Tuesday, January 31, 2012

What makes YOU read a book review?

When I was going through my blog reader this past week I started to notice that there were many different reasons for why I would or wouldn't read a book review. I know what most of you are probably thinking right now:

"What are you talking about Julia? People will read a book review to find out if the book is any good or not! THAT'S why they read reviews!"

Don't worry guys! I know that. But that isn't the only reason I read book reviews. In fact there are a TON of different reason I read book reviews! Here (in no particular order) are the ones that come to mind:

1. The book cover catches my eye.

                                         Thumbs Up!              Thumbs Down.

I have a confession to make: I judge books by their covers. If a book has a bad cover I will probably try to avoid it like the plague unless some really great book review comes along and convinces me otherwise. I know, I'm a terrible bookish person. This is probably why I overlooked Where Things Come Back by Corey Whaley which recently won the Printz award AND the William C. Morris Debut Award. The cover of that book just looked dead boring so I never read any reviews for it. Ever. In fact for some strange reason I thought it was about zombies. Probably because it mentions things coming back in the title and I thought it was referring to "back from the dead". Yep, this is embarrassing.... But on the other side of the spectrum is books like Entwined by Heather Dixon where the gorgeous (albiet overly romanticized) cover got me to read review after review. Even so I still haven't read the book nor do I think I ever will. The whole 12 dancing princesses thing just doesn't appeal to me... but at least I know what this book is about as compared to me throwing Where Things Come Back to the wayside just because of it's unfortunate woodpecker cover. :/

2. I really like the book reviewer

There are some book bloggers that write reviews that I always love to read. Even if it's a book I know I probably won't be interested in I will still read their review. Also, I've noticed that I tend to overlook reviews for books I've never heard of before (unless of course the cover is gorgeous :P) but I will click into these types of reviews if their from my favorite reviewers. I of course will read reviews from any blog I follow not just my favorites but I am more likely to read the ones from my favorite blogs.


This is probably the biggest reason of all. If a book has a lot of hype in the blogosphere you can bet I'll be reading a lot of reviews for it. Probably any review I can find. Like Shatter Me? I read at least a dozen reviews for that book. Same with The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer. Another thing about book hype is I always like to read a good objective negative review before I actually read the book. This always helps me realize that the book isn't perfect and I shouldn't have unattainable ideals about it. But yeah, book hype will get me to read a review every time.

4. I LOVE LOVE LOVE the book!

If I really love a book I will read a ton of reviews for it just so I can gush in the comments about how amazing it was and how glad I am that the reviewer loved it too. Reading the reviews also reminds me of all the reasons I loved the book, and sometimes it will even open my eyes to new reasons to love the book even more! The most recent book to win my heart like this is The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. Haven't read it yet? DO IT. NOW.

5. I didn't enjoy the book.

If there's a book I didn't really like oftentimes I will read other reviews of it so I can understand why people loved it. Like The Marbury Lens by Andrew Smith. I didn't care for that book but other people adored it so after I finished reading it I was sure to go around and look for people's reviews. I love to compare and contrast my views with other peoples views, especially when it comes to literature.

And last but certainly not least I read book reviews because:

6. I want to find out if I should read a book or not.

I'm one of those types of people who always likes to finish what they start. Because of that I never really give up on a book. That being said I don't like to read a book on a whim. If I'm on the fence about a book I will normally go search out some reviews by people who tend to have the same interests as me and that helps me decide on whether or not I should read the book. An example for this is The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith. A romance? Normally not my thing. But at the same time it looked and sounded intriguing. I've read a few reviews and I have now decided that I will definitely be reading this book! A few other books that I've decided to read because of reviews are Amy and Rogers Epic Detour by Morgan Matson and Babe in Boyland by Jody Gehrman. Notice how they're all contemporary romance types? Yeah, I definitely need some extra convincing in that department. :P

So those are my main reasons for why I will read a book review. Not so straight forward ehhh? There definitely isn't a simple cut and dry formula, at least not for me!

Now comes the fun part. You get to tell me why YOU read book reviews! Is it for some of the same reasons as me? Or reasons that are entirely different? I'm super curious to read all your answers!

Julia :)

Monday, January 30, 2012

Kawaii Monday: Adorable Laptop Decals

This week's Kawaii Monday is all about super cute laptop decals! Laptop decals is one of those things I definitely don't need, but also definitely want. Shopping on Etsy for them is really dangerous for me.... Here are some of my favorites!

Awwww its Yoshi! I love how this design incorporates the Apple logo. Super clever right?

While this isn't my favorite I couldn't make this post without including it. I mean it's Hello Kitty!


WINNIE THE POOH!!! This one is so adorable. Like my childhood on a laptop. <3

My favoritest one of all! TOTORO!!!!! So stinkin cute. :)

So those were my favorites that I ran across! Super adorable right?

