Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Book Review: The Scorch Trials

Solving the Maze was supposed to be the end. No more puzzles. No more variables. And no more running. Thomas was sure that escape meant he and the Gladers would get their lives back. But no one really knew what sort of life they were going back to. In the Maze, life was easy. They had food, and shelter, and safety... until Teresa triggered the end. In the world outside the Maze, however, the end was triggered long ago. Burned by sun flares and baked by a new, brutal climate, the earth is a wasteland. Government has disintegrated - and with it, order - and now Cranks, people covered in festering wounds and driven to murderous insanity by the infectious disease known as the Flare, roam the crumbling cities hunting for their next victim... and meal. The Gladers are far from done running. Instead of freedom, they find themselves faced with another trial. They must cross the Scorch, the most  burned-out section of the world, and arrive at a safe haven in two weeks. And WICKED has made sure to adjust the variables and stack the odds against them. Thomas can only wonder - does he hold the secret of freedom somewhere in his mind? Or will he forever be at the mercy of WICKED?

This book was INSANE. Seriously, I thought the Maze Runner was full of some crazy stuff, but this? Just wow. I'm still trying to process it all. This whole book threw me for a loop. I mean I only had a vague idea as to where I thought the story might go but there were definitely some things that happened that I NEVER expected! The Maze Runner was great, but I can honestly say that The Scorch Trials was even better.

One crazy aspect was the Cranks! They almost seemed like zombies to me, the way they were kind of decomposing from the Flare, and going crazy and killing people. But, unlike zombies, they were actually fast, strong, and somewhat smart. Talk about freaky!!! The whole concept of a natural disaster creating this Flare disease was rather fascinating to me. And a little bit scary! Just the idea that that is a possibility in real life freaks me out. Okay so maybe its not REALLY a possibility.... But you never know!

There was a considerable amount of character development in The Scorch Trials which was great. We get to know more a lot more about Thomas and Teresa's past which was cool. And Minho really became this awesome kick ass leader! Asians for the win! Haha. All I can say is I LOVED Minho. In addition to all the old characters from The Maze Runner, there were also some new ones who added a lot of different aspects to the story. I won't spoil anything, but lets just say that there were a lot more girls in The Scorch Trials then there were in The Maze Runner!

The only bad thing about this book? The cliffhanger ending!!! GAHHH!!! Seriously I am DYING for the next book! Who does James Dashner think he is torturing me like this??? I guess I will have to simply pacify myself with the new books title. Its coming out October 2011 (less than a year! So close, but yet so far.) and its called The Death Cure. If you read The Scorch Trials you'll understand why!

The Scorch Trials gets 5 out of 5 cupcakes!

Awesome book. Awesome series. Loved it. You will too. I promise.

Julia :)

Monday, November 29, 2010

And the winner is.......

The winner of my Gratitude Giveaway is........

I have emailed justpeachy36 and she has 48 hours to respond or else a new winner will be chosen. Congratulations to the winner and thank you to everyone who entered! I had over 80 unique entries and a total of 161 chances to win.

Julia :)

Kawaii Monday: Totoro Bento Box

This week Kawaii Monday features a Totoro Bento Box!!!

GAHHHH!!!! Want it soooo bad! Haha. I just love bento boxes! I have a two that I got from Borders and I actually do use them. I know, when would a homeschooler use a bento box? Well I use it when I volunteer at the zoo. Anyway I LOVE Totoro. Cutest anime/manga ever! And this bento box set not only has the most adorable Totoro case, but the plastic tupperware that goes inside also has uber cute Totoro images on it! And it comes with a fork in its own little case. I mean how cool is that? Unfortunately its super expensive. No matter how adorable it is I cannot rationalize buying a $65 bento box. If you however are interested you can check it out on Amazon here. Why do the cutest things always have to be so expensive???

Julia :)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Last day to enter my Gratitude Giveaway!!!

Just wanted to let you guys know that today is the last chance for you to enter my Gratitude Giveaway! I've reached my goal of 120 followers so now all 7 books are up for grabs! If you want to see what I'm giving away and enter then you can here. I will be using random.org to determine the winner, who will be revealed sometime tomorrow!

Thanks for being so amazing guy! I appreciate everyone that reads my blog and comments! It means so much to know that you like my blog.

Julia :)

In My Mailbox [4]

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!

So I know I've been trying to cut back on the amount of books I get from the Library and all that. And I even managed to go for a whole week without getting anything new!!! I know, amazing restraint. Haha. But this week I did get some stuff. Not from the Library, but from NetGalley! At first I wasn't going to do NetGalley just because I'm not the biggest fan of reading off a computer screen. But then I saw that one of the books available was Delirium. And so I caved. Anyway these are the books I got from NetGalley this week:

  • Delirium by Lauren Oliver                                  
  • Awaken by Katie Kacvinsky                                
  • The Betrayal of Maggie Blair by Elizabeth Laird

OH MY GOSH I AM SO EXCITED TO GET THIS!!!!!!!!!!! Seriously I do not care if I have to read it off of a computer monitor. I've been dying to read this ever since I heard about it. Lauren Oliver plus dystopia??? AWESOMENESS! So this is a dystopian novel about a world where love is forbidden. Scientists found a cure for it and everybody has to take the cure once they reach the age of eighteen. Lena Holoway has always looked forward to her 18th birthday. After all isn't a life without love also a life without pain? But then 95 days before she is supposed to be cured Lena does the unthinkable. She falls in love. Oohhh. Now I realize this is all about love so it might not be my cup of tea. But its a dystopian and its by Lauren Oliver. So I think I'll still enjoy it.

