Pawn (The Blackcoat Rebellion #1) by Aimee Carter
Published November 26th 2013 by Harlequin Teen
Source: received from publisher
Rating: ★★☆☆☆

YOU CAN BE A VII IF YOU GIVE EVERYTHING.

For Kitty Doe, it seems like an easy choice. She can either spend her life as a III in misery, looked down upon by the higher ranks and forced to leave the people she loves, or she can become a VII and join the most powerful family in the country.

If she says yes, Kitty will be Masked – surgically transformed into Lila Hart, the Prime Minister’s niece, who died under mysterious circumstances. As a member of the Hart family, she will be famous. She will be adored. And for the first time, she will matter.

There’s only one catch. She must also stop the rebellion that Lila secretly fostered, the same one that got her killed, and one Kitty believes in. Faced with threats, conspiracies and a life that’s not her own, she must decide which path to choose and learn how to become more than a pawn in a twisted game she’s only beginning to understand.

Pawn had me going “????????” from the opening pages.

So Kitty fails an aptitude test right before the book starts, and ends up with a III tattooed on the back of her neck. Her boyfriend Benjy tells her he doesn’t care and that he’s willing to run away with her! But somehow she’s convinced that it’ll ruin his test results and she’s not willing to be his downfall which. If it’s an aptitude test I’m struggling to see exactly how her score and her marrying him will affect his personal aptitude? And halfway through, we were kiiind of floated this idea that maybe the aptitude test isn’t all it seems and that it doesn’t really test your aptitude, which 1) has the potential to be a really good critique of the current standardize testing system (SAT, ACT, GRE, GMAT, etc etc etc) in the US and 2) can start to potentially make an argument for why certain choices, like marrying a III, might ruin your chances of becoming a VI. BUT then immediately after we’re treated with a slew of tidbits here and there about how bright and wonderful and talented and smart Kitty is, and how there’s proof in how she managed to pull a III on the test although she had to leave a huge chunk of it blank, and then it all swirled away.

Benjy? I liked his steadfast resolution to stand beside Kitty. I wasn’t really sure about much else, though. Pawn was really good at putting everything into really neat little boxes, and Benjy? He sat in a nice little cardboard box labeled “KITTY’S MOTIVATION” and set a toe past those boundaries.

So Kitty goes to a club instead of becoming a sewage worker, and from there everything really starts to unravel, because instead of actually selling her virginity to the highest bidder, the highest bidder actually just wants Kitty for her. blue. eyes. And for that reason alone, he’s set to make her into a VII and his niece’s doppelganger? They can lengthen legs in this futuristic world. They can change entire body shapes and sIZES in this world. But they can’t change someone’s eye color to blue? ??? ????? There are processes now, in 2019, that can do that for a person. Hell, there are less-invasive colored contacts that can give you any eye color you want. But this is their one hang-up in this dystopian world?

But, okay. Kitty becomes Lila, agrees without thinking there might be some sort of catch, or maybe fifty (who will track you down, shoot down club members and intimidate your family members to get to you, only to hand you a golden ticket with no strings??).

And from there? I’m. Not quite sure? I read Aimee Carter’s The Goddess Test and Goddess Interrupted when they came out, and honestly, Pawn kind of gives off the same vibes I remember (albeit from. seven years. ago). It floats here and there, dabbles in a lot of things that could be potentially interesting, but never delves into them, and then sprinkles that atop some romance and calls it a day. There’s something about a rebellion, though we don’t actually ever get to see it. There’s set up for political intrigue, but, as Kitty – and every other character she interacts with – hammers home for us every other page or so, Kitty’s motivation is BENJY, so we’re treated to a lot of fretting and worrying and doing-things-at-other-people-s-command-so-benjy-will-live-to-see-another-day but no actual self autonomy, and so much of the intrigue-discovering happens once Kitty’s become a victim, or an unhappy bystander caught in the crossfire. There’s romance, but Benjy’s never really treated to any character development, and feels like nothing more than the possibly proverbial carrot to Kitty’s every move, so the romance comes off as dry and maybe even posturing instead.

Aside from all this, the world building is also confusing, not to mention pretty unbelievable – unrest settled by the reorganization of all the resources to the elite few? It’s simplistic and glossed-over, fluffed up with a few comments here and there about how unjust the system is. And the characters? They have just enough presence to fulfill their roles in the story, but are hardly memorable, and after a while, start blending together.

Pawn wasn’t an awful read, but it was shaky and lackluster. You might be able to chalk up chalk up some of it to Pawn being the first in a trilogy, but even then, I don’t feel any motivation to continue.

Heart of Venom (Elemental Assassin #9) by Jennifer Estep
Published August 27th 2013 by Pocket Books
Source: Library
Rating: ★★☆☆☆

When a terror from the past threatens Gin’s friend and body-disposer, Sophia, Gin will stop at nothing to protect her, even if it means walking straight into a killer’s trap. Meanwhile, the rocky romance between Gin and Owen reaches a turning point—can they reunite and rekindle their love? Or will the things Gin has been forced to do in her line of work as the deadly assassin the Spider keep them apart forever? Assuming, that is, she survives long enough to find out…

I’m pretty sure you could read any book in the series at random and still know everything that came before courtesy of all the recaps. They’re not bad reads! But Estep has a formula, and she follows it to a T every single time; the same quips, the same story structure, even the same recaps. And especially after nine books, it gets old. Also, idc what he attempts to pull now – Owen’s never going to be able to bounce back from the mess he made for himself. It’s nice to get some closure on what’s been haunting Sophia and Jo-Jo for decades, and with that, I think this is as good a place as any in the series to stop.

