dear future me / 2017 edition

i love writing letters – not typing letters but writing. putting a pen on paper and squiggle-ing stuff is somehow more authentic than clicking buttons to produce the same squiggles. is it because there’s no backspace to fall back on? sorry, you can’t erase the parts you don’t like anymore (i.e. spelling errors!!). but that’s also what makes it more real. the imperfections are still there and you can’t hide them; you don’t NEED to hide them, and instead, embrace them. and what better person to write letters to than yourself? everyone should write letters to themselves. we are our own best friends. (wow, i’m such a lonely introvert just let me hide in my cave and read bye)

but anyway, this is a letter from past me to future me. hey, xandra in 2018! i hope you’re doing well. here’s this thing i wrote for you.

what would you tell your future self?

I received this book for free from Publisher, Simon and Schuster in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

REVIEW: scythe, by neal shustermanScythe by Neal Shusterman
Series: Arc of a Scythe #1
Published by Simon & Schuster, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, Simon and Schuster on November 22nd, 2016
Genres: Action & Adventure, Death & Dying, Dystopian, Fantasy, Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 448
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher, Simon and Schuster
Amazon // The Book Depository
Goodreads

Thou shalt kill.

A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery. Humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death. Now scythes are the only ones who can end life—and they are commanded to do so, in order to keep the size of the population under control.

Citra and Rowan are chosen to apprentice to a scythe—a role that neither wants. These teens must master the “art” of taking life, knowing that the consequence of failure could mean losing their own.

THIS BOOK IS PHENOMENAL.

when i received this title in the mail – having known nothing about the story or read anything by the author – i wasn’t sure if i’d like it. i sworn off dystopian novels after reading one too many but this one sounded so interesting. so i decided to read the first page and i knew, right off the bat, i would love this novel.

i love everything about this book – the writing, the plot, the characters, everything. my love for this book came in quiet waves. i started off being really intrigued, but that soon became something more. the plot began to build (love all the twists and turns it all has – nothing i was expecting!) and soon enough i was flipping through pages and rooting for characters and screaming at situations. i also love how there was a romance in the story, but it was very slow-burn and wasn’t the main point of the storyline. it was so small that i almost thought there was no romance at all! but the chemistry builds and it becomes more obvious as the story progresses.

the main reason why i love this novel is due to its recurring themes. i find it hard to see meaning/a purpose in some dystopian novels aside from an entertaining story, but SCYTHE was different. when you’re forced to kill people as your job (or you’re learning to kill people), your humanity becomes questionable. when you live in a world where there is no pain and your life is immortal, you see how detached we can become. nothing is at risk. is that really a perfect world? it made me really think about what it means to be alive and what it means to be human. it made me question the meaning of life and death.

the one thing i will say is it was a bit hard to reaaaaaaally connect with characters at first because the book is written in an omniscient POV. the story would jump around from person to person, making it easy for me to stop reading and do something in my daily life. also because of this, i didn’t feel the need to continuously read. BUT, this is my first time reading a book with this type of writing and it didn’t bother me too much. the writing itself was beautiful and i often found myself wanting to annotate.

all in all, this book is amazing. i wasn’t expecting much from it and now it’s one of my favorite reads of 2016. not only is the story well thought out, but i also gained a lot of perspective on what it means to be alive. and that, i think, is something really special.

Rating Report
Plot
Characters
Writing
Pacing
Cover
Overall: 4.6

eight ways to destress

there’s no doubt you probably feel stressed at LEAST 300 times a year. (okay, just me?) although i know stress is sometimes good for you, there are times when it’s necessary to give yourself a breath. i’m feeling pretty stressed myself (better now, but when does stress ever fully disappear?) and i’m sure you may be too. whether it’s from finals or holidays or SOMETHING, here are some ways you can destress:

clean your room

so i just came back from traveling and my room is a m e s s. your room should be a place you can relax and rewind, but for me it’s turning into something i’m worried about. and honestly, it’s probably making things worse. i remember marie kondo mentioned in THE LIFE CHANGING MAGIC OF TIDYING UP that people have urges to clean their room when they’re stressed. something about having your physical setting cluttered affecting your mental setting. mmmmmm sounds about right. CLEAN YO ROOM.

take care of yourself

and while you’re cleaning your room, you can also clean yourself. meaning: take a bath, do a face mask, paint your nails, experiment with makeup, get a massage, drink some water, try yoga … you get the idea. this always ALWAYS makes me feel better. if my mental self isn’t at its prime, at least my physical self is. never underestimate the importance of taking care of your body.