I couldn't end this post without talking about one last decal. I just thought it was.... well interesting.

Okay I get that it's Snow White which is great and all, and it really is clever the way they use the apple logo, but who would actually want the evil hag on their laptop? Who?! I just thought it was hilarious. And totally creepy....

Which laptop decal is your favorite? Totoro all the way for me! <3

Julia :)

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Cover Comparison [22]

Cover Comparison is back!!! This week we're examining the two different covers of The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Macker. Lets get this thing started!

                                             US Cover                      UK Cover

US Cover: It's actually pretty interesting because the US and UK covers are similar but at the same time polar opposites of each other. The US cover has a darker color scheme and it just seems like it's aimed at an older audience. It's an intriguing cover, but at the same time I think it could easily get glanced over in a bookstore because of the dark color scheme and lack of clarity in the images.

UK Cover: Wow this cover is so much brighter than the US one! I can definitely sense the younger vibe here from all the doodles and what not. I love the way the title just pops out at you and the color scheme is really eye catching! Plus the tagline is great. I wonder why they didn't they put that tagline on the US cover too? I think it's fascinating that they chose to use the same boy/girl image for both covers. I think it was used a bit better in the US cover just because its easier to notice the fuzziness of the image on the UK cover.

So who wins? This is a tough decision because I really like both covers! They're both great but for different reasons and I think it's pretty obvious that the two covers are going after a different audience the US one being an older audience and the UK one being a younger audience. That being said I have to call this one a tie! I like the maturity of the US cover but at the same time I love the "fun" quality of the UK cover. It just can't choose.

Which cover of The Future of Us is YOUR favorite? Be sure to vote in the poll below and sound off in the comments about why you made your decision!

If you have any suggestions for future cover comparisons leave them in the form below! :D

One last thing: It has come to my attention that some people have taken the liberty of doing their own Cover Comparisons. This is fantastic but if you do decide to do a Cover Comparison PLEASE MAKE SURE YOU CREDIT ME. I know this might sound selfish and what not but I created this idea and the name and I just don't want people to steal it. It's like my baby. <3 So if you want to do your own Cover Comparison by all means do a Cover Comparison! Just PLEASE say something like "Cover Comparison was originated by Julia @ That Hapa Chick!" Thanks guys!

Julia :)

Friday, January 27, 2012

Adventures from the Tour de Nerdfighting! :D

So yesterday night the Tour de Nerdfightering (also known as the Fault in Our Stars tour) came to Phoenix Arizona! I was super psyched as you might imagine. We're talking John Green here guys: JOHN GREEN. You know, the guy who wrote Looking for Alaska, An Abundance of Katherines, Paper Towns, Will Grayson, Will Grayson, and now the absolutely genius book The Fault in Our Stars? Yeah, that guy.

But it wasn't JUST John Green guys. It was also his awesome brother Hank. I don't know if you watch The Vlogbrothers on YouTube (if you don't you totally should by the way) but if you do then you know who Hank is. He plays the guitar, he writes songs, he founded VidCon and he's just as awesome as his brother John.

So what does Awesome + Awesome equal? That's right MORE AWESOME. Okay so that was a lame and totally non-mathematical equation but what I'm trying to say is that the vlogbrothers are some of the awesomest people on the planet. No question about it.

The evening started out pretty crazy because as amazing as John Green's books are they actually aren't as well known as his Vlobrothers YouTube channel he runs with Hank. John and Hank have created this entire community called the Nerdfighters. What's that you say? What's a Nerdfighter? Allow me to tell you the description from the official The Fault in Our Stars Phoenix Program:

Nerdfighter: Someone who, instead of being made of bones and organs and stuff, is actually made of awesome. Nerdfighters are bound by a common belief that understanding the world and other people is important. More important, for example, than understanding the details of Brad Pitt's betrayal of Jennifer Aniston. Nerdfighters don't fight nerds, they are nerds who fight.

I don't know about you but that pretty much sums me up. If you're reading this blog post then you are probably a Nerdfighter to and just don't realize it. Don't worry, being a Nerdfighter really just makes you cool and more intellectual than the average human being. We care more about books and learning about the world than we do Snooki. And that is a beautiful thing.

As I was saying as awesome as John Green's books are most people were there because this was the Tour de Nerdfighting and therefore a Nerdfighter gathering. The people who were first in line for the event had arrived at ten in the morning and had been camping out all day. Now that's dedication! I on the other hand arrived at around 5:30 PM so I was not at the front of the line.

