Monday, January 31, 2011

Kawaii Monday: Afro Ken Plush

This weeks Kawaii Monday features Afro Ken Plush! Afro Ken is this funky little dog with an afro made by the company San-X. I know it sounds kinda strange but he's crazy cute! I decided I would post about my own personal Afro Ken Plush collection. I know, I have a collection of Afro Ken plush. It was a stage I went through a couple years back.... Not that I regret buying any of them! Here's a picture.

Aren't they hilarious? Yes, I realize that two of them don't actually have afros. Lets ignore that fact.... Anyway I don't think I have a favorite. They are all so fun in their own way. I really like the big one that looks like an apple tree! Super funny. And then the rainbow mohawk? Awesomeness. And you can't really see it but the smallest one on the right has two little yellow felt birds popping up out of his afro which is way adorable.

So which Afro Ken is your favorite?

You can find some of these guys for sale here.

Julia :)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Words Wednesday [14]

A chance for me to highlight some of my favorite book quotes! This week's quote is from The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.

"I have hated words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right."

Words are powerful. Sometimes you love them. Sometimes you hate them. But their influence is undeniable. I definitely understand the last part about having made them right. Thats how I feel about my poetry. I hope that I have made something "right" and worthwhile.

The Book Thief is such a powerful book. At first I hated it. Then I understood it. Now I love it.

Julia :)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Book Review: The Candymakers

Four children have been chosen to compete in a national competition to find the tastiest confection in the country. Who will invent a candy more delicious than the Oozing Crunchorama or the Neon Lightning Chew?

Logan, The Candymaker's son, who can detect the color of chocolate by touch alone?
Miles, the boy who is allergic to merry-go-rounds and the color pink?
Daisy, the cheerful girl who can lift a fifty-pound lump of taffy like it's a feather?
Or Philip, the suit-and-tie wearing boy who's always scribbling in a secret notebook?

The contestants face off in a battle of wits and sugar, but soon they realize that things are not what they seem, and they find themselves in a candy-filled world of surprises, suspense, and mouthwatering creations.

The cover of this book is so eye catching that when I saw it I just had to pick it up! Plus I love candy. The Candymakers was like a cross between Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Trenton Lee Stewart's The Mysterious Benedict Society, with some random spy elements thrown in for good measure.

I really liked how the book switched narration between all 3 of the main characters. You got to see the same events through the eyes of each of them and that was interesting. It added a nice depth to the story. My favorite character was probably Miles. He was kind of shy and sweet and I found him really hilarious! I don't know why because he wasn't funny in the general sense but I still laughed at all of the stuff he said and talked about. His slightly random obsession with the afterlife was definitely a real kick.

You can't really go wrong with a book about candy. I was reading this on an extremely long car ride and the whole time I just kept craving candy. Unfortunately the only food near to me in the car was a giant bucket of buffalo ranch popcorn. Not exactly the best thing to sate a candy craving..... This book had me thinking about what kind of candy I would want to invent if I was given the chance! It would probably be a type of gummy candy. I love gummy candy. Hehe. The tour of the candy factory was very wonkaesque, with rooms for each of the different candy elements: a taffy room, a marshmallow room, a tropical room with special candy type trees inside, you get the picture. Wendy Mass definitely did her candy research! There was a lot of cool candy facts thrown into the book along with some obviously fictional concepts. The candy stuff was just really fun.

The overall plot of the story was a little bit cheesy. Somehow all of the kids pasts were interwoven and that seemed a little silly and unrealistic to me. Of course this is a middle grade novel so the plot isn't going to be as heavy hitting as a young adult novel. I haven't read a middle grade book in awhile so I'm probably just not used to the simpler, fluffier, plot.

The main message of The Candymaker was that there is so much more to a person than just their outside appearance. Oftentimes we'll take one look at a person and think "Man they look weird I don't think I want to talk to them!" or what I often think is "Gosh that person is tall and creepy looking run away!!!!" Just because a person might look kind of scary, or doesn't wear "trendy" clothes, doesn't mean they aren't a great person whose worth talking to! I loved that The Candymakers addressed that. It was really awesome to me.

Overall The Candymakers was a really fun read. The characters were unique and quirky and the candy elements were totally awesome! I also loved the message the book had about not judging others. I give The Candymakers 4 out of 5 ice cream cones!

If you LOVE candy then you should definitely pick up The Candymakers. But I warn you! Only read this book if there is candy nearby so that it is easy to satisfy the candy cravings that will surely pop up.

