Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Words Wednesday [25]

A chance for me to highlight some of my favorite book quotes! This week's quote is from Wither by Lauren DeStefano.

"This is my story. These things are my past, and I will not allow them to be washed away. I will find a way to have them back."

I can't believe I didn't read Wither sooner. All I can say is I ABSOLUTELY FREAKING LOVE IT!!!! <3 This quote is gorgeous. I can't stop reading it, nor can I get it out of my head.

Julia :)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Book Review: Small Town Sinners

Lacey Anne Byer is a perennial good girl. But with her driver's license in hand, Lacey's ready for a "movie moment" this year - something that will make her stand out. As a junior, she's finally eligible to try out for a lead role in Hell House, her church's annual haunted house of sin. But it turns out Lacey doesn't need to play a role to have her moment. What she needs is Ty Davis, the smart, cute, new guy in town. Ty doesn't know sweet, shy, good girl Lacey Anne. With Ty, Lacey could reinvent herself and maybe get her first boyfriend. As Lacey's feelings for Ty grow and conflicts surrounding Hell House intensify, Lacey finds reason to test her own boundaries - to question the faith she's always known to be absolute.

In a Nutshell: Small Town Sinners is a book that shines a light on faith, sin, and what it means to decide the truth for yourself.

Putdownability Factor: This was definitely a fast read! I was sucked in from beginning to end.

Cover Love: The cover fits the book perfectly. Plus I just love that apple. I know its photoshopped but still, its awesome.

My Thoughts

There aren't a whole lot of YA authors writing religious fiction nowadays. I know its a controversial topic, and authors probably don't want to alienate readers but I really think that this is a niche that is just dying to be filled. Melissa Walker has not only written an intelligent and thought-provoking look at what its like to grow up a conservative christian, but she has also proven that there is a place for this type of book in YA.

Small Town Sinners isn't so much a book about religion, as it is a book about asking questions. Sure there were some heavily religious themes (hell houses? That is some crazy shiz!) but overall this book was about the characters and their journey through life, faith, and finding the truth in it all. Lacey Anne starts out as a shy good girl who would never question the religion that she's been brought up in, but by the books end Lacey Anne realizes that you can't just believe something because your parents believe it. You have to own it for yourself.

Small Town Sinners is for anyone who has had doubts, and wanted to the strength to find the answers. It was thought provoking, honest and one of my favorite reads of the summer. I give it 4 out of 5 ice cream cones.

Don't be afraid to ask questions.

Also you should take the time to check out Melissa Walker's blog because its AWESOME. One of my favorite author blogs. She has weekly giveaways, cover stories, and more! Really you should go follower her. 

Julia :)

Monday, August 29, 2011

Did someone say HUNGER GAMES TRAILER?!?!?! :D

Unless you've been living under a rock you probably know that the Hunger Games teaser trailer was premiered on the VMA's yesterday night. I honestly don't give a crap about the VMA's or MTV but I decided to watch just so I could see the Hunger Games trailer. I had to live stream it off the internet because my family doesn't own cable. Anyway I decided to film myself as I watched the VMA's in order to get my first reaction of the teaser trailer for you guys. Don't worry, I edited down the footage so you won't have to slough through 2 hours of me watching in boredom and confusion. What you will see is me beatboxing (very poorly), me expressing my love of laser lights, and me talking about Bruno Mar's unfortunate hairstyle! If that still doesn't sound at all interesting to you and you just want to see my trailer reaction go ahead and skip to 2:52 on the video. I won't be offended. :)

OH. MY. GOSH. So I think its safe to say I've seen the trailer at least 50 times now. I showed it to everyone in my family even though half of them don't even care about the Hunger Games. My mom was disappointed there was no footage of Peeta. Typical. >.<

If you still haven't seen the trailer you can watch below! And if that is the case WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?!?!?! If you have seen the trailer what did you think of it? Did you totally love it? Were you disappointed? Was there something you wish was different about it? More Peeta perhaps?

I would also recommend watching Gary Ross' commentary on the trailer. He's really starting to cement in my mind that he knows that he is doing and that this movie is going to be AMAZING! Though I don't think I'll ever forgive him for casting Liam Hemsworth as Gale....

Get More: 2011 VMA, Music

Julia :)

Kawaii Monday: Mushroom Erasers

This week's Kawaii Monday features mushroom erasers! I have an absolutely ginormous eraser collection (you don't even want to know how many I have....) and these mushroom erasers are some of my favorites! I picked them up while I was in California this summer. I tried to be cool and artistic and take photos of them myself but that didn't really work out.... So I decided to use some stock photos from the internet instead. *hangs head in shame* Anywho here they are:

AREN'T THEY CUTE?!?!?! And even the bottle is adorable. The cap is an eraser too. I have a bottle that is green and blue, not blue and pink but whatevs. I JUST LOVE THEM! <3

While searching for a good photo to use I also stumbled across these guys:

I like these colors even better than the first ones! You can buy these from Oriental Trading Company. Who knew Oriental Trading Company could have such cute stuff? I'm tempted to buy some off of eBay but its like $5 for about 50 of them, and while $5 isn't a whole lot of money, I don't actually need 50. Just 8 or so. :P What do you guys think? Should I buy them and then give some away to you guys? Hmmmm... That's an idea.

