May 2018: Books, Vines & TV Shows

Since I made it a reading goal of mine to be more meaningful and careful in the books I pick this year, the amount I read each month has been scaling down. Thankfully, May brought with it some much-needed binge-worthy books to consume. In total, I read six books:

Book Tags: 

vine book tag-- bookspoils
I jumped on the opportunity to answer the Vine book tag with its burning, must-know questions, and it resulted in experiencing THE MOST FUN doing so. Including my favorite combination of books and vine compilations with titles like: “ancient vines i watch with my grandfather,” “vines rarer than a good night’s sleep,” and “vines 2 trick you into feeling happiness.”

Check it out in full here.

BLANK:

After months and months of rewatching SKAM (season two, to be specific), watching all the reactions to said favorite season, and watching all the remakes (except for one*), I was beyond elated to find a new show that is genuinely on par with the iconic content produced in the aforementioned.

BLANK is a Norwegian online series that uses an identical format of releasing real-time clips throughout the week that are then gathered into a full episode on Sunday mornings, to quote from the site that translates the clips.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. I’ll start at the beginning by noting that I was a tad apprehensive when I was a couple of minutes into the show since there didn’t seem to be any driving point the main character was heading to. As well as having the plot follow nineteen-year-old Ella, unsure of her future after completing high school and letting life happen to her instead of participating, didn’t do any favors to the developing storyline.

The scenes oddly felt like I was watching one of those “A Week in my Life” videos with the everyday banal exchanges, like, getting home, sending emails, preheating the oven for pizza, accompanying a friend on a Tinder hook up, etc. But whereas those vlogs tend to end after ten-or-so minutes, this first episode was over forty… So just as I was wondering what this show had going on for itself, a certain hooded boy appeared on screen and changed the pace of Ella’s daily life.

Just… I AM SO HAPPY THIS SHOW EXIST, AND I’M KEEPING MYSELF FROM SCREAMING OF JOY.

(Accurate visual of finishing the second episode and realizing I’ve finally found a new favorite show after nearly two years of watching and rewatching SKAM.)

BLANK excels at zeroing in on startling realistic scenes between two people overtly in sync with each another’s presence because CRUSHES TAKE EVERYTHING FROM YOU. Simen and Ella’s exchanges are mostly all non-verbal and there’s just so much power in their glances. Like, watching their every move like a hawk but making sure they don’t catch you looking, or walking by them and sneaking a glance and then channeling all your inner strength to not look back over your shoulder … Just utter happiness at soaking in their presence, not even having to talk. It’s these little moments that make everything so damn real and I am l i v i n g for it. This is exactly what I’ve been seeking: a romantic relationship I can vicariously live through.

Also:

  • I finished the second episode and punched the air from utter joy, like Amy from B99 below, because it ended on Ella walking away like a cool girl while Simen admired her move as he stood by, watching her move away.
  • I haven’t even mentioned the meta moment when Ella’s watching Skam Austin and starts discussing the show with Mats and comparing it to the original… 

It’s just so nice to have a show that makes me feel passionate again because I was starting to feel terrified that it wasn’t going to happen again anytime soon. Same for the books I’ve been reading this year. But thankfully the month of May pulled through with both.

*Germany can piss off before I’d consider giving them views.Screen Shot 2018-02-28 at 09.46.55

That was my May wrap-up, thank you for reading!

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Vine Book Tag: uh, yeah, I sure hope it is

This tag all about vines and books, originally created over at emmmabooks, came at a seamlessly perfect time, as I recently discovered this wholesome Youtube channel full of the rarest vine compilations, and I had the time of my life going through them all. I’m weirdly dedicated to it, as well, going the extra mile of writing down my favorite vines* so my memory won’t fail me (with titles like: “ancient vines i watch with my grandfather,” “vines rarer than a good night’s sleep,” and “vines 2 trick you into feeling happiness”). Plus, ever since I reviewed milk and vine in 2017, I’ve just been looking for a reason to combine books and vines on my blog again, and this feels like a great comeback.