As you can see the line was quite long. It was also quite scream-y. And by scream-y I mean Hank popped up for all of 30 seconds and the crowd went crazy. People were screeching like lunatics and waving their hands in the air and gosh darn it if I were Hank I would have been freaked out of my mind thinking that the crowd was gonna run and crush me to a pulp.... >.<

Here's me and my friend Cristian waiting in line with our John Green books:

Anyways I may not have been at the front of the line but I was close enough to the front to get a good view of their presentation! I was in row 9. Sweet right?

Even after getting seated I had to wait a good hour till the show started. I know you think I'm kidding but I'm not. Fortunately there was also a merch line to wait in (if you wanted to buy merch that is) and so I waited in that and bought some fun stuff. I got a Nerdfighter shirt (DFTBA!) and a poster for them to sign. $30 I probably should have saved, but alas I am a sucker for nerdy but awesome shirts and posters. Especially when it involves them getting signed by one of my favorite authors. :P

One of the weirdest/funniest things of the night actually happened while I was purchasing my merch. An employee of either Changing Hands Bookstore or The Phoenix Library (I don't remember which) was adding up my total when suddenly she stopped and stared at me kind of strangely. I was a little bit awkwarded out to say the least because I had never met this woman before in my life and so I was thinking "did I do something wrong? What's going on...." Then she proceeded to say:

Woman: "You cried didn't you?"
Me: "At The Fault in Our Stars?"
Woman: "Yes."
Me: "OF COURSE! How could you not cry?"
Woman: (turning to the woman next to her) "See, it makes everyone cry."
Other Woman: "Oh well I get emotional at everything."
Me: "I don't! I hardly cry at anything."
First Woman: "I knew it! I could tell by looking at you that you weren't a cryer."

I'm not gonna lie I'm totally impressed with this woman's "cryer" and "non-cryer" discerning abilites. I mean all she did was look at me she and knew I wasn't the crying type. Not only that but she knew I had read the book even though I wasn't carrying it or anything. She was a creepily perceptive woman she was. I'm beginning to wonder if she had super powers or something....

Now back to what you guys really want to hear about: The presentation. It took awhile but it eventually started (cue more screaming) and Hank Sock came on to introduce John.

Then John came out and read us an excerpt from The Fault in Our Stars! I got video footage of it which you can watch below which is pretty sweet. Don't worry no spoilers! John Green is very anti-spoilers.

After John read from his book Hank came out and a sang a song about The Fault in Our Stars called Video Game Books. It's really quite hilarious especially if you've read the book. XD

Hank then proceeded to play several more songs (you can hear all his stuff here) and then John and him came out for some fun Q & A that also involved electrocution. Believe me, it was all in good fun.

Then of course it was time for us to get our stuff signed! There were about 600+ people at this event (not even joking) so you can imagine this took awhile especially when I was in signing group "I" and had to wait through groups "A", "B", "C", etc. I think I waited a good 2 hours to get my stuff signed but fortunately everything was very well organized. Mad props to The Pheonix Public Library and Changing Hands Bookstore! I finally got my stuff signed and hanklerfished (big thanks to Merideth for getting my poster and shirt signed for me!) and unfortunately we weren't allowed to take pictures with Hank and John (because then everyone would want one and we would have been there all night. :P) but I did get a shot of me right when I was at the front of the line!

LOOK THERE THEY ARE!!!!! RIGHT THERE!!!! I was beyond excited. Ecstatic to say the least. Here's all my signed stuff!

Then before we left the event I took a picture in front of the TFioS van! I had seen it driving in and had started fangirling out ("OH MY GOSH IT'S THE VAN! IT'S THE VAN!!!!") but they were loading stuff out of it so I wasn't about to take a picture with it then. But I did get a picture afterwards and I am happy with it despite the poor lighting.

Overall this was definitely my favorite signing I have ever been to. John and Hank Green are such amazingly talented individuals and getting to watch them perform and hear their stories was such a privilege! On top of that the people there were all awesome because they were pretty much all Nerdfighters. Being a rather bookish person (I do want to be a Librarian after all) it can be hard to find people who understand and appreciate you, despite your nerdy tendencies. Nerdfighters are those people. People who like nerdy things like books, Sherlock, and The Lord of the Rings as much as I do. People who appreciate learning and philosophy, and deep thoughts about dinosaurs and the meaning of the universe. Going to this event has made me realize how awesome Nerdfighters are and that I definitely am one and proudly so!

If you were unable to go to the Fault in Our Stars Tour/Tour de Nerdfighting then fortunately you can watch a full stream of their Austin Texas show below!

And finally here are some lovely shots I got of John and Hank performing. Let's count the number of outfit changes between the two of them shall we?




(yes I do realize all he did was put a black vest over his Great Gatsby shirt but it still counts....)

And last but certainly not least....


That's all folks! DFTBA (Don't Forget to be Awesome)!

