Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Book Review: Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor and Park
by Rainbow Rowell
325 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: February 26th 2013
Source: Library
Add this book on Goodreads

Two misfits.

One extraordinary love.

Eleanor... Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough... Eleanor.

Park... he knows she'll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There's a place on his chest, just below his throat that makes her want to keep promises... Park.

Set over the course of one school year, this story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds - smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.

Eleanor was right: She never looked nice. She looked like art, and art wasn't supposed to look nice; it was suposed to make you feel something.
- Eleanor and Park, pg 165

If there was one word I would use to describe Eleanor and Park it would be bittersweet. This story is absolutely heartbreaking, beautiful, and just plain cute. Rainbow Rowell definitely tears out your heart, rips it into a million little pieces, and then tries to put it all back together again.

Eleanor is different. She's big and bold, but not in the way that earns her a lot of admirers. Park on the other hand tries to blend in, but stands out thanks to his mixed race heritage. Both are misfits, and both are perfect for each other.

Eleanor and Park is a love story. There really isn't much more to it, but even so I enjoyed it and it's minimalistic plot. In a sea of insta-love stories, Eleanor and Park stands out because the romance grows so organically. Through comic books and mix tapes, phone calls and family dinners their relationship slowly comes together and forms something beautiful. It feels real, and that's what makes this story so strong.

Eleanor and Park themselves were both fantastic characters and I loved getting to delve into who they were and what made them tick. Rainbow Rowell did an outstanding job creating these two. They're funny, insightful, and just so human. They have quirks and personality and feel like real people, not just words on a page. Oh and Park is half Korean so he's a total winner in my book. Lucky girl that Eleanor. ;)

One really unique and interesting aspect of this novel is the fact that it's set in 1986. For readers who are 80's kids this will totally bring back the nostalgia of their youth, but for the rest of us it's sort of a crazy time warp, back into a world that wasn't too long ago and yet feels almost completely alien. Cassette tapes? Calling someone on their home phone? No internet? WHAT IS THIS MADNESS?!?! One of the most interesting aspects of Eleanor and Park is that even though technology changes, people and relationships don't. Some elements of Eleanor and Park may not be relatable to a younger crowd, but we can still read and enjoy the story because there are certain universal human experiences such as love and friendship that remain the same regardless of the era.

Overall I really liked Eleanor and Park. I must admit that I didn't connect with the story or characters quite as much as I wanted to (maybe because I'm not an 80's kid?) but I still loved it and I think everyone should give it a read. It's a sweet and insightful romance that will touch even the most pessimistic of readers *cough* like me *cough*.

Oh and funny story, for some crazy reason I totally thought that Rainbow Rowell was a boy. Maybe it was because a lot of reviews kept comparing Eleanor and Park to John Green novels, but regardless when I discovered the author was actually a girl I was in total shock. Basically the books back cover fell open to reveal Rainbow Rowell's picture and my face was like this:

Awkward but true.

Sorry Rainbow Rowell. :P

Julia :)

Sunday, June 23, 2013

June 2013 Favorites!

Katie over at Call Me Crazy Reviews did an awesome June Favorites post and it inspired me to do a favorites post of my own!

1. American Horror Story

I have become absolutely obsessed with American Horror Story. I started watching it on a whim a few weeks ago and ended up loving it so much that I marathoned both seasons in two weeks. Now I am positively dying for the 3rd season. This show definitely isn't for everyone, but if you enjoy thrillers, horror, or dark dramas that are downright creepy in the best of ways you'll love American Horror Story!

2. Target Racerback Tanks

I never wear tank tops, but one day at Target I decided to pick up one of their racerback tanks just to lounge around in at home on the weekends and oh my goodness best purchase ever. I am in love with this tank. It's so comfy and the colors are so bright and peppy. I'm just waiting for these to go on sale so I can buy a bunch more colors/designs!

3. Trader Joe's Wasabi Roasted Seaweed Snack

Oh my goodness these are amazing. I went through a "hating on nori" stage, but I am firmly out of that now because this wasabi nori is so good and so addicting. If you're looking for a healthier snack that still packs a lot of punch this should totally be on your shopping list! I've been snacking on it all month long. YUM.

4. Samsung Galaxy SIII

I finally made it out of the dark ages of cell phones and upgraded to a smart phone! I've only had my Samsung Galaxy SIII for a week now, but I'm already in love. It's a tad bit big and clunky, but it has so many awesome features, plus I'll never have to worry about getting lost while driving again! Do any of you guys have app suggestions for me?

