Saturday, December 31, 2016

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

Title: Me and Earth and the Dying Girl
Author: Jesse Andrews
Genre: YA Contemporary
Pages: 295
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Purchase this book:
AmazonBarnes & NobleBook Depository

Greg Gaines, senior, had everything down. He knew just how to slip into the world of high school with no enemies, no friends, and no commitment. Of course the only way for his set up to be ruined would be the result of intervention from his mother. When childhood friend Rachel was diagnosed with cancer, Greg's mother forced him to rekindle their friendship in an attempt to give the girl something happy in the last moments of her life. And also, there's an Earl involved.

This is not a sad book. I don't think it was ever meant to be a sad book either. From the beginning it's made clear that this is not supposed to be your typical YA contemporary. So if you're expecting a tearjerker, Fault in our Stars lookalike, look again. This isn't it. In fact, this book is anything but sad- it's funny. Part of that may be due to the title putting everything out there in the open. You're aware Rachel is a dying girl from the get go. But truthfully, this was a really funny, lighthearted book.

I feel the need to introduce Greg's friend Earl, as he does have a spot in the title. Earl is hilarious. His raw humor and grim outlook on life always left me laughing, and his default mood is grumpy, which makes for a snarky and sarcastic character. So he's a huge part of the comedy in this novel. 

I actually listened to this book via audiobook, and I highly recommend you do to. I don't think I'd have liked it as much if I had read it instead of listened to it, because the narrator is so talented. He gets each voice so perfect, and it really contributed to the overall quality of the book. I don't think I would have read Earl's dialect in his accent if I'd been reading it physically, so hearing the narrator mimic his accent pulled his humor and dialogue together completely, allowing me to truly appreciate his comedic taste. 

I found Greg to be a somewhat relatable main character in the sense that I do strive to have no quarrels with people in school. However, that's where my ability to relate to him stops. I would much rather have friends and a couple people I didn't get along with than have no friends and no enemies. Greg's strategy to having no enemies is to have no close friends, and I don't think I could go through life like that. And Greg and Earl are not much of overachievers when it comes to school. In Greg's defense, he was a bit of an achiever before he began devoting all his spare time to visiting Rachel, but we don't really get to see pre-Rachel-Greg. I just find it difficult to relate to people who just don't care. Whether that be about school or just things in general. 

But I did find this book extremely funny, touching, and fun, and I'd recommend it to everyone, because it's truly an exciting book to read. 






Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Top 16 of 2016




It's that time of year again in which I highlight some of the best books I read this year. Today, I bring you my top 16 of 2016! (Check out my top 15 of 2015!) Please note that these are not in order of preference, (I'm too indecisive for that lol) but ordered by when I read them.



Okay fun fact- Cinder was the first book on my Top 15 of 2015  list. Anyway, it's no shock that this amazing conclusion novel won a spot here. I gave this one five, well deserved stars. 

2. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck


Gosh dangit this book left me emotionally wrecked. I've always had a daunting fear of classics, given the awful ones I've been forced to read for school, but I truly enjoyed Of Mice and Men. If you haven't read this one, I would highly recommend it. It's super short (was the shortest book I read all year) and it's plot is so gorgeous I just want to as;dkjaiad. Caution- tears will fall. 



So I don't think I've kept it a secret that Alexandra Bracken is literally my favorite YA author, like, ever, and I will endlessly spend my money on anything and everything that she produces. I loved her novel, Passenger, and gave it a 5 star review (which she retweeted!!!). I also had the pleasure of meeting her at BookCon this year! 



This book was so overwhelming that I literally couldn't even think about picking up another book after I finished this one. It was so good. If you haven't read this, you need to. Right now. I gave it five stars. I also had the honor of meeting this duo at BookCon, so that was pretty cool! (Understatement of the year- it was absolutely awesome.) 



Yoooo if you haven't read this one you're doing yourself a disfavor. I gave this one 4.5 stars, so I know what I'm talking about. Honestly. Read it. Love it. Reread it. Even if you hated the inserts in Fangirl, READ IT I PROMISE YOU'LL LIKE IT.  



So Kiera Cass rewrote this novel that she wrote a while ago, and I must say, I was pleasantly surprised. Not only is this a YA standalone- it's a YA, fantasy standalone. We don't get many of those. This was such a sweet, refreshing romance, and I hope you pick it up! (4.5 stars)



You can hate on Cassie all you want, but I adored Lady Midnight. It was one long, awesome, epic ride, and I can't wait for Lord of Shadows. It got five well earned stars! 



This is a crazy book. Honestly, it left me feeling so many different things. It's a book that makes you think. It got 4.5 stars from me, so I definitely recommend it. My brother recently finished it, and he loved it too. (So obviously it's good- he said so.) 



SOS please someone help me it's not healthy for me to feel so strongly in love with this book. For those of you who have begun to feel burned out by all the Riordan books, never fear, The Trials of Apollo are here. This new five book series got off to a really good start with me, and I gave it five shining stars because dang this book. 



I wasn't the biggest fan of The Grisha trilogy that Bardugo put out, but Six of Crows was phenomenal. It got 4.5 stars from me. 



I sort of want to force McDaniel to spill her author secrets to me because THIS BOOK IS LIFE CHANGING. I literally want to go around throwing this book at people's heads until they finally read this book because it is so, so, sooooo amazing and I really wish I could convey the feelings I have for this book accurately. (Honestly just go read my review- it's so much more coherent.) But yeah, this was possibly the best book I read all year, and I gave it five stars. Also, check out my interview with the amazing Tiffany McDaniel!



Wow all I can say here is that this book really messed with my mind. Low key thought I was going crazy. 

13. I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson


I'm super sad because I just realized I never finished writing my review for this book, and I think it's too late for me to recollect my thoughts. However! I can tell you that this is definitely one of my new favorite books, and you need to read it because Jandy Nelson has the most beautiful writing humankind has ever seen. 

