Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Hunger Games Pumpkin Carving

Happy Halloween everybody! I hope that your holiday is going well so far and that it will continue to be awesome and full of candy. :)

Its no secret that I am a HUGE fan of Suzanne Collins The Hunger Games Trilogy. So yesterday evening I carved a Hunger Games jack o' lantern! Its a mockingjay design like Katniss' pin. You can download a free design template for it here. I actually had to redraw the design because when it printed off of my computer it was a bit too small. But it was totally worth it. Here's the finished product:

I am really pleased with it! Honestly it turned out a lot better than I thought it would. Here is a picture of the template that I drew myself (based on the one in the link above).

Has anyone else made some awesome jack o'lanterns this year?

Oh and I thought I would post this hilarious picture because its Halloween related. I took it at my local Michaels store. Whoever did the decorations there is my hero! Haha. Sorry to all you Twilight fans out there but I just couldn't resist.

Hope your Halloween is splendiferous!

Julia :)

In My Mailbox

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted over at the lovely blog The Story Siren. The point is to blog about books that you have somehow procured during the week!

My Library just got a bunch of new YA fiction and I am soooo excited to read them all! Here's what I checked out:

  • The Unidentified by Rae Mariz        
  • Birthmarked by Caragh O'Brien       
  • Annexed by Sharon Dogar               
  • I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore
  • The Enemy by Charlie Higson         

The Unidentified
Out of all the books I checked out this is the one that I am the most eager to read. Its set in a dystopian society where school has pretty much turned into a giant reality TV show where teenagers try to make new trends to get picked up by sponsors and become "branded." Those who become "branded" are immediately catapulted to fame and popularity. The main protagonist, a girl named Kid, has never wanted to be in the limelight, but unwittingly catches the eye of not one but two sponsors. Kids new life seems great at first but then it slowly causes her to question the society around her. No longer does she want to be famous. Instead she wants to join the ranks of The Unidentified.  Sounds interesting ehhhh? Hopefully it won't disappoint!

Inside the wall of a city known as the Enclave lives 16 year old Gaia. She doesn't question any aspect of her life until her parents are mysteriously arrested by the Enclave authorities. Will Gaia be able to save her parents even with the scar that automatically marks her as an outcast? I have to admit that at first I wasn't interested in this book. I saw it at the Library a few times and read the summary and just thought "meh" and decided not to check it out. But one of my friends kept bugging me about it so I have decided to give it a chance. And actually as I have looked into it I have become more intrigued with the story. We'll see how it goes.

Surprisingly enough one genre that I really enjoy is historical fiction. Annexed is the events of The Diary of Anne Frank told from Peter Van Pels perspective. I have a special connection to the Anne Frank story because the youth theatre that I'm involved in (yep I'm a drama girl too!) did the play last year. It was amazing! My sister played Margot and I did sound teching. Anyway that whole experience of watching the story come alive really made it all the more poignant. I hope that this book is able to tell Peters story with dignity and grace.

I Am Number Four
I had a mini freak out session in the Library when I saw this on the shelf I was so excited!!! I've heard a lot of good things about it. The story revolves around an alien boy named John or Number Four. He is being hunted by the Mogdorians (more aliens?) whose mission is to kill all nine of the Loric children. The only catch is that they have to kill them in order. And John is next..... Compelling much? And its already been made into a movie that will be released February 18, 2011. And to top it all off the movie is starring the very good looking British actor Alex Pettyfer. Call me crazy, but I'm quite the fan of his. :)

The Enemy
Zombies anyone? In this novel everyone over the age of 16 is struck with a devastating disease that turns out to be, yep you guessed it, the zombie virus! How will the teenagers of the world survive when everyone else is out to eat their flesh? The summary sounds really good. Although the thought did strike me that if this story really happened I would become a zombie because I'm not under 16..... Blast! Haha.

So thats what I got "In My Mailbox" this week! What did you get?

Julia :)

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Suggestion Saturday: The Maze Runner

In keeping with October's Dystopian theme I have decided to review The Maze Runner for Suggestion Saturday! It is book one in The Maze Runner Trilogy. So without further ado heres the review!

