Saturday, September 16, 2017

Summary of the Apple Keynote by Karthik Sankar

Summary of the Apple Keynote by Karthik Sankar

There was an amazing amount of Hype around this year's iphone announcement especially among teens. Well, it finally happened, let’s take a look at what went down:

They are upgrading their retail stores in major cities to make them like a “town square.”  This likely won't affect us in South Brunswick.
Apple Watch.
They upgraded the heart rate sensor. It will now tell you if you heart rate is unusually high or irregular. The music interface is resigned to show album art. The Siri screen gives you cards (similar to Google Now) you think you could use. In addition there are new toy story watch faces. It now has cellular data, so you don’t need your iPhone to use it but that version will cost you 399 (non cellular is $329). Siri can now actually TALK back to you.
Apple TV.
There's now a model that supports 4K and HDR. It costs $179 for 32GB and $199 for 64GB. The non 4K version is $149 (there is only a 32GB version). It now supports live sports (you will get notifications if a game is going to start).
iPhone 8 and 8 plus.
New design: glass on front and back. The aluminum band matches finish of the color you choose.
They claim the glass is the “Most durable ever in a smartphone.”
New display with True Tone technology (think upgraded auto-brightness).
The new speakers are 25% louder with deeper bass.
New A11 bionic chip “This is the most powerful and smartest chip ever in a smartphone.” It has two performance cores are 25% faster. The four high efficiency cores 70% are faster. And the second gen performance controller is 70% faster with multithreaded workloads. Finally, the GPU is 30% faster. This basically means it's definitely faster than the old iPhone.
A new ISP with faster autofocus and has hardware noise reduction. (better pictures)
There are new gyroscope and accelerometer for improved AR.
iPhone now supports wireless charging!
There are 2 memory options for iPhone: 64GB and 256GB.
Pre order starts this friday (September 15) and they will be available on September 22. iOS will be released on September 19.
iPhone X.
This iPhone doesn’t have Touch ID but DOES have Face ID which allow you to unlock your phone by looking at it. Any apps which work with Touch ID will work with Face ID. Animoji uses the same tech as Face ID to let you control the emoji’s animation with your face (similar to snapchat filters) and it’s built into iMessage. The depth camera (used for Face ID) work with third party apps so apps like Snapchat can create more realistic filters.
The home button is replaced with a gesture (swiping up from the bottom). Control center can be accessed by swiping down from the top of the display.
The power button is now the “side button”, this is because it has alternate uses like double clicking it for Apple Pay.
The dual cameras are positioned vertically with the flash in between them. Both lens have Hardware Optical Image Stabilisation. There is zero shutter lag so fast moving objects aren’t burry. Selfies can now be taken in portrait mode thanks to the depth camera. The battery lasts 2 hours more than iPhone 7.
A new wireless charging mat by Apple from iPhone, Apple Watch and Air Pods. There is a new optional case for Air Pods that allows wireless charging. Will be launched later in the year.

Want to watch the Apple Keynote for yourself? (Warning: it's 2 hours long!)

Thursday, August 17, 2017

BOOK REVIEW : How to Keep Rolling After a Fall By Stephanie Garber BY SULPHIA IQBAL

BOOK REVIEW : How to Keep Rolling After a Fall
By Stephanie Garber


I’m tired of the clique after clique in recent YA contemporary. I’ve never actually enjoyed the genre, but for some reason I could not stop reading it, no matter how stupid they were. This book has finally convinced me to steer away from contemporary once and for all.

This is a book about second chances. A book about a misjudged girl and a guy with a disabilities. I know, I know, you’re thinking “How on earth can she not like a book with such diversity?! She’s heartless!”  But please, hear me out.

This book was a stale and feeble attempt at a story about two characters in their period of self-actualization after making terrible decisions. I say attempt because it could have been so much more.

While reading the reviews for this book, I noticed a very interesting point. MC Nikki, who after a cyberbullying incident was solely blamed for almost causing a girl to commit suicide, never actually regrets doing what she did, even though it was not completely her fault. Instead, she regrets the consequences. I don’t think that’s exactly a good message to send from a book like this.

The author might have thought the romance was the selling point, but that just made it all the worst. It practically started at 10 pages into the book with a random guy she literally just meets.

I went so far as to give this book a star for its concept. It’s really nice to see so many YA authors focus on diversity, not just in race but in mental health as well. There are those books who just nail it and illustrate a perfect sense of what their character is going through. And then there are those who have the right idea but don’t entirely do it well. Guess what category this book falls into?