I'm pretty excited to get this one too! Its another dystopian novel, only this time its about a world where everything is done on the computer. People don't even venture out of their homes anymore. School, dating, its all done online. For Maddie, a solitary digital life seems okay. Until she meets Justin. Justin like people. He likes being with people. And he shows Maddie that there is more to life then living in front of a screen. Suddenly Maddie wants more from her life. But with society and her parents telling her otherwise, Maddie is going to have to learn to stand up for herself if she wants to change the path her life is taking. 

The Betrayal of Maggie Blair
This one looks interesting. I really like historical fiction and this one definitely sounds intriguing. In seventeenth-century Scotland, saying the wrong thing can lead to banishment—or worse. Accused of being a witch, sixteen-year-old Maggie Blair is sentenced to be hanged. She escapes, but instead of finding shelter with her principled, patriotic uncle, she brings disaster to his door. Betrayed by one of her own accusers, Maggie must try to save her uncle and his family from the king’s men, even if she has to risk her own life in the process.

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

Julia :)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Suggestion Saturday: I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have To Kill You

Suggestion Saturday time!!! This week I'm reviewing I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have To Kill You by Ally Carter. (gosh I never noticed how long the title was before now....)

The Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women is a fairly typical all-girls school—that is, if every school teaches advanced martial arts in PE, chemistry always consists of the latest in chemical warfare, and everyone breaks CIA codes for extra credit in computer class. So in truth, Gallagher Academy might posit itself as a school for geniuses but what they really mean is spies. But what happens when a Gallagher Girl falls for a boy who doesn't have a code name? Cammie Morgan may be fluent in fourteen languages and capable of killing a man in seven different ways (three of which involve a piece of uncooked spaghetti), but the Gallagher Academy hasn’t prepared her for what to do when she meets an ordinary boy who thinks she’s an ordinary girl. Sure, she can tap his phone, hack into his computer, and track him through a mall without him ever being the wiser, but can she have a regular relationship with a regular boy who can never know the truth about her? Cammie may be an elite spy in training, but in her sophomore year, she's doing something riskier than ever --she's falling in love.

I know what you're thinking. Julia its about love!!! Yes but it has SPIES!!! Its about a SPY SCHOOL! I mean how cool can you get? I love spy stories. I love spies in general. I always have. I mean cool gadgets, awesome fighting skills and stealth? Doesn't get much better than that!

Other than the spy aspect, the thing I love the most is Cammie. She makes mistakes, breaks the rules, and doesn't know what to do about boys. Cammie is every girl. Nowadays there are so many novels with characters that are nothing like real teenagers. I mean look at Gossip Girl. Who really lives like that? But Ally Carter is able to write characters, that may live in unusual circumstances, but still manage to be able to be relatable. I love that. You understand Cammie because you've faced the same problems and had the same embarrassing things happen to you. Cammie's relatablility is one of the greatest strengths of the Gallagher Girls series.

I will say that this book is light reading. Its fun and has a lot of fluff. But out of all the fluffy teen novels you can read nowadays I would definitely recommend this one. Its funny, intelligent, and real. I give I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have To Kill You 4 and a half cupcakes out of 5 cupcakes!

I will say that out of all the Gallagher Girls books, this is the one that I think is the "fluffiest." The sequels move more into the intrigue and adventure of the spy world. Then it starts getting REALLY good. Not that this one isn't good! The series just gets even better as it starts to progress.

Julia :)

Friday, November 26, 2010

2011 Debut Author Challenge??? Sign Me Up!

I am participating in the 2011 Debut Author Challenge which is being hosted by the amazing blog The Story Siren! This challenge is all about reading YA or MG debut novels.

For the challenge you are supposed to read at least 12 novels. Here is a list of the 12 that I have come up with thus far. Of course there will probably be more, so as I discover them I will add them to this list.

1. Wither by Lauren DeStefano
2. XVI by Julia Karr
3. Choker by Elizabeth Woods
4. The Water Wars by Cameron Stracher
5. Bumped by Megan McCafferty
6. Awaken by Katie Kacvinsky
7. Enclave by Ann Aguirre
8. Flutter by Erin E. Moulton
9. Across the Universe by Beth Revis
10. Luminous by Dawn Metcalf
11. Forgotten by Cat Patrick
12. Legend by Marie Lu

These all sound amazing! I can hardly wait to get started.

Julia :)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Book Blogger Hop and Follow Friday [5]

Its time for the weekly Book Blogger Hop hosted by Crazy For Books and Follow Friday hosted by Parajunkee

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 your favorite book cover?

Oh man thats a hard one! I don't know if I have just one. I like The Inkheart Trilogy book covers.

They are quite enchanting! Oh and another cover I particularly love is the one for Paper Towns.

I don't know why really. All I know is that the cover is really the only reason I read this book in the first place. I kept seeing it at the Library and thinking "I love the cover. But I don't know if it really sounds that good..." So finally I just gave in and read it. Boy am I glad that I did because I LOVE Paper Towns!