Rookie Move (Brooklyn Bruisers #1) by Sarina Bowen
Published September 6th 2016 by Berkley
Source: Library
Rating: ★★★☆☆

In high school they were the perfect couple—until the day Georgia left Leo in the cold…

Hockey player Leo Trevi has spent the last six years trying to do two things: get over the girl who broke his heart, and succeed in the NHL. But on the first day he’s called up to the newly franchised Brooklyn Bruisers, Leo gets checked on both sides, first by the team’s coach—who has a long simmering grudge, and then by the Bruisers’ sexy, icy publicist—his former girlfriend Georgia Worthington.

Saying goodbye to Leo was one of the hardest things Georgia ever had to do—and saying hello again isn’t much easier. Georgia is determined to keep their relationship strictly professional, but when a press conference microphone catches Leo declaring his feelings for her, things get really personal, really fast….

The romance was gumdrop-sweet and fluffy, and I loved the assembly of supporting characters. But I really wasn’t on board with the way the rape element was handled. Also, oof, the treatment of Leo’s exes was just. not. not great.

Lord of the Abyss (Royal House of Shadows #4) by Nalini Singh
Published November 22nd 2011 by Harlequin
Source: Library
Rating: ★★★☆☆

Once upon a time…the Blood Sorcerer vanquished the kingdom of Elden. To save their children, the queen scattered them to safety and the king filled them with vengeance. Only a magical timepiece connects the four royal heirs…and time is running out.…

As the dark Lord who condemns souls to damnation in the Abyss, Micah is nothing but a feared monster wrapped in impenetrable black armor. He has no idea he is the last heir of Elden, its last hope. Only one woman knows—the daughter of his enemy.

Liliana is nothing like her father, the Blood Sorcerer who’d cursed Micah. She sees past Micah’s armor to the prince inside. A prince whose sinful touch she craves. But first she has to brave his dark, dangerous lair and help him remember. Because they only have till midnight to save Elden.

It’s a bit of a departure from the Nalini Singh books I’m used to, the pacing was uneven in places, and I wasn’t super on board with some parts of the ending, but the characters were varying and interesting and I liked the directness of their relationships – it felt refreshing, in a sense.

I love コレサワ’s たばこ so I was really excited to finally hear the answer song, 恋人失格! The misunderstandings between the two – the girlfriend who thought her boyfriend knew all about her, knew that she loved her kisses short, and lamented about how she feels regretful for not putting in the same kind of attention and affection, and the boyfriend who always felt that their kisses were too short – and therefore their respective songs are especially heartbreaking side-by-side. Communication! Is! Important!!! (I’ll probably end up putting up a quick translation for たばこ too after this – maybe right after this one?) As always, grammar mistakes galore, and please feel free to let me know of any questions or errors you have or find! Enjoy <3

確かに出て行った
you’re right – I left
君は泣きそうな顔してた
you looked like you were about to cry
だけれどやっぱ泣かないんだね
but, as I thought, you didn’t
そういうとこが嫌いだった
that’s what I hated about you

確かに恋人で
you’re right – we were lovers
君の部屋は優しかった
your room was kind
痩せたいと言いながらいつも
whilst saying you wanted to lose weight
おかしを食べて笑ってた
you always ate snacks with a smile
そういうとこが好きだった
that’s what I loved about you

だけどもう君のわがままを
however, now, your selfishness –
笑顔で聞けそうになくてさ
I find myself unable to listen with a smile
恋人失格だって 僕は弱かったんだ
I’m a failure of a lover – I was weak
だけどあの頃の僕にとっての
but to the me back then
一番好きなものは 大事なのは
my favorite thing, the most important thing to me
ちゃんと君だったよ
properly, was you
信じてくれないよな
you probably don’t believe me

『ねぇ 一口吸ってみたい』
“Hey, I want to try a puff”
と僕のたばこ欲しがったけど
you wanted my cigarette, but
あげないよ 君はまたスネて
I didn’t give it to you – you asked again
だけどすぐに甘えてきた
but I quickly spoiled you
そうゆうとこが好きだった
that’s what I loved about you

だけどもう君のヤキモチを
however, now, your jealousy –
笑顔で聞けそうになくてさ
I find myself unable to listen with a smile
恋人失格だって 僕は若かったんだ
I’m a failure of a lover – I was young
だけどあの頃の僕にとっての
but to the me back then
一番好きなものは 大事なのは
my favorite thing, the most important thing to me
ちゃんと君だったよ
properly, was you
信じてくれなくても
even if you don’t believe me

君のキスはいつも短くて
your kisses were always short and
足りない 足りない もういない
not enough, not enough, now no more

