Thursday, June 30, 2011

Harry Potter Withdrawal

So I finally finished the Harry Potter series last night. I held it off as long as possible! But it had to end eventually didn't it? Wow, what can I say about this series.... (WARNING! If you haven't read the Harry Potter series there are major spoilers ahead!)

First and foremost J.K. Rowling is a GENIUS. The way she wrapped up the series was just amazing. One of the best, if not the best ending to a series I've ever read. I wasn't disappointed with anything. It was all just brilliant.

I was surprised by how few deaths there were and actually by who died. Okay I take it back, a lot of people died, but honestly I thought even more people were gonna die. And unfortunately just about every death had already been spoiled in some way so I wasn't really surprised by any of them. The one person I thought for sure was going to die but never did was Hagrid. Wow that guy is resilient. Even when attacked by a swarm of giant spiders he still manages to survive! The one death that really got to me was Fred. WHY DID FRED HAVE TO DIE?!?!?! WHY?!?!?! I have a soft spot for all the Weasley's and I was just devastated that J.K. Rowling would kill one of them. HOW COULD YOU??? And one of the twins too! They need each other! I was just waiting for there to be some sort of tender "Oh my gosh my twin is dead!" moment for George but that never happened. And I don't really get why Fred had to die. My cousin was saying "Oh to give incentive for Mrs. Weasley to go crazy and kill Bellatrix" but honestly couldn't she just as easily have gone all crazy on Bellatrix for other reasons like maybe one of her kids was injured but NOT DEAD. As you can tell I'm not even close to getting over Fred's death yet. :( Oh and Remus and Tonks? Yeah, why did she have to kill both of them? And leave behind poor Teddy to be an orphan? SO SAD. I was in such shock when I found out they both died that yeah, I didn't even believe they were both dead at first. TOO MUCH SADNESS!!!
Oh goodness Ron Weasley. I always liked him as a character but then Deathly Hallows made me absolutely adore Ron. I don't know what it was about that book but Ron is now like my favorite character. Next to Hermione of course. I just LOVE that pairing! Hermione and Ron are definitely my favorite couple of the series. That scene where they finally kiss? Yeah, I loved it. :P

Which brings me to another funny thing about the Harry Potter series. Normally I don't enjoy romantic angst in books, but I just ate it up in Harry Potter. Harry's angst over Ginny?  Loved it. Ron's angst over Hermione? Ha I REALLY loved it. I think its because it was just so real. It didn't feel contrived.

Last but not least Snape. Severus Snape. I really don't know what to think of him. I always thought he was evil. Then it was proven he was evil in the Half-Blood Prince. Then it turns out he really was good and working for Dumbledore? But wait, not because he wanted to be good, because he loved Lily. And what's that? Snape has really loved Harry all along? I just can't wrap my mind around it.

Overall Harry Potter is officially one of my new favorite series of books. Its just so amazing and I'm so sad that I wasn't able to read it sooner. Fortunately I'm not SO late to the party that I can't still enjoy the release of Deathly Hallows Part 2! :D

If you got to the end of this post thanks for stumbling through my crazy mind meanderings! I don't really have anyone to talk to about books here in California so the blog is basically my "vent out my bookish thoughts" place right now. Especially helpful when one is going through series withdrawal. >.<

Julia :)

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Book Review: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

A mysterious island.

An abandoned orphanage.

A strange collection of very peculiar photographs.

As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that Miss Peregrine's children were more than just peculiar. They may have been ddangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow - impossibly though it seems - they may still be alive.

In a Nutshell: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is an awesome book with a mysterious storyline, some very eerie photographs, and you guessed it, a lot of peculiar children.

Putdownability Factor: Make sure you start this book when you have a lot of free time because you will probably have a hard time putting it down!

Cover Love: I love this cover. At first glance it seems normal enough, but when you look closely you notice that THE GIRL IS FLOATING!!! Yeah, I didn't notice it at first either. :P Just like this cover, the book the has more to it than meets the eye.

Why did I pick this up? Because the cover looks freaking awesome! Not to mention the summary is pretty enticing too. A big thanks to Quirk books for sending me a copy for review!

My Thoughts

When I first decided to review this book I didn't really know what to expect from it. Was it a paranormal? Was it a horror? A type of contemporary adventure story? And how did the "peculiar" photographs fit in with the story? Well I shouldn't have worried, because this book turned out to be pure awesome.

I have never read anything like Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children before. Its definitely one of the most inventive books I've read in a long time. Ransom Rigg's created his own mythology for this book and it was brilliant.

My favorite part of this book was the photographs hands down. The way Ransom Riggs incorporated them into the story was pure genius. It added just the right touch of visual imagery to make the story come alive, not to mention the fact that the photographs were just plain cool.

While none of the characters really jumped out at me, they were definitely all unique (they have to be right? They are "peculiar" children!) and enjoyable to read about. There were a few times when I would get confused and have to flip back to figure out which character they were referring to but that wasn't too often.

Overall Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is an amazing debut. Its odd, and eerie, and sure to surprise you. I give it 4 and a half out of 5 ice cream cones!

Who would I recommend this to? Anyone who enjoys books that are a bit unconventional, have paranormal elements, or who just like really amazing stories.

Oh and be sure to check out the book trailer. Its one of the best I've seen! 

Julia :)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Detention Club Tour: This or That List

Today I've got a This or That list from the character Sunny from David Yoo's book The Detention Club! This post is part of the Teen Book Scene blog tour. Be sure to follow along with the tour here. Without further ado, here's Sunny with her This or That list!

Sunny Beaches or Snowy Mountains? I don't like the messiness of sand, so I guess snowy mountains, though come to think of it I'm not crazy about snow, either. I do prefer studying in a cool temperature, so okay, I'm going to stick with Snowy mountains.