5. Macbook Keyboard Skin from Killer Duck Decals

I did a Kawaii Monday post on Killer Duck Decal's keyboard skins awhile ago so you might recognize this. I finally decided on a keyboard skin (the more random nerdy one) and I love it SO much! If you have any type of Mac computer and you're a touch typist looking to add pizzaz to your keyboard buy one of these skins. They are seriously so cool and I don't regret purchasing mine for a second. Best $16 I've spent all year!

6. Yogurtland

Last but not least on my list of June Favorites is Yogurtland. If you have never had self-serve froyo you are missing out on one of life's simple pleasures. GO GET YOURSELF SOME FROYO RIGHT NOW! Anyway, a Yogurtland location just opened up a few miles away from my house and I have visited way too often in the past few weeks. They have this oatmeal cookie flavor that is to die for, and a ton of awesome fruit flavors that I just love as well. If I could I would eat froyo every day. It's definitely my dessert weakness.

So those are my June Favorites! What are some of your favorite things that you've discovered this month? What do you think of this favorites post? Should I continue doing these?

Julia :)

Friday, June 21, 2013

Book Review: Requiem by Lauren Oliver

by Lauren Oliver
391 pages
Publisher: HarperCollins Children's Books
Publication Date: March 5th 2013
Source: Library
Add it on Goodreads
They have tried to squeeze us out, to stamp us into the past.

But we are still here.

And there are more of us every day.

Now an active member of the resistance, Lena has transformed. The nascent rebellion that was under way in Pandemonium has ignited into an all out revolution in Requiem, and Lena is at the center of the fight.

After rescuing Julian from a death sentence, Lena and her friends fled to the Wilds. But the Wilds are no longer a safe haven - pockets of rebellion have opened throughout the country, and the government cannot deny the existence of Invalids. Regulators now infiltrate the borderlands to stamp out the rebels, and as Lena navigates the increasingly dangerous terrain, her best friend, Hana, lives a safe, loveless life in Portland as the fiancee of the young mayor.

Maybe we are driven crazy by our feelings.

Maybe love is a disease, and we would be better of without it.

But we have chosen a different road.

And in the end that is the point of escaping the cure: We are free to choose.

We are even free to choose the wrong thing.
I've read a lot of mixed reviews for Requiem so I really didn't know what to expect going into this book. Everyone's opinions have been so polarized that I was almost scared to open the cover and discover which category I fell into, the "I love the ending to this series" category.


Okay, so maybe no one was actually flipping the table in rage over this book, but I still feel like a lot of people have negative opinions. After reading Requiem I can see why. However, I happened to really like the way that Lauren Oliver chose to end her trilogy.

First off I have to say that I just love Lauren Oliver's writing. Its been almost a year since I read Pandemonium so I had totally forgotten how positively gorgeous and engrossing her prose is. Even if Requiem had been a crappy story (which it totally isn't) the writing alone would have kept me glued to its pages.

That being said, Requiem was anything but terrible. Sure, there were a few bumps along the way *cough* lame romantic angst *cough* but overall I really enjoyed the story and I feel like it's a solid ending to a solid trilogy.

If you've read Pandemonium then you know that Lauren Oliver wrote it in a unique sort of backwards/forwards format that was both cool and confusing. For Requiem Lauren Oliver decided to switch things up yet again by having the chapters alternate between Lena's perspective and Hana's perspective. Personally, I liked this much better than the Pandemonium approach and I ended up loving it because it allowed me to view both sides of Oliver's futuristic society: One where love is forbidden and obedience is valued above all else, and the other where the freedom to choose is worth fighting for. Reading from Hana's perspective was both enlightening and scary. I can't imagine how hard it would be to live in a world where everyone is forced to live within the confines of a dictatorship. TALK ABOUT TERRIFYING. As for Lena's perspective it was frustrating at times. After all, she spent most of the novel pining after Alex while sorta-kinda faking a relationship with Julian. This aspect of the story was definitely the biggest downside for me. However, I loved everything else that happened with Lena. Rebellion, bombings, revolution. YES.

The main complaint I've read in other reviews is that Requiem was too open ended. To be honest I kept waiting for feelings of rage and annoyance to surface due to the ending, but they never did. In fact, I felt like the ending was perfect. Sometimes a trilogy ends and you just feel empty inside (like The Hunger Games) or you're just so sad it's over (like The Lord of the Rings) but when I put down Requiem and ended my journey of reading the Delirium trilogy everything just felt right. The story felt complete and I loved that the ending wasn't definitive. In fact, I think that was part of Lauren Oliver's point to the series: Nothing is definitive. The world is changing, people are changing, and the only constant you have is yourself and how you choose to live your life.

