Sunday, March 31, 2013

Cinder by Marissa Meyer (Plus a mini-review of Glitches!)

Cinder by Marissa Meyer
The Lunar Chronicles #1
Published by Feiwei & Friends; January 3, 2012
Hardcover, 387 pages
Borrowed from library 

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . .

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future

- Description from

If I were to have an awards ceremony honoring books, Cinder would definitely win the "The Most Original Book Ever!" award. Totally. I mean, seriously, it's about cyborgs, androids, and crazy people who live on the moon set in future China. Does that sound amazing or what? Oh, and did I forget to mention a teeny tiny fact? It's a retelling of Cinderella, which is seriously one of my all time favourite fairy tales. Like, ever. 

Oh my gosh, I actually can't write a review right now because this book was so good. It's a book I totally do not regret reading. Everything was so amazing: the characters, the plot, EVERYTHING, MAN. My head literally exploded from the sheer coolness of this book. I'm pretty sure it would also win the coolest book ever (!) award. 

It was gorgeously written, and very intense. The storyline moves fast and you'll soon be whipped away onto a journey alongside the kick-ass Cinder. Fans of Cinderella will love this book for the similarities to the original fairy tale, but will also admire this book for the differences. Marissa Meyer certainly knows how to write a good book, and I am most definitely going to pick up the next book!


Glitches is a short prequel to Cinder by Marissa Meyer. In Cinder, we get some background information on Cinder and how she came to become Adri's official ward. Well, in Glitches, we are told a lot more. We even get to meet Garan!

Since it's such a short story, it's hard to write a review on this. I can say though, that I really appreciate Marissa for writing Glitches because I loved getting to see into Cinder's first few days with Adri. They're so crucial to the way Cinder's life plays out and I felt it was so thoughtful to have that.

I also loved the way the story progressed. It was short, and to the point, but I got every single emotion. The writing was spot-on, and as good as Cinder was. I loved seeing Cinder mess around with her new body and the new functions her body could perform. The moments with Peony were also SO sweet, and I understand their relationship better. I really like the fact that Marissa chose to have one nice stepsister. This isn't related much to Glitches, but it was such a wise decision and makes the story much stronger.

Lovely treat after reading Cinder! It's like eating a bag of chips and feeling like you're in paradise and then getting sad it's over but...then finding there's an extra one clinging onto the bag or your pajamas or the couch. Yes, exactly like that.

Iceland 2013: Part 1

*All pictures below include captions. Please note that not all pictures were taken by me. To differentiate between mine and ones taken off of Google, I have concocted a handy dandy system. Captions that are italicized are ones from Google, and captions that are not are mine and mine only. Enjoy!

So, I'm back from Iceland! Wow is all I can say. Seriously, one of the best trips I've ever taken - even though I was there for such a short period of time. The people were all so nice and friendly. There were tons of horses, lot of fish, lot of lamb meat, and A LOT of lava and volcanoes. It was absolutely fantastic and I highly suggest a trip here at least once in your lifetime.

The first day spent in Iceland was very relaxed and thank goodness for that, since we had just gotten off of a five hour flight! We checked into our hotel, the gorgeous Hilton Reykjavik Nordica, and once we got settled down with our stuff, we headed for our complimentary breakfast-upon-arrival at the Vox restaurant.

Our hotel, the Hilton Nordica.

A suite at the Hilton. Loved the minimalistic décor! Plus, the splash of orange gives a nice, cozy feel!

The Vox restaurant at the Hilton!

Once we had finished breakfast, we went down to the famed Laugavegur street. It's a wonderful shopping street and there were so many cute stores and boutiques! I wouldn't have enough time to browse through all of them, which is such a shame.

Eeek, so cute! :)

There were some really nice souvenir shops so I got some stuff for my friends and family. Afterwards, we had pizza at a nice little shop near the beginning of Laugavegur. It was so good! (By the way, that's something Iceland has an abundance of - pizza/Italian restaurants. Also, Thai restaurants.)

For the night, we had booked a Northern Lights tour to go see the Northern Lights, but that got cancelled due to the overcast skies. Even though that sucked, I am so thankful for it because I promise you, as soon as I got into that bed at the hotel, I started snoring like a giant. 

The next day, we had a scheduled tour of a lot of stuff. Seriously, it was such a busy day and it's still amazing to me how we managed to get all THAT done. The tour guides came around to our hotel and collected us, then shoved us into a nice red Land Rover. The first place we drove to was (get ready now, it's a mouthful) Eyafjallajökull. Eyafjallajökull is a volcano under a glacier, which is where most of Iceland's volcanoes are located. Fun fact: Eyafjallajökull was the volcano that erupted in 2010, causing massive ash problems in Iceland and around Europe. We drove onto the glacier in our snazzy Land Rover and boy, was it a bumpy ride! We are extremely fortunate we didn't get stuck in the snow because seriously, there were some Jeeps that went under. 

I don't actually have a picture of a Jeep stuck in snow. Here's a picture of a Jeep. Enjoy.

