entrancing debut, Caraval, I cannot wait to read the sequel in Tella's point of view. On a happy note, Ms. Garber will be visiting the Brookline Booksmith on Monday, June 4th and I cannot wait to meet her!


2. Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli is Albertalli's third book and boy is everyone excited about this one. With the popularity of Simon Vs. the Homo Sapien's Agenda, this companion novel is in Leah's point of view. Don't worry, Simon still makes an appearance.


3. Little Do We Know by Tamara Ireland Stone is about complex relationships between two next-door neighbors who are ex-best friends with a guy caught somewhere in the middle. I loved Stone's Every Last Word and Stone's writing. I am hoping to enjoy this novel.


4. From Twinkle, with Love by Sandhya Menon is Menon's second book. I fell in love with When Dimple Met Rishi so when I heard about this book, I added it to my TBR right away. Twinkle is an aspiring filmmaker who ends who getting closer to her longtime crush but then falls for her crush's twin brother. Rom coms for the win!


5. Love & Luck by Jenna Evans Welch has been on my TBR for a long time. I loved Welch's novel Love & Gelato which takes place in Italy so naturally I want to read Love & Luck which takes place in Ireland. I can travel through the eyes of another :).


6. Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi is Chokhi's first middle grade novel. Here we follow Aru Shah in a journey involving Hindu mythology. This is also the first book being released by Rick Riordan Presents imprint and is the first book in the Pandava Quartet. I am a big fan of Chokshi's other books and I cannot wait to read this one.


7. The Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene Goo is Goo's third novel. After reading I Believe in a Thing Called Love, Goo's books have been on my radar. I am excited to read about Clara's summer working on a food truck! Although Clara is forced to work on the family food truck because a joke at school went terribly wrong, the whole premise about food trucks definitely caught my attention. I love food trucks!


8. The Unfortunates by Kim Liggett is a horror novel which will not disappoint. I have fallen in love with all of Liggett's novels from her paranormal hormances to her horror novels. I'll read anything that Liggett writes and publishes!


9. The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan is Pan's debut novel and its release date is today! I cannot wait to read this book and I am hoping to meet Ms. Pan in April when she visits Wellesley Books for an event with Julie C. Dao. The novel is about Leigh who is half Asian and half White. When her mother died by suicide, she believes her mother took a form of a bird. Leigh travels to Taiwan determined to find her mother. As she grieves, she also learns a lot about her maternal family.


10. Stay Sweet by Siobhan Vivian is the perfect summer read! This novel is about Amelia who works for The Meade Creamery stand every year for the past few years. When the founder passes away and the grandnephew takes over, Amelia is adamant for certain things to stay the same. I used to work at an ice cream shop for seven years so of course I gravitated toward this book in a heartbeat.


What books are on your spring TBR list? Do we share any similarities?

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Why We Need Diverse Books is Important

How is diversity portrayed in books? According to the We Need Diverse Books website, We Need Diverse Books is a non-profit and grassroots organization of children’s book lovers that advocates essential changes in the publishing industry. Their aim is to help produce and promote literature that reflects and honors the lives of all young people. Most of the diverse books are fiction novels. But what is fiction? Is fiction just merely composed of stories of the imagination or is it something more? Are there underlying meanings about the plot and the characters? Is our unconscious trying to tell us something? Is there something that is more than meets the eye?

Dhonielle Clayton's tweet thread about how only one person caught the core theme about The Belles being a reference to slavery has been going viral in the blogosphere. With our own identities, sometimes it is hard to fully understand someone’s experience fully because we are not in their shoes. We do not bear their pain. Yes, we may love reading diverse books but we truly cannot understand the experience that someone went through. However, diverse books sheds light and awareness about societal issues and things that we are unfamiliar about. Ignorance is the result of the lack of knowledge about something and assumptions being made.

Society has molded the way we think, the way we talk and the way we act for many years. What is right and what is wrong? Who decides this? Why is mental health looked down upon as weak? Why is being a person of color bad? Why is being gay a sin? Mental health is not a sign of weakness, being a person of color is not bad and being gay is not a sin. Society has engrained certain values and morals. However, what society deems is right and wrong depends on who has the institutional power.

