Monday, July 23, 2018

Abbreviations #61 | Contagion, The Loneliest Girl in the Universe + Beginner's Guide: Love and Other Chemical Reactions

I’m not a very big science fiction reader (or watcher), but the premise of Contagion was impossible for me to resist. Contagion is about a skeleton crew of skilled individuals who respond to an urgent SOS from a work crew stationed on a distant planet and arrive only to discover the site deserted, the supplies ransacked or rotten and a mountain of dead bodies. It’s up to them to figure out what’s happened… before it’s too late. *insert ominous sounds here* It reminded me of a Doctor Who episode overall, part science fiction, part thriller, part mystery - and this is praise on my part considering how much I love that show! I thought the plot was really strong, particularly with the direction Erin chooses to go in. And I really liked that it kept me turning the pages as I tried to work it all out for myself! There were only two things that prevented me from loving this one even more - the pacing prior to them showing up on the planet (it felt a bit clunky, but then again, it was set-up time so I suppose it makes sense) and the fact that I didn’t particularly connect to any of the point of view characters. I’m still intrigued by the story and how it resolves in this one to pick up the sequel and find out what happens next though! If you’re looking to try a new sci-fi read, or if you’re a fan of Doctor Who or movies like Alien, well, then you might want to give this one a shot.

Contagion by Erin Bowman | Series: Contagion #1 | Publisher: Harper Teen | Publication Date: July 24, 2018 | Source: e-galley downloaded from Edelweiss (Thanks!)

I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by The Loneliest Girl in the Universe. I’m fond of space science fiction (which is something I just realized), so that was the primary reason I was interested in checking this one out. Romy Silvers, our main character, was born in space, is in command of the spacecraft she is the sole occupant of and is piloting it on its journey to find a habitable planet. She’s been all alone for years, up until recently when it was announced that a second ship with another human being- a boy - was going to be sent to join her. The story chronicles Romy’s solo journey, as well as the relationship that develops between her and this boy who is on his way across space to join her. The premise really intrigued me, and it played out in a way that was unexpected but satisfying! I liked Romy a lot, which is crucial since majority of this novel is focused on her day-to-day experiences in her spacecraft. (She writes fan fic, which immediately endeared her to me.) It was a story that hooked me right from the start, and while I don’t think it’s the type of story I can reread (since I know what happens), I think it’s definitely worth checking out if you want a YA space sci-fi read.

The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James | Publisher: Harper Teen | Publication Date: July 3, 2018 | Source: e-galley downloaded from Edelweiss (Thanks!)

If you're in the market for a cute contemporary romance, Beginner's Guide: Love and Other Chemical Reactions would be a great option! It's about scientist Kaya Rubio, who decides to spearhead "The Boyfriend Experiment" in an attempt to change her single since birth status. While she's certainly decided on the factors and steps, she doesn't quite count on Nero Sison, the owner of the cafe she's frequently at, to get involved and potentially turn her methodology upside down... Honestly, it took me a little while to really get into this one, and a lot of that had to do with the narrative voice. But I was really intrigued by the story set-up, and eventually, I was suckered into it by the characters. I liked Kaya well enough, but honestly, a lot of the secondary characters ended up stealing the show (especially Nero, who I love very much). It was nice to read about a STEM cell heroine; it was even more fun to see all the elements of Filipino culture that were a part of the story too. (Honestly, those family get-togethers? Totally exactly what my own personal experiences are like.) Plus, I was very much invested in the main ship, which is always a good sign for a romance read! I'm glad I finally got the chance to read this one after having it on my TBR for so long, and even happier to be able to say I liked it.

Beginner's Guide: Love and Other Chemical Reactions by Six de los Reyes | Series: Talking Nerdy #1 | Publisher: Self-published | Publication Date: April 17, 2016 | Source: Owned the Kindle book

Friday, July 20, 2018

Summer Essentials

I'm very late on this Summer Essentials post, as it was supposed to go up on July 2 But between Macky getting sick (poor thing has a summer cold), the air conditioner breaking down in my office (it's like being in a sauna) and having a busy past few weeks, I wasn't able to finish getting this one ready in time. Still, I wanted to be able to share my essentials with you guys, particularly because it's my favorite season (and that's despite all the shenanigans I just mentioned)!

Summer has always been my favorite season, and not just because I grew up in a tropical country where similar weather was pretty much the norm. It's the time of year I look forward to the most, and when I feel the most energized about life and doing all the things. I savor the sunshine and longer days, and I go all out in embracing the warmer weather. Since summer is one of our favorite seasons, Rachel and I decided it would make sense to call these posts summer essentials instead of a survival kit like the past two seasons (PS - don't forget to check out Rachel's summer essentials too!)