When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his first name. His memory is blank. But he’s not alone. When the lift’s doors open, Thomas finds himself surrounded by kids who welcome him to the Glade—a large, open expanse surrounded by stone walls. Just like Thomas, the Gladers don’t know why or how they got to the Glade. All they know is that every morning the stone doors to the maze that surrounds them have opened. Every night they’ve closed tight. And every 30 days a new boy has been delivered in the lift. Thomas was expected. But the next day, a girl is sent up—the first girl to ever arrive in the Glade. And more surprising yet is the message she delivers. Thomas might be more important than he could ever guess. If only he could unlock the dark secrets buried within his mind. 

First of all this book has a great summary. Talk about mysterious! It just draws you in right away. And the totally awesome cover doesn't hurt either! But the best part about this book? It delivered! I was not disappointed in any way. The beginning was a little slow but once I got about a third of the way in I was hooked! I literally stayed up until one in the morning just to keep reading because the book was so engrossing. The ending has me dying for the sequel The Scorch Trials. It just came out but unfortunately my Library hasn't shelved it yet. I am first on the hold list though! Anyway this book was full of awesome sauce. Lots of action, suspense and mystery. I did feel that the ending wasn't quite as strong as the middle of the book but overall the plotting was great. The only complaint I have was that the characters could have had more depth. They felt a little one dimensional to me. Then again they do have their memories wiped so its not like they even know who they are anymore. Hopefully there will be more character development in the next 2 books.

I give this book 5 cupcakes out of 5!

One of the best dystopian books I have read. If you loved The Hunger Games then you will love The Maze Runner.

Julia :)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Book Blogger Hop and Follow Friday!

Its time for the weekly Book Blogger Hop hosted by Crazy For Books and Follow Friday hosted by Parajunkee. This is my first time participating in both of these awesome events. :)

Book Blogger Hop

The Book Blogger Hop is an opportunity to connect with other book bloggers, to connect with other book lovers, make new friends, support each other, and generally just share our love of books!  It will also give blog readers a chance to find other book blogs to read! Want to join the Hop? Head on over to Crazy For Books and start hopping!

What is the one bookish thing you would love to have, no matter what the cost?

Well I guess I'd say that I would love to have my own private library. A room with plenty of shelves to store all my books (since presently my shelf is overflowing so bad that there are now stacks upon stacks of books crammed every which way on my only shelf. Yep its pretty bad) and lots of different comfy chairs to sit in and read. That would be a dream come true. :)

Follow Friday is an opportunity to discover and follow other book related blogs! Want to join? Check it out at Parajunkee

If you have, or would have a daughter, what book would you want your daughter to read?

Being that I am only a teenager I haven't really put much thought into what my future children might read. But I guess I would say the same stuff that I loved as a girl. Nancy Drew Mysteries and The Boxcar Children were my favorites. I would also love for her to read Anne of Green Gables, The Penderwicks, and Little Women. 


If your a new follower be sure to post a link to your blog in the comments section so I can follow you back! 


Julia :)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Words Wednesday

A chance to highlight some awesome book quotes! This weeks quote is from John Green's An Abundance of Katherines.

"What is the point of being alive if you don't at least try to do something remarkable?"

Oh so true! Lets make our lives count and be remarkable. I love John Green he writes some amazing stuff. An Abundance of Katherines is a good book you should definitely check it out. 

Julia :)

Waiting On Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted over at Breaking The Spine. The purpose is to spotlight upcoming releases that we are eagerly anticipating!

Ever since I heard it was coming out I have been dying to read Sarah Dessen's new novel What Happened to Goodbye. It is set to release May 2011.

What Happened to Goodbye is about a high school senior who, after her parents’ divorce, has taken up the practice of assuming a new identity in each of the four towns she’s lived in. 

Now the summary isn't anything special. But everything Sarah Dessen writes is amazing. I have been longing to read a new Sarah Dessen novel for what? A year now? And sure I normally don't enjoy romance but Sarah Dessen doesn't write your average sappy love tale. Oh no. Everytime I read one of her books I learn some important lesson about life and friendship and I that is just awesome. There is always a lesson to be learned from a Sarah Dessen book. Yes it sounds a little cliche but its true nonetheless.