And my favorite recent book cover is Matched.

Its so simple but so eyecatching! And from what I hear the cover is also iridescent. I mean how cool is that????

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

Because its Thanksgiving there is no question of the week. Only the follow!

If you're a new follower be sure to leave a comment to let me know so I can follow you back! Oh and I have a giveaway going on right now! Its for 7 awesome books and some other goodies! You can enter that here. Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Julia :)

Happy Thanksgiving!!!!

I hope everyone has had a wonderfully delicious Thanksgiving!!!!!

I thought I would make a list of the 10 things I am most thankful for. I figured I would have to limit myself or else I would go crazy and just go on forever. So here goes!

10 Things I am Thankful For
  1. My family and friends. Without them I would be.... Well... Super lonely! Haha. They love me even when I'm annoying and crazy, or even when I pretend like I don't love them back. I am blessed to have such supportive people in my life.
  2. Freedom! Freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom to choose whatever I want for my life. If you think about it that is a pretty wonderful blessing. 
  3. A home! I mean where would I be without one? Homeless? Yup definitely thankful for a home!
  4. Food! Haha especially on a day like Thanksgiving I am thankful for food. I am also thankful that I don't have any food allergies to worry about! That would be a bummer. :/
  5. Libraries!!! Oh how I love libraries. I would be lost without them. 
  6. God! Wow this should have been higher on the list. I would be lost without him. He gives meaning to my life.
  7. Nature. Trees, flowers, meadows of grass. Yep I love the great outdoors. 
  8. Books that let me escape into another world and learn something new about myself and life. The best kinds of books are the ones that teach you something!
  9. Music. Playing music (piano), singing music, listening to music. Especially when the lyrics really speak to me. Thats the best.
  10. Animals. I LOVE animals. Whats the best thing about animals? They never talk back to you! YES! Haha.
So thats my list! What are YOU thankful for?

There is this great Thanksgiving book that I love! Its called Thanksgiving Wish by Michael J. Rosen.

Definitely a must read for the Holidays!

Happy Thanksgiving everybody!!!!

Julia :)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

My First Award!!!! :D

This past week I won my very first blog award from Elaine at I Live In A Fictional World!!!! Thanks so much Elaine! :)

To accept this award you must:

1. Thank and link back to the person who gave you this award.
2. Share 7 things about yourself.
3. Pass the award along to 15 bloggers who you have recently discovered and who you think are fantastic for whatever reason! (In no particular order...)
4. Contact the bloggers you've picked and let them know about the award.

7 Things About Me

1. I'm really short. Only 5' tall. I don't really mind except that people always tease me about it. Short jokes get really old really fast. 
2. I used to have pet chickens. They were really awesome! Until the city decided that we couldn't have them anymore because they were "illegal". It was sad..... :(
3. I'm a Disney Princess! No seriously when my theatre did the musical Aladdin I played Jasmine. I got hair extensions and everything. Favorite role ever!
4. I've eaten escargot (snails) and its actually SUPER delicious! Tastes like buttered mushrooms. No joke!
5. I'm a bit of a daredevil. This past summer I went on a wilderness camp and I jumped off of a 40' cliff into the water. It was super fun! Except that I entered the water wrong so my butt was bruised for like a week afterwards.
6. Once I graduate I plan on becoming some sort of animal trainer/zoo keeper/animal scientist something or other. I LOVE animals. I even volunteer at the zoo!
7. I'm a Christian! I love God. He's pretty much my best friend.

The 15 blogs that I am giving this award to are:
You guys have AWESOME blogs!

Julia :)

Words Wednesday [5]

A chance for me to highlight some of my favorite book quotes! This weeks quote is from Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy by Ally Carter.

"Most little girls in England grow up wanting to marry a prince. Bex grew up wanting to kick James Bond's butt and assume his double-0 ranking."

Haha love this! And boy does it sound familiar. When I was little I always said it wasn't fair that the princes were the only people who got swords and horses! In fact I used to pretend to be the prince just so I could beat people up. No joke. I'm sure if I had been exposed to James Bond I would have wanted to be like him too. This is why my friends all say that I'm like Bex.....

I LOVE the Gallagher Girls books! And Ally Carter in general. She writes awesome books. I mean a girls spy school? Whats not to love? If you haven't read any of the Gallagher Girls books you definitely should! 

Julia :)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Kawaii Monday: Its a Little Birdie!

This weeks Kawaii Monday post is about... well I don't really know exactly what you would call it but its ADORABLE nonetheless. Check it out.

Awwww!!!! Sos cute! I found this little guy at Kawaii Shop Japan. Little birdies are just too cute ehhh??? I can't decide if I want it to be a ducky or a chicky. Either way its still adorable. In fact its even adorable from the side view and back view too.

Just look at that cute little tail!!! And its arms. Its just so fatchy adorable. (fatchy: fat but cute)

So I hope you like the little birdie as much as I do! Oh and I have now officially reached 120 followers which means that I am giving away all 7 of the books in my Gratitude Giveaway! Haven't entered yet? You can here!

Julia :)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Book Review: Matched

In the Society, Officials decide. Who you love. Where you work. When you die.

