Thursday, October 20, 2016

Ode to Cookies by Nikki King

Your dough made of flour, eggs, sugar and salt
Your sweet scent knows no bounds and makes me come to a halt.
Perfect little spheres all in a row,
Tucked into the oven and starting to grow.
10 minutes go by and you’re a perfect golden brown.
I immediately take a hot, gooey bite.
Maybe I should have let it cool off on the tray.
Yet even when burning my mouth you won’t find a frown
The taste of heaven is quite a respite
This is why molten cookies will always be bae.

The survivors of my pillage pile up on a plate
The sweet melted chips sitting pretty like bait
Just crisp enough to stay in one piece
I blink and the numbers start to decrease
There is no loud crack, crumble, or crunch
With these cookies- no, no
Even after their proper cool-down they are a smooth delight.
These buttery creations continuously getting munched
Three then four then six until I have to slow
Saving them for a snack at midnight.

The golden ratio of sugars exact as usual
Create that wafting fragrant aroma that’s crucial
Melted down and foraged to perfection
This kind of homemade excellence can’t escape my detection.
It’s hard to imagine the separate ingredients from just 3 hours past
Slowly churning, slowly earning their spot in my tummy.
Not-so-slowly disappearing as I consumed raw brilliance
I gaze remorsefully toward my hand at the last
The beads of chocolate embedded in an ambrosia of yummy
Then ‘snarf’, the last cookie (for now) is out of existence.

This is something a little different than normal. While I am definitely mainly a review blog, I thought here might be a good place to post some of my writing! Reviews will be tagged 'review' as well as getting tagged by the number of stars I give it, and my writing will be tagged 'nikki writes' for easy navigation if you want to avoid posts like this in the future! Have a great week everyone :)

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Sula's Voyage by Catherine Torres

Sula’s Voyage
by Catherine Torres
Publication Date: May 2016
Publisher: Scholastic
Source: Author
Find This Book: Sula’s Voyage
Rating: 4/5

I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I’m not sure if I was in the position to truly comprehend and appreciate the culture represented in this novel, but I loved to try. The novel included beautiful portrayals of the Philippines and their culture, though some of it might have gone over my head. Divine superstition, kissing elder’s hands and the food is mainly what I got from this novel. I’d only read one other book set in the Philippines before, so it was great to leave the usual American setting (Memoirs of a Non-Enemy Combatant by Alex Gilvarry for those interested).

This was a great coming of age book about the main character, 15 year old Sula, with some fantasy elements and romance swept in for good measure, which was really cool. The book wasn’t particularly focused on Sula’s magical healing powers; in fact they weren’t even 100% confirmed until the very end of the book. Instead it was about Sula’s self-identity and family. As the daughter of a marine science researcher she constantly moves and changing schools which can’t be easy when searching for stability and a place one can call home.

On a different note, a major plot point was that Sula was made fun of for her dark skin, which contrasts starkly from her family’s pale skin. Her father’s parents even seemed to disown them because Sula was a “bastard” child. This plot point left me extremely confused. Maybe it’s a difference of culture? I don’t understand why Sula’s parents didn’t just admit and say that she was adopted to begin with. Obviously she is not theirs, so why pretend up to the point where you have a fake story of her birth and the father’s parent’s believe you has an affair with a dark skinned man? Does it really matter that she’s not their flesh and blood? That’s pretty much the only thing that bothered me with this novel, but again it could just be a cultural thing that I’m not getting? But at the end this was kinda swept under the rug really fast and they became a happy family again without much discussion about them lying to her about her heritage after all these years. This is the one thing that detracted from the book for me.

I thought that Sula’s relationship with her parents, especially her dad, was really cute. The story starts out with Sula being in her father’s college classes because she decided to not go back to her high school. She hits it off with another student named James until he mysteriously disappears and her mother sweeps her off to The Cove, the home of her Mother’s best friend. More characters are then introduced including the best friend, her husband, and their three children, which whom Sula has intricate relationships with. My favorite was probably her newly formed relationship with the daughter, Mira. Beach bonding and fire dancing was just so sweet and fun to read. It wasn’t even a big part of the book but it really is all about the little moments adding up, and this was done really well by Catherine Torres! This was an extremely enjoyable and easy read and my biggest problem with it is that there should be more! There’s lots of nice details in the book and it overshadows the relationships a bit, but I wouldn’t want the details cut either. Making the book a bit longer would have been worth it to show off the different relationships at a deeper level!

I don’t normally do this, but a quote really got to me and this review wouldn’t feel right without me sharing it. The quote was Tita Lupe’s (who is dying of cancer) last words:

“The sea had salt enough without us adding our tears to it”

This simple eloquence really made me think, which is exactly what a great book should do!

Another thing that I loved was Sula’s relationship with James. He was mentioned before as her fellow classmate and love interest in the novel. I felt like their relationship was important to the novel, but it didn’t become the center point or take over the plot. Furthermore, they actually had interesting and intelligent conversations instead of the clichéd jabs-back-and-forth-until-the-inevitable-kiss. This as not only refreshing, but also extremely thought-provoking to read. Particularly their first conversation alone when James discusses his project about turning the sea waves into music. This reminded me of the sort of smart, creative, weirdness that my own friends get into. It again wasn’t a huge plot point in the novel, but it was probably my favorite part. I love getting to learn new things and the second I read this I immediately texted them up about what a cool concept this would be!