Julia :)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Book Review: This World We Live In

This World We Live In is the third installment to The Last Survivors Trilogy or The Moon Crash Trilogy. I've heard it go by both names so I don't know which one is actually official. Maybe neither is and fans have just taken it to calling it what they want. Personally I think the Last Survivors Trilogy sounds cooler. But thats besides the point.... Anyway the other two books in the series are called Life as We Knew It and The Dead and the Gone. You don't have to read all three of the books (you don't even have to read them in order really) but I think that as a whole the story is a lot more powerful. So on with the review!

It has been nearly a year since an asteroid hit the moon catapulting it closer to the earth and forever changing the world and its climate. But despite all odds Miranda's family has survived it all: the hunger, the freezing winter, and the sickness that nearly wiped out their town. But now with the return of Miranda's father and his family and friends, food is scarcer than ever. Will Miranda's family be able to survive on what little provisions they have? Or will they have to leave their home and trust to fate that they will find safety elsewhere? And what will happen when a hurricane comes and threatens to take away all the dreams that Miranda holds dear?

I really enjoyed this book. It is written entirely from the perspective of Miranda in the form of her journal entries during the story. I always tend to like books written in a journal entry style. Theres something about it that I really like. While this story was not quite as strong as the first two I really thought that it tied up the series nicely. The inclusion of the protagonists from the two previous books was a neat way to wrap the series together. Although I did think that the romance between Miranda and Alex was a bit weird. It didn't feel very natural. They're relationship was very rushed. The whole plot of the book felt a little rushed actually. And the main conflict and resolution didn't happen until last 40 pages of the book which was a kind of strange to me. I was thinking "Wait I just read through this whole book only to get to the main point practically at the very end?" But the first part of the story was still interesting and so it wasn't that bad I guess. Overall I thought that it was a good book, but not great. However I did think it ended the series well so I will give it 4 ice cream cones out of 5.

Julia :)

Kawaii Monday: Dinosaur Erasers

Kawaii Monday is a new weekly post I am doing about random Asian cuteness that I discover and think you guys will enjoy! Being Asian I just really REALLY love cute Asian things. Its a major weakness of mine (along with books of course!). So here you go. :) (oh and for all those non Asian peeps out there kawaii is the Japanese word for cute.)

Ahhhh yes I reveal my slightly crazed love for all things related to dinosaurs. I can honestly say that I think this stems from the love that I had of the Land Before Time series back when I was younger. Not even joking. But anyway I just really, really, love dinosaurs. And I also happen to really, really, love erasers! I have a huge eraser collection. Unfortunately I have not been able to purchase and add these to my collection yet but I definitely want to soon! I can only find them on eBay so if you are interested you can purchase them here

The thing that I love about these erasers (other than the fact that they are dinos) is the fact that they are kinda interactive. I mean the dinos fit inside the eggs and all that cuteness. And I really love the colors. All I can say is that if and when I purchase these there is no way that I am going to be using them as pencil toppers. How could I destroy something so adorable? So do you guys think these are Kawaii? Why or why not? Post your thoughts and let me know.
Julia :)  

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Suggestion Saturday: The Hunger Games Trilogy

So the other day my mother was saying to me "Julia, you need to review some books that you have already read, not just new books!" I have taken her suggestion to heart and have decided that every Saturday I will post a review of a book or series that I have already read that I enjoyed. My mother specifically stated that I should review The Hunger Games Trilogy. Probably because she's tired of hearing me talk about it all the time and she hopes writing about it will get my thoughts out and get me to stop talking about it non-stop...... She's probably right too. So in keeping with the dystopian theme for the month I am going to review The Hunger Games Trilogy (yup as a whole) for my new weekly feature suggestion saturday. :)

This is a spoiler free review!

 Winning means fame and fortune. Losing means certain death. Let the games begin.

 So The Hunger Games Trilogy consists of The Hunger Games, Catching Fire and Mockingjay. They are all equally amazing books. And as a whole the story is stunning. But I will warn you that this story is not all bunnies and rainbows. This is an adventure story, a survival story, a love story, but above all it is a war story. And Suzanne Collins doesn't hold anything back. She gives it to you about as raw and brutal as she can. So be forewarned: These books are not good for people who get easily depressed, or for children under the age of 13. 