But without its diversity, this book is nothing. The romance is basically love-at-first-sight *CRINGE* and takes up practically the whole book ( well, I wouldn’t know cause I didn’t actually finish the thing, but it’s pretty accurate ). It honestly would’ve been so much better off without it. I didn’t know where this book was even going halfway into it. It had no plot, no characterization, nothing. It was boring and bland, like ( hey I’m fasting and like really hungry right now and thinking about food so blame the stomach ) spaghetti without sauce ( mentally cringing at the prospect ).

It shared themes and cliques, God even scenes that I have seen in so many other novels. I get that they were supporting each during tough times and I get that their lives weren’t easy, but that shouldn’t be the only thing drawing me to the book. While it had a great idea, it lacked creativity and an anticipation that I want to feel while reading any book.

“Fresh starts, okay? Maybe you're not ready to take it, but at least know one's here.”

Check it out at the library and goodreads :

RATINGS: 1/5 and DNF

“Trouble Is A Friend Of Mine -- A Mystery Series You HAVE To Read” by Vanditha Krishnan

“Trouble Is A Friend Of Mine -- A Mystery Series You HAVE To Read”
by Vanditha Krishnan

I reviewed two contemporaries this month, and I’m taking a break from those cheesy companion novels and moving on to a genre I adore -- mystery. Yup, Trouble Is A Friend Of Mine, is author Stephanie Tromly’s first book, and it’s a classic tale of mystery. But that’s not all. This fantastic story has it all; relatable characters, hilarious dialogue, and teenage sleuths you’ll never forget!

Plot: Zoe Webster is living a normal life until she opens the door to find Philip Digby, or simply Digby, standing on her doorstep. That’s right, ever heard of the term, ‘stranger danger?’ Digby doesn’t seem to agree. He’s rude and acts like he knows everything about her. The only problem is, whatever he says is actually true! No matter how much she tries to stop, Zoe’s allowed brilliant Digby to bring her into dangerous schemes all related to the kidnapping of a young girl in their town years ago. Unfortunately, Zoe just can’t say no. Trouble Is A Friend Of Mine was one of the most interesting mysteries I’ve read, and the plot is enticing!

Characters: Okay, let me just tell you straight up that Digby is the ONLY male character I’ve actually wanted to meet in real life, that is if he existed. He’s a prodigy, astute and perceptive. He’s annoying but knows just about everything in the criminal world. And most importantly, he’s a good guy. Zoe, or Princeton, as she is more commonly addressed, is his ideal henchman. Or henchwoman in this case. She’s always there for him and his sudden needs but manages to treat him decently. She’s quirky but sensible, and her presence just adds so much more to the novel. This dynamic duo was sensational in every way!

Thoughts: If you like mystery, go for it. If you like adventure, read it. If you want a taste of Stephanie Tromly’s masterpieces, enjoy it. But if you need a book that will keep you up for three hours straight, PICK IT UP AT THE LIBRARY RIGHT NOW!!!

Final Words: Mystery is not for everyone. It’s an accepted fact. But this book has awesomeness written in all 336 pages. And if you’re a sucker for great novels, I suggest you read this as soon as possible. Enjoy!

P.S: Don’t be disappointed by the ending. There’s a sequel!!!!!

