Sunday, December 23, 2012

Stacking the Shelves: The Hobbit Edition

Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews! It's a chance to share all of our bookish goodness with the blogging world. Yay! :D

So these past few weeks have been kinda crazy. Between finals (okay, I only had one final but it was intense so cut me some slack!) and work I haven't had much time to blog, but now I am free for two whole weeks so YAY!!!! You should be seeing a lot more of me this coming semester. Good news right?

Anyways, I titled this one The Hobbit edition because I spend most of the vlog fangirling about The Hobbit and Tolkien in general. In fact, I edited out almost 10 minutes of extra fangirling. It was getting a bit much but I just love The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings so much that once you get me started, it's hard to get me to stop. Be sure to watch the vlog to see all my awesome Hobbit swag (POSTERS YES!) but if you're just here for the books I got you can just scroll down to the list. :)

Feedback by Robison Wells
The Evolution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
Before I Die by Jenny Downham

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling (UK softcover!)
Myth and Magic: The Art of John Howe
Lord of the Rings Bookmarks

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - Chronicles: Art and Design
The Hunger Games Daily Desk Calendar
Magnetic Bookmarks

Random Hobbit Swag
Hobbit Pen
LOTR Marathon Lanyard
The Hobbit Dog Tag and Tattoos
4 Special IMAX Hobbit Posters

Have any of you guys seen The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey yet? DID YOU LOVE IT?!?! If you have seen it let me know what you thought and be sure to say who your favorite dwarf was! In case it wasn't obvious in the vlog mine is Kili. Bofur is a close second but Kili is just such an adorable badass I cannot help but love him. BEST. DWARF. EVER. Peter Jackson and Aidan Turner win all the awards  for bringing such an awesome character to life.

Be sure to leave a link to your own Stacking the Shelves/Book Haul post in the comments below and I'll check it out! Have a fabulous week and a MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Julia :)

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Boxcar Children is apparently scarier than we all remember....

I was shopping at Barnes and Noble the other day when I ran across The Boxcar Children series sitting on the shelf. Now I know what you're thinking: "Julia, what could possibly be so strange about seeing the Boxcar Children books?" Well let me tell you I took a double take because these weren't the Boxcar Children books that I remember and loved as a child. Oh no, these looked totally different because their covers have been completely redesigned. The result is HILARIOUS. Awful, but hilarious. The publisher must have decided the original covers were just too bland for todays kids and that the action needed to be kicked up a notch because that is the only explanation for the covers complete change in tone. Just look for yourselves:

Original Covers

New Covers

Correct me if I'm wrong but I remember the Boxcar Children being happy tales about 4 siblings who went on vacation and solved extremely harmless mysteries related to pets and "mysterious strangers" who turned out to be good friends or long lost relatives. I remember none of this "Oh my gosh the kids are gonna get struck by lightning" or "Benny is about to drown" stuff. In fact if you compare these covers one set looks like the wonderfully innocent and whimsical stories I remember and the other resembles something more along the lines of "Nightmares in Babysitting."

I mean the new covers set up all sorts of questions. Why is it always Violet and Benny about to die in some sort of natural disaster? Why the heck did Henry and Jessie run ahead in a lightning storm only to leave their siblings behind to get their brains zapped? And most importantly, why did the artist of the cover art always choose to draw Henry and Jessie in a perpetual state of shock while reaching out towards their younger practically helpless siblings? And why oh why are they doing this pose on the cover for The Yellow House Mystery when all Benny is doing is reaching into a hidden compartment in an old fireplace? I DO NOT UNDERSTAND.

Honestly I LOVE the Boxcar Children so I'm not poking fun at them at all. I just think these new covers do not reflect the true essence of the books at all. I understand they're trying to keep it hip for todays kids but did they really have to sacrifice the reality of the stories to do so?

How do you guys feel about covers getting redesigned with something that completely distorts the tone of the book? Do you like these new Boxcar Children covers? Or do you find them as perplexing and laughable as me? And most importantly, has my memory failed me and The Boxcar Children actually does have a scene involving a near death experience with a lightning storm? If so, do enlighten me. :P

Julia :)

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday [22]

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 am waiting on Girl Defective by Simmone Howell!

We, the Martin family, were like inverse superheroes, marked by our defects. Dad was addicted to beer and bootlegs. Gully had "social difficulties" that manifested in his earing a pig snout mask 24/7. I was surface clean but underneath a weird hormonal stew was simmering....

It's summer in St. Kilda. Fifteen-year-old Sky is looking forward to great records, and nefarious activities with Nancy, her older, wilder, friend. Her brother - Super Agent Gully - is on a mission to unmask the degenerate who bricked the shop window. Bill the Patriarch seems content to drink while the shop slides into bankruptcy. A poster of a mysterious girl and her connection to Luke, the tragi-hot new employee sends Sky on an exploration into the dark heart of the suburb. Love is strange. Family Rules. In between there are teenage messes, rock star spawn, violent fangirls, creepy old guys, and accidents waiting to happen. If the world truly is going to hell in a hand-basket at least the soundtrack is kicking. Sky Martin is Girl Defective: funny, real, and dark at the edges.

Doesn't this book sound AWESOME?! I mean violent fangirls? Creepy old guys? THIS SUMMARY IS SPEAKING MY LANGUAGE!!! Not to say that I like those things, but you have to admit it's gonna be hilarious reading about them. Plus this whole thing sounds painfully hipster. I am so here for painfully hipster YA literature.

Girl Defective is coming out from Pan Macmillan Australia on March 1st. I guess I'll have to find some other hipster reading material to fill my time till then. Anyone have any suggestions?

Be sure to leave your WoW link in the comments below so I can check it out!

Julia :)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Book Review: Burn for Burn by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian

Burn for Burn
by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian
356 pages
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: September 18th 2012
Source: Purchased
Postcard-perfect Jar Island is the kind of place where nobody locks their doors at night, where parents can sleep easy, knowing their daughters are tucked away safe and sound in their beds. 

But bad things can happen, even to good girls, and sometimes the only way to make things right is to do something wrong.

Lillia used to trust boys, but not anymore. Not after what happened this summer. And she'll be damned if she lets the same thing happen to her little sister.
Kat is through with being called a freak. She's over the rumors, the insults, the cruel jokes made at her expense. It all goes back to one person - her ex-best riend - and Kat's ready to make her pay.

Four years ago, Mary left Jar Island because of a boy. But she's not the same girl anymore. Now that she's back, he's gonna be in trouble... ' cause she's coming after him.