だけどもう君の大好きに
however, now, your “I love you”s
笑顔で返せなくてさ
I find myself unable to return them with a smile
恋人失格だって 僕は弱かったんだ
I’m a failure of a lover – I was weak
だけどあの頃の僕にとっての
but to the me back then
一番好きなものは 大事なのは
my favorite thing, the most important thing to me
ちゃんと君だったよ
properly, was you
信じてくれないよな
you probably don’t believe me

確かに出て行った
you’re right – I left
君は泣きそうな顔してた
you looked like you were about to cry
だけれどやっぱ泣かないんだね
but, as I thought, you didn’t
そういうとこが嫌いだった
that’s what I hated about you
そうさせてた僕が嫌いだった
I hated the me that made you do that

Happy Wednesday! I’ve managed to push out another translation – this marks two in a row! This one’s a song from 『ヲタクに恋は難しい』. It came out over a year ago, but I just finished watching it a few days ago ^^;;; I’d highly recommend it to slice-of-life lovers! It’s super fluffy and cute, and the entire cast of characters are all quirky and lovable in their own individual ways. And this song is just as cute <3 As always, this post is drenched in atrocious grammar, and if you spot any mistakes, please feel free to let me know. Enjoy!

さあ 今日も始めましょうか
so, shall we start today as well?
昨日挟んだ栞の続きから
from the bookmark we left in yesterday
楽あれば苦あり
there’s no pleasure without pain
ストーリーは波の隨に
our stories are at the mercy of the waves

深い海を抜け
fall out of the deep sea
空飛ぶ街に繰り出し
fly through the sky until we reach a town
そこから降りれなくなり
but we’re unable to get down
脈絡のないような展開も
surely, even these disjointed developments
きっとオンリーなストーリー
are unique stories

高鳴る所には忘れず付箋を
don’t forget to label all the exciting moments
時々くるマイナスな面に備えて
to protect you against the moments that get you down
重宝して
they’ll come in handy

ひらりひらり
softly, gently
めくりめくる
turning, turning
ストーリーストーリー
our stories, our stories
忙しない ネバーエンディング
are engaging and neverending

いつになれば終わるんだ
I wonder when it’ll end?
皆目見当もつかない
I have no clue
お生憎、見当もつかない
unfortunately, there’s no way to know

さあ 今日も始めましょうか
so, shall we start today as well?
栞挟んだページ涙の跡
at the page we bookmarked, stained with tears
苦しくて思わず閉じた
hurting, we had closed it without thinking
理由は忘れずに
but we haven’t forgotten the reason

読み進める程
the more we read
白紙のページが
the blank white pages
お気に召すままに
become delightful
起承転結をこしらえて
beginnings, developments, and conclusions

ひらりひらり
softly, gently
めくりめくる
turning, turning
ストーリーストーリー
our stories, our stories
喜怒哀楽忙しい
are busy and full of emotion

のらりくらり
lazily, idly
巡り巡る
turning, turning
ストーリーストーリー
our stories, our stories
自己責任険しい
are difficult to take self-responsibility for

破り捨てたい時は
when you want to tear it up
もう一回
just go back again
付箋の場所を読み返し
and read the labeled places
そこに在ったストーリー
in those stories
彩るキャラは居ましたか
was there a character vibrantly depicted there?
さあ 思い出して
now, remember!

ひらりひらり
softly, gently
めくりめくる
turning, turning
ストーリーストーリー
our stories, our stories
喜怒哀楽忙しい
are busy and full of emotion

ひらりひらり
softly, gently
めくりめくる
turning, turning
ストーリーストーリー
our stories, our stories
高鳴れば ネバーエンディング
are exciting and neverending

いつになれば終わるんだ
I wonder when it’ll end?
皆目見当もつかない
I have no clue
お生憎、見当もつかない
unfortunately, there’s no way to know

さあ 今日も始めましょうか
so, shall we start today as well?

Hihi it’s me! Years after starting this blog, and I’m finally making use of that translation tag^^;;; At first glance Flamingo might seem like a ominous song to do for my first translation on Aerou, but it’s a really fun song to sing at karaoke! These past few weeks have been pretty hectic, but I was finally able to grab some free time last week to hang out with a couple of close friends – food, shopping, karaoke – so when I sat down to start this, Flamingo was the first song that came to mind. As always, my grammar is atrocious, so please brace yourself. If you spot any mistakes, please feel free to let me know!

宵闇に 爪弾き 悲しみに雨曝し 花曇り
banished in the twilight, sorrowful and weather-beaten, a hazy spring
枯れた街 にべもなし 侘しげに鼻垂らし へらへらり
a brusque and withered street, my nose running at this wretched feeling, laughing foolishly

笑えない このチンケな泥仕合 唐紅 の髪飾り あらましき恋敵
I can’t laugh at this lame, drawn-out game – a crimson hair ornament roughly outlines a rival in love
触りたい ベルベットのまなじりに 薄ら寒い笑みに
I want to touch the velvet corners of your eyes, your slight, cold smile

あなたフラミンゴ 鮮やかな フラミンゴ 踊るまま
you’re a flamingo, a bright flamingo, while you dance
ふらふら笑ってもう帰らない
dizzily laughing, not coming back
寂しさと嫉妬ばっか残して
leaving only loneliness and jealousy behind
毎度あり 次はもっと大事にして
thank you, please come again, treat me better next time

