Thursday, July 17, 2014

Personal Challenge: Library Books!

Ever since I returned from my vacation about a week ago, I've been itching to go to my library. But instead of simply growing in the library, I decided that I would browse online and request a few books. A few meaning about three books. Just 3. In the end, I ended up requesting 11 books, 7 of which I got today.

For those of you who don't know, I'm currently participating in a read-a-thon called the BookTube-a-Thon (and I'm on YouTube now!) for which I'm attempting to read 7 books (what's with this number?). And according to my GoodReads count, I'm 17 books behind my *old/new* goal of reading 100 books this year. I initially had my goal set a 100 but quickly changed it to 50 because I wasn't sure if I could do it. But I have decided that YES I will read 100 books this year. Even if it kills me. SO if I read the 7 books for the BookTube-a-Thon and the 7 I currently have from the library, I'll be a 14 books.

So here are the 7 books I will attempt to read by JULY 31, 2014. This is when my books are due and even though I know I won't get to some of these books, it'll be better then nothing! So here are the books!

*    * *   * *
*Keertana's reviews for these books made me realize that I needed to read them ASAP!
**All images link to GoodReads page for the books* :)

I have 14 DAYS to read all of these books :)

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Discussion: Privilege and Disabilities

Happy for vacation! 
For the past few weeks I have been away in Jersey for vacation. I will not deny that I know I'm lucky to be able to afford to fly to New York but it is something I like to keep private. I have always kept my privilege in check or in other words, I admit to the privilege I have and I rarely talk about it to others. But as I sat at one of the iPad hubs in LaGuardia Airport, I overheard a conversation between two women. While it isn't necessarily a big aspect of this post, I would like to point out that these two women were Caucasian and at least in their late thirties (their age is something I am guessing based on their conversation I heard).

Anyways, they were discussing students and how they wanted to help the students who were incredibly bright but were often held back from the work they were required to do. One of the women's students was so bright that he would often finish one classes work well ahead of time and would often be left to do nothing else. I thought that this was a great conversation to have until they began talking about disabilities. One of the women was talking about a speech impediment a news anchor (or some job in the broadcast business; I didn't clearly hear it) had. According to the woman, he had a lisp that would often make the woman frustrated because while she could understand him, it baffled her that he couldn't just go and get help for the lisp. Then the conversation went onto about how the other woman had a mechanic who had a lisp and then a child of a friend who had another type of speech impediment.
This made me stop reading my book and pause. At first I thought that yes, the broadcaster should go and get some help for his lisp...but then I stopped. Who was I to decide that this broadcaster or the mechanic or a child should go and get help for something that I had a problem with? What if these people couldn't afford the help they didn't specifically need but could get to change something about them? Who the heck was I to say "Hey, you can get some help for that lisp because it would make me happier."

It made me think of privilege and disabilities and what people do and don't consider "socially appropriate." And how exactly could we change the way people think so that a disability, no matter what disability it is, isn't considered that person's flaw? For the purpose of this blog and because I usually talk about books, diversity in books. If we could have more books that showed characters with disabilities that didn't disable them then maybe we can change the way people think.

People with disabilities are people first and foremost. Their disability doesn't define who they are. It's their actions and feelings and what they say that matters. It doesn't matter if this person has a lisp or stutters or is in a wheelchair; they are people and deserve the same amount of respect as anyone how doesn't have disabilities.

In the end, these two women left before I did because I was so upset with their conversation. Yet the most shocking aspect of this conversation was the lack of awareness these two women had. They honest to goodness thought that what they were saying was relevant and right. They honestly thought that what they wanted to change about these people to fulfill their own desires was the right thing to do.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is why we need diversity in books. We need to see teenagers and adults and just characters with disabilities who aren't defined by them. We need to show all people that no one needs to change or should be asked to change so that our personal wishes are granted.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Hey, Look! I'm on YouTube

This is a freaky post to write. I NEVER thought I'd write it but here I am! Yes, it's a bit of shameless self promotion but this is my blog and it is for my YouTube Channel (!!!!!!!!!!) so that makes it okay. I think.

Anyhoo, for those of you who don't know--and unless you watch book tubers or follow them on Twitter and Instagram, you probably don't know--that the Booktube-a-Thon is currently going on. So I decided to jump in at this time after contemplating for about five months and made a YouTube channel.

You get to see my face and hear my voice and oh my gosh this is crazy. But here it is:
 Yep. That's me!

So, if you want to, go watch and subscribe or share it. I don't really know...But it would be appreciated!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Discussion: Don't Judge People on What They Read

I won't even deny that this is going to be a rant but I'm going to try and be as...calm as possible about this post.