Julia :)

Monday, January 24, 2011

Kawaii Monday: Dookeys

This weeks Kawaii Monday features Dookeys! Now you might have remembered that a couple weeks ago I posted about cupcake key covers. Well the same company that made those also makes key covers that are shaped like little piles of poo. Now I know what your thinking. Poo? How can that possibly be cute? Well prepare to be amazed.

Oh my gosh poop is actually CUTE! I know crazy right? In fact I think I like these even better than the cupcake ones. There's just something particularly endearing about multicolored poop piles with mustaches and glasses. I can't pick just one favorite. Its a three way tie between the bemustached one, the one with glasses and the pink one with fangs. Which do you like best?

You can purchase these guys online here and I also have seen them in store at Tillys.

Julia :)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

In My Mailbox [8] (in which I totally caved and checked out a million things from the Library)

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 went on vacation for about three weeks and during that time I managed to get my TBR pile down to like 8 books. I know still alot but for me it was a revelation. Hehe. Then I came back from vacation and I thought I would reward myself (because I had read so much!) by checking out a few more books. Lets just say I got a little carried away.... Hehe.


  • City of Bones by Cassandra Clare                             
  • The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting                      
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban                 
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
  • Inside Out by Maria V. Snyder                                  
  • Fixing Delilah by Sarah Ockler                                 
  • Tell Me a Secret by Holly Cupala                             
  • LuLu and the Brontosaurus by Judith Viorst             
  • XVI by Julia Karr                                                      

City of Bones
I've heard a lot of good things about this series so I've been interested in picking it up for awhile now. Then when I heard about the whole Alex Pettyfer getting possibly cast as Jace thing I pretty much freaked out and decided to check out the first book! Yes, I am just that lame. :P

The Body Finder
I've seen several reviews of this one and it just sounds SO GOOD. Mystery, suspense, and alternate narration??? My kind of book. :)

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
I am currently reading the Harry Potter series for the first time as part of the January Potter-Thon being hosted by Pure Imagination. Yes, you read that correctly. THE FIRST TIME. I know, insane. I'm loving them series so far!

Inside Out
At first the somewhat vague premise of this book made me gloss it over. But then I read a few reviews and it actually sounds really interesting. I still don't really get what exactly its about but its a dystopian and I LOVE dystopian so hopefully it will be an enjoyable read.

Fixing Delilah 
I got this one for The Contemps challenge I'm doing! So far I've read 4 books towards my goal of 18. This will be my 5th. I haven't read anything by Sarah Ockler before. I've read mixed reviews so I don't really know if I'll end up liking it or not. We'll see I guess!

Tell Me a Secret
At first this books cover totally made my "ewww romance novel!" alarm go off. But then a friend of mine posted about how amazing the book was and then I actually bothered to read the books summary and watch the book trailer and I realized the book sounded REALLY GOOD! I can't wait to read this one.

LuLu and the Brontosaurus
This one I have no good excuse for other than the fact that I was walking past the new middle grade books section at my Library and the amazing cover caught my eye and I just couldn't resist. Hehe. I mean a little girl (who actually kind of looks like me when I was little!) with an adorable dinosaur? Whats not to love?

I've been pretty excited about this one for awhile now. Its a new dystopian that just came out and the premise is super intriguing. For some reason life expectancy is at an all time low and girls have to get married once they turn 16 so that they can procreate and keep the world populized. Certainly an interesting concept! I'm excited to see how this turns out!


  • Zooborns: The newest, cutest animals from the world's zoos and aquariums by Andrew Bleiman and Chris Eastland
My best friend gave me this ADORABLE book for my birthday all about zoo animal babies!!! Its seriously the cutest thing you've ever seen. I especially like the pygmy hippos. If you've never seen a baby pygmy hippo go Google it right now! They are SO CUTE!


  • The Complete Wreck by Lemony Snicket
I already own The Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket but I didn't have the cool slipcover so I bought the set on eBay JUST to get the slipcover. Ridiculous I know but it was a really good deal so I can kind of rationalize it!!! :P 

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

Julia :)

    Saturday, January 22, 2011

    My thoughts on the Harry Potter series (thus far!)

    So some of you may know that I am participating in the January Potter-Thon that is being hosted over at Pure Imagination! So far I have been able to read the first two Harry Potter books: The Sorcerers Stone and The Chamber of Secrets. I devoured them within two days while I was on vacation but then I couldn't get my hands on the third until I came back..... I was terribly sad about this fact. :( Anyway I thought I'd share with you guys some of my thoughts on the series so far!!!