You can buy the first set here and you can find the others on ebay here.

Julia :)

Sunday, August 28, 2011

In My Mailbox Vlog [20]

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!

I haven't done an IMM in FOREVER. Mostly its because I was in California all summer. Now that I am back I was able to film a vlog and go through all my new books! Unfortunately this vlog is super duper long. I blame it on the fact that I had like a bajillion books to go through..... So if you want to see me embarrass myself, talk about how a book cover reminds me of mormons, and watch as I do an impression of my mother (a poor one at that) and talk about her hilarious obsession with Josh Hutcherson/Peeta Mellark then view on! Otherwise, just scroll to the bottom for the list of bookish goodness. Though I would HIGHLY recommend that you at least skip ahead to around 15:30 when I start talking about the whole mom/Josh Hutcherson thing. Its hilarious. XD

Uncommon Criminals by Ally Carter Audiobook (Thanks Donna @ Bites!)
Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos
Forgotten by Cat Patrick plus Digital Photo Keychain
Divergent by Veronica Roth plus Tattoos (for a giveaway next month! Be on the lookout!)

Looking for Alaska by John Green
Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss
Hunger Games Movie Poster (MY LIBRARIANS ARE THE BESTEST!!!!!)

Peak by Roland Smith
More Life-Size Zoo by Teruyuki Komiya
If I Stay by Gayle Forman
Blood Red Road by Moira Young
Delirium by Lauren Oliver (ITS SO SHINY!)
Entertainment Weekly Men of the Hunger Games Edition

First Day on Earth by Cecil Castellucci
The Penderwicks at Point Mouette by Jeanne Birdsall
Dark Water by Laura McNeal
Plague by Michael Grant
Sharks and Boys by Kristen Tracy
What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen
Clarity by Kim Harrington
City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare (FAIL! I've already read this. >.<)
The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King
Wither by Lauren DeStefano
Hate List by Jennifer Brown
A Father's Love: One Man's Unrelenting Battle to Bring His Abducted Son Home by David Goldman
As Always, Julia: The Letters of Julia Child and Avis Devoto

What did you guys get in your mailbox this week?

Julia :)

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Cover Comparisons [7]

I LOVE the book Paper Towns by John Green. Definitely one of my favorite reads of 2010. Its gotten quite a few covers since its publication so I thought I would compare them today! This is in honor of my little brother who deemed Paper Towns "too girly" merely because the cover has a girl on it. Ironic since the entire story is told from the male perspective. Ohhh brother how little you know.... XD Anyway, Paper Towns is unusual in that when it was first published it got two covers: one to appeal to males and one to appeal to females. Now Paper Towns also has a paperback cover. Lets compare all 3 shall we?

                 "Male" Cover                   "Female" Cover

                                    Paperback Cover

"Male" Cover: I don't think the whole "capture the male audience" thing really worked with this cover because my brother HATES it. I specifically asked him "what about the guy cover?" and he answered "you mean the weird emo one with the dirt on her face? Ewwww no." Straight from the males mouth. Even though my brother doesn't like this cover I do. I almost bought two copies of Paper
Towns just to get the two separate covers. I also loved that they gave this one a matte finish. It was a nice touch. However I have to agree with my brother that the random dirt smudges are a bit weird. O.o

"Female" Cover: I ADORE this cover. The colors are bright and cheery and I think that the cover model is a good representation of Margo. In fact, it was the cover alone that made me read Paper Towns. I don't even know what it is, but there is something about this cover that drew me in everytime I went to the Library. It has an "it" factor that's hard to pin down, but its definitely there. I do have to agree with my brother that the cover is a bit on the girly side, but really its only because the cover model is a girl.

Paperback Cover: I see this cover and I think "meh, roadtrip novel." Which isn't a bad thing necessarily, but I don't think it really captures the greatness of Paper Towns. It is an eyecatching cover having that giant push pin and all, but this cover alone wouldn't make me want to read the book. The funny thing is my brother likes this cover way better than the other two. It's a lot more "male" I guess. >.<

So who wins? THE "FEMALE" COVER!!! Its one of my favorite book covers ever. Don't ask why, because I honestly don't know, but I just love it. However, if you were to ask my brother he would say that the paperback cover wins.

So there you have it folks. My thoughts (with some input from my broskie!) on the many covers of John Green's Paper Towns. Now its your turn! Which cover is YOUR favorite? Be sure to vote in the poll below!

Julia :)

Friday, August 26, 2011

Can I live here please?

Last week Page to Premier posted about the Hobbit House of Montana. When I saw that post I basically died and went to heaven. A hobbit house you can actually stay in?! HECK YES!!! I'm such a Lord of the Rings nerd, you guys have no idea. My bedroom is literally painted like the shire. Literally. Anyway look at some amazing pictures of this place.

