Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Book Review: The Here and Now by Ann Brashares

I rated it 3 out of 5 stars.

Overview: An unforgettable epic romantic thriller about a girl from the future who might be able to save the world . . . if she lets go of the one thing she’s found to hold on to.

Follow the rules. Remember what happened. Never fall in love.

This is the story of seventeen-year-old Prenna James, who immigrated to New York when she was twelve. Except Prenna didn’t come from a different country. She came from a different time—a future where a mosquito-borne illness has mutated into a pandemic, killing millions and leaving the world in ruins. 

Prenna and the others who escaped to the present day must follow a strict set of rules: never reveal where they’re from, never interfere with history, and never, ever be intimate with anyone outside their community. Prenna does as she’s told, believing she can help prevent the plague that will one day ravage the earth. 

But everything changes when Prenna falls for Ethan Jarves. 

From Ann Brashares, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series, The Here and Now is thrilling, exhilarating, haunting, and heartbreaking—and a must-read novel of the year.

Review: So the blurb. I was enthralled by it. I was so excited to read it. Anything with high stakes and forbidden love usually has my name written all over it. The first few chapters were great, but then it started to peter out.
First was the lack of romance between the two main characters. It didn't pick up until the second half of the book, but their romance was pretty forgettable. Don't get me wrong, this book is well-written and builds up it just lacked pizazz. The whole plot kind of fell flat.

The antagonizing forces (i.e. the future society that created the social rules) were just not that scary. Instead of heightening tension, they were just annoying flies to me.

This wasn't an edge of your seat book I had expected due to the blurb, but I did finish it (albeit through many days of picking it up and setting it back down). One good thing about the book was the ending. I was afraid it was going to head into the cliche route where everything is sunshine and rainbows and everyone gets to live happily ever after, but it didn't. Which to me is more believable and ended the story at a good point.

Friday, October 24, 2014


It's restaurant week in Seattle! That means participating restaurants are offering a three course menu for $30! It's a great way to bring in new customers by reeling them in with a good deal and then showcasing what they've got to keep them coming.

For awhile Michael's been wanting to go to RN74, a contemporary french restaurant in downtown, so taking advantage of restuarant week, we decided to go yesterday night.

Right away, we loved the atmosphere. Dark leather chairs, wooden tables, and dropping lights. Bustling and busy with everyone well-dressed, you knew immediately that this was one trendy spot. It also has a master somm, which made Michael and I geek out a bit. Each glass of wine was perfect, like a little taste of heaven. I stuck with a pinot noir from Burgundy the whole night, but Michael paired his meal with a gruner veltliner, chenin blanc, and a syrah blend.

For our first course, Michael did foie grois and I did the pumpkin soup:

I never had foie grois before, so when I took a bite out of this, I really wanted to fall off my chair. It was so rich and savory but balanced well with the powdered donut and fruit compote. It tasted more like a dessert than an appetizer, but I'm definitely not complaining!

My pumpkin soup was probably the best pumpkin soup I ever had. With the rosemary crutons, creme fariche, and seeds, it was well balanced, creamy yet light, and tasted like autumn.

For the main entree, I decided to splurge. And I mean really splurge! Look at that!

The gnocchi parisienne with mushrooms. This was seriously an indulgence and I was only able to finish half because it was so rich.

Michael had the steak frites (not pictured, since it turned out horrible) and it was delicious. The steak was cooked to perfection and the frites were fried in duck fat. Let me repeat, duck fat. And though it's not healthy for my heart, I cannot deny that those fries were amazingly delicious!

And then came dessert. Beignets and sorbet (persimmon and pineapple basil)!

So good! Every last bite! Also please note that Michael and I don't normally eat such indulgenty (not a word, I know) things everyday! We aim to eat healthy too :) This was just not one of those nights!

So our conclusions on RN74?

Wine list? Awesome.
Atmosphere? Trendy.
Contemporary French or Classic French? Classic French cooking all the way. Though this meal was amazing. It was just a bit too heavy and rich for my palate. My favorite French restaurant so far continues to be Brasserie Four. Check out my experience there here.
Will Michael and I return to RN74? Probably for drinks and small plates. Happy hour would be great if we both worked downtown. But for a full course meal? Probably not. Seattle has so many choices. However, I think it would be in our top 5 for fine dining experiences.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Book Review: The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen

I rated it 3 out of 5 stars.

Overview: Luke is the perfect boyfriend: handsome, kind, fun. He and Emaline have been together all through high school in Colby, the beach town where they both grew up. But now, in the summer before college, Emaline wonders if perfect is good enough.