14. Kill the Boy Band by Goldy Moldavksy


Another great read I didn't review (not sure why this is a trend all of a sudden...) but this novel was bizarre in all the ways you don't even realize. 



Aha Bardugo strikes again. I liked the sequel to Six of Crows even more, and gave it 5 stars. 



Honestly, are we even surprised here? The next book in the Illuminae Files did not disappoint- I loved every page of it. Crossing my fingers in hope that we'll get a cover and/or title release for book three soon! 


Aaaaand that concludes my Top 16 of 2016 list. I had a year full of some amazing 5 star and 4.5 star reads, and I hope that these are all books you've read or plan on reading in the future! Let me know some of your favorite reads this year! 






Friday, December 23, 2016

Gemina

Title: Gemina (The Illuminae Files #2)
Authors: Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Genre: YA Science Fiction
Pages: 659
Rating: 5 Stars
Purchase this book:
AmazonBarnes & NobleBook Depository

Hanna and Nik are celebrating Terra Day on the space station they live on, Heimdall, when it is attacked by terrorists from BeiTech. Fortunately, (or unfortunately- depending on how you look at it) the two were separate from the rest of the civilians when BeiTech locked everyone in. The two are pressed to find help in escaping their attackers as they're hunted down.


Of course this book was phenomenal. I gave Illuminae five stars, and Gemina was just as good. For those of you who have read Illuminae, be prepared for a new set of main characters. Hanna is the daughter of the station captain, and lives a life of luxury. Nik is part of a notorious crime family and does not. I was somewhat worried that I wouldn't like having new characters, but I instantly fell in love with them and became invested in the story. Plus, their story still connects to the characters in Illuminae, and we get to see a little bit of them here and there.

Like with Illuminae, Gemina is told through IMs, transcripts, journal entries and more. In fact, the lovely Marie Lu did the sketches inside Hanna's journal, and they are absolutely fantastic. The typography, graphics, and images found in Gemina are so gorgeous and powerful. It really adds much more feeling to the story. True, it was a little awkward having to turn the book upside down and sideways to read some pages, but it was worth it. (Mini arm workout am I right?) 

Also! On the pages with "random" names, (lists of casualties and whatnot) I highly recommend you actually read through the names. You'll recognize many beloved YA authors scattered here and there!

If there's anything negative I have to say, it would be that I find the dialect of the characters a little too similar to ours. This book takes place five centuries into the future, and I feel like some of the things they say would be different. Like, the references they make are so... earthly. I don't know if the characters actually understand their references, or if they've just become old sayings at this point in the future. I'm not sure. Also, I'd love a little more worldbuilding. I understand that wouldn't really work with the story and format, but I really, really want to know more about what life is like in this world. What is Terra Day? What happened to Earth? How far into space have we colonized? However, these are so insignificant that I can't even dock down any stars for it. 

Gemina was an incredible book. The plot had my mind whirling- I couldn't believe the roller coaster it had me on. If you're even debating not picking this series up, please do. It's such a great read. And don't be intimidated by the size- the format allows you to read it quickly. 



Other books in this series: 



Wednesday, December 21, 2016

2017 Goals



Woah woah WOAH where has the time gone? I feel like December 2015 was just yesterday. Regardless of my inability to measure time, it is in fact the end of 2016, and I figured, "what better time to make plans and goals I probably won't accomplish than right now?"

1. Stay consistent

Okay, okay, so I went MIA there towards the beginning of the school year, and it was really hard to get back into blogging. This time, I want to consistently blog throughout the entire year. I don't necessarily want to keep to a strict schedule, but I also don't want to take months at a time off either.

2. Network more

I need to embrace the fact that I can't be totally immersed in the book blogging community if I don't go out and explore other people's blogs. I've been getting better at it, but I could still be doing more commenting, reading, and networking with other people.

3. Meet my Goodreads reading challenge

I'm going to tell you a secret, I changed my Goodreads reading challenge this year. *gasp* I know. What a scandal. But shhhhh I had a three month streak in which I did not pick up a book, so I think it's justified that I lowered my goal from 75 to 50. I did, in fact, reach my goal of 50, so.... yay? I think I'm going to set it at 50 again, but in my mind I'll shoot for 75. I just didn't like feeling so pressured to read as many books as I possibly could. I'd rather have some extra room to reread books and things like that. (Speaking of, Goodreads really needs to come up with a reread feature.)

4. Make my own TBR Jar Challenge

I haven't picked out the topics for this one yet, but I looooove the whole concept behind the TBR Jar Challenges. I think I'll write a post about it when I make mine, but I need to come up with some challenges that'll work for me first.

5. Start bullet journaling again

I bullet journaled all of the 2015-2016 school year, and I really loved it. When this year came around, however, I used a standard planner instead. I miss all the creativity I got to put into bullet journaling, and I recently flipped through my old one, and now I really want to get back into it.

6. Reread Harry Potter

I like to do a Harry Potter reread at least every other year, and I think that 2017 would mark another Potter year. (I'm not entirely sure, as some of my rereads have gone from, like, October to February, happening in the span of two years.) Regardless, I want to reread Harry Potter in its entirety this year!

7. Be happy :)

In the end, the only thing I can ask for out of 2017 is happiness. I started this blog because I figured it'd bring some amount of joy, and that's most certainly proved to be true. Whether it's within or outside of blogging, I'd like to get through 2017 happy and healthy!


What goals to you all have this coming up year? And does anyone have any challenges they're participating in? I really want to join some, but I have no idea where to start!

Wishing you all a happy new year,

Julia

Monday, December 19, 2016

Crooked Kingdom

Title: Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows #2)
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Genre: YA High Fantasy
Pages: 536
Rating: 5 stars
Purchase this book:
AmazonBarnes & NobleBook Depository

In this conclusion to the Six of Crows Duology, the team has escaped the Ice Court and now has to deal with Jan Van Eck. With Inej being held hostage, and the young Kuwbei wanted by multiple parties, the team has to work swiftly and quietly to finish the job.


