Monday, January 28, 2013

Kawaii Monday: Snow White and the Seven Dwarves Dolls

You know how sometimes you're randomly browsing Etsy (because it's AWESOME!) and then you run across something super adorable? Well, that's what happened with these Snow White and the Seven Dwarves dolls. Ironically I wasn't even searching anything related to Snow White when I found them either. Weird.... Anyway, I HAD to share the cuteness with you guys!!!!


I love how these dolls are so simple and yet they're able to perfectly capture the magic and whimsy of Snow White and the seven dwarves. If I had daughters I would totally buy these for them to play with. SO TOTALLY CUTE!

I don't know about you guys but I am a HUGE sucker for Snow White and the seven dwarves. Even though she is super annoying in the Disney cartoon (seriously, her voice kills me) I still love that movie. Mostly because I love the dwarves so much. Especially Dopey. Ever since I was a kid Dopey has been my favorite dwarf. He's just so adorable!

Do you love these dolls too? Which dwarf is your favorite? Or do you like Snow White best?

You can buy these wonderful dolls here.

Julia :)

Saturday, January 26, 2013

How The Hobbit has taken over my life

So back in December this movie came out that has slowly been taking over my life. I don't know if you've heard of it (SARCASM) but it's called The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

In case you don't know this movie is the first in a trilogy based on J.R.R. Tolkien's classic children's book The Hobbit and it also includes elements from the appendices at the end of The Return of the King.

It is no secret that I am the biggest Tolkien nerd. I watched the Lord of the Rings trilogy back when I was in 6th grade and then I subsequently read the books and ever since then I have been obsessed. Like, I've read the trilogy so many times I've lost count and my old bedroom was painted like the shire obsessed. I've even dressed up as a hobbit for Halloween. My LOTR nerdiness knows no bounds. :P

So to say that I was excited for the first Hobbit movie would probably be an understatement. I mean, I have been waiting for The Hobbit to become a movie ever since I turned into a Tolkien fanatic. THAT IS A HECK OF A LONG TIME. Add that to the stress of the project finally getting greenlit, and then the director changing, and then crazy movie laws almost getting in the way of production, and then Peter Jackson needing surgery which prolonged filming, and yeah, you can imagine how much pent up excitement I had on the eve of December 14th. I was literally bouncing around my house I was so hyped up.

Going into this movie I didn't really know what to expect. I knew I would love it, but I didn't know how much. Would it live up to my high expectations? Would it capture my imagination like the LOTR movies had? Would it be as awesome and as epic?


So the movie got started and my thought process was basically:


Hey look it's Legolases baby daddy! Looking real good there Lee Pace. ;)

What's this? The elves won't help the dwarves fight Smaug? BURNNNNNN!!!!

FROOOODOOOO!!!!!! Dang Elijah Wood hasn't aged a day.... (but seriously, he looks almost exactly the same. O.O)

Martin Freeman, you are Bilbo.


And then this happened....


And in that moment, Kili stole my heart. And Fili too, but mostly Kili. :P

And then Thorin shows up who is about as majestically awesome as they come:

And basically for the rest of the movie my mind was playing a background track of "RIDICULOUSLY HOT DWARVES, RIDICULOUSLY HOT DWARVES, THIS MOVIE HAS RIDICULOUSLY HOT DWARVES!!!" >.<

But seriously, Kili *cough* Aidan Turner *cough* is ridiculously attractive. I mean just look at him:

He wields a bow and arrow. If that isn't attractive I don't know what is! He's like the Legolas of The Hobbit, except Legolas is actually gonna be in the next hobbit movies meaning TWICE AS MUCH ATTRACTIVENESS AM I RIGHT?!?!?!

So in conclusion, this movie is amazing. It's based off of an amazing book by an amazing author, has been put together by amazing people (shout out to Weta Workshop!!!), was filmed in an amazing place (hellooooo New Zealand!), has amazing actors, and is just not to be missed. And in case you still need to be convinced I will allow Gandalf to speak on the movies behalf:


So basically the Hobbit has taken over my life. I now have a room filled with LOTR and The Hobbit Legos (good thing I have a job right?), I have multiple The Hobbit posters on my wall, and I have watched the production diaries videos and interviews of the cast multiple times. On top of that last month I marathoned the BBC's awesome TV series Being Human merely because Aidan Turner *cough* Kili the super hot dwarf *cough* is in it. That show is AWESOME by the way, and not just because of Aidan Turner, though he is a plus. :P

If you have seen the Hobbit already, are you as obsessed with it as I am? Who are your favorite dwarves? Honestly, I love them all but particularly like Kili, Bofur, Fili, Thorin, Ori, and Balin. Kili and Bofur are definitely my two favorites though. I mean have you seen Bofur's hat? I WANT IT!!!!