Cassia has always trusted their choices. It’s hardly any price to pay for a long life, the perfect job, the ideal mate. So when her best friend appears on the Matching screen, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is the one… until she sees another face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black. Now Cassia is faced with impossible choices: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she’s known and a path no one else has ever dared follow — between perfection and passion.

As soon as I heard about Matched I just knew that I was going to enjoy it. Its dystopian and its part of a trilogy. Whats not to love? So when I managed to get my hands on an ARC copy I was ecstatic to say the least. I was a little worried at first that the book would disappoint me because I had been so excited about it. I thought that I might have built it up in my mind and that it might not be able to meet my expectations. But in all honesty Matched not only met my expectations, it exceeded them. It is an AMAZING book.

One of my favorite things about this book was the world that Ally Condie created. On the surface, it appears to be the perfect Utopian society. But underneath it all, its really a society of manipulation. There is no true freedom for anyone. You have to follow what the Officials say, or risk losing everything. It was really cool to see this realization start unraveling in Cassia's mind as the book progressed. At first she, like everyone around her, thinks that her world is perfect. But by the end of the novel Cassia sees the truth and all she wants is to be able to break free and make choices for herself.

My favorite character was definitely Ky. At first I didn't know what to think of him, but he definitely grew on me as the book went on. I just loved that he was a silent rebel. He didn't let the Officials have a complete hold on his life. And he was an artist. He wrote poetry and drew pictures and I loved that. It would have been a nice addition to the book if there had been illustrations of the messages he wrote to Cassia. But oh well.

There was only one thing that bothered me about this book and that was all the angst. Cassia was supposed to be with Xander, but then she was falling in love with Ky. She didn't know what to do, and she was constantly questioning her feelings, and poor Xander was caught in the middle! Cassia can't bring herself to tell him the truth so she pretty much is living this lie until practically the very end of the book. That was really sad for me to see because I loved Xander! He was such a great guy. If Ky wasn't so great too, then I would pretty much have hated Cassia for putting Xander through so much pain. Poor Xander!!! Nice guys don't deserve such pain and heartache!

I'm definitely looking forward to the sequel. It seems like there might be a little less angst and a lot more adventure. It will be interesting to see how the story will progress from Cassia discovering the truth about her world, to her then acting on those discoveries.

I could spend more time talking about all the other things that I loved like Ally Condies writing style (beautifully simplistic! She didn't waste words!) or the addition of famous poetry, (I LOVE POETRY!) but that would take FOREVER and you probably wouldn't want to read it all. So I'll just end by saying that I loved this book and you should definitely read it.

I give Matched 4 and a half out of 5 cupcakes!

Wait? What? Not 5 you say? I'm raving about this book and it doesn't get 5 cupcakes? Well there was the whole angst issue. I just can't look past that. :/

Julia :)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Suggestion Saturday: Dramarama

For this weeks Suggestion Saturday I have decided to review Dramarama by E. Lockhart

Two theater-mad, self-invented, fabulositon Ohio teenagers.
One boy, one girl.
One gay, one straight.
One black, one white.
It's a season of
gold lamé,
hissy fits,
jazz hands,
song and dance,
true love,
and unitards
that will determine their future - and test their friendship.

Oh how I love this book. It speaks to that "wish I was fabulous and famous" side of me. Pretty much this book mixes a ton of my favorite things into a beautiful mish mash of amazingness. For starters its all about musical theatre. I happen to LOVE musical theatre. Everything about it. The singing, the acting, the dancing (okay maybe not so much the dancing.....). I just think its just really, really fun. 
E. Lockhart perfectly captures every aspect of the performing arts in this book. The nerve of auditions, the jealousy, the excitement of the stage, and the drama, drama, drama. Normally I'm not one for books with a lot teenage drama but Dramarama is the one exception. Why? Well because its drama ABOUT drama. That I can handle. 

I can't really say much more about this book except that it is fabulous. If you love musical theatre, or really any aspect of performing or the performing arts then you will enjoy this book. Its also a great introduction to the world of theatre, and some great Broadway shows and songs. Oh and for the record I LOVE the fact that there is a hot Asian character named Theo who plays the piano AND performs. Major dreamboat right there. Can I just say that there is a sad lack of cute Asian dudes in YA literature??? 

Dramarama gets 5 out of 5 cupcakes! 

So do I have any fellow musical theatre lovers reading this blog? My favorite Broadway show is Wicked! Whats yours?

Julia :)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Book Review: Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist

Nick's just seen the girl who dumped him walk in... with a new guy. What else can he do but ask the strange girl next to him to be his girlfriend for the next five minutes?

Norah would do anything to avoid conversation with the not not-friend girl who dumped Nick... and to get over the Evil Ex whome Norah never really totally dumped. What else can she do but answer Nick's question by making out with him?

With one electric, unexpected kiss, the five-minute couple of Nick and Norah set off on an uncharted adventure called the "first date" that will turn into an infinite night of falling in and out (and in and out, and maybe in and maybe out) of love. Theirs is a first date of music, laughter, heartache, confusion, passion, taxi driver wisdom, and a jacket named Salvatore. And of course a killer soundtrack. As Nick and Norah wander through the middle-of-the-night mystic maze of Manhattan, they share the kind of night you want to never end, where every minute counts and every moment flickers between love and disaster.