Is that not like the coolest thing you've ever seen?! The only problem is that the inside inner decor isn't as hobbit-like as it could be.

It's tad too hunters lodgesque for me (and why are the ceilings vaulted? Its a hobbit house for crying out loud!) but overall I LOVE THIS PLACE!!! I would love to live in a hobbit house. Like I said, I'm such a LOTR geek. >.<

Anyone want to road trip it with me to Montana? Or at least pay for my $250 a night stay? No one? Darn.... >.<

Julia :)

Thursday, August 25, 2011


Whilst reading through blogs I ran across the book trailer for The Eleventh Plague by Jeff Hirsch. I was already interested in reading this (who wouldn't be when its touted by Suzanne Collins?) but after seeing this trailer my interest level has doubled. Now I'm dying to get my hands on it. :P


That is all.

Julia :)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday [11]

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 Out of Sight, Out of Time by Ally Carter!

The last thing Cammie Morgan remembers is leaving the Gallagher Academy to protect her friends and family from the Circle of Cavan--an ancient terrorist organization that has been hunting her for over a year. But when Cammie wakes up in an alpine convent and discovers months have passed, she must face the fact that her memory is now a black hole.  The only traces left of Cammie’s summer vacation are the bruises on her body and dirt under her nails, and all she wants is to go home.

Once she returns to school, however, Cammie realizes that even the Gallagher Academy now holds more questions than answers.  Cammie, her friends, and mysterious spy-guy Zach must face their most difficult challenge yet as they travel to the other side of the world, hoping to piece together the clues that Cammie left behind.   It’s a race against time.  The Circle is hot on their trail and willing stop at nothing to prevent Cammie from remembering what she did last summer.

I. Cannot. Wait. For. This. Book. Seriously, I LOVE THIS SERIES. Sure its a bit cheesy at moments, but still. ITS ABOUT TEEN SPIES. Therefore, its a win. Oh and have I ever mentioned how much I LOVE Ally Carter? In short, this book can't come soon enough. If you've read the Gallagher Girls series up till this point then you will understand why its so hard to wait for Out of Sight, Out of Time and how crazy intriguing the summary is! 

Out of Sight, Out of Time won't be officially published until March 20, 2012. Cruel? I think so. :P

Julia :)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Book Review: Beauty Queens

The fifty contestants in the Miss Teen Dream Pageant thought this was going to be a fun trip to the beach, where they could parade in their state-appropriate costumes and compete in front of the cameras. But sadly, their airplane had another idea, crashing in a desert island and leaving the survivors stranded with little food, little water, and practically no eyeliner.

Whats a beauty queen to do? Continue to practice for the talent portion of the program - or wrestle snakes to the ground? Get a perfect tan - or learn to run wild?And what should happen when the sexy pirates how up?

In a Nutshell: Beauty Queens is a hilarious romp through pageant hell and back again, all while discovering that its not what's on the outside, but what's on the inside that matters.

Putdownability Factor: Frequent "commercial breaks" throughout the novel made it easy to

Cover Love: Ehhhh I'm not a huge fan of this cover. It didn't help that I was trying to read Beauty Queens at the waterpark with my cousins..... "Julia, why is there a bikini girl on the cover of your book????" Hahahahaha. >.<

My Thoughts

Beauty Queens. Its a crazy romp through pageant hell and back. Its a political statement that screams in your face about feminism, and countless other controversial topics. Its got sexy pirates, commercial breaks, insane celebrities, oh and did I mention its freaking hilarious? Yeah, its an awesome book. :)

I'm not gonna lie, I was expecting Beauty Queens to be a bit more.... I don't know bloodthirsty (I'm not as psychotic as I sound...)? When I first heard about this book I thought it was gonna be more fighting and less prancing around on the beach. I was a little disappointed at first, but not for long.  I would have never expected it from reading her Gemma Doyle Trilogy, but Libba Bray is a comic genius. There was hardly a moment when I wasn't laughing while reading Beauty Queens. Tip for future readers: Don't read this book in public unless you're prepared to have people stare at you as you break out into random fits of hysterical laughter. >.<

Other than the humor (which was obviously a winner!) the other thing I loved about Beauty Queens was the characters. Even though there were 13 total contestants that I had to get to know, Libba Bray did a great job creating each character, giving them backstories, and really making them stand out. I did get confused a few times (who wouldn't with 13+ different characters) but overall I was impressed with how unique each character truly was. My favorites were Adina (Miss New Hampshire) because of her fiery attitude and boy smarts and Mary Lou (Miss Nebraska) because of her ability to accept herself.

The one thing that kind of bugged me about Beauty Queens was that it had such a strong political agenda. I'm all for girl power, and people speaking their minds, but this book ended up feeling kind of preachy. Its comparable to protesters you run into while shopping downtown; you don't really mind what they're doing so much as its annoying that it's getting in the way of your ultimate goal which is shopping. In this case I didn't really mind the political statements, they just got in the way of me processing the actual story.