Also, James Nesbitt and Aidan Turner are both so adorable and Irish. Ugh. They're just awesome.


So yes, share the hobbit love guys! FANGIRL WITH ME!!!! :D

Julia :)

Friday, January 25, 2013

Book Review: Second Chance Summer

Second Chance Summer
by Morgan Matson
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
Publication Date: May 8th 2012
Source: Library
Add this book to your shelf on Goodreads
Taylor Edwards’ family might not be the closest-knit—everyone is a little too busy and overscheduled—but for the most part, they get along just fine. Then Taylor’s dad gets devastating news, and her parents decide that the family will spend one last summer all together at their old lake house in the Pocono Mountains.

Crammed into a place much smaller and more rustic than they are used to, they begin to get to know each other again. And Taylor discovers that the people she thought she had left behind haven’t actually gone anywhere. Her former best friend is still around, as is her first boyfriend…and he’s much cuter at seventeen than he was at twelve.

As the summer progresses and the Edwards become more of a family, they’re more aware than ever that they’re battling a ticking clock. Sometimes, though, there is just enough time to get a second chance—with family, with friends, and with love.

It may be the middle of winter, but that didn't make me love Second Chance Summer any less. THIS BOOK IS SO AMAZING GUYS, BUT FOR REAL IT IS AMAZEBALLS.

So Taylor is a gal who tends to run away from her problems. But then along comes a problem she can't run away from and to top it off she has to spend the summer at her families vacation house, which really isn't so bad (REALLY) except that the last time she was at the vacation house she managed to piss off all of her closest friends. What's a girl to do?

Okay, so that summary probably made this book sound a lot fluffier than it really is. Second Chance Summer does have a bit of fluff to it (don't all good summery contemps?) but it also has so much more. In all honesty this is probably the best contemporary I've read since The Fault in Our Stars. It's that good.

Taylor was a protagonist that I found really easy to relate to. Haven't we all run away from our problems at one time or another? I also loved the relationship she had with her dad and the rest of her family. Oftentimes YA authors end up writing parents (and siblings for that matter) as obnoxious, nosy, rude, or some combination thereof. It was refreshing to read a story in which family was highlighted as something to embrace and treasure. On top of that Morgan Matson did a fabulous job bringing depth to each of the family members in this story, even the grandfather who only shows up near the end of the book. I should probably just flat out say that I LOVE the way Morgan Matson crafts her characters. They are consistently awesome, and unique, and I love each and every one of them. <3 p="p">
The plot itself seems fairly basic for a summer contemporary except that it's anything but ordinary. Sure, there's you're classic "blast from the past first boyfriend turned teenage hottie" situation (BUT HENRY IS TOTALLY ADORABLE AND A HE WORKS IN A BAKERY AND HE WINS ALL THE BOYFRIEND AWARDS!!!!) and there's the first awkward summer job situation, but it's all layered with Taylor finding herself, and finding out how to embrace love in all of it's forms (family love, friend love, romantic love) and I'm not gonna lie this book is a REAL tear jerker. I was a mess during the last 40 or so pages. A total mess. Throughout the whole book you're sort of preparing for the sadness and then it all just hits you like a ton of bricks and you aren't prepared and just thinking about it is making me feel all sad again. It's so heartbreakingly beautiful. You just HAVE TO READ IT.

The only thing I'm a tad bit iffy on was the "big issue" that had caused everyone to dislike Taylor. It really wasn't THAT big of a deal. It was basically just an awkward elephant in the room for nearly half the book which I really felt was unnecessary. A similar thing happened in Amy and Roger's Epic Detour. I know all authors have certain quirks to them (like how John Green always seems to have some type of road trip in his books) but I certainly hope that this isn't Morgan Matson's because I am not a fan. But regardless this book is still amazing!

In conclusion Second Chance Summer is a must read contemporary. Even if you aren't normally a fan of contemporaries I assure you, YOU WILL ENJOY THIS BOOK. I give it 4.5 out of 5 ice cream cones!