In closing, I feel like with the Delirium trilogy Lauren Oliver has crafted three beautiful stories, each with their own distinct meaning and each worth reading in their own right. Yes, Requiem is open ended, and yes, there are a few questions that I'd love to have answered, but ultimately the story is over and I respect the ending that Lauren Oliver has written. If you haven't read this phenomenal series yet I highly recommend that you do. It is definitely one of my favorites.

Julia :)

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Giveaway: Quarantine: The Loners and Quarantine: The Saints by Lex Thomas


Anyone of you guys fans of the Quarantine series by Lex Thomas? Never heard of it? Well get ready, because this book series is a crazy ride and Egmont is giving one lucky US reader a softcover of Quarantine: The Loner's and a hardcover of Quarantine: The Saints! Check out the summaries of both books below, and then be sure to enter using the Rafflecopter form.

It was just another ordinary day at McKinley High - until a massive explosion devastated the school. When loner David Thorpe tried to help his English teacher to safety, the teacher convulsed and died right in front of him. And that was just the beginning.

A year later, McKinley has descended into chaos. All the students are infected with a virus that makes them deadly to adults. The school is under military quarantine. The teachers are gone. Violent gangs have formed based on high school social cliques. Without a gang, you're as good as dead. And David has no gang. It's just him and his little brother, Will, against the whole school.

A cross between the Gone series and Lord of the Flies, Quarantine #2: The Saints continues this frenetically paced and scary young adult series that illustrates just how deadly high school can be.

Nothing was worse than being locked in - until they opened the door... McKinley High has been a battle ground with eighteen months since a virus outbreak led to a military quarantine of the school. When the doors finally open, Will and Lucy will think their nightmare is finished. But they are gravely mistaken.

As a new group of teens enters with the school and gains popularity, Will and Lucy join new gangs. An epic party on the quad full of real food and drinks, where kids hookup and actually interact with members of other gangs seemed to signal a new, easier existence. Soon after though, the world inside McKinley takes a startling turn for the worse, and Will and Lucy will have to fight harder than ever to survive.  

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Julia :)

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Surviving the Loss of Google Friend Connect!

So as you guys probably already know Google Friend Connect is going to be gone in just a few short weeks. I know, I know, WHY GOOGLE WHY?!?!?! *shakes fist at Google executives*

When I first found out Google was getting rid of GFC I just didn't understand the reasoning behind it. Then again, who does understand the reasoning behind anything Google does, am I right?

Then I realized that this is the perfect opportunity for everyone to break away from the annoyance that is Google and their fixation with Google+, and find new and better ways to follow blogs.

So if you're freaking out about the impending loss of Google Friend Connect, have no fear, here are a few quick and easy ways to stay up to date on That Hapa Chick (and your other favorite blogs)!

1. Start using Bloglovin!

Bloglovin' is a fantastic site that allows you to follow blogs, customize them into related lists, keep track of posts you have and haven't read, heart posts you like, the list goes on and on. I've been using it as my blog reader for over a year now and I love it. I definitely suggest giving it a try! You can follow That Hapa Chick here.

2. Email Subscription

Email subscriptions are nice because you never have to worry about missing a post, it will always show up right in your inbox! If you want to follow That Hapa Chick via email subscription just fill out the handy dandy subscription box below.

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

3. Facebook and Twitter

Do you like That Hapa Chick on Facebook? Do you follow me on Twitter? Well you should! I love connect with other bloggers and readers on social media so head on over and say hi!

Like That Hapa Chick on Facebook

Follow That Hapa Chick on Twitter

Google Friend Connect and Google Reader may be on the out, but there are so many other awesome options for following blogs that you will never miss it!

Are there any other great ways to follow and connect with blogs that I didn't mention here? Tell me about them! I always love to hear about other options for getting people connected to my blog and connecting with other blogs.

Julia :)

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Book Review: The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

The 5th Wave
by Rick Yancey
457 pages
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Publication Date: May 7th 2013
Source: Library
Add this book to your shelf on Goodreads

After the 1st Wave, only darkness remains.

After the 2nd, only the lucky escape.

And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive.

After the 4th Wave, just one rule applies: trust no one.

Now it's the dawn of the 5th Wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth's last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alice, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan may be Cassie's only hope for rescuing her brother - or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.

You guys I wanted to like this book. I wanted to like it so bad. In fact, I tried to push myself to like it so much that I didn't even realize how much I didn't really like it till nearly after I finished it. The ending sort of sealed the deal for me and I just realized that me and The 5th Wave just weren't meant to be.

Why didn't this book work for me? For starters it wasn't what I expected. I didn't know a whole lot about it going in except that it was about aliens and everyone I talked to kept raving about it being "awesome" and "a complete page turner." Awesome? A page turner? Complete exaggerations in my opinion. For one there was a complete lack of alien awesomeness. I mean if you're gonna write a book about an alien invasion can we please get some aliens?!?! And no, aliens that look and function exactly like normal human beings DO NOT COUNT.