I don't even remember where I saw this or even who it was that said it but it was along the lines of "I judge people who don't like the books I love." Now, I'm all about "to each their own" aspect and I follow this as a rule for my life but this made me pause. Really? I mean, REALLY? Now, if this person (who even said this? Do you guys know? I can't remember) meant it as a joke then that's fine. This post can still be relevant but this kind of made me...mad. And even though this statement inspired this post, there are other events that have happened that have allowed me to write this down.

See I'm that person that has been reading for a very long time. I first began reading on my own at six when I moved here and I was able to go to libraries and books from school. So I have a rather good idea of what books I do and don't like. I tend to be that person who doesn't always love the books everyone and their mother loves but I'm always very nice about it. Again, "to each their own."

But lets just be real. There are plenty of people who judge others because they don't have the same feelings as them on a book. Lets take The Fault in Our Stars. Who doesn't love this book? Who isn't emotionally distraught by this book? Me. I liked this book a lot and I cried reading it for the first time when I read it with a friend who was a cancer surviver but I haven't see the movie yet and I honestly don't have the biggest desire to. I'll see it when it comes on DVD, yes, but I don't want to spend almost $10 on it.
Judge Judy says "Get over yourself."
Yet the people who love it will sing its praise from the rooftops which is all good. It's when they bash others for not feeling the same that it gets me. And the only question I have it...WHY? Why is the world ending when someone doesn't like the same book as you? Who exactly does that hurt?

I won't deny that I feel sad when people don't feel the same way about a book I love but I won't...judge them for it. That just seems so rude and mean and defeats the purpose of showing our love for books.

For another example, I wasn't in love with Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell. I really, really, didn't like it and I don't know when I'll pick up another Rowell novel but so far, I haven't gotten any hate for it. Yeah, my review is negative (and not even really a review) but people have been more understanding about it. Some have mentioned that they like seeing a different point of view and others agreed.

So what's with this judgment? What exactly does it get you? Am I the only one who feels this way? I don't judge people when they love a book that I hated but when you say one thing and go against it? I won't judge you but I'll call you out on it. So can we please step away from judging people? Allow people to love what they love for the reasons they love it. It's about reading books and allowing others to find new books to read. It's not about bringing down people who don't like what you like.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Living in a Book: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

I recently found The Autobiography of Jane Eyre, a web-series, modern adaptation of Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte and I have binge watched this entire web series in one day. It’s been inspired by The Lizzie Bennett Diaries but has no connection to it.

While it’s a good web series, I’m not it’s biggest fan. Some aspects of it just don’t work for me BUT it did get me thinking about what it would be like to live in a book. What would happen if I found myself living in one of my favorite books? Regardless of the time period, what would it be like if I lived among my favorite characters and world? Well, this is where this post is coming in!

I don’t know if I’m going to make this a feature or a mini-series but I’ll just go with it. Some posts will be based on a specific book but others will be a combination of one genre or sub genre. We'll see what happens!

And for today's post, I'll be talking about Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte because it only makes sense. After all, this book did inspire this feature!
The Time Frame
While the year in which Jane Eyre starts is never actually stated, some research showed that it was set between 1720is through 1820 OR in the early decades of the 19th Century.
The Location
Hello, England! Yes, if I was living in this book then it wouldn't be much of a surprise but the thought of me living in this country? Heck to the yes! There's just so much I love about England and one of my favorite aspects about this novel is that it's set in the country side and not a bustling city. Yes, I am a city girl at heart but I would be happy with living anywhere in England.
The Lifestyle
I won't even deny it, I would HATE living here. I'm way to accustomed to running, clean water and showers and toilets and air conditioning and wonderful hygiene so living in a world without it? I don't even know. Transportation consisted of horses and carriages so it wouldn't be the end of the world. The uneven roads would be a killer but I'd assume I was used to it if I lived in this time period. I would also need to put aside my vegetarianism because there would be a lot of meat eating during this time. Depending, of course, that I'm in the same economic status of Jane because a lot of the poorer people couldn't afford meat. Since the whole idea is to live in the world of the character (and maybe even in place of the character), I should be good.

Also, the dresses! Oh goodness the poofy dresses. I can't decide if I would like it or not. Present Me would hate it because hello shorts! But Book Me? I'd have to get used to.

Furthermore, I would have to convert my religion so that would be interesting. Normally religion wouldn't come up but during this time period and to Jane, it's very important. It's not a bad thing but it would be interesting.
The People
Hello, Edward Rochester. How are you doing today?