All in all, I'm glad I had the opportunity to read this book and it's no surprise this was an Asian Book Award finalist!

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Stacking the Shelves #2

Hosted By Tynga's Reviews 

(yeah this is a tad late)

I've already read A Series of Unfortunate Events and was ecstatic to find that Chatham's very own Where the Sidewalk Ends bookstore has a sort of partnership with his wife, who's also an author. Summer resident's of Chatham, they had a book signing and I got my hands on my childhood favorite series- signed. I couldn't be happier!

(It took me a whiiiiiiile to finally find some old editions of Clare's books so that my series would all match)

The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket
The Reptile Room by Lemony Snicket
The Wide Window by Lemony Snicket
City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare
City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare
Splintered by A.G. Howard
The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

For Review:
Sula's Voyage by Catherine Torres

What did you add to your shelves this week? Be sure to leave your links bellow so I can see your STS posts as well. Have a fantastic day!

Monday, July 4, 2016

Helm Abomination (Haven Awakening #2) by Gryffyn Phoenix

Helm Abomination (Haven Awakening #2)
by Gryffyn Phoenix
Publication Date: June 15th 2016
Publisher: Avalerion Books, Inc.
Source: Author
Find This Book: Helm Abomination
Rating: 4/5

I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

As you may know, I was given a copy of Haven Awakening a week or so ago. You can read the review if you’re interested HERE.  This was so I could read and review an ARC of book two which just came out! I was super pumped after Haven Awakening and jumped right into Helm Abomination, and while this book left me with many questions I’m hoping they’ll all be resolved in future books!

I really loved the chill, stylized writing of the author. Verity felt like a girlie girl naïve, totally sheltered 16-year-old girl. I thought some of the gay remarks were weird and off-putting, but she’s an ignorant teen who hasn’t interacted with anyone but her 2 siblings so I guess it’s understandable, but this knocked the book down a star for me. I respected how sweet Verity is with all of the ‘monsters’ they come across throughout the novel. Cass and trained Haven to kill everything and Helm adapted to do the same. Verity on the other hand recognizes that killing doesn’t need to be the answer. These creatures are hurting and are quite amiable when cared for. Helm becoming a sanctuary for these misunderstood animals was like a page out of Hagrid’s book and I adored how great it turned out. Mythological creatures as pets? YES PLEASE.

Reading about Helm after spending all of book one in Haven was awesome. I’d so rather live in Helm and I felt like I got to learn about and understand more of the guys living at Helm than I did of the people back in Haven. My favorite character in Helm is probably Book, their researcher, because he’s a shy introvert in the dramatized extreme. Watching him come out of his shell for Verity was so cute because they are both sweetie pies. While Verity does get a bit clichéd when she goes into the “I’m so average” spiel, I appreciate how non-typical she is in other regards. She actually talks to her parents, she actually cracks open some books and does school work. When she gets thrust into this world she doesn’t suddenly become super badass and awesome. She learns and trains really hard to create and improve upon her skills. She doesn’t need a makeover to get the cute guy. Cute guy already likes her and she wears the makeup to bring confidence to herself. No eyebrows were knit in the making of this book. The most important part- she eats like a normal human with the healthy food and junk food mixed in giving her a normal human figure. Who knew I would crave all of this normalcy out of a fantasy book? It was so revitalizing to not be constantly thinking “ok… that will never happen in real life”. Everything sort of fit in with the fantasy and created universe of the book.

This book was just as easy to pick up and enjoy as book 1, though it left me aware of just how much Verity and I didn’t know/understand. I feel like the origin story of Helm and Haven has so many conflicting variations that I’m still not really sure why they were formed or why they suddenly became enemies aside from just the appearance of Cass, but that really doesn’t tell me much. This vagueness by the end of book 2 is also a reason I can't give the book all 5 stars. How does a newbie like Cass suddenly turn up and create upheaval within Haven all that time ago? Why would the citizens of Haven allow her to turn them into this? Heck I still don't know what Cass is or what her powers consist of. I need details in the next book. Also, where does Cass gets all of this anger and hatred from? The girl needs to take a chill pill, I’m still not sure where this conflict came from/what it’s based on. This clearly all started before Verity got the magical eyes. Additionally, we have some sort of prophecy that implies Verity kills Haydn, her boy toy, but it’s not really clear where this prophecy came from, what it’s exact words are, or how Haydn, Kaydn, and Cass are connected. They have a huge reveal that Verity can’t kill Cass without Cass bringing Kaydn with her and that if Kaydn dies so will Haydn. I get that there was totally no time in the moment to explain this all to Verity… but I still at some point need an explanation to this. Lastly, what the heck is up with Verity’s family? What are her parents? Are they even related? What happened to her siblings? Where the heck did Grandma just poof off to? What is their ancestry? How does Verity’s body changes affect her life/the future of the plot??? You better be writing Gryffyn, because I NEED ANOTHER BOOK. I NEED ANSWERS.

PS please put in more domovi scenes because the lil purple creatures are so cute and their relationship with Verity really evolved this book and I’m hoping for hugs and maybe a conversation one day. Verity will certainly need her domovi now more than ever after that killer ending. *wink wink* Haha. Puns.