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. Each year, the districts are forced by the Capitol to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the Hunger Games, a brutal and terrifying fight to the death – televised for all of Panem to see.
Survival is second nature for sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who struggles to feed her mother and younger sister by secretly hunting and gathering beyond the fences of District 12. When Katniss steps in to take the place of her sister in the Hunger Games, she knows it may be her death sentence. If she is to survive, she must weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

Katniss Everdeen is my favorite literary character ever. She is strong and tough, but at the same time she has is vulnerable and full of humanity. And she is such a badass! I could really relate to Katniss. She is so like myself its crazy. I have to say that the strongest point in Suzanne Collins writing is her ability to create characters that you truly care about. Her characters have so much depth to them its amazing. The people she creates aren't just characters in a book. They become real to the reader. Which is part of the reason these books are so powerful. You feel connected to these characters and their struggles for survival, love and freedom.

The story itself is exciting, suspenseful, sad, violent, jarring, and overall just beautiful. Sure it isn't perfect. Nothing is. Everyone is going to find something to hate about these books. A lot of people didn't like the ending to the trilogy. Me personally? Yes it was depressing. Yes it was a bit disappointing. Yes it wasn't "what I had wanted." But like I said this story isn't all bunnies and rainbows. Its real. Suzanne Collins wrote it so that kids would realize the horror of war and the pain and desolation it causes. She succeeded. War isn't easy. War is violent, and brutal. War is destruction and death. But ultimately at the end of a war comes peace. There are scars and sacrifices, but there is also a hope for what the future will bring.

I rate this series 5 out of 5 cupcakes.

These are the best books I have read in a long time and I don't think I will be reading something better anytime soon. They will surprise you, scare you, make you laugh and cry. And ask anybody I don't cry very easily! I cannot recommend this trilogy enough. READ IT!!!! You will not be disappointed.

Oh and suggest that you make sure that when you read these books you A. Have a lot of time on your hands because these suck you in and you won't want to put them down and B. You have easy access to all 3 books. Unfortunately when I read them I had to wait 2 weeks for Catching Fire and then 2 more weeks after that for Mockingjay. Which was TORTURE. Just ask my friends and family I was practically going insane not being able to read it.  I can't even imagine being one of the fans who had to wait a whole year before Mockingjay was released...... Anyway I just think that for your own emotional sanity (and for the sanity of those around you) you should make sure to have all 3 books within your possession before you start the series. Forsake my advice if you wish. But believe me, its not worth it.

Julia :)

Friday, October 22, 2010

Book Review: Ship Breaker

A gritty high-stakes adventure set in a futuristic world where oil is scarce, but loyalty is scarcer...

I got this book from my Library as a prize for their Teen Summer Reading program. They had a bunch of ARC books to choose from and this was the only one that I really thought I would end up reading. What tends to happen with me and free books I get is that I tend to put them aside and think "Oh I'll read that eventually its not going anywhere anytime soon" and then I forget about it. Its actually pretty sad.... So I always try to pick something that I think I will actually take the time to enjoy. And I am definitely glad I chose this book!

In America's Gulf Coast region, where grounded oil tankers are begin disassembled for parts, Nailer, a teenage boy, works the light crew, scavenging for copper wiring just to make quota and hopefully have enough to eat. But when, by luck or chance, he discovers an exquisite clipper ship beached during a recent hurricane, Nailer faces the most important decision of his life: Strip the ship for all it's worth or rescue its lone survivor, a beautiful and wealthy girl who could lead him to a better life.