Even though Beauty Queens wasn't what I expected it to be, it was still an awesome book. The characters were well rounded, the plot was a great mix of action and quirkiness, and overall it was just funny as heck. I give Beauty Queens 4 out of 5 ice cream cones.

Who would I recommend this book to? Anyone looking for a good laugh would love this book!

Julia :)

Monday, August 22, 2011

I cooked a Hunger Games meal!

Yesterday me and one of my very good friends Cristian (he's got a blog, you should check it out!) got together and cooked up one of the Hunger Games dishes from the awesome blog Fictional Food! We decided to make the Lunch With Cinna dish and it actually turned out pretty good! Here is a little walk through (complete with pictures!) of the dish.

We started out by cutting up the chicken breasts and coating them in flour and some salt and pepper.

Then we tossed them in a pan to fry them. They were supposed to get browned and all that but I didn't wait long enough for the butter to heat in the pan before adding the chicken (clearly I have no patience. :P) and so they didn't get a chance to brown. Cooking chicken breasts is tricky because the meat can turn chewy so easily. I sacrificed the browning for chicken that wasn't chewy. Not a bad trade off if you ask me, though I would have liked it browner. Curse me and my impatience! :/

Then we added in the cream, orange juice, and orange pieces. As you can see I probably should have picked a larger pan to cook this in.... hehehe. >.<

We removed the chicken and orange pieces so that we could season the sauce separately. Definitely a good idea since the pan I chose was a bit small.

And voila! The finished product! Not bad ehhh? I think it turned out fairly well. Unfortunately the sauce on its own tasted kind of odd and acidic. A commenter on the Fictional Food blog said their sauce tasted a bit like vomit and I have to agree. Cream and citrus aren't a very good pairing.... The good thing is that once it was paired with the chicken, orange pieces, and rice it tasted great! Oh and it needed salt. LOTS of salt. Yay for sodium overload! :D

Overall I give this recipe a 3.5. I think if I did it again I would make the cream sauce differently. I wouldn't add in the orange juice and just make it more of an alfredo. Hopefully that would cut down on the awkward pukish taste. :P

I'm definitely going to try the Lamb Stew with Dried Plumbs dish next! Who knows when I'll get around to it, but I will post about it when it does happen. I promise!

If you want to try making this dish you can find the recipe and anything else you might want to know about fictional food here.

Julia :)

Kawaii Monday: Munny Zipper Pulls

This week's Kawaii Monday features Munny zipper pulls. I went to my local Border's the other day and they had these and they are SO CUTE.
Fun colors? Cute animals? WIN. I was able to buy a few at discount (because Borders is closing and all *sniff sniff*) and I was lucky enough to get the yellow giraffe one! I want to go back and buy more but the problem is that you buy them blind. They come sealed in boxes and you don't know which design is inside. Frustrating since you could get stuck with the one that looks like a green pile of dung. No joke! So yeah, I'm debating on whether or not to go back and get more. But anyway aren't they awesome? And you don't even have to use them for your zipper. They can clip onto anything!

Which Munny zipper pull is your favorite?

Julia :)

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Cover Comparisons [6]

While browsing through the interwebs I discovered that Scott Westerfelds Uglies series got a cover makeover! I don't really know why, (I guess they just thought the old covers were getting stale after 6 years on the shelves? Who knows) but it poses the perfect opportunity for a COVER COMPARISON!!! This will be the first time I'm comparing the covers of an entire series instead of just one or two covers. Pretty exciting if you ask me. Here goes nothing:

 Old Covers

 New Covers

Old Covers: I really like these covers. I love that each is beautiful on its own, but that they also look great as a whole. I definitely think that these covers capture the essence of the Uglies series, even though they're just photos of faces. They also have a great intensity to them that really captures your attention.

New Covers: I'm gonna be honest here, I am not a fan of the new covers. They look a bit too digitized (especially the Extras cover) and they feel really clinical. Plus the fact that they have the name of each title in the series along the top of each book just seems a bit hokey to me. Oh and the cover of Uglies scares the crap out of me. What exactly is the point of a face getting smothered by bedsheets? Yeah, creepy. And to top it all off I don't feel like the covers really go well together. They aren't cohesive like the previous covers were. :/

So who wins? For me its the old covers hands down. They're visually stunning and they portray the series well without getting too freaky. The new covers are okay, but I would greatly prefer having the old covers on my bookshelf.

What about you guys? Do you prefer the old covers of the Uglies series or do you think the new designs are even better? Be sure to let me know by voting in the poll below!

Julia :)

Friday, August 19, 2011

Calling all French loving bloggers!

Are you a blogger who loves to read? Do you also happen to enjoy French culture (or just France in general)? Then you need to join in Beware of the Froggies French Literature reading challenge! You can read all about it and how you can join in the fun here.