And then we drove all the way to the top of the glacier and behold! The most wonderfully awkward glacier ever. (Then again, I don't know what the top of a glacier is supposed to look like.)
 The top of the glacier. Seriously, I didn't know there was a thing that stuck up at the top.

After we visited the glacier, we made the very bumpy road back down. It had started pouring no less than five seconds once we reached an actual road so when we stopped at Anna, the country hotel near the glacier, we were all soaking. No matter because Anna had a nice cozy restaurant held INDOORS where we had a nice lunch of two types of soup (tomato and traditional lamb soup) plus some yummy bread with great butter. 

The country hotel, Anna, where we had our yummy lunch.

After taking a short break at Anna, we drove in the rain to the Sólheimajökull where we had a scheduled glacier walk. It's really not as intense as it sounds. You just put on your hiking boots (and water resistant material, in our case) and your crampons (the ice cleats that attach to your boots) and your ice pick. Once you've done all that, then you start up the glacier and the tour guide takes you as far as time will allow. It was extremely fun and something much easier than it sounds. Even if you aren't in great shape (*cough* like me *cough*) you can still enjoy walking up the glacier. It's such a safe environment that you won't even notice how high up you are. And chances are, you'll also forget there's a possibility of falling into the glacier. :)

I know this isn't a great picture, but it was taken from the tour group we had the trip booked with!

It was so amazingly fun, and the lucky thing is that it stopped raining once we got onto the glacier. Thank goodness! Well, what can you say? It's Iceland! (To clear things up, it's a joke that the Icelanders have that if you don't like the current weather, all you need to do is wait five minutes.) The glacier was really big so we didn't get to the top but we did get up quite high. Unfortunately, I don't have a picture to show you guys of my awesome feat. :(

Once we had finished our little hike, we zoomed off to a waterfall, which will remain nameless as we visited like, four waterfalls and I can't remember all their names. 

 Waterfall. Mmmmm.

We walked around this site for a while before we blasted off to the Black Lava Beach, Black Sand Beach which is only a few short minutes from this waterfall. The name says it all: there is indeed black sand at the beach. It's actually ash though that has accumulated over thousands and thousands of years. It was absolutely gorgeous. And don't take beach to mean tons of half naked people, sun bathing. No, it's simply:

1. A shore of sand or pebbles at the edge of the sea.

Well, except it's actually ASH, but close enough. (The definition was taken from the Oxford Paperback Dictionary & Thesaurus: Third Edition.).

I love this. Isn't it absolutely gorgeous?

The contrast between my shoes and the ash. Oh my gosh, I think I've just been blinded.

We stayed for a while, and then drove to another waterfall. (Just you wait, more waterfalls in Part 2.)

Sorry, the picture is a bit crooked. I ain't too good at taking photos.

And then, we went back to our lovely hotel. We had planned to go on the Northern Lights tour that night, but we were all so absolutely exhausted. No worries, we still had two more days left in Iceland! Yay! 

PS. Stay tuned for Part 2! 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Reflect & Renew: March 2013

Hello readers! This is my very first Reflect & Renew, of which I am very proud to unveil! Inspired by Jamie at the Perpetual Page Turner, I recap my month in blogging and give you guys a look at what's coming up! :)



Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard
The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley

Gorging on a giant platter of fish and chips...with a dessert of apple crisp and homemade ice cream (Yum!)
Going to the Canadian Opera House and attending a concert
Attending my last pottery class for the term :(
The month's not over yet - Iceland!

Feel Again -OneRepublic

Watching Lizzie Bennet far, so good!

Time for rest - I'm really dragged down by all the homework. 
Eleanor & Park being shipped to me! 

That's all, see you next month! :)

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Spotlight: Bloglovin'

A feature where I shine a figurative Spotlight on anything I can possibly talk about. Books, authors, shows, movies, you name it and I will offer my opinion on it.

Today, I'm talking about Bloglovin. I made a post earlier on the fact that Google Reader is disappearing forever, leading me to a search for my new substitute reader. It was too confusing to talk all about how great Bloglovin is on that post, so I made a new one to go along with it.

Bloglovin just so happened to be the reader I went with, and I'll tell you right now: I'm hooked. It even convinced me to let go of my email subscriptions to blogs, and you know how fiercely I hold onto those. Signing up for Bloglovin was easy peasy and right away, they asked me if I wanted to import my blogs from Reader. Yes, of course! If it doesn't pop up, simply go to your settings and at the bottom, there will be an option to do so. Anyway, in no less than five minutes, I had a new account ready to go!

Finding blogs on Bloglovin can be confusing. For some reason, the titles of the blog will not always provide a match when you search. You have to type in a phrase in the title to get the match. For example, when attempting to find Young Adult Anonymous, I had to type in "Young Adult" to get a result instead the blog name which provided me with no matches. Weird, huh? It gets a bit frustrating, but that's only one eensy con.

The second good thing about Bloglovin' is that when I click on a blog post, it sends me directly to the blog through Bloglovin'. So I can click this and that and surf the blog while still having the option to jump to the next post on my Unread list. Surprisingly, no lag problems! I can even comment on the blog I'm reading while still being on Bloglovin'. The only thing is that once I comment, I get redirected to the blog and then I have to make my way back to Bloglovin', which is annoying. 

