Forest of a Thousand Lanterns
(Rise of the Empress #1)
by Julie C. Dao
Speak | September 11, 2018 (paperback)
Source: won from a giveaway
     An East Asian fantasy reimagining of The Evil Queen legend about one peasant girl's quest to become Empress--and the darkness she must unleash to achieve her destiny.
     Eighteen-year-old Xifeng is beautiful. The stars say she is destined for greatness, that she is meant to be Empress of Feng Lu. But only if she embraces the darkness within her. Growing up as a peasant in a forgotten village on the edge of the map, Xifeng longs to fulfill the destiny promised to her by her cruel aunt, the witch Guma, who has read the cards and seen glimmers of Xifeng's majestic future. But is the price of the throne too high?
     Because in order to achieve greatness, she must spurn the young man who loves her and exploit the callous magic that runs through her veins--sorcery fueled by eating the hearts of the recently killed. For the god who has sent her on this journey will not be satisfied until his power is absolute.


I used to bemoan my writing. What is this ghastly writing? It does not have a point, it's superfluous, and it's incredibly juvenile! I had enough of my whinging, and I'm sure others did too. I deleted the most offensive posts, ones that were not up to par, and took steps to improve my writing.

2018 WRAP-UP

I had low expectations going into 2018, "it's/was my junior year, I won't have time to read." I sought out to read 12 books, one a month. I surpassed that goal and read 45 books, and counting. Most of those "books" are manga: if you want to conquer your reading challenge, read manga! Overall, 2018 was an uneventful year-no major standouts-unlike in 2017


Soulless: The Manga
by Gail Carriger

illustrated by REM
Yen Press

          The life of a spinster in Victorian London isn't an easy one on the best of days, but such a life becomes infinitely more complicated when said spinster is "soulless" - a preternatural bridging the gap between the natural and supernatural worlds. Miss Alexia Tarabotti has this unique distinction, and when she is assailed at a formal gathering by a rove vampire, an encounter that results in the death of the half-starved creature, her circumstances become exponentially more complicated indeed! Now caught up in an intrigue with life or death stakes, Alexia must rely on all her talents to outmatch the forces conspiring against her, but it may be the man who has caught her eye - Lord Conall Maccon - and their budding flirtation that truly drives her to her wit's end!


When I see posts that countdown to Halloween, or excited posts related to Halloween before Halloween, I roll my eyes. It's JUST Halloween, calm down! Once it's around the corner, I get caught up with the festive spirit; that's the thing with any holiday-they're infectious. When I used to watch TV, I loved the movie marathons because they got you into the mood. Here's a list of some of my favorite movies, and hopefully it gets you into festive spirits. 


Anne of Green Gables
by L.M. Montgomery
Puffin Classics | June 1908
       Everyone's favorite redhead, the spunky Anne Shirley, begins her adventures at Green Gables, a farm outside Avonlea, Prince Edward Island. When the freckled girl realizes that the elderly Cuthberts wanted to adopt a boy instead, she begins to try to win them and the reader over.


When I heard the doorbell in the evening, I thought it was going to be a neighbor complaining about something, so my dad and I didn't bother to answer the door, but we peeked to see who was there when my mother answered it, as you do. I was surprised and confused when she returned with three packages addressed to me. Books!? But I never ordered any... no one contacted me about winning a giveaway. It's free books, so... 


Taiyou No Ie (House of the Sun) by Taamo
Manga: 13 completed volumes
Run: May 2010 - January 2015

This series is an emotional roller-coaster that has you teary-eyed page one. As a little girl, Mao was always home alone because her estranged parents were working 24/7. Fortunately, her neighbors, the Nakamuras, had a loving household, who welcomed her with open arms. She becomes part of their family and a fixture in their lives: Hiro (the older brother,) Daiki (the middle brother,) and Hina (the youngest sister.) One day, tragedy hits, killing the Nakamura parents, leaving the three siblings orphaned. Since Hiro is unable to take care of his family, as he is underage, he is separated from his siblings, who will live with other relatives, and lives in their childhood home alone. During this time period, Mao's parents have a divorce; she decides to stay with her father so she can stay close to Hiro. Throughout the years, Mao checks on Hiro, so he isn't lonely; but, her home situation is not that great either - her father is very cold and distant; she feels that she is unwanted by her step-family. Hiro, upon discovering this, invites Mao to live with him. Naturally, when you live in close quarters with someone, you develop feelings. Mao also gives Hiro the strength to bring his family back together. Since it's a Shoujo, Slice of Life manga, expect love triangles, friendship, heartbreak, and drama.


