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 :)

Monday, July 16, 2012

Kawaii Monday: Totoro iPad Cases

I am a HUGE Totoro fan. I was searching through Totoro stuff on eBay and Etsy when I ran across some super adorable iPad cases. Prepare for the cute. :D

This one is pretty simple but still ADORABLE. It also seems fairly easy to make since it's simply pieces of felt sewn together. I'm thinking of trying my hand at making one. I doubt it would turn out looking this perfect but I think I could do a passable job. :D You can buy this guy on Etsy here.

This next one is also from Etsy:

It's not as cute as the last design but it's really clever. I love that it looks like you're putting your iPad into Totoro's mouth!

Too funny huh? You can buy this guy here.

Last but not least is this case I found on eBay.

Fairly similar to the first Etsy one except I think this one is cuter. That might be attributed to the little leaf on it's head. If I try making one of my own out of felt I will definitely be adding a leaf! You can find this on eBay here.

Are you guys fans of Totoro too? 

Julia :)

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Cover Comparison: Jackson Pearce Edition

Time for another installment of Cover Comparisons! This week is yet another series redesign post. I've been on a sort of series redesign kick lately. I hope you guys don't mind. :P

Today we're looking at the different covers for Jackson Pearce's Fairytale Retellings series. This redesign happened with the release of the cover for Fathomless. Let's check out the two different sets of covers.

                                                               Original Covers

                                                                    New Covers

Original Covers: I think the look of these covers is great. The art is gorgeous and it fits the stories perfectly. Whoever designed these is genius. On top of that I just love that these covers really stand out. I feel like more publishers need to go the art route instead of always having to use stock photos like most YA covers these days.

New Covers: I honestly don't have much of an opinion on these covers. I don't like them, but I don't dislike them either. They're just so boring and sterotypical YA to me. Sisters Red is the only one I find mildly intriguing because it's got the axe and red/black color scheme going on which is giving it a cool creepy vibe. Sweetly and Fathomless are both just meh to me. It would have been nice to see what kind of art they could have come up with for Fathomless since it's a retelling of The Little Mermaid and all. That would have been cool. Oh well.

So who wins? I definitely prefer the original covers. I just love the art and I feel like it captures the magical fairytale nature of the stories while also being hip and modern. Of course the art style isn't for everyone so I can see why they decided to redesign the covers with a more classic YA look. I just wish they could have been a bit more original.

Which set of covers for Jackson Pearce's Fairytale Retelling's series is YOUR favorite? Be sure to vote in the poll below and sound off in the comments about why you made your decision!

Have any suggestions for future cover comparisons? Leave them in this form!

Julia :)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Giveaway: Summer of the Mariposas

A couple weeks ago I got a surprise package from Tu Books which is an imprint Lee and Low Books! One of the goodies inside was Summer of the Mariposas by Guadalupe Garcia McCall. Since the genre (it's a sort of mythological retelling/fantasy from what I can tell) isn't really something I'm interested in I thought I would give it away so that one of my lovely readers could enjoy it!

Odilia and her four sisters rival the mythical Odysseus in cleverness and courage as they embark on a hero's journey to return a dead man to his family in Mexico. But returning home to Texas turns into a unique odyssey all their own.

With the supernatural aid of the ghostly Llorona via a magical earring, Odilia and her little sisters journey along a road of tribulation to their long-lost-grandmother's house. Along the way, they must outsmart a witch and her Evil Trinity: a wily warlock, a coven of vicious half-human barn owls, and a bloodthirsty livestock-hunting chupacabras. Can these fantastic trials prepare Odilia and her sisters for what happens when they face their final test, returning home to the real world, where goddesses and ghosts can no longer help them?

Summer of the Mariposas is not just a magical Mexican American Retelling of The Odyssey, it is a celebration of sisterhood and maternal love.
A Mexican American retelling of The Odyssey? Sounds pretty cool to me! If you're interested in winning an ARC copy just fill out the Rafflecopter form below!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Book Review: Clockwork Angel