Morgan Matson is quickly rising to the top of my fav contemporary authors list. Everything she writes is just SO GOOD and I can hardly wait for whatever she's working on next!

Julia :)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Book Review: Nobody + Giveaway!

by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
393 pages
Publisher: EgmontUSA
Publication Date: January 22, 2013
Source: Publisher for Review (Thanks Egmont USA!)
 Add this book to your shelf on Goodreads
The most dangerous people in the world... are the ones you don't even see.

Some people are Nobodies: ignored, unloved, practically invisible in every way. No one notices them. No one cares about them. They exist under the radar, forgotten as soon as you turn away. No one sees them coming. No one sees them leave.

That's why Nobodies make the perfect assassins.

Seventeen-year-old Nix is very good at his job. So when the organization he works for sends him after a teenager girl named Claire, he doesn't ask questions. He's a killer. She needs to die.

For sixteen years, Claire has led a normal life being overlooked. Her parents are absent. She doesn't have any friends. She has no idea what she is, or why anyone would want her dead. But she's about to find out, because from the moment Nix attempts to carry out his mission, the two are caught up in a conspiracy of murder, cover-ups, and betrayal.

Nix is a killer. Claire is his target. But when he sets eyes on her, everything changes, because only the two of them can truly see each other - and two Nobodies are more than twice as dangerous as one.

What if the world is not what it seems? What if people are not what they seem? What if there's more to that celebrity, more to your teacher, more to your sibling, than meets the eye? In Nobody there are people, and then there are people who are more than people. The Sensors with their heightened senses, the Nulls who care only for themselves and can make you care for them too, and then the Nobodies, who don't really matter at all, until they're sent to kill you.

Sounds like a riveting and brilliant idea right? If there is one thing Nobody has it's ingenuity. Jennifer Lynn Barnes has managed to create a world in which everything is as it seems and yet nothing is as it seems. It's a world we know well, and yet there is also a world of intrigue and evil bubbling up from beneath the surface.

In this world of The Society there is Nix, a Nobody. He's been a trained assassin for The Society for years and he's never questioned a kill. Not until he meets Claire. He's told that Claire is a Null, but it turns out that Claire is actually a Nobody, just like him. Someone that is basically invisible. Living life but forever unnoticed and forgotten. Jennifer Lynn Barnes spent the first 3rd of this book setting up the Claire and Nix dynamic and honestly I was not a fan. Let's just say that if I saw a guy outside my bedroom window about to shoot me with a sniper rifle, I would not be cozying up to him just days later. I don't care that he's the only guy in the world who notices Claire exists, HE TRIED TO KILL HER. RUN GIRL RUN!!!! And yes, he built you a bookshelf which is admittedly sweet, but let's remember what's really important here: HE TRIED TO KILL YOU. Just remember that.

So after the slightly torturous first 3rd of the book in which the Nix/Claire romantic uncertainty is center stage, the plot finally picks up and we get to the good stuff aka Society take down badassery!  It's pretty epic from here on out. Breaking and entering, the Fade, drug serums, and poison gas all come into play. Did I mention the finale involves total meltdown annihilation and magical healing blood powers? Yeah, stuff get's crazy. And to top it off the ending is reminiscent of a fairytale complete with "happily ever after." I'm not even kidding. It's almost ridiculous how ridiculous the ending is, but that's part of the fun.

So all in all I have a sort of love hate relationship with this book. I have a pretty strong dislike for the whole Nix/Claire romance, but on the other hand I really like the rest of what Jennifer Lynn Barnes created. I think idea that certain humans give off different levels of energy was really unique and everything that went with those concepts was really well thought out. The only thing is that I wish more time had been spent on developing the Society and how it was run. We get a bit of backstory, but most of it is left to the imagination. I just felt like it needed more. I also wanted more descriptions. They were so sparse in this book that half the time it was like the characters were running around on a blank canvas in my imagination. Give the reader a bit more to work with!

All in all Nobody has a promising premise but, in my eyes, it falls a bit short. I wanted to love this book so much, especially since the concept is so unique, but ultimately there were a few major flaws that I just couldn't get past. However, I still enjoyed it and I hope that if this review piques your interest you'll give it a read!

I give Nobody 3.5 out of 5 ice cream cones.