御目通り ありがたし 闇雲に舞い上がり 上滑り
so grateful for an audience with you – I’m soaring recklessly, superficially
虚仮威し 口遊み 狼狽に軽はずみ 阿呆晒し
bluffing, humming, acting rashly in my confusion, exposing myself a fool

愛おしいその声だけ聞いていたい 半端に稼いだ泡銭 タカリ出す昼鳶
I only want to hear that voice I love – halfheartedly earning easy-money by extorting thieves
下らないこのステージで光るのは あなただけでもいい
it’s alright if you’re the only one who shines on this useless stage

それはフラミンゴ 恐ろしや フラミンゴ はにかんだ
it was a flamingo, dreadful flamingo, bashful and shy
ふわふわ浮かんでもう さいなら
flighty, drifting, it’s already goodbye
そりゃないね もっとちゃんと話そうぜ
that’s not right, let’s talk it out some more
畜生め 吐いた唾も飲まないで
damn you, don’t take back your own words

氷雨に打たれて鼻垂らし あたしは右手にねこじゃらし
nose running as I’m hit by an ice storm, catnip in my right hand
今日日この程度じゃ騙せない 間で彷徨う常しえに
nowadays, I can’t be fooled by something like this, I’ll wander in the in-between for eternity
地獄の閻魔に申し入り あの子を見受けておくんなまし
Enma-do of Hell, I beg you, please take a look at that person
酔いどれ張り子の物語 やったれ死ぬまで猿芝居
the story of drunk papier‐mâché dolls, this clumsy subterfuge will continue to the day I die

あなたフラミンゴ 鮮やかな フラミンゴ 踊るまま
you’re a flamingo, a bright flamingo, while you dance
ふらふら笑ってもう帰らない
dizzily laughing, not coming back
寂しさと嫉妬ばっか残して
leaving only loneliness and jealousy behind
毎度あり 次はもっと大事にして
thank you, please come again, treat me better next time

I go through periods when I read no books, and then periods when I’m just reading aaaaaall the books I can get my hands on. It’s a very all-or-nothing fluctuation that I’m sure must be awful for all my Goodreads friends, whose timelines are, every other month or so, full-on spammed with all the books from whichever genre-related obsession I’ve fallen into this time. Shoutout to all my Goodreads friends for putting up with my bullshit.

These past few weeks, in the true spirit of my always falling into genres years after the hype has died, I’ve been really into Adult Urban Fantasy – vampires, werewolves, romance, you know it, you know it. And man, those series that started around 2010 are long. Couple that with my series-related commitment issues when it comes to picking up book two and subsequent stubbornness when it comes to finishing series I’m at least two-books-deep in, and the result is, well, this.

The Guild Hunter series by Nalini Singh was my first UF love. I was kind of? disappointed? in the stories featuring Dimitri – the ending development felt like such a cop-out to a love-story that had so much potential – and Venom – Singh is one of my favorite favorite writers but the whole story felt like a sad deflated balloon of recycled elements – but even then they were a solid two stars. And while Raphael and Elena are my favorite couple, Naasir and Andromeda are a close second. I was all caught up on the series a few years ago, but with my recent UF kick, I discovered that a lot of authors had side-stories and extra scenes! So, apologies to my GR friends, but I spent an entire afternoon binge-reading all the extras in shorts. Afternoon well spent 😉

Naturally, then, Psy-Changeling was my second love. I didn’t speed through the whole series like I did Guild Hunter – I feel like Guild Hunter has more of a strong linear story, whereas Psy-Changeling, though it the storyline is very much present, features a different couple in each book, and so it’s easier to start and stop and hop around books within the series. I’d covered the OG couples years ago, but had skipped around a bit then, so a few weeks ago, I took to binge-reading the entire series in order, extras and shorts included. And. Guys! The shorts? You all know I’m cynical as hell, but even cynics can be romantics, and, well. Heart of Obsidian will always be my favorite entry in this series, but everything else? Thumbs up thumbs up thumbs up!! I think at this point, I’ll read just about anything Nalini Singh puts out.

So after my Nalini Singh binge-read-fest, I was craving some more series with kick-ass UF heroines. My cousin recommended me the Night Huntress series – I remember seeing Jeaniene Frost’s name everywhere at one point, and so many people had so many good things to say about the series on Goodreads but it ended up being pretty lackluster? A lot of the books were slow and draggy and most of the characters’ personalities were based on one specific point, which didn’t make for the most dynamic read. I also ended up reading the Night Huntress World series, unaware until halfway through book two (I know… how?) but I ended up liking those two books even less than the main series. Vlad had been my favorite character in Night Huntress, so I tried – and finished – the Night Prince series, but Vlad went from charming and funny to a pretentious asshole and I wasn’t at all on board with that.

The Kate Daniels series though!! And the Hidden Legacy series! They were exactly what I was looking for after bingeing Nalini Singh, and Ilona Andrews is quickly becoming another author I’d read anything from.

After that, I tried D. B. Reynolds’s Vampires in America series, but it was super formulaic, and the formula was pretty lacking in substance, and honestly, every book wrapped up neatly enough, so I felt no real compulsion to finish.

