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Review: Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Four famous siblings throw an epic party to celebrate the end of the summer. But over the course of twenty-four hours, their lives will change forever.

Malibu: August, 1983. It’s the day of Nina Riva’s annual end-of-summer party, and anticipation is at a fever pitch. Everyone wants to be around the famous Rivas: Nina, the talented surfer and supermodel; brothers Jay and Hud, one a championship surfer, the other a renowned photographer; and their adored baby sister, Kit. Together, the siblings are a source of fascination in Malibu and the world over—especially as the offspring of the legendary singer, Mick Riva…

By midnight the party will be completely out of control. By morning, the Riva mansion will have gone up in flames. But before that first spark in the early hours before dawn, the alcohol will flow, the music will play, and the loves and secrets that shaped this family’s generations will all come bubbling to the surface.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

“When there is only you, you do not get to choose which jobs you want, you do not get to decide you are incapable of anything. There is no room for distaste or weakness. You must do it all.” (147)

Hi Everyone!

Today, I have a review on a book I recently blazed through, Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid. Similarly to TJR’s other books, Malibu Rising is filled with drama and secrets from the past as the story transitions between the 50s and 80s. If you’ve read The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, you will already be familiar with one of the main characters, Mick Riva. The chapters of the Riva siblings kept me hooked as I was eager to find out what would happen to them. Without getting into spoilers, I’ll say this book was a really enjoyable, mysterious, quick summer read!

yellow outline of 2 surfboards one with flowers the other with waves standing in the water

What I liked/didn’t like

While I was invested in the Riva siblings’ story, there are a lot of anecdotes on minor characters which I didn’t really care for. I found they added drama to the story but not much else. My favourite part of the book was how it explores what it means to be a family and how we all have the power to become our own person. I have more to discuss on this, but I’m trying to keep this review spoiler free, so you’ll have to read and see for yourself!

“She had to choose what, of the things she inherited from the people who came before her, she wanted to bring forward. And what of the past, she wanted to leave behind.” (357)

Characters

While there is some romance in this book, the main love story is really between the family. My favourite characters to read about were Nina and Kit. I loved their relationship of the youngest and oldest child. Nina realizes she has babied Kit while trying to protect her, and Kit encourages Nina to start doing things for herself by the end of the book.

“Despite having long ago learned some people don’t keep their promises, all three of the younger Rivas knew they could believe her.” (141)

POVs

Even though the chapters aren’t split between different character’s POVs, TJR still moves seamlessly between different POVs in a chapter. This way you still learn a lot of what each character is thinking in the moment. I think this is really cool and fun to read, especially when their thoughts contrast each other. I loved reading this with the siblings as they all have such different personalities:

“Hud found it hard to be mad at someone who was suddenly being so transparent. Jay found it refreshing, the idea that it was OK to admit you suspected yourself of being a dickhead, deep inside. Nina had to stop herself from rolling her eyes.” (325)

yellow outline of 2 surfboards one with flowers the other with waves standing in the water

Final Thoughts

I read this book as part of a book club with a few friends, so I’m looking forward to discussing it further with them! This book didn’t have as many twists as I expected. It’s almost as if I knew what was going to happen, but not in a bad way. It was set up so you could inevitably see what was going to occur, but when it eventually happened I was still shocked.

Have you read Malibu Rising or are planning to read it? Do you agree with my thoughts? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Cover photo is by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

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Book Recommendations for Pride Month

Hi everyone! Here are 8 book recommendations with LGBTQ+ main characters to read during Pride month or to add to your TBR to read throughout the year!

I Was Born for This by Alice Oseman

I will always recommend this book as it is one of my faves! If you like One Direction, or any other boyband, read this book!! I am a sucker for anything with musical content and I just wish I could listen to The Ark’s music irl.

Rep: trans & gay mc, questioning mc, bi side characters

green cover of "The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo" by Taylor Jenkins Reid

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

This is just a classic right here. In it, Evelyn Hugo recounts her life as a Hollywood star packed with twists and turns, and shares the story of her greatest love. *Just a note: this isn’t YA, but adult*

Rep: bi mc, lesbian mc

Jack of Hearts (And Other Parts)

Jack of Hearts (and other parts) by L.C Rosen

This book is similar to the show Sex Education in the way that Jack is a teen writing a sex-ed column for his friend’s blog. The mystery involved was my favourite part of the book. Jack is receiving threatening messages from someone who claims to love him and demands he acts like a “good boyfriend’. I actually read this all in one sitting as I was genuinely creeped out by the notes and had to see who was behind it all.