Chips Ahoy or Oreo's? Oreos are neater - three distinct parts that you can see from a distance. I prefer order, not chaos.

Sweet or Spicy? Either in moderation.

Lions or Tigers? Tigers - they have better hygiene, evidenced by the lack of flies circling their faces during Animal Planet videos.

Neons or Pastels? This question confuses me. On one hand, neon is an inert, noble gas that is very rare on this planet, I like to think of myself as noble (eg: I'm hall-moniter), and my intelligence and skill set certainly makes me rare at Fenwick Middle, but then again I have no respect for inert people who sit around and do nothing all day, like my brother, Peter. What's that? Oh, you mean which would I prefer to wear? The question wasn't clear. Definitely pastels.

Popcorn or Chips? Popcorn, thought it should be stressed to your readers taht people choke every year when they have too big a mouthful. Everything in moderation, as I said earlier.

Baseball or Football? Neither. Academic Bowl or Scripps Spelling Bee. I went to a baseball game once and it went on forever, and I feel that any sport where you can chew tobacco during it is not a legitimate sport. As for football, every hit is equivalent to 30mph car crash. Enough said.

Dragons or Dinosaurs? Dinosaurs are real. I know everything about them. My favorite is the Diplodocus. Just saying the name out loud makes me smile. Besides, the ability I just can't take dragons seriously. Not to mention the ones that talk in a British/Irish accent.

Action Movie or Romantic Comedy? Action movie, although the physics during the action movie, although the physics during the action scenes are usually laughable. Same with sci-fi movies. For example, anytime you see a huge several-miles-wide space ship hovering over a major city, that could never happen because of the laws of gravity! Whenever I watch an action movie I'm constantly muttering, "That could never happen in real life." But romantic comedies are even less realistic, so...

Hawaii or Alaska? I intend to visit all fifty states at some point in my life, so I'd have to say both. But given my disapproval of sand, I guess I'd say Alaska, although truth be told I was planning on making that visit a very short trip.

Snowboarding or Skateboarding? I've never done either, but I'd have to say snowboarding simply because I'm a natural at land-skiing, which is comparable.

Coffee or Tea? Tea is chock full of healthy antioxidants and it has a cleaner taste, whereas coffee always tastes burned to me. And you never hear about someone's bad "tea-breath."

Monday, June 27, 2011

Kawaii Monday: Sentimental Circus

This week's Kawaii Monday feature's San-x's new line Sentimental Circus! Some friends and I went out shopping last week and one of the stores we went to is called MaiDo. Its basically a store where they sell all sorts of Asian stationary supplies, erasers, stickers, etc. In short its one of the best stores on the planet! Anyway it was there that I discovered Sentimental Circus. Its like Asian cuteness with a little splash of Tim Burton and its altogether AWESOME. Here are some of my favorites from the collection:

Super cute right? I'm already kicking myself for not buying some stationary of it. :P Thanks to one of my wonderful friends I was able to get a few folders and she bought me the super cute elephant plush! I WILL TREASURE HIM FOREVER!!!

If you guys want to buy this stuff then check eBay or if you're in the San Francisco Bay Area then go to MaiDo!

And finally here is a link to free Sentimental Circus desktop wallpaper!!! You know you wanna use it!

Julia :)

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Cover Comparisons [1]

I was going around the blogosphere the other day and I stumbled across the UK cover of The Maze Runner. I totally did a double take because I had never seen it before and gosh darn it, it's pretty badass! I like the US cover for The Maze Runner but I think I may just like the UK cover better. Of course then I had to see if there was a different cover for The Scorch Trials and it was pretty awesome too! Take a look:

                         US Cover                    UK Cover

                         US Cover                   UK Cover

US Covers: I love the fact that they kept the covers simple but also intriguing. They've also got a certain feel to them that is modern and primitive all at the same time. The best part about these covers is that they go together really well, and they help give you an idea of what the Maze and the Scorch look like.

UK Covers: The best thing about these covers? The tagline hands down! Why didn't they use that on the US covers? I really like the UK cover for The Maze Runner, but I'm not as huge of a fan of their cover for The Scorch Trials. The color scheme is just too much like a sunset. But I absolutely LOVE the Maze Runner cover. It captured the epicness of that book perfectly. It practically buzzes with excitement! The thing I like about both covers is that having the black background really makes the titles pop. And they both go together well so I can't really fault them there. I just wish they had only done orange/yellow for The Scorch Trials color scheme instead of incorporating pink and purple. Like I said, too much like a sunset. :P

So who wins? This one is REALLY close. I like the UK Maze Runner cover better than the US one, but I like the Scorch Trials US cover better than the UK. I guess I have to give it to the US covers. They're atmospheric feel has won me over. However I would love to own both sets of the books. I'm such a book nerd. >.<

Be sure to vote in the poll below to let me know which cover versions you think are best!

I think this may be a new feature that I post on the blog every once in a blue moon. What do you guys think? Keep it? Sack it?

Julia :)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Bookish Questions: Do you have book OCD?

In my everyday life I am not OCD at all. Farthest thing from it. But when it comes to books? All sorts of strange things start to surface.... Which comes to my bookish question. Do you have book OCD? Some sort of OCD tendency that only comes to light when you read? Or is only related to books? Allow me to confess my book OCD for all to read. (this is starting to sound like an AA meeting or something..... >.<)

Confession #1

I can't speed read. Or skim. At all. Well unless the book is REALLY boring (aka: text books) and even that's questionable. I'm going to have to take a speed reading class for college and I'm not gonna lie, I'm scared of it. The basis of these speed reading classes is that not everything in the book/essay/article is of equal importance so you only need to read what IS important. This is where my brain starts to yell "THAT'S NOT TRUE! ITS ALL EQUALLY IMPORTANT!!!!" D: I can't even skip words or mess up a sentence while I'm reading. If I do, I have to go back and read it over correctly. OCD much? I know, I'm a closet crazy pants. >.<

Confession #2

Once I start reading something I can't stop. I discussed this in another bookish questions post awhile back. Basically I must finish a book. Its as simple as that. This probably has less to do with OCDness and more to do with the fact that I hate thinking of myself as a quitter, but still its fairly odd.