GIVEAWAY TIME!!!!!!! *throws confetti*

Monday, January 21, 2013

Kawaii Monday: Totoro iPod Case

You guys probably know by now how much I LOVE Totoro. Well I recently purchased one of the new 5th generation iPod touches from Apple. My old iPod was the first generation iPod touch and honestly it's a miracle that thing still functions. As nice and pretty as the new iPods are there is nothing quite as solid as the older generation models. My old one got tossed around and fell on the ground so much and there's nothing to show for it but a couple of scratches. Crazy right?

Anyway, back to the topic at hand: TOTORO. So I've been shopping around for a case for my new iPod and I found this SUPER cute Totoro slip case on Etsy. Check it out:


Ugh. I really cannot with the cuteness. Just looking at this picture makes my heart fill up with oodles of happiness! But as adorable as these cases are I'm sort of leaning away from one of them in favor of a more practical (and less expensive) clear plastic case. I figure that will guard from scratches while I am using the iPod as well as when it is not in use. But then again, that will not protect my iPod screen from scratches if I were to store this thing in my purse. THE CHOICES! Maybe I should just buy both? Or maybe I should forego both in favor of some other awesomely designed case goodness? I think it can be concluded that I am neither a smart nor decisive shopper. :P

So what do you guys think, practical clear plastic case, or adorable totoro case?

If you're interested in buying one of these for your own enjoyment check them out on Etsy here. The shop owner also sells a ton of other super cute electronics case designs!

Julia :)

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Waiting On Wednesday [23]

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 Five Summers by Una LaMarche!

The summer we were nine: Emma was branded "Skylar's friend Emma" by the infamous Adam Loring....

The summer we were ten: Maddie realized she was too far into her lies to think about telling the truth...

The summer we were eleven: Johanna totally freaked out during her first game of Spin the Bottle...

The summer we were twelve: Skylar's love letters from her boyfriend back home were exciting to all of us - except Skylar...

Our last summer together: Emma and Adam almost kissed. Jo found out Maddie's secret. Skylar did something unthinkable.. and whether we knew it then or not, five summers of friendship began to fall apart. Three years after the fateful last night of camp, the four of us are coming back to camp for reunion weekend - and for a second chance.

I don't know about you guys but I LOVE summer camp books no matter how cheesy or unrealistic they might be. They just remind me of all my summer camp days sleeping away from home, hanging out with friends, and hoping that one of the cute camp guys might actually like me back. Unfortunately, my real life summer camp experiences do not include being wooed by any cute boys. Phooey. I guess part of why I love these books so much is because it allows me to live vicariously through them. :P

Anyhow this book sounds AWESOME. Not only is it a summer camp book, but it's a friendship summer camp book, and it chronicles five summers of summer camp! SO MUCH SUMMER CAMP YES. When summer rolls around this book will be at the top of my reading list for sure!

What book are YOU waiting on today? Be sure to let me know and link me to your blog so I can check it out!

Julia :)

Monday, January 14, 2013

Kawaii Monday: Adorable Laptop and E-Reader Skins

I was watching one of Felicia Day's vlogs the other day (if you're an avid YouTube watcher you should definitely check out her channel!) and I noticed that she had a super cute case on her laptop. Of course I had to see if I could find it for sale somewhere online. Luckily, I have not been the only person to look for this case because when I typed "Felicia Day's laptop case" into Google voila! I found it! The thing is it turned out to be a laptop skin, not a case. Who knew laptops had skins? Anyway, along with finding the original skin I was looking for I also found a ton of other super cute designs. Behold, a plethora of adorable laptop skins!

This is the original skin that I saw on Felicia Day's laptop. Super cute right? I love the brightness and the colors of this design! It puts a smile on my face everytime I see it. :D

Isn't this just one of the most whimsical things you've ever seen? I JUST LOVE IT! Especially the little underwater house. Too cute.

This is another one by the same designer only it's like a camping theme. I just love the way this artists draws her trees! I just want to jump inside these pictures and live in their world.

My darker quirky side is showing with this one. I love whales and this one is super cute, plus I am totally digging the color scheme.

This cover is just plain awesome. It's a map of the world plus it has pictures of the animals in their regions of the world. What's not to like? For an animal lover like me, THIS IS PERFECTION.

I've seen this art before and I fell in love with it so now seeing it on this laptop skin is awesome! I don't know about you guys but this is one of my favorite depictions of books and how they make me feel. All the colors and cute little worlds inside of the shelf. It's just perfect.