Fiction has provided an avenue for some of society’s issues to be read by the masses. It’s a less controversial way of presenting issues that someone can relate to. However, people are more aware of what is going on in the world and are taking the stand to speak up about the inequalities. People try to reach a fair playing field for equity, diversity and inclusion but will humanity ever reach justice?

Unfortunately, no! It sounds great to have an utopia like world where everyone will accept one another no matter who they are but society’s values will take awhile to even change. Look at history. There are many instances where history repeats itself. Mistakes aren’t being learned from. Microaggressions from words to actions are hurtful, yet we see them every day since the existence of humanity. Why aren’t we making progress?

Tolerance needs to be taught and needs to be accepted in order for us to move forward. Something has to change. Marginalized groups need their voices to be heard. Their experiences are needed to create awareness of what prejudice society has regarding certain people.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Twelve Steps to Normal by Farrah Penn

Title: Twelve Steps to Normal
Author: Farrah Penn
Publisher: JIMMY Patterson Presents
Publication date: March 13, 2018
Pages: 384
Source/format: Publisher provided finished copy

Rating: ☆☆☆

Synopsis (from goodreads.com):

James Patterson presents this emotionally resonant novel that shows that while some broken things can't be put back exactly the way they were, they can be repaired and made even stronger.

Kira's Twelve Steps To A Normal Life

1. Accept Grams is gone.
2. Learn to forgive Dad.
3. Steal back ex-boyfriend from best friend...

And somewhere between 1 and 12, realize that when your parent's an alcoholic, there's no such thing as "normal."
When Kira's father enters rehab, she's forced to leave everything behind--her home, her best friends, her boyfriend...everything she loves. Now her father's sober (again) and Kira is returning home, determined to get her life back to normal...exactly as it was before she was sent away.

But is that what Kira really wants?

M Y  T H O U G H T S

"Sometimes you have to take a step back. Let someone else help out." "You always have to forgive your own mistakes. Otherwise they'll eat you alive."- Twelve Steps to Normal by Farrah Penn

Kira Seneca moved from Cedarville, TX to Portland, OR to live with her Aunt June when her father was at the Sober Living Alcohol and Drug Rehabilitation Center. However, her father is being released from the rehab center and her aunt thinks it's best to return back home. Kira didn't expect her father to invite three of his recovering alcoholic friends to stay with them until they got back on their feet.

Kira has had a complex life ever since she was born. Her parents had her during or after senior year of college. Her mother served jail time for selling drugs and wasn't in Kira's life. However, Kira had her father and her Grams in her life until Grams passed away. Kira didn't expect her father to let Nonnie, Peach and Saylor to live with them after being released from rehab and it took awhile for Kira to accept her dad's friends in her life. I guess it's because Kira wanted everything to return to normal. 

Farrah Penn tackles difficult situations that some teens have to deal with on a daily basis from mourning the loss of a love one to a parent battling alcoholism to a friend dating their ex to even rekindling a friendship. Kira copes with her life by creating Kira's 12 Steps to a Normal Life list. Each step involves a certain significant person in Kira's life. The character growth in this novel is fantastic considering that Penn doesn't focus on the character growth only for the main character, Kira. Penn expands the character growth exponentially for many of the characters in Twelve Steps to Normal. I am one for character growth and how each character learns to grow and becomes a better person because of the positive influences of each other.

Whitney, Raegan and Lin are Kira's best friends. At first Kira was super excited to see them again but she noticed Lin acting a bit strange. This is when Kira finds out that one of her best friends is now dating her ex-boyfriend, Jay. The friendships have been different with each lady but they are unique in their own way. What I loved was when Kira rekindles her friendship with Alex. That alone throughout the book was something that Kira can find solace in when she was dealing with what life has to throw at her. From nostalgic starburst wrapper notes to sharing slurpees at the 7 Eleven, Kira and Alex need each other. Even though Kira didn't know it at first, she slowly falls for Alex. The romance isn't overdone and it doesn't overpower the main premise of the plot.

