how instagram’s algorithm favors dishonesty

Let me just start this off by asking one question: Do you know anyone who likes Instagram’s algorithm?

Exactly.

Instagram was–is–a way for me (and other bloggers) to share our thoughts and opinions within the literary community. I joined at the end of March 2016 (though I had a personal account long before that) and I excitedly watched my account grow slowly over time. It’s not like I started out with 15000 followers on Twitter that I could just casually herd over to my Instagram account. No, I literally started with a follower count of zero.

Over the course of many months, I built a framework of trust and friendship with like-minded people, and we’ve happily discussed all things bookish. I was chosen to be a brand representative for businesses I truly cared about, such as Burning Pages Candles, Authored Adornments, Till and Dill, and Bookified Designs. And I was able to further expand on my sphere of influence by becoming a Lit Without Limits ambassador.

When Instagram announced that it would start adding in advertisements to my newsfeed, I wasn’t particularly thrilled about it, but I understood the reasons behind the new addition. For so long, Instagram had been a free platform for virtually anyone and everyone with access to the internet. Of course they would eventually find a way to monetize it. It was bound to happen. It made sense.

And when rumors of an algorithm started circulating our literary circles, I continued what I had always done–dutifully reviewing books, uploading high quality photos, answering comments and liking photos. I never asked my followers to turn on post notifications so that they wouldn’t miss my posts when the new algorithm was implemented.

But like so many other bloggers and avid bookstagrammers, I noticed a steep drop in engagement. A lot less likes. Even less comments.

It seems petty to be worried about the number of likes and comments each post gets, but for those of us who put in an enormous amount of time and effort into producing quality content, it’s extremely discouraging. For me, every photo is a labor of love. I utilize the creative side of me to come up with a setup before I actually start shooting. The picture-taking part is only the easy bit. After I’m satisfied with the pictures I’ve taken, I import them into my laptop and take time to make some basic edits. I then email the photos to myself and edit them through three different apps on my phone. Each photo I post goes through endless scrutiny. But that’s not all! There’s the dreaded clean-up process. I have to put all my books and props back to where they belong.

To be perfectly honest, I spend way more time than I should on bookstagram. When that invested time and energy seems to go to waste, it makes me reevaluate whether or not I should be trying so hard to cater to my audience. Why should I, when there’s no way that most of my followers would see my posts unless they are favored by Instagram’s algorithm?

So basically all of my posts will be buried underneath all the more “popular” posts. The only way to circumvent that is for my photo to immediately gain likes and comments as soon as it goes live. If that latest post doesn’t attract a lot of interaction right away, it’s going to be pushed down the newsfeed that has long since abandoned the much-loved chronological order.

I ended up spending a lot of time trying to gauge the right time to post, when interaction would be optimized at its highest. I researched and experimented with different hashtags to determine which ones were more likely to make others notice my photos. I joined a comment group, where each of us in the group could notify each other whenever we posted a photo, so that all of us could quickly double tap and comment, boosting interaction and convincing Instagram’s algorithm that the new post was “popular.” But this was exhausting and even more time consuming than ever. This was definitely not what I joined Instagram for. (Frankly, the whole popularity contest thing is so old. Instagram is not middle school or high school.)

Others ended up buying likes in an attempt to boost the popularity of their latest photo. Yes, you read that correctly. Buying.

It’s ridiculously easy. You post, buy hundreds of likes off of a website of questionable repute, and then suddenly Instagram and its beloved pet algorithm believe that because you’re suddenly gaining tons of likes per minute, your newest photo is so incredibly popular! The algorithm, believing it is Instagram’s gift to the online world, will put your latest post on top of your followers’ newsfeeds so that they will see it and add even more “popularity” to it by liking and commenting.

Sounds like a great solution, right? Zero research needed. Minimal time commitment. Your account might just be even more popular than it started out!

NO.

It’s deceptive. In other words, THE ALGORITHM FAVORS THE DISHONEST. Not the popular. Not the ordinary bloggers. Not you and me. I cannot emphasize this enough.

If you are dishonest enough to buy likes and followers, you are deceiving the businesses you promote and the people who work with you. Your “likers” could all be spam accounts, and the algorithm wouldn’t know shit. You can promise the businesses you promote that you will bring them benefits, but in the end they are deceived by your fake interaction that brings nothing. Small businesses often rely on their brand representatives to promote their products and spread the word about them. By faking your interaction, it hurts small businesses as much as it hurts honest bloggers.