Confession #3

I don't think I could ever seriously own a Kindle or another eReader. Why? Because if I own a book, then I have to own the physical copy. If I just had a digital copy I wouldn't feel like I really owned it because it wouldn't be palpable. I would have to own the digital copy AND the physical copy.

So those are my 3 OCD book confessions. Do you guys have any? Are you unable to skim like me? Or maybe once you start a series you can't read anything else until you finish the whole series? I'd love to know I'm not alone in my book reading craziness!!! We could all form a club or something. Haha.

Julia :)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Words Wednesday [24]

A chance for me to highlight some of my favorite book quotes! This week's quote is from The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan.

"Sometimes small things can become very large indeed."

I've come to discover I'm always drawn to quotes that mention small things or people doing great things. Probably because I'm so small myself. :P

I finally got around to finishing the Percy Jackson series!!! *fist pump* It was epically amazing, and I'm basically in love with Percy now. Even though he is like only 16.... But come on he was played by Logan Lerman in the movie whose like 18 so its not like I'm THAT creepy right? XD

Julia :)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Book Review: Fall For Anything

When Eddie Reeves’s father commits suicide her life is consumed by the nagging question of why? Why when he was a legendary photographer and a brilliant teacher? Why when he seemed to find inspiration in everything he saw? And, most important, why when he had a daughter who loved him more than anyone else in the world? When she meets Culler Evans, a former student of her father’s and a photographer himself, an instant and dangerous attraction begins. Culler seems to know more about her father than she does and could possibly hold the key to the mystery surrounding his death. But Eddie’s vulnerability has weakened her and Culler Evans is getting too close. Her need for the truth keeps her hanging on...but are some questions better left unanswered?

In a Nutshell: Fall For Anything is an evocative novel about coping with suicide. Sometimes dark,  sometimes sweet, but definitely hard to put down.

Putdownability Factor: I read this in one day. Its not the longest book, but the short chapters and intriguing storyline kept me hooked.

Cover Love: LOVE this cover. Its just like the story. Beautiful, but a bit eerie at the same time.

My Thoughts

Fall For Anything is definitely not one of those easy breezy reads. It hits on some pretty hard topics, and overall the tone of the book is fairly dark. I was a little shocked by how dark this book was. I was expecting an uplifting, girl recovers from her sadness kind of story. But instead I got a deeply psychological, mystery filled contemporary, and an ending that was more hopeless than hopeful. Don't get me wrong! Fall For Anything was an enjoyable book. But there were definitely a few aspects that made it hard to love.

Eddie was an interesting character. She was extremely lost to herself and who she was throughout the book. She was also depressed and constantly struggling with the reason for her fathers suicide. I would have liked to see more character development because honestly, by the end of the book I didn't feel like Eddie had changed much. I also didn't really care for Culler. HE WAS SUCH A CREEPER!!!! O.O However I did love Milo. Then again I always like the best guy friends in books. I think its the whole sweet, always there for you aspect that I just love. And Milo definitely had that in spades. :)

The one major flaw of Fall For Anything was that I felt like it didn't really have much of a message it was sending. I was hoping for a sort of inspiring story about loss and then healing, but really it just left me feeling sad and depressed. There was so much potential, but I felt like the execution was just off. It felt way to hopeless at the end.

Courtney Summers prose is beautiful. Her writing is lyrical and flows extremely well. It made Fall For Anything very easy to get pulled into. I love a writer who can hook her reader, merely with the masterful use of words. The only problem with the writing was I felt like there was an overuse of swearing. It really detracted from Courtney Summer's prose and it wasn't really necessary to the story.

Fall For Anything is an interesting novel. Some elements (like Courtney Summer's beautiful writing style) were wonderful while others (the unsatisfying and almost depressing ending) just left me feeling empty. Overall I give Fall For Anything 3 out of 5 ice cream cones.

Who would I recommend this to? Older teens who enjoy contemporary novels. I probably wouldn't recommend it to someone dealing with a recent suicide just because the book felt so hopeless and sad to me. But I know a lot of people who LOVED this book so I guess its all personal preference.

Julia :)

Monday, June 20, 2011

Kawaii Monday: Fish Drawstring Bag

This weeks Kawaii Monday features this cute little Fish Drawstring pouch!!!

Awww its so cute!!! I would totally keep this in my purse and keep my change in it if I had one. I saw this little guy over on the blog Berrysprite (its SUCH a cute blog so you should check it out!). The gal's sister brought it back for her from Japan so I think I would be a bit hardpressed to find one like it here in the states. :/ But oh wells. I can still admire its super adorableness.

Julia :)

Sunday, June 19, 2011

In My Mailbox Vlog [19]

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!

Shine by Lauren Myracle
Miles From Ordinary by Carol Lynch Williams
Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler
Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott
Wither by Lauren DeStefano
Rival by Sara Bennett Wealer
Like Mandarin by Kirsten Hubbard
Karma by Cathy Ostlere

From Author
Karma by Cathy Ostlere (Thank you SO MUCH!!!!)

I also got my copy of Divergent signed by Veronica Roth when she came to Arizona for the Dark Days of Supernatural Tour. I didn't get to go to the event (I know sad day) but one of the amazing librarians at the Glendale Library got it signed for me! Here's a picture:


I am forever in Kearsten's debt. :P You should totally check out her blog here.

