Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Book Review: Divergent

In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

In a Nutshell: Divergent is a fast-paced dystopian novel that is sure to please any Hunger Games fan.

Putdownability Factor: Practically non-existent. Definitely one of those "read late into the night" kinds of books.

Cover Love: Its pretty freaking awesome! Very eye catching and also a fair representation of what the book is about.

Why did I pick up this book? Well its a dystopian and people were hyping it as "the next Hunger Games". How could I not pick it up?

My Thoughts

If you guys follow my Twitter then you probably know how stinking obsessed I was with getting to read this book. Everyone else was reading it, and raving about it, and I was just thinking "My stupid Library needs to hurry up and ORDER THIS BOOK!!!" (as you guys might know, I tend to not buy books unless I've read them.) Well my Library finally got a copy and let me tell you I was just about the happiest person alive! I tore through this book lightning fast. There are some books where the hype hurts it. People expect to much, and then the story ends up falling flat. Well not so with Divergent. It was everything that people said it was and more.

Veronica Roth's world building is amazing. I've never been to Chicago, but even so I could clearly picture it in my minds eye. She also did a brilliant job at creating each faction and making them all feel real and tangible. The only faction that I was a little lost on was the Amity faction, but I have a feeling we will be learning a lot more about them in Divergent's sequel!

I LOVED TRIS. She definitely measures up with Katniss as far as "Kick butt female heroines" go. Tris drive and courage were awesome. She is the definition of small but mighty!

My favorite part of Divergent was its sheer ability to pull me into the story as if I was living it right alongside Tris. It was like I was experiencing everything she was experiencing, feeling everything she was feeling, and seeing everything she was seeing. Veronica Roth definitely has a gift! I haven't been quite so sucked into a book since reading The Hunger Games.

While Divergent is an AMAZING book there was one major thing that didn't sit well with me. And that was the romance. I know a lot of people LOVED the romance in this book, but for me it just seemed so out of place amongst the heart racing initiation techniques and brewing revolution. And I know that Four is only 18 while Tris is 16, but the fact that he was her instructor just made it feel extra weird and awkward. Like she was crushing on a way older teacher or something.... But that could be just me.

Another small gripe was the last 70 pages or so. The whole ending felt a little rushed and contrived, especially in contrast to the rest of the book. Also there were a lot of deaths that just felt so senseless to me. They were almost glossed over and while reading I wanted to feel sad but honestly I just felt... nothing. :(

Divergent is definitely one of the best dystopian books I've ever read even with its flaws. Whats a book without a few flaws right? 5 out of 5 ice cream cones!

Who would I recommend this book to? Any teenager who loves dystopians! Especially fans of The Hunger Games. I would say the best ages would be 13 and up because there is definitely some mature and violent content that might scare younger readers.

So if you lived in the Divergent world which faction would you choose? Amity (the Peaceful), Dauntless (the Brave), Erudite (the Intelligent), Abnegation (the Selfless), or Candor (the Honest)? I would definitely choose the Dauntless faction. I'm such a daredevil.

Julia :)

Monday, May 30, 2011

Kawaii Monday: Owl Bento Box

This weeks Kawaii Monday features an owl bento box!

I just discovered this whole bento box world and gosh darn it everything these people make is ADORABLE. There are hundreds of cute designs but I really liked this owl one because, well, I love owls! I want to try bento box making because its just so cool! Cuteness plus food? Perfection!

You can see the originally post on this bento box here.

Julia :)

Sunday, May 29, 2011

What bookish stuff did I pack? (California Edition)

So today is the big day! I'm flying off to California for the WHOLE SUMMER!!!! Crazy right? I'm going to be nannying my cousins and going to a sweet summer camp, and its just going to be a whole lot of awesomeness. Being that summer is the best time to get reading done (since there's no school and all!) I'm bringing A TON of books. Like seriously I have a whole duffel bag just for books. Of course I will be able to use the Library in California, but I figured I should bring along all the books I own that I haven't taken the time to read yet! And its also the perfect time to get started on some of my review books. I thought you guys might want to know what bookish things I packed so here it goes:

Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux
I've read this one before but its so good that I want to read it again!

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
I love the musical, and so far I love the book too! Its like a behemoth (over a thousand pages....) so I'm only like a third of the way through and it could take me like, forevermore to finish it especially with the random interjections on French history (do I REALLY need to know every reason why Napoleon lost the battle at Waterloo? It doesn't even pertain to the story.) but I will finish it!!! Eventually.....