Now that I've got that out of my system, I think I would LOVE meeting Jane Eyre in person. She's so head strong and loyal and just so many things! I love how firm she is in her beliefs and her ability to speak her mind is rare for that time period. I think for this reason I wouldn't want to be Jane but to meet her. The discussions we would have would be so deep and meaningful; at least that's what I'm assuming.
The Story: Would I Want this Life?  
Nope. Jane's life is very hard and I don't think I'll be strong enough to handle it. I have anxiety so I don't know if the bullying (even though I've dealt with it) and the constant change would be okay for me.
Would I Like It? 
Er. No. I KNOW. I'm shocked too. I love Jane Eyre so much but living back then? I don't think I could do it!
While this won't be present for all of the posts, I've come across some great adaptations of this book.
2011 Film:
 I haven't seen this movie yet but I wanted to include a film at least.

BBC 2006 Mini-Series 
Can BBC do any wrong? I LOVE this adaptation and I have seen it numerous times. I wasn't able to find a trailer for this mini-series but this would be the first adaptation I would recommend anyone. 

Had to put it in here because hello? It was my inspiration! 

Jane by April Lindner and A Breath of Eyre by Eve Marie Mont 
I haven't read Jane yet but it was one of the books that came first to my mind. 
I've read A Breath of Eyre and it's rather good. You can ready my review to see how I felt about this book. 

Yes this post ended up being longer then I anticipated but it's all because of the introduction. So the next post won't have it! I might add some more questions but I don't want to over due anything. I want this to be fun, not boring. What do you guys think? 

Saturday, July 5, 2014

New Blog Name!

Welcome to: 
 Life According to a Bibliophile!
I was 14 years-old when I decided that I would name my brand new, shiny blog Reading the Best of the Best. Now at 19 I realize that it was not the best choice I could have made. If I were to ever attend BEA or other bookish conventions with business cards, saying "Hi, I'm Kailia from Reading the Best of the Best" would not be the best for me or my blog. Sure it sounded good when I coined (is that even the right word to use?) the name but now it didn't fit me as much.

So, after taking some time and making sure that none of my choices were already taken, I had some help from Racquel of The Book Barbies in deciding which name to use. I'm hoping that this name will take me far and I am so excited for this change! 
happy gif glee

*Also, I got a new signature: it's simple and cute and I love it!*

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Review: The Thief (The Queen Thief #1) by Megan Whalen Turner

The Thief, book 1 by Megan Whalen Turner 
Release Date: December 27, 2005 
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Source: Library  
The king's scholar, the magus, believes he knows the site of an ancient treasure. To attain it for his king, he needs a skillful thief, and he selects Gen from the king's prison. The magus is interested only in the thief's abilities.

What Gen is interested in is anyone's guess. Their journey toward the treasure is both dangerous and difficult, lightened only imperceptibly by the tales they tell of the old gods and goddesses.
When I first began reading this book a few months ago, I put it aside after 15% in. At that time, I didn’t want to read it. Some time ago, I borrowed The False Prince from the library and when I looked at some of my most trusted friends for their thoughts, everyone said I should read The Thief instead. So I borrowed it from the library and as I continued to read it, I finished the book before I even knew it; I read it in about a day. The Thief takes time to truly capture the readers’ attention. It has an immensely slow beginning but as the book continues, it gets better and better.

The plot is really hard to put into words without revealing each and every aspect of the details that make up this book. The plot isn’t as fast paced or as adventure filled as other fantasy novels I’ve read. Megan Whalen Turner slowly reveals key aspects of the characters and the world but never does so in a way that feels as though it is shoved in your face. The plot is slow but brilliantly paced as where you receive just the right amount of information to assure that you are not confused but enough mystery to keep you guessing. Furthermore, the world has an essence of Greek mythology but isn’t quite so mixed in and is set in a world that is very reminiscent of ancient Greece.

In many of my favorite fantasy novels, I have found that while the writing isn’t hard to read, it has a sense of beauty to it. It’s very poetic and flows like a calm river in a serene landscape. If that makes no sense, I’m sorry. In other words, the writing in this book was beautiful. It gave me a sense of calm as I was reading it but it was a wonderful feeling. I absolutely love Turner’s writing and her ability to string words together is mesmerizing and mysterious. I was able to understand enough about the world without having all of the details bore me to death. Though this book was written in third person and not much was revealed about the characters, I ended up falling in love with all of these characters.