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

Julia :)

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Book Review: Sean Griswold's Head

You can look at something every day and never really see it. Payton Gritas looks at the back of Sean Griswold's head in most of her classes and has for as long as she can remember. They've been linked since third grade (Griswold/Gritas; it's an alphabetical-order thing), but aside from loaning Sean countless number-two pencils, she's never really noticed him.

Then Payton's guidance counselor tells her she needs a focus object - something to concentrate her emotions on while she deals with her dad's multiple sclerosis. The object is supposed to be inanimate, but Payton chooses Sean Griswold's head. It's much cuter than the atom models or anything else she stares at! As Payton starts stalking - er, focusing - on Sean's big blond head, her research quickly grows into something a little less scientific and a lot more crush-like. And once she really gets inside his head, Payton also lets Sean into her guarded heart. But obsessing over Sean won't fix Payton's fear of her dad's illness. For that, she'll have to focus on herself.

In a Nutshell: Sean Griswold's Head is a hilarious contemporary novel about one girls non-obsession obsession over, you guessed it, Sean Griswold's Head.

Putdownability Factor: Zilch. I read this in less than a day. Its one of those great fast summer reads.

Cover Love: I know everyone seems to love this cover, but I don't really like it. Its cheesy, and girly, and looks like it belongs in the middle grade section..... But that's probably because I have an extreme aversion to doodly hearts.

Why did I pick this up? I won it from an author and it was on my Contemps Challenge reading list.

My Thoughts

When I found out I had won this book I thought it was pretty funny because honestly this book is pretty much the last thing I would ever pick up from the Library. It looks girly, and cheesy, and totally like some sort of epic creeper romance. Then I started to read the reviews that were popping up around the blogosphere and I realized that this book had a whole lot more to it than just its cheesy cover. So I decided to read it with an open mind. And I was pleasantly surprised by how super hilarious and wonderful Sean Griswold's Head really is.

First of all I absolutely LOVED Payton. She was so similar to me in so many ways. And her mental voice and sense of humor were like exactly like me too. It was a little crazy, but mostly just really funny. Like REALLY funny.

And that brings me to the second thing I love about this book. The humor. This book is freaking hilarious. I found myself laughing at practically every other sentence. The focus excercises that Payton does about Sean's head are YA writing gold. Lindsey Leavitt you are a genius. XD

I was really surprised by the romance in this book. There were definitely some cheesy moments (nothing quite like awkward Valley Forge "reenactments") but overall it was just sweet. It felt real. Sean was one of those perfectly awkward guy next door kinds of boys. He wasn't the "totally hot jock" or the "cool artsy kid." He was just your normal, average nice guy. I loved that.

I also liked that Lindsey Leavitt didn't totally focus on the romance. Family and friendship were highlighted just as much as Sean's "cuteness" was.

Sean Griswold's Head is a great book. I'm so glad I didn't brush it off just because the cover scared me. I would have been missing out on one of the funniest, and most enjoyable contemporaries of the year. I give it 4 out of 5 ice cream cones!

One of my favorite quotes from this book was: "hard-core doesn't even begin to describe you."
Well the same can be said of this book. Hard-core doesn't even begin to describe it.

Who would I recommend this to? Teen girls who like books with humor and a dash of romance.

Julia :)

Friday, June 17, 2011

Read-a-thon Updates!

Hey guys!

The Spring Into Summer Read-a-thon has officially begun!!! :D I hope all the participants have gotten some good reading done. I know I have!

Update #1
  • Book I just finished: The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan
  • Book I am currently reading: Moonglass by Jessi Kirby
  • Total Books Read: 1
  • Total Pages Read: 381
  • Books Read Since Last Update: 1
  • Pages Read since last update: 381
  • Total time read: Oh gosh I don't know let me think.... About 3 and a half hours.
  • How I'm currently feeling: Great! I didn't actually start reading till about 10AM (nannying job was the culprit of this. :P) and then didn't REALLY get started without interruptions till about 1PM. But I finished The Last Olympian in one sitting! YAY! Now I'm moving onto something shorter. Moonglass by Jessi Kirby. Not as much weight to lug around to the baseball game I'm going to tonight. :)
 Mini Challenge

For this mini challenge I needed to create a mini picture puzzle to go along with the title of a book. I picked my book! Its actually one that I plan on reading during the read-a-thon. :P Can you guess what it is?

    Its pretty easy but it was the first thing that came to me off the top of my head. :P If you think you know the answer go ahead and put your guess in the comments section!!!

    Well I'm off to a baseball game! Hopefully I can fit in some reading on the drive over.

    Julia :)

    Update #2
    • Book I just finished: The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan
    • Book I am currently reading: Moonglass by Jessi Kirby
    • Total Books Read: 1
    • Total Pages Read: 381
    • Books Read Since Last Update: 0
    • Pages Read since last update: 117
    • Total time read: I'd say 4.5 hours
    • How I'm currently feeling: Like a failure. :P I set my alarm for early this morning but ended up babying out and not getting up till 10. SO MANY WASTED READING HOURS!!! :( But no fear I will conquer at least 3 books today! I just know it! >.<
    Mini Challenge
    For this mini challenge I'm supposed to name a book that I want to be taught in schools. Hmmm.... I would say The Hunger Games for 8th graders. Its the kind of book that is engrossing enough to not bore the kids, but also has a powerful message about war and sacrifice. :)