On Bloglovin', you can actually claim your own blog and check out your Bloglovin' statistics. Putting your blog on Bloglovin' can actually increase your stats and readers as Bloglovin' provides the direct link to your blog. It's only one click away! 

Overall, I find myself really enjoying using this. So handy and fun! I would definitely recommend this! 

The End of Google Reader

For  those who use Google Reader to keep track of their blog subscriptions, I am sure you have already recieved this bit of news: Google Reader is officially shutting down. Now, I don't know about you, but I generally prefer to get an email subscription, simply because of the convenience. I can check the personal emails I get while checking my book blog updates. No need for an extra tab!

But even though I don't use my Reader often, I kind of loved it for keeping me updated with blogs that I read that DON'T have an email subscription option available. Or ones with feeds that don't work. Without Google Reader, I'm not sure how I was going to keep on top of all that. It's like they say: you never know what you have until it's gone. I certainly didn't notice how useful Reader was until now, right when it's about to go bye-bye!

I was faced with the hard decision of picking another blog reader to support all my blogs. There are so many out there, but finding a really good one? That's really tough. But, I've been poking around some of my favourite blogs and I found this great article from Radiant Shadows giving a run down on all the different substitutes for Google Reader.

After reading it, I decided to go with Bloglovin. It was the most appealing to me and after poking around a bit more on the Internet, I was convinced to make the switch over. And my verdict? I love it. Absolutely love it! It's the best thing ever, and it's making my life a whole lot easier by giving me access to all my blogs in one place. It's so great, I'm convinced to delete all my email subscriptions! More about it in my Spotlight feature.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Divergent by Veronica Roth

Divergent by Veronica Roth
Divergent #1
Published by Katherine Tegen Books; February 27, 2012
Paperback, 487 pages
Borrowed from library

In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue--Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is--she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are--and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

- Description from

I am ashamed of myself. I had gone into this book with my expectations so low. I really expected to dislike this book but I did not. I actually really, really liked it! I thought it was a wonderful, fast-paced story to read through, and the idea of having factions intrigued me. I thought it was very realistic and I certainly could imagine our society heading down this path.The only thing that really bugged me was the role Chicago played in this. Really, I think Ms. Roth would have been better off just creating an imaginary world, because, to be honest, Chicago is insignificant and supplies nothing to this story. 

I'll admit: I had to imagine quite a bit pre-Dystopia Chicago because there weren't many details given as to how this came to be. This didn't really affect my overall thought of the book, because I enjoyed it! I loved Dauntless initiation and every single page left my heart pounding. It was intense and I was so caught up in it. The romance with Tobias was also extremely intense, and is probably the cause of all my hyperventilating.  I wanted to rip the tension at the beginning in half, because everyone knew where this was going. Get on with it, Veronica! I'm tired of waiting! 

The pacing was awkward, and I felt myself starting to become less excited towards the end (though that could also have been because of this other thing...). I found the end came about all of the sudden, it didn't feel complete to me. 

Next, I've noticed that this book has been compared to The Hunger Games a lot, and I will not say anything on this because The Hunger Games has nearly left my mind. I really can't remember anything, but I can say that Mockingjay was really bad. I'm happy to say Divergent wasn't THAT bad and hopefully, the third book in this series won't be either. I know many people preferred The Hunger Games more, but for me, I thought Divergent suited my tastes better. Note here I'm only going by my feelings, and Divergent definitely made me feel more, although it may not be the best literally.

I'm making my final decision based how I felt when I first picked up this book. Divergent is definitely not an amazing book, but considering how amazing I thought it was, I think it deserves all the rave it's getting. If a book has the ability to let me forget about criticizing later on on my blog, if a book can make me lose my senses, if a book is able to make me forget everything and let me simply enjoy the story, then I would say that that book is well worthy of praise, even if it there were many flaws. It's not often you come across a book capable of doing this, and I think you should give it a shot despite some harsh criticism it might have gotten. Hey, a book doesn't win a Book of the Year award because nobody liked it! Chances are, you will too.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Quote Madness: Where'd You Go, Bernadette

Quote Madness is a feature here at Random Reads where I share some of my favourite quotes! Inspired by So Quotable at So Obsessed With. :)

I posted my review of Where'd You Go, Bernadette a couple of days ago, and I mentioned that there were some pretty awesome quotes, so today I thought I'd share some of my favourite quotes with you guys! How does that sound? Yay!

“Americans are pushy, obnoxious, neurotic, crass - anything and everything - the full catastrophe as our friend Zorba might say. Canadians are none of that. The way you might fear a cow sitting down in the middle of the street during rush hour, that's how I fear Canadians. To Canadians, everyone is equal. Joni Mitchell is interchangeable with a secretary at open-mic night. Frank Gehry is no greater than a hack pumping out McMansions on AutoCAD. John Candy is no funnier than Uncle Lou when he gets a couple of beers in him. No wonder the only Canadians anyone's ever heard of are the ones who have gotten the hell out. Anyone with talent who stayed would be flattened under an avalanche of equality. The thing Canadians don't understand is that some people are extraordinary and should be treated as such.”