The algorithm rewards honest bloggers for their time, energy, creativity, and arduous planning with low organic interaction. I know many bloggers who are discouraged when less than 20% of their followers actually see their posts, myself included. Those who pay for their interaction ultimately hurt those who are not spending money on shady sites. The algorithm puts smaller accounts at a terrible disadvantage and stymies their potential for growth, while continuously promoting larger accounts that already have a substantial following. I mean, how is an account like mine, with roughly 8000 followers (granted, I know I should not be complaining too much because there are plenty of accounts that are even smaller), supposed to compete with one that has over 100k followers and gets 400 likes a minute? Mathematically speaking, I can’t!

It used to be that I absolutely LOVED interacting with the bookstagram community. It was a constant source of joy. Of course, I still love it to an extent, but the fact that I have to literally search people up to like their posts or do all the other crazy stuff I mentioned earlier in order to prevent my photos from underperfoming really ruins part of the experience for me.

One other thing that irks me is this: Why does Instagram get to decide what I want to see and what I don’t? If I follow someone, doesn’t that mean that I want to see their content?

It just doesn’t make an ounce of sense to me.

I spent a lot of time collecting my thoughts on this. Please, please don’t be one of those people who buy fake followers and likes. Don’t ruin it for everyone. Dealing with the algorithm is already annoying enough.

And please feel free to share this post. It was definitely more rant-like than my usual cheeriness, but I really needed to get this all out. More people deserve to know about the messy intricacies of how Instagram’s algorithm works, especially small businesses who are struggling.

Instagram is my favourite platform, and I am so grateful that it has given me the chance to build friendships with readers from all over the world. I don’t want to lose out to something as silly as fake interaction or a useless algorithm.

13 reasons why (i read)

Two months ago, when I finally decided to cut my past-waist-length Rapunzel hair, I brought The Architect of Song with me to the hair salon.

I opened my book and barely a minute later, a young girl who couldn’t have been older than 11 immediately exclaimed, “EW! Why do you read?!”

I thought I heard wrong. Seriously. Because how could I not read?

I can give you Thirteen Reasons Why I read. (Hi, Jay Asher.)

  1. My parents. I am extremely fortunate in that both my father and mother are avid readers as well. Even before I could read on my own, my dad would read short children’s stories to me every night before bed. And when I was a little older, my mum would take me to the local library every weekend to pick out a stack of thirty books that I could hardly carry myself. Their philosophy is that…
  2. Reading fuels the brain. It keeps your brain active! It makes you think, feel, laugh, cry, and just about everything in between.
  3. I read to enjoy and explore a world that is not my own. Through reading, I can live vicariously through my favourite kickass heroines or immerse myself in the rich complexities of another era.
  4. There’s a lot to learn from reading. It’s not just about building up your SAT vocabulary bank, or even refining your writing. Literature educates you about the human experience as a whole, and it allows us to take a look at our lives through a wider lens of understanding.
  5. It’s a way to de-stress. For me, reading is necessity. I typically read a little before heading to bed. (old habits from childhood die hard?) It helps me unwind after a long day, and it’s a perfect way to relax before going to sleep!
  6. It’s a means of escape. Sometimes, when I hit a rough patch in my life or a particularly terrible day, reading becomes my chief solace. I forget about my life and my surroundings and let myself be drawn into a story, as if I’m a silent character observing and following the main cast.
  7. Reading is infinitely more interesting than TV. I mean, of course I binge watch shows and anime, but not all the time! And when I do, it’s always on my laptop. TV has never been appealing to me.
  8. It starts conversations. Having knowledge from reading scholarly works can automatically make an intellectual conversation more engaging and interesting. Reading fictional accounts can spark conversations among social circles, with friends. It’s even better when others have read a certain book too, so you can all fangirl together! So yes, I’d say that reading has the potential to expand your social skills. Not all of us are introverts!
  9. It improves focus and concentration. Reading takes time. I often hear my classmates complain about not being able to finish assigned reading because it was too boring and too long. It takes a considerable amount of focus to read and continue reading, but if you can sit it out, you’re bound to improve your concentration!
  10. It sparks imagination. Reading makes me think. That’s why I write reviews and put my thoughts online. Hell, it even inspired me to start blogging!
  11. Reading is easy to do! All you need is a good book and a source of light. Optional: a hot mug of green tea.
  12. I read to understand different perspectives. This is especially true nowadays, with the push for more diversity in literature, especially YA lit. In my 7 am literature class, we are currently discussing poetry written by people of different race, beliefs, experiences, and ideas. So although I don’t agree with William Butler Yeats’ version of the “ideal woman” (from A Prayer for My Daughter; I believe his thinking is rather antiquated), I can still understand that he simply wants his young child to grow up with peace and innocence, unmarred by the tumultuous world.
  13. So why do I read? Perhaps the simplest answer is the best one. Why not?
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photo credit: Google images

