Book Haul: November + December 2016

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In two months I bought less than 10 books, which is an anomaly for me. (Well, actually, I purchased more than ten if you count the ones I got for others as presents, but let me have my small victory anyway.) Unfortunately though, I can’t say my restraint was nearly as successful with magnetic bookmarks. After four months of not ordering a single one, I caved and indulged in several sets. 😄 (Clearly, Christmas shopping is too dangerous of a task for me. LOL.) But, overall, I’d say I (and my wallet) was pretty happy with the results despite the bookmarks splurge. Plus, a few of these featured titles were gifts or review copies that I received.

This is also rare, but since buying these I’ve read a couple. Normally, I buy books and let them chill, collecting dust, on my shelves for years. So I’ll link my book reviews if available. And, of course, all other links will lead to Goodreads. By now, most of you are already aware that I get all my magnetic bookmarks from Happy Hello Art on Etsy, so head over to them if you’re interested in obtaining some. I did order several custom made ones this time; Vivi and her team are simply the best.

Anyhow, I hope that you all like the photos! I tried a new flatlay using a glittery stars wire thing; I have no idea what it’s called actually, haha.

Books

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Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

9780142420591-1-683x1024Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
Published by Philomel Books on March 22, 2011
Genres: [Young Adult] Historical Fiction
Pages: 344
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books a Million

5 Stars, Completed January 14, 2017

– SPOILER free –

Between Shades of Gray sets place in early 1940s Europe. A young Lithuanian girl and her family are torn from their comfortable life and sent to a camp in Siberia and later a prison in the Arctics; at both locations and during the passages between they will witness and endure horrifying treatment from the Soviets under the rule of Stalin. This affecting novel recounts a journey that spans over several years and covers 6,500 miles. It displays one of humanity’s unfathomably darkest and most hidden parts of history.

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When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

whenbreathbecomesair_0When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
Published by Random House on January 12, 2016
Genres: [Adult] Nonfiction, Autobiography, Memoir
Pages: 208
Format: Hardcover –> eBook
Source: Purchased –> Borrowed

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books a Million

5 Stars, Completed January 8, 2017

– SPOILER free –

When Breath Becomes Air shares the story of Paul Kalanithi, an exceptional and gifted neurosurgeon that found his life upended while in his last year of residency when signs of illness started to appear. After medical tests, it was discovered that he, in fact, had stage IV metastatic lung cancer. With his life no different from a ticking clock, he began to ask questions that would confront his mortality. What should he do with the remaining time he has left? Should he return to neurosurgery, or should he write? Should he and his wife, Lucy, have children? In this memoir, Kalanithi answers these questions (and provides responses to many more) by taking readers along his trek of leading a life as (some days) a doctor, (most days) a patient, and (everyday) a human desperate to stay alive.

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Bookshelf Tour

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If you guys saw my Instagram story from last week, you might have noticed that I decided to reorganize my books once again. (At first, it sounded like a good idea due to my “new year, new changes” mentality, but then I soon realized how insane I was when a sea of books started to emerge as I began pulling books off the shelves.) Anyway, I thought I’d share these changes since it was quite a drastic transformation this time.

It’s been over a year that I’ve had my books arranged as a quasi rainbow shelf. Though it looked glorious for bookstagram pictures, I couldn’t stand that I had my series separated and it was impractical when I had to search for a title. Keeping that set up was also becoming tedious because I started to accumulate more manga series, which I couldn’t bear splitting up and having them together made the overall look of the scheme pretty wonky. I also now have so many books that I need to double stack shelves in order to conserve shelf space, which doesn’t look as great with the color coordinated trend either.

Therefore me and my dad had a talk and agreed that we were going to move his DVDs (which were at the time occupying the two side shelves that you guys seldom see in my photos) into an empty room we have upstairs. (In exchange for the extra space, the compromise is that he gets unlimited library access to all my books whenever he wants. It’s sort of always been an unbreakable rule that no one-no matter how long or strong of a tie/relationship you have with me-borrows my books. But considering how much shelf space he sacrificed for me, I think the trade is fair. XD) So, basically, now I have a total of five columns of shelves just for books, which is amazing!

With so much room to work with, I didn’t really know how I wanted my books… I just knew I wanted my series reunited once again. Anyhow, I ended up settling with how I had my books set up prior to my rainbow experiment, which was by genre.