Overall, I loved this book so much that I requested the next three books from my library the very next day. I fell in love with the characters and the writing and the world. Megan Whalen Turner’s The Thief is a wonderful book that deserved the Newberry Medal it received. The world is intriguing and familiar but not in a way that fells unoriginal. After all, Green myth has been used in many novels. In the end, I can’t recommend this book enough.  
Cover Comments: 
I love this cover in all honestly. It's simple and beautiful at the same time and the symbolism is fabulous. I absolutely love how all of the covers in this series go together. 

**I borrowed this book from the library. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for my review.**

Friday, June 13, 2014

DNF Review: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Looking for Alibrandi Melina Marchetta
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
Release Date: February 26, 2013
Publisher: St. Martin's Press 
Source: Library 
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 is the 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
This a mostly a ranting mini review even though I didn't intend on it to be a ranting review. If I offend you with this review because you loved this book so much, I'm sorry because not everyone can love every book.

When I initially got this book, I began reading it and within a few days, put it aside because I hated it so much. Then I decided that I was being unfair with it and I wanted to try it again. I did try it again but my opinion didn't change. I'm not going to try re-reading this book and I don't know if I want to read another Rainbow Rowell book. I found this book to be boring and Eleanor to be annoying and this book was so racist. While some people have argued that it made sense during the time it was set, it didn't make sense to me. For example, Park faces NO racism that I could recall and that just makes me...angry. How is it that in the '80s a half Korean kid doesn't face racism but I know of so many of my friends who face racism every single day in the 21st century? Heck, I still face a ton of racism and I hate when people brush over it as if it were nothing.

I'm not saying it bad for people to not have noticed the racism in this book. Reading is, after all, a very subjective matter BUT if people can call our sexism or misogyny, why not call our racism? Which, by the way, is vastly present in this book. Had this issue been handled better, I would have loved that aspect. Racism needs to be talked about and it needs to be addressed but I don't think this book was done well. Was racism rampant during that time? Yes, yes it was. For more historical context, read Laura's review which has a wealth of other historical inaccuracies during the time in which this book was set. And for the people who say that it's okay for Eleanor to always make a comment about Park's eyes or skin color as a way of affection, I have to ask: WHAT? Since when is it okay for a character to always talk about another character's eyes or skin color because it makes him so Asian? Honestly, when I (and I know this to be true for others as well) find someone interesting or attractive, I don't harbor on their skin color or eye shape. But maybe that's just me...

And another part that Laura brings up which also makes me mad: Park spends much of this book hating his Korean side. He's ashamed of his mother and wishes he doesn't look so Korean. I get that. I do. I've hated being Indian on many occasions. I wish my dad, a university professor, didn't have an accent but he does. But this is a big part of my struggle with balancing two different cultures and trying to fit in. Instead of showing how Park struggles with two different cultures, he simply hates one side of himself and put the other side on a high pedestal. I think that this could have been such a great aspect of this book had it been explored. Truth be told, even though I am not of mixed race, I have always had a difficult time dealing with both my Indian and American identity. I had hoped that this would be something I shared with Park. I wanted to see a character in a book struggle with this issue because I know so many of my friends, even if they're not of Asian decent, struggle with two cultures.

In the end, I didn't finish this book even though I got very, very close to finishing. I liked the writing but after hating the characters and fining it racist and inaccurate to the '80s (which, by the way, the author NEVER lets you forget. It was so annoying after a while because YES I get that it's set in the '80s. MOVE. ON). I know Rainbow Rowell has worked for many people but so far, not for me.  
Cover Comments: 
LOOK AT THAT BEAUTIFUL COVER. I AM IN LOVE. If only the book had been close to as beautiful as this cover. It's so simple yet it stands out and I love an illustrated cover! 

**I borrowed this book from the library. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for my review.**

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Mini-Reviews: Someday, Someday, Maybe and Also Known As

Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham Release Date: April 30, 2013 
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Source: Library  
A charming and laugh-out-loud novel by Lauren Graham, beloved star of Parenthood and Gilmore Girls, about an aspiring actress trying to make it in mid-nineties New York City.

Franny Banks is a struggling actress in New York City, with just six months left of the three year deadline she gave herself to succeed. But so far, all she has to show for her efforts is a single line in an ad for ugly Christmas sweaters and a degrading waitressing job. She lives in Brooklyn with two roommates-Jane, her best friend from college, and Dan, a sci-fi writer, who is very definitely not boyfriend material-and is struggling with her feelings for a suspiciously charming guy in her acting class, all while trying to find a hair-product cocktail that actually works.

Meanwhile, she dreams of doing "important" work, but only ever seems to get auditions for dishwashing liquid and peanut butter commercials. It's hard to tell if she'll run out of time or money first, but either way, failure would mean facing the fact that she has absolutely no skills to make it in the real world. Her father wants her to come home and teach, her agent won't call her back, and her classmate Penelope, who seems supportive, might just turn out to be her toughest competition yet.