“We were like the Beatles, Dad.'
'I know you think that, sweetie'
'Seriously. Mom is John, you're Paul, I'm George, and Ice Cream is Ringo.'
'Ice Cream,' I said. 'Resentful of the past, fearful of the future...everytime we saw Ice Cream sitting there with her mouth open, we'd say, Poor Ice Cream, resentful of the past, fearful of the future.”

“This is why you must love life: one day you're offering up your social security number to the Russian Mafia; two weeks later you're using the word calve as a verb.” 

“That's right,' she told the girls. 'You are bored. And I'm going to let you in on a little secret about life. You think it's boring now? Well, it only gets more boring. The sooner you learn it's on you to make life interesting, the better off you'll be.”

“My heart started racing, not the bad kind of heart racing, like I'm going to die. But the good kind of heart racing, like, Hello, can I help you with something? If not, please step aside because I'm about to kick the shit out of life.”

Friday, March 15, 2013

Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
Published by Little, Brown and Company; August 14, 2012
Hardcover, 330 pages

Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she's a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she's a disgrace; to design mavens, she's a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom.

Then Bernadette disappears. It began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette's intensifying allergy to Seattle—and people in general—has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands. A trip to the end of the earth is problematic.

To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, secret correspondence—creating a compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter's role in an absurd world.

- Description from

There we go! The first adult novel reviewed on Random Reads and another book I read for my book club. I must say though, that this was a hilarious book. I found myself chuckling at many spots (once I understood it was supposed to be sarcastic and satirical) and highlighting quotes. If you're one of those people who don't like making notes or dog-earing pages in books, like me, get this book on an eReader because I guarantee there will be pages in here you'll want to remember.

Now, one thing that threw me off when I first started reading was the layout of the book. Bee, daughter of Bernadette is the narrator, but she doesn't narrate much until you reach the end. The majority of the book is made up of letters, and texts, articles, and documents which tell the story. If there are any holes to be filled, Bee fills them with her witty and funny story telling. However, I felt that because the majority of the story was told through documents, it was a tough transition for me when Bee started to take over completely. I mean, she's only popped up a handful of times! I technically don't even know who this girl is! 

This is more or less what my feelings were towards the other characters. They were basically no-face unknowns. I didn't have much information on them, and they all seemed very annoying. I did not relate or connect to any of them, especially Bernadette. Am I supposed to worry that she's gone? Am I supposed to feel for Elgie and Bee? Because seriously, I don't think I would be able to do that for my life. 

Next point, Bernadette's disappearance which was the worst thing in this book. It's what the whole book is based on, but to me, it wasn't emphasized much. Half the time, I totally forgot that Bernadette was even missing. There was just way too much information leading up to the climax and much of it was unnecessary. It did not add to the plot in any way, merely giving us more than enough information on Bernadette's wacky ways. Also, I didn't really feel that Bee found her mother. It was more of a like Aha! moment because it was pretty clear where she went. The whole idea was why she went, right? The documents did not help Bee to find her mom at all, they were just explanation. And explanation. And more explanation. 

Will you allow me to disagree with the Goodreads description of this book? It is not touching because I was so disconnected from the characters. I really couldn't have given less of a crap for whether or not Bee hated her dad or Audrey getting her house ruined. It is not compulsively readable, because the only really good thing about this book was the sheer hilariousness and ridiculousness of the book and even that, I find, got boring and overdone. 

I wouldn't say I loved this book, but I wouldn't say I hated it either. The quotes I highlighted were all really funny, and I had eighteen Kobo pages of them. The rest of the book, however, was a bit of a nightmare. It was lacking in cohesiveness and I'm very sad to say this. The story had great potential, but it was poorly executed. On the bright side, I love the cover!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen

This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen
Published by Speak; March 8, 2004
Paperback, 345 pages
Borrowed from library

When it comes to relationships, Remy doesn't mess around. After all, she's learned all there is to know from her mother, who's currently working on husband number five. But there's something about Dexter that seems to defy all of Remy's rules. He certainly doesn't seem like Mr. Right. For some reason, however, Remy just can't seem to shake him. Could it be that Remy's starting to understand what those love songs are all about?

- Description from

I'll be honest with you - as I find that's always the best way to start - I wasn't psyched about this book after reading the synopsis. It didn't sound special in any way, or unique. It didn't sound as if it had any stand-out characteristic, one that would make me reminisce about my wonderful experience reading my third Sarah Dessen. Can I just say that I was SO wrong? There were so many things in This Lullaby that warmed my heart. 

First, I loved Remy. Yes, she's a cynic, annoyingly anal, and totally doesn't believe in love at all, even when it's right in front of her. I wanted to hit her so bad because she can be so thick and stubborn sometimes. Even so, Remy was a gem to read about. There were so many layers to her, and it was a treat to get to know her better. 

Next, Remy's friends were awesome, okay? They were a quirky bunch and they definitely didn't get along well all the time, but I adored the rock-solid bond they had. You just know that if something were to happen to one of them, everyone else would be by their side in a flash. This type of friendship is what I search for and yearn for. 