I know I'm already swamped with reading challenges this year (I can finish all of them I swear!!! :P) but I couldn't resist adding this one to my list. I mean come on, who doesn't love France? And not only that but I'm already in the middle of Les Miserables and I need to have some sort of motivation to finish it. Have you seen how huge it is? It is a tome like no other.... >.<

I've decided to do the Alexandre Dumas level which means I'm aiming to read 3 French books though, if I'm being honest, I'll just be happy if I finish Les Miserables. Other books I'm wanting to possibly read are:

  • Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne
  • The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux (ironically this is already on one of my reading challenge lists)
  • A Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne
If you're currently scratching your head thinking "Gosh. I don't know of any French books. There's no way I could do this challenge." then have no fear! The amazing ladies at Beware of the Froggies have already made up a list of some popular French novels to get you started! You can check that out here.

So now you have absolutely no more excuses for not taking part in this challenge. All who join up with me will get cookies!!!! *tosses cookies to blogging buddies* :D

Oh and be sure to show Beware of the Froggies some love! They're new to the blogosphere and I think its great that they're trying to bring about more awareness of French literature!!!

Julia :)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

When the Library fails :(

So I went the Library last week. I was all hyped up because Uncommon Criminals by Ally Carter was supposed to be on the hold shelf happily sitting there and waiting for me to check it out. I walk in the Library, get to the hold shelf, and Uncommon Criminals isn't there. I search the shelf again. I still don't find it. UNCOMMON CRIMINALS IS GONE. Like the naive little Library goer I am I decided to think positively. "They probably just have it in the back still! I'll just go up to the desk and ask them and they'll find it for me no problem!" So I go up to the check out lady and she searches for 10 minutes only to tell me "Sorry. I couldn't find it. Come back in a few days and maybe it will have turned up."

This was my actual reaction:

"Okay thanks for looking!" :D

This was how I wanted to react:

(insert string of curse words here)

I was disappointed to say the least. I went back yesterday hoping that Uncommon Criminals might have miraculously shown up over the weekend but it hadn't. Sad face. :(

Has the Library ever failed you before?

Julia :)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday [10]

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 Rivals by Daisy Whitney!

When Alex Patrick was assaulted by another student last year, her elite boarding school wouldn't do anything about it. This year Alex is head of the Mockingbirds, a secret society of students who police and protect the student body. While she desperately wants to live up to the legacy that's been given to her, she's now dealing with a case unlike any the Mockingbirds have seen before.

It isn't rape. It isn't bullying. It isn't hate speech. A far-reaching prescription drug ring has sprung up, and students are using the drugs to cheat. But how do you try a case with no obvious victim? Especially when the facts don't add up, and each new clue drives a wedge between Alex and the people she loves most: her friends, her boyfriend, and her fellow Mockingbirds.

As Alex unravels the layers of deceit within the school, the administration, and even the student body the Mockingbirds protect, her struggle to navigate the murky waters of vigilante justice may reveal more about herself than she ever expected.

I totally loved Daisy Whitney's first book The Mockingbirds so I'm hoping this sequel will be just as good. I'm totally intrigued by the whole prescription drug aspect and yay for navigating the murky waters of vigilante justice! Haha. Gotta love the wording in the summary. XD

This is getting published on February 6th 2012.

What are you waiting on this wednesday?

Julia :)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Book Review: Living Dead Girl

When Alice was ten, Ray took her away from her family, her friends - her life. she learned to give up all power, to endure all pain. She waited for the nightmare to be over.

Now Alice is fifteen and Ray still has her, but he speaks more and more of her death. He does not know it is what she longs for. She does not know he has something more terrifying than death in ind for her.

This is Alice's story. It is one you have never heard, and one you will never, ever forget.

In a Nutshell: Living Dead Girl is a dark and horrifying look into the life of someone who was kidnapped.

Putdownability Factor: Short chapters, and easy prose make Living Dead Girl a quick read.

Cover Love: After reading the book I can't really say anything nice about this cover. Sure, it is connected to the story, but the way its connected is so twisted and sad that its impossible for me to like it now. :(

My Thoughts

Disturbing. Twisted. Dark. Scary. Honest. Beautiful. Those are just a few of the words that come to mind when I think of Living Dead Girl. I knew this book was controversial, but after reading it I can definitely see why. Living Dead Girl is not an easy read. There were several moments when I wanted to put the book down, and never pick it up again, but I couldn't. I was entranced by this story of horror and sadness. After finishing Living Dead Girl I didn't know what to think. Did I hate the story? Yes. I hated it for its cruelty. For its honesty. For portraying something that I've so often feared and at the same time been intrigued by. But even while I hated Living Dead Girl I also loved it. For its truth. For its sadness. And for allowing me to reevaluate the way I see the world around me.

Living Dead Girl is the heartbreaking story of someone who at one time might have known what love was, but has now forgotten. Someone who endures the pain and welcomes the nightmares. Someone who wishes for death at every turn. And lastly, someone who is not only trapped by their captor, but also trapped by their own inner demons. Alice's story broke my heart. She was so lost and so confused. I wanted to reach through the pages of the book and pull her out of her misery. I wanted so strongly to save her. But I couldn't. Elizabeth Scott has succeeded in crafting a story that is fiction, but feels absolutely real. That's what makes it so powerful.