I remember really liking Jennifer Estep’s YA series Mythos Academy, and my cousin was really into her Adult Elemental Assassin series for a while, so I decided to give that one a try, and… It wasn’t that the series was a terribly bad read – a lot of the action cuts are fun! But Estep’s really fond of her recaps, and the deeper into the series you go, the more recaps she pads her books with, until it feels like 90% of them are recaps, and then it just feels daunting to have to wade through all that to get to the main story – especially when the recaps feel copy-and-pasted from previous books’ recaps. It’s a lot. And on top of that, the male love interests go from bad to worse, and then to The Worst. There are seventeen books currently published, and I made it up to the ninth book – Heart of Venom? – which neatly wrapped up many of the initial plot threads and, in light of everything else, seemed like a nice place as any to end.

Goodreads told me I’d read Some Girls Bite and Friday Night Bites, the first two books in Chloe Neill’s Chicagoland Vampires series, but honestly I couldn’t really remember anything, but the rest of the series kept popping up on my recommended list, and it seemed like the kind of series I was looking for, so I gave it another try. Everything up to book four Hard Bitten was really nice! The secondary characters were numerous but unique and interesting, and Merit’s character was interesting to follow. I really like the episodic, scooby-doo reads, tied together by some overarching story – this way, each read has a satisfying end, and then the series has a satisfying end, and then that’s double the satisfaction! But then everything started going downhill with book five, Drink Deep: Merit’s character gets thinner and thinner with the growing focus on romance, Catcher and Mallory’s relationship with Merit soured drastically, and Ethan became a bumbling megalomaniac.

I also read the first book in the Mercy Thompson series – Moon Called? a while back and wasn’t a super big fan, but I’ve heard such great things about Mercy Thompson, and even more about Alpha & Omega, it’s spinoff series, so I decided to give it another shot! The series was definitely more of an acquired taste for me – the way the author writes and organizes her elements is… different? Not sure how to explain it. It’s interesting, though, because Alpha & Omega was definitely the series I enjoyed better upon the first read – and therefore the series I rated most highly – but Mercy Thompson is the one I go back to reread scenes from. I’d definitely recommend both for fans of the genre, though!

(That is if you’ve been living under a rock like me.)

(Welcome to my rock.)

The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand
Published February 10th 2015 by Harper Teen
Source: Purchased
Rating: ★★★★½

There’s death all around us.
We just don’t pay attention.
Until we do.

The last time Lex was happy, it was before. When she had a family that was whole. A boyfriend she loved. Friends who didn’t look at her like she might break down at any moment.

Now she’s just the girl whose brother killed himself. And it feels like that’s all she’ll ever be.

As Lex starts to put her life back together, she tries to block out what happened the night Tyler died. But there’s a secret she hasn’t told anyone-a text Tyler sent, that could have changed everything.

I’m pretty sure this book drop-kicked my heart out the window. Ran over it and then backed up and ran over it again. Only a few dozen pages in, and I was already teetering on the edge of tears; three different places pushed me over that edge. And in all honesty, if I’d been fully aware of what I was signing up for, I probably wouldn’t have cracked The Last Time We Say Goodbye open at all. But the back cover copy was vague, so here we are. It covers a lot – family, friends, life, loss – and way too much hits way too close to home, though from a different POV, and I just. Ached. The Last Time We Say Goodbye is gorgeous in its prose and delicate in its delivery and it fits together so, so well. Too well, maybe. I don’t know if I’ll be able to pick this up again.

I love how the tone managed to be mourning and emotional but wry at the same time, without overdoing any of it, and the way the tone is able to capture Lex’s character development and journey from numb to understanding, without spelling anything out. Everything is slow and purposeful, information revealed in tiny doses, and though the pieces don’t quite fall together in resounding resolution, the reveal at the ending packed a punch just the same.

The Last Time We Say Goodbye looks at everyone – Lex, Ty, their mom, their dad, Ty’s girlfriend, Ty’s old friends, Ty’s new friends, Lex’s old friends, Lex’s new friends… everyone. There’s a lot of subtle themes at play here, too – so many, but somehow, they work, interwoven with the larger trajectory of the story – and Lex’s relationship with her mom in particular really pulled all the threads together and brought the story forward. We see a lot of different relationships that Lex has with different friends, and they waver at varying times, but her relationship with her mom was this almost tenuous thing at the beginning that we can just about see being built up throughout the story. Theirs was a heartbreaking story, but the way they pulled each other up was bittersweetly heartwarming.

One thing that irked me though? Avoiding spoilers, I’ll just say that I was bothered enough by the way the author handled a certain forgiveness dilemma. I literally stopped crying when I got to that part. I’m a firm believer in the idea that you don’t owe anyone your forgiveness, and that choosing not to forgive someone won’t taint your character. You aren’t a bad person for not telling someone who hurt you, as well as the people you love, deeply, over many years, seemingly unrepentant until it the situation became grave, and then convenient, that you forgive them. I can’t see that as a negative character trait. The Last Time We Say Goodbye says differently.

And while I really liked the idea of a more mathematically-geared, cooly logical aspect to Lex’s characters, and really appreciated all the references, I couldn’t help but feel like, thought the writing was consistently heart-achingly poignant and subtle across the story, Lex when she made math references felt like a different character from Lex in the rest of the story. It’s not jarring enough to feel like the references were just thrown in for the aesthetic or for the idea of her, but there’s a definite disconnect between Lex’s characters in those two situations, and enough to feel like one part isn’t completely reconciled with the other.