So here’s the final look! I admit that it isn’t half as pretty compared to what I had before, but the logical person in me approves and loves this so much more than the former. Also, there’s still a small color coordinated section with my contemporary standalones. If I ever feel like I miss the previous arrangement, I at least have that last remnant of the epic rainbow shelf to stare at. Haha.

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Blue Spring Ride

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0072Blue Spring Ride (Ao Haru Ride) (アオハライド)
Original Story by
 Io Sakisaka
Art by Io Sakisaka
Published by Bessatsu Margar from 2011 to 2015
Genres: [Shoujo] Romance, School, Slice of Life
Volumes: 13
Chapters:
53
Status of manga:
 Completed*
My rating for the anime: 8/10
My rating for the live action film: 6.5/10

*Review based on entire manga series

MAL Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books a Million

Purchase links are not available because, as of when this review is published, this manga has yet to be officially serialized in English. However, you can still read this online with fan-subs.

3.5 Stars, Reread January 1, 2017

– read the bold text to avoid minor SPOILERS –

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Gif credits to wordstuck

If I had to choose one word to describe this manga series, it would be the Japanese adjective, “懐かしい” (natsukashii). This term is difficult to translate into English accurately and completely, but it is often used to express a yearning for something, or a slightly nostalgic feeling of missing. As a non-native and amateur learning the foreign language for my own fun, how I’ve personally interpret natsukashii is the feeling you get when you’re reminded of the past. And Blue Spring Ride made me feel just that.

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The story begins with two middle schoolers, Futaba Yoshioka and Kou Tanaka, that like each other making plans to attend a festival together during their school break. However, misunderstandings arise after Futaba accidentally blurts that she hates boys because of their obnoxious behavior. Kou hears her exclamation, and doesn’t meet up with Futaba the day of the event. Futaba believes that he stood her up for the outburst that he overheard, but really he couldn’t make it because of family issues. So she decides to address this misunderstanding when they return to school. But on the day of the new semester, Futaba discovers that Kou has already transferred schools to another town. With a lot of loose ends left and the strength of first love, the two never forget each other in spite of the distance. And then years later, fate makes them enrolled in the same high school. Will they finally face each other after all this time? And will the attraction they shared from the past be rekindled?

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Summing It Up: December 2016

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Happy 2017, friends! 🎉 It seems that I’ve decided to start the year strong with three scheduled blog posts in a row, haha. Make sure to check out my 2017 Resolutions and Blogiversary post if you haven’t already and would like to.

So, the beginning of December was slightly stressful because final exams had me like:

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But I managed to survive. I did end up getting a couple of B’s/B+’s in 4 of the 9 courses I took, which is disappointing to a degree because it’s worse than how I normally do in school. But you know what? I’m totally happy with the results, because my GPA didn’t suffer too much and I have no plans on pursuing further education after I graduate pharmacy school. Plus, one of the B’s resulted from a ridiculous curve in pathophysiology (and pharmacology; it’s a combined course), so I should be very thankful. 🙏🏼

As for the second half of the month, it was quite restful and relaxing. I did stay busy with working at the family salon and running errands that I’d put off for the entire year in my free time but I also indulged in countless of frappucinos when I was out, finished an awesome drama called Nirvana in Fire (if you haven’t already read about how it gave me all the feels, click here), and spent time with my good friends and father.

And I’m still on winter break, which means I have some time to finish catching up with book reviews and blog hopping before I return to school. The spring semester begins less than a week on the 9th, however, and then I’ll be in hibernation again.

So that was my month in a nutshell. Now let’s get on with recapping the other parts of my December (plus pictures), shall we? 😉

December Blog Posts*

*in publication order

What a sad, sad month in the book blogging department. This is the first month since I’ve started to blog where I didn’t post a single review on here (or on my Goodreads). I’m in the process of drafting six but I haven’t had the will to finish them. Sigh. I’ll be better, I promise.

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Happy New Year + Looking Back at 2016 + 2017 Resolutions

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Happy new year, everyone! 🎉

Gee, where does the time go, right? Though 2016 wasn’t the best year for the world, I had a pretty okay 2016 myself. I left teenagehood and started my 20s. I began pursuing my dream career by beginning pharmacy school. I managed to still schedule posts for this blog every month (some months with a mere 1 post-but still), completed my Goodreads reading challenge of 30 books with surpassing it by 16, and learned to achieve a better (personal) balance between my internet and real life.