Attack on Titan: Season 2 by Sophia Milla

Attack on Titan: Season 2 by Sophia Milla

            As teens flip through their televisions with boredom, anime shows generally are included in the list of shows they’ve passed. In fact, many teens may have caught quick snips of the anime Attack on Titan by Hajime Isayama streaming on television just this April.
            After five years, the popular anime has finally released its second season. It has been noted as a show admired by multiple students due to the heated storyline.
            In a world surrounded by walls, humanity has to face the fear of being eaten by enormous creatures known as Titans. Many of these humans have never been outside the walls, while others have risked their lives leaving the walls to fight these Titans.
            The show is filled with suspense and action as the show includes intense conflict and violent deaths.
            First discovering the show while scrolling through television, my initial thoughts were that it would not be an engaging show. However, such plot and detail truly hooked me to continue watching the series. The author focuses on each small detail and drills holes to fill them with secrets. At the end, these secrets all combine to form the large picture.
            With that, the unique villains known as “Titans” was also something that engaged me into continuing to watch the show. Many action shows tend to contain a repetitive enemy, such as killers or zombies. I found it very unique that Attack on Titan used “Titans” as the enemies of humanity. The deaths and fights that take place through the show also have caught my attention, for such events naturally can pull people to watch more.
            Such action has allowed the anime to rise to fame among many students in America, for many teens are fans of such conflict. News of the second season being released struck multiple teens with excitement.
            The season’s final episode was released as the twelfth episode, which disappointed multiple fans of the show. However, the season exposed multiple questions laid in the first season, and multiple characters have slowly abandoned their background shadows to play a larger role.
            Since Season One, the characters and the fans have been dying to find out the root of Titan origin, for it has been unknown where Titans come from.
            The show revolves around 15-year old Eren Yeager, who is a young teenager determined to eradicate Titans. His determination truly sparked after encountering an intense loss caused by Titans.
            Though Eren seems like an ordinary citizen through the beginning of the show, his importance becomes more relevant as episodes pass, and continues to increase through the Second Season.
As Eren is definitely an important character, there are multiple figures that also slowly climb the ladder of importance through the season. The author and director of this series has illustrated a crafty transition for minor characters to unveil their importance.
When watching the anime, viewers may have took note of different characters,, including the  determined Reiner or the quiet Bertholdt. With them include Krista Lenz, who may seem to be just too selfless.
Though these characters simply play characters for flavor during the first season, Isayama rises their bars beyond their original appearances in the second season. In fact, these characters may even hold keys to unlock some of humanity’s secrets.
            Season Two takes a large step closer to revealing the truth about Titans, as the Survey Corps members finally uncover an idea of what may be inside the Titan. With that, it is concluded that there are multiple people that can even shift into a Titan. Season One reveals only two people who have done such an astonishing  act, but Season Two takes it even a higher notch.
            Throughout the season, conflict is created between humanity but filled with action. Such discoveries closing the Season allow fans to be fired up for Season Three, willing to see what more discoveries humanity will find.
            After watching the second season of this show, I felt excited to see various secrets open up and how parallel the show was to the actual book itself. Definitely the second season was filled with great quality illustration. What was disappointing to me, however, is how short it was. Waiting for five years for a second season only to find out that there are only twelve episodes is quite a bummer.
            The ending of the season made me excited due to the sizzling suspense that was released. As the characters discovered more secrets, it has lured me to be very eager for what more has to come. Definitely, it was an incredible series to watch.
            Though the truth is revealed deeper and deeper through the manga version, many fans would rather watch the anime instead of read the manga. However, even the manga has attracted the anime fans due to the intriguing plot.
            Many fans, including myself have definitely expected more from Season Two. The fact that it was very short was the most disappointing. Definitely if there was more to Season Two, I would be much more satisfied. However, I am not saying that it was a terrible season.
            The new characters introduced and the conflict that rose really interested me, and most likely other fans at well. Though I wished there was more in Season Two, the author probably has a good reason why there were only twelve episodes. Overall, the season definitely was great, although the major problem with enjoying it is the result of how short the season really was.
            Attack on Titan is definitely on my list to recommend if one is looking for a show filled with action. Most likely, the show will not fail to intrigue you.
            As Season Two has finally wrapped up, fans eagerly await for Season Three which is to be released next year


By Meagan Spooner

                           I’d like to first thank HarperTeen for the ARC version of this book.

Hunted was on my list of most anticipated YA novels of 2017 and it did not fail to impress. It’s a retelling of Beauty and the Beast with mentions and incorporations of Russian folktales  Tsarevitch Ivan, the Firebird and the Gray Wolf, The Firebird and Princess Vasilisa, and Vasilisa the Beautiful.
Yeva, or as her father likes to call her Beauty, aches to ditch her aristocratic life in the city to hunt in the forest with her father, just like they had when she was younger. After her father loses all of his fortune, Yeva’s family is forced to move back to their winter home in the outskirts of town. Yeva is secretly glad : finally she can hunt alongside her father. Yeah….except this is YA and obviously things aren’t going to be so happily ever after.

When her father goes missing after a hunting trip, Yeva, despite the protests of her sisters, decides to go after him. When she discovers his corpse, she makes it her goal to find the creature responsible for his death - the same creature her father was obsessing over before he left. But soon, Yeva finds herself captured, put in a cell, and concealed from seeing the face of her captor.

Yeva was a very developed character. Her genuine love for hunting and the wilderness, her distaste for the aristocratic ways of the higher class - definitely a refreshing change from the original Beauty and the Beast. I also enjoyed the side characters like Yeva’s sisters and Solmir aka Gaston. Gaston’s character was completely different, not made out to be the villain like he was in the Disney version, and I actually came to like him.