Julia :)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Book Review: Pandemonium + Giveaway

by Lauren Oliver 
375 pages
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: February 28th 2012
Source: An ARC copy won from EpicReads
Add Pandemonium to your bookshelf on Goodreads!

The old Lena is dead. The old Lena remains with Alex in Portland, Main, behind a wall of smoke and flame, but the new Lena was born in the Wilds, transformed by hardship, deprivation, and loss.

Now an active member of the resistance, Lena fights for a world in which love will no longer be considered a dangerous disease. Her inner life is as turbulent as the world around her... Although consumed with grief for Alex, might she be falling in love with someone else?

Delirium is a book that had a huge impact on my life. It completely changed my view on love and the importance of it in my life. When a book affects a person as much as Delirium affected me then it's hard for the sequel to measure up. That being said Pandemonium did a pretty good job. While it might not have had as much of an emotional impact as Delirium had it still proved to be an unputdownable dystopian and it's ending has me dying for the final book.

In Pandemonium we are introduced to a much different Lena than the Lena of Delirium. This Lena has just lost the boy who was everything to her. Sure, she successfully escaped to the Wilds but what's the point without Alex by her side? This Lena is hard and yet undetermined. But as the book progresses we see Lena really come out of her shell. It's like she's being reborn as a character and I found this fascinating. Those who loved Lena in Delirium shouldn't be worried though. Lauren Oliver hasn't reinvented Lena so much as she's developed her character even more.

The plot of Pandemonium was a real departure from Delirium. Delirium was definitely a character driven love story but Pandemonium was a lot more plot driven. It's like a survivalist story and a love story with some bombings, kidnappings, and secret identities thrown in for good measure. The structure of Pandemonium was also super unique in that instead of it being chronological the chapters alternated from "Then" (directly after Delirium ended) to "Now" (about a year after Delirium ended). It was a bit confusing at first but overall I really liked it. Plus it made the book super unputdownable! Cliffhanger's are twice as bad when you have to read a whole extra chapter just to find out what happens. I can't tell you how many times I told myself "Just one more chapter!" only to end up reading four more instead. :P

I know that some people have been disappointed in Pandemonium because they felt like it was a huge departure from Delirium and in some ways they are right. Let me say this right now: If you go into Pandemonium thinking it's going to be exactly like Delirium you're going to be disappointed. Delirium was a book about love: about discovering it, about it's importance in our lives, and about standing up for it's existence. Pandemonium on the other hand is more a book about healing. It's about moving past the pain and sadness and coming to a new place and it's also about opening yourself up to new possibilities. When you crack the cover of Pandemonium remember to go into it with an open mind. It may be different from Delirium, but its still an amazing book and definitely worth reading! It possesses Lauren Oliver's beautiful prose and imagery and has a great mix of action and suspense along with some quieter character driven moments. On top of that the ending is jaw dropping. The final book in the trilogy Requiem doesn't come out till 2013 and my goodness it's gonna be a long wait!

I give Pandemonium 4.5 out of 5 ice cream cones!

Awesome Quote: "In approved places, every story serves a purpose. But forbidden books are so much more. Some of them are webs; you can feel your way along their threads, but just barely, into strange and dark corners. Some of them are balloons bobbing up through the sky: totally self-contained, and unreachable, but beautiful to watch."

Now for the giveaway. I was lucky enough to win an ARC copy of Pandemonium and now that I've finished it I want someone else to have a chance to enjoy it.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Hunger Games Recipe Contest Voting!

A few weeks ago I posted about my District 4 Bread recipe for the Mercury News Hunger Games recipe contest. Well voting is now open for the recipes! If you could take the time to head on over there and look at the recipes (and vote for mine?) then I WOULD LOVE YOU FOREVER!

So head on over and check out all the awesome entries and be sure to vote for your favorites! If you want to vote for mine all you have to do is search "Julia Christy" and then click "vote for this entry". If you do end up voting thank you so much! You guys rock.

Julia :)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Book Review: The Fault in Our Stars

The Fault in Our Stars
by John Green
313 pages
Publication Date:
Source: Purchased
Add The Fault in Our Stars to your shelf on Goodreads!
Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel's story is about to be completely rewritten.

Every once in awhile you read a book that changes you. Really changes you. It changes the way you think, changes the way you live, changes the way you love, and all you know is that now that you've read this book, your life will never be the same. Before reading The Fault in Our Stars I had only read about 4 of those books in my life. Now I've read 5. I finished The Fault in Our Stars this morning but it is still haunting me. It's invaded my mind and gripped my soul and that is why I'm sitting here in front of my computer typing up this review at 1 o'clock in the morning when I really should be sleeping. Sometimes reason just can't hold a candle to ones thoughts on literary genius.

