Wednesday, February 17, 2016


1. Pendragon: Soldiers of Halla by D.J. MacHale | 4.5/5

The Pendragon series is about Bobby Pendragon's mission to protect and save all that ever was and will be from an evil demon (ironically) named Saint Dane. Soldiers of Halla is the tenth and last book in the Pendragon series. It is also, undoubtedly, the best. Throwing words like "mind-blowing," "heart-pounding," "nail-biting," and "turn-paging" is too easy, too lazy, too little... but, essentially, Pendragon feeds my fire for fleshed out characters and unpredictable, larger-than-life adventures. I admit, I worried that having high expectations after nine books would set me up for disappointment, but Soldiers of Halla fucking delivered. I plan to purchase the entire series... it's that serious.

"No time for second guesses. No room for hesitation. Nothing left to lose.
If you're asking me, there's only one thing we can do... Mates, let's get dangerous."
p. 75

2. The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller | 5/5

A Song of Achilles is a deeply moving tale about a goddess-born Greek warrior, and the mortal man he loved and who loved him. I was several chapters in when a solemn thought occurred to me. This story is going to break my heart. And break, devastate, ruin me it did. I wept. For Patroclus, for Achilles, for their intense devotion to one another. Madeline Miller writes beautifully, timelessly, almost atmospherically, resulting in a heartbreaking yet heartwarming and unforgettable story about gods and kings, immortal fame, and the human heart. For these reasons and countless more, A Song of Achilles has become, without contest, one of my most treasured books.

          "They never let you be famous and happy." He lifted an eyebrow. "I'll tell you a secret."
          "Tell me." I loved it when he was like this.
          "I'm going to be the first." He took my palm and held it in his.
p. 105
Fan art by Illustrated Kate

3. The Walled City by Ryan Graudin | 2/5

The Walled City follows three teenagers in Hak Nam Walled City, a lawless outland occupied by gangs, vagrants, and prostitutes. The world is interesting in theory, but the execution, sadly, falls flat, and so the story lacks an actual plot, replaced instead with over-the-top, miles-long descriptions that sometimes don't even mean anything. The Walled City is boring and slow, predictable at times and dragging in others. To be fair, there were a few pretty descriptions and I liked the bit about sibling love, but the real life Kowloon Wall City, for which the book was inspired by, is far more interesting to me than this book itself.

I don't want to tell this boy my name. Too many people have stolen it, used it in ways I never intended. You never know what a fragile thing a name is until it's used as a weapon, screamed like a curse.
p. 65

4. American Vampire Vol. 3 by Scott Snyder | 3/5

I find the vampire obsession in American culture sort of excessive and draining (looking at you, Twilight), but American Vampire wasn't too bad. Writing's great, artwork's outstanding (though I prefer Fiona Staples' style). At the end of the day, however, I didn't care for Skinner Sweet or Pearl Jones. Which sucks. I want to care about the characters I read about, to feel something about the journeys they embark on. This was an enjoyable read, but that's all and nothing more.

"Again, glad you could join us, Mr. Preston."
"Fuck you, too, Hobbes."

5. Just One Day by Gayle Forman | 2/5

In Just One Day, an American girl named Allyson falls for a mysterious Dutch dreamboat, who disappears the next day without an explanation. Though I value the underlying messages in this book, such as being brave, following your gut, letting yourself get lost and wander, and how fleeting moments change us, Just One Day was impossible to enjoy after Allyson's love interest disappears. She just met this guy and yet she's irrationally and tremendously affected by his absence, which is disappointing to say the least because a hopelessly boy-crazy heroine is all at once boring, frustrating, and annoying to read about. Not to mention, it fucks with my definition of "heroine." Allyson comes into her own near the end, but regardless I find it too little, too late.