Three very different girls who want the same thing: sweet, sweet revenge. And they won't stop until they've each had a taste.
I just want to start this review by saying that I want to live in a place like Jar Island. I don't care that it's isolated, and that you can only take a ferry to get there (talk about being screwed in a zombie apocalypse), and that everyone is all up in your business, I WANT TO LIVE THERE. A world with no fast food or WalMart? TAKE ME THERE!!!!!

Burn for Burn is basically my Jr. High dreams come true. Like most tweens and teens I experienced my fair share of bullying in middle school (even though I was homeschooled. Go figure.) so I can definitely relate to Lillia, Kat, Mary, and their need for revenge. But unlike these 3 girls I did not ever plan or take part in any sort of revenge tactics. However, I'm sure my very bitter middle school self would have been quite happy to take part in a group effort of revenge on those who had wronged me. It would have been awkward though considering they were all people from my youth group and some of them were elders kids. Whoops.... >.<

Anyway, Burn for Burn is one of those guilty pleasure reads. The kind where you imagine yourself as the characters, put yourself in their shoes, and, in this case, imagine the kind of revenge you'd wreak on your old enemies. Classy right? And oh so fun. I wouldn't say that I agreed with what Lillia, Kat, and Mary were doing but I definitely found it entertaining.

Lillia, Kat, and Mary are your stereotypical YA contemporary girls. Lillia is the popular girl, Kat is the girl who was once on the in, but is now on the out, and Mary is the girl who used to be overweight but is now slim and model gorgeous. Let me tell you straight up that there is nothing really special about these characters. If any of those descriptions sounded familiar to you (and I'm sure most if not all of them did) then you won't be too impressed. Mary does have an extra layer to her that I'm excited to see flesh out in future novels, but other than that the characters don't stray far from the familiar YA tropes they resemble. However, it's not the characters that make this story great but the revenge scenario itself. Each girl has a person from her past or present that she wants to get back at, and they're all willing to go to great lengths to make sure these enemies suffer. A LOT.

The revenge theme is what really makes this book. I know Burn for Burn isn't the only YA book on the market that involves revenge but this one felt a lot less catty which is always a plus. While reading Burn for Burn I felt almost like I was rooting for the underdogs and I actually found myself wanting the characters to succeed instead of just thinking they were being obnoxious, whiny brats. On top of that the ending started to give me some awesome Carrie by Steven King vibes which I was really digging. Take that as you may. ;)

Overall Burn for Burn is a pretty solid book. The real draw is the fact that it let me live vicariously through the characters as they carried out their crazy revenge schemes. It's probably not the best thing to admit, but I liked reading about the "bad guys" getting their just reward. I also loved the ending and how Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian spent the entire book romanticizing revenge, only to throw it back in my face as if to say "Is this what you wanted? IS IT?" That was the really great thing about this novel: regardless of run of the mill characters Burn for Burn made me think and got me involved and that is the mark of a good book. On top of that it had me longing for the next installment in this series. A win all around.

I give Burn for Burn 4 out of 5 ice cream cones.

Julia :)

Monday, December 3, 2012

Kawaii Monday: Octopus Creature Cup

I haven't gotten to do one of these posts in a SUPER long time. Fortunately I found a super cute thing to share with you guys this week! It's called an Octopus Creature Cup. Sound a little unusual? Take a look!

Gahhhh look at that cuteness! Just look at it! I'm a total sucker for octopus/squid related things (something about the tentacles and the huge eyes is just enamoring) and this has got to be one of the most adorable ones I have ever seen.

The only downsides to this mug is that it would be awfully hard to clean (no hot chocolate or honey in this bad boy!) and if you weren't expecting it and saw this guy at the bottom of your cup it's safe to say you'd probably freak out. Regardless, it is still awesome. :D

If octopuses aren't what float your boat be sure to check out all the cute designs Creature Cups sells (crocodiles or sea otters anyone?) at their website here.

Julia :)

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Cover Comparisons: A Wrinkle In Time Edition


Awhile back I was writing up a post and one of the things I needed for it was a picture of the cover for A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle. When I went searching for a cover I discovered that A Wrinkle in Time has had a BAJILLION covers. Some great, and some downright hilarious. Of course once I saw all these covers I knew I had struck cover comparison gold. If you have ever wanted to see all of the Wrinkle in Time covers in one place THIS IS YOUR LUCKY DAY! Let's get the cover comparison started!

                    A                            B                           C                           D                          E

                    F                          G                             H                           I                            J

Under normal circumstances I would tell you guys what each cover is (aka: foreign cover, paperback cover, etc.) but there are so many covers for AWiT and most of them are ancient that I decided not to bother figuring out which one is which. So as a replacement I have given each cover it's own letter. Sorry if you wanted to know what each cover was exactly. I do not know. :P

Cover A: I am definitely a fan of this cover. I think it's the newest design and it shows. It's got great artwork, it's really eyecatching, and gives off that classic children's book vibe. I love it.

Cover B: This has got to be the funniest cover for AWiT. I just can't look at this cover and take it seriously. I mean why is a rainbow coming out of the back of the pegasus/centaur thing? WHY?!?! That in combination with the pastel color scheme and flowers makes this the most unintentionally hilarious cover ever. It's just bad but in the best of ways. XD

Cover C: This is cover is another weird one. It's giving off some dark sci-fi vibes which is alright except for the fact that this is a children's book and this cover does not look child friendly. I imagine my 10 year old self would have both been intrigued and creeped out by the red eyed alien looking thing on this cover. I would also have never picked it up because if my mom found it she'd probably think it was too dark for me. :P

Cover D: Seriously, what is up with the flying centaur things on these covers? I realize that they are an important part of the story, but more important than the main characters? *shakes head* This one makes AWiT look like some sort of Grecian retelling. I am not a fan.

Cover E: Honestly, I don't know what to say about this one other than that it's weird and the woman holding the orb is giving me creeper fortune teller vibes.... >.<

Cover F: Now this one I like! Kid me would have thought it looked boring as heck, but young adult me looks at it and says "Yes! Now that is a classic I would want on my shelf." It's simplistic, the color scheme is nice, and it doesn't have any flying centaurs. WIN ALL AROUND!

Cover G: I think this is probably the cover I've seen the most for AWiT. It's definitely the most kid friendly. The illustration is cute and whimsical which is funny considering how dark some of the other covers are. However, I honestly think this cover is a better representation of the story. I'd definitely be fine with having this cover on my shelf.

Cover H: This cover is so old school it hurts. The hot pink, the awkward illustrations of the kids, EVERYTHING. I'll just bury the image of this cover away in the recesses of my mind and forget it ever existed....