My tastes in books have changed drastically over the years. I used to read mostly Romance-driven plots because they were entertaining, and I was relatively new to the book community: I didn't know there were better books out. One of my book resolutions for 2018 was to reread old books on my shelf and get rid of some. The second book on the chopping block is Alice in Zombieland. I remember loving this series because I thought it had an original concept and action-a.k.a the male protagonist was cute... After partially rereading the book, I will be discarding the whole series. I don't understand why I liked it.

I have a short attention span, which is why I often have trouble reading for prolonged periods; I get bored and take many breaks in-between. I also respond better to visuals (I like art), so it doesn't come as a surprise that I enjoy manga and graphic novels. Lately, I've been reading more manga than actual books: I find random ones and continue ones I enjoy. Because my old post about manga was popular, I have more recommendations. (This list is all Shoujo with recent updates. It's ironic how I bemoan romance in novels, but don't mind it in manga.)


After watching a TED-Ed video about Virginia Woolf and reading Shakespeare's Sister in AP English, I decided to tackle Mrs. Dalloway. Going in, as one does with every revered Classic novel, I expected to love it and give it a round of applause when I finished; I applauded because I was finally done with it! Though I appreciate it stylistically, that's about the extent of my affections. I wasn't able to appreciate the nuances and commentary fully because I was bored, confused, and not ready for this text. I'm surprised that my "preparation" and research on Woolf did not help me.


A post shared by Vivien (@vivienc55) on
Everyone knows that Stolen by Lucy Christopher is my favorite book of all time; it's the book that got me into reading. I tell everyone about it, and it's on my "About Me" section. I have two copies of it, I need to get them signed at some point, and I reread it at least once a year, every year. I remember answering a prompt about what book I'm excited to be released; I said the sequel to Stolen, which I read the author mention in a comment on her blog: that is some next level stalking. 

On the glorious day of Tuesday, July 10, 2018, at 9:56 P.M., Lucy Christopher shared this photo on her author page. I died. I was gagged. I was shooked. My wig was snatched. My edges: gone. I am so ready, and I need to reread the book now-bye Mrs. Dalloway

MINOR spoilers and discussions of what I want to see in the sequel. 


The Leading Edge of Now
by Marci Lyn Curtis
Kids Can Press | September 2, 2018
        Just when Grace is beginning to get used to being an orphan, her estranged uncle suddenly comes forward to claim her. That might have been okay if he'd spoken to her even once since her father died. Or if moving in with Uncle Rusty didn't mean returning to New Harbor.
        Grace once spent the best summers of her life in New Harbor. Now the place just reminds her of all she's lost: her best friend, her boyfriend and any memory of the night that changed her forever.
        People say the truth will set you free, but Grace isn't sure about that. Once she starts looking for it, the truth about that night is hard to find --- and what happens when her healing hurts the people she cares about the most?
        Marci Lyn Curtis, the critically acclaimed author of The One Thing, has crafted an honest and emotional story that will resonate with the wide range of readers impacted by sexual assault.
        Sexual assault does not define this story, however, just as it does not define Grace. Wry humor and true love emerge as Grace, like many in the #MeToo era, seeks to find her truth, face her truth, and speak her truth.


A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic #1)
V. E. Schwab
Tor Books | February 24, 2015
      Kell is one of the last Antari—magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel Londons; Red, Grey, White, and, once upon a time, Black.
      Kell was raised in Arnes—Red London—and officially serves the Maresh Empire as an ambassador, traveling between the frequent bloody regime changes in White London and the court of George III in the dullest of Londons, the one without any magic left to see.
      Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they'll never see. It's a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.
      After an exchange goes awry, Kell escapes to Grey London and runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She first robs him, then saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.
      Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they'll first need to stay alive.


I'm currently studying French in my free time, and French movies have helped me improve my language acquisition-vocabulary, syntax, and pronunciation-along with providing some cultural insight. When I discovered this movie, I was immediately drawn to the odd title. What's up with the name? The synopsis further piqued my interest.

"A 9-year-old boy finds his life upended when he's sent to live in an orphanage in this stop-motion animated tale of loss, friendship, and young love." 


by Mark Morrison
Independent | February 21, 2018
     Sarah and her twin brother Jon are heirs to an ancient magical realm and its most valuable treasure, an enchanted library. The library endows readers with the supernatural means of crossing into the uncharted inner-sanctum of the second dimension, inhabited by peculiar and sometimes perilous creatures.
     The children are emboldened with a wondrous mystical gift that no other being has ever possessed. But fate intervenes and triggers a disastrous inter-dimensional war that disrupts the fabric of time and space spanning multiple universes, tearing destiny a new and savage pathway.
     The two must rescue their world from a phantom hybrid alien race controlled by a demented dark-wizard, Jeremy Sermack. They will either assimilate or be exterminated.
     Will they be the saviors the prophets spoke of, or will they retreat to the perceived safety of their distant homeland?