Why do YOU read? Do tell me, I’d love to know!

sherlock season 4!

FINALLY. THE LONG-ANTICIPATED FOURTH SEASON OF MY FAVOURITE SHOW IS HERE.

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I watched episodes 1 and 2 last night, and I personally thought episode 2 was better. More on that later.

The first episode, The Six Thatchers, was nothing short of amazing. It was an unforgettable, heart-wrenching opening to a new season. It was even a little creepy, with the shots of the broken busts and the skulls. Quite macabre, if you ask me. I only have one teeny tiny complaint about season 4’s first episode:

IT WAS EMOTIONAL. TOO EMOTIONAL.

What happened to the cold, hard logic of my favourite high-functioning sociopath? I wish there had been more detective and case-busting, (hahah) and I felt that The Six Thatchers had more emotional elements to it than necessary. I wanted more of Sherlock’s fascinating mind palace. I wanted to hear him voice his observations more often. (I don’t think John would agree.) I wanted Sherlock to be the detective I love so much. But instead…

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this is the expression that was on my face

*spoilers ahead*

The scene with the most emotional impact was of course, Mary’s killing blow. I had to literally pause for a second to catch my breath and then let out a small scream of frustration! WHY?! WHYYYYYY??!! Oh, my dear Watson, my heart breaks for you. The feels are still pounding in waves over me:

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I wanted to slap Sherlock for goading Vivienne into using her pistol. Ugh, Sherlock, I love you and your brilliant mind, but did you have to do that? Especially when Mary said in that voice and tone, “Sherlock,” like three times! Even though I love it when Sherlock unleashes his observational powers, sometimes I do sympathize with John and his irritation with Sherlock’s arrogance and tendency to show off.

So with a heavy heart, I watched the second episode and I literally want to SCREAM MY LUNGS OUT because WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT ENDING?!  You can’t seriously expect me to wait a whole entire week for the finale. I’m not sure I’ll live that long, truthfully, not with this enormous storm of feels brewing ominously in my brain.

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same, Sherlock, same.

The second episode, The Lying Detective, took a dark turn towards a “living, breathing coagulation of human evil” in the form of its villain, Culverton Smith (Toby Jones). The best word I can use to describe Smith is creepy. His ease in the morgue with cadavers was morbid. The fact that he killed people in a hospital that he loved and supported…well, that was a nice touch to his macabre agenda. Even his toothy smile was downright bone-chilling. *shudders* However, because Smith was so convincingly portrayed as a complete psycho, I couldn’t take my eyes off the TV screen. He makes Moriarty look tame.

And I just don’t know about that cheesy “cereal killer” pun. I just don’t know. What I do know is that I won’t be making that joke again. Ever.

I’m also not entirely convinced that Sherlock didn’t recognize his own sister, Eurus. The only explanations that make sense to me are 1) He was plotting with his sister the whole time, which explains why he wasn’t at all surprised to see her with Watson because he’d planned it. You’d think that after not seeing his sister in years that he’d express some kind of reaction. Or 2) Sherlock usually fixates himself on noticing small details about a person, not necessarily his/her face alone. So maybe, just maybe, that’s why he didn’t recognize her face.

But to think that all this time, I thought the third Holmes sibling was a brother named Sherrinford! I had my suspicions that the drug addict Sherlock previously found in a drug den was the third Holmes brother, because Billy (is that his name?) has some pretty solid observational skills, reminiscent of Sherlock and Mycroft’s own abilities. Additionally, Mycroft made it sound like he and Sherlock had another brother when Mycroft mentioned previously in another season that “[he’s] not prone to outbursts of brotherly compassion. You know what happened to the other one.”