For Review
Miss Peregrines Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Steven Hockensmith
Not a huge Austen fan, but I do like me some zombies, so I'm excited to read this and see how Steven Hockensmith managed to integrate the two storylines. I hear its quite brilliant.

Everything Else
Feed by M.T. Anderson

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
Thanks to Zach for lending these to me over the summer!!! I promise not to ruin them. :)

Moonglass by Jessi Kirby 
My first summer read!!!! Definitely excited to dig into this one.

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
Never read anything by Laurie Halse Anderson yet but I've heard she is a fantastic author so I'm definitely excited to read this one and Wintergirls!

It's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini
I liked the movie, so now I'm curious to compare it to the book.

Sean Griswold's Head by Lindsay Leavitt
I'VE BEEN DYING TO READ THIS FOR FOREVER!!! But I made myself save it for California because I own it and I needed to read Library books first since I couldn't bring them with me. :P

The Girl Who Was on Fire
I've read a few of the essays but not all of them. Hopefully I'll finish by the end of the summer!

The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor
A friend gave this to me and I'm definitely curious to read it. Anything related to Alice in Wonderland is a win in my book. 

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson
Two words: SHINY COVER!!!!! :D

Drought by Pam Bachorz

Sapphique by Catherine Fischer
I STILL haven't read Incarceron but I own an ARC of Sapphique so I figured I'd bring it along in case I got Incarceron from the Library in California.

My Poem Journal
I love to write poetry (if you want to you can read some of it here) and I always write it in a little notebook. I've already filled one and so this is my second.

My Devotion Journal
Just a notebook where I write about me and my journey with God.

Mountain Trailways for Youth by Mrs. Charles E. Cowman
My Mom bought this for me. Its a great little daily devotional book. The author has one of the most unfortunate last names. XD

Start Here: Do Hard Things Right Where You Are by Alex and Brett Harris
I loved Alex and Brett's first book Do Hard Things and this one builds off of it so I'm excited to read it.

My Bible
Can't leave home without it. :)

Dug Down Deep: Unearthing What I Believe and Why it Matters by Joshua Harris
I've been reading this book along with my devotions and its really awesome. Everything I've read by Joshua Harris I've really enjoyed.

So that is everything bookish that I packed with me! Hopefully I'll get around to reading all of it and more. And no worries folks I'll still be able to blog while I'm in California! Haha. Otherwise that would be a pretty long hiatus.

What are you guys doing over the summer? Anything exciting?


Julia :)

Saturday, May 28, 2011

In My Mailbox Vlog [18]

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!

Feed by M.T. Anderson

For Review
Miss Peregrines Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Divergent by Veronica Roth (for her to sign when she comes to Arizona on the Dark Days of Supernatural tour! Unfortunately I won't be here *sad face* but a Librarian friend of mine is going to get it signed for me. Yeah, she rocks!)

Moonglass by Jessi Kirby (Thanks Steph Su!!!! :D)

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

Julia :)

Friday, May 27, 2011

Armchair BEA: How do you blog anyway?

So how do you blog anyway?

When I first started blogging I totally thought it was some sort of formula. Book reviews on this day, special posts on this day and that day, and make it the same EVERY WEEK. Well I've definitely realized that isn't how it has to be. Sure I've got some posts that happen on the same day each week but sometimes I'll switch it up. And that's okay. Blogging isn't some sort of pass or fail. You do it your way and that's the best way that works for you. Like I post about random cute things I find once a week. It has nothing to do with books, and some people might not like it, but I do and that's what matters. As long as YOU are enjoying writing your blog then you are succeeding! :)

What about that social networking?

At first I swore of Twitter. I thought it was the dumbest thing ever. Then I read one blogger say that Twitter was the single best way for her to interact with other bloggers and authors. And so I caved and I got one. Now I tweet all the time. :P Funny how things change right? I agree that its a nice way to interact with people and get conversations flowing. Its a lot more personal than commenting on a blog because people can easily write back! I also have a Facebook fan page for my blog. Its a great way for friends who might not otherwise read my blog to get connected!

I love blogging. Its fun, and a great way for me to share my passion for books with others! I don't think there's a "right way" to do it. Everyone is different and that's what makes blogs so fun!

Julia :)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Armchair BEA: Nurturing Blogging Relationships

A big thanks to Epic Book Nerd for helping me figure out about Armchair BEA!!!! She was so sweet and gave me all the info I needed over Twitter. You rock girl! :)

So this is gonna be my first Armchair BEA post! Todays topic is about nurturing book blogger relationships.