Rep: gay mc

The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta

This is such a beautiful book and is told entirely in prose, making it quick to read! It follows the mc Michael throughout his life from a young boy to university as he uncovers his identity and finds a passion of performing in drag as The Black Flamingo.

Rep: gay mc

I Wish You All the Best (I Wish You All the Best, #1)

I Wish You All The Best by Mason Deaver

I Wish You All The Best is my favourite read so far this year! Read the synopsis and my review of it here.

Rep: non-binary mc, bi mc

Her Royal Highness (Royals, #2)

Her Royal Highness by Rachel Hawkins

This is a sapphic enemies-to-lovers, oh my god my roommate is a princess moment, and I’m here for it. Oh, it also takes place in Scotland. This is a really light, fluffy, and fun read. <3

Rep: I can’t recall if specific labels are used, but the main romance is wlw

Heartstopper by Alice Oseman

If you haven’t read Heartstopper, what are you doing? Heartstopper is a graphic novel series of which the first four volumes are out in print, but they can also be read online on Tumblr or Tapas. It is a super quick read and is just so heart-warming. The series is currently in production with Netflix, and I can’t wait to see the show. Also, the cast is super adorable!

Rep: most of the cast in the books are LGBTQ+!

Loveless by Alice Oseman

Idk, can you maybe tell that Alice Oseman is my favourite author? I just had to mention Loveless as there are hardly any other books I’ve read with aro-ace characters, and I’ve only seen people say amazing things about this book! Read the synopsis and my (fangirly) review for it here.

Rep: aro-ace mc, wlw side couple, non-binary side character

Will you be picking up any of these this month? Have you read any already? Do you have any recs for me? Let me know in the comments below!

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April Wrap-Up: Books, Shows & Summer Reading Plans

Hi everyone! This month has been a whirlwind with my semester coming to an end. If you also just finished the semester, I hope your finals/papers went well and that you can take a bit of a break now! I found it a bit rough near the end, but I made it through. :)) In this post, I will go over all the media I enjoyed, including the highly anticipated Shadow & Bone Netflix show! 

yellow flower graphic

Books:

New Moon (Twilight, #2)

New Moon by Stephanie Meyer

I started this one in September.. and just finished it finally. I put it down for a while because nothing was happening and it started to put me in a reading slump. The last few hundred pages did get more interesting, but overall it felt like a bit of a drag compared to Twilight.

Rating: 3 out of 5.
The Lives of Saints (Grishaverse)

The Lives of Saints by Leigh Bardugo

This was a quick and intriguing read! Read my full review here.

Rating: 5 out of 5.
Dress Codes for Small Towns

Dress Codes for Small Towns by Courtney Stevens

This was the last book I read for my GSWS class and I really wanted to like this, but it fell short. It just felt like a contemporary book that was trying too hard. I didn’t mind some of the characters and I liked the religious community aspect, but that was pretty much it. The writing just seemed as if it was trying to be “quirky” with names like “the Hexagon” for their friend group and “Einstein” for a whiteboard. Not my favourite.

Rating: 3 out of 5.
yellow flower graphic

Movies & Shows:

Selena S1 Eps: 1-7

I started watching Selena with my brother who has been singing “Como La Flor” around the house ever since. So yeah, we’ve been really enjoying it so far. Feeling: inspired by Selena who only learned Spanish when she started her career. Season 2 comes out next week, so we’re planning on finishing the rest of the episodes soon!

The Social Network

Did I watch this mostly for the iconic “Sorry, my Prada’s at the cleaners…” Andrew Garfield line? Maybe… (I blame marauders TikTok). Feelings: Overall, I didn’t really care much for the movie, but I also was half asleep while watching it (my bad). This was the perfect time for me to watch it as I just finished my Publishing course where we explored social media and advertising. It’s definitely interesting to see how much Facebook has evolved from Zuckerberg’s initial ideas along with social media as a whole.