But, Lex and Steven? Cuuuuute. (Also, that reveal? Punch me in the gUT.)

The Last Time We Say Goodbye isn’t without its flaws, but the way the author writes, with the diary entries and the slightly wavering timeline and the way everything fit together – it was heart-aching and so, so lovely, and I’ll definitely be thinking about it for a long while.

I’m lazy. It’s one of my vices. Pairing specific bases with specific foundations, layering product over product over product just to create a base for more layering isn’t super ideal, especially as I’m, um. Not usually awake on the first alarm? Foundations are getting better about it recently, though, I think – there’s a lot of ones now that don’t need bases, or that have adequate sunblock properties, or don’t need powder, etc. Or a combination of nice, time-saving effects! I’ve also never been very sold on powder foundations – maybe it’s me, maybe it’s my skin, but I’m not all for that powdery finish. I like base makeup that still looks like skin – not completely covered up and primed to perfection, but rather a my-skin-but-better type thing? Dewy-ish, I think is the word.

Enter, cushion foundations! They’re super compact and convenient – like liquid foundation with a puff, in a tiny container. Honestly, I bought my first one because I liked the idea of not having to get my hands dirty lol. And with most, primers aren’t necessary!

My first one was the M Magic Cushion Moisture from Missha when it was first introduced to Japan. In my heart, Missha takes the crown as dependable. They’re never super groundbreaking, but they’re safe. I’ve also tried their Original Tension Pact Cushion and was similarly pleased: their cushions are well-made, and live up to their promised results. The product lasts for a decent few hours, and when it starts breaking down, it breaks down neatly and inconspicuously. The cushions also have a sort of cooling effect? Which makes it really nice to use in summer! And they’re (at least in Tokyo) super, super affordable at around $10 a cushion.

I’m weak to cute packaging and strange things, so I’ve also tried ettusais’s BB Mineral Cushion Compact. The design’s so cute! Plus it’s a little different from your average cushion: instead of a small dish you press into the main case, the dish is already in the case, and they provide a little circular sponge and a small sealed bag of product, and you have to pour the product into the dish and insert the little sponge, creating the cushion by yourself! It was a fun addition to the usual process, though, inevitably, a little messy^^;; I spent all of last spring using this, and while the packaging was fun, the product itself was pretty meh. It had a semi-matte finish and low coverage – the type I usually go for – but the product went patchy in the presence of sweat, and bunched and crinkled around my nose and at the corners of my eyes. It’s more expensive than the Missha cushions, but the cost performance isn’t nearly as great.

Speaking of weaknesses and cute packaging: Shu Uemura’s Petal Skin Cushion Foundation. My wallet cried a little, but the packaging was so cute! All white with cute little pink petals. And the puff is so nice *o* I got this last summer, I think? It was definitely semi-matte, and lasted for a long time. I’d put it on around 7AM, then get back from work at around 4PM, and from a distance, everything still looked perfect. It didn’t exactly breakdown in the neatest of ways, but you could only really see the damage if you got up close – say, fifteen centimeters? So it wasn’t too terrible. I love how lightweight this feels. A little goes a long way, too, and it reapplies on just as well the second time around.

For my birthday, my mom got me a Gel Foundation from Paul & Joe which, okay, isn’t really a cushion foundation, but its in a compact and comes with a puff, so shhhh. I used this over the end of summer, autumn, and winter, switching between this and the last cushion I’ll mention from Shiseido. Usually, I’m pretty fickle about foundations, and though I’ll have brands that I might find safe or dependable (Missha!) I’ve never been one to stay with one product and keep buying refills. I’ll use up what I have, and then move on. There’s too many products out there, and they’re all so tempting, so you can’t really blame me for wanting to try them all, right? But, somehow, I ended up buying a refill for this. FIRST OFF, the case is gorgeous, and no that’s not why I bought the refill, but the case is a gorgeous metallic rose gold pink shade with flowers embossed on the surface and a curved texture and its! So nice!! And the product itself!!! A little goes a long way. It’s pretty high coverage with a semi-matte finish. It’ll last me through a full day of uni and work – 8AM to 9PM – and it breaks down subtly and inconspicuously. It also works really well with my skin type: I’m combination skin, and sometimes the Shu Uemura mentioned before or the Shiseido mentioned below will cling to the drier areas of my face, while shifting at my T-zone, but this doesn’t do any of that! My only only complaint is that it’s kind of hard to get the product out of the compact when there’s only a tiny bit left. That’s it. It’s on the pricier side, but completely worth it, I think, and beats out everything else I’ll mention in this post by a landslide.