I'm not gonna lie book blogging relationships kind of scare me. I know it sounds kind of stupid. How can you be scared of connecting with people through email or Twitter? Haha well this is my thought process:

My Rational Voice: "Oh wow I love this persons blog! They seem so cool. Maybe I should drop them and email and tell them!"

My Irrational Voice: "Who are you kidding?! They might think you're a creeper..... Best to just be safe and admire from afar."

I know its really dumb. Haha. I really need to get over this completely stupid and irrational fear. So because of this post I'm going to challenge myself to reach out to 4 different bloggers that I really admire this month. Nothing like getting rid of a fear by facing it right? :)

In the meantime I'll tell you guys about one particular blogger that I do interact with! The awesome Izzy from My Words Ate Me reached out to me a couple months ago and we've been emailing ever since! We're both half Chinese and like really similar things and she's just plain awesome. She is an aspiring writer and she writes the most hilarious posts over on her blog so you should totally check her out!

So for me this whole relationship thing doesn't come easy. I don't have a "winning formula" for connecting with other bloggers or publishers. In fact I haven't even reached out to any publishers because I promised myself I wouldn't ask for any ARC's until I had been blogging for 6 months. Pretty crazy but true. :P My only suggestions to other bloggers is that if you never reach out then you'll never build anything special. Don't be afraid to put yourself out there! That's how you make friends in real life and blogging is no different. Clearly I am still learning this lesson. Haha.

Hope you guys are having an awesome day! Have any tips for me when it comes to reaching out to other bloggers or publishers?

Julia :)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday [9]

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

This week I'm waiting on The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin!

Mara Dyer doesn't think life can get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.

It can.

She believes there must be more to the accident she can't remember that killed her friends and left her mysteriously unharmed.

There is.

She doesn't believe that after everything she's been through, she can fall in love.

She's wrong.

Why am I waiting on this? Well for one the cover of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer is so intriguing. Its mysterious, and eerie and just begging for me to read it! And then there's the summary. Lost memories? Unexplainable events? I'm sold!

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer is going to be released on September 27th.

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

Julia :)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Book Review: My Most Excellent Year

Best friends and unofficial brothers since they were six, ninth-graders T.C. and Augie have got the world figured out. But that all changes when both friends fall in love for the first time. Enter Alé. She's pretty, sassy, and on her way to Harvard. T.C. falls hard, but Alé is playing hard to get. Meanwhile, Augie realizes that he's got a crush on a boy. It's not so clear to him, but to his family and friends, it's totally obvious! Told in alternating perspectives, this is the hilarious and touching story of their most excellent year, where these three friends discover love, themselves, and how a little magic and Mary Poppins can go a long way.

In a Nutshell: My Most Excellent Year is an awesome and often hilarious look at the year of three teenagers as they grow up, and learn about themselves and love.

Putdownability Factor: I was reading this during tech week of my musical so I didn't really have time to just sit down and finish it. But if it had been any other time I would have devoured this.

Cover Love: Honestly the cover is a bit strange. I like that you get to see the three main characters, but why is there a big umbrella covering their faces? And why is T.C. so pale? We joked at my book club that he was really Edward in disguise..... XD But overall its intriguing enough for me to pick it up.

My Review

I LOVE THIS BOOK!!!! I had read My Most Excellent Year once before but it was totally worth reading again. Its the full package. It's Funny (SO FUNNY),  its got a bit of romance, some musical theatre, MARY POPPINS! (who doesn't love Mary Poppins?) and its touching too. Overall its just plain awesome.

There isn't a single character in My Most Excellent Year that I don't absolutely love. Alejandra is feisty, intelligent, and plays hard to get. She's awesome. T.C. is perfectly cocky and totally unsure of himself all at the same time. And Augie is just plain fabulous. If Augie was real then I would steal him to be my best gay friend. Just saying. Ohhh and you can't forget Hucky. He may be a supporting character but Hucky definitely helps steal the show! Steve Kluger is genius at creating a unique voice for each of his characters. And this book is the perfect utilization of dual narratives!

The story itself is just as good as the characters. Its a mixture of comedy and romance and the way its told in the form of journal entries, emails, and IM messages makes it fast reading. I will definitely be reading more of Steve Kluger's books because he is an amazing author!

My Most Excellent Year gets 5 out of 5 ice cream cones!

Who would I recommend this book to? If you're a fan of romantic comedies, baseball, coming of age stories, or maybe you just REALLY like musical theatre then My Most Excellent Year is a must read.

Julia :)

Monday, May 23, 2011

Kawaii Monday: Hedgehog Pencil Holder

This week's Kawaii monday features a Hedgehog pencil holder!

It starts out looking like this......