Maybe it was just pretend. But at some point, it stopped being pretend. Because for that day, I really did become Lulu. Maybe not the Lulu from the film or the real Louise Brooks, but my own idea of what Lulu represented. Freedom. Daring. Adventure. Saying yes. I realize it's not just Willem I'm looking for; it's Lulu, too.
p. 244-5

6. The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani 5/5

It's not everyday I fall for a book from beginning to end, as was the case with The School for Good and Evil. Even as an adult reader, I greatly enjoyed this children's fantasy book about fairy tales and friendship. Since reading it, I've recommended it to young and adult readers alike. Fairy tales, after all, are for everyone. This one in particular is unpredictable, clever, fun, hilarious, and downright delightful. The heroine, Agatha, I loved from the start. The anti-heroine, Sophia, I sometimes loved to dislike. Point blank: I fell hard and fast for many reasons. I even pre-ordered the trilogy, so you know it's real.

          "I was angry!" Sophie cried. "I didn't mean anyI don't want to hurt him! I don't want to hurt anyone! I'm not a villain!"
          "You see, it doesn't matter what we are, Sophie."
          Lady Lesso leaned so close she just had to whisper.
          "It's what we do."

7. Last Night I Sang to the Monster by Benjamin Alire Sáenz | 2.5/5

Last Night I Sang to the Monster is a character-driven story about an 18-year old boy named Zach, who's in rehab for alcoholism. It was sad at some parts, naturally. Not much else happens aside from attending meetings and learning about Zach's impressions of people in rehab. As far as writing goes, this was a different way of reading for me, sort of purposefully directionless, which I found realistic in capturing an addict's thinking process: non-linear and unorganized.

"I know people think that druggies are really nothing but a bunch of losers. But the truth is that the smartest kids, they're the ones doing the drugs. We're thinkers and we don't like rules and we have imagination. All right, so we're also fucked up. But hey, you think sober people aren't all fucked up? The world is being run by sober peopleand it doesn't look like it's working out all that well."
p. 22

And there you have it! What did you read in January? What books do you recommend, and why?


Tuesday, January 5, 2016


I'm in love... with my new Adidas jacket (ha, you thought). It was a Christmas gift from my aunt, Tita Mimi, and it's hands down one of the dopest presents I've ever received. CHECK OUT THE STRIPES WHILE I HYPERVENTILATE. And it's as light as air! Having played softball all my life, I'm totally behind their dedication to athletes, too. Okay, it's settled. I'm never taking this off. In fact, this running jacket + these black pants from Express = my uniform for all of 2016, pretty much. It may seem like a stupidly simple fit to some, but to me it's a refreshing change of pace from my usual grandma style and chaotic mix of prints (think Mori Girl x Rayanne Graff).


Joi Dwight, the homie

Monday, January 4, 2016


Saturday's mood: Mori Girl meets Rey from Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Translation: it's earthy, which is reminiscent of the Mori Girl, a Japanese fashion and lifestyle trend. And much like Rey, it's comfortable, desert-friendly (on cold nights at least), and perfect for planet-scavenging. The star of the show is of course this cardigan-ish, wannabe poncho thing by Ike Behar that I snagged from my Mom's closet. (Update: I'm told it's called a "wrap" because it wraps around the upper body. I must be an idiot.) It's big on me but I almost always prefer a looser fit to more form-fitting, life-sucking outfits anyway. Besides, SoCal weather has been chilly lately so it serves as a warm blanket.

Behind the scenes, my cousins were pulling all sorts of shenanigans (looking at you, Jan, Jul, and Jen). Thanks for dramatically posing next to trees, trying to photobomb every picture, and keeping life interesting by taking the bushes instead of the safe path that every other local takes to get to the train tracks. After all, what's adventure without a little disregard for rules and safety? Thanks to Janise in particular for capturing someone who looks like me, but, like, a more serious and improved version of me. I don't even recognize myself. My selfies don't even look like this. Thank you all for your electric energy from Barnes & Noble to Starbucks and Cinnabon. It's been real. Real fun. Let's do it again, say, Friday?


Janise Dava