Cover I: YES! Another classy cover! This one is basically the same as Cover F except a different color. I actually feel like the turquoise and blue color scheme of F was better though because it gave off a darker vibe than the orange. That's just my personal opinion.

Cover J: Now this one is actually quite interesting. It's so artsy, which is kind of strange to see on a book cover, but I really like it. The galaxy is really awesome and coloring in general on the illustration is great. Big thumbs up for this one!

So who wins? Honestly this one is kind of a toss up for me. Some of these are downright awful *cough* most of them *cough* but some are actually quite good. Overall I've got to give it to Cover A, but Cover F and J are favorites too. I also have to give mad props to Cover B for being so bad it's good. 

Which cover of A Wrinkle in Time do YOU like best? Be sure to vote in the poll below and sound off in the comments about why you made your decision.

Thus ends another edition of Cover Comparisons! If you have any suggestions for future books leave them in this form here.

 I hope everyone has a fantastic Saturday! :D


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Book Review: Nerve by Jeanne Ryan

by Jeanne Ryan
294 pages
Publisher: Dial Books
Publication Date: September 13th, 2012
Source: Library

Vee doesn't know if she has the guts to play NERVE, an anonymous online game of dares. But whoever's behind the game knows exactly what she wants, enticing her with lustworthy prizes and a sizzling-hot partner. With Ian on her team, it's easy to agree to another dare. And another. And another. At first it's thrilling as the Watchers cheer them on to more dangerous challenges. But suddenly the game turns deadly. Will Vee and Ian risk their lives for the Grand Prize dare, or will they lose NERVE?

I decided to pick this book up on a whim while I was at the Library. The cover was shiny, the summary was intriguing, what more could I want? I wasn't expecting a whole lot from Nerve other than for it to be an engaging and fast read. I know from experience that stand-alone novels as short as Nerve tend to be missing that extra layer of depth, especially when they're written to entertain, and not necessarily to teach a lesson. So, as far as what I was expecting Nerve more than delivered. It was fast-paced, and kept me hooked for it's entire 294 pages, so much so that I read it from start to finish with no breaks. Nerve definitely wins a "most unputdownable book" award. If you're looking for something really grip your interest then Nerve is a perfect choice.

However, like other stand-alone "entertainment" novels, Nerve was missing that extra layer of depth, particularly in the characters. Vee was a fine protagonist. She was the kind of character that you can relate to because she isn't naturally bold and brassy. It's not till she really pushes herself outside her limits and decides to prove everyone wrong that she becomes a daredevil. I liked that about her because, especially in this kind of story, you can put yourself in her shoes and think "Would I do this dare? How far would I push myself?" Ian on the other hand was sorely lacking. Other than the fact that he's supposed to be gorgeous there's no real reason for the reader to like him or root for him. I could tell that Jeanne Ryan tried to give him depth by making him mysterious and slightly tormented, but instead it made me feel disconnected from him and it also made me distrust him. As for the supporting characters they were super stereotypical (best friend who is prettier/more popular, nerdy guy friend who likes you, etc.) and nothing to write home about.

Like I said earlier, the one thing Nerve excelled at was keeping me hooked. The plot was really well paced and with each new dare the stakes kept getting higher and higher causing the suspense to build. I felt like the whole dares reality show was ingenious, especially considering the state of reality shows these days. I could definitely see a show like this actually becoming a reality. However, some of the dares that Nerve touched on did not sit well with me. One in particular involved Vee having to walk around downtown pretending to be a prostitute. I think I speak for most people when I say that there is no situation where it is okay for a book character to pretend to be a prostitute. That just shouldn't be happening. Jeanne Ryan might have thought she was using it as a way to touch on a difficult issue, but ultimately I felt it was handled poorly. Other dares were also immature and rude, but this was the one that bothered me the most.

There were somethings that I felt Jeanne Ryan didn't explore enough (Like who are the NERVE people? Why does Ian want freedom so badly? What was Vee's accident?) but overall I felt like Nerve was a solid stand-alone novel. It did have some shortcomings but ultimately I enjoyed it, and if someone were looking for a quick suspenseful read I would definitely recommend it. Nerve gets 3.5 out of 5 ice cream cones.

Julia :)

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Stacking the Shelves: Black Friday Edition (sort of)

I'm joining up with Stacking the Shelves for the first time today! It's hosted by Tynga over at Tynga's Reviews and is a chance for us to share our awesome books and other bookish related things that we got this week!

It's been MONTHS since I did a book haul and a vlog. IT FELT SO WEIRD. I worked through it with minimal awkwardness though! Haha. If you wanna watch the vlog version it's embedded below and if not you can just scroll down for the full list of goodies.

Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson
Nerve by Jeanne Ryan
The Opposite of Hallelujah by Anna Jarzab
Burn for Burn by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy Blu-Ray ($4 each. Yay black friday deals!)
Rolling Stones The Hobbit Ultimate Guide Collectors Edition
Hunger Games Band-Aids
For Review
The Panem Companion by V. Arrow
I actually braved through Black Friday this year even though I hate crowds and shopping. My family convinced me to go. :P Fortunately, no one got hurt and there was minimal insanity (there were some line cutting issues near the end resulting in a lot of yelling) so ultimately it wasn't as crazy as I thought it would be. I really don't think I want to do it again though. :P
What new things are stacking your shelves this week? Let me know in the comments below and be sure to link me to your post so I can check it out!
I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving and a safe Black Friday!
Julia :)

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Hottness Author Event @ Books Inc! :D

This past week I went to an awesome book event here in California! Not only was it my first event at my local indie chain Books Inc, but it was also the first time I got to meet the awesome fellow bloggers Anna from Literary Explorations and Momo from Books Over Boys! It was great meeting you guys! :D

I'm not particularly sure why this book tour was titled The Hotness but it was certainly exciting, if not hot. First a girl fainted in the middle of the author presentation and then the guy who models as Patch on the Hush, Hush book series covers popped out and all the girls in the store starting squealing and one of them even yelled for him to take his shirt off. It was all sorts of hilarious. XD

Anyway, I went to this event because I was DYING to meet Jenny Han. I missed her the last time she came through the bay area for the Summer Lovin' Tour (still SO bummed I missed that!) so I couldn't pass up the opportunity to meet her this time. For this event it was Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian promoting Burn for Burn, and Becca Fitzpatrick promoting Finale. So awesome right?