indulge in some pop culture

sometimes you just need to open netflix and chilllllll. seriously, chill in bed and watch that movie you’ve been wanting to (re?)watch. read the book you’ve been wanting to pick up. (unless that stresses you out. then obviously, DON’T.) shamelessly sing along to songs you love. (echm HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL~~~) it’s really relaxing to get caught up on other people’s problems and forget about your own. :))))

take a walk

nature is your best friend; nature is my best friend; nature is everyone’s best friend. did you know I LOVE NATURE? and in all honesty, you probably do too. maybe it’s because i’m cooped up in a ballet studio hours on hours a day and hardly ever see the sun, but I LOVE NATURE. i’m sure many of you are stuck in a classroom or a work office missing the vital vitamin D. take a ten/fifteen/twenty/thirty/however-many minute walk and just breathe in the fresh air. can i get an “ahhhhhh”?

find something to color

adult coloring books are super trendy now. it’s probably because someone found out it combats stress and all the adults were like, “i’M A STRESSED HUMAN WHO NEEDS THIS.” pull out those colored pencils or crayons or markers and get coloring because apparently, it’s very relaxing. (haven’t tried it myself yet but…) if you don’t have a coloring book on hand, i know there are many apps you can download that do the trick. (i’ve tried this and it is THE BEST.)

make a list. any list!

hey! look at me! i’m a stressed human who is making this list and it’s making me feel soooooo much better in all honesty. i haven’t blogged “properly” in like five months but here i am, making this list, not completely falling apart. if i can do it, you can too. here are some prompts:

  • things that made you happy today
  • compliments you can give to others
  • things you’re grateful for
  • experiences you enjoyed this year
  • your favorite books/films/songs
  • hobbies you want to try
  • languages/subjects you want to learn
  • places you want to go
  • … and so many more!!

light a candle

there is a candle next to me as i type and i promise you, this makes a huge difference for my personal wellbeing. i swear it’s not because i’ve been kinda obsessed with candles lately. candles are great because 1) they smell good, 2) they provide light to your dark soul room, 3) they flicker this way and that which makes it interesting to watch, 4) did i mention they smell good? candles are great.

take a digital detox

wanna know what’s great? the internet. wanna know what else is great? stepping away from the internet. although i love love love my phone/laptop, i do feel that it can be a soul-sucking vortex. one minute you’re feeling great about your life and the next you’re upset because timmy turner got the book you wanted and wanda has perfect hair and cosmo’s food just looks SO GOOD. life on the interwebs can be misleading and negative, and sometimes you gotta TAKE A BREAK. even if you’re not on the internet, yout devices can still be soul-sucking. i challenge you to go a day (three days? a week?) without ANY usage of anything with a screen (i.e. phone, laptop, T.V., etc.). may the odds be ever in your favor, my friend!

what are some things you do to destress? let me know in the comments!

farewell, november and december 2016!

I’M BACK FROM THE DEAD. two or three months ago, i wrote a post about overcoming the blogging slump and how i had “plans” on coming back from that, THEN proceeded to disappear. whoops. in my defense, i’ve been very busy with ~life~ and hardly had time to sit down and think, let alone read or blog or do other things (unfortunately). but i’m here! i’m back! and i’ll be sharing my adventures! i haven’t felt this excited to blog in a while so hopefully, i won’t be setting myself up for disappointment!

november was an exciting yet stressful month filled with last-minute performance preparations and adventures in different time zones. i mentioned this last time, but my ballet studio performed SWAN LAKE this year and i’m really proud with how everyone did! the rehearsals were brutal and the show went well and i just feel really nostalgic and sappy (sad/happy) about the whole ordeal.


the day after our intense show, i got up at 7am (8am?) to go to disneyland & california adventure with two of my friends (one of those friends being my sister but WHATEVER). i haven’t been in 7(???!) years and my friend reaaaaaaally wanted to go and we were done with the show so we’re FREE. it was kinda crazy because the weather was gloomy (rainy) and we tried to go to all the good rides, which meant we hardly stopped to eat, sit, drink water, or do any of the necessary human needs. but it was fun nonetheless. i’d do it again. ALSO, we got to ride on tower of terror before it closed down! that was probably my favorite ride. :”(