My Library has a teen book club and this was the book for November so I kind of had to read it. Lets just say that if you don't read the book you don't get snacks...... And believe me they are GOOD snacks. I know what you're thinking. A ROMANCE! But there is so much more to Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist then just the romance. The best factor in my mind was the humor. Seriously this book is hilarious! Another thing I loved was the dual narration. I absolutely LOVE books with dual narration! And this dual narration is made doubly awesome by the fact that its written by two different authors. This really gave Nick and Norah their own distinct voices which can sometimes be lost when an author tries to do it themselves.

One thing that I kept thinking throughout the whole book was "guy Highschoolers don't really do this every weekend do they???" I mean, I sure don't. And yeah I'm homeschooled so I'm "sheltered" and all that crap but seriously. Going down to hang out at stripper clubs??? Staying out all night and sending your sister home with strangers and your parents don't even bat an eyelash??? What kinds of parents are these?!?! Certainly not my parents. Or most parents of high schoolers. At least I would hope so. Otherwise I would be seriously worried about the level of parenting these days......

I've never been one of those music mavens like a lot of other people. Don't get me wrong I love music! I'm just not obsessed or have a song for everything that ever happens to me. So the fact that every song they listened to had F bombs practically every other word was just a little much in my opinion. What can I say I like my lyrics fairly expletive free.

I'll end with something positive because I really did enjoy this book. I liked that Nick and Norah were not only on this journey of music and love, but also on a journey of self discovery. When they first meet Nick is still hung up on his ex and he just can't seem to break free from his past, while Norah is closed off, hiding herself behind cynicism and coldness. But by the end of the night both of them have cast off their inhibitions and they have opened up to each other. They see that the future holds possibilities and they move into a new stage in life. A stage filled with hope.

So despite the frequent F bombs and a couple other choice things I actually thought that Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist was surprisingly good. I give it 4 and a half cupcakes out of 5!

Since this was a book about music I thought I would compile a playlist of my own. These are some songs I really enjoy for a variety of reasons.

The Bird and The Worm ~ Owl City
The Only Exception ~ Paramore
I'm Yours ~ Jason Mraz
Bite My Tongue ~ Relient K
Who Am I ~ Casting Crowns
We Are Broken ~ Paramore
You Have What I Need ~ Hawk Nelson
Dental Care ~ Owl City
Just The Way You Are ~ Bruno Mars
Bad Romance ~ Lady Gaga
Mood Rings ~ Relient K
A Whole New World ~ Aladdin
Hero/Heroine ~ BoysLikeGirls
Superman ~ Joe Brooks

Got some songs you just love? Tell me about them in a comment!

Julia :)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Book Blogger Hop and Follow Friday [4]

Its time for the weekly Book Blogger Hop hosted by Crazy For Books and Follow Friday hosted by Parajunkee

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!

Since Thanksgiving is coming up next week, lets use this week's Hop to share what we are most thankful for and what our holiday traditions are!

Well I'm definitely thankful for the usual things like my friends and family but what I'm most thankful for is being able to live in a country that gives us freedom of speech and freedom of religion. That is definitely a blessing! 

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

How long have you been book blogging? 

Well I had entertained the thought of starting a book blog for about 6 months before I finally dived in and made this one! I have had it going for about a month and a half now. I'm definitely glad I decided to do it! Its really fun and the book blogging community is AWESOME! :) 

If you're a new follower be sure to post a link to your blog in the comments section. I would love to follow you back! Also I have a giveaway going on right now where I am giving away up to 7 books plus some other cool goodies! You can check that out and enter here.

Julia :)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Words Wednesday [4]

A chance for me to highlight some of my favorite book quotes! This weeks quote is from Freddy Goes to the North Pole by Walter R. Brooks.

"To desert your friends when they're in want and danger - I never heard such cowardly nonsense!"

I have yet to save a friend from some horrible danger but I would hope that if I had the opportunity then I wouldn't back down and run away leaving them to suffer or something! 

If you haven't heard of the Freddy the Pig series then you should check them out they are awesome books. In fact I listen to Freddy Goes to the North Pole every year at Christmas time! My favorite book in the series is Freddy and Mr. Camphor. 

Julia :)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Gratitude Giveaway!!!

I am taking part in the Gratitude Giveaways blog hop hosted over at I Am A Reader, Not A Writer. This is my first time participating in a giveaway hop and my first giveaway too so I am really excited about it!

Here's how the giveaway is going to work. I have up to 7 books available:
  •  Inkheart by Cornelia Funke (Hardcover)
  • The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall (Hardcover) (my review here)
  • Things Left Unsaid by Stephanie Hemphill (Softcover)
  • Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi (Softcover ARC) (my review here)
  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian by by Sherman Alexie (Hardcover)
  • I Have a Wicked Stepmother, Wheres my Prince? by Melissa Kantor (Softcover)
  • The Breakup Bible by Melissa Kantor (Hardcover)
PLUS: A funky little cat paper clip book mark, a ninja's with heart doll, and a Mockingjay bookmark!

So to start off only one of these books will be up for grabs. But each time my followers increases by 10 another book will be put into the giveaway! My goal is to reach 120 followers by November 28th when the contest ends. If that happens then all 7 books (plus the 2 bookmarks and doll) will be given away! Here are the rules:

1. Become a follower! This giveaway is to thank my followers so if you aren't a follower you have to become one to enter. Its only fair! :)

2. You must live in the United States in order to win. I'm sorry to all the international peeps out there but I just can't afford shipping overseas!