Enter Theo, a super-ambitious outsider, a New Yorker assisting on a documentary film about a reclusive local artist. Theo's sophisticated, exciting, and, best of all, he thinks Emaline is much too smart for Colby.

Emaline's mostly-absentee father, too, thinks Emaline should have a bigger life, and he's convinced that an Ivy League education is the only route to realizing her potential. Emaline is attracted to the bright future that Theo and her father promise. But she also clings to the deep roots of her loving mother, stepfather, and sisters. Can she ignore the pull of the happily familiar world of Colby?

Emaline wants the moon and more, but how can she balance where she comes from with where she's going?

Sarah Dessen's devoted fans will welcome this story of romance, yearning, and, finally, empowerment. It could only happen in the summer.

Review: In high school, my best friend at the time introduced me to Sarah Dessen. She lended me her books, but I soon caught fever of Dessen's stories and started buying my own copies. My favorites of hers are still Just Listen and  The Truth About Forever. Sarah Dessen is queen when it comes to writing contemporaries from the female perspective. Even though my then best friend and I lost touch, I still continue reading Dessen's books in my adult years. It reminds me a bit of my adolescence and also inspires me to write a contemporary.

So when The Moon and More came out and I heard about the less than stellar reviews, I kind of avoided reading it until I forgot about it completely. Then I heard about her latest sale that was announced about a month ago. Knowing there was another book coming out, I got my hands on this one so I could be up to date.

Although I enjoyed the story and the message of empowerment, I had to agree with the other reviewers by giving this a three. It just seemed too... predictable. And predictability is always an issue with me. The other thing was the characters. There wasn't really enough stake to make me care about the protagonist nor the other characters (besides the MC's little brother). And third, the writing was just too verbose that I found myself skipping over a lot of paragraphs (something I hardly do as I like to eat up every single word in a story, lest I miss something!).

Nevertheless, I continue to be a fan of Sarah Dessen. A great story, but just a three for me on this one. I'm still excited for the next Dessen book though, so don't let this review dissuade you from reading her other books!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

"My Cares of Vain Worth"

I used to determine my worth by pounds
and only on an inverse scale.
I counted this and that and ran and ran
but only to hopelessly fail.
I should have been smarter
and dismissed outward beauty,
but all I could think was
how do they really see me?

It is vain, I know, to care
of others' thoughts--
physically nothing
in the mind they get lost.
But once they are spoken
behind open and closed doors
they unearth pain
never know, nor felt before.

If only we were nicer,
I wouldn't have to care
about my nails, clothes,
and most of all, my hair.
So we  put on different looks
hoping to find one that works,
that takes away our doubts
and the thoughts of others that lurk
behind their plastered smiles
and their forced pleasantries
if only I could wipe it off
and be comfortable in me.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Rainy and Wine Sunday Funday

The weekends just never seem long enough! I can't believe it's Monday now.

Since Michael was gone on a business trip the weekend before, we definitely made up for it this weekend! On our Friday date night we had sushi at Nishino and saw the new Dracula Untold film.

Staurday we did the pumpkin patch, had dumplings at Din Tai Fung, shopped, and ordered a pizza for dinner and rented the Chef movie. It was pretty rainy all weekend as fall settled in, so when Sunday came around we kept it low key and watched the Somm documentary on netflix then went to Bottlehouse for a flight and some delicious pound cake!

It's weekends like these that I live for, so can it please be friday already?

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Pumpkin Patch and Corn Maze

Last year Michael and I went pumpkin picking and went through a corn maze. It was such good fun we decided to do it this year and make a tradition out of it.

Michael picked out a white pumpkin this year while I picked out orange ones for Blaire and I.

The weather unfortunately was very unpredictable, going from dry to pouring down rain the next. Nonetheless we stuck it out and waited for it to past.

After getting all our pumpkins we decided to treat ourselves with some kettle corn and hot spiced apple cider.

Then it was off to the corn/sunflower maze!

All in all it was fun and relaxing way to spend our Saturday. If you haven't been pumpkin picking yet, I recommend doing so before the season ends!

Friday, October 10, 2014


Desperation siezes me
and it seems like an eternity,
as I wait and wait
for a muse.

But do not mistake me
I am not dependent on mere
                             W H I M S
I am just afraid
of the light in my head that grows
                                             d      i    m     .

Will it leave and be gone forever?
for hopes and dreams, it will sever

this darkness of cruel reality--
it laughs,
it taunts,
it picks on me.