Shadow and Bone S1

I watched the show over 2 nights, so I could try and stream with my friend(s). It’s been quite a few years since I read Shadow & Bone, so my memory was a bit spotty on the details, but I was so excited to see the crows come to life. Feelings: Malina deserve the world, the crows (including Milo) are all icons, and Matthias and Nina’s parts were my favourite. I didn’t mind how they mixed the two storylines. At times it felt a little strange, but it also just felt like extra crow content which I could appreciate. The biggest criticism I’ve seen is on the racism that was added in the show, which I hope they address in Season 2.

I haven’t watched a lot of movies or shows in a while. To be honest, I have spent most of my spare time scrolling on TikTok. A few movies I have on my list to watch next are Dead Poet’s Society, The Picture of Dorian Gray, and Howl’s Moving Castle.

yellow flower graphic

Reflecting on my reading for the next few months…

Lately, I’ve been feeling a little overwhelmed with how much I want to read and how little progress I seem to be making. Last month, I got my hands on a few of my anticipated releases, but have been feeling down that I haven’t gotten to read them yet. Thinking about it, it makes sense as I was busy with readings for class and other work. What’s important is that I leave time for myself to read a book just because I want to, and not because I have to.

I recently read this great post by Drizzle and Hurricane Books, “10 Tips to Overcome Reading & Blogging Fatigue” and it reminded me how important it is not to compare my reading amount to others. (It can be easy to wonder, why am I not reading that much? Then realize it’s not a competition…) Also, just to remind me of why I read, which is because I enjoy it!

Marie says this really well in her post, and it resonated with me a lot. While being part of the book community is really fun, social media especially can leave you feeling inadequate. I don’t “need” to read certain books just because everyone’s talking about them at the moment. I don’t need to rush through them all. Instead, I can think: I have all these great releases to enjoy during the summer! Also instead of binge-reading, I can allow myself more time to reflect and make content about what I am reading. I don’t need to read every day if I’d rather make a video or watch a show.

This is just a bit of self-reflection, but maybe it can help you if you have also had these thoughts. As an end-of-semester gift, I bought myself a hammock! I’m looking forward to sitting and reading outside when the weather is better 🙂 *Cover photo is my own*

How was your April? Do you ever feel a bit overwhelmed by your TBR? Did you read or watch anything that I did, or have any recommendations for me? Let me know in the comments below!

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How to Stop Procrastireading (when you really have stuff to do)

With the last week of the semester comes a dreaded enemy… procrastination. (Well it’s been here all semester, but for some reason feels the hardest to shake now. The end feels so close, and yet so far). For myself, this often seems to develop in the form of being a procrastireader. I have found it especially hard during these past semesters while doing work entirely at home. If you have also struggled with procrastireading, here are some tips for getting back on track. (So you can finish with school and get back to your reading of course!)

graphic of person reading in a bathtub

Take breaks

You do need breaks. One of the things I struggle with the most with school and personal life is having a balance. I tend to just get ideas and want to do whatever I have in my mind at that moment. This is especially tricky with online school when I don’t have something scheduled that I need to attend. However, I can’t tell you to completely stop reading when you have a busy week. Why? Because you need a break! You deserve to rest and take a bit of time for yourself every day. When I am tempted to procrastiread, I remind myself of how good it feels to sit down with a book after a productive day and relax. 

graphic of man drinking tea with a laptop and book on the counter

Set time limits

It can be really hard in the moment to stop, and I often start feeling guilty for not doing my work. If you are really into your book and it’s hard to put down, remembering that it will still be there for you later to continue is a promising thought. You can also use this as motivation. “If I work on this assignment for this amount of time, I can read for an hour before bed.”

graphic of a girl in yellow sitting in butterfly pose on a yoga mat with 2 plants and a window behind her

Move 

After putting down your book, I find it helpful to do another activity to get my mind off of it. It can be really hard to stop thinking about a book I love, even long after I have closed the pages! You could do a physical activity like yoga or going on a walk, or make yourself a meal. These actions all force you to focus and can ground you back to reality and your tasks. 

graphic of girl reading in front of window showing clouds

Be kind

After your mind is off of it, sitting down and getting some of your work done will be a great feeling. Even if it isn’t everything you would’ve liked to do that day, getting any work done is an accomplishment. Plus, future you— who is now rewarded with reading before bed— will feel a lot better. 

graphic of person on laptop sitting crosslegged with a dog and plant on either side of them

Ambiance

The hardest part is getting started. Set the study mood: get tea, a candle, and turn on a study playlist. Make yourself feel like the main character. I usually put instrumental music and keep it interesting by adding new songs that Spotify recommends me. Oftentimes, I worry that I won’t know what to write which is why I don’t start and begin to feel stuck. I realized that I don’t actually know that unless I start working. Then if I do get stuck, I can take the action to reach out to a friend, teacher, or ta, and ask for help.