Clockwork Angel
by Cassandra Clare
483 pages
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Publication Date: August 31st 2010
Source: Gifted
Add this to your shelf on Goodreads
When Tessa Gray crosses the ocean to find her brother in Victorian England, something terrifying is waiting for her in London's Downworld. Kidnapped by the mysterious Dark Sisters, who are members of a secret organization called the Pandemonium Club, Tessa soon learns that she has the power to transform into another person. The Magister, the shadowy figure who runs the club, will stop at nothing to claim Tessa's power for his own. Friendless and hunted, Tessa takes refuge with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons. She soon finds herself fascinated by - and torn between - two best friends: James and Will. As Tessa is drawn deep into a plot that threatens to destroy the Shadowhunters, she realizes that she may need to choose between saving her brother and helping her new friends save the world... and that love may be the most dangerous magic of all.
Cassandra Clare is arguably one of the most popular YA authors right now, particularly for the Mortal Instruments series. I read City of Bones and City of Ashes (still haven't gotten around to the others yet) and honestly I wasn't that impressed. Jace didn't sweep me off my feet, Clary was just meh, and overall I thought it read like a bunch of rehashed elements from other popular stories and franchises *cough* Star Wars *cough*. That being said I didn't have very high expectations for Clockwork Angel. Well, Cassandra Clare surprised me with this one because wow, it was SO much better than The Mortal Instruments. It may be because I had such low expectations to begin with but dang it I ENJOYED THIS BOOK.

I think what surprised me the most about this book was Cassandra Clare's ability to write a paranormal set in Victorian England. I can't imagine that being easy but she pulled it off like a charm. On top of that I really enjoyed the steampunk elements. I've never understood the huge draw people have to steampunk but I thought it worked well in this story and though I haven't been converted into a steampunk lover I definitely have a new appreciation for the genre.

I don't know what it is  about Cassandra Clare's characters but I've never really felt a strong connection to any of them. Tessa was a fine protagonist and I rooted for her throughout the story but I never felt like I wanted to be her best friend or really know her. As for the guy characters I surprised myself in this book by liking Will over Jem. Because Jem is part Asian (and everyone knows how I feel about Asian guys in books) I thought he would be my favorite hands down but I actually think he fell a little flat. Will on the other hand was wonderfully douchey and conceited, but at the same time he had a lot of layers and this deep dark secret that made him terribly intriguing. I'm not gonna lie, I fought my love for Will and tried to force myself to like Jem instead but finally I resigned myself to the fact that I was picking the douchey character over the nice guy character. My literal thought was "WHAT THE HECK IS HAPPENING TO ME?!?!" But such is the way of Will Herondale. :P

The fact that the characters of Clockwork Angel were a little "meh" to me and yet I still enjoyed it speaks volumes for how good the novel really is. Normally I am a character driven reader and I find it hard to enjoy books with characters I can't connect with, but that wasn't the case with Clockwork Angel. Instead of getting bored or disinterested I easily got sucked in to Tessa's story and I felt like Cassie Clare employed the perfect mix of intrigue and plot twists to keep me hooked. There was espionage, an evil underworld, and suspense in spades. On top of that the story was really quite original which I was surprised by considering how unoriginal I felt the Mortal Instruments series was. Nice job Cassie Clare!

Overall Clockwork Angel was a surprisingly enjoyable read. The characters fell a little flat for me (though I'm sure that isn't the case with everyone) but the story itself was fascinating and clever enough to keep me interested. I also loved the fact that this was a sort of steampunk/paranormal/historical fiction hybrid. If that isn't unique I don't know what is! I give Clockwork Angel 4 out of 5 ice cream cones.

I don't know if I feel invested enough in these characters to continue the series (anyone want to convince me otherwise?) but Clockwork Angel definitely made for an enjoyable read.

Julia :)

Sunday, July 8, 2012

July Book Haul

Time for another book haul post! I got some fun stuff these past few weeks and I thought I would share it with you all. 

Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler
Out of Sight, Out of Time by Ally Carter

For Review
Diverse Energies (short story anthology) edited by Tobias S. Buckell & Joe Monti
Summer of the Mariposas by Guadalupe Garcia McCall

Book Lover and Smart Cookie pins
Lord of the Rings Lego Ring

What's in your book haul this week? Leave a link in the comments and I'll come check it out!

Julia :)

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Cover Comparison: Across the Universe Edition

Guess what guys? There was another crazy out of the blue series cover redesign this week! YAY! :P #Sarcasm

A big thanks to Vivian from Confessions of a Vi3tbabe for giving me the heads up on this cover change!

So the series that got a cover redesign this week was the Across the Universe Trilogy by Beth Revis. This particular change is really sad for me because I loved the original covers. I LOVED THEM TO PIECES. And these new covers? Yeah, I'm not digging them. Let's look at the two sets shall we?