3. Fill out the giveaway form below. You can get up to four extra entries!

4. And most importantly tell people about the giveaway! You want all 7 books don't you?

Thanks for being such amazing followers and enjoy the giveaway!

And be sure to check out the rest of the blogs participating in the Gratitude Giveaway Hop! The links to them are below the giveaway form. There are about 175 blogs participating! That's a lot of awesome giveaways to enter!

Julia :)

EDIT: I have now reached 120 followers which means that all 7 books are being given away!!!! YAY!

AMAZING Hunger Games Fan Made Movie Clip!

If you've been following my blog then you should know that I am a HUGE fan of The Hunger Games Trilogy. Well this absolutely phenomenal fan made movie of a scene from The Hunger Games just hit the web today! Its a bit long at 10 minutes but trust me. IT IS WORTH IT!!!! Everything about the movie is impeccable from the direction and costuming (I WANT THAT BOW!!!!) to the music and acting. I've seen some horribly acted things in my day and I assure you this is not one of them. It almost had me in tears. In fact the only reason I wasn't crying is because my family was milling about the room and I didn't want to freak them out by sobbing while staring at my computer screen. And let me tell you I don't cry very easily! I can count the movies I've cried at on one hand. So yeah take the time to watch this clip. If you are a fan of The Hunger Games I promise you won't be disappointed!

I hope the real movie ends up being as amazing as this! Lionsgate better be taking notes because fans won't settle for a half rate film. We're a lot harder to please then the Twilight fangirls.

Julia :)

Book Review: Impossible

Lucy is seventeen when she discovers that the women of her family have been cursed through the generations, forced to attempt three seemingly impossible tasks or to fall into madness upon their child's birth. But Lucy is the first girl who won't be alone as she tackles the list. She has her fiercely protective foster parents and her childhood friend Zach beside her. Do they have love and strength enough to overcome an age-old evil?

This book surprised me. When I first started it I hadn't realized that it was set in the present day. For some reason I thought it was supposed to be set in the past during medieval times or something like that? Well I was wrong. Haha.

People really love this book and I can definitely see why, but for some reason I didn't like it as much as I thought I would. I was actually a bit disappointed. I still enjoyed the book, but I didn't think it was super amazing. The biggest detractor for me was Nancy Werlin's writing style. The whole book is written in the third person which felt a little strange for me. I guess I'm used to reading books where its written entirely from the first person and you're totally inside the characters head and you're seeing everything through their eyes. The third person just made it really hard for me to connect with the characters. I wasn't as invested in Lucy and Zach's plight as I would have liked to be.

Surprisingly enough I wasn't really bothered by the romance. At first I thought that Lucy and Zachs relationship seemed a little contrived. I mean sure, they have been good friends forever, but suddenly Zach is professing his love and Lucy is like "Oh I love you too!" That just seemed a little too fast for me. But then as the story progressed I really loved how supportive they were to each other. You could tell that they really cared for one another. By the end of the book I loved them as a couple. They were quite sweet.

The whole weaving of fantasy and reality was very cleverly done. Especially the use of the Scarborough Fair song. That was my favorite part of the book! I love challenges and puzzles so the "impossible" tasks were really interesting to me. The whole elfin curse aspect was also quite intriguing. And I can I just say that Padraig Seeley is THE ULTIMATE CREEPER!!! Everything about him was just sooo disgusting. I knew from the moment he showed up in the story that he was evil. He just had such a bad aura!

I felt that the ending to the story was absolutely perfect. It wrapped up the novel beautifully without being cheesy or overly romantic. I thought that the whole mother/daughter theme in the story was great. In most YA novels the mothers (and fathers too) are normally extremely overbearing or negligent. It was great to see a depiction of a loving relationship between a mother and daughter. And a loving and trusting relationship between the entire family in general.

I give Impossible 4 out of 5 cupcakes!

I decided to look up the "Are You Going to Scarborough Fair" song so I could hear it. Its definitely interesting and has a kind of eerie quality to it. You can hear the Simon and Garfunkel version that Lucy refers to in the book below.

One last thing. Was anyone else a little weirded out by the fact that Lucy's foster mother's name was Soledad? I mean what kind of name is Soledad? Rather unfortunate if you ask me.

Julia :)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Kawaii Monday: Sock Dolls

This weeks Kawaii Monday feature is about Sock Dolls! Sock dolls are just what they sound like. Dolls made out of socks. There are two very awesome books that detail how you can make your very own adorable sock dolls.

Both books are full of lots of pictures of the cute softies and then easy to follow step by step instructions for how to make several of the dolls that are featured in the book. They really are quite simple to make! I've made tons of little pigs and a zebra. My favorites in the books are the dinosaurs and the little frogs, but each animal is super kawaii.

If you're crafty and love cute stuffed animals then you should definitely check out these books! And the best place for finding cheap and cute socks is Ross! Target also sometimes has seasonal socks (Christmas, Valentines day, Halloween) that they sell in their dollar section. Those are the places I've gotten most of my socks from.

Julia :)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

In My Mailbox [3]

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!