If there was one point made in this book, it was that people turn a blind eye. We don't see the wrong that is right in front of us, and even if we do we don't try hard enough to stop it. Is that true? Do people just sit back and quietly give thanks that they aren't the ones being harmed? I don't know. I'd like to think that situations like Living Dead Girl are few and far between. That people would speak up if they noticed something strange. But I know that isn't always true. And that saddens me deeply. No one should have to endure what Alice had to endure in this book.

Honestly, I find it hard to recommend Living Dead Girl. Its not that I didn't like it (to an extent) but what am I supposed to say? "If you like books about mentally unstable kidnappers, and their victims then read this book"? What does that sound like? So let me leave it at this: This book will scare you. It will horrify you. It might even give you nightmares. But it does have some redeeming qualities. If you want to slough through the many dark layers of Living Dead Girl to find the few hidden gems, then by all means do so. But be forewarned: This book has extremely mature content. Proceed at your own risk.

I give Living Dead Girl 3 and a half out of 5 ice cream cones.

I may not have loved Living Dead Girl, but it succeeded in one way: It made me think. It still has me thinking. And it won't soon be forgotten.

Julia :)

Monday, August 15, 2011

Kawaii Monday: Owl Bookends

This week's Kawaii Monday features owl bookends! I don't know about you guys but I've never actually needed bookends. I have too many books on my shelf as it is. :P Even so, these owl bookends are stinkin cute.

Honestly, they don't even have to be bookends. You could just have them sitting on a shelf and they would still be adorable.

So would you guys put these little owls on your bookshelf?

You can buy these owl bookends here.

Julia :)

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Cover Comparisons [5]

Today I'm comparing the covers of If I Stay by Gayle Foreman. These covers are like polar opposites of each other. One is definitely the modern and "eye-catching" stock photo style, while the other is the more subtle artwork style. So which one wins?

                    Original Cover           Paperback Cover

Original Cover: While I don't think that the original cover is very engaging, the more I look at it the more I realize how perfect it is for If I Stay. Its got this beautiful simplicity to it, and I love the symbolism behind the single blossom on the tree. Will it stay on the branch, or will it fall to the ground? There was definitely a lot of thought put into this cover design.

Paperback Cover: This cover on the other hand is very engaging. Its got a melancholy, almost edgy vibe to it, and I love the muted colors. This cover was what made me read If I Stay in the first place. That was in the height of my "I love covers with close up faces" reading stage (Before I Fall, All Unquiet Things, etc). I also love that this cover matches with the Where She Went cover. What can I say, I'm a sucker for coordinating book covers. :P Oh, and does anyone else agree with me that the girl in this photo kind of looks like Megan Fox????

So who wins: I've gotta give it to the paperback cover. Sure, its not as original, nor is it as symbolic as the original, but it was what got me to read the book in the first place. I've gotta give credit where credit is due.

Be sure to cast your vote for your favorite If I Stay cover below!

Julia :)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Book Review: Twenty Boy Summer

According to Anna's best friend, Frankie, twenty days in Zanzibar Bay is the perfect opportunity to have a summer fling, and if they meet one boy every day, there's a pretty good chance Anna will find her first summer romance. Anna lightheartedly agrees to the game, but there's something she hasn't told Frankie - she's already had her romance, and it was with Frankie's older brother, Matt, just before his tragic death one year ago.

In a Nutshell: Twenty Boy Summer is a wonderful story of love, loss, and moving on.

Putdownability Factor: This book was addicting! Definitely one of the harder to putdown books of the summer.

Cover Love: I LOVE SEA GLASS!!!! Therefore I love this cover. :)

My Thoughts

I absolutely ADORED Fixing Delilah by Sarah Ockler so I definitely had some high hopes for Twenty Boy Summer! Well, this book did not disappoint! Sarah Ockler has yet again proven to me what an amazing author she is. Twenty Boy Summer is fun, and feisty, but most of all it has heart. Its not just a fluffy summer novel. Its so much more.

I fell in love with just about every character in this book. But the character I loved the most? Matt. I'm pretty sure I'm speaking for all us book lovers out there when I say that Matt is a gem. I mean he's absolutely obsessed with the written word. What's not to love? This particular quote really got to me:

"Love of reading was something I shared with him alone, because of him alone. It was everything to him."

A guy who can instill a love of reading? Yeah, he's a winner. I know he's already fictional, but it just broke my heart to think that he wasn't alive anymore. SO SAD. :(

What Sarah Ockler creates in her writing is amazing. Moments. Relationships. Memories. Things that stay with you, even after the final page has been turned. There's an emotional depth and intensity to Twenty Boy Summer that doesn't often occur in YA novels. I just LOVE this book.

Twenty Boy Summer is amazing. I give it 4 and a half out of 5 ice cream cones!

Who would I recommend this to? Any teen who is looking for a summer read that is lighthearted and fun, but also touches on some deeper issues. Some of the content of Twenty Boy Summer would probably be a bit more suited to older teens.