Oh. My. Gosh.  Can I direct your attention to that little word up there that says "rating". Do you see what's next to it? FIVE STARS PEOPLE. I'm so happy I dove into this book. I read Six of Crows back during finals earlier this year, so it took me a solid month and a half to get through the book. Because of that, I was concerned this one would take me forever, too. But nope! I finished it in a week, and dang was it a good week.

I rated this book a half star higher than Six of Crows, and I think I did honestly like it a little better. Mostly, though, this is because you get to skip the heavy world building and jump right into the story. I had a hard time getting into Six of Crows at first, mostly because it does take a lot to set the plot up, but with Crooked Kingdom, I instantly fell into the world and the story. 

Speaking of the story... I really, really appreciate the complexity of this plot. I feel like a lot of books (especially YA) have this standard form of -conflict- make a plan- act out plan- plan succeeds- story ends. However, in Crooked Kingdom, it's so much more complex than that. Bits and pieces of the scheme are revealed to you as it happens. You think you know what's going to happen and then bam! you realize you never knew the full picture. It's just so great.
Another amaaaazing part of the story, as I mentioned last time, is the characters. Typically speaking, I don't like a story having multiple perspectives, but I love how it's done in here- and there's six perspectives! Each character truly has their own, unique voice, and you get to know them all on a deeper level. 

For my Hamiltrash out there who've read this one- did any of you see a handful of Hamilton lines scattered throughout the story? I definitely saw the thing about "guns and ships", the "outgunned- outmanned" thing, and the "see you on the other side" thing. 



So anyway, I loved this book on such a deep level, it's really not okay. I'm so angry this is only a duology. I'm not ready to say goodbye to these characters! And after goodreads-stalking Leigh Bardugo, I can confirm her next project is totally unrelated to the Grisha. It's not even high-fantasy! :(

That said, please, please pick this duology up! I wouldn't say it's necessary to read the Grisha Trilogy beforehand, but there are some references and things you won't entirely understand if you don't. (Nothing essential to the plot though.) So go! Read away! And if you've already read Crooked Kingdom, let me know your thoughts! 


Other books in this series: 



Friday, December 16, 2016

Banning Books and Why I'm Angry



So, recently I came across a story involving the censorship of books, and the typical stupidity of some people.

Parents in Illinois are pushing to have eight books banned from the school, including:
  • The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
  • The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy 
  • Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
  • A Separate Peace by John Knowles
  • After the First Death by Robert Cormier
  • All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
  • Go Tell it on the Mountain by James Baldwin
  • I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou 
I'm sure you, too, have read -or at least recognize- some of these books, and I think it's absolutely ridiculous that parents are pushing to have these banned from that school. 

I'm no stranger to the Anti-Banned Books movement, but this particular story has really sparked my flame of hatred for this type of censorship. 


In the second article, we get plenty of interviews from parents and teachers involved, and honestly, I don't know what bubble they're all living in. I highly recommend you go read at least the second article, but I'll pull a couple quotes out to show you what I mean. 

“I’ve read some excerpts of [‘I know Why the Caged Bird Sings’] that include an 8-year-old getting raped; it’s very explicit,” said Mary Kay Fessler. “The sexual content is too much for their young minds to process. As an adult, yes, we can process that, but as a 14-, 15-,16-year-old, I don’t’ think they have the neurological [power] to process that.”
First of all. Is that not offensive?  Fun fact- teenagers have the "neurological power" to process the seriousness of rape, thank you very much Mrs. Fessler. And secondly, if you're particular child doesn't have the "neurological power" to "process that", then I think you have some parenting to do.

'“We can’t have 18-year-olds reading about masturbation or sexual issues, regardless of the literature. I don’t care if it’s from Dickens or who else,” Rick Ligthart said, in summary."
Okay, I mean, that makes sense. We can send 18-year-olds off to fight and defend our country, but God forbid they read about "sexual issues". I'm sorry, but you can't shelter students forever, and maybe it's better that they read about things inside of literature, as opposed to online.

"Reigle called “The God of Small Things” “smut” and “porn”."
Right, right. Let's take a work that's been crafted with a plot of complexity and a deeper message hidden within the layers of the story, and plop a label on it. Has this "Reigle" even read more than the controversial bits before stating this offensive overgeneralization?

Okay my point here is that CENSORSHIP ISN'T OKAY. And it's hypocritical to try to censor literature, and then turn around and allow even worse content to be taken in through the internet and TV. Instead of censoring books, parents, why don't we allow students to enjoy reading, and learn about all aspects of life- including the ones you'd rather them not know about. Because the truth of the matter here is that teenagers need to be exposed to things that they will have to deal with later on in life without someone coaching them through it. The opinions you get from other people won't always line up with your own, and if you never have to seen possibly offensive, contradicting opinions, how will you know how to deal with those?

As always, you can protest book banning and censorship by reading a banned or challenged book, and letting people know.





Sunday, December 11, 2016

The Hammer of Thor

Title: The Hammer of Thor (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard #2)
Author: Rick Riordan
Genre: Middle Grade Contemporary Fantasy
Pages: 471
Rating: 4.5 stars
Purchase this book:
AmazonBarnes & NobleBook Depository

Thor's hammer is missing (again), and of course the only people able to retrieve it are Magnus and his companions. However, there's more to this mission than originally meets the eye. With a deadline fast approaching that, if missed, would result in the wedding of Sam, and possibly the end of the world, it's a mad race to the hammer.