Someday, Someday, Maybe is a funny and charming debut about finding yourself, finding love, and, most difficult of all, finding an acting job.
The second I heard that Lauren Graham had written a book, I was eager to get my hands on it. I was excited to get the book from the library and within a few days, I finished it. I wasn’t as pleased by this book as many other people were but I liked it well enough. In the end, I realized that I didn’t care too much for the characters or the romance. In the end, it was more of a “meh” kind of a read for me.

The writing hands down was my favorite aspect of this novel. Lauren Graham’s writing had a vintage feel to it. The writing felt like it was very old but classic at the same time; it didn’t have a boring effect but rather something that had a calming effect. For some reason, I didn’t understand why Fanny’s character didn’t work for me. There was something…boring about her. I just didn’t care if she got the job or had a romance and that made me sad.

In the end, I read Someday, Someday, Maybe in short periods during a few days. I wasn’t invested enough to read all the way though in one sitting but I was intrigued enough to keep coming back for more. This book was fun and light but I didn’t really get anything out of it.
Cover Comments: 
It's the Brooklyn Bridge you guys! Normally I would wistfully comment on how I love the setting (hello, New York City!) but the cool thing? I've been there and it's fabulous! So, yes, I love this cover. 

**I borrowed this book from the library. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for my review.**
Also Known As, #1 by Robin Benway
Release Date: February 26, 2013
Publisher: Walker Books
Source: Library
Which is more dangerous: being an international spy... or surviving high school?

Maggie Silver has never minded her unusual life. Cracking safes for the world's premier spy organization and traveling the world with her insanely cool parents definitely beat high school and the accompanying cliques, bad lunches, and frustratingly simple locker combinations. (If it's three digits, why bother locking it at all?)

But when Maggie and her parents are sent to New York City for her first solo assignment, her world is transformed. Suddenly, she's attending a private school with hundreds of "mean girl" wannabes, trying to avoid the temptation to hack the school's elementary security system, and working to befriend the aggravatingly cute son of a potential national security threat... all while trying not to blow her cover.

From the hilarious and poignant author of Audrey, Wait! comes a fast-paced caper that proves that even the world's greatest spies don't have a mission plan for love.
Sarcasm in my third language and I absolutely love characters who are sarcastic. I love a good book about spies but in the end, Also Known As wasn’t was…exciting as I had hoped it would be. Once I finished reading it, all I wanted was more: more character development, more excitement, and more danger. Also Known As was the perfect book to read during a boring day and that was exactly when I read it

Maggie is seventeen (I think…) in the beginning of the novel and she has never been a “normal” teenager. She doesn’t know how high school students act or how she should act around them and seeing Maggie out of her element was wonderful. I enjoyed her awkwardness and her struggle to complete her job well and the situations she landed herself in made me smile. Unlike many YA novels, I loved that Maggie’s parents were so involved in her life. Her friendship with Roux and her relationship with Jesse were both fun to read about. My biggest issue with this novel was the fact that Maggie sounded much younger then seventeen. Maybe I should not have been bothered by it as much but I can’t deny that I was.

The highlight of this novel would be the characters. I loved Maggie’s personality because it was snarky and smart and even made me wince on occasion. Angelo, the family friend and acted as a mentor to Maggie who understood that even though she was a spy, she was also a seventeen-year-old girl. Roux, the social outcast at school becomes Maggie’s friend and added a fresh and fun feel to this novel.
Cover Comments: 
I don't honestly care about this cover. I like that her outfit coincides with a private school uniform but other then that, it's generic and boring. 

**I borrowed this book from the library. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for my review.**

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

DNF Mini-Reviews: Sometimes Never, Sometimes Always and Art Girls Are Easy

Sometimes Never, Sometimes Always by Elissa Janine Hoole Release Date: November 8, 2013 
Publisher: Flux
Source: Publisher via NetGalley for review  
Cassandra fears rocking the family boat. Instead, she sinks it. Assigned by her English teacher to write a poem that reveals her true self, Cassandra Randall is stuck. Her family's religion is so overbearing, she can NEVER write about who she truly is. So Cass does what any self-respecting high school girl would do: she secretly begins writing a tarot-inspired advice blog. When Drew Godfrey, an awkward outcast with unwashed hair, writes to her, the situation spirals into what the school calls "a cyberbullying crisis" and what the church calls "sorcery." Cass wants to be the kind of person who sticks up for the persecuted, who protects the victims the way she tries to protect her brother from the homophobes in her church. But what if she's just another bully? What will it take for her to step up and tell the truth?
Stopped at: less than 40%, exact place unknown 

To start off, I stopped reading this book before Cassandra, the main character, even began her blog. I just couldn’t get into this book at all. There was too much into dumping and the story was incredibly slow.