(Warning: I’m going to have way too much fun coming up with answers for these must-know, burning questions.)

I Want To Be Famous: 

A book that is underrated but deserves more hype

I just recently completed my reading of Tell the Machine Goodnight by Katie Williams, which can essentially be narrowed down to two things: 1. it is a futuristic take on our national obsession with positive psychology, our reliance on quick fixes and technology. 2. it has the most brilliant insights and stubble little quips on life that are the key to my heart. Here’s an example of a favorite passage of mine, taken from my full review“Being home from college for the summer is like sleeping over at a friend’s house you’ve only ever visited in the afternoon. The furniture is familiar, but the light has gone funny on you.” 

I felt this all the more keenly when I stumbled upon this tweet the other day, channeling into those same emotions:

Tell the Machine Goodnight is set to release June 19th, so I’m hoping that by then the hype will have caught on. (In the meantime, I’d recommend checking out the gem that is Motherest by Kristen Iskandrian that was released last year, which I always rave about in tags for underrated favorites but decided to mix things up this time.)

Hzzuhk: 

A plot twist that caught you off guard

This answer will thread upon spoilers

Not a day goes by where I don’t try to make myself forget the moment of utter disbelief The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah made me go through when it hurt one of the best fictional boys to have graced my reading: Matthew Walker. If you’ve read my emotional review for the book, you know that Matthew’s friendship and budding relationship with our main character, Leni, was one of the most honest takes I’d read on experiencing the rush of giddy, young love. I always circle back to two quotes, in particular, when it comes to these two:

#1 realizing the moment you’ve caught feelings (so worth the read!!):

“It didn’t take Leni long to know that she was in trouble. She thought about Matthew constantly. At school she began to study his every move; she watched him as she would a prey animal, trying to glean intent from action. His hand sometimes brushed hers beneath the desk, or he touched her shoulder as he passed by her in the classroom. She didn’t know if those brief contacts were intentional or meaningful, but her body responded instinctively to each fleeting touch. Once she’d even risen from her chair, pushed her shoulder into his palm like a cat seeking attention. It wasn’t a thought, that lifting up, that unknown need; it just happened. And sometimes, when he talked to her, she thought he stared at her lips the way she stared at his. She found herself secretly mapping his face, memorizing every ridge and hollow and valley, as if she were an explorer and he her discovery.”

No fictional couple has made me feel as deeply as they have.

#2 the hidden things love teaches Leni:

“It was wonderful, exhilarating. She learned things no book had ever taught her—how falling in love felt like an adventure, how her body seemed to change at his touch, the way her armpits ached after an hour of holding him tightly, how her lips puffed and chapped from his kisses, and how his rough beard-growth could burn her skin.”

I was utterly intoxicated with their every move, which is why I wasn’t willing for anything even remotely bad to occur in the plot that would set them apart… Being this invested with a fictional couple meant that when the plot twist dropped (literally), it hit like a brick and I was beyond devastated. I go more deeply into what I felt in my review, but suffice to say that months and months later it still hurts to revisit it in my mind.

I Didn’t Get No Sleep ‘Cause of Y’all: 

A book you lost sleep over

The first feeling that hits me whenever I look at the cover for Matti Friedman’s Pumpkinflowers is utter and complete sleep-deprivation, simply because I thought it a bright idea at the time, upon waking up in the middle of a rare winter night, to read this war story deep into the morning hours; I hit two hours of sleep total that day.

It was one small hilltop in a small, unnamed war in the late 1990s, but it would send out ripples still felt worldwide today. The hill, in Lebanon, was called the Pumpkin; flowers was the military code word for “casualties.” Award-winning writer Matti Friedman re-creates the harrowing experience of a band of young soldiers–the author among them–charged with holding this remote outpost, a task that changed them forever and foreshadowed the unwinnable conflicts the United States would soon confront in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere.

