May Rewind (Yes, I’m Still Here)

While I didn’t fall off the face of the earth (exactly), I have been pretty noticeably absent from the internet. Not on purpose. I just had such a busy month that it made April (see Aprilpocalypse) look, bland.

An accurate representation of me and May

Not only was I traveling up and down the country in the first week, I have a lot going on. And no internet at home (I’ve mentioned this), which makes blogging tricky if you also have extremely limited spare time. For the record, I had all kinds of ideas for posts – which I didn’t write – and planned to do some tags – which I didn’t finish (does starting count?) – and you’re getting the picture.

So while I wasn’t online, I actually have a lot of things to recap in the Monthly Wrap-Up Round-Up, hosted and originated by Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction. Click through to check out her lovely book blog and join the link-up/read some more monthly wrap-ups.

May started off with a bang – as I had to go on TV. I’m not a TV person. But hey, what can you do *shrugs*. But here it is, if you’re interested 😛

The books I picked/discussed were Jakob’s Colors, The Residence, Thorn, Haymaker, and Finding Winnie. I thought it was a nice, diverse little group – and I didn’t forget what any of them were about!! (I was seriously worried about this – it’s a bookseller’s nightmare)

After I survived the TV – I immediately flew down to Pensacola, FL. Enroute (okay, at O’Hare Airport), my phone crashed and died and was no more (no idea why). So I had no way to contact my family, who had planned on picking me up later in Pensacola, to then drive us to Gulf Shores, Alabama, to meet up with the rest of my mom’s family. This was annoying, but providentially, my sister was just pulling a loop around the Pensacola airport (in my parent’s 15 passenger van, which is unmistakable due to the Oatmeal Savage bumper sticker – see below).

Before we made the 45 min drive to Gulf Shores, we stopped at a magical place – Joe Patti’s World Famous Seafood Market (I’d never heard of it . . .).

Not that kind of magical place!

It’s full of fresh fish, but you can hardly even smell them, which means it’s incredibly clean. Fyi, if I lived within an hour or two of this place, I would shop there at least twice a week. The fish was gorgeous, fresh, and profuse. They also have a sushi bar and a bunch of cool and/or local ingredients. My sister and I purchased everything we needed for sushi (including a beautiful pound of tuna). We packed it on ice, and headed to the gulf.

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I don’t know about you, but the sight/smell of the ocean immediately relaxes me. It’s the real vacation part (Having a dead phone and being <1,000 mi from work/home helps too).

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Of course, there was a “dangerous sea creatures advisory” the whole time I was there (one guy saw a seven-foot shark – thankfully, I just saw a large stingray. Well. Two.) But this didn’t stop me from swimming. Fortunately, I never saw a shark. I’d love to see a shark – as long as I was nowhere near the water. But not in the water with me. No thank you.

At any rate, I ate my fill of fresh fish. And I made sushi! That tuna was so good, guys – velvety smooth and with the lightest taste and texture you can imagine. And now I’m hungry . . .

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SUSHI

Other than my phone debacle (I wasted a couple of hours trying to fix it), everything was pretty good – until my ENTIRE family got really sick. My grandma and I were the only ones who didn’t get it, even though we were exposed to everyone. Because of the sick people, we were put behind schedule, and I ended up driving most of my family to Tennessee. They were all sickly and weak, but we made it. A good music playlist helped 🙂 (And it was hilarious to hear my littlest sister singing along to Bigbang’s If You – which is almost completely in Korean – and I had no idea she knew the song . . .). But my younger sisters’ favorite non-Disney song to listen to is the catchy, feel-good Just Right by GOT7:

Err, yes . . . anyhow – we survived the trip and made it to Nashville. I got to see my precious niece for a couple of hours (but she was sick too), and my brother and sister-in-law. It was still worth it, though. After this, I had my airport—->BEA 2016/Chicago Adventure, which I actually wrote a post about:

After I got back, it was an immediate plunge back into work – with a few too many 12-15 hr work days (if you combine both job shifts) and far too little sleep.

In the meantime, I cram-read some books – here are a few thoughts on them:

Just My Luck by Cammie McGovern – 4.5 stars (MG fiction)

Synopsis: “Fourth grade is not going at all how Benny Barrows hoped. He hasn’t found a new best friend. He’s still not a great bike rider—even though his brother George, who’s autistic, can do tricks. And worst of all, he worries his dad’s recent accident might be all his fault. Benny tries to take his mom’s advice and focus on helping others, and to take things one step at a time. But when his dad ends up in the hospital again, Benny doesn’t know how he and his family will overcome all the bad luck that life has thrown their way.”