I understand the idea behind this book: Cassandra feels so oppressed by her religious family that she isn’t able to discover who she really is. She wants to see what else the world has to offer outside of her town and her family’s expectations. They’re suffocating her and I understand her discomfort but her helplessness was too…helpless. It was for me at least. Honestly, if you want to change something about your life, get up and change it. Wallowing over how much you hate girls you pretend to be friends with or your family’s ideals is not going to change anything. I really just wanted to go in and shake her.

Furthermore, the story as far as I read was just…boring. I didn’t care about her family’s opinions on gays and same sex marriage; I live in a southern, mostly Christian, conservative state for crying out loud and while I felt like this novel tried to present these issues as something astonishing, it was really just…stereotypical. In the end, I was simply not interested in this book so I just put it aside. It might work for others.
Cover Comments: 
Personally I love this cover. There's something so...simplistic and wistful about this cover. The model's pose and the look on her face tie in well with the title of the book. Plus, they didn't white wash the cover by having an Asian model! 

**I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for my review.**
Art Girls Are Easy by Julie Klausner
Release Date: May 7, 2013
Publisher: Poppy
Source:Publisher via NetGalley for review

Fifteen-year-old Indigo Hamlisch is an art prodigy looking forward to her last summer at the Silver Springs Academy for Fine and Performing Arts for Girls. But her BFF Lucy Serrano is a C.I.T. this year, and that means she doesn't have to hang out with Indigo and the other campers anymore: she can mingle with the counselors -- including Indigo's scandalous and unrequited crush, paint-splattered art instructor Nick Estep. But it's not like anything is going to happen between Lucy and Nick... right? As Indy becomes more and more paranoid about what's going on between her best friend and her favorite counselor, Indy's life -- and her work -- spin hilariously out of control. Funny and bold, Art Girls Are Easy is a comedy of errors filtered through the wry, satirical eyes of a girl who's been there, done that, and is just looking for a little inspiration
Stopped at: 7% 

I will read any and all books that deal with summer camps because I have never been to summer camp in my life. I never knew about it when I was younger and by the time I learned what they were, we couldn’t afford it. So when I first got the chance to read this book, I was incredibly excited. The cover was gorgeous and the summary was great and lets not forget the art bit. What I got, on the other hand, was a pretentious, annoying fifteen-year-old rich girl who was more interested in older men because she’d read Lolita (what?!).

When I think of summer camps, I think of cabins with bunk beds and lakes and swimming and bon fires. The camp Indigo does to? They stayed in air-conditioned chalets. And can I mention the name-dropping with all of the brands these kids have? Dolce and Gabbana and Chanel and I don’t really care. In the end, 7% of this book is all I could handle even though I told myself that I would read more of this book before giving up on it. If I’m to be honest, I wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone. There are better books I would rather spend my time reading then this one.   
Cover Comments: 
Eh. Boring. Like, really, really boring. Had it not been for "Melina Marchetta," I wouldn't have picked up this book to read! 

**I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for my review.**

Saturday, June 7, 2014

To All the Boys I've Loved Before, #1 by Jenny Han

Release Date: January 24, 2006 
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Source: Library  
LARA JEAN keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. They aren’t love letters that anyone else wrote for her, these are ones she’s written. One for every boy she’s ever loved.

When she writes, she can pour out her heart and soul and say all the things she would never say in real life, because her letters are for her eyes only.

Until the day her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly Lara Jean’s love life goes from imaginary to out of control.
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is quite simply a fun read. From all of the raving reviews of this book, I was hoping for something insightful but in reality, I didn’t love this book. I enjoyed reading about Lara Jean but after turing the last page of this book, I felt nothing. It’s not to say that To All The Boys (as it will not be called for the rest of this review) was a bad book (it wasn’t); it just wasn’t a memorable book.

Lara Jean, who I believe is a junior in high school (or maybe a senior? I can’t remember), reminded me of myself on occasion. She’s not always sure of herself and sometimes says things that she doesn’t mean to. And she’s a hopeless romantic like myself but there was some aspect of her characterization that I simply did not like. The only way for me to describe it would be to say that she sounded many years younger than her age and I often found myself shaking my head at her childishness. Other times I was simply indifferent to Lara Jean and her feelings. I couldn’t help but just not care. Either way, I just didn’t fully connect with her to the point where I would have enjoyed this book more.