The Lying Detective raises so many questions in my head. Why and how did Sherlock predict that Molly, Watson, and Smith would end up at Eurus’ place? I’m calling bullshit on his “two weeks” prediction. What if he arranged the whole thing with his sister? Because how could Sherlock, observational mastermind, not notice his own sister?! Where does Sherrinford (Mycroft’s post-it note: “Call Sherrinford, 2 pm”) factor into all of this? And one more question: HOW DID EURUS KNOW ABOUT FAITH SMITH AND WHAT SHE WROTE DOWN BEFORE HER FATHER ERASED HER MEMORY?

My favourite part in all of season 4 so far has to be when Mrs. Hudson shows up, speeding in a wicked beautiful Aston Martin with Sherlock handcuffed in the trunk and a police officer on her tail. And then…

Mrs. Hudson: (to John Watson) “If you ever need anything, ANYTHING, just ask.”

Watson: //scheming face// “Can I borrow your car…sometimes?”

Mrs. Hudson: *purses lips and frowns* “No.”

Watson: *shoots her with a perplexed look*

But then some time later, when Watson has to race to the hospital to save Sherlock…

Mrs. Hudson: *tosses keys to Watson*

Watson: //confused face//

Mrs. Hudson: “CAR”

I laughed until my eyes leaked tears and my cheeks hurt! Mrs. Hudson was so full of surprises, and I’m not even going to mention what she did to get Sherlock into the trunk of her Aston Martin. I can’t wait to see what role she plays in season 4’s finale.

I really hope that Sherlock will be renewed for a fifth season because I can’t seem to ever get enough of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s iconic detective. Benedict Cumberbatch is an insanely talented actor (I was amazed at the scene where he runs around trashing his apartment like a madman and waving his gun at photos of Culverton Smith) and so far, his stellar performances in these two new episodes have me convinced that the season finale will be far darker and action-packed than anything I’ve seen before in previous episodes and seasons.

So tell me, what are your thoughts on the new season of Sherlock?

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The Irene Adler (she is briefly mentioned in episode 2!) necklace and 221B Baker Street cuff bracelet featured in this post were both made by Julie from Authored Adornments. You can use code BOOKSHOP upon checkout to receive 10% off your order from her etsy shop!

hello, 2017!

Happy New Year, my friends! I hope you’re all enjoying the festivities and fireworks. May 2017 bring you all things good.

To be frank, 2016 was quite a whirlwind. Many people might be inclined to say that it was absolute shit, but I disagree. Why focus on the negative aspects of 2016, like the deaths of our beloved Alan Rickman and Carrie Fisher? Or the hate that has practically torn apart our country? Now, that’s not to say that we should overlook and dismiss these events simply because they are in the past, but rather, we should focus on the positives and propel ourselves forward.

I’d like to focus on one word for 2017: POTENTIAL.

po·ten·tial /pəˈten(t)SHəl/

(adjective) having or showing the capacity to become or develop into something in the future

(noun) latent qualities or abilities that may be developed and lead to future success or usefulness

We have potential. Heck, even electricity has “potential.” (Electric potential? Where are my physics nerds? hah.)  Point is, everything has potential. 2017 has the potential to be great or…not-so-great. It depends entirely on you and what you make of it.

There are a lot of things that I’m looking forward to in 2017, namely:

  • the Beauty and the Beast live-action film
  • graduating high school and setting off for college
  • traveling with friends and family
  • SHERLOCK SEASON 4
  • Hamilton’s West End debut in LA
  • release of A Court of Wings and Ruin

I typically don’t make New Year’s resolutions because let’s be pragmatic here, they’re usually not fulfilled. And also because I think that the drive to complete a goal should be present year round, not just at the beginning of the year. Still, I believe it’s healthy to set a few personal goals for self-growth every year. Some of my own objectives for the upcoming year include:

  • reading another 100 books for my Goodreads challenge
  • making at least three new friends
  • quitting my disgusting nail-biting habit
  • traveling to a new country + visiting a new place
  • writing and journaling on a daily basis (or at least every other day)
  • learning to cook at least 10 different dishes

Unfortunately, the we don’t live in Cinderella’s world, where everything changes at the stroke of midnight. We can never forget the tumultuous events of the past year, but what we can do is move on and forge new memories and relationships. The new year brings new beginnings and allows us a chance to start fresh. I encourage all of you to set goals and pursue them! And above all, never ever let the hard days win. Have a little faith, and focus on the positive side of things and on your potential to be a part of the goodness in the world.