Thirdly, Truth Squad, the band. I know, they have a crap name but I loved them so much. I really wish I could get to know each one of them. For instance, Ted the guitarist. He was a jerk most of the scenes he was in, but there's something about that pessimism that intrigued me. Lucas is not a character that sticks in my mind very well, but John Miller, oh yes! His red hair and his craziness! He's a wonderful sidekick to Dexter, and together, I would say, they balance out the pessimism brought to the book by Remy and Ted.

Finally, Dexter. You didn't seriously think I'd write a review on a Sarah Dessen without talking about the guy, did you? I loved him. Adored him. Because really, who wouldn't? There's just something about such an optimistic character or person that gets to even the most pessimistic of people (not including Ted, he's the exception). He's hilarious, goofy, yet serious when it comes to his feelings. He's lovable and is a breath of fresh air after a slew of sad, troubled characters. On a sidenote, is it just me or does Dexter kind of remind me of Andrew Garfield? 

I've been noticing this lately, but my reviews generally consist of my thoughts on the characters. This can only mean but one thing: good books = good characters. If a book has good characters, then chances are that I'd like the characters so much that I'd be able to look over the plot. A little bit. And let me tell you that the plot to This Lullaby was just as good and delightful as the characters were. I wasn't bored and it wasn't dull. It didn't feel monotonous, but it wasn't action packed either. It felt exactly as the Remy/Dexter relationship felt: casual, relaxed, addictive. You really can't get enough and don't you just want to continue flipping the pages? 

This Lullaby was a superb book and I can't wait to read the other Sarah Dessens. Hopefully, they're as good as this one!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Seeing Double: Anna and Lola (With an extra special cover reveal!)

Special thanks to Alex MacDuff for the wonderfully drawn glasses I snagged off his blog. Love them!

Seeing Double is a new feature here at Random Reads. Two covers. One book. One opinion. Feel free to join the discussion! :)

It's been a few days since this rocked the blog-o-sphere so you've probably been seeing this all over! Yes, I know I'm a lot late - so late that this is nearly not news. Well, I completely disregarded this fact, because it's irrelevant to my Seeing Double posts. This is not a news forum, so what do I care if this is a bit late?

PS. Today, I'm doing something a little special. Four covers. Two books. One author. Quite a few opinions. And one extra cover reveal! Hope you guys enjoy this! :)

I can still remember the first time I read Anna and the French Kiss. Though it wasn't the best book ever, it certainly stuck in my head for its quirkiness. Another thing I remember the most about Anna and the French Kiss is the cover. The old cover, as we see here that it has indeed been updated. Because the cover, along with the title, does not do Anna justice. Because so many people take one look at the title and the cover, and they just immediately shut it down. Thinking its another one of those crappy chick lits. And I would almost feel sorry for them because they're missing out on a seriously good book, but the desire to want to share this book's quirkiness is overpowering. I think I can do that now with the new gorgeous cover.

It looks amazing! I love it! It makes me want to go to Paris right now and experience  what Anna experienced for myself. I know it's not a great cover, but I love it so much more than the original. I am so happy with this cover change because this makes Anna look so much more than just a "chick lit". By the way, I hate that term. Almost as much as I hate when people are prejudiced towards a book simply because it has a bad cover and has the word kiss in it. Also, when people base their opinion on you by looking at the books you read. But that's a different conversation that we can have another day. Onto Lola!

I have never read Lola and the Boy Next Door but it sounds like a treat! And I do believe Anna makes a special cameo? Or is it Isla? Either way, I know that SOMEONE does, in fact, make a reappearance and I simply love when these occur in a book! Again the new cover looks absolutely gorgeous! I never like it when characters are revealed on a cover. It makes me feel like I have to imagine the characters in that way. I feel so restricted and really uncomfortable. Which is also my feeling towards kissy covers. Which I hate. And I'll admit, I am a big fat hypocrite because I am prejudiced as well. I tend to stay away from kissy covers because 1. they scare me, 2. people will judge me, 3. I'm not an erotica girl. Yes, I really did just stereotype. Oh covers. The stuff they do to us. Which is why you should never ever judge a book by its cover. I try not to, but it's hard you know? This is why we need cover changes, in the hope that we can attract bigger and wider audiences. And I'm especially glad that this series got redesigned. They're beautiful now!

And like I promised, an extra special cover reveal that was most certainly not seen first on my blog! The long awaited Isla cover!

Ohmigod, it's so pretty! My favourite cover by far! I love the turquoise and the lime green. Ombre is so in right now! The Manhattan skyline is really pretty. And the title is the best! Really. I love the title. Oooh, I just know this is going to be such a good book! I can't wait for it to come out! I do need to read Lola first, but once I finish that, I am immediately moving on to this book, given that it's released by then. It sounds amazing!