I was totally awkward beyond all belief when I finally met Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian. I got my copy of The Summer I Turned Pretty signed by Jenny and then her and Siobhan signed the copy I purchased of Burn for Burn and I got to talk to Jenny all about how I always thought of Bye Bye Birdie when thinking of Conrad and we laughed about it together and it was altogether EPICALLY AMAZING. Of course I had to take a picture with them:

Books Inc. was also handing out a ton of Finale posters and I got mine signed by Becca Fitzpatrick and Drew Dayon the actor/model for Patch. I didn't get a picture with Becca Fitzpatrick (totally kicking myself for that now) but I did take a pic with the Patch model guy! I figured he was there so why not take a picture with him right? :P

Overall the event was awesome and I loved getting to hear some hilarious stories from some amazing authors and getting to meet some great book bloggers too! Hopefully I'll be able to attend even more Books Inc. events in the future!

Julia :)

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween 2012 and the Hunger Games Pumpkin Carving 3.0

Every year I tell myself "Julia, you really don't need to carve a pumpkin this year" and every year I end up carving one anyway. This year I was bound and determined not to carve one because I kept telling myself I didn't have time and I needed to study, but then my community college posted on their Facebook page that they were doing a pumpkin carving contest and I just couldn't pass up the opportunity to enter. Plus, if I carved a Hunger Games design (like I seem to do every year) I could also enter it in's annual pumpkin carving contest. DOUBLE WHAMMY!!!!

So one trip to Michaels, the discount grocery store (complete with an interaction with a creepy giggling old man), and many, MANY episodes of Jane by Design and Supernatural later, I had one super epic Hunger Games pumpkin. YAY!!!!

This is definitely my favorite Hunger Games carving I've done so far. I keep thinking I'm gonna run out of ideas, but inspiration always hits me. Because I was using this pumpkin to enter's contest as well as my college contest I decided to make sure to give it's Hunger Games theme some depth. Basically I wanted it to be a sort of decoration for when Katniss and Peeta go on the Victory Tour. That was supposed to be in the fall right? So what better decoration than a pumpkin carved with the images of the victors! Peeta turned out WAY better than Katniss, but I Katniss isn't so bad looking right? She could look worse. :P I don't know why Katniss is so hard to carve when Peeta is so easy. My mother insists it's because Peeta is Josh Hutcherson but of course she would say that. You know how she is about Josh Hutcherson. ;)

If you want to help me win my community college pumpkin carving contest just like my pumpkin on Facebook here. You don't have to of course, but I'd love it if you did! :D

In other news I'm actually dressing up for Halloween this year! If you follow me on Twitter you might have seen me tweeting about it. I've been prepared with my costume for over a month now. Unbelievable right? Especially since I'm notorious for coming up with a costume idea only to procrastinate until it's too late. I wasn't gonna let that happen this year so I went costume shopping extra early. What am I dressing up as you say? Well, this year I'm going as Velma from Scooby-Doo! YAY FOR SMART BOOKISH CHICKS!!!!

I used to always get told that I looked like Velma when I was little (because I actually had glasses back in the day) and then ironically they ended up casting a half Japanese gal to play Velma in the new Scooby-Doo movies and she kind of looks like me so now I look even more like Velma. CRAZINESS.

What are you guys dressing up as for Halloween? Any bookish characters like Katniss or Hermione? Are you doing anything exciting like going to a Halloween party? I'm volunteering at my church as a face painter with my sister. We are gonna be the dynamic duo. WHOOP WHOOP! :D

Have a happy, safe, candy-filled Halloween guys!!!

Julia :)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Giveaway: Shadows by Ilsa J. Bick

Sooooo in case you missed it yesterday I had a wonderful guest post from Ilsa J. Bick all about her childhood reading experience and today I have the chance to giveaway a copy of her newest book Shadows! WOOT!!!!

Shadows by Ilsa J. Bick
Publisher: Egmont USA

The Apocalypse does not end. The Changed will grow in numbers. The Spared may not survive.

Even before the EMPs brought down the world, Alex was on the run from the demons of her past and the monster living in her head. After the world was gone, she believed Rule could be a sanctuary for her and those she’d come to love.
But she was wrong.

Now Alex is in the fight of her life against the adults, who would use her, the survivors, who don’t trust her, and the Changed, who would eat her alive. 

Welcome to Shadows, the second book in the haunting apocalyptic Ashes Trilogy: where no one is safe and humans may be the worst of the monsters.

Sounds awesome right? Oh it is.

To win a copy all you have to do is fill out the Rafflecopter form below! Winner must be a resident of US or Canada. Sorry international peeps. :(

a Rafflecopter giveaway

A huge thanks to Egmont for sponsoring this giveaway!!!

Julia :)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Shadows Blog Tour: Ilsa J. Bick on her Favorite Childhood Book!

Hey guys!!!

Sooooo I've been on a sort of blogging hiatus for the past month or so... It was totally unplanned but I guess you could say it started because of school? Yeah, I don't know how other college bloggers like Nicole at WORD for Teens do it. I should probably go back and read her post on how she juggles college and blogging. :P

Anyway, though I'm not gonna be posting quite as regularly as I used to (But I'll be back soon, I promise!), I do have the awesome opportunity to share this great guest post with you today and in the process I get to promote Ilsa J. Bick's newest novel Shadows which is the sequel to Ashes! If you haven't read Ashes yet, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?!?! It's one of the best dystopians I've read in ages! It's fresh, gritty, and downright terrifying. You will love it, I assure you.

But this isn't about Ashes, this is about Ilsa, Shadows, and her favorite childhood reads, and well, I'll let her post speak for itself. Take it away Ilsa!

To be honest, I have no favorites.  I know: that’s terrible.  While my parents always made sure I had plenty of books, classics and otherwise, they didn’t read much to me, mainly because they both worked really long hours and didn’t have time.  But they never skimped on books, and so I read tons.  Their greatest gift was a subscription to some young readers’ book of the month club, and I tore through all those.  I also hung in the library after school while I waited for a parent to pick me up (we lived way in the sticks), and so got really friendly with the librarians, who were always putting books in my hands, too.

So, instead of a favorite book—because, honestly, anyone who was telling me a good story at the time was my favorite author—I guess the book that first made an impression, an episode I actually remember, very vividly, was reading Charlotte’s Web.  This was in first grade, I think, or maybe second.  Our teacher allowed us to read if we were done with whatever work we were doing at the time, and I remember sitting there, cross-legged, devouring that book, coming to the part where Charlotte dies—and bursting into tears.  I know this because we had to line up for lunch, and I recall the teacher coming over and asking what was the matter.  I was so choked up, crying so hard, I couldn’t even tell her.  That teacher, what a nice woman: she asked if I’d read something sad, and I think I managed to nod.  She gave me a hug and a tissue, and that was that.

But that book really got to me, and I think it’s because that was the first time I ever considered that parents could die.  You don’t think about that as a kid.  Your parents are always there.  Indeed, it’s important for you to believe that because life is scary and hard, and virtually no kid can function if the family’s in danger.  (In fact, think of some of the greatest children’s and middle grade books—things like A Wrinkle in Time—and you realize that having an intact family, rescuing a parent, making the family whole again is a key concern.  So, Charlotte’s dying is really about a parent’s death, and the sudden dissolution of family.  The genius of the book is that Wilbur gets a new mom every year or so.  For Wilbur, mom (or parental substitute) is and will always be there, for the rest of his life. 

So, does that make the book a favorite?  I guess . . . but it’s such a wide world: so many books, so little time, so many wonderful memories.

I loved the story of Charlotte's Web too, though I don't think I was quite as traumatized by it was Ilsa was. Haha. What are some of your guyses favorite childhood reads? I was obsessed with The Boxcar Children, Nancy Drew, and then any stories involving mice. Random, but true. :)

So now that you've read about Ilsa's favorite childhood reads, I get a chance to talk to you about why we're really here! TO PROMOTE SHADOWS WOOT!!!! Don't know anything about Shadows? Read on!

The Apocalypse does not end. The Changed will grow in numbers. The Spared may not survive.

Even before the EMPs brought down the world, Alex was on the run from the demons of her past and the monster living in her head. After the world was gone, she believed Rule could be a sanctuary for her and those she’d come to love.
But she was wrong.

Now Alex is in the fight of her life against the adults, who would use her, the survivors, who don’t trust her, and the Changed, who would eat her alive. 

Welcome to Shadows, the second book in the haunting apocalyptic Ashes Trilogy: where no one is safe and humans may be the worst of the monsters.

I've already read Shadows and it is AWESOME! If you're a fan of dystopian novels, zombies, or maybe just a book that's super intense and isn't afraid to push boundaries then this book and series is for you!

In case your totally in the dark about this trilogy of awesome dystopian zombie survivalness you can find more info on the first book here.

Have you already read Ashes, but need a bit of a refresher before you dive into Shadows? Check out Ilsa's recap post of Ashes here. Personally, I wish I had known about this post before reading Shadows. Things would have been MUCH less confusing that way. >.<

Also, be sure to support Ilsa by checking out her official website/blog, and by following her on Twitter!

Julia :)

Monday, August 27, 2012

Kawaii Monday: Penguin Water Dispenser

So yesterday I was cleaning my room desk when suddenly the thought dawned on me "I should get a mini water dispenser to keep in my room so I can stay hydrated while studying." Of course as soon as this thought hit I had to find out what kinds of mini water dispensers were out there and if it was actually a legitimate thing to keep in my room. Lo and behold not only are there mini water dispensers in the world but there are also extremely cute ones. My favorite one of all? The Penguin Water Dispenser.

I mean look at how cute that is. It's a penguin! It dispenses water! It even holds exactly 8 glasses which is the recommended amount for people to drink daily! IT IS PERFECT AND I WANT IT!!!!! >.<

And the best part? It's actually affordable. You can get this totally useful and adorable water dispenser for less than $20. That's right! LESS THAN $20!!!!

I'm starting to sound like an infomercial. :P

But the point is this guy is not only cute, but he is also practical and affordable. Ergo I AM SO GETTING ONE! You can bet this cute little guy will be adorning my desk soon. IT WILL HAPPEN!

If anyone else wants to get this fantastical little water dispenser you can buy him here!

Julia :)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Book Review: The Selection

The Selection
by Kiera Cass
327 pages
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: April 24th 2012
Source: Library
For thirty-five girl, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon.
But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn't want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question with all the plans she's made herself - and realizes that the life she's always dreamed of may not compare to future she never imagined.
The Selection was probably one of the most hyped up books of the summer. There was that whole crazy Goodreads "scandal", the CW picked it up for a TV series, and then it seemed like everyone who read it either loved it or hated it. I'm gonna start out by saying that I was psyched to read this book. SO psyched. Why? Because it sounded like just the kind of fodder that would entertain me to no end! I figured that as long as I didn't take The Selection seriously I would be able to enjoy it for what it is: the bubblegum pop of the YA fiction world. I wasn't expecting it to be a masterpiece and I certainly wasn't expecting to love it. I was just expecting a good laugh. And you know what? The Selection delivered.

Everyone has been heralding The Selection as a sort of "The Bachelor meets The Hunger Games" story. The Hunger Games comparison is pretty ridiculous considering that book is all about fighting for survival and the only fighting in The Selection involves girls ripping each others dresses but whatever gets the book to sell right? The only real similarities it has to THG is the fact that it's a dystopian (albiet a much less dreary one) and the fact that America gets plucked from obscurity to compete in a contest. Now the comparisons to The Bachelor? Totally warranted. Though it's not similar enough to The Bachelor to be as creepy as The Bachelor it definitely has that same pseudo love feeling to it (not that I watch the Bachelor or anything....) and there's definitely some of the cattiness. However Prince Maxon is way nicer and less of a douche then any of those guys on the actual Bachelor show. Or at least I imagine he is seeing as I don't watch the show and all. :P

Which brings me to the characters. Let me tell you there is nothing special about these characters whatsoever. America is about as boring a protagonist as you can get. She is literally about as exciting as plain toast. On top of that she has that super annoying "I'm nothing special, I'm not beautiful, why does everyone think I'm special and beautiful?" mentality about her. And the worst part? There really is nothing special about her. As a reader I had to suspend disbelief in order to buy the fact that she would have two guys vying for her because she was just SO boring. It made no sense. I guess she really must be beautiful because it couldn't have been her non-existent sparkling personality winning them over. Either that or she has the singing voice of a siren and that's what hooks them.... As for the guy characters Prince Maxon was the stereotypical nice guy who also happened to be pretty naive. Overall I liked him the best because he was the most normal of the bunch. But the worst character by far? Aspen. Oh gosh I HATED Aspen. I know a lot of girls seem to be getting their panties in a bunch over Aspen but this guy had some serious control issues. He was totally emotionally abusive and I hated the fact that it was painted like he was fine. Uhhh no it is not fine for you to dump your secret girlfriend over a celebratory dinner and then act like everything is fine and dandy later. NO. Everything is not fine jerkwad! And did I mention he's jealous of Prince Maxon and yet he was the one that convinced America to enter The Selection in the first place? Yep. TOTAL JERK.

The story itself was just what I expected it to be: A fluffy bacheloresque fairytale painted like a dystopian. Honestly I ended up enjoying it a lot more than I thought I would. I think that can mostly be attributed to the fact that my expectations were low in the first place, but it did exceed them. Kiera Casses writing is straight forward to the point of being a bit bland at times (spice things up girl! That's what Thesauruses are for.) but I'll admit that the book did hook me till the end. In fact I might even suffer through the next few installments just to find out what happens. I have a feeling that Kiera Cass might have some sort of revolution craziness hidden up her sleeve. The story has potential to go a lot of different ways and I'm curious to see what happens and by see what happens I mean America dumping Aspen on his dumb ass and then Prince Maxon escaping the shackles of his noble life to run wild and free with a girl truly worthy of his kindness and by a "girl truly worthy of kindness" I mean a girl that is NOT AMERICA. I'm sure the ending will be nothing like that but a girl can hope right? :P

Overall The Selection was not nearly as painful a reading experience as I thought it would be. Certain aspects of it were painful *cough* ASPEN IS A JERKWAD! *cough* and the writing could have been less choppy but I enjoyed it. I just hope the sequels will have less cliches and more cat fights because let's be real if you're gonna write a YA version of The Bachelor it's gotta have killer cat fights. Ripping a dress is the least a bitch can do.

I give The Selection 3 out of 5 ice cream cones.

Julia :)

Monday, August 20, 2012

Kawaii Monday: Dinosaur Tattoos

You guys are probably thinking "Oh gosh Julia a dinosaur themed Kawaii Monday post AGAIN?!?!" Well you know how I live my life ya'll: THERE CAN NEVER BE TOO MANY DINOSAURS! True fact. I think I need to get me a stuffed dinosaur collection... But anyways allow me to share with you some super cute dinosaur temporary tattoos!

Yeppers. I LOVE THEM. They aren't quite as cute as they could be but they are much better than just about every other set of dinosaur themed temporary tattoos out there. *cough* like these *cough*

While looking at the dinosaur tattoos I also ran across these SUPER adorable squirrel tattoos on the same site.

aksdjflkasjdlkfjalkdjklsjlkwdjfakjdlksjd SQUIRREL!!!!!!!!!!!!!! >.<

I think I like this squirrel tattoo even better than the dinosaur tattoos. Just SO ADORABLE. I mean who doesn't love squirrels?

It's funny because now as an adult I really like the idea of temporary tattoos but when I was a kid I thought they were awful and just about the most embarrassing thing ever. I wouldn't have been caught dead with a temporary tattoo of anything on my person. I guess I was just too "hip" for that sort of thing even though I had no fashion sense whatsoever. I used to missmatch my sandals with my sneakers. NOT EVEN JOKING. :P

You can find the dinosaur tattoos here and the squirrel ones here.

Julia :)

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Giveaway: Flying the Dragon

I've got an awesome giveaway for you guys today!!! Remember a few weeks ago when I had that interview with Natalie Lorenzi? Well today you've got a chance to win a nice shiny new hardcover copy of her debut novel Flying the Dragon! :D

Skye and Hiroshi are cousins, but they've never met. How could they, when Skye's father hasn't spoken to his Japanese family since before she was born? But now their grandfather is sick, and the family is coming to the United States for his treatment. Skye and Hiroshi are stuck with each other.

Now skye doesn't know who she is anymore: at school she's suddenly too Japanese, but at home she's not Japanese enough. And as Hiroshi struggles to improve his English, he has to contend with Skye butting in on his rokkaku kite-flying time with Grandfather - time that seems to be running out.

Sounds awesome right? Well if you want your very own copy just fill out the super easy Rafflecopter form below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Julia :)

Friday, August 17, 2012

Book Review: A Million Suns

A Million Suns
by Beth Revis
386 pages
Publisher: Razorbill
Publication Date: January 10th 2012
Source: Library
Add this book to your shelf on Goodreads
But there may be hope: Elder has assumed leadership of the ship. He's finally free to act on his vision - no more Phydus, no more lies. 

But when elder learns shocking news about the ship, he and Amy race to discover the truth behind life on Godspeed. They must work together to unlock a mystery that was set in motion hundreds of years earlier; Their success - or failure - will determine the fate of the 2,298 passengers aboard Godspeed. But with each step, the journey becomes more perilous the ship more chaotic, and the love between them impossible to fight.
If you enjoyed Beth Revis' first novel Across the Universe then you will LOVE A Million Suns. This sequel is as good as ATU if not better. It's got the same awesome mystery and science fiction aspects all while doing even more world building and delving further into who the characters are. ME LIKE YA'LL, ME LIKE! :D

In A Million Suns there's a whole new mystery to unravel, and a whole new set of obstacles to overcome. As engaging as A Million Suns was I didn't find myself breezing through it as fast as I sometimes do with other books. However I found this to be a good thing. Sometimes if a book is too much of a page turner I end up rushing through it so quickly that I miss important details. Does this happen to anyone else? :P Anyway, A Million Suns was great, and totally engaging, but I loved that I could linger through it without feeling like I was rushing to figure out the ending.

The mystery aspect of A Million Suns was similar to Across the Universe but it's format was very different. In A Million Suns the characters are following a string of clues that ultimately leads to this big mind blowing reveal. Believe me when I say this is mind blowing because it is MIND BLOWING. T The  reveal is so insanely crazy that the outcome of the series suddenly starts heading down a drastic new path, WHICH IS AWESOME! Before reading A Million Suns I didn't really know where Beth Revis was gonna take the story, but now it all makes sense! Even the new set of book covers make sense though I still prefer the old ones. That being said, CAN I HAVE THE THIRD BOOK ALREADY?!?! :P

Other than the mystery aspect which was just amazing I also loved where Beth Revis went with the characters. Elder and Amy really came into their own in this novel and a lot of minor characters were developed well too. However I did feel like their separate narratives weren't as effective as they were in Across the Universe. I just found myself having a hard time telling the difference between Amy and Elder chapters because they're voices weren't very distinct. That was a bummer but overall it didn't detract enough from the novel to be a huge problem.

After reading Across the Universe and A Million Suns I have come to several conclusions about Beth Revis. She can write a damn good mystery, her sci-fi is impressive and did I mention her writing is absolutely beautiful? Yep, she's got it all. That's what I love so much about reading a Beth Revis novel. There isn't just one thing about them that's awesome: EVERYTHING about them is awesome!

A Million Suns gets 5 out of 5 ice cream cones!

Julia :)

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Giveaway: Pushing the Limits

Happy book birthday to Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry!!!! :D

Today, thanks to HarlequinTeen, I have the chance to give one of you guys a copy of this book.