My mom bought the Shiseido Synchro Skin Glow Cushion Compact after seeing glowing reviews for it in magazines but bought the wrong shade which – lucky me! – fit me perfectly, so recently I’ve been splurging with this little guy^^ I can see where the glowing reviews are coming from: when my skin condition is good, the product is lightweight and makes everything look flawless. But at other times, it accentuates drier patches of my skin that normally don’t even look that dry, and then it becomes a three way fight with me, my skin, and the time 🙁 This also isn’t the best team player, in that you have to be really careful with the kinds of products you layer over it, particularly powders – I found that finishing powders tend to look cakey when paired with this, even if I’ve used the exact same powder with a different foundation for great results. So I usually go for the bare minimum amount of powder, and then hope nothing touches my face for the rest of the day. Don’t get me wrong – this is definitely highly rated for a reason. After application, it makes your skin look great! But it’s all these little things that pop up a few hours later, or if you’re not careful, that has me thinking I’ll look elsewhere once I’ve used up the product in my current cushion.

Wild Things (Chicagoland Vampires #9) by Chloe Neill
Published February 4th 2014 by NAL Trade
Source: Library
Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Since Merit was turned into a vampire, and the protector of Chicago’s Cadogan House, it’s been a wild ride. She and Master vampire Ethan Sullivan have helped make Cadogan’s vampires the strongest in North America, and forged ties with paranormal folk of all breeds and creeds, living or dead…or both.

But now those alliances are about to be tested. A strange and twisted magic has ripped through the North American Central Pack, and Merit’s closest friends are caught in the crosshairs. Gabriel Keene, the Pack Apex, looks to Merit and Ethan for help. But who—or what—could possibly be powerful enough to out-magic a shifter?

Merit is about to go toe to toe, and cold steel to cold heart, to find out.

In hindsight, the series took a bit of a nosedive after around book four, but somehow I’ve already wandered this far in, so I’m going to see it to the end, dammit. I love all the secondary characters (the shifters! Malik! Jonah! her grandfather’s crew! Luc! Lindsey!) and some of the Merit/Ethan scenes are so soft and precious! but mostly not. On the whole, Ethan has the characterization of a cardboard standee – it’s been nine going on ten books now, and I’m still trying to figure out what his charm points are? The striking/glowing/blazing/insert-choice-adjective-here green eyes Neil keeps reminding us about? And Merit’s been demoted to a hand-wringing bystander who watches the house and waits dutifully for her boyfriend to come home/save the day. :/

Blood Games (Chicagoland Vampires #10) by Chloe Neill
Published August 5th 2014 by NAL Trade
Source: Library
Rating: ★½☆☆☆

While Merit didn’t choose to become a vampire or Sentinel of Cadogan House, she vowed to fight for her House and its Master, and she’s managed to forge strong alliances with powerful supernaturals across Chicago. But even though Merit has had wild adventures, this may be her deadliest yet…

A killer is stalking Chicago, preying on humans and leaving his victims with magical souvenirs. The CPD hasn’t been able to track the assailant, and as the body count rises, the city is running out of options. Vampires and humans aren’t on great terms, but murder makes for strange bedfellows. Can Merit find the killer before she becomes a target?

(shout out to my part-time job for letting me sit in a room full of books and letting me read said books during hours, supporting my much-belated UF romance kick)
Blood Games was a pretty solid 1.5 stars. I’m going to preface this and be honest and admit that my enthusiasm for the series has long since died, but I’ve gotten this far already, and I’m nothing if not stubborn.
– I really like the Scooby Doo, episodic mysteries. It’s nice to have some overarching plot tying all the novels in the series together, but it’s also really nice to be able to get some sort of solid closure at the end of every novel. It didn’t really work out with Blood Games, though – it’s just gotten to the point where there’s so much? The serial killing, Ethan’s plotline, the RG, Darius… and Blood Games keeps sliding in favor of Ethan, making everything else feel like tiny, poorly done afterthoughts.
– It feels like Neill’s trying to keep all the elements, the jokes, the plot threads, etc from all the previous books, and then add an extra heaping onto that, but there’s too much that’s been recycled too many times, and it’s really not working anymore.
– Ethan is a self-centered egomaniac. He’s always been a self-centered egomaniac, but all his me!me!me! speeches and petty theatrics here just made him even more so one.
– Merit needs to draw her line in the sand and she’s going to have to do it soon because it’s been ten books and Ethan STILL keeps pulling the same old shit. IMHO he should’ve stayed gone, and we could’ve gotten, say, a Merit/Jonah pairing instead. Or, honestly, a Merit/anyone-who-isn’t-Ethan pairing. Or just Merit, friends, and chaotic Chicago. That’s more than enough material for a series.
– oh, and fuck the fake proposals. fuuuuuuck them.

Night Broken (Mercy Thompson #8) by Patricia Briggs
Published March 11th 2014 by Ace
Source: Library
Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

An unexpected phone call heralds a new challenge for Mercy. Her mate Adam’s ex-wife is in trouble, on the run from a stalker. Adam isn’t the kind of man to turn away a person in need—and Mercy knows it. But with Christy holed up in Adam’s house, Mercy can’t shake the feeling that something about the situation isn’t right.

Soon her suspicions are confirmed when she learns that Christy has the furthest thing from good intentions. She wants Adam back, and she’s willing to do whatever it takes to get him, including turning Adam’s pack against Mercy.

Mercy isn’t about to step down without a fight, but there’s a more dangerous threat circling. Christy’s stalker is more than a bad man—in fact, he may not be human at all. As the bodies start piling up, Mercy must put her personal troubles aside to face a creature with the power to tear her whole world apart.