Thoughts: Just My Luck was a sweet, touching, and relatable little novel. The tone and writing were fabulous, and Benny’s voice was pitch-perfect. To be honest, I related more to him than I do to most YA/Adult protagonists! It made me laugh aloud, and I really was rooting for the Barrows family to overcome all their “bad luck.”As a bookseller, this is one of my favorite summer picks for MG readers (and their parents).
The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi – 3.75/4 stars

Synopsis: “Maya is cursed. With a horoscope that promises a marriage of death and destruction, she has earned only the scorn and fear of her father’s kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her whole world is torn apart when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. Soon Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Neither roles are what she expected: As Akaran’s queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar’s wife, she finds something else entirely: Compassion. Protection. Desire…

But Akaran has its own secrets—thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Soon, Maya suspects her life is in danger. Yet who, besides her husband, can she trust? With the fate of the human and Otherworldly realms hanging in the balance, Maya must unravel an ancient mystery that spans reincarnated lives to save those she loves the most…including herself.”

Thoughts: I loved the setting and the lush descriptions, but I’ve read so many Cupid & Psyche/Hades & Persephone/Bluebeard type novels that I have trouble keeping them straight. I was far more invested in the mythology and world than the story or romance, but that was to be expected. So I’m not sure if it was the book, or just me. Maya was a wonderful, strong heroine though!!
In Defense of the Princess by Jerramy Fine – 4-ish stars (adult nonfiction/memoir/essay)

Synopsis-It’s no secret that most girls, at some point, love all things princess: the poofy dresses, the plastic tiaras, the color pink. Even grown-up women can’t get enough of royal weddings and royal gossip. Yet critics claim the princess dream sets little girls up to be weak and submissive, and allows grown women to indulge in fantasies of rescue rather than hard work and self-reliance.
Enter Jerramy Fine – an unabashed feminist who is proud of her life-long princess obsession and more than happy to defend it. Through her amusing life story and in-depth research, Fine makes it clear that feminine doesn’t mean weak, pink doesn’t mean inferior, and girliness is not incompatible with ambition. From 9th century Cinderella to modern-day Frozen, from Princess Diana to Kate Middleton, from Wonder Woman to Princess Leia, Fine valiantly assures us that princesses have always been about power, not passivity. And those who love them can still be confident, intelligent women.

Thoughts: While I never really disagreed with Fine in the essentials, I thought her take on things would be interesting. Regardless, this was a really fun read, and it was so hilarious that I kept stopping to read lines to my sister. I had definite ambitions to be a princess (specifically Princess Jasmine) when I was little too, and I completely understand the “longing to find the place where you belong, or your ‘people,’ so to speak” that Fine describes so authentically. The most interesting part was her bio list (at the end) of real world princesses. These women don’t sit around on their hands and look pretty!! In other words, this is my pick for a beach read 😛
A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavalaero – 2.75/3 stars (YA Contemporary/Mystery)

Synopsis: The last thing Jamie Watson wants is a rugby scholarship to Sherringford, a Connecticut prep school just an hour away from his estranged father. But that’s not the only complication: Sherringford is also home to Charlotte Holmes, the famous detective’s great-great-great-granddaughter, who has inherited not only Sherlock’s genius but also his volatile temperament. From everything Jamie has heard about Charlotte, it seems safer to admire her from afar.

From the moment they meet, there’s a tense energy between them, and they seem more destined to be rivals than anything else. But when a Sherringford student dies under suspicious circumstances, ripped straight from the most terrifying of the Sherlock Holmes stories, Jamie can no longer afford to keep his distance. Jamie and Charlotte are being framed for murder, and only Charlotte can clear their names. But danger is mounting and nowhere is safe—and the only people they can trust are each other.