    Update #3
    • Book I just finished: Moonglass by Jessi Kirby
    • Book I am currently reading: Karma by Cathy Ostlere
    • Total Books Read: 2
    • Total Pages Read: 613
    • Books Read Since Last Update: 1
    • Pages Read since last update: 115
    • Total time read: 6 hours
    • How I'm currently feeling: Much better since last time! Finished another book and now I'm gonna start on my third. I AM SO EXCITED TO READ KARMA!!!! Its been on my TBR list for awhile now and I interviewed the author so this book has been a long time coming. The Library in Arizona didn't have a copy but the Library here in California does so I finally get to read it! YESH!!! :D
    Mini Challenge
    I was supposed to use an anagram maker to create "the best" anagram of my name. I got "Trash Juicily." Let me tell you I do not think that is the best anagram of my name. It makes me think of Ke$ha..... :P 
      Update #4
      • Book I just finished: Moonglass by Jessi Kirby
      • Book I am currently reading: Karma by Cathy Ostlere
      • Total Books Read: 2
      • Total Pages Read: 1031
      • Books Read Since Last Update: 0
      • Pages Read since last update: 418
      • Total time read: 8 hours
      • How I'm currently feeling: Energized! Karma is FREAKING AMAZING. If you haven't read it yet you need to. Its one of the best books I've read all year! 
      Mini Challenge
      I'm supposed to tell you guys what the the funniest/most inspiring thing is that I've read so far during the read-a-thon. Well lets see. Funniest would have to be The Last Olympian. Anyone whose read anything by Rick Riordan knows that he has a wicked sense of humor. His sarcasm is great. As for most inspiring I am definitely going with Karma by Cathy Ostlere. Its in-verse historical fiction at its best. If its not inspiring I don't know what is! 

      Julia :)

      Wednesday, June 15, 2011

      Words Wednesday [23]

      A chance for me to highlight some of my favorite book quotes! This week's quote is from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of the Azkaban by J.K. Rowling.

      "Happiness can be found in the darkest of times, if one remembers to turn on the light."

      Words of wisdom from Dumbledore yet again. I love him. He's just such an amazing character. Nicole over at WORD for Teens brought this quote to my attention in her post against that WSJ article. I just had to feature it because its such an amazing (and true) quote.

      Julia :)

      Tuesday, June 14, 2011

      Book Review: Scorpia Rising

      In his time as a British spy, Alex Rider has taken on countless enemies. While he's never come away unscathed, he's always completed his missions. But there is one enemy that just won't stay down, the terrorist organization that murdered his parents and forever changed Alex's life: Scorpia.

      Back and more powerful than ever, Scorpia has its sights set on the turbulent Middle East, and Alex must risk his life in one of the most volatile regions in the world. His mission? Put Scorpia out of business. 


      But this may be the one mission Alex won't be coming home from....

      In a Nutshell: Scorpia Rising is the 9th and final book in the Alex Rider series. Its action packed, fast paced, and a great end to a great series.

      Putdownability Factor: Pretty low. What do you expect from an Alex Rider novel?

      Cover Love: Its generic Alex Rider. I don't know if I would pick it up unless I knew about the series but it fits in with the rest of the Alex Rider books perfectly.

      Why did I pick up this book? Because its Alex Rider! Haha.

      My Thoughts

      Scorpia Rising is Alex Rider's last mission. *sniff sniff* I'll admit it, I'm a little sad about this. I love the Alex Rider books. They're just so badass. Out of all the spy books I've read, these are definitely the best. That being said, Scorpia Rising is definitely a great end to a great series.

      This book is almost non-stop action. I should have made a "how many times does Alex Rider gets shot at and doesn't die" tally chart because seriously its kind of ridiculous how "bullet proof" this kid is. Believability aside all the action is just plain awesome.

      If you've read an Alex Rider book before then you know how awesome Smither's is. Well he totally gets even more awesome in this book. This can be proven with this quote:

      "Shame this isn't England or I could have had them with my exploding gnomes."

      Yep, that is pretty awesome. Where can I get myself an exploding gnome?

      I think Anthony Horowitz did a great job of wrapping up the series. Everything was tied together perfectly and there weren't any annoying unexplained details to the story that some other series can have. I also liked the way Scorpia Rising tapped into a more emotional aspect than some of the other Alex Rider books. Overall this book is a solid 4 out of 5 ice cream cones.

      Who would I recommend this book to? Any preteen/teenager who loves spies, or action packed novels. Especially boys who are reluctant readers. Just make sure to read the rest of the series first!

      Julia :)

      Monday, June 13, 2011

      Kawaii Monday: Hunger Games Fan Art

      This week's Kawaii Monday features Hunger Games fan art! Not exactly Kawaii persay, but definitely AWESOME. My favorite fan art artist is Burdge-Bug on deviantART. She draws the MOST AMAZING fan art for everything. Seriously go check her out. RIGHT NOW. Haha. On to the Hunger Games art. Here are my 3 favorites of hers:

      Not exactly as I pictured Katniss, but pretty darn close. I think it might be because she looks a little to robin hood/superhero esque in this picture. Its the tunic and the high boots. XD

      I'll admit it, even though I'm not a Peeta fan I do think he's pretty adorable in this picture. This is pretty close to the way I imagined Peeta too. Kind of puppy doggish. I like how she drew him holding the bag of flour. It makes him seem more manly since he's somewhat lacking in that department.... :P Oh and this was colored by some other deviantART artist not Burdge-Bug. They haven't colored the Katniss picture but I thought I would do the colored versions of the Peeta and Gale art since they're awesome.

      And I saved the best for last. *swoon* This is THE BEST Gale rendition I've ever seen. Seriously like exactly the way I pictured him in my head. HE'S SO PERFECT!!!! :D Every time some gross image of Liam Hemsworth pops into my head (sorry to all you LH fans out there) I just think of this fan art and all is well again. Haha.

      One final piece of art that I had to share too. This one isn't by Burdge-Bug but you can find it on deviantART here.

      This one is SO COOL. Katniss and Peeta are perfect. I don't really get Gale's expression in this but its still good. And everyone else is great too. Especially Haymitch.