                                                                 Original Covers

                                                                   New Covers

Original Covers: Like I said earlier I LOVE these covers. Across the Universe is one of my favorite covers ever and I love how they designed two separate covers for the hardback design. Sure, it makes the book slip out of the cover like crazy but it's still awesome. :P Even the redesigned paperback cover is pretty, albeit not as pretty as the original. I also really like the A Million Suns cover. Whoever designed these did such a great job of making the cosmos absolutely gorgeous. It's just so otherworldly and AWESOME. I feel like these covers portray the essence of the series, are really elegant, and they also stand out next to other YA titles. Honestly, I want these books on my shelf for the sole reason of them being so beautiful. :D

New Covers: When I first saw these covers my mouth fell open in shock and I internally weeped for the death of the original series cover designs. LOOK AT THEM. They aren't nearly as stunning as the original covers and on top of that they look like every other generic sci-fi/dystopian trilogy out there. Plus, is it just me or do these covers totally have the same vibe as covers for middle grade book series ala Artemis Fowl? I understand that the point of these new covers is to appeal to a wider audience *cough* boys *cough* but did they really have to do this with the final book in the trilogy? Isn't this trilogy already fairly successful? Why couldn't they have released Shades of Earth in hardcover with something based off the original cover designs and then released these later for a new set of paperback editions? I just don't understand. :( Now everyone's sets of Across the Universe and A Millions Suns won't match with Shades of Earth. THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE PENGUIN! :P

So who wins: Definitely the original covers. They're unique, absolutely gorgeous, and totally eye catching. I wish more YA covers could look like this! The new covers are okay, but they pale in comparison to the originals. They're generic and, in my opinion, they don't give off the right vibe for the trilogy. They seem a bit too dystopianesque. :/

Which set of covers for the Across the Universe trilogy do YOU like best? Be sure to vote in the poll below and sound off in the comments about why you made your decision!

Have any suggestions for future cover comparisons? Leave them in this form!

Julia :)

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Book Review: Never Enough

Never Enough
by Denise Jaden
372 pages
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: July 10, 2012
Source: From the Author for Review
Loann's always wanted to be popular and pretty like her sister, Claire. So when Claire's ex-boyfriend starts flirting with her, Loann is willing to do whatever it takes to feel special... even if it means betraying her sister.

But as Loann slips inside Claire's world, she discovers that everythign is not as it seems. Claire's taken her quest for perfection to the extreme, and is now waging a life thretening battle with bulimia and anorexia - a battle Loann isn't sure Claire wants to win.

While Claire increasingly withdraws from friends and family, Loann struggles to understand her and make amends. Can she heal their relationship - and her sister - before it's too late?

I loved, loved, LOVED Never Enough. Words can hardly express how much I loved this book. Never Enough was amazing in so many ways and its definitely become one of my favorite contemporaries!

Loann was an extremely relatable protagonist. Maybe it was because she was 5' tall like me (YAY FOR SHORT CHARACTERS!) or maybe it was because of the whole sister thing but either way I loved her, especially her dry sense of humor. Marcus was another character I really enjoyed. He was sweet and funny and I loved watching the relationship between him and Loann develop. Claire was a very interesting character. I've never known anyone who has had an eating disorder so reading about her was very eye opening. I felt like Denise Jaden really dealt with her character beautifully especially with such difficult subject matter.

I think that the story of Never Enough is one that anyone can relate to, especially people who have siblings. There always seems to be some sort of unspoken sibling rivalry over whose the prettiest, coolest, or most successful. Never Enough highlights that rivalry but instead of exploiting it Denise Jaden goes in a very different direction. She illustrates that self-acceptance is far more important than looks or popularity. Loann comes to realize that Claire may seem to have the perfect life, but underneath it all is a girl who battles demons far scarier than anyone realized. The message of Never Enough is a poignant one: don't live your life wishing you were someone else. Live your life celebrating the beauty of who you already are.

 Never Enough is a thought-provoking story with a message that all teens should hear. It highlights that life isn't about reaching for "perfection" but instead about embracing who we are. In the words of Loann:
Nothing is ever perfect. Not this. Not Claire. Certainly not any of the rest of my life. Beauty isn't perfect. It's something to be felt and something to be breathed.

Everything is beautiful, you just have the eyes to see it. I give Never Enough 5 out of 5 ice cream cones.

Julia :)
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