Ahhhhh okay emotions. If you read the first book, The Sword of Summer, this book was EVEN better. Yes, you did hear me correctly. Even better. Of course, I wasn't the biggest fan of the first book to begin with. I mean, it was good, but it wasn't anything mind blowing. However, this book? This book was amazing. 

Firstly, it was really funny. I was laughing. Out loud. Possibly at 1:00 in the morning. But drowsiness aside- the book was really humorous! As I said in my earlier review, I enjoyed Rick's writing style before Heroes of Olympus better, and this book really does mirror that style. 

I'm also going to mention the chapter titles. Because these chapter titles give me life. 

Another noteworthy aspect of the book was the characters. Actually, the characters might be my favorite part of the book. Rick Riordan has successfully shattered the norms of middle grade- and fiction in general- by supplying the most diverse cast of characters I've ever seen in one story. Carrying over from the first book, we have a deaf character speaking with ASL, a Muslim girl, and new to this book, a genderfluid character! I think it's fantastic that Rick has introduced a genderfluid character, especially since younger kids will get to see that through the eyes of Magnus, who is super accepting and has a good way of looking at things. It'll help kids understand the gender spectrum a bit more, helping it become something not so alienated. 

Mooooving on to the. freaking. plot. which. has. left. me. dying. for. book. three. 

I need it now. 

We go through the nine worlds with Magnus on this epic quest for Thor's hammer, and then all of a sudden there's this tiny sliver of a crossover between the Norse world and the Greek world. But of course. Rick has saved this for the third book, which doesn't come out until next year. I won't survive. Also, I believe this is going to be a trilogy, which makes me very sad. Partially because I want more of these beautiful covers on my shelf. 

Can I also add that I loved the pop culture references? They just add to the light-heartedness of the story. I think it'll be funny in the future when those references aren't as relevant, but adult-me will understand them all as she re-reads everything. (Possibly in my personal library with my three cats?) 

Anyway, I really hope you decide to pick this series up. I very much so enjoyed it, and I can't wait for the third book! 



Other books in this series: 


Monday, December 5, 2016

Climbing Out of a Reading Slump (a.k.a climbing Mt. Everest)





So we've established that I took a little abrupt break for a few months, and while there's a large negative side to that, it sort of prompted this post, so yay!

Essentially, for me, my reading life and blogging life are closely knit. When I'm not in the mood to read, I'm not in the mood to blog. And that's sort of what happened. I fell into a slump, and I pulled out of the bookish community, in turn pulling me out of my blog. So today's post is going to be all about beating (and avoiding) that reading slump. 

The first thing to address here is how to avoid getting into that slump in the first place. 

Rule number one, don't push yourself to read more than you can. I know one mistake I made was forcing myself to read wayyyy more on a daily basis than I really wanted to. I was heavily invested in hitting a daily page goal, and would spend a lot of time mathematically figuring out how many pages I'd read, and needed to read, instead of focusing on the book I was actually reading. Everyone wants to read more, but instead of focusing on page count, try and hit a certain amount of time. That's right, set a goal of, say, reading for an hour each day, and every time you pick up that book, hit a stopwatch or something. That way you can focus on how much genuine reading time you get instead of how many pages you read. (OR you can just live in the moment and not track your reading at all!)

Rule number two, don't set unrealistic goals. That time of year is coming up again. You know which one. The Goodreads Reading Challenge time of year. As December winds up, you'll be faced with setting your 2017 read books goal. Please, please, please, make it realistic. Don't push yourself to read 200 books if you know you'll be stressed out reading that 200 books. There's nothing wrong with a little challenge, but forcing yourself to speed read will only throw you into a slump. Instead, try setting a realistic goal that will challenge you, but still be achievable. (Or set an easy goal if you really don't care about how many books you read, so long as you're enjoying it.)

And rule number 3, don't compare yourself to other readers. Yes, sometimes we look at those crazy people who can read billions of books every year, and compare ourselves just a teeny bit. I know it's hard, but just accept that the amount of books you can read is good enough, if you're happy reading! There's no point in striving to be someone you're not. Your schedule only allows for so many books each month, so instead of feeling down about yourself, be happy, because as long as you love to read, you're just as much of a reader as everyone else!

Now that we've established how to avoid said slump, we will go into how to get out of one. 

First thing's first- acknowledge that you are in a slump. Acceptance is the first step to healing. Once we're aware that this is indeed a reading slump, proceed to the following steps.

- Go book shopping! Nothing gets those reading juices flowing like purchasing all those new releases you were excited for. Do you need more books? Probably not. Does that actually matter to you in the slightest? Nope. So go, purchase some new books, spice up your TBR pile, and see if that doesn't kick you back into reading gear!

- Watch some BookTube. I find that watching people hold up pretty, pretty books while they passionately talk about the um, plot and stuff, is quite motivating. Let them remind you of the joy that comes with reading, and perhaps that'll get you back into motion.

- Reread a well-beloved book. I would suggest a Harry Potter reread, to be specific. Other books I've enjoyed rereading are Percy Jackson, the Mortal Instruments, and any Rainbow Rowell book.

- In the words of Eliza, "take a break". Taking a step back from the reading world for a week may be what you need to reset your reading juices. In the meantime, feel free to listen to the Hamilton CR on repeat.

- Re-arrange your bookshelves. I've never actually tried this before, but reorganizing bookshelves is fun. Plus, sprucing things up always makes my room look nicer, and then I spend a lot of time just staring at my shelves. That's pretty motivational, right?

- Buddy read with a friend. Pick a book you and a fellow reader friend have both been wanting to read, and read it! Try and agree on a certain place to be at the end of a certain period of time, and then discuss! Having someone counting on you to read might be what you need to start your routine up again. (And if you don't have a fellow reader friend, hit up any of us blogger people!)