The setting felt almost like a cross between Pirates of the Caribbean and Disney's Treasure Planet. A random but wonderful combination. There weren't actually any pirates in the story but there were definitely some elements that felt piratey. The book even ended in a showdown between two mutinous ships and their crew! But ultimately this book wasn't about treasure and adventure on the high seas. It was about relationships. Family, friends and loyalty were all prominent themes in the book. Nailer struggled with his definition of family. His only living blood relative was his abusive and drug addicted father. Nailer loved his father, but at the same time he hated him. He couldn't trust his father and he definitely didn't feel safe with him. Whereas Nailers friends and crew mates had sworn blood oaths to protect and look out for each other. Nailer could always count on them to help him. They were more of a family then Nailer's father would ever be. By the end of the story Nailer comes to realize that his family wasn't just the one he was born into. His family was also the people that he chose to surround himself with. His friends ultimately became his family because families aren't just related to each other. They look out for each other. I thought that was a beautiful message to portray.

Ship Breaker was a fascinating and exciting book. The setting was awesome, there was plenty of adventure and suspense and to top it all off the book had a great moral. I give it 4.5 ice cream cones out of 5!

Julia :)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Cast Your Villain

So over at the wonderful book blog WORD for Teens (seriously go check it out!) they challenged people to decide what actor they would cast for their favorite book villain and why. I decided to join in the fray by choosing an actor for President Snow from The Hunger Games!

Villain: President Snow from The Hunger Games Trilogy
Actor: Ian McDiarmid
Why: He already proved he could be sleazy and creepy as Palpatine in the Star Wars movies, so I think he would have no trouble playing the equally disturbing President Snow. And to top it all off he just gives off such a creeper vibe doesn't he? That smile just screams lies and deceit! Do you agree? Disagree? Have someone in mind who you think is better? Comment and let me know!

 Julia :)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Book Review: Gone

I don't really know what to think about this book. There were so many different plot points and characters that it got a little confusing sometimes. I still haven't figured it all out in my head yet. It was kind of difficult to process everything. But even with all the confusion I really enjoyed it. Overall it was an awesome book. The premise is simple. What would happen if everyone over the age of 14 disappeared and the world was left to be taken over by a bunch of kids and young teens? How will they survive? Will everything turn to chaos? And who is going to step up and lead? Then you throw in a bunch of bullies, wild superpowers, animal mutations, and something mysterious and evil called "The Darkness" and you get this book. The story started out a bit slow but definitely picked up about a third of the way in. Reading the book felt almost like I was reading a TV series because of the way the action was paced. Overall it was a really good book. I give it 4 out of 5 ice cream cones!

Julia :)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Book Review: The Dead-Tossed Waves

I really should be writing my extremely boring research paper right now..... But I couldn't stop thinking about reviewing this and so I figured if I just got it out then I wouldn't be as distracted. Lets hope it works. Haha. :)

Anyway I almost decided not to read this book mostly because I hadn't really enjoyed The Forest of Hands and Teeth (TFOHT). I didn't really want to take the time to read the sequel if I was just going to hate on it. But after reading a the first chapter I decided to give it a go. The funny thing is that by the third chapter I was already thinking "Oh yup here we go again! Its just like the first one only with events sped up." But then I was proven wrong and I was actually pleasantly surprised. I can honestly say that there were some elements of this book that I really enjoyed. But there were also some things that drove me crazy. Well one thing in particular. But we'll get to that later. So here were the positive elements for me.

For starters this book was not told from the perspective of Mary like the first one, but rather from the perspective of Mary's daughter Gabrielle. I was quite happy about this because Mary had quite frankly bugged me to no end. So the fact that this was a story about a new character seemed quite promising. And while Gabrielle was an improvement upon Mary's constant selfishness, she still lacked a lot of character. She spent most of the story confused about who she really was. On top of that she was often questioning what the real point of life was. However by the end of the story Gabrielle had grown a lot as a person. She had really come to realize what was important to her and what she needed to live for. And that was encouraging. On top of that Gabrielle did seem to care about all the people in her life. She wasn't just looking out for herself. She was also looking out for others. That was a refreshing change from the way Mary was characterized.

Secondly I really enjoyed the fact that more of Mary and Gabrielle's world was revealed and explained. A lot of questions were raised in the TFOHT and The Dead-Tossed Waves definitely succeeded in answering a lot of these questions. In fact I thought it was worth it to read The Dead Tossed Waves just because I was able to figure out so much about the history of the villages and the cults.