The Fault in Our Stars is a beautiful tragedy. There's no other way to describe it. This book may be about cancer but it isn't just a cancer story. It's a story about love, life, death, and the legacy we all leave behind. It's brutal and honest but also absolutely hilarious. One minute you'll be laughing at the perfect humor and the next you'll be sobbing because the story is so incredibly heartbreaking. You've probably heard this before but I'm saying it again: The Fault in Our Stars will make you cry. There is no escaping it. Though I'm not sure "cry" is the right word for the all encompassing full body weeping that I experienced while reading this book. Just make sure that when you read The Fault in Our Stars (and you better read it!) that you're prepared with a box of Kleenex.

Before The Fault in Our Stars even begins John Green reminds the reader in an authors note that the book is a work of fiction. He knows all too well that the story and characters he has created are so honest and achingly real that people will want to believe that they existed. That Hazel and Augustus' story is real. I know I did. But instead I was like a girl peering into a glass aquarium: A bystander who could look into that beautiful world but could never become apart of it. Even so John Green's story of Hazel and Augustus and their life and struggles and love and adventure was so amazing that I didn't care. I felt privileged just to have been able to partake of it, fictional or not. There's a lot we can learn from fiction, and sometimes we forget that.

My absolute favorite quote from The Fault in Our Stars is this:
"Why are you looking at me like that?"

Augustus half smiled. "Because you're beautiful. I enjoy looking at beautiful people, and I decided a while ago not to deny myself the simpler pleasures of existence."
This is one of those moments when I am just in awe of John Green. He is able to capture in words what people feel but are not always able to fully express, and that's a beautiful thing.

The Fault in Our Stars is not just a book. It is a masterpiece. It is life changing. It will remind you that life is not always about being remembered, but about loving, getting loved in return, and making a difference no matter how small. Leaving a scar. And that's what The Fault in Our Stars has done for me; It's left an interminable scar on my heart and soul and I am happy to never be able to forget this beautifully tragic and melancholy masterpiece.

The Fault in Our Stars gets 5 out of 5 ice cream cones!

This is one of those cases when a "rating" does not do the book justice. Quite frankly, The Fault in Our Stars is one of the best books I have ever had the pleasure of reading in my entire life. Please read this book, and if you do I hope it affects you the same way it affected me.

Julia :)

Monday, January 23, 2012

Kawaii Monday: So So Happy!

This week's Kawaii Monday feature's super cute products from So So Happy. I discovered this company a few days ago and it was like all my dreams came true! Their designs are the perfect mixture of kawaii and edginess. Just looking at their website makes me want to drop all my money on just about everything. :P Especially the super cute pin set they sell:

I WANT ALL THE PINS!!!!! I can't tell you how hard it is to restrain myself from buying a bajillion of these to put on my purse.

I also absolutely LOVE their set of monster socks:

$14 isn't that bad of a deal for 6 pairs of awesomely designed socks but unfortunately I am a poor college student who doesn't have room in the budget for monster socks.

But what's their most wonderful product of all? Their hoodies. Their hoodies are my dream come true. They have dino spines on the back of them. DINO SPINES. Unfortunately none of the designs with the dino spines really strike my fancy. However I do really love this one:

You can't see it but the hood has black spikes on the top of it which is cute. I'm totally gonna buy this hoodie. Eventually....

You can find all these super kawaii products and more on the So So Happy website! They have TONS more awesome stuff so if you like these items you should really look at the rest of their site.

All I can say is that if I were rich and famous I would not spend my money on Jimmy Choos and Dolce and Gabana sunglasses. I would buy this stuff instead.

Julia :)

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Reading Confessions with the Dark Days authors!

Last week I attending the Dark Days tour stop at Changing Hands Bookstore in Tucson Arizona which consisted of Ellen Schreiber (author of Vampire Kisses and Once in a Full Moon), Veronica Rossi (author of Under the Never Sky), and Tahereh Mafi (author of Shatter Me)! All three authors were really nice and I loved getting to hear more about their writing process and characters. I've been getting spoiled on author events these past few months! Here are some (not so flattering) shots I got of me and Veronica Rossi and Tahereh Mafi:

 *cringe* But on the bright side my t-shirt is awesome!

At this particular event I was on a mission for my Library to try to get Reading Confession interviews from the authors. Fortunately all three authors were kind enough to agree to doing a confession. You can watch each of their mini interviews below as they answer questions about their favorite childhood reads, what they love to read now, their inspirations, and more!

A big thanks to Ellen Schreiber, Veronica Rossi, and Tahereh Mafi for being wonderful enough to let me conduct these interviews! You guys are amazing.