So what is the point
when it is out of our control?
when we've slaved on words
and bared our soul.

it becomes our obsession
an imaginative affair--
an abstract depiction
of our current cares--

Yet the words keep us enamored
like a siren at sea.
It pulls us in--indefinitely.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Writing Hiatus

So I'm drawing near the time I first started writing M2. M2 was my most serious committed project. I was committed to M1, but as I drew near the last quarter of M1 I knew it just wouldn't work out. Though I loved the story, my writing capabilities lacked the skill to push that manuscript to its full potential.

Now, I'm about halfway through M3. It has been extremely slow going and difficult to write. I have a lot of ideas about where I want M3 to go, but it's hard for me to organize my thoughts clearly. M3 is loosely inspired by my time in high school in college and the friends that have come and gone and the issues we had dealt with. Thus, M3 is more of an issues/coming-of-age story which I've come to learn is harder to write than paranormal or fantasy. At least, for me it is.

Thus I am starting to miss M2 like crazy. I love this story to pieces and I want so much to go on and write the next book and the next to M2. But I know I shouldn't. If M2 ever gets picked up (and I hope it does), there would probably be major editorial changes that may change the course of the series.

So inbetween projects and wants and desires, I've found myself in a writing hiatus. Since I haven't been getting much progress on M3, I've been journaling, binge tv watching, and reading whatever I can get my hands on.

Despite my distractions, I feel disociated, like I've lost something. A part of me is itching to go back to M2 and tweak some more and add some scenes, but I can't decide if it would be more damaging then helpful. Alas, I will ponder on this some more and will continue to be positive about writing.
This will just be a small bump in the long and windy road.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Book Review: Made For You by Melissa Marr

I rated it 4 out of 5 stars.

Overview: Bestselling author of the Wicked Lovely books Melissa Marr’s first contemporary YA novel is a twisted southern gothic tale of obsession, romance, and murder. A killer is obsessed with Eva Tilling. Can she stop him, or will he claim her?

When Eva Tilling wakes up in the hospital, she’s confused—who in her sleepy little North Carolina town could have hit her with their car? And why? But before she can consider the question, she finds that she’s awoken with a strange new skill: the ability to foresee people’s deaths when they touch her. While she is recovering from the hit-and-run, Nate, an old flame, reappears, and the two must traverse their rocky past as they figure out how to use Eva’s power to keep her friends—and themselves—alive. But while Eva and Nate grow closer, the killer grows increasingly frantic in his attempt to get to Eva.

For the first time, New York Times bestselling author Melissa Marr has applied her extraordinary talent to contemporary realism. Chilling twists, unrequited obsession, and high-stakes romance drive this Gothic, racy thriller—a story of small-town oppression and salvation. Melissa’s fans, and every YA reader, will find its wild ride enthralling

Review: This review is long overdue, but better late than never. I'm a big fan of Marr's after her Wicked Lovely books. I adored them. So it was interesting to hear that she was writing a contemporary thriller. Of course I picked it up and devoured this book. Marr's writing in contemporary is just as beautiful as her writing in fantasy. Though for a contemporary, she did throw a small supernatural element in, but it added to the story and worked as a good device for building suspense and narrowing down the suspect list.

Like a good thriller, Marr kept me guessing on the stalker, but I was just able to figure it out a few chapters before the protagonist. I didn't mind it though because it took nothing away from the story. the only thing that made me rate this a four instead of a five is because I don't think the actions or sacrifices of the Stalker made sense. I wish there was more motive behind it.

Nonetheless, I would recommend it for a good leisure read.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Hello, October

I cannot believe it's been over a week since I last blogged! Nonetheless, a lot of fun stuff has been happening, but I have no pictures to show for it! Michael got the new iPhone 6 so he's been taking photos of our fun moments since his camera quality is better than mine. I still need to put in an order for mine since I am eligible for an upgrade, so I'll need to do that soon. But I'll still post a photo set of the end of my September sometime next week when Micahel returns from his business trip (I'll steal his photos muwhahaha *evil laugh*).

In the meantime, I can tell you what's been going on:

1. We celebrated Michael's mother's birthday at Spinasse in Seattle.

2. Michael and I's Friday Night Date Night was in Wallingford for some wine, ramen, and churros. (Not at the same place of course! We made three different stops.)

3. I met with my cool writer friend Lisa at this wine bar right in front of Alkai Beach. We had a fun time catching up while we caught the sunset.

4. Michael and I made the trip to Whidbey Island to visit his grandparents. They fed us, wined us, and showed us some family heirlooms. It was pretty cool.

5. I felt sick Monday and stayed home from work, afraid I was coming down with the cold. Luckily I wasn't! Turned out to be a one day fluke kind of thing. That being so, I had time to binge through Black List season 1, and read Sarah Dessen's The Moon and More.

Also, I know I still owe you that book review on Made For You, so look for that tomorrow.

Happy October everyone!