At first I was okay with The 5th Wave not being what I expected. I was thinking "okay, I can get past this whole lack of aliens thing" but then I slowly began to realize that nothing much was really happening in the story and that just didn't work for me. Most of the book was completely static because it was all just the protagonist remembering things from the past waves. Normally I wouldn't have a problem with this except that nothing really happened in these flashbacks. NOTHING. Where's the action? Where's the excitement? And why is it that the new hip way to bring humanity to it's knee's in fiction these days is an EMP? It was cool the first few times, but now it just feels like copycatting especially if you aren't doing it better than the people who wrote about it first.

So the plot, in my opinion, was nothing to write home about. There were a few sections I enjoyed, one in particular was really reminiscent of Ender's Game, but overall I just thought it was lacking in story development.

This brings us to the characters. I'll try to keep this brief: Rick Yancey needs to step away from female protagonists. Just walk away dude. WALK AWAY. I liked Cassie all right in the beginning. She was a bit flat, but overall she was okay. Then we got partway through the book and she meets Evan and it was all downhill from there. SPOILER ALERT----> WHAT THE HECK CASSIE WHY WOULD YOU EVEN GIVE EVAN THE TIME OF DAY?!?! Ugh. Evan was a total creeper and I don't care how "beguilling and mysterious" he was supposed to be, HE WAS AN ALIEN  MURDERING MACHINE WHO ORIGINALLY TRIED TO KILL CASSIE BUT THEN FELL IN LOVE WITH HER. NO. JUST NO. But the thing that bugged me the most? How much time was spent with Cassie saying to Evan's face "I can't trust you. We can't trust each other. YOU ARE BAD NEWS." But then she just goes off, kisses him, let's her guard down, and does the exact opposite of what she says she's going to do. I hated how wishy washy Rick Yancey made Cassie out to be. Most girls are not that dumb in real life. Oh and I get that Evan sort of redeems himself in the end, but it was not enough. I just hated their relationship dynamic. Absolutely hated it. 

For those of you who haven't read the book and don't want to be spoiled, my reaction to Cassie's actions can be summed up in this gif:

Yep, I think that just about covers it.

Ultimately The 5th Wave was a disappointing read for me. I was expecting something a lot more interesting and groundbreaking, but it ended up just being meh. The final nail in the coffin was when I was looking back after I finished it and I realized that the world building just plain sucked. I won't really go into it, but let me just say that no you will not get any answers as to who the aliens are, where they came from, and how they manage to do anything they do. *shakes head*

So should you read The 5th Wave? If you're looking for an alien invasion novel without many aliens, but with a whole lot of personal drama, and with a dash of Ender's Game then sure, pick it up. Also, note that a TON of people love this book. A ton. I'm definitely in the minority, so if these issues I've mentioned don't sound like they'd bother you, or you're still wanting to give it a chance I'd definitely go for it. What didn't work for me might just work for you.

Julia :)

Monday, June 17, 2013

June Book Haul and TBR Pile Update!

Hey guys!

It's been awhile since I've posted (I've been SUCH a bad blogger lately) but here is a nice little update on what my book/TBR pile is looking like right now!


I've been using this little nightstand/side table thing to store my books for awhile now and of course I'm totally running out of room already. Welp. #BookLoverProblems

Here's a rundown of the books I got in text form if you don't want to watch the vlog.

The Originals by Cat Patrick
The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
The Diviners by Libba Bray
Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi
Babe in Boyland by Jody Gehram
The List by Siobhan Vivian
Light by Michael Grant

In the Mail
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodges Burnett
Eagle Strike by Anthony Horowitz
Ark Angel by Anthony Horowitz
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson
Smile for the Camera by Kelle James
The Eternity Cure by Julie Kagawa

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of the Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis
The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen (SIGNED!!!)

For Review
Quarantine: The Loners by Lex Thomas
Quarantine: The Saints by Lex Thomas
A Really Awesome Mess by Trish Cook and Brendan Halpin
Huge thanks to Egmont USA for the opportunity to review these awesome books!

I just wanted to mention that I got to meet Sarah Dessen last week at her signing at Towne Center Books in Pleasanton California and it was AWESOME! Here's a picture I got of me and Sarah at the signing.

I can hardly wait to read The Moon and More! Unfortunately I have quite a few library and review books I have to tackle first, but once I'm done with those I will definitely be reading it. I'm so excited!

I hope all of you lovely readers are having a great summer so far and are getting the chance to catch up on some great summer reading! Any suggestions for summer books I just have to read?

Julia :)
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