You can find out more about each of these authors below:

Ellen Schreiber

Veronica Rossi

Tahereh Mafi

Also be sure to enter my giveaway for a signed copy of Tahereh Mafi's book Shatter Me and some fun signed swag here.

Julia :)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Book Review: Plague

by Michael Grant
492 pages
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Publication Date: April 5, 2011
Source: Library
Add Plague to your bookshelf on GoodReads!

They've survived hunger. They've survived lies. But the stakes keep rising, and the dystopian horror keeps building. Yet despite the simmering unrest left behind by so many battles, power struggles, and angry divides, there is a momentary calm in Perdido Beach. But enemies in the FAYZ don't just fade away, and in the quiet, deadly things are stirring, mutating, and finding their way free. The Darkness has found its way into the mind of its Nemesis at last and is controlling it through a haze of delirium and confusion. A highly contagious, fatal, illness spreads at an alarming rate. Sinister, predatory insects terrorize Perdido Beach. And Same, Astrid, Diana, and Caine are plagued by a growing doubt that they'll escape - or even survive - life in the FAYZ. With so much turmoil surrounding them, what desperate choices will they make when it comes to saving themselves and those they love?
I feel like everytime I write a review for one of the books in the Gone series I always end up saying the same things. I'm starting to sound like a broken record. :P Well, who cares because these books definitely deserve some recognition. They are AWESOME and Plague has got to be my favorite in the series yet!

Plague picks up where Lies left off. Perdido Beach is finally peaceful for once, or at least as peaceful as life can be in the FAYZ. But of course, things immediately start going awry. And cue the creepy bug parasites! If you've read the first three books in the Gone series then you are no stranger to the creepy and bizarre world of the FAYZ but believe me you ain't read nothing yet. Remember Drake growing his whip arm? Pshhh forgettable. How about the talking evil coyotes? Meh. Or maybe the ginormous man eating worms from Hunger? Tame. In Plague there's a whole new set of horrors and like I said: They're bug related. If you have a serious bug phobia (or just don't really like creepy crawlies in general) Plague might not be the best book for you to pick up on a free afternoon. Just saying. But even though Plague does have some super creepy elements it still ended up being awesome and if I'm being honest I actually did enjoy the creepiness factor! I guess I'm just strange like that. >.<

Other than creepiness Plague also has action and suspense in spades. From bug parasites to water shortages, a deathly plague to a jailbreak, there's just never a dull moment in the FAYZ. Yet again while reading Plague all I could think was "THIS SERIES SHOULD SO BE A TV SHOW!" Albeit a very dark TV show....

All the character's are back and the same as ever. And by the same I mean awesometastic. I am still in awe of the way Michael Grant is able to juggle so many different character's and their personalities without them getting muddied together. He is brilliant I tell you.

Oh and the ending of Plague? Yeah, it was a cliffhanger. An intense cliffhanger. Can I have the last book Fear yet?

Plague gets 5 out of 5 ice cream cones!

If I haven't yet convinced you to read this book and The Gone Series in general then I have one word for you: Nutella. Yes, this book has Nutella. Can it get anymore awesome? I don't think so.

Julia :)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Book Review: Shatter Me + Giveaway

Shatter Me
by Tahereh Mafi 
338 pages
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: November 15, 2011
Source: Library
Juliette hasn't touched anyone in exactly 264 days.

The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette's touch is fatal. As long as she doesn't hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don't fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.

The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war-- and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she's exactly what they need right now.

Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.

Above is my video review for Shatter Me if you so choose to watch it! The written review is basically the same thing but I thought I'd do a video review for fun. If you watch it be sure to tell me what you think!

I know I'm a little late to be jumping on the Shatter Me bandwagon. I'm pretty sure most everyone else in the blogosphere has already read and blogged about this book but oh wells. Better late than never right?

There was SO much hype behind this book. So much. When a book is that hyped I always get a little scared once I actually crack it open. I never know if the hype is gonna work in the books favor or if its gonna make the book fizzle and die. In Shatter Me's case well, it wasn't really either. I'm on the fence about Shatter Me. I didn't love it, but I didn't dislike it either. Honestly I feel a little indifferent to it.

When Shatter Me begins all we know is that Juliette has been incarcerated for 264 days. She hasn't seen anybody, she hasn't talked to anybody, and she certainly hasn't touched anybody. Then suddenly a random (but yet not so random?) boy named Adam is thrust into her cell and Juliette's world is turned upside down forever.