As for the other characters in To All The Boys, I wasn’t too impartial to any of them except Lara Jean’s younger sister Kitty. She was adorable and funny and I loved every page she was one. Margot bothered me on many levels but the biggest reasoning was her lack of communication. It irked me that she got upset for not knowing everything about Lara Jean’s life when she didn’t share any information either. And I can’t forget the love interest (who I guessed early on in the book) who was incredibly underdeveloped and well, not really my favorite person.

The letters, writing to the boys she’s loved and having them mailed out would by far my favorite aspect of this novel. Surprisingly, and this is incredibly rare for me, I liked the premise and the plot for this novel better than the characters. As a writer and a hopeless (or die-hard) romantic, I loved and hated the idea of having my love letters mailed out. While I have never written a love letter, I have a journal and the idea that someone could read it mortified me so I understood Lara Jean’s dilemma.

Overall, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before has a plethora of fans who loved it immensely. I, on the other hand, am not in this category. Although I liked certain aspects of this novel, the entirety just was not for me. I understand that this is part of a series but I feel as though this novel could have been so much more. More depth, more characterization, more everything.  
Cover Comments: 
Personally I love this cover. There's something so...simplistic and wistful about this cover. The model's pose and the look on her face tie in well with the title of the book. Plus, they didn't white wash the cover by having an Asian model! 

**I borrowed this book from the library. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for my review.**

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

I'm Back...(For Now)

Who can say it better than Captain Jack Sparrow?
Well, hello there!

It's been a while since I've been on this blog. I took my hiatus on March 16 so it's been 77 days that I have been away. And for now, that was enough because I am itching to be back. There are several reasons I decided to come back (which will be listed below), I'm going to be making some changes on this blog as well.

Why I came back

1. I missed reviewing books

I thought about starting a YouTube channel but I couldn't see myself putting in that much effort with my sophomore year of college coming up in August. Plus, I'd been blogging here since 2009 and that is a long time. I just felt like putting more effort into a venue where I had already been relatively consistent. Who knows? Maybe I'll start a YouTube channel but for now, I'm just going to review books on here. 

2. I've had this blog for a long time and I didn't want to leave it

One of the biggest things I've learn so far in my college career is to start something and to stick with it. After realizing the first reason (see above!), I came to a conclusion that since I have been blogging here for almost six years, I'll keep going. Clearly there will be changes but since adding English as my second major, I've realized that this will help me in the long run. This blog has published work written by me and I plan on developing my writing skills and my voice.

BUT (you knew this was coming!)

I have started a personal blog called Adventures in Lifeland. I don't know how this is going to do and how often I will post on there but I have plenty of ideas that I can not wait to write about. Sorry for the self plug but I couldn't help it! Check it out? :D (I also added it up on the menu bar too!) 

3. It helped me read more books

I'm not saying that I didn't read enough books before book blogging because I did. But after entering high school and now college, I've realized that this blog is a great incentive to read more often! And I've become better at marking books as Did Not Finish (DNF), something I have struggled with for so long! And I'm currently 14 books behind my goal of reading 85 books this year (it dropped from 100 books once I realized how much more of my time was going to be taken up by college) so I need to get reading!

Changes to take place

1. No more book summaries 

I have realized that this takes up so much space on my reviews that it bogs me down. It probably makes no sense what so ever and I'm sorry I can't describe it adequately but it's the best I can do for now. 

2. Review lengths will vary based on books

I'm going to try and really tell you what I thought about a book, inside and out. In the past I focused mainly on the plot and characters and occasionally the writing and style but I want to get more a rounded feel for the novel.  

3. Cover comments and rating will stay

I have an interesting rating system which you can read about here and I have always loved talking about covers too. I'll be very honest with my cover comments because lets be real, it's the first thing you see so if it's not a good looking cover, people can skip it. I know I've missed out on good books because of it! 

And that's about it! 

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Goodbye...(For Now)

Dean knows how hard it was for me to write this post.
I've been meaning to write this post for a very long time. Believe me, I have. Honestly, though, I just didn't have the heart to. I kept telling myself to give it a few more days. Maybe my mind would change. But after all of this time, my mind has not changed and with a heavy heart (or not so heavy; you decide), I'm saying goodbye to this blog and book reviewing for the time being.

I might want to blog about books again in the near future. Who knows, maybe during the summer my spark might come back. But for now, that spark is gone and I can not even fake my happiness.

When I began book blogging, I did it for myself. I wanted to talk about the books I loved and I wanted to share that love with the people I had formed connections with. But as time went on and I began reviewing books for publishers, my love, my initial draw to book blogging, faded away. It wasn't about me or what I wanted but what the publishers wanted.