Let’s make 2017 good for all of us.

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the joy of christmas book tag

Merry Christmas, lovelies! Did you get all the books you asked for? Or, better yet, a gift card to Barnes & Noble?

Christmas has always been special to me, not because of the gift-giving, but because it means time off from work and school for family. Though holiday dinners can be nerve-wracking (trust me on this one) it’s always nice seeing relatives get together and catch up. I personally love talking the night away with my cousins, with a cup of hot chocolate in hand. Like Sierra from What Light, I use a candy cane to stir the chocolate into the steamed milk to add in a taste of peppermint.

So when I saw The Joy of Christmas book tag on my friend Rachael’s blog, I knew I had to participate as well! Here goes nothing:

ANTICIPATION: the Christmas excitement is real, what book release(s) are you most anticipating?

Wayfarer by Alexandra Bracken

A Court of Wings and Ruin (ACOWAR, which might as well just be called A Court of Want a Rhysand) by Sarah J. Maas

Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab

Now I Rise by Kiersten White

Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh

The Hummingbird Heart by A.G. Howard

Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare

CHRISTMAS SONGS AND CAROLS: what book or author can you not help but sing praises for?

Heartless by Marissa Meyer. It. shattered. my. heart. and. I. still. haven’t. recovered. ugh.

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GINGERBREAD HOUSES: what book or series has wonderful world building?

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Ohh, this is so difficult! My first thought is actually my friend Tiffany’s book-in-progress. The way she structured her world is totally insane. I really felt like I was there, in the world she spun out of her imagination.

But if I had to choose from a book/series that’s already been published, I can’t go wrong with J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World, can I? Harry Potter was practically my childhood! Seventh year Hogwarts Ravenclaw Head Girl here. 🙂

A CHRISTMAS CAROL: favourite classic or one that you want to read

I meant to finish reading Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald, but I haven’t gotten around to it yet. I guess that’s something I can do with the rest of my winter break…

CHRISTMAS SWEETS: what book would you love to receive for Christmas?

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Can I just get ACOWAR right now? Please? May 2 is too far away!! But to be more pragmatic, I’d love to receive the illustrated versions of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

CHRISTMAS TREES AND DECORATIONS: what are some of your favourite book covers?

I love the covers for the Starbound trilogy! I think I’ve raved about how gorgeous these covers are in a previous book tag, but I mean look at this:

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CHRISTMAS JOY: what are some of your favourite things about Christmas and/or some of your favourite Christmas memories?

I love driving around the neighborhood, admiring the lights. Almost everyone on my street puts them up, and the myriad of twinkling lights is really breathtaking at night. It’s such a small thing, but I appreciate it nonetheless.

My dad gifted me my first fountain pen this morning, and it’s so beautiful I want to cry a little. I’ve always wanted one, so he got me a dark blue one from Cross! So while this memory is fairly fresh, I know I’ll remember for the years to come. Yesterday my uncle gave me a medical encyclopedia, which I am SO excited about! He says the virology section is the most interesting, but so far, I think anesthesia, cataract surgery, and the history of microscopes are cooler. Yes, I know. I’m such a nerd!

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Merry Christmas, everyone! Spend time with family. Eat good food. Laugh a lot. May the days ahead be forever merry and bright.

too late: a discussion

Who’s a fan of Colleen Hoover? *raises both hands*

CoHo is such a talented writer! She has a way of tugging at my heartstrings and making her readers, myself included, fall in love with her characters. I don’t know what it is, but I always find myself sucked into her stories. The world could be exploding into smithereens and I wouldn’t notice because I’d be too engrossed in one of her novels.

I was, at first, hesitant to pick up Too Late by Colleen Hoover because I wasn’t sure if I’d be okay with reading really graphic scenes depicting abuse, rape, murder, and drug use. But damn, I am so glad that I went ahead and took the leap anyway. Here is the synopsis:

Sloan will go through hell and back for those she loves.
And she does, every single day.
After finding herself stuck in a relationship with the dangerous and morally corrupt Asa Jackson, Sloan will do whatever it takes to get by until she’s able to find a way out.
Nothing will get in her way.
Nothing except Carter.

