Books + Coffee = Happiness

Friday, 27 July 2012

One more week...

Listening to: When I Can't Sing - Se7en
Feeling: Tired
Like the title says, there's only one more week until my classes for the semester end. I don't know whether that is a good or bad thing. Good because no more school for a little while and I finally get a taste of summer (so far, it doesn't feel like it because I'm at school 5 days a week and I spend about 4-6 hours a week studying with friends). Bad because finals are coming up. I have my biology lab final next week and while I should be more worried, the panic hasn't hit me yet. Thankfully, I'm pretty good at working while I suffer from stress.

I drew some stuff and made a few handcrafts. I also visited a ceramic painting workshop in a place a few cities over with a major crafty friend, which I'll hopefully have done by sometime next week and have it fire in the oven.

Wanted to post up some pictures of a raccoon that I often see in the courtyard that's adjacent to my study area. I've nicknamed it to be Dimka (yes, the Russian nickname for Dimitri, even if I don't know whether the raccoon is male or female). I'm not sure if it's always the same raccoon, but I'm going to say it is.

In the upper pictures, Dimka jumped onto this branch and was playing with a twig when it fell into the water, so as you can see, he had to reach down to get it. So cute!

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Book Review: Before I Wake - Rachel Vincent

Published June 26 2012 by Harlequin Teen

Goodreads Description: 
I died on a Thursday-killed by a monster intent on stealing my soul. The good news? He didn't get it. The bad news? Turns out not even death will get you out of high school...  Covering up her own murder was one thing, but faking life is much harder than Kaylee Cavanaugh expected. After weeks spent "recovering," she's back in school, fighting to stay visible to the human world, struggling to fit in with her friends and planning time alone with her new reaper boyfriend. But to earn her keep in the human world, Kaylee must reclaim stolen souls, and when her first assignment brings her face-to-face with an old foe, she knows the game has changed. Her immortal status won't keep her safe. And this time Kaylee isn't just gambling with her own life....

As the 6th book in the Soul Screamers series, I have been waiting not-so-patiently for its release since If I Die (Soul Screamers #5) came out last year. And the wait was definitely worth every second of this book. It was so filled with action and other goodness that I had to read it twice to absorb everything to the fullest extent.

For those who haven't read the previous book, it's a pretty big spoiler that our protagonist, Kaylee Cavanaugh, died but was brought back as an extractor, someone who had a similar skill set to that of reapers, but had a different job, which was to extract souls away from those who don't belong with them. But despite that, her actual status is that she is dead because her life ended at the hands of a succubus who was determined on stealing her soul. So anyway, Before I Wake tells the story of Kaylee's afterlife and the consequences that follow.

As mentioned in the description, pretending to be "alive" is a challenge that Kaylee is constantly at war with. Her heart no longer beats if she doesn't concentrate, as well as her breathing. Heck, just the will to be visible and audible to others is a chore. If Kaylee briefly slipped up, her visibility will fade from the physical plane and that would be a huge problem if she suddenly disappeared in the middle of class. But most of all, the nothingness that Kaylee feels when she is alone with her thoughts are unbearable. Because she is undead, she is facing eternity of the same routine over and over, with the exception of when she has to work as her role as an extractor. Everything that had an appeal in life was no longer relevant in Kaylee's afterlife. She couldn't sleep and she didn't even have to eat or drink. With being only a month dead, forever seemed like a long time. The monotony of it is overwhelming.

Luckily, she has an undead reaper boyfriend who had once been through and felt everything that Kaylee is going through. Tod is Kaylee's saviour in so many ways, though she has saved him countless of times as well. While nothing seems to matter to Kaylee anymore, the only time where she feels her heart beating is when she is with Tod. In a way, they're both anchors to each other because they enable the other to keep their humanity and the will to remain "living" as ironic as that is. Throughout the book, when everything seemed to be in black and white, Tod was the only one who was in colour. He loved her more than his afterlife, as proven in the last book, where he refused to reap her soul and thus lost his life (which Kaylee then bargained back when she was requested to be an extractor).