Thoughts: I really wanted to like this book. And to be honest, the mystery and setting were kind of interesting, so I finished it. But it didn’t work for me on any other level. Jamie was ok, but I found his admiration of Charlotte to be a bit more slavish than sympathetic . . . Granted, I love the original stories (and the show Sherlock), so I’m a tough customer. To be honest, just read Cait @ Paper Fury‘s review here. She’s 100% right about this book.
Memories of Ash (Sunbolt #2) by Intisar Khanani – 5 stars (YA Fantasy)

SynopsisIn the year since she cast her sunbolt, Hitomi has recovered only a handful of memories. But the truths of the past have a tendency to come calling, and an isolated mountain fastness can offer only so much shelter. When the High Council of Mages summons Brigit Stormwind to stand trial for treason, Hitomi knows her mentor won’t return—not with Arch Mage Blackflame behind the charges.

Armed only with her magic and her wits, Hitomi vows to free her mentor from unjust imprisonment. She must traverse spell-cursed lands and barren deserts, facing powerful ancient enchantments and navigating bitter enmities, as she races to reach the High Council. There, she reunites with old friends, planning a rescue equal parts magic and trickery.

If she succeeds, Hitomi will be hunted the rest of her life. If she fails, she’ll face the ultimate punishment: enslavement to the High Council, her magic slowly drained until she dies.

Thoughts: You can read my full review here – but I loved it! If you haven’t read these books, you need to. Memories of Ash was basically everything I was wanting (only it wasn’t about 600 pages longer). And I’m not complaining about length here, because it was already novel sized, which fulfilled my wish from Sunbolt.
Noragami, Stray God Volume #1 – Manga – 3-ish stars

Synopsis: Yato is a stray god. He doesn’t even have a shrine, not to mention worshipers! Hoping he’ll eventually raise enough money to build himself the lavish temple of his dreams, Yato accepts all kinds of jobs. Of course, he can’t afford to be picky; from finding lost kittens to helping a student overcome bullies, no job is too small for Yato, the god-for-hire! An eccentric story with a charming cast of characters!

Thoughts: Meh. It was funny and the art was good, but I just didn’t care. But that seems to be the case with a lot of first volumes in manga. I might read the second one, but I won’t go out of my way to try . . .

The Decent Proposal by Kemper Donovan – DNF

Urgh. Cutesy, kitschy, trite, twee, tepid – I could go on with the adjectives, but there’s a reason I didn’t finish this one. Adult Contemporary is the new YA – unrelatable characters, randomness, and everyone is stupidly attractive. And we’re supposed to swallow all of this with heaping tables of sugar. No. Thank. You.

Currently Reading:

The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye – I’m finally getting into it after several misfires. Once I got over the angsting and being-beautifulness of the first few chapters (and the magical duels started), the story really took off.

Your Lie in April, Volume #1 by Naoshi Arakawa – I got this for free, so I’m reading it. I don’t know how I feel about it yet. The art is cute though. And I’m extremely confused by the title.

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee – I just started this, so I don’t have any opinions. The first chapter is good! Regardless, I’m extremely excited about this one.

My novels:

I’ve been tapping away (a bit) at Red as Blood, and I featured secondary protagonist Mollie in May’s Beautiful People. I plan on using another one of the Seven Sisters for June’s BP, so I’m looking forward to that.

I’ve been reading through The Last Coffee Shop, and been pleasantly surprised – for a NaNoWriMo project, it isn’t nearly as terrible as I thought it would be!! That’s always awesome. At any rate, if I can get my act together, I might be ready for a few betas sooner than I thought – maybe this fall :0 I still love the world, story, and characters, and I want other people to make me more rational about it . . .

Other than that, I haven’t had much time to write (as my lack of blog posts will attest to).

Movies, Music, and More:

I saw Captain America: Civil War twice, and loved it both times. I think it did a great job of incorporating all the characters, the previous movies, and paying tribute to the comics. The acting was spot-on, Black Panther was epic, Bucky and Falcon as rivals/friends/enemies, and I love how the Russos write Black Widow. Now if we could just get that Black Widow movie . . .

I also saw X-Men: Apocalypse, which was a lot better than I was expecting. It wasn’t as good as the animated comic arc from the 90’s, but it was entertaining. And I loved Storm. Professor X and Magneto’s bromance was good as usual, and Cyclops was probably the least annoying he’s ever been, and Quicksilver was the best part of the movie. Period.

At the end of May, my sister and I went to see the touring production of The Phantom of the Opera. I’ve loved the musical since I was little, but I’ve never had the chance to see it live. It was incredible!! The staging and effects, in particular, blew my mind. There wasn’t a weak link in the cast, and everyone did a great job putting their own spin on these familiar songs and characters. FIVE STARS.

