A Good Bad Beginning

I decided that I ought to finally read Lemony Snicket’s “A Series of Unfortunate Events,” so I cracked open “A Bad Beginning” and adored it.Screenshot 2015-08-29 13.45.09

Synopsis: Narrator Lemony Snicket tells the tale of the three Baudelaire children–Violet, Klaus, and Sunny–as they begin a new life after learning of their parents’ untimely death. They are forced to adapt to living with an awful man, and circumstances continually get worse and worse, which the narrator warns readers not to expect a happy ending. Their new guardian is highly suspect, with a gleam in his eyes that speaks volumes for what he thinks of his new wards, especially their inheritance. He’s definitely up to something to get his hands on that money.

I know this is categorized more as middle grade than YA, but it was long overdue for me to read. So, my goal is to read the rest of the books before the Netflix TV series comes out. (Sounds like plenty of time to me, considering they haven’t even released a release date.)

I found the writing style to be appealing, I could definitely tell it was written with a younger audience in mind, and that made me really appreciate it. It’s nice that the author is attentive to his readers. And the narrator’s commentary was interesting.

You really sympathize with the characters. Two young children having to suck it up with their dreadful guardian while taking care of their baby sister. It really is quite the unfortunate situation. The adults are reminiscent of those in Roald Dahl’s novels. There is something whimsical about their personalities, the good adults like magical beings the children look up to, the not-so-good ones strange creatures that are a completely separate species than the children.

Of course, the story itself grabs you. The narrator warns readers it won’t be pleasant, and that’s exactly what we get. Even though it’s sad, a great story is best when there’s plenty of drama and problems. And that’s the premise of the plot: disaster.

5 out of 5 stars to Lemony Snicket (aka Daniel Handler).

“An Ember in the Ashes” Review

Sabaa Tahir, author of “An Ember in the Ashes,” is a terrible human being. She wrote this amazing imagebook that is not a stand-alone, making readers suffer while waiting until book 2 is published.

Synopsis: Laia is a Scholar, and, in the Martial-ruled empire, she must keep her head down and stay out of trouble. Unfortunately, trouble follows her brother Darin home. Now, Laia must align herself with the rebels to help Darin. But doing so could cost her her life. She becomes immersed in Elias’s world of Masks and brutality. Elias is a soldier who desperately wants out. But the Augurs have roped Elias into staying for the Trials. Laia and Elias both struggle to survive and achieve freedom. Will they die trying?

I definitely felt like this was a character-driven story. At some points I wanted to skip to Elias’s perspective, but at other times I felt myself wanting more of Laia. Both of these characters were written so realistically, I couldn’t decide who I wanted to hear from more.

Laia and Elias both share a common internal struggle of attaining freedom and keeping their souls intact. Laia grows so much throughout. At times I wanted her to snap out of her fear and be strong like Helene, but if I were in her shoes, I knew that I’d be just as scared, probably even more. They both also have huge hearts. Laia puts herself through hell and back for her brother. Elias wants so badly to leave the Commandant’s harsh reign over the Blackcliff school and he puts up a front. But behind the Mask is a caring and thoughtful character. He loves, and that is saying something given that he was taught to be a murderer.

The story brings Empire legends to life (Elias and Laia can hardly believe jinns and wraiths even exist at first) and the fantastical element has only begun. It’s clear that book 2 will bring more of this to the forefront.

I’m looking forward to what Sabaa has for readers, especially now that Laia is stepping up and Elias’s interests align.

5 out of 5 stars!

The Summer of…Mermaids!

What have you been doing this summer? Has this been the summer of sleeping late? Or the summer of work? For me, this has been the summer of reading. One of my recent reads, thanks to Simon & Schuster’s Pulseit, was “The Summer of Chasing Mermaids,” by Sarah Ockler.

Synopsis: After a terrible boating accident, Elyse d’Abreau permanently loses her voice. The voice that would have made her a famous Trinidadian singer. But now, in order to escape the reminder of what she’s lost, she lives in Atargatis Cove, Oregon. Elyse is learning to deal with her new self, when Christian Kane, summer hottie, comes along. Together, they learn to find their voices as they prepare for the bet of a lifetime: a boating race that will save the cove’s property.

The message the book conveys is wonderful. I love that, even though Elyse would never speak again, she had to find her inner voice, to be heard by others. Don’t let yourself shrink to the background, be who you are, loud and proud! Even little Sebastian Kane was able to stand up and express himself as a mermaid lover in public.

I was drawn to the Mermaid Festival and the beauty of it. I thought, I want to dress up as a mermaid! So, inspired by this book, here’s a DIY mermaid getup:

1) Dress: Elyse wears a beautifully fitted, midnight blue dress. I imagine it looks something like this:Screenshot 2015-08-02 22.59.13However, you can pick out a mermaid-cut dress in any shade of blue. Another option is anything with sequins–they’ll look like scales!

2) Hair: Try some beachy waves and loose curls or braids. There are plenty of cool braids, such as the fishtail or waterfall style. You can even add some blue/green/teal hair extensions.

3) Accessories: You can make some starfish and pin them into your hair or onto your outfit, barefoot sandals, and use sea glass!mermaid corset You can make your own sea glass bracelets, necklaces, and tiaras with the pieces you find on the beach. (Pinterest has some really great designs!)

4) Make-up: Add some silver and green sparkly swirls on your face like Elyse does to Sebastian. Use blue eyeliner and some blue eyeshadow to make your eyes pop!