    OH MY GOSH WHY DIDN'T I READ THESE BOOKS SOONER?!?!?!?! (Oh right the 'rents wouldn't let me till I turned 18.....) Seriously I feel like I've missed out on some important part of my childhood or something. Up until now everyone around me has been talking about the Hogwarts houses, Voldemort, (he who should not be named!) and Quidditch and to me it was like they were speaking another language. Of course I knew general stuff about the series like the names of the main characters, and I had a vague idea of the overall story plot, but really? I was clueless. I just can't believe I was so clueless for so long!

    Ummm wow I freaking love Hermione! Haha. We have a lot in common. We are both extreme overachievers (though her much more so than me!) and we like to follow the rules. BUT we both are willing to break the rules if we feel that its necessary! She's just so stinkin awesome!!! Hopefully she'll continue to be just as awesome in the rest of the series.

    Quidditch sounds amazing. And really dangerous. That kind of sport would never be allowed in the "muggle" world because it would be to much of a hazard for school insurance policies. Hehe. XD But it still sounds so cool. I love games with a little danger!

    I really, REALLY want to eat one of those chocolate frogs! They just sound really appetizing. I don't know why but they do! Apparently they sell candy imitations of it. I'm going to have go out in search of them sometime. Maybe they sell them in the candy stores at the mall? We'll see.....

    I was a little weirded out by the fact that there were ghosts in the series. I totally didn't expect it. Its not bad or anything. Just.... interesting. I guess ghosts just have never struck me as a wizard sort of thing.

    I LOVE OWLS!!! I've liked them for awhile now, but the Harry Potter series has kind of heightened my love for owls. The whole owl mail concept is super awesome! Like carrier pigeons only WAY cooler.

    So those were some of my main thoughts on the series so far. I enjoyed Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone a bit better than Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets but the only real reason why was that I was super annoyed with Gilderoy Lockhart. Of course his character was supposed to be annoying but it seriously drove me CRAZY! Other than that the books were both equally amazing!

    So my question for you guys is: Is there any series that you "can't believe you hadn't read sooner?"

    Hope you guys have a fabulous Saturday!!! I'm going to be spending mine hanging out with some friends for my Birthday! My birthday was in November but we couldn't find time until now. I'm totally stoked about it. Haha.

    Oh and one more thing. Does Ron sneak in his rat Scabbers? Because in the main acceptance letter it says students can have an owl, a toad, or a cat but it never mentions a rat being allowed. Maybe I'm the only one who notices that kind of thing but just thought I'd mention it.

    Julia :)

    Friday, January 21, 2011

    Book Review: Story of a Girl

    When she is caught in the backseat of a car with her older brother's best friend - Deanna Lambert's teenage life is changed forever. Struggling to overcome the lasting repercussions and the stifling role of "school slut," she longs to escape a life defined by her past. With subtle grace, complicated wisdom and striking emotion, The Story of a Girl reminds us of our human capacity for resilience, epiphany and redemption.

    I don't really know how I feel about Story of a Girl. I really, REALLY liked Sara Zarr's book Sweethearts so I was hoping that I would love this one as well. Unfortunately I ended up not really caring for it. I did like several aspects of the book! But I just couldn't connect to the character of Deanna. And that was what really brought the book down.

    Deanna was a difficult character for me to like. I totally understand that she has this terrible reputation that she never seems to be able to live down. But the real problem for me was that it never seemed like she actually TRIED to live it down. She just went on with her life, never really confronted her problems, and ultimately ended up cycling back into the same bad habits. The great thing was that by the end of the novel Deanna had confronted her issues. She was able to forgive, and move on. It was just difficult to have to wade through her so many hurtful mistakes to get there.

    One character that I did like was Deanna's best friend Lee. She didn't care about Deanna's past and she was so supportive and forgiving towards Deanna even when Deanna didn't deserve it, which was quite often. Lee is the kind of friend every girl needs in her life.

    And now I get to talk about Jason. Oh yes. I'm pretty much biased about him because he's half Asian like me (or my name for it: a halfie!) AND I always think the half Asian guys are the cutest ones. Hehe. PLUS there are practically no books with halfies in them so whenever I find one I have a happy freakout session and automatically the book becomes indubitably more amazing. But there's more that I liked about Jason than just the fact that he's half Japanese. I also loved how he would stand up for Deanna, especially when she would get harrassed by other guys. He was there for Deanna no matter what. Another thing I really liked was Jason's honesty throughout the novel, especially at the end.