So I am VERY EXCITED to share what books I got this week! Some of you might have read my post earlier in the week about finding some ARC books for sale (Yep FOR SALE) at my local Half Price Books. If you missed out on that little fiasco you can read about it here. So what does that have to do with the books that I got this week? Well there is a book store near my house that sells specifically to teachers and educators. I know about the store because my mom is a teacher. I hadn't been to the store in a really long time but the last time I had been there I remembered that they had had a cabinet full of ARC YA books and they had allowed me to take a few for free. So remembering this fact I decided to beg my mom to take me down to the store. Eventually she conceded and lo and behold inside the magical cabinet of wonderfulness (that's what I'm calling it from now on!) I found:

  • Matched by Ally Condie                     
  • Sapphique by Catherine Fisher            
  • The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff

GAHHH!!!!! Yeah pretty much I am so excited about getting Matched. And the other two books too of course. But just the fact that they actually had Matched after that whole weird situation at Half Price Books? Awesome! I can hardly wait to start reading it! Here is a little summary in case you haven't already heard about this awesome book. Cassia lives in a society where the Officials dictate everything about your life, from who you marry to when you die. She has always trusted their choices especially when she sees Xander appear on the Matching screen. Who better to marry than her best friend? But then she sees another face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black. Now Cassia is faced with impossible choices: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she’s known and a path no one else has ever dared follow—between perfection and passion.

This was another one of the books in the Half Price Books incident so I'm pretty excited to have gotten it along with Matched. This one is the sequel to the highly acclaimed Incarceron. Unfortunately I haven't been able to read Incarceron yet so until I read that I won't be able to read Sapphique. But hopefully I'll get around to reading Incarceron soon so I can get to this one!  

The Replacement 
I've been hearing a lot of buzz about his book so I was pretty psyched to get a copy! The cover is really eerie and the whole aura of the book is kinda ominous. Its the story of Mackie Doyle, a boy who lives in the small town of Gentry. But Mackie isn't from our world. He comes from a world of tunnels and black murky water, a world of the living dead. He is a Replacement, left in the crib of a human baby sixteen years ago. And time is running out. Mackie is slowly dying in the human world and he eventually is drawn irrevocably into the underworld of Gentry known as Mayhem. He must face the dark creatures of the Slag Heaps and find his rightful place, in our world, or theirs. I haven't ever read anything like The Replacement before. Should be interesting! 

Other than those three ARC books that I got for free I also picked up some titles from the Library. I know, I know, my book pile just keeps growing taller and taller! But I have promised myself to get no more new books this week! Lets see if I can actually keep to it. Hehe. 

These are the books I got from the Library:

  •  Losing Faith by Denise Jaden                               
  • If I Stay by Gayle Foreman                                    
  • The Daughters Break the Rules by Joanna Philbin
  • The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney                    
Losing Faith
This book is one that I have chosen to read as part of the Contemps Challenge. To find out more about that you can go here. I really like the cover of this book! I don't really know why. Maybe its the contrast between the black and white? Anyway Losing Faith is about a girl named Brie. When her sister dies she goes through the bizarre and devastating process of mourning. She barely even liked her sister. Why should she care so much that she has died? Then just as Brie starts to stettle into her new normal, she discovers some strange things surrounding her sisters death. Certain facts just don't line up. Brie soon uncovers a dark and twisted secret about her sister's final night.... a secret that puts her own life in danger. Oohhh mysterious! Sounds amazing doesn't it?

If I Stay
I've heard good things about this book so I decided to pick it up! Seventeen year old Mia is faced with some tough choices. Should she pursue music, her first love, even if it means losing her boyfriend and leaving behind her family and friends? Then, one February morning Mia goes for a drive with her family, and in an instant, everything changes. Suddenly, all the choices are gone except one. And it's the only one that matters. Just about every review I have read says that this book is sad! I can kind of sense whats going to happen.... Can't wait to find out if my hunch is right. Oh and am I the only one who thinks that the girl on the paperback cover looks kind of like Megan Fox at first glance???

The Daughters Break the Rules
Okay so it is time for me to fess up. Yes I enjoy fluffy teen fiction that involves movie stars and hollywood and all that cheesiness. I couldn't really tell you why I read this books. Maybe its my love of acting? I've always held a secret fantasy that someday I would be a movie star. But alas I am not pretty enough nor do I have the connections to get into a movie. Anyway these books kind of sate my desire for fame I guess you could say. My guilty pleasure reading. In this story Carina Jurgensen has been cut off by her billionaire father. Always resourceful, she fibs her way into a job as a party planner for New York's annual Silver Snowflake Ball. Soon it becomes clear that the committee only hired Carina because they want favors and freebies from her father. Now Carina has to make a choice. Does she get real about her downgraded status, or pretend she's still the ultimate heiress?

The Mockingbirds
This one is actually an ARC copy. I'm on really good terms with all the Teen Librarians at my Library so they are going to let me start borrowing the ARC's they receive so that I can review them! I'm pretty excited about that. The Mockingbirds is another book I am reading for the Contemps Challenge. The story takes place at Themis Academy, a quiet boarding school with an exceptional student body. The administration always trusts to students to behave in an honorable way - the Themis way. So when Alex is date-raped during her junior year, she has two options: stay silent and hope someone helps her, or enlist the Mockingbirds - a secret society of students dedicated to righting the wrongs of the student body.