Lip balm | I'm going to group these two items together, as I tend to alternate between them on any given day. They serve two purposes - extra moisture for my lips (which are often dry after long exposure to the sun or the air conditioning indoors) and a little pop of color. I have the Birthday and Mint varieties of Glossier's Balm Dotcom in rotation for this year.

Nail polish | I tend to be lazy about doing my nails unless it's summertime, which is likely because I wear more open-toe shoes and because I feel 'brighter' in spirits during the season. I tend to go for bright pops of color for my fingers, while I stick to neutrals for my toes. It was thanks to Rachel that I discovered Essie's treat love & color line (a-game, see the light and indi-go for it are perfect summer shades)! But I also ended up treating myself to a manicure at Paintbox and I loved that so much that I've already scheduled my next visit.

Sunscreen | I'm still terrible at remembering to lather it on my arms and legs on a daily basis, but I'm definitely pretty good about keeping up with using it on my face! I've always had very sensitive skin in general, and I burn easily, so having sunscreen on hand is definitely important during this season. When I visited London earlier this year, I brought over a couple of Supergoop Mists as a treat. It was my first time trying this product, but I really liked it a lot!

Sunglasses | I've amassed a sizable collection of sunglasses that I like to rotate during the summertime. They're a great little accessory to add to my summer wardrobe, as well as serving the purpose of protecting my eyes from the intensity of the summer sunlight. I really like the style of these Master of Sun sunglasses and Quay Starstruck Sunglasses, as they are both very similar to pairs that I already own.

Dresses | I tend to favor dresses during the summer, especially since they can easily be transitioned from work to play. I've accumulated a number of new ones for this season, which is always fun! This navy blue dress with white accent stripes, sunflower print dress and blue and white striped dress are the most recent additions to my closet.

Shorts | It's been a little while since I've found a pair of shorts that I really like. I've finally acquired two new ones that I love, and that both offer the things I wanted - a comfortable fit around the waist and a little more length. I got a black pair and a denim pair to add to my collection!

Slip-ons | Apart from my usual flats and sneakers, I gravitate towards slip-on shoes in the summer. I'm so in love with this cool pair from Target (which are the perfect beach shoes, and just comfortable in general) and this pretty pair from Toms (which I think are so lovely and are super comfy too!)

Straw bag | I'm a fan of using smaller bags to accessorize my weekend outfits (though I still lean towards my backpacks and purses for the office), and this new straw bag is my favorite. It's bigger on the inside than it looks on the outside, and I really love it!

Ice cream | Honestly, ice cream is great at any time of the year but it's especially perfect on those long, hot summer days in the city. I'm excited to go on more ice cream outings with my ice cream buddies, especially since there are so many new places (and variants) to try.

Iced lattes| Even when the weather was still a little cooler, I started gravitating towards iced coffee in general. I've developed a new love for iced lattes thanks to my sister Rachel, who is the one who got me started ordering them. I haven't looked back since, and I think this might actually turn into a year-round obsession...

What are your summer essentials?
Don't forget to check out Rachel's post!

BookTube | What We Read S02E02

Ever since my channel shifted to become our channel (Macky & I, that is), it's been so much fun making videos to talk about books. Here's the third episode of the second "season" of What We Read, where Macky and I basically talk about all about whatever we've been reading recently. What have you been reading lately?

Alexa's Reads
Beginner's Guide: Love and Other Chemical Reactions by Six de los Reyes
Love Story (Love Unexpectedly #2) by Lauren Layne
The Other Side of Lost by Jessi Kirby
My Family Divided: One Girl's Journey of Home, Loss and Hope by Diane Guerrero with Erica Moroz
The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James
Aquicorn Cove by Katie O'Neill
Your Name, Vol. 1 & Your Name, Vol. 2 by Makoto Shinkai (visual art by Ranmaru Kotone)
Paradise Kiss, Part 1 by Ai Yazawa
The Garden of Words by Makoto Shinkai (adapted by Midori Motohashi)
Sea Witch by Sarah Henning
A Thousand Beginnings and Endings edited by Ellen Oh & Elsie Chapman
Siege & Storm (Grisha Verse #2) by Leigh Bardugo
Ruin & Rising (Grisha Verse #3) by Leigh Bardugo
The Wicked King (Folk of the Air #2) by Holly Black

Macky's Reads
Storm Front (The Dresden Files #1) by Jim Butcher
Dungeon Master's Guide (5th Ed.)
Player's Handbook (5th Ed.)


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