I've always been a people pleaser and book blogging got added to that mix. It was not a good thing for me. As I started college last fall, I've come to realize that while I love reading, and I will always love reading, I'm no longer interested in reading for pleasure and blogging about it. Not only that but I don't have as much time for reading as I used to. My summers will now be spent interning or working or taking classes. The last time I checked my GoodReads, I was 5 books ahead of my reading goal of 100 books this year. I'm currently 12 books behind schedule.
As of September 2014, I would be celebrating my 6th blogoversary. It's hard to imagine that I've had this blog for that long. And saying goodbye is made even harder by that number but it's okay. Maybe I will celebrate my 6th blogoversary. Maybe I won't. This year, I've taken to living everyday as it's come. You never know what might happen. So I'm going to leave off this post and this blog with:
Because who can say thank you like Zac Efron?
And Emma Watson

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Review: The Exiled Queen, Seven Realms #2 by Cinda Williams Chima

The Exiled Queen, The Seven Realms #2 by Cinda Williams Chima 
Release Date:  September 24th 2010
Publisher: Hyperion Books
Source: Library  
Haunted by the loss of his mother and sister, Han Alister journeys south to begin his schooling at Mystwerk House in Oden’s Ford. But leaving the Fells doesn’t mean that danger isn't far behind. Han is hunted every step of the way by the Bayars, a powerful wizarding family set on reclaiming the amulet Han stole from them. And Mystwerk House has dangers of its own. There, Han meets Crow, a mysterious wizard who agrees to tutor Han in the darker parts of sorcery—but the bargain they make is one Han may regret.

Meanwhile, Princess Raisa ana’Marianna runs from a forced marriage in the Fells, accompanied by her friend Amon and his triple of cadets. Now, the safest place for Raisa is Wein House, the military academy at Oden's Ford. If Raisa can pass as a regular student, Wein House will offer both sanctuary and the education Raisa needs to succeed as the next Gray Wolf queen.

Everything changes when Han and Raisa’s paths cross, in this epic tale of uncertain friendships, cut-throat politics, and the irresistible power of attraction
**There are spoilers for the first book and this book! Read further at your own risk! You have been warned!**
Have I told you guys that I bing read this entire series? The Exiled Queen clocks in at 586 pages all of which I read in one day because I was so utterly absorbed with what was happening that I could not wait to get back to reading if I had to stop. The Exiled Queen had more action than I had anticipated but it went away after a while but the world building, character development, and plot development kept me engaged. 

The book picks up a little after the events of the second book with Raisa on the run and Han on his way to Oden's Ford. Honestly, I'm going to say that Gavan Bayar is a crazy person like no other. I really, really don't like him. Anyways. There is so much adventure and danger in this book that I can't even handle it! Raisa will arrive in one place, think she's safe, and then BAM! something comes out and almost kills her! And this time, she's not alone so the lives of many others falls in her hands so I was exited to see how Raisa's emotions were incorpated into the plot. Honestly, the book becomes slow once Raisa and Han arrive at Oden's Ford but then of course it picks up at unexpected places! 

Furthermore, Raisa and Han grow and develop as the book progressed. The Exiled Queen shows a different side of Raisa because this is the first time she's not simply at the castle but in various parts of the world she is to one day rule and the other realms. Raisa truly realizes that she hasn't seen as much of the world as she had thought and there was more to ruling a county than simply knowing the boundaries of a country. Han, on the other hand, has to deal with the aftermath of his sister and mother's murder which really, takes a toll on him. Han is a much more different character and you truly feel for him. While he was aloof and strong in the first book, Han in The Exiled Queen is sad and angry and in need of vengeance. But he's also very smart and gifted and it's a pleasure to see how he grows as a wizard. 

I love me a good romance and the romance between Han and Raisa makes me so, so happy. While they're not just friends, they're not really more than friends. Han is too upset about the loss of his family to consider a girlfriend and Raisa is still hurt by the revelation that she and Amon can never be anything more than friends. Their friendship and gradual attraction is perfect because it doesn't happen all at once but at the same time, they're not completely in love either. There's more room for their romance to grow and I love that they're not an established couple already. 

Overall, yet another win for this series! While The Exiled Queen was faced fasted then The Demon King, it still lagged at times. But like the first book, I was too invested in the characters and their lives to truly let it bother me. I love the world too and I think Cinda Williams Chima has a gift for writing because as much as I love the world and the characters, her writing is what really brings the book to life! 

**I borrowed this book from the library. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for my review.**