Needless to say that I really love the new redesign of this series. I don't know how I'd live if Isla got stuck with yet another mediocre cover.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Populazzi by Elise Allen

Populazzi by Elise Allen
Published by Harcourt Books; August 1, 2011
Paperback, 338 pages
Borrowed from library

Cara has never been one of those girls: confident, self-possessed, and always ready with the perfect thing to say. A girl at the very top of the popularity tower. One of the Populazzi.

Now, junior year could change everything. Cara’s moving to a new school, and her best friend urges her to seize the moment—with the help of the Ladder. Its rungs are relationships, and if Cara transforms into the perfect girlfriend for guys ever-higher on the tower, she’ll reach the ultimate goal: Supreme Populazzi.

The Ladder seems like a lighthearted social experiment, a straight climb up, but it quickly becomes gnarled and twisted. And when everything goes wrong, only the most audacious act Cara can think of has a chance of setting things even a little bit right.

- Description from

Let me start with this: Populazzi is a much more serious novel than it appears to be at first sight. Sure, there's a couple of lines that'll make you smile or chuckle here and there, but for the most part, Populazzi deals with some major issues that teens have always faced. Drugs, sex, alcohol, insecurity, parents, and of course, popularity - it's all in here. So if you're planning on reading Populazzi for a fun, fluffy novel, that's great and jolly but don't be surprised when things turn a bit...heavy.

Warning: There may be some spoilers from this point forward. I'm sorry. I can't express my frustration clearly without giving away some tidbits. Proceed with caution.

{My Thoughts on the Characters}

I'll jump right into it: Cara was a pain in the ass. As a reader, I felt so annoyed and fed up with her. I just wanted her to STOP. Does she not know how stupid it is to think that USING people to become the "Supreme Populazzi" is? I don't know where she's been living for the past sixteen years, but it certainly is no place with a book, or a magazine, or a TV because otherwise she would have realized that you should never, EVER use people. Especially people who love and care for you, and people who you love and care for. Also, rule number one in life: never go behind your parents' backs and do something stupid and silly like BUY AN ENTIRE WARDROBE OF CLOTHES THEY WOULD NEVER EVER APPROVE OF WITH A CREDIT CARD FOR THE SOLE PURPOSE OF IMPRESSING A GUY TO GAIN POPULARITY. Ohmigod that might just be about the most ridiculous thing a character I've read has done. Really. Oh, and not to be mean, but she totally doesn't deserve Archer. Not after what she did to him. She IGNORED him and USED him. If I didn't like him so much, I would think he has come down with a serious case of STUPIDITY as well.

I do feel bad for Cara, though. Not because she ended up as the exact opposite of what she wanted to achieve (and worse) but because she has just about the WORST parents and the WORST friend ever. What type of parents simply disown their children? Even if they did do something absolutely ridiculous and untrustworthy? NO, you can't do that! Ohmigod! Really, Karl needs to check himself into an anger management class because that is so WRONG. There's no way you can expect Cara to learn from her actions by disowning her. As her official stepfather, your responsibility is to be the father figure in her life. BEING A FATHER DOES NOT INCLUDE DISOWNING HER. If that's not enough to convince you how crappy a father he is, here's more: Karl actually said to Cara's mom that it's either him or Cara. Meaning, if Cara stays, he's going. That is a sign of someone who doesn't want to commit! DO YOU WANT THAT PERSON TO BE THE FATHER FIGURE IN YOUR CHILD'S LIFE? This is the type of person who's going to walk out the minute things get tough. Please. How the hell is he still here?

Oh, and Claudia! Claudia, Claudia, Claudia. Poor, sweet, Supreme Populazzi obsessed Claudia. A girl who has no chance of ever achieving her dream, so instead chooses to live her desire through her friend. I almost feel bad for her when finding out the dirty truth about Cara. Almost, because if it weren't for Claudia, this would never have happened! If it weren't for some serious persuasion on Claudia's part, Cara most likely would not have ended up as the school pariah. 

It is okay from here on in. I promise. No more yelling. Or ranting. Or spoilers.

{My Thoughts on the Plot}

The plot is a bit fast starting off. I mean, we basically jump right into the whole "Populazzi" scheme, no time wasted. The beginning, due to Archer, starts off well and fun. It keeps up throughout the middle, but slows down towards the end. I'll admit I did get really bored. And tired. Mostly from Cara's stupidity and irresponsibility. It felt too redundant and looong. I mean, 390 pages spent on reading about a character that I absolutely disliked. 

{My Final Thoughts}

Okay, you probably think I didn't like this book much because of what just went down, but I really didn't. Yes, I was bored but that happens often, and yes, I didn't like the characters, but I only realized to this extent now as I reflect on my experience. Having said that, I think the characters and this book were written to be shocking and cringe-worthy. It's to teach us that we should never adopt a shallow mind. Popularity: Never worth it, especially if you have to use people and change yourself to acquire it. 

And despite my absolute ANNOYANCE towards Cara, I never stopped secretly cheering for her. You know that feeling of disgust at the things a character does, but you can't really stop wishing things'll turn out right? You'll find that in this book. I'm sure even Cara can agree that she has had a crappy run at Chrysella. A very crappy run, and I think, even all of it was her doing, that she deserves some bit of reward for at least some sensibility at the end. Thank you, thank you, thank you for not screwing things up more than you already have. I still don't think she deserves Archer though.