And ends up looking like this!!!!

I WANT IT SO BAD!!!!! Haha. I love hedgehogs and one that could hold pencils? Yeah right up my alley. Unfortunately the only site I could find it for sale on was all in Japanese (which I cannot read obviously...) and the two words I could read said "Sold Out" so yeah..... Sad day. :(

It would also be a cool idea to make one that looked like a peacock and the pencils were its tail feathers!

Julia :)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

In My Mailbox Vlog [17]

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 haven't done IMM in a REALLY long time. Like 3 weeks. And at first I thought I had hardly anything to show you guys. And then I got it all together and realized I was soooo wrong. Haha.  XD

City of Glass by Cassandra Clare
Divergent by Veronica Roth

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson
The Wright 3 by Blue Balliet
Mary Poppins Opens the Door by P.L. Travers
Mary Poppins in the Park by P.L. Travers
Mary Poppins Comes Back by P.L. Travers
Mr. Poppers Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater
Minou by Francoise
Entertainment Weekly (Because of the Hunger Games cover!!!!)

Where She Went by Gayle Foreman

For Review
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls by Seth Grahame-Smith
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dreadfully Ever After by Seth Grahame-Smith

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

Julia :)

Friday, May 20, 2011

Book Review: Tell Me a Secret

Tell me a secret, and I'll tell you one…

In the five years since her bad-girl sister Xanda’s death, Miranda Mathison has wondered about the secret her sister took to the grave, and what really happened the night she died. Now, just as Miranda is on the cusp of her dreams—a best friend to unlock her sister’s world, a ticket to art school, and a boyfriend to fly her away from it all—Miranda has a secret all her own.

Then two lines on a pregnancy test confirm her worst fears. Stripped of her former life, Miranda must make a choice with tremendous consequences and finally face her sister’s demons and her own.

In a Nutshell: Tell Me a Secret is an emotional rollercoaster of one girls journey through teen pregnancy and self discovery.

Putdownability Factor: I can't really say it much better than Deb Caletti does in the blurb on the back of the book "I dare you to set it down during its last hundred pages. I dare you."

Cover Love: I feel like the cover isn't really accurate in giving you a taste of what Tell Me a Secret is about. Its a bit intriguing sure, but honestly it made me think the book was a romance, which it isn't. Also that type is soooo 90's. But that's just me.

The Review

The first time I saw the cover of this book I thought "Nope. Not reading it. It looks like a romance." Then a friend of mine suggested it on her blog and I got intrigued. Then I watched the book trailer and I was officially sold on reading this book. I know what you're thinking. A GOOD book trailer? Well prepare to be amazed! This isn't your ordinary book trailer! Behold:


If that doesn't convince you to read Tell Me a Secret nothing will. :)

Tell Me a Secret was a brilliant novel. Heartachingly brilliant. Its hard to explain this novel because there are so many facets to it. Its a book about teen pregnancy. Its a book about family secrets. Its a book about a girls self discover. And its a book about emotional healing. But even though there are so many different elements to Tell Me a Secret, Holly Cupala is able to weave them all together beautifully.

While I wasn't totally in love with any of the characters in this novel, I did think they were well written. The character development in Tell Me a Secret is particularly notable, especially Miranda's. If I had to pick a favorite character I would go with Shelley. She was such a wonderful mother presence. I would love to have a mentor like her in my life.

Every author has a niche, and while this is Holly Cupala's first novel I think its pretty safe to say that her niche is tackling difficult emotional subjects. Sometimes an author will sugarcoat it, or sometimes an author will make it so dark that the book leaves the reader feeling depressed. But not Holly Cupala. She approaches each subject perfectly. Tell Me a Secret is real, and painful, but also full of hope. And that's a rare combination.

Tell Me a Secret gets 4 out of 5 ice cream cones!

Who would I recommend this book to? Anyone who loves deep contemporary novels! Some teen girls may be put off by the lack of romance in Tell Me a Secret, but as long as you like your novels to have substance then you will enjoy this book.

Julia :)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Favorite Summer Reads

I don't know about you guys but my favorite thing about summer is being able to read practically non-stop. There are other reasons too (like no school and sleeping in) but being able to read what I want, when I want is definitely my top. I've come to discover that there are certain books that make the perfect summer reading. Normally the fluffy, not a lot of substance, but are a whole lot of fun books. I think they encourage the whole lazy summer feeling.

For example: Summer Camp novels.