- Change the time of day you read. Have you always been a night time reader, climbing into bed and cracking open that novel before you drift off to sleep? Carve off some time in the morning to read a couple chapters before you start your day! Changing up the time you read might make you more willing to read. (I find once you've found a routine, your brain has a tendency to reject it. ;) )



And that concludes this episode of Julia (tries to) Help 101. Let me know what you do to climb out of a reading slump, and when the last time you had a slump was! 



Sunday, November 27, 2016

Twilight

Title: Twilight (Twilight #1)
Author: Stephenie Meyer
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance/ Urban Fantasy
Pages: 498
Rating: 3/5 Stars
Purchase this book:
AmazonBarnes & NobleBook Depository

Upon arriving in the rainy, small town of Forks, Washington, Bella sparks the interest of the mysterious, secluded boy, Edward Cullen. However, Bella doesn't know the half of what Edward really is. Because if she did, she wouldn't be so intrigued- she'd be appalled.

I think I know what you're probably thinking. It's something among the lines of, "What?! You haven't read Twilight yet?!" Okay, I confess, I haven't felt the need to even touch this book until I decided I wanted a genuine opinion on this novel. So many people love it, and I felt like I was missing out on something. Plus, I mean, I love Urban Fantasy, I should love this, right?

I mean, yes and no. I have mixed feelings about this one. It was better than I expected it to be. Of course, I think I pictured it to be two people, sitting in a room staring at each other, so I'm not sure how much that says. But I did enjoy reading it. However, I have a couple problems with it. 

Firstly, there's Bella. I can't decide if she's a good role model or not. She's really studious, she takes all honors classes, gets good grades, and never intentionally is late for class. In the beginning, I couldn't figure out why so many people considered her to be a bad literary influence. But then Edward. I get that this is supposed to be a romance novel, so of course it's going to center around two people in love. Who wants a romance story where the main character isn't interested in the love interest? But I was hoping that the independent, strong, and powerful Bella that's introduced would remain the same. She doesn't. As soon as Edward shows up, she's at his beck and call. She literally does anything he asks of her, and she ignores everybody else. Plus her relationship with Edward isn't even all that healthy. I would feel violated if someone staked out in my room all night to watch me sleep- with or without my knowledge. 

And the romance is pretty artificial. It's definitely instalove if I've ever seen it. I think within the first day of meeting Edward Bella is confessing her love in her sleep. And I hated how irrational she was being. This guy was literally telling her that if she got a paper cut he'd probably eat her, yet she wasn't afraid- she didn't want to leave him. I mean, I suppose love wins all, but still! I don't think Twilight accurately represents a healthy relationship.

I'm taking off quite a bit from my rating simply for the horrendous writing. I don't care how you look at it, the writing is not good. And Edward chuckled and smirked way too much. I was severely annoyed by the fifteenth chuckle-smirk. 

Okay so now I'm going to defend Twilight. 

Near the climax, when Edward was away, it got infinitely better. I was honestly actually invested in the plot at that point, I was actually concerned about Bella's safety. 

And I don't think it's fair to compare Twilight to big franchise competitors such as Harry Potter. They're just completely different. As my dad would say, it's like comparing apples to oranges. Twilight isn't supposed to be better or worse than Harry Potter, it's supposed to be different. And Bella isn't supposed to be a heroine like Hermione. She's supposed to be a girl in love.

However, I could really relate to Bella. She faints at the sight of blood, and as someone who does that as well, it was nice seeing a character who isn't invincible. You get used to these fantasy characters who can literally do anything, but Bella's not like that. She faints at the sight of blood. And I appreciate that. 

I'll be continuing this series. I want to see how this creates a four part series, and if Meyer can maybe write a little better, but I can only award Twilight three stars. 

           

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The "Perfect" Fall



Fall is, without a doubt, the best time of year. And I don't know about you, but I live my life in anticipation for fall. This autumnal time of year can come and go, but to make it just so, there are a couple things that have to happen. Today I'm talking all about the little things in my life that create the perfect fall.

1. Fall Fashion

I always get excited to ditch my summer shorts and tank tops for army green jackets, jeans, cozy socks, flannel button downs, and fashion boots. Dressing for fall is basically the time of year that everyone gets to see your clothes before you become buried in winter coats, scarves, hats, and gloves.

2. Fall Tea 

I'm not much of a coffee drinker, but offer me a cup of tea and I can't physically bring myself to say no. During the summer months, I'm typically going for colder beverages, such as iced tea or infused water, but as soon as the fall months hit, my electric kettle is running double time. Right now I am obsessed with the Pumpkin Spice Brûlée tea leaves from Teavana. It's actually the best thing ever.

3. High Fantasy 

When the days get shorter, the nights get longer, the wind gets bitter, and the temperature drops, I begin to crave the high fantasy genre. Right now, I'm eyeing Three Dark Crowns, Crooked Kingdom, and Heir of Fire. 

4. Acoustic, Fall Music

In all honesty, my music taste doesn't change all that much as the seasons change, but I do love turning on a calming, acoustic, soft playlist on Spotify to be the background music to my life these few months. I'd like to recommend the "crisp leaves & lattes" playlist by Kalyn Nicholson on Spotify if you're interested in 5 hours of awesome, fall music.

5. Fall Pinterest Boards 

As my friends will tell you, I'm a pinterest addict. As the summer season turns to autumn, my fall pinterest board sprang to life.  (Because fall IS my aesthetic.)

6. Did I mention Pumpkin Spice Brûlée? 

7. Two Words: Flannel Sheets

Does anyone else switch their bedding over from linen to fleece or flannel in the fall time? Because I do, and it is heavenly.

8. Celestial Viewing 

There's something about fall and the nighttime sky that just go together. Take the Supermoon for example! I love gazing at the night sky in the fall time, perhaps because I see so much of it!

9. Fall Food 

One of my cooking enthusiast friends and I cooked a dinner for some of our friends, and it was completely fall themed. From pumpkin snicker doodles to harvest quinoa salads, it was amazing in an autumn kind of way.