      Julia :)

      Saturday, June 11, 2011

      Book Review: The Water Wars

      Vera and her brother, Will, live in the shadow of the Great Panic, in a country that has collapsed from environmental catastrophe. Water is hoarded by governments, rivers are dammed, and clouds are sucked from the sky. But then Vera befriends Kai, who seems to have limitless access to fresh water. When Kai suddenly disappears, Vera and Will set off on a dangerous journey in search of him-pursued by pirates, a paramilitary group, and greedy corporations.

      In a Nutshell: The Water Wars is a unique dystopian that feels very similar to a part of the Pirates of the Caribbean saga.

      Putdownability Factor: Ehhh I had to read it fast because I needed to return it before I left, but honestly I wasn't totally into it.

      Cover Love: This cover is AWESOME. Its clean, simple, but super engaging. Love it.

      Why did I pick this up? Because the cover is so darn cool! Haha. Plus I had this on my list for the debut author challenge!

      My Thoughts

      The Water Wars was kind of like a Pirates of the Caribbean movie. It was fun, action-filled, and the plot jumped around so fast that I could hardly keep up. You know that feeling of "What the heck just happened?!" Yeah that was me about a gajillion times while reading this book.

      The main problem was the characters. They were very one dimensional and they all kind of melded together in my mind. The only one I never got confused with someone else was Vera, and that's probably because she was the only girl in the story until like the last 50 pages. I would have liked the characters to have a bit more personality and depth.

      Where Cameron Stracher excel's is the world he created. I really love the idea of a dystopian future without water. Its a really fascinating concept and I think that overall Cameron Stracher did a great job creating this world.

      However I think that the plot of The Water Wars was really weak. Everything was built around the fact that Vera cared so much for Kai that she would risk everything for him. But why? Why would Vera put Kai ahead of her own family? It just didn't make much sense. So you start with a weak plot point (finding someone you have a helpless crush on) and then adding in even crazier plots (fights over political power and the war) and everything just starts to get muddled and confusing.

      Like I said, this book was like a Pirates of the Caribbean movie. Lots of flash and bang, and razzle dazzle, but not a whole lot of well thought out substance. The Water Wars is a fun book. I enjoyed it to an extent. But poor characterization and a weak plot made it hard to love. Overall I give this 3.5 ice cream cones out of 5.

      Who would I recommend this to? Dystopian fans would enjoy this, as would boys who love lots of swashbuckling action.

      Note: This review kind of makes me sound like I'm hating on Pirates of the Caribbean but I'm not. I LOVE Pirates of the Caribbean! Just remember: Why do you love Pirates of the Caribbean? For the great plot and characters? Okay maybe for the characters (JACK SPARROW!!!) but you know what I mean. Its mostly the action and adventure and great special effects. At least for me. The Water Wars is the same. Its a good book. But its fun because its got action, and adventure, and kick ass pirate lady with a harpoon gun, not because its got the worlds best plot and characters.

      Julia :)

      Friday, June 10, 2011

      Bookish Questions: Series or Stand-Alones?

      Nowadays it seems like every single book I read is part of a series. Its kind of insane. And to be honest I don't know how I feel about it.

      This seems to be most prevalent in the dystopian/fantasy/adventure genres. Lately it seems like there are hardly any stand-alone novels coming out of these genres.

      Now don't get me wrong. I love a good series like any other person. The Hunger Games? LOVE. Harry Potter? LOVE. But does every single book that comes out that isn't a contemporary HAVE to be apart of a series?

      I guess my biggest gripe with series is that sometimes they just go on and on. Like Manga. I mean there are 48 volumes of Naruto in Part 1. And that's only Part 1!!!! I honestly don't know how people can just keep reading them. Don't they get boring after awhile? :P

      Another thing for me is that sometimes I'll read a book thinking its a stand-alone novel, and then I get to the end and I realize its the first in a series and it feels like I then have to  read the rest of the books. Especially if there is a cliff hanger. I don't have any problem with this if the book is great! But if the book is only so so? Then its like "gosh now I HAVE to read the sequel." (I know, I know, I don't really HAVE to read it but my bookish OCD starts to kick in.....)

      I have now come to discover that if I realize I a new book is part of a series, then that factors into whether or not I decide to read it. I have to think: Do I really want to get sucked into another series? Does this really seem like a series I would enjoy reading, or will I possibly regret reading this?

      So what are your guys' thoughts on this? Do you wish there were more stand-alone novels or do you like how popular series are these days? And does the fact that a book is the first in a series play a part in whether or not you decide to read it?

      (oh and sorry if this post sounds a little like a rant. I mean no offense to any authors who are writing a series or anyone else for that matter. Really, I don't!!!)

      Julia :)

      Tuesday, June 7, 2011

      Book Review: Nothing

      "Nothing matters."

      "From the moment you are born, you start to die."

      "The Earth is 4.6 billion years old. You'll live to be a maximum of one hundred. Life isn't worth the bother!"

      So says Pierre Anthon when he decides that there is no meaning to life, leaves the classroom, climbs a plum tree, and stays there. His friends and classmates cannot get him to come down not even by pelting him with rocks. So to prove to him that there is a meaning to life, they set out to build a heap of meaning in an abandoned sawmill.

      But it soon becomes obvious that each person cannot give up what is most meaningful, so they begin to decide for one another what the others must give up. The pile is started with a lifetime's collection of Dungeons and Dragons books, a fishing rod, a pair of green sandals, a pet hamster - but then, as each demand becomes more extreme, things start taking a very morbid twist, and the kids become ever more desperate to get Pierre Anthon down. And what if, after all these sacrifices, the pile is not meaningful enough?

      In a Nutshell: Nothing is a novel that will ask you to question everything you believe about the world and the meaning of the life that you live. Definitely a modern day Lord of the Flies.

      Putdownability Factor: Very low. Its a short book (only 227 pages) and I read it in one sitting.

      Cover Love: Meh. Its simple just like the book. May or may not attract a readers eye.