No one knows what happened to the night Echo Emerson went from popular girl with jock boyfriend to gossiped-about outsider with "freaky" scars on her arms. Even Echo can't remember the whole truth of that horrible night. All she knows is that she wants everything to go back to normal. 
But when Noah Hutchins, the smoking-hot, girl-using lover in the black leather jacket, explodes into her life with his tough attitude and surprising understanding, Echo's world shifts in ways she could never have imagined. Echo and Noah couldn't be more different, but they find themselves united by a common goal: to sneak into their court-ordered social worker's case files in order to learn the truth about themselves and their families. What they didn't count on is falling in love - and now Echo has to ask herself just how far they can push the limits and what she'll risk for the one guy who might teach her how to love again.

 Sounds awesome right? Even with the kissing cover I am so intrigued by this book. :D

Friday, July 27, 2012

Author Interview: Natalie Dias Lorenzi

Today I have the lovely privilege of sharing an interview with author Natalie Dias Lorenzi!

Her debut novel Flying the Dragon came out from Charlesbridge earlier this month. Check out what she has to say about her novel, why she wrote about the Japanese culture, her journey to becoming a writer, and more!

If you could choose 3 words to describe your novel The Flying Dragon what would they be and why?

Family: The family dynamics in this story are complicated at times, but by the end of the book, the characters all realize the importance of family ties how deep they run.

Home: I don’t just mean the houses where the characters live—but how both Hiroshi and Skye learn to feel at home in their own skin.

Hope: This is the feeling that I hope all readers will take with them once they’ve closed the book at the end. Hiroshi and Skye go through some tough times, but although we don’t know what will happen once the story has finished, we do have a sense of hope that they’ll both be just fine. 

What made you decide to write a story about Japanese culture?

I’d lived in Yokohama, Japan for two years where I taught at an international school. I was fascinated by the culture and so impressed by the respect that people show each other. There are so few children’s books on shelves with Asian main characters—some of my favorites have been written by Grace Lin, Mitali Perkins, Linda Sue Park, Cindy Pon, Wendy Shang and Lisa Yee. But although Japanese main characters appear in several picture books (I especially love Allen Say’s work), middle grade novels with Japanese main characters are scarce.

After reading Khaled Houssani’s The Kite Runner, I was fascinated by the sport of rokkaku, Japanese kite-fighting, and thought that kids might be interesting in learning about it, too.

Why did you decide to write a middle grade novel? Have you always wanted to write for children? Do you hope to write for an older or younger audience in the future?

Believe it or not, I actually thought this story would be a picture book when I first starting thinking about the characters and possible plotlines. The middle grade voice is probably the most comfortable and natural for me because, of my eighteen years as a teacher, sixteen of those years have been teaching middle grade readers, kids between the ages of 8 and 12. Also, two of my own kids are in the middle grade range, so that age group is the one I know best.

I did write a young adult manuscript that’s more on the “sweet” end of YA, so maybe that will morph into a middle grade novel in my revision future. I’ve also written some picture book manuscripts, so hopefully one day I’ll have a range of work out in the world!

Tell us about your writing journey. Have you always wanted to be a writer? What are some things in your life that have shaped your writing? 

I decided in 4th grade that I wanted to be a teacher, but even at that age, I loved writing stories. By the time I went to college, I never thought about majoring in something that would lead to being a published author. Once I started teaching, I absolutely loved it and writing was one of my favorite things to teach.

But it wasn’t until I took a break from teaching to stay home with my kids that I actually took the time to explore writing. I took an online class in magazine writing from Writer’s Digest, and eventually wrote articles for American Baby, Parenting, and Scholastic’s Instructor magazine. But writing for children was my ultimate dream, so I also signed up for a course in writing for children. Soon after that, I joined SCWBI, where I found my critique partners, and then I joined Verla Kay’s forums for writers, all invaluable resources that I’d recommend to writers in all writing career stages.

What are some new themes and genres that you've seen popping up in literature that you're most excited about?

As a part-time elementary school librarian and part-time ESL teacher, I’ve been pleased to see a slight rise in the variety of multicultural books now available to kids. My school’s population is highly diverse, with 88% of our students speaking a language other than English at home. It’s important for kids to see their own realities reflected in literature and characters with whom they can identify. But multicultural fiction is also for those of us who were born and raised in the US in English-speaking homes, because these books give us a glimpse into the customs and behind-the-scenes realities of our neighbors.

I’m also super excited about the popularity of graphic novels in the last few years. My reluctant readers head straight for the graphic novel shelves in our library, and we cannot keep those shelves stocked to meet the demand. Graphic novels make both classic and new stories accessible to all kids, and I don’t see this trend waning anytime soon. This includes hybrids—books that are not officially graphic novels, but that are highly illustrated, like Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, Ruth McNally Barshaw’s Ellie McDoodle series and Rachel Renee Russell’s Dork Diary series. I’ve seen these books turn kids into readers, which is powerful and potentially life-changing for those readers.

Who are some of your favorite authors and what are some of your favorite books?

Oh, this is a hard question, because there are too many to count! For plot, Rebecca Stead’s When You Reach Me is one of my favorites. For point of view, Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief—who knew that Death as a narrator could be so sympathetic and compelling? For setting, Ammi-Joan Paquette’s Nowhere Girl is a delicious peek into the Thai countryside and the craziness of Bangkok, and Laura Resau’s What the Moon Saw made me want to travel to Mexico. For voice, Gary Schmidt’s Okay for Now left me feeling like Doug Swieteck, the main character, had become a friend. For strong characters, Lynda Mullaly Hunt’s One for the Murphys and Jeannie Mobley’s Katerina’s Wish are new releases with heart. There are many more beloved books that I’m leaving off this list, but this is a good start!

If you could have one crazy superpower what would it be and why?

That’s a good question! I’d love to have the power to transport myself from one place to another in a matter of two seconds. I’d love to be able to pop into far-flung places for a quick visit. This superpower would come in handy if I ever needed to get myself out of any scrapes, or if I needed a quick chocolate fix in the middle of a thunderstorm—I could zip to the store and back again without an umbrella. :-)

If you were an animal instead of a human which animal would you be and why?

I think I’d have to say a cat—one who rules the house in a family of cat fans. As a human, I’m definitely more of a dog person, but if I had to be an animal, I think I could definitely handle lounging around the house all day!

Thanks so much Natalie!

Thank you, Julia, for hosting me on That Hapa Chick!