Unsurprisingly, when reading the reviews for this book, I noticed Stockholm syndrome come up. I haven’t seen many works of literature or entertainment with this condition to fully understand what it means , but based on this:

I believe Yeva did not have Stockholm syndrome. Throughout the book, she does not create a psychological alliance with the Beast, rather she puts up with what she’s told to do so she can eventually kill him as revenge for supposedly killing her father. It wasn’t a strategy that her mind just came up with as a means of survival; she deliberately chose to do this all while fully being aware that Beast was potentially dangerous and untrustable. Her change in attitude towards Beast is conscious and slow, and only shows after Beast himself changes his ways. And like Belle, Yeva actually wanted to leave, and she does. When she returns, it is not to be his prisoner, but to help him as she senses he is in danger.

That all said, I think Spooner did an excellent job of incorporating this enthralling classic with feminism, independence, and her own little Russian twist.

“To the girl
who reads by flashlight
who sees dragons in the clouds
who feels most alive in worlds that never were
who knows magic is real
who dreams

This is for you”

“If you’re reading this book, then you’re also that child reading by flashlight and dreaming of other worlds. Don’t be scared of her, that inner Beauty, or her dreams. Let her out. She’s you, and she’s me, and she’s magic.”

An enthralling retelling of Russian folktales and Beauty and the Beast
Check it out at the library and goodreads :

RATINGS: 4.5/5

Thursday, August 10, 2017


BOOK REVIEW : Shatter Me
By Tahereh Mafi

I did not know I could hate a book this much, but apparently I can. Shatter Me, unlike the praise it’s received, was in my opinion a disappointment to YA fantasy. I was astonished to see this was the same Shatter Me that got so much praise in the last six years.

The novel is told from the perspective a girl named Juliette (AKA WORST YA CHARACTER EVER) whose touch can inflict pain on her victims (HMMM sounds familiar ) . She’s locked up in this asylum with other delinquents, closed off from the rest of the world. Conveniently, this is a good thing because the rest of the world is pretty much more hellish than her cell. There’s a shortage of food, a necessity to kill off people who aren’t worthy enough , and writing is banned ( so basically like many of those dystopia out there ).

Anywho, my biggest problem with this book like was the prose. When reading a book, I usually don’t pay attention to the writing style, but that was only because it’s never been a problem. As Emily May put it, ¨This is not a dystopia, it is a romance. This is not a novel, it is a collection of similes and metaphors, most of which do not make sense,”. For example:

“I spent my life folded between the pages of books.

In the absence of human relationships I formed bonds with paper characters. I lived love and loss through stories threaded in history; I experienced adolescence by association. My world is one interwoven web of words, stringing limb to limb, bone to sinew, thoughts and images all together. I am a being comprised of letters, a character created by sentences, a figment of imagination formed through fiction.”

And that’s nice and all until you get to things like:

“I'm oxygen and he's dying to breathe.”   (GAG)

The moon is a loyal companion.
It never leaves. It’s always there, watching, steadfast, knowing us in our light and dark moments, changing forever just as we do. Every day it’s a different version of itself. Sometimes weak and wan, sometimes strong and full of light. The moon understands what it means to be human.
Uncertain. Alone. Cratered by imperfections.”

“Hope is hugging me, holding me in its arms, wiping away my tears and telling me that today and tomorrow and two days from now I will be just fine and I'm so delirious I actually dare to believe it.”  ( do you really, though ? )

“His eyes are two buckets of rainwater: deep, fresh, clear. Hurt.”

“My body is a carnivorous flower, a poisonous houseplant, a loaded gun with a million triggers and he's more than ready to fire.” ( ??????????)
"Hate looks like everybody else until it smiles. Until it spins around and lies with lips and teeth carved into semblance of something too passive to punch." ( This actually makes no sense )

“Truth is a jealous, vicious mistress that never, ever sleeps.”

AND THERE’S MORE. I’m not exaggerating when I say there is more of this than there is plot. If I ever meet this author, I’d like to remind her that she is writing a YA fantasy novel, not some try-hard poetry book.

Another problem I had were the characters and the storyline. The story starts out with an imprisoned Juliette describing her time at the asylum until this new guy Adam moves in. Soon after, Juliette is bailed out and it turns out Adam has been working with the “bad guys” this whole time. Except he, “unlike” the rest of the “bad guys” * COUGH COUGH WALTER*, doesn’t hate her at all. Despite barely knowing each other ( other than being in the same class in the fifth grade or whatever excuse Mafi used ), they are under the belief that they  are“completely in love” and run off together from the “bad guys”.