Avi Ofner’s story still affects me deeply today. As well as this passage below that I shared in my review, recounting Harel’s response after tragedy hit his platoon:

“Once, in a television interview, Harel was asked how he did it—how he went back to the army after what happened. He looked at the interviewer for a moment. Here was a chance for an expression of ideology or faith, a love of country, all of those generations of Jews looking at him, depending on him not to give up. In the fighting in Jerusalem in 1967 some of the soldiers claim they felt King David himself pushing them through the alleyways. How did Harel go back? There might have been a flicker of disdain in his eyes, but otherwise he betrayed no emotion. “On the bus,” he said. It is one of the great lines.”

So No Head?: 

A book that makes you PISSED OFF (an event makes you angry or you’re angry you wasted time and money on this book)


I recently caved in to read the sequel to Wires and Nerve, Vol. 1, aka Marissa Meyer’s graphic novel adoption to The Lunar Chronicles, and I couldn’t even bother to complete it because I became so stuck on how utterly recyclable the plot for this sequel is.

Iko – an audacious android and best friend to the Lunar Queen Cinder – has been tasked with hunting down Alpha Lysander Steele, the leader of a rogue band of bioengineered wolf-soldiers who threaten to undo the tenuous peace agreement between Earth and Luna. Unless Cinder can reverse the mutations that were forced on them years before, Steele and his soldiers plan to satisfy their monstrous appetites with a massacre of the innocent people of Earth.

And to show he’s serious, Steele is taking hostages.

Scarlet and Wolf being separated is literally the same storyline (step by step) as Winter, the fourth book in TLC series. Also, the reasoning behind everything in the plot felt so caricature-esque; it’s like the author lost track of her characters and their unique components. The cast of characters in here (Cinder, Iko, Kai, Thorne, Cress, Scarlet, Wolf, Winter, Jacin) don’t hold their distinct voices anymore. I have no idea who’s talking unless I take a close look at the arrow of the speech bubble. It’s like they all lost their identity with this overkill sequel.

gone rogue-- bookspoilsPlus, now that’s it’s been a good couple of years since I last read about Wolf and Scarlet, I’m couldn’t shake my mind off the fact that 2014 YA dystopian was obsessed with Stockholm syndrome romances, like, first Warner and Juliette resurfacing with Restore Me, and now these two…

Can I Get A Waffle?: 

 A sequel/spin off that you are begging your favorite author for

Fangirl-- bookspoilsThe number of times I pick up Fangirl simply to read a page (preferably featuring Levi, as my review states: Why I Fangirl over Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl (Spoilers: Levi)) as a pick-me-up* during the day is insurmountable. And on every reread, my mind keeps begging for any info on new content from the author, preferably a fictional novel.

(*My process includes closing my eyes, flipping the book to a random page, taking my sweet time reading and smiling at my favorites, and then putting Fangirl down with a ‘to be continued’ look.)

To answer the question, my wildest dream would, of course, include a full sequel to Fangirl (other than the Cath and Levi cameo we receive in Landline). But I know not to get my hopes up on that one, so I’ll settle for any news regarding the future projects of Rainbow’s fictional books. I’d love to see her explore more Young Adult, in particular.

Please, Rainbow, can I get a waffle?

HoOAOAOOAOAH: 

A new release you are knocking on your local bookstore’s door for


I’ve had my eyes on this particular beauty of a book – on par with our green theme – since April, and I’m patiently waiting for the chance to read it. Thankfully, the synopsis sounds just as good as the cover looks:

It is Spring. A young woman, left by her husband, starts a new life in a Tokyo apartment. Territory of Light follows her over the course of a year, as she struggles to bring up her two-year-old daughter alone. Her new home is filled with light, streaming through the windows, so bright you have to squint, but she finds herself plummeting deeper into darkness; becoming unstable, untethered. As the months come and go, and the seasons turn, she must confront what she has lost and what she will become.

At once tender and lacerating, luminous and unsettling, Territory of Light is a novel of abandonment, desire and transformation. It was originally published in twelve parts in the Japanese literary monthly Gunzo, between 1978 and 1979, each chapter marking the months in real time.