      Why did I pick up this book? It was recommended to me by one of my teen librarians. She said it was "the best book she ever read that she never wanted to read again." With a description like that how could I NOT read it?

      My Thoughts

      It seems that I've been reading a lot of psychologically heavy books lately. And this book may just be the heaviest of all. Nothing is a book that is hard to explain because its such a simple story, but with such a powerful message. Plus its hard to say anything without completely spoiling the book. I'll try to keep it simple. Haha. :P

      What matters? Anything? Nothing? Is the world truly meaningless or are there some things that ARE worth something? These are all questions that are raised in Nothing. And they are raised in quite possibly one of the darkest and most morbid fashions possible. What starts out as an innocent game, quickly escalates into so much more.

      So does the question get answered? Does anything REALLY have meaning? In the end its up to the reader to decide. I know some people who read this book and just finished it feeling empty. Honestly I didn't feel that way. This book made me realize how blessed I am to be alive and really feel like I have a purpose in life. I'm a Christian so I really do believe my life has a purpose and a meaning. Not everyone is going to love this book, and not certainly not everyone is going to end up feeling the same way I feel about it. But I definitely think its a powerful story and it raises some important questions. 4 out of 5 ice cream cones!

      Who would I recommend this to? Because of the dark content, teens 13 and up. But even then I would make sure that the person would be able to handle the story because it is VERY dark.

      Julia :)

      Monday, June 6, 2011

      Kawaii Monday: Pom Pom Chicks

      This week's Kawaii Monday features Pom Pom Chicks!

      SO SNUGGLY!!!! I just want to take them out of the screen and stuff them into a little cute nest or something. Even though chickens don't really live in nests..... But that's okay! Maybe my mom could figure out how to make these. I think she has a pom pom maker.

      You can buy these cuties here.

      Julia :)

      Sunday, June 5, 2011

      How YA Changed My Life

      So a lot of you have probably seen the ranting on Twitter or in a blog post about a WSJ article that basically states that all YA is deep, dark, and trashy. I wasn't going to say anything, but after reading so many people's stories I just had to share mine and how YA helped me through one of the hardest parts of my life.

      At the start of 7th grade I moved from a small town in California all the way out to Glendale, Arizona. Everyone knows that 7th grade is just about THE WORST time to have to move. Its that awkward stage between childhood and becoming a teen. No one is comfortable with themselves and people just aren't open to creating new friendships. Not only that but I was homeschooled so my only outlet for meeting new people was my church youth group. At my youth group I was the odd one out. I was not only the new kid, but I was also a "weird homeschooler" and the only person who wasn't completely European. Basically I stood out like a sore thumb and no one, I mean NO ONE wanted to associate themselves with me. I was miserable and insecure, and totally depressed.

      Then during the summer between 8th grade and Freshman year I read Sarah Dessen's book Keeping the Moon.

      I LOVE this book. It helped me so much because it validated what I was feeling but at the same time it told me that it doesn't matter what others think of me because, I am beautiful, and wonderful, and amazing. This book taught me to ignore the naysayers, and remember the truth. I still have the notebook where I wrote down quotes from this book that I would read for encouragement.

      I'd always been an avid reader, but Keeping the Moon was one of the first real YA books that I read. Afterwards I was totally drawn to the genre because it spoke to me. It helped me. It understood me. And it taught me things that I could have never learned otherwise. The people at WSJ may think that YA is only good for drawing people towards darkness, but I can honestly say that YA helped draw me towards the light.

      Julia :)

      Saturday, June 4, 2011

      Bookish Questions: To buy or to borrow?

      I'm a HUGE fan of the Library. Ever since I was little it has been my favorite place to be. I've really been blessed to have great local Libraries and Librarians. And because of this I've just always used the Library. I will gladly admit it: I am a Library addict. If there's a new book coming out, I put it on hold at the Library, if a book is already out, I'll put it on hold, and just about everything I read has a Library sticker on it. I'm one of those people who doesn't buy a book unless I've read it first and LOVED it. Either that or I just got it for a really, REALLY good deal. And even the books that I do buy and love, I have to get them on discount. I can't remember the last time I bought a book for full price and I just can't imagine doing it. I know, I'm such a cheapskate. :P

      After starting my blog I've realized how truly unusual I am. I've noticed that a lot of other bloggers just buy all their books. They buy the new releases as soon as they come out, they buy an older book that catches their eye, they buy stuff people recommend, they buy tons, and tons of books and sometimes those same books will sit on a shelf and not get read for another 6 months. I know how that is. I've done it before too. :P

      So which kind of reader are you? Do you like to borrow books? Buy the books? Or are you a little bit of both? And do you buy books at full price or do you buy them on discount?

      Julia :)

      Thursday, June 2, 2011

      I'm doing a READ-A-THON!!! :D

      Hey folks!

      How are we all doing today? Good? Good! I'm a little hyper right now. I ate a pastry like thing for breakfast this morning so I'm high on sugar. Hehe. Anyway on to business. I'm doing a read-a-thon!!!! :D

      I've never done a read-a-thon before. Well not an official read-a-thon. There was that time in 8th grade where I read all day for like 2 weeks straight to finish The Series of Unfortunate Events in time for the final books release..... But that doesn't count. :P So the wonderful Enna Isilee of Squeaky Books is hosting the Spring Into Summer Read-A-Thon! Its super ingenious since summer is like THE BEST time to read right? So much free time to just sit in bed and read! The read-a-thon is from June 17-18. Its a weekend so even people who work have no excuse not to participate. :P I'm going to be doing both days. I'm gonna read, READ, READ and hopefully get through some of the books that have been sitting around for ages. Haha.