But anyway, moving onto the rest of the plot. Shortly after Kaylee decides to return to school, there was talk about a serial soul thief who was going around taking unauthorized souls and it was up to her to reclaim them. The first time around, it turned out to be a rogue reaper, one that she hoped she would never see again, but like her, he had managed to escape death again. And from there, things just got worse when the identity of the actual soul thief was revealed and the horrors that came with it.

I enjoyed reading about the healing that took place in this book. Mainly the forgiveness between Nash and Kaylee. Now recovering from his recent relapse of Frost addiction, Nash is starting to piece his life together again and growing as a character. I admired the way that instead of living his life in ignorance and bliss, he went to Kaylee to talk about the pain that he felt and from there, they reached a tentative agreement to remain as friends despite everything that had happened between them. However, that didn't mean that Nash forgave his undead brother that easily. Although it was a little frustrating at times to see the Hudson brothers at ends with each other, it was quite amusing in some instances as well (ex. the shirt scene at Nash's house). And when they settled their differences long enough to work towards a common goal, it was evident that they are a powerful team.

I also really liked the development of Kaylee's relationship with her dad. Knowing that he lost his daughter and couldn't save her, it had a huge impact on Aiden Cavanaugh. It hurt him every time Kaylee succumbed to depression over her state of not-being there. She had no will to live because nothing was relevant to her anymore. But as her father, he did all he could for her, even if it meant accepting her reaper boyfriend, who he initially disliked. That path wasn't the quickest, it was definitely heart warming for both Kaylee and the reader to see that he honestly did believe that they belonged together and that they could help each other withstand eternity.

This book's conflict was initially a little confusing because it involved so many characters and breached many of the original rules regarding the real world and the Netherworld, but after a second read, it made more sense. So far, this book definitely had the most death and each of them had their impact on Kaylee. However, one in particular made me tear up for a good 15 or so minutes, because I would have never expected this particular sweet character to not make it to the end of the series. And the emotions that Kaylee felt regarding this character's death hurt all the more because of the way that they died.

But even with this unexpected turn of events, I really love Tod for being there for her. I couldn't imagine a more solid anchor of support who was always present by her side. And his love for Kaylee strengthened her enough to carry on, swearing to turn her pain into a weapon that could be used against her enemies.

The ending of Before I Wake will leave readers gasping for more as another unexpected situation turns up, hardening Kaylee's resolve to strike back against those who have hurt everyone she had cared for. With only one more novel in the series, I am very excited and anxious to see how things will end up for Kaylee and her friends.

Some quotes that I liked:
-"Forever used to feel like a curse. Now it feels like a promise." (p. 65)

-"I signed on for the role of 'boyfriend', not 'conscience'." (p. 66)

-"Of course. 'A reaper is Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous...'" He shrugged. "It gets boring after that. But this situation is clearly covered under the 'helpful' category." (p. 116)

-"Whenever you want. Death itself would wait for you..."(p. 164) 

-"You're not lost, (name omitted). You can't ever be lost, because I'll always know where you are. And if I'm not there with you, I'm on my way, and nothing standing between us will be standing for very long." (p. 269)

Source: Owned
My rating: 5 Coffee cups (Loved it and couldn't put it down)

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Martial Arts nostalgia

Listening to: Mama - Exo
Feeling: Like I want to do some kind of martial arts
Like the title says, I've been wanting to do some kind of martial arts since it's been about a year since I stopped after my black belt ceremony back in June 2011. While I don't mind going back and teach a few karate drills to my juniors, I've wanted to learn other types of martial arts, like Kung Fu, aikido or judo. I'm not very skilled, but I do have the enthusiasm to learn it and go through the exercises. Especially kicking and sparring drills. I don't mind if I get my butt kicked, as long as it gets rid of my restlessness.