I’m especially intrigued by the concept wherein each chapter in the book marks the months in real time. I hope it lives up to the hype I’ve created in my mind.Screen Shot 2018-02-28 at 09.46.55

Finally, to really end this tag on a good note, I have to highlight some of my absolute favorites:

Really hits the spot for me when compilations already have me laughing by the second vine, like the above.

I cannot get the race car cry after “I love you and I miss you” out of my head (minute 7:50), and it’s becoming a problem.

Another particular love of mine is when they include back-to-back vine series, like the one with the cups starting at the first minute.Screen Shot 2018-02-28 at 09.46.55

And that’s an official wrap on all my answers for the Vine book tag. I hope you enjoyed reading! If you’re interested in answering these questions, I tag you.

Oh, and let me know any of your favorite vines in the comments below!

Note: I’m an Amazon Affiliate. If you want to buy any of the reads I mention in this post, just click on the books to go through my link. I’ll make a small commission!

Review: The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

This must be my first romance read in years to come, but the premise behind The Kiss Quotient sounded like the right kind of light and steamy book I craved. The romance also indicates that a lot of the novel depends on feeling and less on rational thought, so the two constant moods I had during my reading experience – courtesy of the male lead, Michael Phan– can be summed up with these iconic vines:

 

 

 

Also: Why did I choose one of the warmest days of the season to read this book that had me blushing and sweating 90% of the time?? And how is it that I wasn’t even planning on reviewing The Kiss Quotient, but still felt the need to talk about it… We’ll start at the beginning by including the synopsis:

Stella Lane thinks math is the only thing that unites the universe. She comes up with algorithms to predict customer purchases–a job that has given her more money than she knows what to do with, and way less experience in the dating department than the average thirty-year-old.

It doesn’t help that Stella has Asperger’s and French kissing reminds her of a shark getting its teeth cleaned by pilot fish. Her conclusion: she needs lots of practice–with a professional. Which is why she hires escort Michael Phan. The Vietnamese and Swedish stunner can’t afford to turn down Stella’s offer, and agrees to help her check off all the boxes on her lesson plan–from foreplay to more-than-missionary position…

This is the one romance novel I read that gets things right by not focusing on exterior noise we’re not here for (like whining about one’s job, family, friend, etc.); we’re all here for the sweet rush of hormones, adrenaline, and swooning. So I was glad the author began the novel by skipping straight to the good stuff without having to pretend like we care for their personal lives outside the relationship because I obviously don’t if I picked up a romance book…

“She’d looked at him like she saw no one else. ”

I’m also beyond grateful Michael didn’t rush Stella into things their first time meeting and took things “ultra-slow” because that is just what she (and I) needed. soft scenes > hot and heavy scenes. Like, drawing out their first exquisite kiss:

The Kiss Quotient 1-- bookspoils

This boy had me nearly drooling like a dog.

Unfortunately so, this point is also where my following problems stem from with the remaining half of The Kiss Quotient . After Stella and Michael grow, naturally, more comfortable with one another, the soft scenes get dropped into the background to give light to more racy developments… which after a couple of chapters of the same old same had me feeling numb. I feel like the chase between Stella and Michael was way more exhilarating for me than them actually being together. (I mean, don’t even get me started on the traumatizing ‘meet the family’ scene * shudders *.)

I just wanted my soft man to show, but in its place, when both the novelty and excitement wear off, his over-protective ways show, which I personally wasn’t too keen on it; Stella definitely was.

All in all: The Kiss Quotient plunged me into an exhilarating head-start with its romance, so much so that I felt like Cookie Monster, wanting more and more, to quote from Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl: “I never think the chapters are too long. I just want more and more and more.” The girl waved her hands in front of her mouth like she was Cookie Monster eating cookies.” 

ARC kindly provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Publication Date: June 5th, 2018

bookspoilsbookspoilsbookspoils

Note: I’m an Amazon Affiliate. If you’re interested in buying The Kiss Quotientjust click on the image below to go through my link. I’ll make a small commission!