Unfortunately I already have a laptop case with a skin on it (Hunger Games for the win!) so I really can't rationalize spending $30 on another laptop skin I don't need. However, this company makes cases for just about any sort of electronic device including e-readers and tablets! I AM SO BUYING ONE FOR MY NOOK GUYS!!!! Now the question is, which design do I buy? I know most of you would be thinking "Duhhh Julia get the book shelf design for your e-reader!" but honestly all the images are so darn awesome I'm having trouble picking. So far I'm waffling between the under the sea design:

 the sea garden one:
Or the whimsical bookshelves:

I cannot wait till I decide which one I want because honestly, having a cute case on my Nook will make me want to use it more as shallow as that sounds. :P

So, if you were searching for a super cute skin for your laptop or e-reader look no further! Gelaskins totally has you covered. Get it, COVERED?!?! Hahaha. Okay, sorry bad pun. :P

Oh and on top of all the super adorable designs Gelaskins already offers you can even upload your own artwork or photos for a customized case! It just keeps getting better doesn't it? I'm starting to sound like an infomercial...

If you were to get one of these laptop/e-reader skins which design would you pick?

Julia :)

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Cover Comparison: The Immortal Rules

This week quite a bit of news has been floating around the blogosphere involving the cover redesign for Julie Kagawa's Blood of Eden series. The first book in the series is The Immortal Rules and if you've read the book then you probably know that the protagonist is part Japanese. AWESOME AM I RIGHT??? But if you take a good long look at the original cover for The Immortal Rules you'll notice that the model for Allison is clearly not Asian. There was a fairly big outcry from fans saying that the cover had been white washed and that a new cover model should be chosen. On top of that, there was also the feeling that the old cover for The Immortal Instruments was just too paranormal looking and didn't embrace the more dystopian nature of the book series as a whole. So HarlequinTeen being the awesome imprint that it is decided to listen to the readers and redesign the cover for The Immortal Rules, and in doing so revamped (no pun intended) the book series covers as a whole! Let's go ahead and compare the change.

                                                                  Original Cover

                                                                    New Covers

Original Cover: All those fans that complained that the cover model wasn't Asian? Yep, they were right. WHITE WASHING. I mean, how hard can it be to find an Asian model? Asian models don't get enough representation as it is! Publishers should be taking advantage of every opportunity they can to highlight diversity. Other than the lack of an Asian model, this cover is WAY too paranormal romance-esque to me. I honestly felt awkward reading this in public because the cover made this book look like a cheap Twilight knock-off instead of the badass vampire centered dystopian it is. I do like that the cover shows a lot of important aspects to the story (like the blood tear) but other than that I'm not really a fan.

New Covers:  Now here's the thing. I like these new covers, I really do, but you'd think that if they bothered to go to all the trouble to redesign the look for the series they'd come up with something a little more, I don't know, eye-catching? One of the problems with the first cover was that it just faded away into a sea of paranormal books. It seems to me that the same thing will happen with these covers, except they'll just be fading away altogether. There's nothing that really makes them stand-out, except that they're super simplistic if you can call that standing out. On top of that WHY CHANGE THE COVER BECAUSE OF WHITE WASHING COMPLAINTS AND THEN NOT FIX THE PROBLEM?!?! Okay, so I know that Julie Kagawa said on her blog that they've gotten a new Asian model and that she'll be featured on the cover either on the inside flap or on the back, but seriously you couldn't put her on the front cover of the book? How hard would that have been?

So who wins? I'm giving it to the new designs. The old cover gave off way too much of a paranormal vibe, and even though it did have some good tie-ins to the story, it totally white washed the main character. The new covers may be a tad on the bland side, but they have a nice classic simplicity to them and they definitely feel more dystopian. The white washing problem is still a bit iffy to me since the Asian model isn't being featured very prominently, but I do think it's a step in the right direction!

Which cover for the The Immortal Rules 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 a suggestion for a future cover comparison? Leave it in this form!

Julia :)

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Author Interview: Anna Jarzab

Today I have the privilege of sharing an author interview with the wonderful Anna Jarzab who has written All Unquiet Things, The Opposite of Hallelujah, and the soon to be published first in a sci-fi trilogy Tandem! Read on for more about Anna's books, her inspirations, and her strategy for surviving the zombie apocalypse.

THC: Describe your newest novel, The Opposite of Hallelujah, in 5 words.

AJ: Sisters, faith, love, friendship, possibility.