Populazzi: The best book to read to get yourself out of doing something with possible drastic after-effects for popularity. The best book to teach you a bit about responsibility, sensibility, and high school. Read this if you think you'll need some good advice on what NOT to do during high school, or life.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Just Read It! Book Club

Hey guys! It's me, Annie the Book Club Adventurer! I have brought news with me of a fun new book club called Just Read It!

The Deets:

- Just Read It! is hosted by two wonderful bloggers, Lexi and Bailey.
- Just Read It! will be reading one YOUNG ADULT book a month.
- You can join any time! You can join this month, or next month, or even in the middle of a month! It's totally up to YOU! Though why wouldn't you join now, when you can?
- You can skip a month if you don't feel up to it. Isn't it so nice to have some freedom?

You can join if...

You are a blogger that reads young adult fiction.

All you need to do is...

1. Post your review/discussion according to the time frame given
2. Follow the guidelines for each month
3. Acquire and read the book

Here's how it works:

The book of the month will be revealed the first day of said month. Towards the middle of the month, a post will be made including discussion questions, suggestions, etc. These are the guidelines for the book! Then, when you have finished reading the book and everything else, you will post your review/discussion during the last week of the month.

This month's book:

So if you are interested and/or want more information, please head over to The Literature Lion or Novel Nerd

Saturday, March 2, 2013

NPR's 100 Best-Ever Teen Novels

The one thing I do when I'm bored is surf Epic Reads. My ultimate feed source for all things BOOK. Authors, reviews, fun lists, music, giveaways, and quizzes all in one place! I haven't checked Epic Reads in a while and today, I decided to catch up on some well-overdue blog posts. While I was skimming, I found a curious list of the top 100 YA books. Why had I never seen this before?

Guys, I have a confession. I love it when people create lists of books to read. It's awesome and a wonderful challenge for competitive me. As I scrolled through this list, I saw tons of titles of books I had read, tons of titles of series I had partially finished, titles of books that were on my TBR list, and books I had never heard of. I wanted to document all this, so here is my documentation. Hope it doesn't get too confusing!

(If you would like to view the original post made at NPR, click this link.)

Red: Books/Series I have finished
Blue: Books/Series that have yet to be finished


1. Harry Potter (series) by J.K. Rowling
2. The Hunger Games (series) by Suzanne Collins
3. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
4. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
5. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
6. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
7. The Lord of the Rings (series) by J.R.R. Tolkien
8. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
9. Looking for Alaska by John Green
10. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
11. The Giver (series) by Lois Lowry
12. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (series) by Douglas Adams
13. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
14. Anne of Green Gables (series) by Lucy Maud Montgomery (4/8)
15. His Dark Materials (series) by Philip Pullman
16. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
17. The Princess Bride by William Goldman
18. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
19. Divergent (series) by Veronica Roth (1/3)
20. Paper Towns by John Green
21. The Mortal Instruments (series) by Cassandra Clare
22. An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
23. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
24. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
25. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
26. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
27. Twilight (series) by Stephenie Meyer
28. Uglies (series) by Scott Westerfeld
29. The Infernal Devices (series) by Cassandra Clare
30. Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt
31. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
32. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (series) by Anne Brashares
33. The Call of the Wild by Jack London
34. Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green, David Levithan
35. Go Ask Alice by Anonymous
36. Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
37. Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
38. A Separate Peace by John Knowles
39. Vampire Academy (series) by Richelle Mead
40. Abhorsen Trilogy / Old Kingdom Trilogy (series) by Garth Nix
41. Dune by Frank Herbert
42. Discworld / Tiffany Aching (series) by Terry Pratchett
43. My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult
44. The Dark is Rising (series) by Susan Cooper
45. Graceling (series) Kristin Cashore
46. Forever… by Judy Blume
47. Earthsea (series) by Ursula K. Le Guin
48. Inheritance Cycle (series) by Christopher Paolini
49. The Princess Diaries (series) by Meg Cabot
50. The Song of the Lioness (series) by Tamora Pierce
51. Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
52. Delirium (series) by Lauren Oliver
53. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
54. Hush, Hush (series) by Becca Fitzpatrick
55. 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson
56. It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini
57. The Gemma Doyle Trilogy (series) by Libba Bray (1/3)
58. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
59. The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
60. Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
61. The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
62. Just Listen by Sarah Dessen
63. A Ring of Endless Light by Madeleine L’Engle
64. The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen
65. The Bartimaeus Trilogy (series) by Jonathan Stroud
66. Bloodlines (series) by Richelle Mead
67. Fallen (series) by Lauren Kate
68. House of Night (series) by P.C. Cast Kristin Cast
69. I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
70. Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn, David Levithan
71. Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
72. Unwind by Neal Shusterman
73. The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle
74. The Maze Runner Trilogy (series) by James Dashner
75. If I Stay by Gayle Forman
76. The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley
77. Crank (series) by Ellen Hopkins
78. Matched (series) by Ally Condie
79. Gallagher Girls (series) by Ally Carter
80. The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
81. Daughter of the Lioness / Tricksters (series) by Tamora Pierce
82. I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak
83. The Immortals (series) by Tamora Pierce
84. The Enchanted Forest Chronicles (series) by Patricia C. Wrede
85. Chaos Walking (series) by Patrick Ness (1/3)
86. Circle of Magic (series) by Tamora Pierce
87. Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor
88. Feed by M.T. Anderson
89. Weetzie Bat (series) by Francesca Lia Block
90. Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen
91. Confessions of Georgia Nicolson (series) by Louise Rennison
92. Leviathan (series) by Scott Westerfeld
93. The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer
94. The Chronicles of Chrestomanci (series) by Diana Wynne Jones
95. This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen
96. Gone (series) by Michael Grant
97. The Shiver Trilogy (series) by Maggie Stiefvater
98. The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley
99. Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson
100. Betsy-Tacy (series) by Maud Hart Lovelace