I'm so excited to help Elise Kova and Lynn Larsh reveal the sequel to Society of Wishes. I am a huge fan of Elise's Air Awakens Series and The Alchemists of Loom! Before I reveal the cover, I'll give you all the info about Society of Wishes.

Society of Wishes (Wish Quartet, #1)
by Elise Kova and Lynn Larsh

Silver Wing Press | January 29, 2018
        Josephina Espinosa makes her living as a hacker-for-hire in the Lone Star Republic, a remnant of the fractured U.S.A. That is, until the day she and her best friend are gunned down in a government raid. With her dying breath, Jo uses magical lore passed down from her grandmother to summon a wish-granter. Her wish? To save her friend’s life. Except wishes have costs, and for Jo, the price is the erasure of her entire mortal existence. Now, as the most recent addition to the mysterious Society of Wishes, Jo must form a new “life” alongside the seven other members, one of which being her savior himself. Living as an occupant of the Society’s lavish mansion should be quite the perk, but while it is furnished with everything its inhabitants could possibly need, it lacks one thing—freedom. Her otherworldly identity crisis takes a backseat, however, when Jo learns that the friend she sacrificed everything for is headed down the same path to ruin. Jumping in head-first, Jo uses her newfound magical abilities to protect him, only to realize that the ripples of her actions have far-reaching consequences. When the Society’s aloof leader Snow decides to give her a taste of his own ancient magic, Jo discovers that there are threads woven into the tapestry of her new reality that reaches far beyond the wishes she is now required to grant. Ones that, if tugged on, could mean the unraveling of the world itself.
Click here for a chance to win a signed paperback


I love finding new and weird books, television shows, movies, and miscellaneous objects. End of the F***ing World surpassed my expectations. The show is Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom meets Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction. The plot and dialogue were outrageous and absurd, Anderson's style down to the dog. The show also has grunge, grime, and filth too, Tarantino's style. I love the juxtaposition of the characters too-James is lanky, awkward, secretive, "closet-psychopath" and adorably (because he's so awkward) fascinating; Alyssa is loud, crass, and offensive. Their unexpected dynamic was a joy to watch, which is how I ended up finishing the season in one sitting. I loved getting to know their backstory, getting to know them, and seeing the adventures they go on. Little side note, I love how their color schemes switch. Alyssa is first seen wearing bold red, and James wears muted colors. Once they go on the road, Alyssa looks like an older version of Eleven, and James opts for a red Hawaiian shirt. I CANNOT WAIT FOR SEASON 2. 


I listened to Call Me by Your Name by AndrĂ© Aciman and narrated by Armie Hammer because I absolutely loved the film. The film was incredibly beautiful and heartbreaking. I suggest you watch it if you haven't already. Chalamet delivers a raw and powerful performance. Since I loved the movie so much, I took the opportunity to kill two birds with one stone: to try audiobooks and to read the book. Unfortunately, I did not enjoy the experience.


Umbertouched (Rosemarked #2)
by Livia Blackburn
Disney-Hyperion | November 6, 2018
       The mission was a failure. Even though Zivah and Dineas discovered a secret that could bring down the empire, their information is useless without proof. Now, with their cover blown and their quest abandoned, their only remaining hope is to get home before Ampara brings the full might of its armies against their peoples.
       As Shidadi and Dara alike prepare for war, Zivah and Dineas grapple with the toll of their time in the capital. After fighting alongside the Amparans against his own kin, can Dineas convince the Shidadi—and himself—where his loyalties lie? After betraying her healer’s vows in Sehmar City, can Zivah find a way to redeem herself—especially when the Dara ask her to do the unthinkable? And after reluctantly falling in love, what will the two do with their lingering feelings, now that the Dineas from Sehmar City is gone forever? Time is running out for all of them, but especially Zivah whose plague symptoms surface once again. Now, she must decide how she’ll define the life she has left.
       Together, healer and warrior must find the courage to save their people, expose the truth, and face the devastating consequences headed their way.

About the Author
New York Times bestselling author Livia Blackburne wrote her first novel while she was a Ph.D. student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she conducted research on the neuroscience of reading acquisition in children. Upon graduation, she switched to writing full time, which also involves getting into people’s heads but without the help of a three Tesla MRI scanner.


This year, I plan to reread the books on my shelf-mainly the ones I have mixed feelings with. Last year, I had a first-world book nerd problem-I own a lot of books I don't like and probably don't need. After determining my feelings, I will decide to keep, sell, or donate certain books. 

Paper Towns
by John Green
Speak | October 16, 2008
       Who is the real Margo?
       Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs into his life—dressed like a ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge—he follows. After their all-nighter ends, and a new day breaks, Q arrives at school to discover that Margo, always an enigma, has now become a mystery. But Q soon learns that there are clues—and they're for him. Urged down a disconnected path, the closer he gets, the less Q sees the girl he thought he knew...