THC: In The Opposite of Hallelujah, Pawel is obsessed with Rube Goldberg machines. Did you make any in preparation for the book or were they just something that fascinated you?

AJ: To tell the truth, I can't remember exactly why I decided to have Pawel build Rube Goldberg machines for a hobby--I think it traces all the way back to this X-Files episode, "The Goldberg Variation", which is all about a guy who creates Goldberg machines whose life ends up basically becoming a Goldberg machine--but I didn't actually make one, no. I don't think I have the skills for that! I just looked at a lot of them on Google images and watched videos on YouTube to get a sense of how they were built and how to describe the machines in the book. The game Mousetrap is basically a Rube Goldberg machine, though, and I played that as a kid. Everything is research!

THC: What five books do you think we would find on Caro's bookshelf?

AJ: Oooooooooh, this is a very, very good question. Caro and I are similar in a lot of ways, so we'd probably read a lot of the same books. I'm going to say: Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein, A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle, The Princess Bride by William Goldman, The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster, and Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh.

THC: What are the biggest things you hope a reader will take away from The Opposite of Hallelujah?

AJ: That people are complex (and imperfect!!!) and relationships are hard and take work and that the world is not done being created, that we're creating it with every choice we make, so we ought to respect that process, try to contribute to it positively, and also take the time to wonder at the results.

THC: What influenced you to become a writer?

AJ: Lots of things, but chief among them was a love of books and a dreamy disposition.

THC: Have you ever based some of the characters you've written off of yourself or off of people you know/have known? Have any events in your stories happened in real life but have been tweaked for the page?

AJ: All my characters have elements of me in them, and kernels of other people, but the character who's probably the most like anybody is Caro, who's a self-portrait of myself as a teenager (give or take some details, like I'm really terrible at math and math-y science, like physics, but Caro's really good at those things). Some things in the stories did happen in real life--I'm constantly using small details from my own life and the lives of the people I know in my books, it adds authenticity--but I try to be careful to make sure that my books are works of fiction in a pretty strict sense of the word.

THC: You have a new book called Tandem coming out in October 2013. Can you tell us a little bit about it?

AJ: Yes! First of all, I'm really super excited about it. Second of all, it's about a girl named Sasha who gets pulled into a universe parallel to her own and has to pose as her double. It's soft sci-fi, by which I mean you don't need to love sci-fi to like it, although I think (I hope) sci-fi lovers will also enjoy it, but the "science" in the book is more like mythology (by which I mean invented rules of the world, like how magic works in Harry Potter) than real physics. It's got romance and chase scenes and puzzles and twists and I really love it. It's also the first in a trilogy, so the story goes beyond the scope of just one book. I'm really nervous about how people will react to it, but I'm looking forward to it coming out in 2013.

THC: All Unquiet Things is a mystery, The Opposite of Hallelujah is a contemporary, and Tandem sounds like an adventure/fantasy. Have you always wanted to write in a lot of different genres or is that just something that sort of happened?

AJ: It was kind of an accident? After AUT came out I tried to write a book that was similar and it was a crash and burn, so I turned away from the mystery thing to give my brain a rest (writing mysteries is hard; how Agatha Christie wrote like 70 of them I will never know) and since I'd already written a huge chunk of Hallelujah as a side project the year before, I felt it was a good place to start. Before I knew it, I'd finished the book and submitted it to my editor, although I would argue that it is also a mystery in some ways (the difference is that it's not a crime novel like AUT). Then Tandem blew in and took over my life, but I didn't consciously move into a sci-fi/fantasy realm. Ultimately, I think of Tandem as a love story with science fictional elements, and it's also got a mystery in it.
Now, however, I am trying to be more strategic about future projects and am consciously mixing it up. I'm working on an adult "paranormal" mystery thing (a bit genre bend-y but not too much) and another contemporary and a really high-concept contemporary and a high-fantasy and another crime novel. I keep trying to challenge myself; writing the same book over and over is not for me.

THC: If you could marry one fictional character, who would it be and why?

AJ: This is a really hard question to answer. My first thought is, of course, Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice, but I could probably find it in my heart to turn him down if Etienne St. Clair from Stephanie Perkins' ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS came calling.

THC: You are caught in the zombie apocalypse. What is your strategy for survival?

AJ: Find a baseball bat and just keep swinging. Although, I'd probably be one of the first men down in a zombie apocalypse. I can't run very fast.