For starters Tahereh Mafi's writing is absolutely gorgeous. The prose and imagery of Shatter Me just blew me away. The thing is Tahereh doesn't use her imagery to paint a picture of the world Juliette is living in. This was one of the big things that didn't work for me: The world building or lack thereof. With dystopian novels a lot of the weight of the story rests upon the crazy futuristic world the character's are living in and in Shatter Me that world just wasn't there. It was never explained why the world was preparing for war (at least I think that's what was happening? Maybe I missed something...) and why there was so much poverty. I understand that the story was getting told from Juliette's POV and she had been locked up for almost a year but seriously not THAT much changes in less than a year. The whole time I had a really hard time picturing the setting and so it was like the character's were walking around on a blank canvas.

This brings me to the characters. This was one of the strengths of the novel. Juliette was an extremely fascinating character. Throughout the entire story she's sort of walking the line between sanity and insanity. I also really liked seeing the struggle Juliette had within herself as she came to grips with the fact that even though she had a lethal touch it didn't make her an evil person. Now Warner on the other hand HE was evil. Talk about major creep tingles! The funniest thing about Warner is for some reason even though I do recall Juliette saying he only looked a few years older than Adam I kept imagining him as some creepy middle aged man until the part in the book when he said he was 19. Yep, that pretty much sums up the nastiness of Warner: He's a middle aged man creeper in a teenagers body. >.< As for Adam, well I wasn't much of a fan. PLEASE DON'T KILL ME! I know most people found his love for Juliette endearing and all but honestly I didn't understand it. He had never even spoken to her before they were locked up together and yet we are meant to believe he's been in love with her since 3rd grade? Yeah, I'm sorry that just doesn't work for me. It's like Peeta Mellark all over again. And you guys know I'm not a big fan of Peeta... Now there was one character in Shatter Me that I absolutely loved and that was Kenji. As soon as he showed up the book doubled in awesomeness. Literally. I told my mom:

"Mom, this awesome character just showed up in the book I'm reading. He's an obnoxious douchey guy but he's SO FUNNY."

Yeah she was confused too. There's just something about his complete lack of tact that I enjoyed and found positively hilarious. Not only that but he's also Japanese which means his coolness level is immediately through the roof. Actually the whole coolness level of the book basically doubled once I found out Kenji was Japanese. I gave it a whole bump up in rating merely because Kenji is Asian. No joke. :P

As for the plot of Shatter Me overall I found it fairly compelling but I thought it was a bit bogged down with the romance. Oh gosh I know everyone else loved the "steamy" romance between Juliette and Adam and they had to "fan themselves from the hotness" and all that but for me it was just too much. Honestly it felt awkward reading most of the scenes between the two of them. Like talk about too much too soon. I realize Juliette that you've never been touched before or whatever but gosh.... tone it down girl! I especially liked it when their physical attraction was getting in the way of their common sense. For example:

And I know I shouldn't. I know now isn't the time. I know it's impractical. But I kiss him anyway."

Just a little background on this particular scene: Juliette and Adam are inside a slaughterhouse running from soldiers out to torture them/get their blood and yet ALL JULIETTE CAN THINK ABOUT IS KISSING ADAM. GOSH GIRL YOU ARE RUNNING FOR YOUR LIFE AND YET YOU "KISS HIM ANYWAY"?!?!?! *bangs head into wall repeatedly* When romance rules over common sense that's when you lose me. The good thing about the romance is it did lead to some great comic relief from Kenji. Like this gem:

"I will not use this word often, Kent but please don't try any fancy secret-sneaking-away shit. We have to regulate things around here for a reason. It's the only way to survive. So do everyone a favor and keep your pants on. You'll see her in the morning."

Ohhhh Kenji. Always keeping it real. Notice how HE values survival over sexytimez? Yep, that's the way it should be folks!

Life > Sex 


So aside from Juliette and Adam's over active sexytimez I actually did quite like the plot. It moved along swiftly and at the end it started channeling a sort of X-Men vibe which was unexpected but cool.

Overall Shatter Me was a solid book but it just didn't appeal to me as much as I would have hoped. With dystopian novels I really like them to make me think and question the world I live in and what I stand for but with Shatter Me there was none of that. However it was a great thrill ride and even though the physical romance was a little too explicit for my tastes it did make for a good laugh in certain situations. All I can say is I'll definitely be reading the sequels and I'm excited to see where Tahereh Mafi goes with the rest of the story!

I give Shatter Me 4 out of 5 ice cream cones.

If you want to win a SIGNED copy of Shatter Me and some other fun signed swag head on over to this post and you can enter! :D

Julia :)

Monday, January 16, 2012

Kawaii Monday: This Little Piggy Sock Pig Dolls

This week's Kawaii Monday feature's some adorable sock pig dolls! If you don't like blatant self promotion you should leave this post now because I'm about to try to make some money and sell you things. Adorable things, but also things you probably don't need. But that's beside the point... >.<

Last week on Twitter I posted about opening up an Etsy shop! Awhile back I was obsessed with making sock pigs. And by obsessed I mean I bought a bajillion backs of socks and made 15+ pigs. They're actually quite easy to make so it really didn't take me that long but the point is: I had 15 sock pigs sitting around that I didn't need. Then one day a lightbulb went off in my head: I should try to sell them on Etsy! So now I have a lovely little Etsy shop called This Little Piggy and it sells sock pig dolls!