---

So that concludes this post! As you can tell, I absolutely love fall, and right now where I live, it's in the 50s (F) which is like the perfect temperature. So. Yay fall!

Thanks for reading, let me know what your favorite part of fall is below!



Sunday, November 13, 2016

The Next Year of Blogging

Hello! 

It's been a couple months since the last time I posted, and I'm sorry for that, but I needed time off. So much in my life has changed, so much is different, and I needed time to adjust to everything, and keeping up with my blog schedule was too much. 

I am genuinely upset I had to miss these specific months. I had things planned around Banned Book Week, and my blog turned 1 year old on October 19th. I wish I'd been actively blogging at these times, but it simply wasn't realistic. 

I'm also sorry to all the authors and publicists that tried to get a hold of me. I've got a massive buildup of emails that I'm actually scared to sift through. 

On a brighter side, I do feel ready to start easing back into blogging. I miss it, and I want to come back. So I do hope you can forgive me for my disappearance, and get excited for what this new year will bring! 

- Julia 


Sunday, September 18, 2016

We Were Liars

Title: We Were Liars
Author: E. Lockhart
Genre: YA Contemporary
Pages: 242
Rating: 4.5/5 Stars
Purchase this book:
AmazonBarnes & NobleBook Depository

Cadence spends the summers on a private island owned by her family with her three closest friends who also happen to be her cousins. Summer after summer things go smoothly, Cadence spending her days lounging on the beach, sleeping in her mom's mansion, and eating food prepared for her by the kitchen staff. But everything changes one summer when... well, Cadence doesn't exactly remember what happened, but she knows something did.

This book was something completely crazy. In a good way. I was truthfully left trying to figure out what to do with myself after finishing this novel.

As you know, it takes place on a luxury island that Cadence's rich Grandfather owns. Being someone who does not, in fact, own an island, I thought it was fun to read about this lifestyle. This lifestyle where you can sleep in until noon, go to bed as late as you want, never have to do the dishes or cook your own meals. A lifestyle where you sleep in one of three mansions on the island. A lifestyle where you can spend your days with your closest companions, on the beach, in the sun. 

Honestly, Cadence has it pretty good. 

But besides me loving the summer vibes I got from this book, I really did enjoy reading it. It's the type of book that you go into thinking the book's going to be a nice, easy summer read, and then BOOM, it's not. 

Of course, I don't want to tell you too much, but I will say that there is a mysterious atmosphere, and you're not quite sure what's going on, but you are sure that you want to know exactly what left Cadence's memory. 

I'm giving We Were Liars four and a half stars for being a suspenseful, heart breaking story that was also somehow fun to read? Anyway, please go and read We Were Liars. I put it off for so long, and I wish I'd picked it up sooner. It truly is an amazing read. 




Tuesday, September 13, 2016

November 9

Title: November 9
Author: Colleen Hoover
Genre: NA Contemporary Romance
Pages: 310
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Purchase this books:
AmazonBarnes & NobleBook Depository

The day is November 9, and mere hours away from moving all the way from LA to NYC, Fallon sits down at a table in a restaurant to talk to her self-obsessed father. However, things take a turn when 18 year old Ben slips into the booth next to her, completely altering her life.

Despite how enamoured the two are with each other, they agree that it'd be best if they both only meet each other once a year, on November 9th, allowing each to live a full life, distraction free, until Fallon has reached the age of 23. Because she'll have her life figured out by the time she's turned 23 according to her mother, and 23 is the only safe age to fall in love.

You ever open a book, just kind of reading it to tick something else off your TBR, and it ends up blowing your mind. That's November 9 for me. This book was absolutely heart stopping. I've never read any Colleen Hoover before, but this novel has definitely convinced me to try out some more of her works. (Any suggestions?) 

We start off with 18 year old Fallon, explaining to her movie star father that she's moving all the way across the country to start up a career in Broadway. Fallon was an actress for film/TV before she got seriously injured in a fire while sleeping at her dad's house exactly two years prior. The fire scorched her skin, giving her long scars that marred her left side. At the time, she'd been staring in a big TV show, jumpstarting her career as an actress. However, after the fire, the company broke her contract and she found herself unable to land a role. 

So she's talking to her father about how she wants to take up theatre, and he has the audacity to tell her she's no longer pretty enough to act professionally. Infuriated from the nearby booth, Ben slips into their table and goes off on Fallon's dad. Afterwards, they sort of fall for each other. With the prospect of Fallon moving away looming ahead, they agree to meet every year on that same day- November 9. 

I thought it was such a unique idea. I literally knew nothing about this novel going into it, but my interest was immediately grasped- right from the start. From Fallon's interesting condition to the crazy agreement the two set up, this book is a completely new and unique storyline. 

And it was just completely addicting, I couldn't stop reading. It wasn't your typical, straightforward romance novel- it was something completely new and completely original. Nothing was predictable. Plus it was kind of cool reading about Fallon trying to cope with having her self confidence stolen away, as a subplot to the actual story. And watching her relationship develop with her movie star father was another subplot I enjoyed.

I highly, highly recommend you read November 9 by Colleen Hoover. It was an absolutely amazing read, and it fully deserves the five stars I'm giving it.


Friday, August 26, 2016

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Title: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Authors: J.K Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 308
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Purchase this book:
AmazonBarnes & NobleBook Depository

Nineteen years later, the story of Harry Potter continues. This time though, it's told by the next generation. On Platform 9 3/4, both Albus Potter and Rose Granger-Weasley are preparing themselves for the beginning of their Hogwarts careers. Neither of them knows just how crazy their lives will get the moment they board the Hogwarts Express.

Can I just begin this review by saying that the authors of this novel sound like they could be in, like, a band or something.

"Introducing.... the Jays! J.K Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jaaaack Thorne!" 

Okay now that that's been said...