Want to know more about Natalie's book Flying the Dragon? Check it out on Goodreads here! You can also find out more about Natalie and her writing on her official website here.

Julia :)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday [21]

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 am waiting on Prophecy by Ellen Oh!

The greatest warrior in all of the Seven Kingdoms... is a girl with yellow eyes.

Kira’s the only female in the king’s army, and the prince’s bodyguard. She’s a demon slayer and an outcast, hated by nearly everyone in her home city of Hansong. And, she’s their only hope...

Murdered kings and discovered traitors point to a demon invasion, sending Kira on the run with the young prince. He may be the savior predicted in the Dragon King Prophecy, but the missing treasure of myth may be the true key. With only the guidance of the cryptic prophecy, Kira must battle demon soldiers, evil shaman, and the Demon Lord himself to find what was once lost and raise a prince into a king.

Intrigue and mystery, ancient lore and action-packed fantasy come together in this heart-stopping first book in a trilogy.

Wow this sounds AWESOME! Plus the cover? Totally digging it. I know that a lot of people have been commenting that Prophecy sounds like a Graceling copycat but personally I think this sounds a lot better. I wasn't a big Graceling fan anyway. Plus: ASIAN AUTHORS WOOT!!!! I'll definitely be reading this when it comes out from HarperTeen on January 2nd 2013. :D

I was actually lucky enough to get to feature an interview of Ellen Oh during All Things Asian so if you guys want to go read more about her and her writing you should check that out here!

What books are you eagerly anticipating this week? Be sure to leave a comment with a link to your WoW post below so I can check it out!

Julia :)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Book Review: Lola and the Boy Next Door

Lola and the Boy Next Door
by Stephanie Perkins
338 pages
Publisher: Dutton Books
Publication Date: September 29th 2011
Source: Library
Add this to your shelf on Goodreads
Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn't believe in fashion... she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit - more sparkly, more fun, more wild - the better. But even though Lola's style is outrageous, she's a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood.

When Cricket - a gifted inventor - steps out from his twin sister's shadow and back into Lola's life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.

I feel like the only person in the land of YA that is not a huge Stephanie Perkins fangirl. I have heard SO many good things about her books. I didn't read Anna and the French Kiss because of the whole boyfriend stealing but not boyfriend stealing situation (NO MATTER HOW YOU CUT IT, IT'S STILL BOYFRIEND STEALING! :P) but I thought I'd give Lola and the Boy Next Door a read because it had been such a highly recommended contemp and it didn't involve boyfriend stealing. Yay! Going in I had super high expectations for this book and unfortunately Lola and the Boy Next Door just ended up falling flat. I wanted to like this book. I REALLY wanted to like it. But alas it was not meant to be. :/

One of the reasons I had a hard time with this book was that I just did not connect with Lola at all. She was just so immature and extremely selfish. The story starts out with her being completely "in love" with her 23 year old boyfriend (who as horrible as they tried to make him out to be really wasn't that bad) but then Cricket pops back into her life and suddenly she's thinking "Hmmm... You know what? I think I like him better than Max my totally nice but older boyfriend. What should I do? Oh right! Lead Cricket on and then dump Max's ass!" Seriously, this was so not okay for me especially since I did not get why Max went from a surprisingly nice older boyfriend to him suddenly being painted as an abusive lying scumbag. Like what? Did I miss something? Because Max seemed pretty nice and understanding to me considering his girlfriend was so horrible and immature and wore outfits that made it seem like it was halloween everyday. It's a miracle he stuck around as long as he did to be honest. :P I also hated the way Lola would lead Cricket on throughout the story only to crush his heart a few pages later. Girl, I do not care if this guy broke your heart back in Jr. High HE DESERVES BETTER. Stop feeling all sorry for yourself and start treating him with respect because you do not deserve him AT ALL. He is way to good for you!

Which brings me to Cricket. I actually liked Cricket. I liked him a lot. He was sweet, and totally nerdtastic which was adorable. However, I still don't get his obsession with clothes and why that was supposed to be so hot because, I know it's a stereotype, but normally the guys who obsess over their outfits being perfect are gay. Just saying. :P So Cricket was pretty rad. But the problem with Cricket was that he was so darn needy. I mean he shows up in the story and about 50 pages later he's proclaiming his undying love for Lola. Seriously? Ugh. He won me over again in the last fourth of the novel but seriously dude, learn to hold back a bit especially when the "love of your life" already has a boyfriend.

Anddd now we get down to the nitty gritty AKA the stuff I REALLY didn't like about this book AKA the romance. This was probably the most frustrating romantic contemp of all time for me. I know you guys are probably shaking your heads right now thinking "Julia is crazy THE ROMANCE WAS THE BEST PART" but seriously guys, the romance sucked. It was entirely based around the plot device of Lola having this older boyfriend who was the road block to her having the perfect romance with Cricket and that was a major problem for me. Why? Because in order for Lola to finally get a true romance with Cricket I had to wade through pages and pages of Lola talking about the amazingness of older boyfriend Max, and then pages of Lola bitching about her and Cricket's sordid past (really?), and of course pages and pages of Lola flirting with Cricket, being jealous of other girls with Cricket, leading Cricket on, feeling torn, and just generally being obnoxious. And once boyfriend Max was finally demonized and out of the picture there were less than 50 pages of some truly sweet Lola/Cricket romance. LESS THAN 50 PAGES. I know that Lola and Cricket have been "soulmates" since forever but I still felt like their relationship was underdeveloped because it was built on secrets and forbidden flirting. I don't want romances laced with jealousy and rationalized cheating behavior. I want stuff that's built on trust, honesty, and mutual respect and there was none of that in this book.

Honestly, the only two things that made this book readable for me were Cricket and Lindsey Lim. Face it guys: LINDSEY LIM WAS THE BEST PART OF THIS BOOK! Seriously, she was the only thing that made me finish this book. I was more invested in her non-romance with Charlie than I was with the Lola/Cricket romance. Not even kidding. Lindsey Lim deserves her own book of awesomeness because unlike Lola she's smart, rational, and wouldn't lead a guy on.

So as you can tell Lola and the Boy Next Door was not an enjoyable read for me. I do think that Stephanie Perkins is a fine author who can craft some quirky characters but she really needs to work on her romantic storytelling. Stephanie Perkins if you're reading this please write a romance next time that doesn't involve someone stealing their "one true love" from another girl or cheating on a boyfriend with ones "soulmate". PLEASE. Not all stories need to be as romantically conflicted as The Notebook, especially when we all know that there is only one The Notebook! :P

I give Lola and the Boy Next Door 2 out of 5 ice cream cones.

Julia :)
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