I feel like I’m sounding a little bit dramatic, but this is really often my experience with procrastireading. I will read a book I like so much that I want to marathon it. Unfortunately, I often don’t have the time in my schedule to do so! However, during the summer I may attempt a 24-hour readathon, which will not be hard to do in this mood! This usually just happens with books I am loving, but I often still find other ways to procrastinate. I will go on TikTok/Instagram/Twitter, or basically, do anything not related to what I need to get done. So, this post is focused on procrastireading, I hope these tips are able to help you if you struggle with procrastination in general! *graphics are from Canva, cover photo is my own*

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Shadow and Bone Trailer: Thoughts & Theories

Hi everyone! With Rule of Wolves getting out before release day as well as the full Shadow and Bone trailer being leaked early, there’s been a lot of excitement in the Grishaverse this past week. Having seen the full trailer which has given us a lot more of an idea as to how the two series Shadow and Bone and Six of Crows will be adapted, I thought I’d share my thoughts and theories. (I will be going into detail about the plots and characters from Shadow and Bone and Six of Crows so warning for mild spoilers!) For brevity from now on, I will be referring to them as S&B and SoC. *Cover photo is from Shadow and Bone Netflix*

Theories:

So, before the release of the trailer, there was a lot of confusion on how these two series were to be adapted in one show. They are separated in time and space with S&B being set in Ravka while SoC is set in Kerch (among other locations) years after S&B. However, SoC does utilize flashbacks in order to tell each of the character’s backstories, including how Inej became a member of the Dregs and how Nina and Matthias meet. 

Being the namesake of the show, S&B has seemed to be the focus, with some kind of a prequel to the story of the Dregs in SoC. With the full trailer, it has become more evident how they plan to do this. I am crediting this to my friend Karli who sent me audio messages pointing this out after watching the trailer when I was still too excited to think coherently. 

The trailer moves from S&B clips to SoC clips with Kaz saying “she’s real” to Inej. It seems that at the Crow Club perhaps Per Haskell (?) is giving a mission to the Dregs to bring him Alina for “1 million kruge.” The clips at this time show Kaz, Inej, and Jesper who we know from SoC are already working together. In a few of the clips, it looks as if Kaz may be dressed in a Ravkan guard uniform and in another, it looks like a Ravkan flag behind Inej (heist time?). This also explains why Wylan, who has a large part in the novel SoC would not be cast yet, as he is the final edition to their crew.

Though Nina and Matthias have been cast, we have not seen too much of them except for a still of them sitting in a snowy location covered with furs. This would work with their flashback scenes from SoC where they must survive together after the shipwreck. There is a quick shot of Matthias in what looks like a cell which I initially associated with them breaking him out of Hellgate, but to work with this timeline, it could just as easily be the end of the flashback when Nina sends him there. So instead of the heist that they embark on in SoC to the Ice Court, it seems as if Kaz, Inej, and Jesper are on a heist to Ravka to find Alina.

Thoughts: 

While this is definitely a bit different than the original events of the books, I am excited for it. I like the idea of a prequel for the SoC characters as it goes along with their storylines and doesn’t interfere with what happens later on. Essentially, we are just getting more screen time with them! I also have faith in the changes they are making to the show as Leigh Bardugo has been heavily involved and I trust she knows what to do in her world to make this work. 

Although I am not as attached to S&B as I am to SoC, I am really loving the visuals, casting, and everything we have seen with the series so far. I can’t deny that it looks SO GOOD. Even though it is an interesting plot, I remember finding it a bit slow at times, so I think the visuals of the show and (addition of the crows) will leave me enjoying it a lot! With the show coming out on Netflix in just over 2 weeks, you bet I will be counting down the days until I can Netflix party it with my friends.