A HUGE thanks to Anna Jarzab for being kind enough to let me interview her! If you want to find out even more about Anna be sure to head on over to her awesome website and follow her on Twitter. Also, head on down to Goodreads and add Tandem to your want to read shelf! YOU KNOW YOU WANT TO! 

Julia :)

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Book Review: The Opposite of Hallelujah

The Opposite of Hallelujah
by Anna Jarzab
449 pages
Publisher: Delacorte Press for Young Readers
Publication Date: October 9th 2012
Source: Library
Add it on Goodreads
Caro Mitchell considers herself an only child - and she likes it that way. After all her much-older sister Hannah, left home eight years ago, and Caro barely remembers her. So when Caro's parents drop the bombshell news that Hannah is returning to live with them, Caro feels as if an interloper is crashing her family. To her, Hannah's a total stranger, someone who haunts their home with her meek and withdrawn presence, and who refuses to talk about her life and why she went away. Caro can't understand why her parents cut her sister so much slack, and why they're not pushing for answers.

Unable to understand Hannah, Caro resorts to telling lies about her mysterious reappearance. But when those lies alienate Caro's new boyfriend and put her on the outs with her friends and her parents, she seeks solace from an unexpected source. And when she unearths a clue about Hannah's past - one that could save Hannah from the dark secret that possesses her - Caro begins to see her sister in a whole new light.

I am a huge fan of Anna Jarzab's first novel All Unquiet Things so when I saw The Opposite of Hallelujah on the new YA books shelf at the Library I had to check it out. I had no clue whatsoever what it was about I just new I had to read it because of how much I enjoyed AUT.

The Opposite of Hallelujah surprised me. I didn't know what I was expecting, but it definitely threw me for a loop in the best of ways and even now I'm finding it hard to explain what The Opposite of Hallelujah is about because, well, it has a lot of themes and a lot is going on in it. A LOT.

First you've got Caro, a protagonist that is both relatable, hateable, and by the end a completely changed character. She's unusual because she's one of the first protagonists I've run across where she's not particularly likeable but she's meant to be that way. Caro is selfish, lies easily, and you spend half the book banging your head against the wall thinking "WHY CARO WHY?!?!" But the thing is, she changes, and she grows, and by the end of the book you're thinking "Dang girl, you've come so far. HECK YES YOU DESERVE YOU'RE ADORABLE BOYFRIEND."

Speaking of the said boyfriend he is totally adorbs. Pawel (pronounced Pavel) is Swedish, has an awesome family, and on top of just being a really nice guy (seriously, he's really nice) he has this quirky love for Rube Goldberg machines that I found totally endearing. In case you don't know what Rube Goldberg machines are the game Mouse Trap is the perfect example of a very simple one. When I was a kid I happened to really like Rube Goldberg machines (though I didn't know what they were at the time) so I thought Pawel's obsession with them was really cute. I also just really liked that this book talked about Rube Goldberg machines. Seriously. RUBE GOLDBERG MACHINES.

On top of those two characters (and the awesomeness of Rube Goldberg machines) another main one is Hannah, Caro's long lost nun turned non-nun sister. She's an equally fascinating and multi-faceted character and the way Anna Jarzab deals with her story and struggle is great.

Besides all these characters to work out there's also the plot which is full of a ton of different themes ranging from religion and science, to sisterhood and friendship, to self-discovery and forgiveness. A lot goes on in The Opposite of Hallelujah but Anna Jarzab manages to wrap it all together brilliantly and it works. It really works. I was particularly impressed with the way Anna Jarzab dealt with religion. When authors write about religion there are countless ways they can go wrong and very few in which they can go right. The Opposite of Hallelujah is the perfect example of religion done correctly. It isn't preachy, but it does bring up excellent points about religion and it will make a reader think. Not since Melissa Walker's book Small Town Sinner's have I read something that dealt with the subject of religion so well.

So in conclusion The Opposite of Hallelujah is a lot of things.

It's a story of sisters and self-discovery.

It's about faith and forgiveness.

It's mysterious, beautiful, and full of hope and possibilities.

Ultimately if you're a fan of contemporaries you should definitely pick this one up. You won't be disappointed! I award it 4 out of 5 ice cream cones!

If you want to know a little bit more about The Opposite of Hallelujah, the author Anna Jarzab, and her upcoming Many-Worlds trilogy, be sure to check back tomorrow for an exclusive interview!

Julia :)
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