Twelve Steps to Normal is a multi-layered novel with authentic, flawed and relatable characters. Kira's emotional yet significant journey is a journey where she grows, learns to forgive and learns to become a better person.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Bygone Badass Broads Launch Party Recap

Happy International Women's Day! In celebration of this wonderful day, I am going to chat about my experience at the Bygone Badass Broads Launch Party from Wednesday, February 28, 2018.

Bygone Badass Broads: 52 Forgotten Women Who Changed the World was created because of Mackenzi Lee's well known twitter tag #BygoneBadassBroads, which delved into information about badass women whose contributions aren't well known or publicized. This twitter tag became so popular that Abrams books contacted Mackenzi to write a book about some badass women!

After work, I met up with Ellie to head to Trident Booksellers and Cafe for Mackenzi Lee's event for Bygone Badass Broads. We got there a bit early in order to get seats and to eat dinner. We met up with Kim and Molly right before the event started. Mackenzi had a fabulous dress, her display of books was perfect and the cupcakes were delicious!



One of the biggest questions is why did Mackenzi write this book? Mackenzi mentioned how history usually doesn't include female narratives. However, women have a place in history. The are kickass! 

Mackenzi once thought women were represented in history because she self selected what she read when she was younger. It wasn't until she was around 14 to 16-years-old when she working at a civil war park as a blacksmith that is discovered women were't represented for their accomplishments. Management told Mackenzi that she was being moved to the pioneer laundry. They also told her that it's not accurate for her to be a blacksmith mainly because she is a woman. Although, Mackenzi brought in historical evidence showing how some women held jobs like blacksmiths, she was denied. Even when Mackenzi was pursing her undergraduate degree, she realized that male centric history courses were requirements. Women were not included in the educational curriculum.

For those who don't know, Mackenzi is a big fan of Mary Shelley who wrote Frankenstein. Mackenzi talks about how there as a contest to write a ghost story and how Mary won the contest when Mary was only 19-years-old back in the early 1800's. Mackenzi also raves about how Mary kicked off the science fiction genre.

Mackenzi mentions that the way she writes is the way she talks; it's conversational. She never thought she would pursue writing a non-fiction book. However, with her every so popular #BygoneBadassBroads twitter hashtag, she took twitter by storm. Mackenzi used her lunch breaks at her old job to tweet out threads. Abrams was interested in her writing a book and the rest is history! A new book is born! As Mackenzi mentions, "These are not stories I made up. These are stories I retell." And she sure retells them in a way that grabs your attention!

Mackenzi took recommendations on twitter for #BygoneBadassBroads. She actually has lists of hundred of women. Someone in the audience asked if there is going to be a Bygone Badass Broads 2. Mackenzi hopes she has a chance to write another Bygone Badass Broads book. She did, however, mention about how cool it would to write Bygone Badass Barks, a book with a bunch of badass dogs. One person asked if she has a favorite Bygone Badass Broad woman. Mackenzi said it was impossible to pick her favorite but Irena Sendler has always been on her mind often. Mackenzi talks about how Bygone Badass Broads is like a historical girl squad.

Another person asked what is the difference writing fiction vs. non-fiction. Mackenzi claims, "I need to get it [non-fiction] right. I can't fudge anything and say well it's fiction." It's more fun to write but more stressful. While researching for the book, she didn't have a lot of information about some women and the women that had the least information didn't make the cut for the book. Another question that was asked was what was the most interesting thing you found during researching? Mackenzi found a lot of men only spaces. Also, she found it interesting that people were more concerned and upset about Anne Lister being a business owner than a lesbian. This was back in the early 1800's.

What I loved during the event was when Mackenzi was chatting about how there are a lot of awesome outfits that the Bygone Badass Broads wore. Someone asked Mackenzi to choose her favorite outfit. Mackenzi said she loved many of the outfits but ultimately selected King Christina's of Sweden. If someone can make a Modcloth manufacturing like line of all the Bygone Badass Broads outfits, I am pretty sure Mackenzi would love it!

Bygone Badass Broads is a non-fiction book is chockfull of strong women with exceptional accomplishments. Fifty two women to be exact. Pretty much one woman per week of the year. Ranging from fifth century BC to almost present day, Mackenzi includes women of different cultures, faiths, nationalities, sexuality, etc. These empowering women prove to society that they can do what men can do and even more.