How are you feeling about the upcoming show? Any other thoughts or theories I should hear? Let me know! 🙂

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The 9 Books I’ve Read in Self-Isolation: March Reading Wrap Up

In the past couple weeks I’ve have been self-isolating, and in order to keep myself entertained I’ve been 100% keeping up to date with ALL of my school work! Oh wait, no, sorry. I have actually been keeping up to date with about 0% (maybe 1%?) of my school work. What I’ve actually been doing is reading a lot of books and watching some movies and binging some TV. However, today I’m going to be focusing on the books that I’ve read. Mainly because there are 9 (NINE!)

1.) I Hope You Get This Message by Farah Naz Rishi

This first book is actually one I read as part of a book club! It’s essentially a “soft sci-fi” which pretty much means it’s a contemporary book with some sci-fi elements mixed in. Following three teens on the journeys they each embark on after earth is contacted by aliens, telling everyone they have seven days until hey are put on trial. I enjoyed this book, but found myself disconnected from the characters due to the way that it was written. And the ending kind of feels like the author just stopped. That being said, I would actually recommend this to anyone looking for an “end of the world” type thing, especially seeing out current situation.

2,3,4.) Tales of the Shadowhunter Academy, Chain of Gold and Ghosts of the Shadow Market by Cassandra Clare and others

The reason I have lumped these all together is because they are all part of a much larger series of books known to many as The Shadow Hunter Chronicles. Cassandra Clare has three (going on 4/5 now) complete series, as well as three short story compilations that follow characters known as Shadowhunters — humans with angel blood who fight demons. The problem with the three books I’ve read this past month is that I can’t really recommend them to anyone who hasn’t already read her books, because they do contain spoilers for her other series! That being said, I really enjoyed all three books and if you’ve read Clare’s other books and liked them, I would definitely suggest checking them out. And if you haven’t read any of her books, check out either The Infernal Devices or The Mortal Instruments first.

5.) A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi

This is an extremely sweet as well as heart wrenching — but also warming — book. Following a young muslim girl who moves to a new town just one year after the 9/11 attacks. chronicling her year at a new school, the new people she meets, as well as the break dancing club she starts with. her brother. I really enjoyed this book, especially because I have never read anything with this subject matter. Being an own voices story, inspired by the author’s adolescence (break dancing and everything!)

6.) Almost Midnight by Rainbow Rowell

This book isn’t really a book, and is rather two (very) short stories compiled into two bindings. The first Midnights follows a girl who pines after her best friend and has to watch him kiss a different girl at midnight every single New Years Eve. And the second story, Kindred Spirits, follows a young girl who waits in line for the first movie in the new Star Wars sequel trilogy. And the trials and tribulations of sleeping outside a movie theatre for two days and with two people who don’t know — despite the fact that they share a love for Star Wars. Now I’m not a HUGE fan of extremely short stories like these, mainly because I’m an extremely character based reader. I love to get to know characters, and by the time I got to know these ones — the story was over. That being said I really enjoyed the second story, being a Star Wars fan myself. There were lots of cute little references mixed in that I was able to enjoy.

7.) In the Hall with the Knife by Diana Peterfreund

This next book I read was yet again for the book club i’m a part of! inspired by the board game Clue, this is a modernized murder mystery. Taking place in a fancy boarding school and following the few students who get trapped in one of the school buildings when there is a horrible storm. The only way I can describe this book is fun. It’s extremely easy to read and gets it’s point across easily. My only complaint is the different points of view that it’s told in throughout the story.

8.) All Your Twisted Secrets by Diana Urban

This is an audio book that I ended up listening to as I cleaned my room one day. I signed up for the Scribd free one month promotion, and chose a book I saw a few people talking about online. Putting a modern twist on Agatha Christie novels mixed with The Breakfast Club. X teens are invited to a scholarship dinner with the mayor, but he never shows. With the door slamming shut and trapping them in the room, stuck with a bomb, a syringe, and a note saying: they have an our to kill someone, or everyone dies. Although, unfortunately I just don’t think it was for me. I had trouble believing the overall “reveal” and like many of the other books I read this month — I didn’t love the way that it was written.