Sleepaway Girls by Jen Calonita and Dramarama by E. Lockhart are both books about summer camps. Two very different summer camps, but summer camps nonetheless! Ever since I was little I've always been into reading about summer camp. Probably because I never got to go to one as a child. :P I guess you could say I live vicariously through these books. Haha I've probably read Dramarama about 3 or 4 times because I love it so much and now that I'm writing this post I really want to read Sleepaway Girls again. BADLY.

Then of course there are the Summer Contemporary/Romance novels.

Pretty much any Sarah Dessen book falls into this category but Along For the Ride is my particular summery favorite of hers. Lauren Myracle is the queen of fun fluffy summer books and Peace, Love, and Baby Ducks is no exception. I love this one because its about sisters. Books about sisters are always winners in my book. And finally 3 Willows is great because, well its Ann Brashares. Its friendship, and summer, and everything that summer entails all wrapped up into one wonderful story. Definitely a favorite.

And last but not least there are the Summer Beach novels.

The Summer Series by Jenny Han is hands down THE BEST beach read. I mean they take place AT A BEACH HOUSE! And just look at those covers! Beachy are they not? I love these books. I still haven't been able to read We'll Always Have Summer (curse ye Library hold system!!!) but I've read many glowing reviews so I'm sure its amazing.

Since school is gonna be out soon I will definitely be needing some new summer reads. The ones I'm most looking forward to are:

We'll Always Have Summer  by Jenny Han
Moonglass by Jessi Kirby
What Happened To Goodbye by Sarah Dessen
I'm Not Her by Janet Gurtler
Sharks and Boys by Kristin Tracy
Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

Do you guys have any other good suggestions for me? Do you have a favorite summer read?

Julia :)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Entwined Cover Love

Entwined probably has one of the most gorgeous covers I've ever seen. It has shiny accents, a beautiful font, and the picture is perfect. Everything about it screams "I'm a beautiful fairytale! Read me!" I haven't been able to read Entwined yet, but I definitely want to and that is mostly due to the gorgeous cover. :)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Book Review: Lies

It's been seven months since all the adults disappeared. Gone. 

It happens in one night. A girl who died now walks among the living; Zil and the Human Crew set fire to Perdido Beach; and amid the flames and smoke, Sam sees the figure of the boy he fears the most: Drake. But Drake is dead. Sam and Caine defeated him along with the Darkness—or so they thought.
As Perdido Beach burns, battles rage: Astrid against the Town Council; the Human Crew versus the mutants; and Sam against Drake, who is back from the dead and ready to finish where he and Sam left off. And all the while deadly rumors are raging like the fire itself, spread by the prophetess Orsay and her companion, Nerezza. They say that death is a way to escape the FAYZ. Conditions are worse than ever and kids are desperate to get out. But are they desperate enough to believe that death will set them free?

I've had this book lying in my TBR pile for months now. I honestly think I rechecked it out from the Library like 3 times. I know, I'm terrible. :P But after seeing a review of Plague over at Icey Books I realized that gosh darn it I needed to get back to reading this series! And I'm so glad I did because the Gone series is amazing.

Michael Grant succeeds in yet again pulling me in AND freaking me out. Even more so then when I read Hunger. And that book was FREAKY. Lies is not a book for the easily squeamish. It's raw and gritty and very psychologically dark. Some of the things characters did in this book... Well it was shocking to say the least. This is definitely the darkest of the three Gone books I've read so far.

I love that even though there is a huge cast of characters in Lies, each of them is still distinct and unique. Oftentimes if a book has a lot of characters I'll get them confused but that never happened while I was reading Lies. Because there are so many characters its hard for me to pick a favorite, but I have to say that I really liked Astrid. Her character development was really well done.

Everytime I read one of the books in this series I always think "These books should totally be turned into a TV Series!" The writing in Lies is so descriptive and engaging that I can't help but imagine that it IS a TV Series while I'm reading. Anyone want to join me in pitching this story to the entertainment masses? Haha.

Overall Lies is a fantastic book. Its intense, fast-paced, and the characters rock. Definitely just as good, if not better than the previous two books in the series! I give Lies 5 out of 5 ice cream cones.

Now I'm dying to read Plague! I can't even imagine what kinds of things Michael Grant is gonna throw at me in that book.

Julia :)

Monday, May 16, 2011

Across the Universe Swag Winners!!!!

So the magical random number generator has spoken and the two winners of my Across the Universe Swag giveaway are......

#60 Dorothy


#79 Kaity

Congrats guys!!! I've sent out the emails and they have 48 hours to respond or I'll pick different winners.

Hope everyone had a great Monday!!! I sure did. 

Julia :)

Kawaii Monday: Pirate Bunny Earrings

This weeks Kawaii Monday features Pirate Bunny Earrings!!!