Julia :)

Monday, August 8, 2011

Kawaii Monday: Tofu Plush

This week's Kawaii Monday features Hannari tofu plushes! For the longest time I thought these little cube guys were so cute. Then I finally realized they were actually supposed to be tofu. Too funny right? Who knew that tofu could be so adorable!

Awww they're such cuties! It seems like they would make great stacking toys for little kids since they are so flat. My friend has one of these, but hers is a cell phone holder:

I want a tofu cell phone holder! Haha. Can you imagine having that on your bedside table and someone asking "Hey, that is such a cute cell phone holder. What is it?" and you answer "Oh! Thank you, its tofu." So funny. XD

If you were to pick one of these cuddly little guys to take home which would it be? I would pick either the green one, or the pink one!

Julia :)

Friday, August 5, 2011

Book Review: Feed

"We went to the moon to have fun, but the moon turned out to completely suck."

So says Titus, a teenager whose ability to read, write, and even think for himself has been almost completely obliterated by his "feed," a transmitter implanted directly into his brain. Feeds are a crucial part of life for Titus and his friends. But then Titus meets Violet, a girl who cares about what's happening to the world and challenges everything Titus holds dear. A girl who decides to fight the feed.

In a Nutshell: Feed is a scary look into a future where society is driven by materialism and technology.

Putdownability Factor: Not that high. The story runs on emotion rather than thrills.

Cover Love: Its the back of a head. And a bald head at that. Since when has a bald head been a good marketing tool? Just saying... :P

My Thoughts 

Feed is definitely not your average dystopian. It isn't a fast paced, page turning thriller like The Hunger Games, but nor is it really a slow and somber look into the future like The Giver. Feed is like no dystopian I've read before. Its about relationships, humanity, and what it means to really live.

Ultimately Feed was really hard for me to get into. The prose felt really choppy and the modern language style was difficult for me to follow. It was like a really weird form of teen slang that I just didn't get AT ALL.

Once I finally got around the awkward language Feed did start to get better. I loved what the book was trying to convey. At what point do we lose our humanity? When we turn ourselves into walking electronics? When we stop talking face to face? When we start to think that open sores are a cool new fashion trend? When we start to become so materialistic that we forget who we are? Some of the things in Feed seemed so out there that I felt like it could never become a reality, but at the same time a lot of it rang true. It scared me. Is this where our society is headed?

While I loved the message of Feed it was devoid of one important element. Hope. There was not a lot of Hope. Even at the end of dystopian books as depressing as Mockingjay, and Farenheit 451 there is still a glimmer of hope. But Feed? I didn't feel much hope. In fact, the first words out of my mouth after I finished Feed were "Gosh. That book was depressing."

Did I like Feed? To an extent, yes. I liked that it made me think. I liked that it posed some interesting questions. But overall, the depressing tone of the novel, and the really strange writing style just didn't work for me. I give it 3 out of 5 ice cream cones.

Who would I recommend this book to? Teenagers who like dystopian novels and also any reader who likes books that really make them think.

Julia :)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Book Review: Imaginary Girls

Chloe's older sister, ruby, is the girl everyone looks to and longs for, who can't be captured or caged. After a night with Ruby's friends goes horribly wrong and Chloe discovers a dead body floating in the reservoir, Chloe is sent away - away from home, away from Ruby.

 But Ruby will do anything to get her sister back, and when Chloe returns home at last, she finds a precarious and deadly balance waiting for her. As Chloe flirts with the truth that Ruby has hidden deeply away, the fragile line between life and death is redrawn by the complex bonds of sisterhood.

In a Nutshell: Imaginary Girls is an eerie mix of contemporary and the paranormal that examines death, life, and the bonds of sisterhood.

Putdownability Factor: This book is haunting. Everytime I put it down it was like there was a voice in my head just begging me to pick it back up and finish it.

Cover Love: Ummmm GORGEOUS. I would read this book on the cover alone. Heck, I would buy this book on the cover alone. And once you read the book the cover makes even more sense! Its just perfect.

My Thoughts

Imaginary Girls is definitely one of the weirdest, scariest, most atmospheric books I've read all summer. I didn't really know what to expect when I started it because the summary is so oblique. Was I reading a contemporary? A paranormal? Or maybe a mystery thriller? I didn't know. And honestly, I still don't know. Imaginary Girls has so many different elements to it that you can't really categorize it. But the one thing I can say for sure about this book is that it is AMAZING.

One of the biggest elements to Imaginary Girls is mystery. Why does Ruby seem to have so much power over people? How on earth can a dead girl come back to life? And what does it have to do with the reservoir and the lost city of Olive? Nova Ren Suma's writing pulled me into the story and didn't let me go till the last page was turned.

I absolutely ADORED the prose of Imaginary Girls. It was creepy, alluring, and hypnotic. It would only take a few sentences for me to get engulfed into the story.