      Other than reading there are also going to be lots of mini challenges and giveaways! WHO DOESN'T LOVE FREE BOOKS?!?! In fact just for signing up you can get entered to win a $25 Amazon gift card. GO SIGN UP RIGHT NOW!!! Oh and be sure to say that Julia @ That Hapa Chick sent you! It gives me extra entries. :P

      On to making my goal for this read-a-thon. Honestly I don't know exactly how this is going to go down because I might have to help my aunt and uncle with the kids on that day. But I'm supposed to have weekends off so hopefully I can just crash in my room. Anyway here goes nothing.

      My goal:

      I plan to participate on: Friday and Saturday
      I plan to read: Hmmm good question. How long is this? Oh right 36 hours..... Hopefully around 5 books. But they might be long so maybe less....I hope to read: Incarceron by Catherine Fisher, City of Glass by Cassandra Clare, Its Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini, Feed by M.T. Anderson, Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson, Drought by Pam Bachorz, Like Mandarin by Kirsten Hubbard, Rival by Sara Bennett Wealer, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling. (not all of these but some combination of them.)

      Well, have you signed up yet? DO IT NOW!

      I'm excited! The only problem with this is then you have like a million reviews to write. Haha.

      Julia :)

      Author Interview: Cathy Ostlere

      Today I have a great interview with the awesome author Cathy Ostlere! We talk about her new YA book Karma, why she loves writing, and more.  

      Karma is a book in verse. Why did you decide to write it that way? Have you always been drawn to writing poetry? Did you find it difficult to craft a story in verse?

      I am not a poet but I do love poetic prose. I love beauty in language - sounds and sight. I love the sound of individual words and the  rhythms of a spoken poem. I love implied meaning and irony.

      What I enjoyed most about writing a verse novel was the freedom that comes with entering uncharted territory (for myself). Karma's different form allowed more possibility, more narrative risk-taking. What if a character's thoughts appear as a list? What if one thought or one sentence takes up an entire page? What does the white space say to the reader? Is the reader uncomfortable or does the emptiness allow them to rest with the words? Is a verse novel more contemplative? Or is the reader caught in an accelerated pace because there are fewer words on each page?

      I believe that a verse novel offers a kind of freedom to a reader as well. The mind is neither contained nor organized by complete sentences, paragraphs or conventional dialogue. The reader is invited to enter the poem in her own way. Will she choose to read the left column first, then the right? Or will she allow her eye to jump back and forth crisscrossing the page? And then, the question must be asked: how does the experience affect understanding? Are characters deepened because the reader must stay alert to the changing pattern of poems? Does new meaning emerge out of non-traditional narratives?

      You really put a lot of thought into it! I would never have thought of all those variables but its so true. That's part of why I love books in verse so much. They are very open to interpretation.

      Karma is your first young adult book. How was it different writing to a younger audience?

      I actually don't think I did anything very different just because this book was aimed at young adults. This was the story I set out to tell. This was how I chose to write it. If anything, I think I knew Karma would have a more accepting audience with a young adult reader than with an older reader. That says something doesn't it? Young readers are more flexible and curious!

      If I had geared this story towards adults only perhaps I would have delved a little deeper into the politics and religious issues of the era. And I may have explored Sandeep's and Maya's physical relationship in a different way but even as I write that statement I'm not sure. Their restraint in each other is very mature and wise (not something we see often in adult novels). I feel very strongly that my responsibility in writing for YA is greater than if I was writing solely for an adult audience. Every book a young person reads builds their knowledge and experience of the world. Everything in Karma had to be accurate and believable - the facts as well as the emotional lives of the characters. I believe YA readers are demanding in their desire for truth.

      That is very true! I think that's a large reason why Dystopian novels are so popular right now, because they often delve into finding truth. 

      Why did you decide to write a novel about the Indian culture?

      India is a passionate, complex, often corrupt, yet interesting country with a long history and an exciting future. The nation does not fall easily into labels: it is multi-cultural; it is forward thinking and frighteningly backward; it is rich in literature, art, architecture, and myth; it is religiously significant and layered. And it is a thrilling culture. Once you've visited, it beckons again.

      Do you have a favorite character in Karma?

      By and far, Maya. And who can't adore Sandeep? But also Maya's father, Amar, who struggles so much in this book - I admire him a great deal.

      What inspired you to become a writer?

      Beauty. I love to stumble upon 'the exquisite' in books, art, people, nature. My 'art' is writing so I try to show a reader what is beautiful in language, humanity, and our world stories.

      Do you have any rituals that you have to do while you write like listening to certain music or drinking coffee?

      One cup of coffee is the reward for sitting in my chair for two hours. No music, it's too distracting, and makes me want to dance. And though my cat is not a ritual, he has no pattern, Sam is like an extension of my writerly self. He's allowed to go out into the world and explore while I mist stay at my desk and work!

      Your house is on fire and you only have time to save 5 books. Which 5 would you save?

      Michael Ondaatje's The English Patient; Tolstoy's Anna Karenina; George Elliot Clarke's Whyla Falls, my memoir, Lost: A Memoir and finally a dictionary.

      Wow, I would never think to bring a Dictionary but now that you say it that is such a smart idea!

      Thanks so much Cathy for taking the time to answer my questions! I haven't been able to read Karma yet (my Library doesn't have it! Grrrr...) but I definitely want to. I LOVE books in verse and the whole Indian culture is very fascinating to me as well!

      Have any of you guys read Karma? Did you enjoy it?

      Julia :)

      Wednesday, June 1, 2011

      Words Wednesday [22]

      A chance for me to highlight some of my favorite book quotes! This week's quote is from Nothing by Janne Teller.

      "Once in a while I take it out and look at it. And when I carefully slide open the worn cardboard box and look into the gray ashes, I get this peculiar feeling in my stomach. And even if I can't explain what it is, I know that something has a meaning.

      And I know that the meaning is not something to fool around with."

      I really enjoyed this book, even with its dark elements. It made me think, and I love books that make me think.

      Julia :)
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