SQUEEE!!!! They're just soooo cute! I don't have my ears pierced but let me tell you if I did I would TOTALLY buy these and wear them. Pirate bunny is cute and badass! Haha. So what do you guys think? Would you wear pirate bunny earrings?

You can buy these here from Cute Plush!
Julia :)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

What books have taught me about life

I've read a lot of books in my life and I've come to discover that the ones that really stand out to me, the ones I'll always remember, are the ones that have taught me things. About life. About love. About friendship. And about who I want to be as a person. I may not have loved a book, but if it taught me something then I'll always remember it. So here are some of the things I've learned from books.

The Secret Life of Prince Charming by Deb Caletti

Don't settle for second best when it comes to love. You deserve someone who loves you just the way you are. Who isn't going to want to change you. It may take awhile but once you find that someone its going to be worth the wait. Because its going to be real.

The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff
Don't be afraid of who you are. Embrace it. There might be people who don't like you but those people don't matter because there will always be people who love you. The REAL you.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Words can sometimes be the most powerful thing of all.

The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney
Sometimes it can be scary, but you should always stand up for whats right. There will always be someone who listens.
Keeping the Moon by Sarah Dessen

Sometimes all it takes is a new set of eyes to help you realize that you are beautiful and special. You were all along. Never let people tell you otherwise.

Those are just some of the books that have taught me something important. That's one of the things I love most about books. They can open your eyes to a world of truth that you might not have seen otherwise.

What are some of the things that books have taught you?

Julia :)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday [8]

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

This week I'm waiting on The Death Cure by James Dashner!

Thomas knows that Wicked can't be trusted, but they say the time for lies is over, that they've collected all they can from the Trials and now must rely on the Gladers, with full memories restored, to help them with their ultimate mission. It's up to the Gladers to complete the blueprint for the cure to the Flare with a final voluntary test.

What Wicked doesn't know is that something's happened that no Trial or Variable could have foreseen. Thomas has remembered far more than they think. And he knows that he can't believe a word of what Wicked says.

The time for lies is over. But the truth is more dangerous than Thomas could ever imagine.
Will anyone survive the Death Cure?

Isn't the cover awesome? James Dashner just revealed it on his blog about a week ago and its made me get excited about this book all over again! The Scorch Trials ended on like the most torturous cliffhanger ever so I've been longing for this book for months now. Haha. Just a couple more months to go right? :P

The Death Cure is gonna be released on October 11th!

So what are you waiting on this Wednesday?

Julia :)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Book Review: Awaken

Maddie lives in a world where everything is done on the computer. Whether going to school or on a date, no one ever leaves home. There’s really no need. And for the most part, Maddie’s okay with the solitary, digital life – until she meets Justin. Justin likes being with people. He likes physical closeness and face-to-face conversations. People aren’t meant to be alone, he tells her. Maddie is beginning to believe him. Something is awakening inside Maddie. Old feelings are beginning to surface. Memories are flooding back. Maybe there is a different, better way to live, and perhaps Justin will be the one to help her start living it.

Awaken paints the picture of an almost entirely digital world, and to be honest, it was scary. Not only because it was so alarmingly impersonal, but also because it’s not to far from the world we live in now. I hope that our world never becomes so engrossed in technology, that we don’t spend time to really live our lives, but it could definitely happen.

Maddie was an interesting character. At first she was afraid to interact with people face to face because in real life there’s no “delete” button. But Justin opens her eyes to living. REALLY living. That’s when Maddie’s character kind of went of the deep end for me. She was constantly trying to distance herself from her past and then she became engrossed in getting Justin to like her. There were several scenes where she was blatantly throwing herself at Justin and flirting with him like crazy and it just bugged me. Sure, you can like a guy, but don’t go acting all creepy and “seductive.” There was literally a line where she said “I’ll just seduce you again.” Awkward much? Yeah…..

Fortunately I really liked Justin. He spent his whole life doing things that would help others. He never really thought about himself. Plus he had a super awesome car that could not only drive on water but then convert into a submarine. I want a car like that! Haha.

There was one really surprising element to Awaken that I never expected. Several moments definitely felt like a spy novel! There were two “getaway” scenes involving gun chases and Justin’s submarine car. And the last few chapters were like straight out of Alex Rider. The spyish elements were definitely a plus for me because I LOVE spy stories!