And finally we have gotten to what I did not enjoy about the book. Pretty much it can be summed up in one word. Angst. It seems that Carrie Ryan's go to trick is angst. And for me it just doesn't work. Probably because most of it is angst about love and relationships. Ryan tried to work this whole love triangle dealio into this story and in my opinion it failed miserably. Every other chapter Gabrielle was kissing one guy, or nearly kissing the other guy, or angsting over whether or not they still cared about her and it was just....well......BLAH!!!! It drove me bonkers. Now I will say that I don't like romance in general so it could have been just me. But I kinda doubt it. :/

So while the characters were improved, and the world was enhanced, the Dead Tossed-Waves lost some of its potential because it was weighted down by Carrie Ryan's excess use of teen angst.

In conclusion I would say that if you have read The Forest of Hands and Teeth and you are curious to discover more about Mary's world then yes, you would probably like this book. Otherwise I wouldn't really recommend it. However I do think that The Dead-Tossed Waves was better than TFOHT so I will give it 3 1/2 ice cream cones out of 5.

The next book I am reading is Gone by Michael Grant. I would just like to say that it has one of THE WORST book cover designs I have ever seen. Like seriously if I hadn't heard so many good things about this book I would NEVER have picked it up. I mean it just screams paranormal romance or something equally weird. But apparently its like Stephen King meets Lord of the Flies which actually sounds really promising! We shall see..... The review for that book will probably be up in about a week or so depending on when I finish reading it. So be on the look out!

Julia :)

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Book Review: The Forest of Hands and Teeth

At my Library we have a teen book club and the October book is The Forest of Hands and Teeth. If I remember correctly I didn't actually vote to have this one be apart of our reading list this year..... I don't know why. Maybe the romance aspect? But nonetheless it got voted to our list. Heres a brief description for you guys.

Mary lives in a village surrounded by The Forest of Hands and Teeth, a place where the Unconsecrated roam freely. The people in her village live in constant fear of the Unconsecrated and the world beyond. They follow the orders of the Sisterhood and the Guardians without question. But Mary wants more. She wants to escape the confines of her world and find love and happiness and above all, Mary wants to find the Ocean.

I won't say the story was horrible because it wasn't but I personally thought that it was heavy on emotion and light on depth. Mary was always driven by her own wants and desires. She never really considered other people, or at least not long enough for it to make a difference. It was always about her: her need to find love, her need to have freedom, her need to find the ocean. Her personal feelings overrided anything else in her life. And that was a frustrating point for me. But other than that I thought the story was good. It was unique and thought provoking. It definitely made me feel thankful for the life that I live. I don't have to worry about getting attacked by zombies everyday and I have immense freedom in what kind of future I choose for myself. So in that aspect the book was successful. It made me think. And thats what really matters because if a book doesn't make you question things in your life then there often wasn't much of a point in reading it anyway. So on a scale from 1-5 ice cream cones I give it three!

Julia :)

It's Dystopian Book Month!!!! (for me at least)

Soooo if you know me well then you know that I have recently been exposed to the amazing Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins. If you haven't read these books yet you need to. RIGHT NOW. Seriously get off your computer, drive to the nearest book acquiring place, and be prepared for 3 sleepless days of epicness. Yes they are that good. :)

Anyway after I finished the trilogy I decided to get some reading material that had a similar feel to it. Namely books based in a dystopian future. In case you don't know a dystopian future means that some sort of natural disaster, world war, or some other crazy event (zombie apocalypse anyone?) has caused life as we know it to cease existence. The world is a harsher, crueler, more dangerous place. And this makes for some interesting stories. So right now I have a bunch of books piling up all relating to this topic. As you can see to the left the one I am currently reading is The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan. It is the companion to Ryan's first novel The Forest of Hands and Teeth, which I just finished reading. I will be posting a review of that book shortly! Anyway because I am reading all of these dystopian books I decided to make it dystopian book month! Haha. :) I will be reading and reviewing dystopian novels all month long. I have also added on the left a list of my favorite dystopian books in no particular order. Okay that isn't entirely true because I did make sure The Hunger Games Trilogy was at the top but thats besides the point..... All of these books are unique and are definitely worth checking out. Oh and I promise! NO VAMPIRES!!!!!!

Julia :)
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