    Overall Story of a Girl was a interesting book about how one bad decision can shape someones life, for the better or for the worse. I had trouble connecting with the main character but I did like the overall message of the story. Forgive and move on. Don't allow past mistakes to define who you are. And ultimately forgive yourself for making those mistakes, and realize that you CAN strive to make better decisions in the future. There were also several other characters in the that I did think were awesome. I give Story of a Girl 3 and a half out of 5 ice cream cones!

    Julia :)

    Wednesday, January 19, 2011

    Book Review: If I Stay

    Choices. Seventeen-year-old Mia is faced with some tough ones. Stay true to her first love - music - even if it means losing her boyfriend and leaving her family and friends behind? 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.

    Word to the wise. Do not read this book while on family vacation, especially while your driving with your whole family in crazy LA traffic or waiting in line for rides at Disneyland. My overactive imagination was having a heyday. Not to mention people were staring at me while I was reading. I can only imagine what sort of crazy faces I was making.... 

    Wow. If I Stay was definitely not what I expected it to be. Well it was but at the same time it wasn't. I'll try not to give anything away for people who haven't read the book, but lets just say the story turned out to be A LOT more tragic then I had originally thought it would be. While the story is quite sad, there were plenty of happy moments that helped keep the book out of total depression zone.

    Mia has a choice. Stay, or go. It seems simple, but really its the hardest choice she has ever had to make. I loved the way the book would go back and forth from the past to the present. Between almost every story I would end up changing my mind about whether or not I wanted Mia to stay. I also loved how supportive everyone in her family was. Oftentimes teen novels portray parents and family members as annoying people who just "don't understand teenagers." Mia's family wasn't portrayed that way. They supported every decision Mia made in her life, music and future which I thought was awesome!

    Kim was such an awesome best friend. She was understanding of Mia's feelings, but she was also able to push Mia to do things that were just outside of her comfort zone. Mia's boyfriend Adam was pretty much the best boyfriend ever. Adam loves everything about Mia. He doesn't care that she isn't a "rocker girl". He likes her just the way she is. I loved that. And I loved that he was always so reassuring about that fact. Mia would worry that he would like her better if she changed but he would always assure her that he loved HER for who she was. And then that final scene in the book??? SO PERFECT.

    Overall If I Stay was a unique novel about love, loss, hope, and what it means to live. It was such an emotional rollercoaster and I can honestly say that I was tearing up during the last few pages! I honestly didn't know what Mia would choose but I liked her decision. It was perfect. The only drawback about this book was this one super awkward scene. I won't go into the details but it was between Adam and Mia and I just think the book would have been better without it. I give If I Stay 4 and a half out of 5 ice cream cones!

    There's a sequel coming out to If I Stay in April!!! It's called Where She Went and I JUST found out that its from Adam's point of view! YESH! Now I can hardly wait for its release. You can find out more information on Where She Went here.

    Julia :)

    Words Wednesday [13]

    A chance for me to highlight some of my favorite book quotes! This week's quote is from Millicent Min, Girl Genius by Lisa Yee.

    "What my parents kept failing to understand was how happy I was when I was alone with my books. There was no pressure to perform or be cute, and books never disappoint-- unless, of course, you've chosen a bad one. But then, you can always put it down and pick up another one without any repercussions." 

    I feel the same way about books. Books don't judge you or talk back to you. They let you escape into another world for awhile. And if you don't like the book you're reading there are millions of others to choose from! Books make great friends. Of course if you start talking to your books and ignoring the real people in your life then I would get a bit worried.....

    I LOVE Millicent Min, Girl Genius! Mostly because I connect with all of the super hilarious Asian jokes. Pretty much any book by an Asian author has some sort of Asian inside joke in it which I find amazingly wonderful. Asian authors for the win! 

    Julia :)

    Monday, January 17, 2011

    Kawaii Monday: Animal Erasers

    This weeks Kawaii Monday features an adorable set of assorted animal erasers.

    All of them are SOOOO CUTE! This is my favorite set of animal erasers in my collection. The colors are perfect not to mention the cute little accessories like the fruits and the bears striped shirt. I think my favorite one is the cat. I just love her stripes and the apple. Which is your favorite?

    If you're interested in purchasing these little guys you can find them on eBay here.

    Julia :)

    Saturday, January 15, 2011

    We have a winner!!! :D

    New Year's Reading Resolutions

    So last week I took part on the New Years Reading Resolutions Giveaway! I had over 100 unique entries. Craziness!!! Thanks to all the people who decided to follow my blog! I hope you won't regret it. :)

    Without further ado the winner of my New Years Reading Resolutions Giveaway is:
    Jennifer Ryder!!!

    Jennifer has 48 hours to claim her prize! If she doesn't then I will pick a new winner. Congrats!!!!! 

    For those who didn't win, don't worry! I have another giveaway going on right now for an awesome READ bracelet! You can enter to win that here. I'll also be having several other giveaways going on in February so be sure to check back and enter those too. 

    Congratulations again to Jennifer!!!!

    Julia :)

    Whose your fictional doppelganger/twin? + Giveaway!

    I don't know about you but when I read books I'm constantly on the look out for a character that is similar to me and whenever I find one it makes the book like three times as good! It really helps me connect with the characters when I can relate to them easily. Not to mention the fun aspect of putting myself in their shoes. Of course you can do that with any book character, but when they are similar to you its just that much easier.

    So my question to you is: Whose your fictional doppelganger/twin? The character doesn't have to be from a book, it can be from a movie, a TV Show, whatever as long as the character is fictional. I'll start with mine!

    Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games
    When I started reading The Hunger Games I immediately connected with Katniss. We have so many similarities its actually pretty crazy. Both of us are naturally tough, and have a bit of a rough exterior. How many times has my mother told me I need to stop scowling and smile more? Too many to count. We also both tend to hide our true emotions and, while I have not had to provide for my family like Katniss, I would definitely consider myself a wilderness/tomboy girl. We even slightly resemble each other according to the books description. I've got the whole small for my age, dark hair, olive skin thing going on too. I think part of the reason why I love The Hunger Games Trilogy so much is because I could relate to Katniss so easily. There just aren't enough strong female protagonists in books these days.

    Toph from Avatar: The Last Airbender
    So Toph and I are pretty much exactly the same person. Only I can't earthbend nor do I possess any type of martial arts skills. Oh and I'm not blind. But other than that we're exactly the same. Both Asian, both small, both tough, and both brutally honest. Although I'm happy to say that I am a bit better in the manners/hygiene department then Toph is.

    Princess Jasmine from Aladdin
    I'm not as much like Princess Jasmine as I'm like Katniss and Toph, But I did play her in my theatre's musical of Aladdin so I can't NOT say that I'm like her. We are both feisty and somewhat rebellious. Then there's that whole "I am not a prize to be won" line she says in the movie which is pretty much my favorite quote ever. When I was younger I used to go around and yell that line at all the little boys I knew. Not even kidding. And I guess we do sort of look alike, even though I'm not Arabian, nor is my hair even remotely that long. I had to get hair extensions when played Jasmine in the show.

    So now that I've told you my fictional doppelgangers/twins its time for you to tell me yours! What characters do you connect with? Which are most similar to you? Let me know in a comment! At the end of the week I will pick one random commenter to win a blue Read Bracelet!

    Be sure to leave your email address in your comment so I can contact you if you win! This giveaway is open internationally. Oh and in order for your comment to get chosen IT HAS to be about your doppelganger/twin! Don't just leave a comment with your email. It won't be entered.

    I can't wait to read all of your answers!!!

    Julia :)

    Wednesday, January 12, 2011

    Words Wednesday [12]

    A chance for me to highlight some of my favorite book quotes! This week's quote is from Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery.

    "It's not what the world holds for you. It's what you bring to it."

    This is such a great quote. We can't expect things of the world, or of our life. We have to go out and make it happen!

    I LOVE Anne of Green Gables! Seriously one of the best books ever. I grew up watching the movie adaption and having my mom read this book to me. We still use the phrase "kindred spirits" in our house to signify close friends!

    Julia :)

    Monday, January 10, 2011

    Kawaii Monday: Food Stickers

    This weeks Kawaii Monday features food stickers! Sounds a little strange yes, but I find food with faces kind of hard to resist. There's something so adorable about a smiling hamburger. Don't really know why.... Anyway check these out.

    This is like the perfect mixture of all the cutest smiley foods! Ice cream cones and hamburgers plus fruits too??? Way too much adorableness. I mean look there's even ketchup and mustard bottles. Plus the stickers are iridescent! I found these on eBay and Etsy but the eBay price was slightly cheaper. You can find them here. The eBay seller also has lots of other super cute food stickers!

    Julia :)

    Saturday, January 8, 2011

    Book Review: Sweethearts

     As children, Jennifer Harris and Cameron Quick were both social outcasts. They were also each other’s only friend. So when Cameron disappeared without warning, Jennifer thought she’d lost the one person who would ever understand her. Now in high school, Jennifer has been transformed. Known as Jenna, she is popular, happy, and dating – everything “Jennifer” couldn’t be. But she still can’t shake the memory of her long-lost friend. When Cameron suddenly reappears, they both are confronted with memories of their shared past and the drastically different paths their lives have taken.

    Wow. This book was AMAZING. I just loved it. If you haven’t read it yet you need to. RIGHT NOW. At first I was turned off by the title thinking this book was just going to be a silly little romance between childhood friends. But Sweethearts turned out to be so much more. In fact it wasn’t even really a romance. It was really a story about deep friendship and the amazing impact a person can have on your life.

    I absolutely loved the characters in Sweethearts. Sara Zarr definitely has a gift for writing teenage characters that feel real and authentic. Even though I have almost nothing in common with Jenna I still found it really easy to connect with her. The struggles she faced, and the things she felt were so real and palpable. It was amazing. Then there’s Cameron. He’s the type of guy I would want as a friend. Kind. Thoughtful. Encouraging. Loyal to the end. He was everything a good friend should be. There needs to be more guys like him in the world!!!

    From the cover and title I would expect Sweethearts to be kind of fluffy and lighthearted, but it actually hit on some really deep and difficult stuff. Finding your identity. Confronting your past. Overcoming pain and hardship. Everything was dealt with in such a perfect way. I feel like I’m more ready to face issues in my own life because I read this book.

    Overall Sweethearts was just plain brilliant. I adored it from beginning to end and I was really sad when it was over. The last 3 pages were my favorite and I think I’ve read them 5 times now because they’re just SO PERFECT. I can’t wait to read more by Sara Zarr. She is an amazing author. Her writing is like a window into teenage soul. Which sounds so extremely cliché but I don’t know how to say it without it coming out like that. And its so true. Sweethearts gets 5 out of 5 ice cream cones!

    Seriously, if you haven’t read this book you really, REALLY should! You won’t be disappointed.

    Julia :)

    Thursday, January 6, 2011

    Author Interview: Denise Jaden

    Today on my blog I am super excited to be able to highlight the wonderful author Denise Jaden! I recently read Denise Jaden's debut novel Losing Faith and I absolutely loved it.

    When Brie’s sister, Faith, dies suddenly, Brie’s world falls apart. As she goes through the bizarre and devastating process of mourning the sister she never understood and barely even liked, everything in her life seems to spiral further and further off course. Her parents are a mess, her friends don’t know how to treat her, and her perfect boyfriend suddenly seems anything but. As Brie settles into her new normal, she encounters more questions than closure: Certain facts about the way Faith died just don’t line up. Brie soon uncovers a dark and twisted secret about Faith’s final night….a secret that puts her own life in danger.

    Describe Losing Faith in 5 words
    Sisters, grief, mystery, unlikely friends
    What influenced you to write Losing Faith?
    When I was sixteen, I lost a close friend of mine. Even though I didn’t learn any serious secrets about my friend after she was gone, as Brie did in Losing Faith, I was amazed (and regretful) over how much I hadn’t known and noticed while she was alive.
    Which of the characters in Losing Faith is your favorite and why?
    I love Brie, and being in her head was amazingly fun and interesting, but I think if I had to pick a favorite, I’d say Tessa Lockbaum. Tessa wasn’t in my original outline. She appeared during the writing and tried to take over ever scene she was in. I love her because she’s so gutsy and honest.
    What made you decide to write a YA novel as compared to one for adults or middle grade?
    The first novel I ever attempted writing was officially aimed at the adult market, but when critique partners read it, they all said it had a YA vibe. I didn’t believe them at first, but looking back at this manuscript now, I can see it. I think I’ve always been meant to write YA. My inner-teen is very strong!
    Have you always wanted to be a writer? What made you get interested in writing?
    No, I’m one of the few authors I know that has not wanted this their whole life. I only fell in love with reading and writing about seven years ago. I read a book by Jane Hamilton (A Map of the World) and I stopped to re-read sentences over and over again. I couldn’t get over how well the words were put together to evoke the exact right mood. I wanted to do that!
    Who are some of your favorite literary characters?
    I love Katniss from Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games. I also really love a lot of best friends and love interests in books. I love Wes from Sarah Dessen’s The Truth About Forever and Dean from Sarra Manning’s Guitar Girl.
    Oh no! Your house is burning down and you only have time to save 5 books. What 5 would you save?
    Oh, this is a mean question! (and makes me want to move my entire library to a fireproof box somewhere!) Well, I’ll try…The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen, Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson, The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson, Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, and Catalyst by Laurie Halse Anderson. I’m not nearly done with the books I’d want to save, but I’ll hold myself back and leave it at that.
    A genie magically appears and gives you three wishes. What do you wish for?
    Well, since it’s magic, I’d ask for an extra uninterrupted three hours per day first! An unlimited credit card that I don’t need to repay would be next. And my final wish…for three more wishes, of course!