As usual, I’ve listened to a bunch of music, and while I didn’t discover much new stuff, I remembered why I loved 90’s Celine Dion so much (on that long car ride). OH, THE DRAMA!

But in all seriousness, her slower songs are so perfectly crafted for her voice. She’s a master of emotion, that is for sure.

I’ve been on the nostalgia train a lot lately, with mid 2000’s pop/rock and a lot of 80’s stuff on my current playlists. Here’s one of my favorite songs as a kid (my dad had a cassette tape with it that I would always request)

It’s still a favorite of mine <3

But because I am a complete and utter goofball, I will leave you with another frequent song on my playlists – Look at me, Gwisun by Daesung (a.k.a D-Lite) from Bigbang. It’s in Japanese, but if you look at a translation, you’ll see that the (hilarious) MV is basically interpreting the lyrics – literally. And be warned, this video is really, really, goofy (don’t blame me if it scars you for life, lol).

This is basically something you watch if you’re having a really bad day. (And what’s with the X-Men suit? Okay, not really X-Men, but that’s what it looks like . . . And GD’s cameo is my favorite thing)

I’ll stop with the videos so you can actually load this post, but there are lots more where those came from. They’re much better than cat videos, trust me.

Looking Ahead:

I’m probably going to be a sporadic poster for the near future. I found out that my sister and I have to move out of our rental by the end of June, and we aren’t sure where we are going. So this has definitely upped my distraction and stress levels. Also, the summer tourist season is upon us at both jobs, so I have no idea how much blogging or blog reading I can do. We’ll have to see.

In the meantime, thanks to everyone who reads these wandering posts and tolerates my erratic attention! I love you guys and hope you are having a wonderful and productive June so far!

<3 R

14 thoughts on “May Rewind (Yes, I’m Still Here)”

  1. NOOOOOOOOO!!! I just typed this big, long comment, and just as I hit “Post Comment,” my internet crapped out on me. 🙁

    OK… let’s see what I can remember:

    Really sorry to hear about your and your sister’s housing situation. I hope you can find something soon so it makes things less stressful for you both. (Well, as less stressful as it can be when you have to move… )

    You were awesome on the TV segment! And I’m not saying it to make you feel better. You did a great job explaining what each book was about and why you enjoyed reading it. And, honestly, if I were in your shoes, I would’ve been just as terrified.

    If you liked The Star-Touched Queen that much, then I’m definitely going to read it. I’ve learned to trust your recommendations and reviews. 😉 Btw, let me know what you think of The Crown’s Game when you finish it. I’ve been on the fence about that one.

    *raises her hand for beta-reading TLCS when it’s ready*

    Yay for Civil War! I thought it was a lot of fun, and brilliant for how it tugged at your feels for everyone and allows you to sympathize with both sides. Also, YES to Black Panther. Really looking forward to his movie now.

    Think Twice is one of my favorite Celine Dion songs ever!! And speaking of 90s music, I recently dug out my Sarah McLachlan albums and am listening to them again. (Which reminds me that I need to get her more recent albums, too… ) This isn’t a random choice, btw. She’s opening for Josh Groban’s summer tour – and guess who’s going to the Boston show at the end of July?? 😀 😀

    Last but not least, should we wait until your housing situation is squared away before we discuss guest post / interview stuff for your book?

    1. I DO THAT ALL THE TIME! In fact, I realized that half of the time I sound so scattered because I lost my original comment. Seriously.

      My sister and I will probably crash at my (crowded) parent’s house, since we haven’t found anything. We’ll still be looking. I found a place to store all of our stuff though, so that will help a bit. It’s all such a pain, but I’m grateful for lovely friends/family who have been helping out as much as possible. The thing is, it’s in the middle of one of my busiest times EVER, and I feel a little crazy. *Takes a calming yoga breath*

      I still haven’t watched the TV segment – but thanks! It’s a relief to me that I upheld the store’s honor and all that jazz. If I have one acting talent, it’s not looking scared when I’M TERRIFIED – or maybe I’m just proud? Otherwise, I’m a disaster on camera.