Overall Awaken was a really cool dystopian novel about living life to the fullest. I liked the message of the book and the cool spy elements were awesome. The only thing that really bugged me was the Maddie/Justin romance. It just felt kind of awkward plus there’s the fact that in the book Maddie’s 17 and Justin’s 20. Doesn’t that make their dating illegal without parental consent? Like I said. Awkward. But anyway I give Awaken 4 and a half out of 5 ice cream cones!

This book was full of awesome quotes! Here are some of my favorites.

“In the real world anything can happen. It’s like stepping onto an icy surface – you have to adjust your footing or you’ll slip and fall. Your movements become rigid and unsure because behind all the fancy gadgets and all that digital armor, you realize you’re just flesh and bones.”

“We’ll never realize our potential if we always live inside the boundaries of what we fear. Teaching society to be afraid and stay tucked safely behind their locked doors is not the answer to human problems. It only conceals the problem, like a bandage. It doesn’t fix it. Giving the problem open air and room to breathe, to mix with other elements, is what helps it heal.

“Knowledge can hurt because you can’t turn away from things anymore. You can’t pretend you’re blind to what’s happening,” he said. “It’s a lot easier to ignore something you don’t want to accept than to face it.”

Julia :)

Monday, May 9, 2011

Kawaii Monday: Hunger Games Edition!

This weeks Kawaii Monday features The Hunger Games!!! This stuff is less cute and more super freaking awesome! You would not believe the awesome stuff you can find on Etsy. Here are some of my favorite Hunger Games related finds! Just click on the pictures to link you to the Etsy page. :)

 Super awesome Hunger Games charm bookmark! I would SO buy this! If it wasn't nearly $30....

 This is a Rue inspired bracelet! The silver charms say "here its safe" to quote the lullaby that Katniss sings to her.
 OH MY GOSH I WANT THESE VANS!!!! I literally live in Vans all the time. If I had super awesome artistic skills I would try to paint myself a pair..... Unfortunately I don't. :P Nor do I have the luxury of shelling out nearly $200 for these.... Oh the price of awesome.
Now this is a piece of jewelry that I might actually wear. I love the leaf elements and the blue/black crystals are a really nice touch.
This is another piece of jewelry that I would probably wear! Its simple but really pretty. I like that they added the gray pearl to represent Katniss' eyes.

So those are my favorite Hunger Games items on Etsy! I also bought my Mockingjay pin off of Etsy but unfortunately the seller doesn't have any up right now or else I would have posted those too. Which is your favorite Hunger Games item? I don't know if I can pick just one favorite but I think the Vans are really unique so I'll pick those.

Julia :)

Friday, May 6, 2011

Book Review: City of Ashes

A murder is loose in New York City and the victims are Downworlder children. Clary Fray and her fellow Shadowhnters have a strong suspicion that Valentine, Clary's father, may be behind the killings. But if he is the murderer, ten what's his true motive? To make matters worse, the second of the Mortal Instruments, the Soul-Sword, has been stolen, and the mysterious Inquisitor has arrived to investigate, with his eyes vigilantly targeting on Clary's brother Jace.

Clary will need to face some terrifying demons and even more terrifying family decisions. No one said that the life of a Shadowhunter would be easy.

This review may contain spoilers for those who haven't read City of Bones and City of Ashes. Continue at your own risk! :)

When I read City of Bones I wasn't totally won over by the Mortal Instruments series. It was a good book but I felt like it was really predictable. Like I'd seen/read stuff like it before. So when I started City of Ashes I didn't know what to expect. Another predictable read with a stereotypical plot? Or maybe something new? Well I am very happy to inform you that this book is the latter. I was shocked, literally SHOCKED at how much Cassandra Clare's writing had improved! You go girl!!! If each new book improves this much I can't even care to guess how good CoFA is gonna be. :)

Badassery. SO MUCH badassery in this book. I loved all the action scenes in City of Ashes. Overall the plot was fairly fast paced. I definitely had trouble putting it down at times. And the battle at the end of the book between the demons and the Shadowhunters? Yep, its intense. :)

I loved the character development in this book! In City of Bones a lot of the characters were kind of stuck in this rut of being sarcastic and tough. They all felt really similar. In City of Ashes just about every character steps out of this rut and moves into a new place. They became a lot more defined. The character development of Jace and Clary was particularly good and Simon's was as well. I can't wait to see whats in store for them in City of Glass!

Simon. Ohhh poor Simon. This guy totally gets put through the ringer in this book! He has to deal with so much crap and in the end he comes out a little bit better (highlight for spoiler) I mean he can go out in the daylight even though he's a vampire! That's got to count for something right? but honestly it feels like Simon always gets the short end of the stick! Don't worry Simon! Good things are going to happen to you I just know it! Oh and you'll always be MY favorite! Haha.