    Thanks for the awesome interview Denise!

    If you would like to know more about Denise Jaden's debut novel Losing Faith you can read my review here or watch the book trailer below.

    Julia :)

    Wednesday, January 5, 2011

    Words Wednesday [11]

    A chance for me to highlight some of my favorite book quotes! This weeks quote is from Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins.

    "Once you're in the arena, the rest of the world becomes very distant," he continues, "All the people and things you loved or cared about almost cease to exist. The pink sky and the monsters in the jungle and the tributes who want your blood become your final reality, the only one that ever mattered. As bad as it makes you feel, you're going to have to do some killing, because in the arena, you only get one wish. And it's very costly."
    "It costs your life," says Caesar.
    "Oh no. It costs a lot more than your life. To murder innocent people?" says Peeta. "It costs you everything you are."

    I ADORE this quote. The last part is so powerful. Suzanne Collins writing is genius.

    Julia :)

    Tuesday, January 4, 2011

    Book Review: The Replacement

    Though he lives in the small town of Gentry, Mackie comes from a world of tunnels and black murky water, a world of living dead girls ruled by a little tattooed princess. He is a Replacement – left in the crib of a human baby sixteen years ago. Now, because of fatal allergies to iron, blood, and consecrated ground, Mackie is slowly dying in the human world. Mackie would give anything to live among us, to practice on hi s bass or spend time with an oddly intriguing girl called Tate. But when Tate’s baby sister goes missing, Mackie is drawn irrevocably into the underworld of Gentry, know as Mayhem. He must face the dark creatures of the Slag Heaps and find his rightful place, in our world, or theirs.

    I really only have one word to describe The Replacement and that is weird. The characters were kind of weird, the setting was definitely weird, and the plot was just, well, weird. The Replacement wasn’t a bad book. Just a very unusual one.

    The one character that I really connected with was Tate. She knew that her sister had been “replaced” and she wasn’t going to rest until she knew the truth. I really loved Tate’s tough as nails, won’t take no for an answer personality. I wouldn’t really call her a likeable character, but she definitely had a certain charisma that I thought was awesome.

    The real strength of The Replacement was in its message. Don’t be afraid of who you really are. There will be people in your life who don’t accept you, but there will always be others who will love you no matter what. By the end of the story that’s what Mackie had discovered. Hiding who he was wasn’t going to change things. He had friends, and a sister who loved him. The REAL him. And that love was enough.

    I am still totally confused as to what exactly Mackie was. The book never really explained it. Well it kind of did but it never gave the creatures in the book a definitive name. Not even Mackie really knew what he was. There was one part where he asked “Who are we?” and the answer he got was:

    “We don’t really like names. When you name something, you take away some of its power. It becomes known. They’ve called us a lot of things – the good neighbors, the fair folk. The gray ones, the old ones, the other ones. Spirit and haunts and demons. Here, they never really named us. We’re nothing”

    So I’m still just as confused as Mackie. Some of them were definitely the undead (but not the zombie type of undead) and others were just creature things. Mysterious beings of creepiness I guess you could say. Like I said this book had a lot of weird stuff.

    I wouldn’t say that I didn’t enjoy The Replacement because I did find it rather fascinating. There was an eeriness to it that I’ve never felt while reading other books. It certainly was a unique story and the overall message was a good one. I just had a hard time understanding some of the mythology behind it. I also thought that there was a lot of unneeded profanity which was really distracting. So overall I give The Replacement 3 out of 5 ice cream cones.

    It was an okay book but not a great one. If you tend to enjoy books with darker fantasy themes then you would probably really like The Replacement. Otherwise I wouldn't pick it up.