I thought of taking a class this semester at my university, but the timing wasn't ideal and I had tutoring sessions on one of those days, so I decided not to take lessons. But now I regret it, haha. I'd love to learn weapons, but that will definitely be for the higher ups and I'll be considered a novice again, so it'll be a while before I get to do anything cool. But I'm okay with that. I'll see if I can take lessons again in the fall, regardless of the inconvenient timing.

Image credit: Google (this is the symbol for Shotokan Karate, the type that I did)

Sunday, 8 July 2012


Listening to: Monster - Big Bang
Feeling: Dying of heat
For the past few days, it's been way too hot for my liking. Yeah yeah, I know it's summer. But I really hate the heat. I'm definitely more of a Fall/Winter person where you can stack on layers of clothing instead of peeling them off to the point where you can't. Summer also makes me non-productive, which I hate. Everyone else is off of school whereas I still have to study and do homework. I keep trying to remind myself that it's like summer school in high school (which I did pretty much every year of my high school except for the first and last), though summer school didn't really require that much effort. Ugh. I keep having to peel myself off the leather chair and feeling my skin stick to it. Blegh. I feel like joining this polar bear:

Photo credit: Google

 I got a haircut recently and I missed having short hair again (well, short for my standards). It's too hot to have long hair. So what have I been up to? Outside of classes and tri-weekly 2 hour study sessions with friends, I've mainly been lounging around the house not feeling like doing school work. I've done my basketball sketch, though I really don't like how his right arm turned out. If anyone asks, I'm going to say that it's the angle which is why his arm looks out of porportion. I drew this because I didn't feel like working on my fanfic (though I should because I keep breaking my promises) but still wanted something to do with it. So yes, Derek the basketball player. Can't decide whether to erase the grid/pre-drawn lines and actually colour it in.

 I'm quite pleased with his left arm and the rest of him though. I can finally draw something in porportion! Yay. At first he looked a little too tall length wise, but then I checked the Loomis and saw that the ideal male height should be like this, so I kept it.

I've also been busy reading the korean webtoon, Orange Marmalade, which is actually really good! When I first read the summary about a vampire girl trying to blend into society where people scorn and hate vampires, I thought it reminded me of a certain series >_>, but after giving it a shot, it was much much better than I thought. Reading stuff like Orange Marmalade and Vampire Academy gives me hope for the vampire literary world after it was destroyed by the overrated, insanely-popular series. It totally helps that the art is super nice and each page is colored. :D


Tuesday, 3 July 2012

So tired... X_X

Listening to: Hallelujah - Big Bang
Feeling: Tired which equals grumpy
Ah, the long weekend was nice, but after school, I just wanted to crawl into bed and sleep it all away. Unfortunately, I can't because I have school work to do and even though it's not actually homework, I have to keep up with my biology readings and attend study groups with friends bi-weekly to get caught up. And I killed about an hour and a half at the gym today after a long period of doing nothing but sitting on my butt. Everything is going to hurt tomorrow... and my leg hurts now. 

I am super envious of pretty much everyone in my circle of high school friends because I am the sole person who is taking summer courses and sometimes, I just feel like I want to take a vacation too. I look forward to my physics classes since I have a really cool prof who does really awesome demos. As for biology, not so much. For everyone who does not need to take bio 101 as a required course, I DO NOT recommend taking it. There's so much fricking material to cover. But thank goodness we're out of plants and into animals now. At least there's something there that's similar to people.

Did a drawing of a certain basketball player and I'm quite pleased with the result. It seems that drawing club has certainly helped with drawing anatomy and porportions. I can't decide whether to leave it as a sketch or to fineline it and colour it in. I'll post up a picture later. Speaking of finelining, I need more pens. Off to Michaels when I'm not busy. (There's so much I want to buy there. Including DIY necklaces, paints, pens etc.)