9.) If We Were Villains by M.L Rio

The last book I read this month is one I have been DYING to read. Following the 7 teens that make up the fourth years of a very prestigious Shakespearean theatre program. It goes back and forth between their 4th year and ten years in the future when one of the students is being released from jail, for murder. I really really enjoyed this one. It is so pretentious, but that’s something I really enjoy — so if you get annoyed at 21 year olds who quote Shakespeare in everyday conversations it’s not for you. I will also say that I started to read this one day, tried to stop, but then ended up staying up until 3am so I could read the whole thing. But if you don’t like Shakespeare, this is probably not for you.


So there we have it! the 9 books I read in March! I hope everyone is doing well and staying safe and healthy. If anything this is the best time for us to be turning to things like literature and film, as they help us escape the world outside.

The post The 9 Books I’ve Read in Self-Isolation: March Reading Wrap Up appeared first on [NOT SO] ELOQUENT EMMA .

Process Post 7 – Feedback

Peer reviews are daunting. Completing a review for someone else is difficult, especially when you’re not necessarily an expert on the content (blogging), or when you, yourself have a blog that will receive a review in return… in exchange for a grade. They are also challenging to read when you’re under scrutiny; will they like what I have to say? What will they think about my photos? Will the content of my writing be clear, offensive, engaging or just plainly boring? I feel this is one of the issues we face as bloggers (I’m calling myself a blogger now, apparently); personalizing a space to reflect yourself and your interests, then publishing it for the universe to troll, critique and destroy. Blogging is simple, but it is not easy. What you post, share or reveal is vulnerable to what others think, and what others think can be as destructive, like Cyberhate, which you can read about here,  as it is liberating, enjoyable and of course, democratic (see a variety of #Posiel posts debating this). I argue for.

For the latest review I received, I was delighted to attain significant positive feedback from Jill’s Book Blog, which you can access here, but also some constructive feedback that will greatly benefit ReRouted. In being transparent, of course I take delight in reading her humbling feedback, but I truly value her primary suggestion that images/photos within the posts would better serve the overall layout and theme of the blog, as well as make the reading more approachable and intriguing. With this in mind, the process in which I encountered this week was incorporating photos directly into the blog and process posts, which involved consideration of suitability for the post and aesthetics.

Because much of the photography on my blog is of myself, I wanted to balance the images with ones that are less personalized, but still reflective of the content and overall theme of my experience of change. I feel that my blog is very personal, so in seeking greater balance, I am enhancing relatability and hopefully broadening the appeal of my content by doing this. I have done a lot of thinking about how my writing is interpreted by others, but have neglected the idea for how images can or haven’t been doing the same. Brown University has a fascinating presentation on why people perceive text differently, which made me think, perhaps my text isn’t what I think, and if so, or even if it is, how do photos support either conclusion?

In consideration of images, I wanted to be cognizant of colour, size and focusing on finding relatively simple images that support the writing as opposed to detracting from it. Likewise, I wanted the images to be a part of the writing itself, so as the image itself can offer some greater context or meaning of the conversation. I want the image to be an anchor in the post that organically reveals some of the content. I feel this is important because for many readers, busy ones especially, as well as keyboard warriors on the prowl, photos provide a quick glimpse into what’s new, relevant and a part of my thoughts and life. I also took some of Jill’s advice in having the layout of images reflect that of the landing page; like an advent calendar, which is what I was kind of going for from the conception of this blog. Notorious blogger, Neil Patel has some great insights on selecting images which you can read here. Additionally, Shout Me Loud outlines several reasons why including images on your blog is valuable, which you can also see here.

There is still some general tidying-up that needs to be done to enhance upload speeds, function and layout. I have been working on paper to come up with something a bit more user-friendly and hope to make these changes soon. I’m hoping to implement some more major edits soon, as I would like the blog to be a little more polished. That said, Jill’s comments regarding her appreciation for the content and the theme or feel of the blog is reassuring that I’m on the right track… for some people at least. For others, they can go here for entertainment value.

I want to extend a kind thanks to Jill for providing such a positive and helpful review; I only hope that I offered her even half the same in return. As many people as blogs reach, the act of blogging can actually be quite lonely. You are trying to build a community, but the vacuum in which you do so is a cyclone within yourself and your own interests. Your reach is far in terms of potential, but you’re in isolation, behind a screen, sharing what it is that you find shareable. This in and of itself is intimidating – here you are, in front of the world, one in which can judge you without repercussion, offering your thoughts, feelings and fears. The blogosphere is yuge, but like the universe, there are many constellations and systems to discover, view and get lost in.