Sloan is the best thing to ever happen to Asa. And if you ask Asa, he’d say he’s the best thing to ever happen to Sloan. Despite Sloan’s disapproval of Asa’s sinister lifestyle, he does exactly what he needs to do in order to stay a step ahead in his business. He also does exactly what he needs to do in order to stay a step ahead of Sloan.
Nothing will get in his way.
Nothing except Carter.

For those of you who have already read Too Late–

We need to talk. About Asa Jackson.

I know everyone despises him and hates him for the hell he put Sloan through, but he was a much better developed character than Sloan and Carter. He had substance. He was dynamic and interesting.

I could understand that Asa really did love Sloan, even if it was in the most twisted way possible. Sure, he was all f*cked up, but not without reason. His behaviour made sense when it was revealed that his father had basically ruined him, ruined him to pieces with his “advice” on women and whores. Of course, this in no way excuses what he did, though. But as a result, Asa ended up growing up with a very…complex way of viewing things. He was manipulative. Undeniably smart. Deceptively charming. He knew his way around people, and he knew how to please Sloan in more ways than one. Because of his sorry excuses for parents, Asa just wanted a love that would stay with him, and a love who, by his father’s definition, wasn’t a whore. For this, I sympathized with him. I felt a little sorry for the broken boy inside of him.

Reading from Asa’s point of view was both scary and surprising. Yes, he drops a lot of f-bombs and profanity. Yes, he constantly thinks about sex. He always took me by surprise with his scheming, especially the whole act with schizophrenia, as well as the FBI bust. If he weren’t so psychotic, I’d be tempted to say that he’s wicked brilliant.

Colleen Hoover is extremely talented for creating Asa’s multi-dimensional character. As a reader, I could see that Sloan brought out the best in him, almost like how Vanessa Mariana brought out a more human and vulnerable side to Wilson Fisk from Daredevil. But like I’ve already said, this definitely doesn’t excuse any of the terrible things he did–committing murder, engineering a drug ring, rape, cheating on Sloan, etc. One of the things I was most disgusted with was when he told Carter that the reason why he cheats constantly on Sloan is because he has to satisfy his sexual cravings as a male, and that females don’t operate the same way. So…wait? If Sloan cheats, she’s a whore, and if Asa cheats, he still gets to be Asa? No way in hell is that twisted logic going to be acceptable!

I have never felt more conflicted about a character in my life, ever.

As for Carter, he honestly felt like an archetypal shining knight in armor to me. Boring. Cue the yawns. I couldn’t really connect with his character. And even though Sloan had her moments of strength, I found it frustrating to read from her perspective because she was almost always crying. Like, girl, if you don’t like something, quit bawling in bed and do something about it! I think she only fell for Carter because he was the exact opposite of Asa, and he was who she needed at the time. But luckily, she grew on me as the book progressed. By the epilogue of the epilogue, she’d grown a spine of steel! To avoid spoiling the ending, I’m just going to say it was bloody f*cking brilliant. And it involves a trash can.

I have reservations about recommending this book because while I thought it was quite good in a dark and disturbing way, it might not be the right fit for younger readers and those who are more sensitive to graphic scenes.

My full review is here, on Goodreads.

fantastic beasts movie review

I know, I know, I’m so unfashionably late to the game! Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them features a magizoologist named Newt Scamander who accidentally sets loose a briefcase filled with (yes, you guessed it) fantastic beasts in 1926 New York City. I watched Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them on November 26 with a good friend of mine and needless to say, it was FANTASTIC. (excuse the overused pun.) I loved Newt and his whole menagerie of magical creatures.

BE WARNED: mild spoilers ahead!

Eddie Redmayne was the perfect Newt Scamander. (Okay, Eddie Redmayne is perfect. Have you seen him as Marius in Les Misérables? And Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything?) The way he cared for his magical creatures was so moving! I could really feel and see the emotion behind his actions. Personally, my favorite “beast” is Pickett the bowtruckle. When Newt reluctantly handed him over to a goblin, I swear my heart was screaming “NOOOOOOOO! DON’T. YOU. DARE. DON’T DO IT!” And the scene near the end when the magizoologist was trying to get Pickett to smile was so adorable. Shy little Pickett just made a face like are you joking my life you betrayed me!!