      Star-Touched Queen – I feel like I gave it higher marks for setting and writing. It might have been better as an adult novel, tbh, if she’d had more time to explore things. I’m still not sure how I feel about it. As for The Crown’s Game – I was dreadfully bored for the first third, but once magical duels started, it was much better. The ending was very good, as well. I feel like reading is cyclical, and my patience with YA lit is at an all-time low, so I’m still not sure if I’m being entirely fair to both of these books.

      *notes you down on TLCS list*

      #TeamBlackPanther

      Think Twice is so beautiful, isn’t it? It’s always been one of my favorites. JOSH GROBAN! That will be fun!

      I might have to wait until my housing situation is squared away to do ANYTHING. Including type another blog post. I don’t know if I have the mental energy 😛

      Thanks for reading!!

  2. Wow. It sounds like your month was crazy! I hope your stress goes down soon. I also got sick recently. Not fun. XD But yes Civil War and Apocalypse! Yays! Your Lie in April is good. I’ve watched half of the anime and I like it already. I need my friend to get out of school so I can finish the other half with her haha. Yessssssss for sushi. I just recently went to this place that’s like subway for sushi and it was AWESOME. Best wishes with writing and I hope you find a new place soon!

    storitorigrace.blogspot.com

    1. Aww, I’m sorry to hear that you were sick! Did you get any reading/writing done then? I find that I often can get through a book or two when I’m sick.
      What did you think of Apocalypse?
      Well, I liked the first volume of the manga (YLiA) – which is impressive. First volumes do tend to be the weakest, in my opinion.
      SUBWAY FOR SUSHI? Sign me up. What is this magical place called?
      I plan on trying to catch up on other people’s posts/comments this week, so if you answered any of those questions in your posts, feel free to ignore them 🙂

      Thanks for reading! <3 RH

      1. Eh. I mostly bingewatched shows. XD Finally finished Lost.

        I liked it, not as much as Days of Future Past, but I liked it.

        Oh cool!

        SusHi. ^ ^ The only location is Orlando since it’s based there, but they’re expanding.

        Haha kk. XD

        1. Bingewatching shows is a perfectly acceptable thing to do when you’re sick 😛
          I felt the same about Apocalypse, i think. I loved how they incorporated 80’s Storm though.

          SusHI – I NEED TO GO THERE NOW

    1. Thanks Skye! I did all my freaking out beforehand. That always helps. And once someone is asking about books, I can usually find my voice again 🙂 But anything else . . . all bets are off.

      How about you, how was your month? I am so behind on everyone’s posts (including my own), that I intend to take a couple hours next week just for blog reading.

      Cheers, and thanks for stopping by! <3 RH

  3. So sorry to hear about what a crazy month this has been, especially you having to move! And during the busiest time! Have you been able to find a place to stay yet? Will pray for you!

    Ooh, I’d love to help out with TLCS! I’m a slow reader but I’d still like to help out any way that I can.

    It’s this August that Knight in the Sur bluecoat comes out right? Can’t wait! 🙂

    You did great on TV, Rebekah! You didn’t look nervous at all and you definitely knew what you were talking about, so bravo! *applauds*

    I’m glad to here Apocalypse was good. I’m hoping to see it. 🙂 Oh and can you give me like your entire kpop list? Because I need more on my playlists! 😀

    1. Weeeell – we are currently in the side, upper room off of my parents’ house. My brother is back from college for the summer, so it is rather crowded, 🙂 It reminds me of the Burrow (the Weasley’s house in HP), but less magic. But the important part is that we have somewhere to stay in the interim. Other than space, the biggest downside is that it’s double the distance from BOTH of my jobs 🙁 SO I’m still looking. That was a pretty quick timeframe.

      I’ll put you down for TLCS :)!

      August is still Knight of the Blue Surcoat month. I’m just not sure about the date STILL (not me, them, lol)

      Thanks *blushes* – I’m really not a TV person, honest.

      Apocalypse was fun. You’ll have to tell me what you thought. 🙂

      KPOP PLAYLIST – YOU MIGHT HAVE OPENED A CAN OF WORMS YOU NEVER WANTED *Evil laughing continues. But sure, I’ll email you a list :)!

  4. The Weasley’s house–I may or may not have laughed a little at that.

    Well, publishers make you wait for those book release dates, don’t they? I shall keep my ears alert and listening for more!

    Kpop, YES, please do email me the list!
    Oh and I emailed you back too, btw. 🙂

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