Anyway, I’m in disbelief with all that has happened this past year-the bad and the good; it’s unbelievable that we’ve made it to another year already. But I hope that this year will come with good (if not better) surprises for us all. And I wish you all a very safe and healthy 2017.

And with a new year I think that means another list of resolutions is due? But before I share what goals I have for 2017, I think it’s only proper to see if I was at all successful with the ones from 2016 first.

Here are my finalized thoughts on that subject:

Evaluating My 2016 Resolutions

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Nirvana in Fire (A Long Review + Appreciation Post for the Best Historical C-Drama Out There)

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Despite having been on winter break for the past ten days, I’ve neglected this blog badly. Simply because life has been busy. I’ve been helping out with the family business since the holidays are our busiest, and on my days off I’ve been running many errands. In between working, getting things done (like Christmas shopping, visiting the optometrist, renewing my driver’s license, etc), and just having finished an academic semester, I also have not felt that motivated to read. And, subsequently, I haven’t been inspired to blog. Of course, (I know I keep saying this but) I promise I’ll get back to comments and bookish related posts before my winter break ends if not very soon. However, for now, aside from this small update, all I can offer is sharing my most recent non-bookish obsession that has taken over my life as of late.

A few weeks ago, I posted a quasi review of Princess Weiyoung, a Chinese historical drama that was extremely compelling and entertaining but not necessarily flawless for its jarring plot holes, sometimes awkward acting, and repetitive storyline. Soon after completing that one, I moved onto yet another lengthy period drama also set during the Southern and Northern dynasties called Nirvana in Fire. What reservations I had with Princess Weiyoung were completely absent with the latter.

To not give too much away, Nirvana in Fire is a story about a man’s quest of revenge and his path on clearing his family’s name of crimes they did not commit as well as secretly help his childhood friend, an unfavored prince, become emperor. Though this one line synopsis suggests that this series is quite simple, straightforward and uncomplicated it certainly was not.

Nirvana in Fire has been called “China’s Game of Thrones” for the vast recognition its received since airing in late 2015; it reached commercial and critical success with its positive ratings and viewership numbers (exceeding 10 million views by the second day!). Despite its popularity, I’ve put this title off because there are fifty four 45 minute episodes, which is a great commitment to juggle with school-especially since I was already watching Princess Weiyoung at the time. So once my break began, I knew it was about time to marathon this series. And, gosh, Nirvana in Fire went beyond my expectations and absolutely blew me away.

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Princess Weiyoung

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Edit 1/4/2016: In hindsight, I feel like I overhyped Princess Weiyoung with this review post. After completing (and loving!) Nirvana in Fire subsequently after this one, I thought the latter was much, much better. So if you’d like to, here’s my post on Nirvana in Fire. I highly suggest watching NiF instead if you haven’t already. It’s also set during the Northern and Southern dynasties and has a revenge plot (like Princess Weiyoung), but the storyline, acting, and execution is more phenomenal!

Alright, everyone, brace yourselves for an extremely long, intense fangirl session. (You’ve been warned.)

Many of you know I’ve been on a hiatus because of school. But fall finals hasn’t been the only thing keeping me occupied. I’m not sure why this always happens… but near the end of the semester (when it’s pretty much a dark time for students), for some stupid reason, I think it’s okay to start watching a drama. Even crazier and worse is that the one I choose tends to become one that I totally obsess over. Last year it was It’s Okay, That’s Love, and this time (no surprise really if you’ve read my latest post or have talked to me outside XingsingsPrincess Weiyoung.

Princess Weiyoung is essentially another revenge plot that takes place during the Northern and Southern dynasties (so roughly sometime between 400 to 600) adapted from a Chinese novel called The Poisonous Daughter by Qin Jian*. The story begins with a general from the Chiyun clan falsely accusing and murdering the Northern Liang’s royal family, turning the young, care free Liang princess, Feng Xin’er, into a girl without a family and identity. Then perhaps by fate, Xin’Er meets and befriends Li Weiyoung, the illegitimate daughter of a general that works for the Northern Wei. Weiyoung dies while protecting Xin’Er, and the latter assumes Weiyoung’s identity and vows to avenge her friend’s death as well as her late family.

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