This novel/script thing was amazing. I read in in, like, 3 hours or something. I couldn't put it down. I was reading a mile a minute, and it was all very emotional. I mean, it's been years since any of us have cracked open a Harry Potter book for the first time, and I know that I thought it was all over when I read the last page of the last book. It was almost like Deja Vu, opening up this book. Of course, there are a few major differences. 

Firstly, this is a new gang. Yes, our original characters are featured, but for the most part, this story follows Albus Severus Potter, and his best friend Scorpius Malfoy. And then, of course, there's the fact that this isn't told in novel format. It's told through mostly dialogue, because it's in script format. 

I was originally worried that the whole script thing would be difficult to read, but I found that it actually flowed really well. It goes pretty fast given that you don't have to read a "he said" followed by a description every time someone talks.  Are there a few holes in the story that are only filled through visually seeing the play? Yes. Did it completely ruin my reading experience? No. 

I can see why some people don't like this book. Some crazy, unbelievable stuff happens. We just got a lot of new canon information. And yes, some things do seem a little too fanfiction-y. However, I still gave this one five stars, because when you brush all the technicalities and analytical stuff aside, you're left with a suspenseful, emotional, gripping story that left me in a state of complete disarray. 

The characters are fantastic. The dynamic between the characters is perfect. The dialogue is full of witty, clever, humorous lines, and the book brought back so many different emotions. This is something for fans that never really finished the last book. This is something for people that have wanted the world of Harry Potter to live on and on and on. Always. 

So just go into this one with an open mind, and don't try to attach it to the series. It's its own thing. Five stars. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Versatile Blogger Award


It's my pleasure to announced that I was nominated for the "Versatile Blogger" Award over on the blog LiveLove&Laugh:). This is a great blog full of positive, happy messages, so go check it out! Before I get into this post, I'll list out the rules.

R u l e s 

- Thank and link back to the blogger that nominated you
- Share the award on your blog
- Nominate around 10 other bloggers
- Share seven facts about yourself

S e v e n  F a c t s

- I love falling asleep to the sound of a rainstorm. It's very soothing. In fact, I just love the sound of rainstorms in general
- I'm low high key obsessed with Hamilton
- I love doing Yoga, and I typically do it twice a day
- I have a newfound love of bagels
-  I have an aloe vera plant that I've yet to name (ideas??)
- My favorite fruit is a peach. I love chopping them up and putting them in my vanilla yogurt substitute
- I'm lactose intolerant

N o m i n e e s 

- Lara Liz @ Another Teen Reader
- Eve @ Edge of Night
- Annika @ Hiding Books
- Cilla @ Paved with Books
- A.S Damea @ Reviewing Dreamer
- Eve @ Twist in the Taile

Those are all my nominees. They're all awesome bloggers, and everything they post is just fantastic, so go check them out! Don't feel pressured to post if I nominated you. It's completely voluntary. If you do, make sure to let me know! On the flip side, feel free to join in even if I didn't nominate you.

That's all I've got for you today. Thanks for stopping by!



Saturday, August 20, 2016

Six of Crows

Title: Six of Crows (Six of Crows #1)
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Genre: YA Fantasy
Pages: 465
Rating: 4.5/5 Stars
Purchase this book:
Amazon • Barnes & NobleBook Depository

In the dirtiest, grimiest depths of Ketterdam, Kaz Brekker makes a deal. Or perhaps a death wish is a better word.

In the dirtiest, grimiest depths of Ketterdam, Kaz Brekker makes a death wish. And he brings a handful of companions with him.

For 4 million krunge apiece, Kaz agrees to break into the Ice Court, the most heavily fortified court in the world, and find the man responsible for creating a drug that's killing Grisha. Of course, there's the matter that the Ice Court has never been successfully broken into.


I. Love. Six of Crows. Oh my gosh. I mean, I was expecting to be let down given how long it took me to get through it (a month), but I LOVED it. It was beautifully written, beautifully executed, and beautifully done. But where do I start?

Characters. My favorite part of this book was the characters. For the most part, our main characters are Kaz, Inej, Jesper, Wylan, Nina, and Matthias. They're the team breaking into the Ice Court. And I know, usually 6 characters is quite a bit to keep track of, but each one is truly different and special. Each character is developed, complex, and flawed. We have Kaz, the head of the Dregs, which is the thievery group the six come from. Kaz is the brains of the group. Inej is Kaz's right hand, and she's an acrobat. There's nothing she can't scale. Jesper's the one who'll crack a joke whenever he deems appropriate (or inappropriate), and he's a good shot. Wylan's super smart, and I'm high-key shipping him with Jesper. We have Nina, the Grisha Heartrender who's sassy, saucy, and sarcastic. And then there's Matthias, stone cold, stiff hearted, and grudgingly in love with Nina. Who's my favorite? I'm still unable to decide between Jesper, Wylan, and Inej. 

So the characters do make up a great bit of my love for this book, but something else I appreciated was how Leigh Bardugo didn't make having LGBT+ characters that big of a deal. I feel like some authors tend to make it seem like having said characters is an enormous thing, and they act like they need to be hugely recognized for being so "forward" and "out there". But Leigh Bardugo didn't even make it seem like anything was different from any of the (start of any) heterosexual relationships. And I don't know, I liked how she made it just another part of the story, just another part of life. 

Moving onto the actual plot, I loved the twists and turns. It was completely unpredictable. And while I did take a half star off for being a little slow moving at parts, I feel that's often inevitable in high fantasy. But especially at the end, I was on the edge of my seat, clutching the book in terror as we ran through the storyline. 

I would highly recommend you read Six of Crows. It's not necessary that you read Leigh Bardugo Grisha Trilogy beforehand. They're completely unrelated, and I would've been fine skipping over the trilogy and jumping right into this amazing story. 



Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Weird Things in Fantasy



When you hear the word "fantasy", the first things that come to mind are among the lines of, "magic" or "impossible". And while things like potions, dragons, and spells certainly fall under the list of things I love about fantasy, there are just some oddities that occur in practically every YA fantasy, and I just have difficulty believing them. In today's post I'll be talking all about those peculiarities.

1. Nobody has to use the bathroom. Like... ever. 

This is true for a lot of books, not just fantasy, but it's just so annoying! We read all about the fantastic 14 course feasts the characters enjoy, but where does it all go? I mean, I wouldn't mind living in a world where I never have to use the bathroom, but it just doesn't seem likely that such a world would ever exist. Unless, I suppose, it's also a world where nobody has to eat or drink.

2. Relig-ion? More like Relig-one!

Okay, I apologize for that pitiful attempt at humor. But (shout out to my friend for pointing this out) it seems like most fantasy worlds only have one religion, and all the people in that world practice that one religion. I mean seriously, if you can think of a book series that includes multiple religions, please let me know!

3. Prununcyatshun (Pronounced: 'pronunciation'

What is everything so dang hard to pronounce in fantasy? I don't mind tweaking spellings or creating new words, so long as I can still read it, but must it be hard to sound it out? Not to point fingers, Leigh Bardugo, but we can't read your mind!

4. I don't 'technology' 



 It would appear that as smart as people can be in fantasy worlds, technology and computers are not a thing.  Why? Does it suddenly become Science Fiction if rooms have light bulbs instead of candlelight?

5. Love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love

So I don't know if anyone else picked up on this, but I feel like the lines between different sexualities are pretty blurred in fantasy. Meaning that society tends to be more accepting, or not even acknowledge a difference between sexualities. (Which is awesome!)


Okay so these are my five fantasy oddities. Thanks for reading!

Friday, August 12, 2016

Things Are Not What They Seem

Title: Things Are Not What They Seem
Authors: Anne Rothman-Hicks and Kenneth Hicks
Genre: Middle Grade Contemporary Fantasy
Pages: 268
Rating: 3.5/5 Stars
Source: Received from the authors in exchange for an honest review
Purchase this book:
AmazonBarnes & Noble

It's just your typical, hot summer day in Central Park when a strange pigeon lands next to Jennifer as she sat watching her younger brother. To her complete bewilderment, the pigeon spoke to her (in nothing less than a posh British accent). Moments later, a hawk threatens Jennifer and the pigeon. And so begins a mad chase across the city as Jennifer tries to help the pigeon regain his human body and escape the evil, talking hawk.

This book had its ups and downs for me. Let's start with the ups.

The story was hilarious, engaging, and fun. The characters were unique, and each had an individual personality. The character of the speaking pigeon was a humorous little bird, leaving me laughing upon multiple occasions. And the other characters involved in the story: Jenny's brother James, James' friend Sleepy, and Jenny's friend Kaytlyn all brought interesting things to the story. 

And I thought the story itself was an interesting one. The plot wasn't completely predictable, and I did feel emotionally connected to the characters and what happened to them. Something else I really enjoyed was Jenny's passion for Latin. A now extinct language, it's not exactly a normal hobby for a young middle school girl. Recently, Emma @emmmabooks on YouTube uploaded her #WENEEDDIVERSEHOBBIES video. In this creative video she talks about how the majority of main characters in stories don't have interesting, diverse hobbies. It's all the same stuff, and usually plays an enormous role in the plot. Seeing someone so passionate about something so unique was really refreshing, and reminded me of Emma's video. (So check it out if you haven't!) 

However, I must say that a few things annoyed me. Firstly, parts of the story seemed way too easy. I hated how some things just came together out of pure luck. I'd be more okay with it if it had only been a couple times that events were a little too convenient, but it seemed like every potential challenge was evaded because the characters lucked out. 

Another small annoyance was how everybody was convinced the talking pigeon was a ventriloquism act! I'm sorry, but there's no way for it to be ventriloquism if the pigeon is 12 feet away and nobody's lips are parted. I get that the authors were trying to make people disbelieving of something that shouldn't exist, but literally every single person was assuming it was ventriloquism when it's honestly more likely that the pigeon is actually talking. It just got so annoying how nobody would accept that the pigeon was talking. 

Other than the stated problems with the novel, I did enjoy it. I thought it was funny, fast moving, and unique, and I'd recommend it to anyone seeking a fun, light, middle grade fantasy! 



Tuesday, August 9, 2016

July Wrap Up [2016]


This month was a much better reading and blogging month for me, so I can proudly present a full, complete wrap up for July. 






   


I picked up a copy of Isla and the Happily Ever After, the final book in the Anna and the French Kiss trilogy (despite the fact that I've yet to read Lola and the Boy Next Door... oops!) Then, I went book shopping with a friend and finally got my hands on a hardcover of Insurgent. I've had every book in that trilogy, including the short story collection except for Insurgent for the past two years- it was time. On that outing, I also bought The Square Root of Summer, and was gifted I'll Give You the Sun. Then, me having no self control, bought Alexander Hamilton, a biography about- you guessed it- Alexander Hamilton, and also Hamilton: the Revolution. I've started both of the aforementioned books and am enjoying them greatly. 


  • This month started off with a bridal shower in which I ran into a bunch of relatives who all seemed to know me, despite me not knowing them. (#awkward)
  • I celebrated the 4th of July at home with my family, and then travelled back to my hometown to visit friends of mine. (Que Hamilton, insane heat, late nights, and sleeping in.) 
  • At home, I've continued to run with my cross country team, preparing for our season to begin, and ended up going to cross country camp for a week, which was a BLAST. 





 Shout out to me for getting done with THREE review requests this month! 



I'm catching up on my Goodreads Reading Challenge! I'm 52% of the way through, having read 39/75 books. 

Here's a sneak peek of some of the things you'll see next month: