Where The Forest Meets the Stars – Book Review

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After the loss of her mother and her own battle with breast cancer, Joanna Teale returns to her graduate research on nesting birds in rural Illinois, determined to prove that her recent hardships have not broken her. She throws herself into her work from dusk to dawn, until her solitary routine is disrupted by the appearance of a mysterious child who shows up at her cabin barefoot and covered in bruises.

The girl calls herself Ursa, and she claims to have been sent from the stars to witness five miracles. With concerns about the child’s home situation, Jo reluctantly agrees to let her stay—just until she learns more about Ursa’s past.

Jo enlists the help of her reclusive neighbor, Gabriel Nash, to solve the mystery of the charming child. But the more time they spend together, the more questions they have. How does a young girl not only read but understand Shakespeare? Why do good things keep happening in her presence? And why aren’t Jo and Gabe checking the missing children’s website anymore?

Though the three have formed an incredible bond, they know difficult choices must be made. As the summer nears an end and Ursa gets closer to her fifth miracle, her dangerous past closes in. When it finally catches up to them, all of their painful secrets will be forced into the open, and their fates will be left to the stars.

“Remember that feeling you described—the ‘horrific crush of humanity’ on your soul—maybe that’s another way of saying you’re afraid people will hurt you if you let them get close.”

During the time I was on my unpaid leave, obviously, money was tight so I relied on my Kindle Unlimited and Prime subscription for the supply of books. This book was “first read selection” for February 2019 and I chose it because the summary seemed interesting plus the cover attracted me, I’m a certified junkie for star-related stuff. I normally wouldn’t go for this type of books, I’m more into fantasy but the story of this book captivated me for hours and I couldn’t stop reading.

The story is about two flawed people, Joanna, and Gabriel that connected through an alien child named Ursa who got sent to earth to witness five miracles. Everything about this book is pure raw unfiltered emotions and it just feels incredibly real, the suspense of Ursa’s true past kept me on edge and wanting to know more. The relationship between Joanna and Gabriel was rather unique and not as predictable, the bond between those three characters give this book a special place in my heart and I honestly cried while reaching the end, it blew my mind.

Where The Forest Meets The Stars is one of the most incredible, amazing, enchanting, beautiful stories I’ve ever read. There’s a reason why it has high ratings, trust that and go in blind.

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My Strange Visual Novel Addiction

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They say the first step is admitting it …
I have a problem… I got addicted to Danganronpa.

It sounded more dramatic in my head, I swear.

In the past five months, I’ve been obsessed with a certain Visual Novel named Danganronpa and let me just tell you how deeply I got into this world of sci-fi hope vs despair battlefield. Visual novels, according to my logic were glorified dating simulation while I already know I am wrong, it didn’t stop me from solidifying this conclusion in my mind.

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“Hope’s Peak Academy is home to Japan’s best and brightest high school students — the beacons of hope for the future. But that hope suddenly dies when Makoto Naegi and his classmates find themselves imprisoned in the school, cut off from the outside world and subject to the whims of a strange, murderous little bear named Monokuma. He pits the students against each other, promising freedom to anyone who can murder a fellow classmate and get away with it. It’s up to you to find out who Monokuma really is, and why you’ve been taken from the world you once knew. But be careful what you wish for — sometimes there’s nothing more deadly than the truth…”

The first installment of the series is the introduction to the Danganronpa World and the cast “The Ultimates”. Now the characters are an interesting part of the game because their talent is considered an ultimate as if they excel in that field, Ultimate Swimmer, Ultimate Gambler and so on. Those talents give the characters a personality and insecurity as well.

 

 

 

 

 

There’s a certain order you need to follow when getting into Danganronpa world, which anime to watch first and which game to start on, unfortunately, I watched the anime before playing the game so I knew the direction the game was going but to be honest it was more enjoyable for me to play the game than to watch it.

After a murder occurs, you get time to investigate the murder scene to chain the events in your mind before a class trial starts to reveal who’s the culprit. The trial format is almost the same as Phoenix Wright and I loved every minute of it, the music and the whole truth bullet shooting, it excited me. The punishments -when the trial ends and the culprit revealed- is basically an execution scene, are sometimes silly and more humorous. After it, parts of the school gets unlocked which gives you more area to explore and of course find new ways to kill someone.

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The game is heavily dependent on the story, so it has a lot of reading, it took me 41 hours to beat the first game and honestly I would recommend playing the game instead of watching the 12 episode anime.

Moving on to the second part Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair.

 

 

 

Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair takes place shortly after the events of Trigger Happy Havoc and Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls. The game is from Hajime Hinata’s point of view as he starts his first year at Hope’s Peak Academy. As he walks into the school building, he is overcome with fatigue; when he recovers, he finds himself in front of a door. He has the strong urge to open it, and once he does, he finds himself in a classroom full of his new classmates. They suddenly find themselves locked in the classroom, and a pink bunny, Usami, appears before them, claiming herself to be the class’ teacher. The classroom around them soon falls away to reveal a paradise-like island. Usami tells them that they are on a school trip and that they are to befriend each other to gain Hope Fragments and make their hope grow. Just as they get used to the peaceful island life, Monokuma appears and takes control of the island, announcing that the students must participate in a life of mutual killing if they wish to escape.

Oh boy, this part was surprising to me because it was more brutal and dark compared to the first one. Even the punishments aren’t as silly as I mentioned in the first part, they are horrifying and I feel guilty that I was entertained. There was a lot of changes implemented in the gameplay and I actually needed a guide to go through the trials, not my favorite confession to make as a gamer. I mean it’s a visual novel, how hard it should be.

I wasn’t really satisfied with the ending because it was confusing but at the same time, my mind was blown how the story progressed throughout the games, spin-offs, and the anime. I think I enjoyed this part more than the previous one, probably because of my newly found sadistic trait that surfaced during the gameplay or because I’ve grown attached to Monokuma … He’s a cute bear.

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The lastest game of this series is Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony

 

“Welcome to a new world of Danganronpa, and prepare yourself for the biggest, most exhilarating episode yet. Set in a “psycho-cool” environment, a new cast of 16 characters find themselves kidnapped and imprisoned in a school. Inside, some will kill, some will die, and some will be punished. Reimagine what you thought high-stakes, fast-paced investigation was as you investigate twisted murder cases and condemn your new friends to death. Forget what you thought you knew about Danganronpa and join a completely new cast of Ultimates for a brand-new beginning. In a world where everyone is trying to survive, nobody’s motivations are quite what they seem. Use your skills to solve each new murder or meet a gruesome end. The world is shaped by our perception of it. Fast-paced trial scenes will require lies, quick wits, and logic to guide your classmates to the right conclusions.”

I kept reading the synopsis that it’s new, the characters are new, the school is new but part of me was searching for connections to the previous games, surely there’s something the ties the epic battle between hope and despair which Monokuma keeps hinting. The gameplay has a massive overhaul in-class trials and thankfully it was easier than Danganronpa 2. The killings were creative and I was impressed at some of them, why don’t I feel bad saying this.

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Danganronpa triggered the inner killer and also the detective in me, I’ve enjoyed every minute of those games. Also, I have to say Monokuma is adorable, the best mascot ever (it’s the total truth, I’m not held at gunpoint)

OwlCrate – June 2019

I finally resubscribed to OwlCrate, it’s been such a long time I really missed it. I’ve said this before but I have to say it again, this subscription box is my favorite and I would recommend it to any bookworm.

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June’s theme was “Libraries of Wonder”, the card design looks like Beauty and The Beast drawing.

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This has to be my favorite enamel pin I ever received, it’s so beautiful and it fits the theme of the box as it read “Child of The Library”. The design is by Brio + Brandish.

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Key Gel Pen

I saw the key and I instantly thought KINGDOM HEARTS! Of course, it joined me in my office, it looks pretty and writes in a smooth motion.

Libraries of Wonder Coaster Set by KDP Letters

A set of 4 coasters with great quotes about libraries by authors like J.K Rowling and Victoria Schwab. I absolutely love these, I use them with my morning coffee each day different design.

Belle’s Library Book Beau Brew by Cervantes Coffee

The scent of this coffee filled the box the moment I opened it, I was afraid it somehow opened and poured out but thankfully it was just the scent that spilled out. I love the line in the packaging “nutty, bright, a touch of this provincial life” from Belle’s song, I didn’t try it yet but I can guess from the scent that it’s nutty almost like Nutella.

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Strange the Dreamer-inspired Tote Bag by Stella Bookish Art

I’ve always loved the tote bags sent by OwlCrate, this one is inspired by Strange The Dreamer which sits currently in my to-read list. The colors are so vibrant and beautiful, the handles are extra long as well.

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The Chronicles of Narnia-inspired Metal Bookends by Hey Atlas Creative

I’ve always admired bookends, they keep books neatly organized so I was excited for this item. The design is inspired by Narnia with the lamp post and the forest trees, it looks so beautiful.

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And finally, the book of the month Scorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson which came along with a letter from the author as well as a sticker with a quote from the book. Now the book features an exclusive cover and also signed by the author.

All sorcerers are evil. Elisabeth has known that as long as she has known anything. Raised as a foundling in one of Austermeer’s Great Libraries, Elisabeth has grown up among the tools of sorcery—magical grimoires that whisper on shelves and rattle beneath iron chains. If provoked, they transform into grotesque monsters of ink and leather. She hopes to become a warden, charged with protecting the kingdom from their power.

Then an act of sabotage releases the library’s most dangerous grimoire. Elisabeth’s desperate intervention implicates her in the crime, and she is torn from her home to face justice in the capital. With no one to turn to but her sworn enemy, the sorcerer Nathaniel Thorn, and his mysterious demonic servant, she finds herself entangled in a centuries-old conspiracy. Not only could the Great Libraries go up in flames, but the world along with them.

As her alliance with Nathaniel grows stronger, Elisabeth starts to question everything she’s been taught—about sorcerers, about the libraries she loves, even about herself. For Elisabeth has a power she has never guessed, and a future she could never have imagined.

The summary instantly made me think of Harry Potter for some reason, it seems very interesting and to be honest, this book was recommended to me before I even got the box by Goodreads so I was surprised and excited to see it in this month’s box.

Overall, I’m so happy that I resubscribed to OwlCrate. The box contents fit perfectly with the theme and the book seem very exciting. My favorite items would be the coasters and the bookends.

Woman Last Seen In Her Thirties – Book Review

Following the previous oh-so-long ago post, I’ll start posting reviews of each book I read for the 2019 reading challenge individually because I need to convince myself that I can still blog.

At fifty-three, Maggie Harris has a good marriage and two mostly happy children. Perpetually anxious, she’s also accumulated a list of semi-reasonable fears: falling air conditioners, the IRS, identity theft, skydiving, and airbag recalls. But never once did Maggie worry that her husband of nearly thirty years would leave her.

On the day Adam walks out the door, everything that makes Maggie secure goes with him. Only then does she realize that while she’s been busy caring for everyone else, she’s become invisible to the world—and to herself.

Maggie cautiously begins to rebuild her life with a trip to Rome, a new career, and even a rebound romance. But when a fresh crisis strikes and an uncertain future looms, she must decide: How much will she risk to remain the woman she’s just become?

 I once read that the recipe for a good life had but three ingredients: something to do, someone to love, and something to look forward to.

This would be my second book to read from the author Camille Pagán and I have to say that I enjoyed it more than the first one (Life and Other Near-Death Experiences). I absolutely love her writing style, it screams ‘relatable’ to me because the words bleed from how vulnerable the main character is and how she unravels layer by layer as the story progresses. Her personality, what made me like the book even more, as a mom of two myself I find myself giving my all to my family, I put their happiness and well-being before mine and I think it’s quite common between us moms since we are naturally considered the “fixers” or the “nurtures”.

The book is narrated by my favorite narrator Amy McFadden, her voice brought Maggie’s personality in a more elaborate tone and rounded the character development from invisible and vulnerable to confident by the ending. I could say it’s almost the same as “Eat Pray Love” and “The Bridget Jones Diaries” in terms of self-discovery. I would recommend it even though some would consider it as a Chick Lit, it’s very entertaining and I love Camille’s way of injecting humor in her books.

My Rating ⭐⭐⭐⭐

 

 

2019 Reading Challenge

Before I start this post, let’s address the elephant in the … blogging community. If you are a blogger you already know all about SEO, Moz and other alphabetical terms I’m sure I’m supposed to know. Recently Moz Domain Authority algorithms got updated and we all dropped and I honestly felt quite discouraged to continue blogging. It’s heartbreaking to see your two years worth of word vomit -Posts Rei, it’s called posts- not really going anywhere. I took some time away from my blog, and I was thinking to delete my whole blog and restart. The idea is still there but for now, I’ll try to slowly return to blogging, and for this so-called comeback I chose my favorite topic “Books”

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By the end of last year, I bought a Kindle and it’s been my favorite device. It immensely increased my time spent in reading which I’ve been doing in work, in a salon, even while breastfeeding. I’ve set the number 20 as my reading challenge goal for 2019 and I’ve read 18 so far, so I’m almost there which feels great of course.

Libby Miller has always been an unwavering optimist – but when her husband drops a bomb on their marriage the same day a doctor delivers devastating news, she realizes her rose-colored glasses have actually been blinding her.

With nothing left to lose, she abandons her life in Chicago for the clear waters and bright beaches of the Caribbean for what might be her last hurrah. Despite her new sunny locale, her plans go awry when she finds that she can’t quite outrun the past or bring herself to face an unknowable future. Every day of tropical bliss may be an invitation to disaster, but with her twin brother on her trail and a new relationship on the horizon, Libby is determined to forget about fate. Will she risk it all to live – and love – a little longer?

The first book I finished would be Life and Other Near-Death Experiences by Camille Pagán. I remember getting this book on my Kindle because it was free by that time and I wanted a light read (It’s still free for Kindle). Not sure if I would consider “cancer” as a light material for a book but it gave some explanation to the behavior of the characters, while I would say the story seem a bit predictable. I was listening to this book on my way to work and I have to say the narrator (Amy McFadden) made it very enjoyable, she portrayed the main character (Libby) attitude in talking and thinking perfectly. The writing style is very raw and it’s injected with humor which the author is known for, I did enjoy the book but I thought some parts didn’t make sense to me like how she was dealing with her husband when he was clearly going through a lot already.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Kate Harker is a girl who isn’t afraid of the dark. She’s a girl who hunts monsters. And she’s good at it. August Flynn is a monster who can never be human. No matter how much he once yearned for it. He has a part to play. And he will play it, no matter the cost.

Nearly six months after Kate and August were first thrown together, the war between the monsters and the humans is a terrifying reality. In Verity, August has become the leader he never wished to be, and in Prosperity, Kate has become the ruthless hunter she knew she could be. When a new monster emerges from the shadows—one who feeds on chaos and brings out its victim’s inner demons—it lures Kate home, where she finds more than she bargained for. She’ll face a monster she thought she killed, a boy she thought she knew, and a demon all her own.

“Because she knew a secret: there were two kinds of monsters, the kind that hunted the streets and the kind that lived in your head. She could fight the first, but the second was more dangerous. It was always, always, always a step ahead.”

Our Dark Duet is the sequel and conclusion of the first book “This Savage Song” which I got a couple of years ago in OwlCrate. I absolutely loved the first book so I was very excited to read the second, it was much lengthier and I loved every minute of it. I went through a rollercoaster of emotions with these two books, the ending left me breathless and I want to say not fair but I could understand why it happened. I’m definitely calling this story as my favorite and it made the author Victoria Schwab my favorite as well, I would love to read more of her books.

My Rating ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

A heart to protect. A debt to repay. A game to win.

After being swept up in the magical world of Caraval, Donatella Dragna has finally escaped her father and saved her sister Scarlett from a disastrous arranged marriage. The girls should be celebrating, but Tella isn’t yet free. She made a desperate bargain with a mysterious criminal, and what Tella owes him no one has ever been able to deliver: Caraval Master Legend’s true name.

The only chance of uncovering Legend’s identity is to win Caraval, so Tella throws herself into the legendary competition once more―and into the path of the murderous heir to the throne, a doomed love story, and a web of secrets…including her sister’s. Caraval has always demanded bravery, cunning, and sacrifice. But now the game is asking for more. If Tella can’t fulfill her bargain and deliver Legend’s name, she’ll lose everything she cares about―maybe even her life. But if she wins, Legend and Caraval will be destroyed forever.

Welcome, welcome to Caraval…the games have only just begun.

“Not everyone gets a true ending. There are two types of endings because most people give up at the part of the story where things are the worst, where the situation feels hopeless. But that’s when hope is needed most. only those who persevere can find their true ending.”

I didn’t think I would enjoy the second book more than the first one, and it’s like the previous book I mentioned, I got the first book in OwlCrate before and I liked it to the point I purchased the second book. I loved Tella’s personality more than Scarlett’s and as reckless as she is, she actually makes better decisions than her sister – In the first book, I meant. One of my guilty pleasures is the description of the gowns and dresses they’ve been wearing, I would love to see them in real life and probably wear some – definitely all, not some-. I instantly pre-ordered the third book the moment I finished reading it and I can’t wait to see how the ending will play out, quite literally.

My Rating ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Wow, it’s been a while since I wrote such a long post, it feels great to return to blogging. I’ll stop with three books in this post and I’ll write three more in the upcoming posts for sure. Let me know what are your favorite books you’ve been reading lately.

nomakenolife – Feburary 2019

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Yay new subscription box to try.

I’ve always been a fan of Korean and Japanese beauty products, I tried Kira Kira Crate before and I absolutely loved it. I decided to try nomakenolife -odd name I know- since I recently canceled my subscription to YumeTwins.

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Crayon Touch me Lip Gloss in Shiny Orange (Japan)

I feel so giddy seeing a lip gloss, it’s been such a long time since I used one. The shade is a subtle orange shade which goes perfectly on top of any lipstick color and gives it an extra shine.

Sparkling Eye Gloss in honey gold (Japan)

Eye glosses make life easier, they are easy to apply and work with. The shade is golden-champagne with a pretty shimmer, can be used as a base along with other eyeshadows as it blends really well.

Etude House Eyebrow Pencil (Korea)

This pencil came at the perfect time, I’ve been needing one to define and fill my eyebrows and this pencil does this function pretty well. I never really tried Etude House products so this would be an introduction to me, so far I can say I like it.

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Cotton Pads (100pcs) (Korea)

I use cotton pads for a lot of things, makeup removing or nail polish so it’s a pretty useful pack.

Savon De Chocolate Soap (Japan)

This soap is a whole different level, it actually looks and smells like hot chocolate, if I didn’t read the package I would have ate it already. It smells so good and I was afraid to eat-I mean use it, it’s creamy and it left my skin moisturized and hydrated.

Fascy Moisture Bomb Hand Cream (Korean)

I love keeping hand creams in my bag, and this cream came in my favorite scent which is peach. I really love the smell, it’s also very lightweighted and not runny like the usual hand creams I tried before.

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G9Skin Milk Bomb Face Mask in Chocolate (Korean)

Again something with chocolate and it smells so delicious. I love Korean sheet masks, I always use them as the perfect ending of the day when my kids sleep and I have time to pamper myself. The mask left my skin hydrated and smooth, I would totally buy more of these.

Flower Puff in Pink

The last item is a powder puff that comes with a pretty flower on top where the applicator strap is, it’s soft which is great to be used with foundation or loose powder. Honestly, it looks too pretty to be used.

Overall, I have mixed feelings about this because I like some items and I feel they fit the theme and some don’t, like the cotton pads but I enjoyed most of the box items and I would continue my subscription for a while.

What I Learned From GRIS

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I know this review is long-due but I wanted to find the right words for this game, even though I’m going to use the word “Game” very loosely throughout this post. I would rather consider it as an Experience -atmospheric at most- and it’s definitely a pleasant one.

Gris is a hopeful young girl lost in her own world, dealing with a painful experience in her life. Her journey through sorrow is manifested in her dress, which grants new abilities to better navigate her faded reality.

I’m going to sum this game in a few words, it’s basically Art but playable. There’s a reason why it’s rated overwhelmingly positive on Steam. It showcases that perfect blend of art and music, the silence of an empty colorless world then dropping colors as they bleed in each screen where it matches the music and that’s mostly the premise of the game, coloring your world as you experience levels of grief.

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Red: A wasteland where winds will push the soundless protagonist making here wait till it passes. I would say it could represent anger as the first level or reaction to certain traumas or grief, whatever the protagonist went through.

Green: Plants and animals -or what I can assume animals- start to show as the color green blends with the red. It felt like a refreshing breather moment like she’s in peace but also cautious from being in the woods.

Blue: It starts to rain and the protagonist starts going underwater where there will be little to none illuminated areas. I would say it’s more like sadness and drowning yourself as in underwater with no light but to go up to the surface.

Yellow: Color of light, I believe it’s like the end of your misery where you learned to accept the sadness, frustration and drowning in the darkness.

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Every moment in this game made me take a screenshot, and every screenshot can be used as a wallpaper. The art of this game is simply gorgeous and it sort of reminded me of Journey but I can honestly say that I would choose this game over it. The game doesn’t offer any guides to the story which fascinated me because those colors of grief that you go through in each level is how you interpret griefing from a trauma.

This game is beautiful and it’s very atmospheric when it comes to the environment, the music compliments every animation, every color as the game seem like a simple side scroll puzzle one but in my opinion, it goes deeper than that and I would definitely consider it one of my favorite games.