The other magical creatures were just as endearing. How adorable was the shiny stuff-loving Niffler? And can we talk about how the invisible little Demiguise took care of the Occamy? I was also ecstatic to see the Thunderbird make an appearance, the bird for which my Ilvermorny house is named after.

The most hilarious scene in the movie HAS to be the Erumpent mating dance in Central Park. I watched the behind the scenes clip on how it was filmed and I think I died in a fit of giggling. Eddie Redmayne is one super talented actor to be able to pull that one off!

Though the visual effects were stunning, I must admit that the plot was a bit lacking. In fact, I wasn’t even aware that there was a plot until much later because it was so slow. It was too easy to guess who the real villain was, and I wasn’t a fan of Johnny Depp as Grindelwald. But maybe that’s because I still have a mental image of Jamie Campbell Bower as a young Gellert Grindelwald from the previous Harry Potter films. Fantastic Beasts did bring back a lot of nostalgia for the wizarding world, though. I just wish ‘Muggle’ was a universal term, rather than a strictly British word for ordinary folk. America gets ‘No-Maj’ instead. Ah well.

All in all, I’d say that Fantastic Beasts was a pretty solid and enjoyable film that sets the premise for the next few movies. JK is still out there, Rowling! (hahah) I can’t wait to see what the following films have in store for us!

 

life update

Hey bookish people!

I know I haven’t exactly been diligent with blogging and posting lately. Sorry about that! A few things have happened since I last published a new post:

  1. FINALs are FINAL-ly over! (I admit, that was weak.) This means no more cramming for tests and stressing over grades that are living on the edge and perilously close to plunging over the wrong end of the grading cliff.
  2. I completed my Goodreads challenge of reading 100 books this year. I went from being 12 books ahead during the summer to 5 books behind once school started again for the fall semester. But somehow, I managed to catch up and finish my goal! If you really love something, you’ll always find time for it right?
  3. I’m on Christmas break! Which means: a) more time for reading + blogging and b) less time to finish the college applications I still haven’t submitted.
  4. I played in a winter orchestra concert as the principal violinist. We played Mozart’s Symphony No. 38 and Corelli’s Christmas Concerto, as well as a handful of traditional Christmas songs, such as Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas and Sleigh Ride.
  5. I finally watched Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children. Asa Butterfield. That. is. all. (Did it bother anyone that it was so different from the books? And that Olive’s and Emma’s peculiarities were switched?)
  6. I found out Zayn and Taylor Swift did a collab for Fifty Shades Darker (no, I haven’t read the books or watched the movie and I don’t think I ever will do either of those things). But their new song, I Don’t Wanna Live Forever, is so addicting! Which is totally weird because I usually don’t like pop music.

I don’t like making excuses for myself, but the main reason why I wasn’t able to post at least once last week was because I was drowning in school and finals and the dreaded, unfinished college applications. Hopefully, I’ll muster up the motivation to polish off the last couple of college apps that I have and get back to posting more regularly!

So, how’s your life? Did I miss anything interesting while I was gone?

harry potter: the microsoft paint edition

In need of a laugh? You’re in luck! I came across the SILLIEST “artwork”/condensed format of the Harry Potter movies and characters on Twitter the other day, and I just had to share it.

Warning: Wildly inappropriate spew of profanity, atrocious grammar, incorrect (yet ridiculously hilarious) spelling ahead. Read on at your own risk!

image1-3image2-2image3-2image4Every time I look think about this series of stupidly comical Paint drawings, I practically die laughing. My cheeks hurt, and my stomach gets the most intensive ab workout ever! I honestly feel like the terrible drawings only add to the comedic effect. My personal favourites are “im cho chung” and “gobble of fiyah.”

Hopefully, you got a few laughs out of this short post. Or maybe more than a few. 🙂

bookstagram q & a

Hello, my lovely bookwyrms! I hope your holiday weekend was great. Because I reached 5,000 followers on bookstagram this month, (yes, holy crud, that is totally insane! I cannot wrap my mind around the fact that over 5,000 people have decided to tap the follow button.) I decided to hold a Q & A session with my bookstagram followers! They asked the questions, and I answered them.