The one drawback I had to Imaginary Girls was the characterization. I didn't like Ruby from the get go. She was manipulative, and rude, and altogether unlikeable for me. Chloe on the other hand was just too much of a push over. I kept screaming in my head "Do something girl! How can you just let your sister get away with this?" *sigh*

But even with the poor characterization Imaginary Girls is worth reading. It's plot is intriguing and the writing style is absolutely amazing. I give it 4 and a half out of 5 ice cream cones!

Nova Ren Suma is a masterful author. I will definitely be reading anything she writes in the future! I am a fan. :)

Who would I recommend this to? Anyone with a love for mysterious and somewhat creepy novels. Especially those who like thrillers and the paranormal.

Julia :)

Monday, August 1, 2011

Kawaii Monday: Ugly Dolls

This week's Kawaii Monday is about Ugly Dolls!!!!! Ugly Dolls are basically the best plush toys known to man. They are stinkin cute and adorable, and I want to snuggle with every single one of them! When I went to camp a few weeks ago there was this little girl who was going to the elementary grades camp on the same campus as us and she had a TON of ugly dolls with her. Basically her jeans were outfitted with mini ugly doll keychains on each belt loop. And she had like 2 or 3 of them stuffed into her pillowcase. I was jealous to say the least. :P I only own one small size ugly doll but I'd love to have more. Unfortunately my bank account does not agree with me. Anyway, here are my favorite Ugly Dolls (AKA the ones I would buy if I had a lot more money.... >.<):

Orange + Cute Fangs = Awesome monster plush!!! :)

This one kind of reminds me of a dog. Its the big ears and the tongue. LOVE. <3
He's green. And cute. And looks like he wants a hug. *hugs through computer monitor* >.<

Okay this guy may just be my favorite. I LOVE the color and the cuteness of his fangs and his ears and everything. So. Much. Cute.
And last, but certainly not least, is Ox. His name comes from his eyes. One an "O" and one an "X"! Clever right? Ox is kind of the quintessential Ugly Doll. Definitely a favorite.

So those are the Ugly Dolls I love the most! Do you have a favorite? You can check out all of the different ones over at the Ugly Doll Website.

Julia :)

Character Tweets from Solstice!

Today I've got some fun character tweets from the characters of P.J. Hoover's novel Solstice!

Solstice by P.J. Hoover: Characters That Tweet (very badly)

TIME: Before the first big storm

Chloe: @piper it's hot as hell out here
Piper: @chloe it's been hotter 
Chloe: @piper when?
Piper: @chloe maybe last week
Piper: @chloe wait, my mom just told me a heat bubble is coming
Chloe: @piper I told you it was hot
Piper: @chloe we should go inside
Chloe: @piper we'll be fine.

Time: During the ice storm

Piper: @shayne There's ice falling from the sky
Shayne: @piper that's hail.
Piper: @shayne what's hail?
Shayne: @piper hail. It's like frozen rain.
Piper: @shayne what if it hit someone over the head?
Shayne: @piper it would probably kill them. You should go inside.
Piper: @shayne but I want to watch the hail
Piper: @shayne oh, that hurt
Piper: @shayne won't the roads be slippery?
Shayne: @piper yes. People are going to die.

TIME: During hurricane

Chloe: @piper the wind is blowing
Piper: @chloe that's a hurricane
Chloe: @piper you're overreacting. There's no hurricane
Piper: @chloe half your roof just blew off.
Chloe: @piper I didn't notice
Piper: @chloe that's because you're flipped out crazy. You stuck nails in all the mirrors.
Chloe: @piper I got distracted
Piper: @chloe you got delusional
Chloe: @piper you're just jealous
Piper: @chloe of...
Chloe: @piper Reese. Shayne. You name it. You've always been jealous of me.

TIME: Before the electrical storm

Reese: @piper have you missed me?
Piper: @reese I haven't thought about you at all
Reese: @piper why do you keep sniffing the air?
Piper: @reese I'm not sniffing the air
Reese: @piper I see you. I hear you. You are sniffing the air.
Piper: @reese maybe in your dreams
Reese: @piper maybe you should stop fighting your feelings. I have been waiting for you a long time.

TIME: During electrical storm

Piper: @chloe wait. Don't go too close to the edge
Chloe: @piper you know I was supposed to die
Piper: @chloe no you weren't. Just step back. Please?

P.J. Hoover first fell in love with Greek mythology in sixth grade thanks to the book Mythology by Edith Hamilton. After a fifteen year bout as an electrical engineer designing computer chips for a living, P.J. decided to take her own stab at mythology and started writing books for kids and teens. P.J. is also a member of the Texas Sweethearts & Scoundrels. When not writing, P.J. spends time with her hunsband and two kids and enjoys practicing Kung Fu, solving Rubik's cubes, and watching Star Trek. Her first novel for teens, Solstice, takes place in a Global Warming future and explores the parallel world of mythology beside our own. Her middle grade fantasy novels, The Emerald Tablet, The Navel of the world, and The Necropolis, chronicle the adventures of a boy who discovers he's part of two feuding worlds hidden beneath the sea.
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