Little did they know.

And remember how I said her touch is fatal? Conveniently, the only two people that rule doesn't apply to are the love interests, and there are no explanations as to why. Then again I didn’t finish the book so maybe it was in there...Honestly, it was just another really stupid excuse by Mafi to include the romance and the love triangle.

Walter, a “big baddie” ( these quotations are very deliberate by the way )  who tries to make Juliette’s life a “living hell” by forcing her to use her powers on him, plays one of the love interests. As a character in novel, he’s rather empty. Like, in other books, the girl gets to know the guy yada yada yada and the relationship is deliberate. Here, it’s like Mafi added in this guy last minute and was like “ hey just be the bad boy Juliette falls in love with and the fans will be all over you,”. And Walter isn’t even like those bad boy YA characters that you kinda just fall in love with in other YA; no - Walter is a psychotic stupid excuse of a villain-turned-lover. You know something is wrong when you’re kinda rooting for the bad guys side in a book.

Last but not least, what is this author’s deal with crossing things out????? I’m guessing she thought it made her book look more poetic but for me, it was a nuisance.

I have a curse
I have a gift

I am a monster
I'm more than human

My touch is lethal
My touch is power

I am their weapon
I will fight back”

“His lips soften into a smile that cracks apart my spine. He repeats my name like the word amuses him. Entertains him. Delights him.

In seventeen years no one has said my name like that”

I guarantee this book will actually make you go crazy, for better or worse ( though I cannot possibly see the former being true .) I checked out all three books in the series from the library with genuine expectations for this book.  I heard the making a tv show out of it *HELP US GOD*. I’m hoping it will be better to watch than to read, though I highly doubt it.

Check it out at the library ( I recommend one book at a time ) and goodreads :


BOOK REVIEW : To Catch A Killer By Sheryl Scarborough BY SULPHIA IQBAL

BOOK REVIEW : To Catch A Killer
By Sheryl Scarborough

It’s been awhile since I’ve picked up a contemporary mystery after the Mara Dyer Trilogy and A Study In Charlotte, which kinda set the bar high, but To Catch A Killer wasn't half bad.

When Erin Blake was a toddler, her mother was murdered right before eyes and she, oblivious as to what actually happened, managed to survive three days alongside the corpse. As her “Aunt” becomes more and more determined not to talk about her mother, Erin becomes more and more obsessed with finding her mother’s murder and who her father was ( who she suspects might be the same person ).

Erin’s bio teacher decides to help Erin in finding out the identity of her father by doing a DNA test. When Erin goes to her teacher’s house late at night, she is shocked to find her dead in a pool of blood. She’s also shocked to see one of her classmates running away from the scene when she sees him. Naturally, her first suspect is him and naturally, against the wishes of the police and her “Aunt” , she is determined to find out who her teacher's murder was, especially after realizing it was the same person who killed her mother.

A lot of things in the novel were oddly convenient. Like, conveniently  a string from the same shirt her mother wore when she had died had accidently dropped in Journey’s, the classmate, van, allowing Erin to realize the connection between the two cases. Conveniently, Erin’s aunt’s best friend and boyfriend are police officers, her uncle an FBI agent, and her best friend’s dad a lawyer. Conveniently, Erin had access to the special computers in the Police Department because her aunt worked there. HMMMM…not done on purpose at all.

Erin repeatedly defies letting the professionals such as police officers, detectives, and FBI agents handle the investigating. That’s not really very accurate ( or safe mind you ), but I mean come on it’s a book for young adults, so I let it slide.

ALSO, I secretly enjoy tough cases where I’m not able figure out who the culprit is because that tells me it’s a good mystery ( except in Sherlock Holmes because if I CAN, I’ve accomplished the impossible ). In this case ( no pun intended ), I was able to figure who the big baddie was like, 30 % into the book and that was kinda disappointing.

I’ve loved mystery and forensics since God knows when. Reading about Erin solving tiny mysteries like whether a guy a cheated on other girl with lipstick chromatography and hair analysis with home-based materials made me no joke research for a straight hour forensic labs activities I could do at home : ) Hopefully it’ll make you want to do the same.

A contemporary mystery that I recommend more for the middle grade, younger young adults, and anyone loves a good quick mystery.
Check it out at the library and goodreads :