I’ve bolded the questions and my bare-boned answers for the people who like to skim instead of close read. So without further ado…

pagesinparadise: If an author would write a book about your life, who would you choose? 

I love this question! Unfortunately, my life happens to be rather boring, so I’d want Sarah J. Maas to write it into something with lots of action and full out epic-ness. And maybe give me a Rhysand of my own? Or Rowan? Dammit, I’d even take Lorcan. Because, you know, brooding Fae warrior males are my favourite. 😉

zoe_hoibian: If you could spend a day with three fictional (book/movie/tv show) characters, who would it be and why?

1). Cath from Heartless. I’d stuff my face with rose macarons and other delectable baked treats.
2). Kaz from Six of Crows. Please teach me some of those lock-picking skills.
3). Sherlock Holmes from Sherlock. I just want to see his reaction to everything. I want need those powers of deductive reasoning! Maybe we’ll even solve a few crimes along the way. Preferably those that don’t involve Kaz.

travel.by.book: What’s your favorite genre?

Historical fiction. It’s such an oxymoron. You’d expect something historical to not be fiction and fiction to not be historical.

alinabooklover: Team Captain or Team Iron Man? Top 5/Top 10 favourite tv shows?

Hey, that’s two questions!! That’s a tough choice, but I think my heart’s with the Captain and my mind’s with Iron Man. As far as TV shows go, here’s a sneaky confession: I don’t watch TV often, BUT Sherlock is my absolute favourite! I also love Downton Abbey. Once Upon a Time is my guilty pleasure. I’ve only watched a few episodes of Outlander, but I like it so far. I have plans to binge-watch Mr. Robot, PoldarkDoctor WhoGrey’s Anatomy, Stranger Things, and House in the near future…

mybookacademy: Who are your top two fictional boyfriends AND hypothetically if you were in a vicious love triangle between them who would you pick??

Girl, you are vicious. I think you and Maas are molded from the same sheet of evil. (just kidding, you know I ❤ you, Sally!) But if you forced me to choose at knifepoint, I’d choose Rhysand from ACOMAF over Kaidan Rowe from Sweet Evil.

mylifeisanovelmylifeisanovelIf you could only read one series for the rest of your life, which series would you choose?

The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare. This trilogy is absolutely perfect! You can’t go wrong with a likeable, bookish main character. TID also contains one of the only love triangles that I didn’t have problems with.

bookish.marls: Would you rather read a book about your whole life or read a book about all conversations that had been said about you?

Conversations. I’ll feel like I’m reading minds. My life is (sadly) quite uneventful.

readingisinevitableWhat/who inspired you to start bookstagramming? How do you find inspiration for your pictures? What’s your favorite less-known book or series?

Xan from twirlingpages! Interestingly enough, we have mutual friends, though Xan and I have never met in real life. I find inspiration all around me. There’s so much raw beauty in nature and created beauty in music. And of course, I take into account of the book’s content and cover (especially the colour) whenever I take a photo. My favourite lesser-known series is Wendy Higgins’ Sweet Evil trilogy, featuring angels and demons and my favourite British drummer/badass!

sentrancedbookworm: If you had to change one thing about one of your favorite books, what would it be?

Nothing. If it’s my favourite book, there’s no way I’d want to tamper with anything. Although preventing a character I love from dying would be good for my bruised heart…

scarlingwolf719: Who are your top three book character crushes?!?!

You’re making me choose?!?! Fine.

1). Rhysand from A Court of Mist and Fury
2). Kaidan Rowe from Sweet Evil
3). Adrian Ivashkov from Bloodlines

fictionalpassionPopular character you don’t really like?

Alina Starkov from the Grisha trilogy. Sadly, she’s the reason why I didn’t enjoy the Grisha trilogy as much as everyone else seemed to.

libraryamongstarsWho’s your favourite Disney princess?

Ariel! #mermaidsforlife

bookhuggerreviews: If you could meet a fictional character and hang out with them, who would you choose?

Manon’s wildflower-loving wyvern, Abraxos. (from Queen of Shadows) I’d spoil him sick with wildflowers, and then bribe him with honey to take me flying through the skies. Or maybe he won’t need bribing.


I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I did writing it! I honestly loved answering all of your questions. Some of them took a loooong time to reflect on. (hello, multiple book crushes) If you have more questions, feel free to ask, and if not, I will see you in my next post.