I also purchased a hardcover copy of The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane from Half Price Books.

I love Kate DiCamillo's writing! This is my favorite book by her. Its very magical. I like to buy most books in hardcover and so I was really excited to finally find a copy of this one for a good price!

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

Julia :)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Suggestion Saturday: The Order of Odd-Fish

For this weeks Suggestion Saturday I have decided to review The Order of Odd-Fish by James Kennedy. I haven't done a review of a book in the fantasy genre yet so I figured this would be a good chance to do one!

Jo Larouche has lived her thirteen years in the California desert with her aunt Lily, ever since she was found in Lily's laundtry room with this note pinned to her blanket:

This is Jo. Please take care of her.
But beware.
This is a DANGEROUS baby.

Up until this point, Joe has been, as Aunt Lily puts it, as dangerous as a glass of milk. But all that's about to change. At lily's annual Christmas costume party, several strange things happen: a boy in a hegehog costume shoots an elderly Russian colonel; a talking cockroach is found tied up in the basement, moaning about how this will play in the tabloid press; and a box falls from the sky addressed to Jo from the Order of Odd-Fish. Jo and her Aunt Lily are soon pulled into the mysterious, strange, fantastical world of Eldritch City. There Jo learns the scandalous truth about who she is, and she faces a destiny that will change her life forever.

The Order of Odd-Fish isn't your typical fantasy novel. And that is the exact thing that makes it so brilliant. I love books that stand out from the crowd! Everything about the book is really witty and clever. And once you start reading it you will not want to put it down!

What did I love most about this book? The ostriches! Random? Yes. But amazing nonetheless. I know that in real life ostriches are evil and they bite and all that. But in the Order of Odd-Fish they are loyal and wonderful and people use them to fly. I thought that was pretty awesome. I'm a big animal lover if you hadn't noticed. :)

Other than ostriches, I also just adored the quirky cast of characters in this book. And there were quite a lot of them. Sometimes when a book has a lot of characters it confuses me and I just get lost in all the names. But the characters in The Order of Odd-Fish are so unique that there is no way you could get any of them mixed up. Great characters always make for great stories!

And finally the story itself. Its mysterious, suspenseful, fantastical, and a even a little bit scary, but most of all its fun. This book has the perfect balance of the silly and the serious. Oftentimes books depend on too much of one thing and the story suffers because of that. But the Order of Odd-Fish is the perfect mish mash of everything that makes a book great. Its like the gumbo of literature! Why am I comparing books to food? Oh probably because its almost dinnertime.... Hehe.

Anyway The Order of Odd-Fish is a fabulous book! It gets 5 out of 5 cupcakes.

Julia :)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Book Review: I Am Number Four

Nine of us came here. We look like you. We talk like you. We live among you. But we are not you. We can do things you dream of doing. We have powers you dream of having. We are stronger and faster than anything you have ever seen. We are the superheroes you worship in movies and comic books but we are real. Our plan was to grow, and train, and become strong, and become one, and fight them. but they found us and started hunting us first. Now all of us are running. Spending our lives in shadows, in places where no one would look, blending in . We have lived among you without you knowing. 

But they know.

They caught Number One in Malaysia.
Number Two in England.
And Number Three in Kenya.
They killed them all.

I am Number Four.

I am next.

I'm normally not a give fan of sci-fi stuff. Aliens and all that have just never been my cup of tea. In fact I only found out about this book because I saw the trailer for the movie and at first I didn't even want to read it. But then I read a lot of positive reviews for it so I decided to give it a go. I was pleasantly surprised! While not the best book I Am Number Four was entertaining with lots of action, mystery, suspense, and dare I say it.... romance. :)

The thing that I liked best about this book was the way the aliens were portrayed. Normally aliens are little green men or evil creatures trying to take over the world. But in I Am Number Four the Lorien aliens were very normal. In fact the only real difference between them and normal humans were their crazy cool super powers! I like that the Lorien aliens had a humanity to them. Now not all the aliens in I Am Number Four were good. On the other side of the spectrum there were the Mogodorians. And these guys were just plain CREEPY. But there was definitely a clear line drawn between the good Loriens, and the evil world domination seeking Mogodorians.

The story did start out a little slow but once I got into it I was hooked! The only complaint I think I would have is that the plot is a little unoriginal. Who hasn't heard of a story that involves aliens trying to take over the world? But there was just enough ingenuity and intrigue to keep me interested. I don't know whether or not I will read the next books in the series. Granted I liked the book, but it wasn't so amazing that I would necessarily want to read more. This is probably because of my lukewarm feelings towards the sci-fi genre in general. We'll see what happens when the sequel comes out.

Overall I give I Am Number Four 4 out of 5 cupcakes!

I am super psyched for the movie to come out in February! Here is the movie trailer for your viewing pleasure.

It looks sooo good!!!! Especially since it stars British actor Alex Pettyfer as Number Four. Ever since my sister and I saw him in the Alex Rider movie a couples years back we have been big fans of his. Hehe.

Oh and thanks to everyone who voted in my poll last week! Apparently pretty much everyone loves the book Impossible. I am certainly enjoying it so far!

Julia :)
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