after our disney day, we (aka my family and i) packed our bags and flew to shanghai, china. (yeah, we really did not stop to breathe.) my sister and dad stayed for four to five days before flying home, but i stayed with my mom for another week. i was jet-lagged all the way until the day i flew home, and was jet-lagged when i got home because i finally switched my time zone. WONDERFUL. if you want to know more details about my adventures in shanghai, i have a vlog on my youtube if you want to check it out:

it was already mid-december by the time i got back and i was scrambling to get christmas gifts, sleep schedule, and MY LIFE back together. i started planning (and stressing) for 2017 events and… that’s basically it. my ballet studio also had a winter intesnive program for two weeks of intense training, which was tiring but also refreshing. for christmas, my sister flew back and all of us went to las vegas (family tradition-ish). we stayed at the venetian and i had a surprisingly fun time. i usually don’t like going to las vegas because of the intense smell of smoke, gambling, and intoxicated people, but i enjoyed myself this time around. 🙆🏻

read these months:

  • MILK & HONEY, by rupi kaur – ★★★★★
  • STILL LIFE WITH TORNADO, by a.s. king – ★★★
  • NICK AND NORAH’S INFINITE PLAYLIST, by rachel cohn & david levithan – ★★★★
  • LUCKY IN LOVE, by kasie west – ★★★★★

favorites

foresights of 2017 janurary

this month is a very big preperation for the coming two. i have a few ballet auditions on the weekends, but not much else planned. i’m hoping to follow through on my new year’s resolutions and get back to blogging, make some more videos, tidy my room, the usual. i’m also trying to get back into bullet journaling and maybe start cooking(?).

goals for this month:

  • keep your room tidy
  • stretch every day
  • take care of yourself

do you have any plans for janurary? let me know in the comments!

female-president

if you’re up to date about the politics of USA, you’d know that today is the presidential election! 🇺🇸 i’m going out and proudly voting for someone who’ll (hopefully!!!) become the first female president of the united states. it’ll be a symbolic moment; it’s one step closer to gender equality, and not just for my country, but for others as well. in celebration, i’d like to share five fictional females who i believe would be a great president. 🙌 (warning: may contain spoilers for the books selected!) (photos aren’t mine; click on image for source.)

macey mchenry from the gallagher girls series

president - gallagher girsl

#MCHENRYBAXTER2020

BONUS: rebecca baxter as vice president

macey was an obvious choice for me. daughter of the vice president AND (formerly??) dating the son of the (former?) president? she’s already in politics and can’t be better for the job. not to mention, she’s also a spy and has friends working in the CIA and other great political circles. macey is smart, bold, and demanding – all fantastic qualities for someone responsible for a country.

reyna avila ramirez arellano from the heroes of olympus series

president - reyna

#ARELLANOCHASE2020

BONUS: annabeth chase as vice president (can you IMAGINE?!!!?) (i think annabeth would be a good vp because she’s allowed to have a somewhat relaxed life with percy but also lead.)

reyna is already the preator of all greek demigods at camp jupiter. what difference would it be if she decided to rule the country? i feel like we’d never need to worry if the presidency were in her hands. she has all the leadership qualities one would need and more. but most importantly, reyna would protect our country at any cost.

tessa gray from the infernal devices series

president-tessa

#GRAYLIGHTWOOD2020

BONUS: isabelle lightwood as vice president (*screams*)

some say knowledge is power. i don’t think there is a female more knowledgeable than tessa. now it’s not necessarily because she’s super smart, but more so because she’s so experienced in life. having lived for a couple hundred years and experienced america in its early days, i think she’d have a good idea as to where the country and people should go.

hermione granger from the harry potter series

president-hermione

#GRANGERLOVEGOOD2020

BONUS: luna lovegood as vice president

following along with the ~knowledge~ thing, hermione would be an obvious choice. however, it’s a different type of knowledge than tessa; hermione is hardworking and just generally smart. she would bring a logical part to the plate, but also never lose sight of morals.

nina zenik from the six of crows duology

president-nina

#ZENIKGHAFA2020

BONUS: inej ghafa as vice president

nina is someone who doesn’t stop until she gets what she wants. the flame inside her burns bright, despite all the hardships she’s endured. and i think because she’s experienced so many things, it would be very beneficial to her as a leader. a leader shouldn’t be someone who speaks but doesn’t do; a leader should be someone who says, does, and also knows from personal experience. nina’s also very proud of her country so… it all works out.

emily from forever literary also did a post on characters who’d “break the glass ceiling!” but among my picks, who would you vote for as president? let me know in the comments!!