That's 17 books read out of 100! Seems I need to get cracking!

Friday, March 1, 2013

A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray

A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray
Gemma Doyle #1
Published by Simon and Schuster; December 9, 2003
Hardcover, 403 pages
 Borrowed from library

A Victorian boarding school story, a Gothic mansion mystery, a gossipy romp about a clique of girlfriends, and a dark other-worldly fantasy--jumble them all together and you have this complicated and unusual first novel.

Sixteen-year-old Gemma has had an unconventional upbringing in India, until the day she foresees her mother's death in a black, swirling vision that turns out to be true. Sent back to England, she is enrolled at Spence, a girls' academy with a mysterious burned-out East Wing. There Gemma is snubbed by powerful Felicity, beautiful Pippa, and even her own dumpy roommate Ann, until she blackmails herself and Ann into the treacherous clique. Gemma is distressed to find that she has been followed from India by Kartik, a beautiful young man who warns her to fight off the visions. Nevertheless, they continue, and one night she is led by a child-spirit to find a diary that reveals the secrets of a mystical Order. The clique soon finds a way to accompany Gemma to the other-world realms of her visions "for a bit of fun" and to taste the power they will never have as Victorian wives, but they discover that the delights of the realms are overwhelmed by a menace they cannot control. Gemma is left with the knowledge that her role as the link between worlds leaves her with a mission to seek out the "others" and rebuild the Order. A Great and Terrible Beauty is an impressive first book in what should prove to be a fascinating trilogy.

- Description from

I still have not been able to form thoughts on this book properly. My head right now is such a mess because, oh!, how this book confused me so! 

Here is a list of questions I have that SHOULD have been answered:

1. What is the significance of the Order?
2. What is the Rakshana's purpose exactly? 
3. Why does Kartik follow around Gemma? Aren't there other Rakshana to do this job?
4. Do the Rakshana have magic?
5. What are the Realms? I don't get them.
6. Why are the Realms important?
7. What are the Runes?
8. Why are there illusions?
9. Why is bringing magic out dangerous?
10. What is the significance of the amulet?
11. Why does Gemma get visions? (Also I think she really only got one vision...I don't think the blurb can say "that have an uncomfortable habit of coming true"...)

See? Do you get why I'm confused? I mean, at least half of these questions should have been answered! It's the same feeling I get when I'm in class, and I just feel like I learned nothing. And then I find out I have a quiz on something I didn't learn. Exactly that feeling. How can I write a review on a book that I got nothing out of? The story had tons of potential: the setting was vibrant, the scenes were intense, there was a bit of jealousy, some kissing, some magic, awesome boarding school-ness, some creepiness, and some really frightening scenes. The pacing was odd, though and there didn't seem to be an actual plot/problem. It was more a book of discovery - of Gemma, that is. I don't have any problem with books of discovery, but I expected more. I expected ACTION and though I got it, it didn't match my expectations. 

In the blurb at the back of the book, it mentions that Gemma "discovers her mother's connection to a shadowy group called the Order". I didn't actually think we discovered much. All that we found out really, is what was stated in that sentence. That her mother was connected to the Order. Or a part of? I have no clue. 

I'm sorry, my head hurts from all this deciphering. I am so confused. I had to go onto the Wikipedia page to figure out stuff (along with some spoilers...) and I'm still confused. What I can say, besides the stuff I have already said, is that Ms. Bray addresses some real issues on women equality here. And it really opens eyes because even though this was set in the 1800's, we still face the same issues! Really! I find that a bit embarrassing. I respect Ms. Bray as an author and as a person after reading her interview at the back of the book. I would definitely like to chat with her.

Overall, this wasn't a bad book. It was very good and I liked that it was mostly action and mystery. I really do need a break from romance. Gemma was a strong character, as was Felicity, Pippa, and Ann. There are many modern issues addressed here and I appreciated that. However, the book was very open-ended. It was good, but I think a lot more could have been explained. Do I really want to read the next two books to establish exactly what the whole idea of this trilogy is about? No. Will I? Probably not, seeing as I've already checked Wikipedia for spoilers. Still an enjoyable read, and I know some people really loved this book. You're better off borrowing it though, unless you know for sure you'll like it.