Oh man, Adam’s likeability score plummeted ass-first into the ground and then kept falling. Who shares ~tender looks~ with his ex-wife in front of the current wife he proclaims to be very much in love with? Who stands by while his ex-wife lobs attack after attack at and attempts to turn the pack against his current wife, and then is just like, yeah, that happened? Who does that? And then instead of apologizing and maybe groveling a little as he should, he does the whole ~condescending but I’m pROUD OF YOUR LEVEL-HEADED ACTIONS YOUNG LADY~ thing. Haaard pass, thanks. And Mercy just? Doesn’t stand up for herself? All but martyrs herself in her head? (the blue hair dye thing doesn’t count she literally nearly dIED for Adam’s speshul snowflake ex-wife and after putting them all through the blender and withholding crucial information and after Mercy ended up in the goddamn hospital fixing problems she still has the gall to threaten her? On her hospital bed? And yeah Christy might have blue hair, but everyone hates Mercy. So. Who’s the real winner.) And then there was the rest of the pack, and, yeesh. This was just one large internalized misogyny party, with a generous helping of victim blaming.

And I Darken (The Conqueror’s Saga #1) by Kiersten White
Published June 28th 2016 by Delacorte Press
Source: Library
Rating: ★★☆☆☆

No one expects a princess to be brutal. And Lada Dragwlya likes it that way. Ever since she and her gentle younger brother, Radu, were wrenched from their homeland of Wallachia and abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman courts, Lada has known that being ruthless is the key to survival. She and Radu are doomed to act as pawns in a vicious game, an unseen sword hovering over their every move. For the lineage that makes them special also makes them targets.

Lada despises the Ottomans and bides her time, planning her vengeance for the day when she can return to Wallachia and claim her birthright. Radu longs only for a place where he feels safe. And when they meet Mehmed, the defiant and lonely son of the sultan, Radu feels that he’s made a true friend—and Lada wonders if she’s finally found someone worthy of her passion.

But Mehmed is heir to the very empire that Lada has sworn to fight against—and that Radu now considers home. Together, Lada, Radu, and Mehmed form a toxic triangle that strains the bonds of love and loyalty to the breaking point.

I saw this at the library and picked it up on a whim – I remember seeing this everywhere at one point and was a little curious. It didn’t occur to me until later that this Kiersten White was also the Kiersten White who wrote Paranormalcy and Mind Games, and. Wooooah. Her writing’s gotten so, so much better. The beginning was intense and atmospheric and engaging! The middle, though, felt like wading through molasses. The plot putters along under the weight of all these extra tidbits and tangents that I know contribute to future plot points and characters, but! But! The book is at a fairly hefty ~500 pages, with little more than some nicely arranged words to show for a good 300 pages at least, and without an interesting enough plot to motivate. And the decisions on the portrayal of history? I’m hardly an expert, and many have explained the missteps better than I ever could. I’ll just. Yikes.

Archangel’s Blade (Guild Hunter #4) by Nalini Singh
Published September 8th 2011 by Gollancz
Source: Library
Rating: ★★☆☆☆

The severed head marked by a distinctive tattoo on its cheek should have been a Guild case, but dark instincts honed over hundreds of years of life compel the vampire Dmitri to take control. There is something twisted about this death, something that whispers of centuries long past…but Dmitri’s need to discover the truth is nothing to the vicious strength of his response to the hunter assigned to decipher the tattoo.

Savaged in a brutal attack that almost killed her, Honor is nowhere near ready to come face to face with the seductive vampire who is an archangel’s right hand and who wears his cruelty as boldly as his lethal sensuality…the same vampire who has been her secret obsession since the day she was old enough to understand the inexplicable, violent emotions he aroused in her.

As desire turns into a dangerous compulsion that might destroy them both, it becomes clear the past will not stay buried. Something is hunting and it will not stop until it brings a blood-soaked nightmare to life once more…

I wasn’t a huge fan at the beginning, but it did pick up a lot once the book went on… only to spiral into NOPENOPENOPE at the end because fuck that bullshit plot point. Dimitri and Honor deserve better.

Archangel’s Storm (Guild Hunter #5) by Nalini Singh
Published September 13th 2012 by Gollancz
Source: Library
Rating: ★★★☆☆

With wings of midnight and an affinity for shadows, Jason courts darkness. But now, with the Archangel Neha’s consort lying murdered in the jewel-studded palace that was his prison and her rage threatening cataclysmic devastation, Jason steps into the light, knowing he must unearth the murderer before it is too late.

Earning Neha’s trust comes at a price—Jason must tie himself to her bloodline through the Princess Mahiya, a woman with secrets so dangerous, she trusts no one. Least of all an enemy spymaster.

With only their relentless hunt for a violent, intelligent killer to unite them, Jason and Mahiya embark on a quest that leads to a centuries-old nightmare… and to the dark storm of an unexpected passion that threatens to drench them both in blood.

I was super curious about Jason so this turned out to be a little disappointing. He and Mahiya had so much potential! The book was on this upward curve and it was gETTING BETTER but then the ending was so terribly bland and I was terribly disappointed. (Also we could’ve done without all the Dimitri/Honor snippets and still been happy, thank you very much – it’s the whole Jason/Mahiya ending part we’re missing. Where did that ending putter off to? Where??)