Here are a few of my favorite ones that I'm selling!

 This is the biggest of all my sock pigs but she's also my favorite! She's just SO STINKIN CUTE! You can find out more about Nora here.

This guy is such a little heartthrob! It's hard not to fall in love with him. You can find out more about Romeo here.

Phoebe is so fun and colorful! You can find out more about her here.

So that's the blatant self promotion of my Etsy shop. But they really are cute little piggies aren't they?

I have a bunch more sock pigs for sale so if you want to see all of them (and maybe buy one or two?) you can visit my store here!

If you do stop by for a visit be sure to let me know which pig was your favorite.

Julia :)

Sunday, January 15, 2012

In My Mailbox: Signed and Singing Edition! [26]

It's In My Mailbox time guys!!! A big thanks to Kristi over at The Story Siren for hosting this lovely meme. Now on to the books that I got this week! There's a LOT of them but they're all really awesome so prepare for the madness.

Slide by Jill Hathaway
The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin (Signed!)
Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
Don't Breathe a Word Swag (Thanks Holly Cupala!)

Shatter Me Swag
Under the Never Sky Swag

Bittersweet by Sarah Ockler
Variant by Robison Wells
Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi (Signed!)
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi (FOR A GIVEAWAY!!!)
Ron Weasley Lego Keychain <3

First of all a HUGE thanks to Susan from Wastepaper Prose for my awesome ARC package! You ROCK! :D

In other news if you watched my vlog then you know I'm giving away a signed copy of Shatter Me along with some signed swag from both Tahereh Mafi and Veronica Rossi! If you want to get in on that you can enter here.

Also if you follow me on Twitter then you might know that I did a cover of the song Safe and Sound from the Hunger Games soundtrack. My mom has been bugging me for ages to put up stuff of me singing on YouTube and I haven't till now so thanks for the push mom. :P I'm not gonna lie it's a little awkward putting myself out on the interwebs in such a way. But for all you guys who are curious to see me play the piano and sing then you can watch the video below. Feel free to tweet it or share it with friends if you feel so inclined. >.<

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

Oh and as if I haven't emphasized it enough yet GO ENTER MY SHATTER ME GIVEAWAY!!!!! :D

Julia :)

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Giveaway: A Signed copy of Shatter Me + Signed Swag!

Last week I asked you guys what book you wanted me to get signed and giveaway and it was a close call but ultimately SHATTER ME won out! I was lucky enough to be able to attend the Dark Days tour yesterday at Changing Hands bookstore in Tempe and so I picked up a copy of Shatter Me and got it signed! WOOT! I also got a bunch of fun signed swag from both Tahereh Mafi and Veronica Rossi!

So there will be two winners for this giveaway. One person will win the signed copy of Shatter Me along with a set of signed swag and another winner will get a set of signed swag! Entry is super simple. All you have to do is put your name and email into the Rafflecopter form below. There are also plenty of ways to get extra entries so be sure to take advantage of that! Sorry to all my international readers but this is a US only giveaway. :(

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck and may the odds be ever in your favor! Why yes I do use that quote every chance I get. I'm such a nerd. >.<

Julia :)

Cover Comparison [21]

Normally I like to do cover comparisons of books that I've already read but when I saw the UK cover of The Scorpio Races by Maggie Steifvater I knew that I had to feature it even though I haven't read the book yet. Let the cover comparison begin!

                                               US Cover                   UK Cover

US Cover: This cover comes off as uber photoshopped. I think its the combination of the gold letters, the silhouette, and the strange nothingness background. I mean the silhouette of the horse almost seems like its floating. O.O

UK Cover: I love how this cover is basically the polar opposite of the US one. Instead of being all digitized its more of an artsy fartsy cover. But that doesn't make it any less cool! I love the artsiness of it. However one thing that I find funny is the fact that there are so many hearts in the artwork. I didn't actually notice this until my sister pointed it out and now that she has I can't stop looking at the hearts! Is love a big theme in The Scorpio Races?

So who wins? I have to give it to the UK cover! I just love the artwork and the contrast between the black, white, and red. All the hearts are a little iffy but oh well. The US cover is fine but I just don't find it as visually appealing as the UK cover.

So which cover of The Scorpio Races do YOU like best? Be sure to vote in the poll below and sound off in the comments about why you made your decision!

If you have any cover comparison suggestions for me be sure to leave them in the form below!

Julia :)
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