I'm still waiting for the truth about Jace and Clary to come out. I mean they're not REALLY siblings right? I totally think I know what's going to happen but at the same time I don't know..... All I can say is the awkward siblings liking each other thing is just that: Awkward. I get they haven't grown up together so the normal "Ewww they're my sibling thing" doesn't really register but still: ITS SO AWKWARD!!! Please tell me that the truth is finally revealed in City of Glass! I don't know if I can take another awkward sibling kiss. And yes I do realize I just used the word awkward like 5 times in the last few sentences..... >.<

I've also just gotta say that I really liked the humor in this book. Especially the scene where Simon was reading out of the "How to come out to your parents" pamphlet in preparation for telling his mom he was a member of the undead. For example:

"The second thing you should know is that it isn't a choice. I was born this way." Simon squinted at her over the pamphlet. "Sorry, reborn this way."

SO FUNNY!!! Or maybe thats just me. XD

In conclusion City of Ashes is an awesome read. It has just about every type of paranormal creature you could ask for and yet it manages to not remind me of Twilight. Quite a feat! If you like action, romance, and are a fan of the paranormal then you will definitely like this book. 5 out of 5 ice cream cones!

Julia :)

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Bookish Questions: Do you judge a book by its cover?

Just about everyone has heard the saying "Don't judge a book by its cover." Well what I'm asking today is: Do you follow this rule or do you (even accidentally!) judge a book by its cover?

I know I tend to judge books by their covers. I try not to but being that its the first thing I notice about a book (other than the title) its just so hard not to notice whether or not the cover is intriguing or cringe-worthy. Sometimes my cover judging can lead me to almost miss out on an amazing book. For example:

Across the Universe. Okay so I think its pretty much impossible NOT to think this cover is gorgeous so thats not what turned me off. The problem was that the cover makes Across the Universe look like a romance. The cover models are almost kissing and it sort of.... well freaked me out. I was so close to not giving this book a chance just because I thought it was gonna be all about romance and cheese sauce. And nothing could be farther from the truth! Across the Universe has now become one of my favorite books of 2011. Good thing I gave it a chance and didn't just blow it off because I thought it was all about romance!

Another book I nearly missed out on because I thought it was a romance is Holly Cupala's Tell Me a Secret.

This book is not about romance at all! Instead its a moving story about teen pregnancy and its pretty awesome to boot! But I would never have read it if one of my friends hadn't suggested it to me and assured me it wasn't a romance. The kick ass book trailer also helped convince me I needed to read this book. And I'm so glad I did!

Clearly my big problem with book covers is that if I think they look to romantic I won't pick them up. This is something I need to cure.....

On the other end of the spectrum is awesome book covers that make me want to read the book, but the summary is holding me back.

Take Unearthly for instance:

This cover photo does not even describe the actual amazingness of the real cover. Its shiny. And silver. And I'm pretty sure its kind of pearlescent too. Lets just say its the prettiest, shiniest thing you can imagine. I saw it at Borders one day and was overwhelmed with the gorgeousness of the cover. But then I read the summary and was like "Hmmm a paranormal? I don't know if I'll like this book...." The thing is I want to like it so bad just because the cover is so darn shiny and pretty. :P So here I go wanting to read a book because the cover is gorgeous but not being able to decide whether or not I'll actually enjoy it because the subject matter isn't necessarily to my reading tastes. By the way if anyone HAS read Unearthly and wants to tell me if its any good let me know in a comment! I still haven't decided if I'm gonna give it a read or not. >.<

So do you guys judge a book by its cover? Have there ever been any books you almost missed out on just because the cover wasn't that great? How about a book that you read because of the cover, but didn't end up enjoying after all?

Julia :)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Words Wednesday [21]

A chance for me to highlight some of my favorite book quotes! This week's quote is from City of Bones by Cassandra Clare.

"Is this the part where you start tearing off strips of your shirt to bind my wounds?" "If you wanted me to rip my clothes off, you should have just asked."

Ohhh the good old Cassandra Clare sarcasm. I had seen this quote all over the blogosphere and at first I didn't really get why the quote was all that amazing and then I read City of Bones, and in context? Absolutely brilliant. Also its shocking the difference between Mortal Instruments: Joking about taking clothes off to bind wounds, and Twilight: Actually taking clothes off to bind wounds. XD At least I think that happens in Twilight..... Or does Jacob just take off his shirt to help clean a wound? Same difference. Haha. Anyway awesome quote. And a fairly awesome book series to boot.

Julia :)
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