    Julia :)

    Monday, January 3, 2011

    Kawaii Monday: Totoro Plush

    This weeks Kawaii Monday features Totoro plush!!!

    I just love these little guys! Especially the blue one. Totoro is pretty much the cutest anime movie/movie character ever. There are so many different plushes of Totoro but I think these are my favorite. They're always so expensive which is such a bummer. :/ Cuteness costs.

    If you want to buy these guys you can find them here.

    Julia :)

    New Year's Reading Resolutions Giveaway!

    New Year's Reading Resolutions

    Its giveaway hop time! Lori from Pure Imagination, Angela from Reading Angel, and Candace from Candace's Book Blog are hosting the New Year's Reading Resolutions Giveaway Hop. Thanks guys!

    For my giveaway one lucky person will win:

    • Blue Bloods by Melissa De la Cruz (Softcover)                        
    • Masquarade by Melissa De la Cruz (Hardcover)                       

    The only rule for this giveaway is that YOU MUST LIVE IN THE UNITED STATES! Sorry international peeps but I just can't afford overseas shipping! But don't worry, I'll be having an open to international giveaway soon!

    If you would like to win please fill out the giveaway form below!!! Thanks guys!

    Below the giveaway form is the link list to all the other blogs involved in the giveaway hop! There are over 100 blogs participating. Thats a lot of awesome giveaways so be sure to check them all out!
    Julia :)

    Sunday, January 2, 2011

    Book Review: Girl, Stolen

    Sixteen-year-old Cheyenne Wilder is sleeping in the back of the car while her stepmom fills a prescription for antibiotics. Before Cheyenne realizes what’s happening, the car is being stolen. Griffin hadn’t meant to kidnap Cheyenne, but once his dad finds out that Cheyenne’s father is the president of a powerful corporation, everything changes – now there’s a reason to keep her. How will Cheyenne survive this nightmare because she’s not only sick with pneumonia – she’s blind.

    The most interesting thing about Girl, Stolen was that it was told from the perspective of both the victim and the kidnapper. I didn’t expect the story to be narrated by both Cheyenne and Griffin but I loved it! The alternating points of view kept me reading because I was always curious to know what was going on in the other characters head. It just added a whole new level to the story and the characters. I'm such a sucker for books with alternating narratives! Haha.

    The one character that really ended up surprising me was Griffin. He totally didn’t end up the way I thought he would! About halfway through the book he changed from being a kidnapper, to being Cheyenne’s almost ally. I never thought I would feel sympathy towards a kidnapper but I definitely felt sympathetic towards Griffin. By the end of the book I really liked Griffin which I totally didn't expect to happen. Not hating a kidnapper? Strange but true.

    Cheyenne was such a super amazing character! She was so brave and resourceful. I would like to think that if I were in her situation I could do the same thing, but honestly I would probably end up getting myself killed. I think this is the first book I’ve read with narration by a blind person and I thought it was super fascinating. I definitely have a new appreciation for my sight!

    I expected nail biting suspense, and creepiness from a novel about kidnapping but what I didn’t expect were all the psychological themes. I felt like a lot of the middle of the book was spent with Cheyenne and Griffin discussing all these difficult issues in their pasts. It was rather unexpected, but I liked it. The book went from “just another kidnapping story” to a story about not only kidnapping, but also emotional healing. Which sounds kind of cheesy, but trust me, it isn’t!

    Overall Girl, Stolen was an interesting look into the lives and outlooks of two people who live under unusual circumstances. The story had some scary moments, and there was a big twist at the end, but there were also moments that were more emotional and character driven. I give Girl, Stolen 4 out of 5 ice cream cones!

    Julia :)

    Saturday, January 1, 2011

    In My Mailbox [7]

    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!


    For Christmas my wonderful sister gave me The Heist Society by Ally Carter!  I've really been wanting this one for awhile now so I was super excited when I got it.


    I also bought several books this past week. I picked up Paper Towns by John Green and Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy by Ally Carter at Borders! They were on sale and I pretty much freaked out when I found them. Haha. I also bought a copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone because my Library didn't have a copy in and I wanted to bring it on vacation with me. I just started it and I'm really enjoying it!


    I also won the Pocket Survival Pak from The League of Extraordinary Writers giveaway! This little pack of stuff is AWESOME! Thanks go to author Jeff Hirsch!

    Hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year!!! What did you get in your "Mailboxes" this week?

    Julia :)
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