Peer Review – 2

I had the pleasure of peer reviewing Jill’s Book Blog, which you can find here. From the onset, this is an engaging site, as it explores accessible reading, an aspect of publishing that the majority of the population is somewhat unfamiliar. Jill’s Book Blog is completely transparent; the creator offers insights and perspectives on the development and design of a blog through an access aide. As Jill articulates here, there are certain challenges one faces when visually impaired, with design in particular being an understandable barrier. As I am not overly committed to reading books, especially during undergraduate where we do have a high quota of readings, I was, at first thought, somewhat uninterested in the content of this blog; however, in exploring the pages and being introduced to the works under review, an appreciation was established and is hopefully reflected in this review.  Here, I have divided my review by examining the content, design and overall impression.

I find book reviews challenging. To take a relatively long piece of writing and condense it into a concise and engaging review is difficult, so I feel that Jill’s Book Blog tackles an ambitious topic, especially for a weekly update. Likewise, in attempting to reach her goal of 96 books in 365 days, time is of the essence, and here, she does this well. I find the writing to be clear, effective and brief, and despite this, she negates jeopardizing the offering of a polished summary and well-written opinion about the book. There are some minor grammatical errors that are revealed through missing commas and dashes, as well as some repetition, but overall the posts are strong and any wordiness can be reflective of the vernacular a blog can sometimes evoke. I appreciate Jill’s sentiment that “I feel like I have become stuck in the formal, uninventive, dry essay/assignment writing and organizing we have to do in University, that I perhaps lost my creativity and imagination,” and understand how the concept of blogging for a course is refreshing. One post that I found highly entertaining was this interview with Batman.  Using a strong sense of humor, playful language and clear objective of interpreting a novel through Bruce Wayne’s understanding of crime, Jill effectively entices the reader to explore the content afforded throughout her blog. I would like to see this extended with more links to other reviews or related-sites.

I like the design of this blog; it is simple, clear, focused and easy to navigate. I can’t really relate to the challenges in creating and maintaining the design via an access aide, but I can certainly appreciate the effort that was made to vocalize the desired outcomes. I like the black border, which in most cases I do not, but here it reflects the pages of a book. I am also fond of the number of tags for each post, as for me, when creators attribute too many tags, the page starts to look cluttered. There are two things I would like to see considered for alteration. First, I think that Jill has two important tag-lines for her blog; “Adventures of Accessible Reading” and “96 Books in 365 Days;” however, the latter is difficult to locate, and for me, is one of the interesting aspects of the blog. I would prefer to see it alongside “Adventures of Accessible Reading.” Also, I am not entirely fond of the main image of the lagoon and book waterfall. I appreciate the creativity of the books being employed as an abundant fall, but the image is somewhat unclear and too low of quality. I am also less enthusiastic about the type of image; I feel that the natural wonder-like photo does not really reflect the types of books being reviewed. This is of course, personal preference, but for me, I would like to see something different.

Overall, I like this blog. I found it incredibly approachable and accessible (pardon the pun), and unlike some opinion-based blogs, I feel that I truly learned something, or became interested in learning more about accessible reading. In fact, I would value further links to other resources outside of just the book, not just about the book itself, but how accessible reading is made available. I don’t need to read more about accessibility on this blog, but resources that are vetted by someone with a visual impairment would be interesting. Likewise, more links in general would be intriguing; I would like to know who Jill agrees with, disagrees with or what other books the focal one could be related to. One could also link to where to find the book, which I like about this book blog found here.

Jill’s Book Blog is a well-developed and organized site that provides visitors with approachable and strong synopses of various books. With some minor edits and slight alterations to some design aspects, this blog is very appealing and worth revisiting – for 96 days.

The Wolf Road, by Beth Lewis: A Review

The Wolf Road by Beth Lewis Published by Crown Publishers, Penguin Random House Elka hasn’t had much luck in her life. Between the nightmare of the thunderheads that keep her awake at night, and the raging memories behind the locked doors in her memory, she can count the people she’s cared for on a single…