Oh, School.

School has began. Waking up at six am and hours worth of homework and extracurriculars now consume my time. Summer, I miss you already. It feels like I was just blogging about starting my freshman year, and now I'm already a sophomore. Whoa!

See, I don't actually mind school once I'm there. It's the getting there that's the problem. I HATE waking up. I always start off waking up at like 5:30... and then it gets progressively later throughout the year where by the end I'm up at 6:15 and rushing out the door. Does anyone else have this problem? :P

And ugh, I'm dreading the work already. School without the homework would be fantastic. I just want to shut myself in my room when I get home and read and write, but alas, there is much homework to be done. It doesn't help all the honors classes I'm taking... I already have to do a lab report tonight. My schedule is intense.

A US History I HON
B English II HON
C Spanish III HON
D Chemistry HON
E Biology HON
F Gym
G Algebra II HON

Yes. I know. So. Many. Honors. Classes.

My history teacher seems cool, like a really good teacher. You know how with some you just know right off the bat? I already like my English teacher too! As you guys probably know, there's nothing more important to me than a good english teacher...and she seems awesome. And the whole theme this year for english is fear, so right off the bat we're doing horror short stories. Epic. I have the same spanish teacher as last year, and I LOVE her. I know the chemistry teacher from student council. The bio teacher has that dry sarcastic sense of humor. And Algebra II seems like it'll be good.

The one class I am NOT looking forward too is gym. First off it's gym. Secondly, now I'm mixed in with upperclassmen and there's only four sophomores in my class. None of which are my friends. And as we all know, gym is no fun unless you have someone to suffer through the pain with. But it's only until January so I suppose I'll survive.

Luckily, I have good friends in all of my other classes. One of the perks of taking all those grueling honors courses? You're not with those horrible kids all day. For the most part, you're with kids who care about their grades and don't screw around as much.

Wish me luck, I'm going to need it. :P

What are your feelings on school? What classes are you taking?

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He's So Not Worth It by Kieran Scott

Ally Ryan, come on down to the Jersey Shore and forget your troubles!
Have you recently been humiliated in front of your friends and family at your former best friend's birthday party? Was your almost boyfriend partly responsible for that humiliation by withholding some vital information about where your estranged father is? Did you come home to find said estranged father sitting on your stoop?
If so, then it sounds like you could use a vacation! The Jersey Shore is the place to be. Your mother may be living with her boyfriend of only a few months, but at least the stunt Shannen pulled has put some of your friends back in your court. Even so, you're still angry and what better way to get over Jake than to blow off some steam with local guy, Cooper? People will hardly recognize your new attitude, but the old one wasn't getting you anywhere, so who cares!
Jake Graydon, an exciting opportunity is waiting for you in the service industry!
Are your grades so low your parents have grounded you for the summer? Did you the girl you really like unceremoniously leave you behind? Would you rather eat dirt than see your friends again? Then a job at the local coffee shop is just the ticket! Surprisingly, Ally's father is the new manager so you get to be reminded of her nearly every day. Maybe it's time to start flirting with your best friend's ex or even taking school a bit more seriously. Especially when you finally see Ally and she's hanging around with some loser and it's couldn't be more clear that she is over you.
Have a great summer!

He's So Not Worth It pick right up from where She's So Dead to Us left off. And, oh I loved it. I was unable to put it down...reading it in all of a day. It's like, I would go to put it down, and then something would happen where I'd have to keep reading. Seriously, I stayed up until 2:30 reading this, and then I kept thinking about it after I put it down, as I was trying to fall asleep. So. Good. A perfect summer read.
Kieran Scott is just as good as ever. Her writing style is addictive. The voice are strong, the prose still funny and honest, and the dialogue realistic. And the plot of this one kept me just as hooked as the last one. Though I did find myself screaming at the characters more often than not. Because they were a bunch of idiots for 90% of the book... in the most compelling way. Because Ally and Jake aren't even together for most of the book! Ally's on the Jersey Shore with her mother while Jake's stuck at home with an SAT tutor and work. It was interesting seeing them so separate from each other, but when they were together it was so frustrating! Because they both want to be together, but they're sooo stubborn! And then Ally hooks up with one of the locals and Jake starts hanging out with Chloe...and I'm like noo!
The thing is, in this book, Ally is the stubborn one in this book. Numerous times Jake tries to make things right...though at those times he may have not had a way with words. But she like shuts him down without even giving him a chance more than once...when she still seriously likes him. So then Jake feels like he's justified in moving on too, since Ally obviously has. But Ally going through a lot in her personal life, with the return of her father and her mother's boyfriend. So I can understand how that's screwing with her mind, how she's confused and angry, not sure how to feel.
Oh, Jake, why do I love you so much? You keep messing up, but then you get all cute on me and I'll love you again. (Well, we all know I have a soft spot for the name Jake.) But I do feel like I really got to know Jake better in this book, and I loved his character development. His mom makes him take a college course over the summer, and he actually works and tries in that class. One of my favorite scenes is when he gets his first test back and freaks out over getting an A. I loved that! Jake can frustrate me to no end, and really make my emotions swirl. But ultimately, he can be so cute and sweet, and I just fall in love with him.
Another thing I enjoyed about this book was Annie, Ally's friend's, "Crestie Sightings" Diary entries. She goes around stalking (though she claims that's a strong word) the Cresties, collecting data for her novel/trashy expose. I liked the short entries that made up the chapter breaks, which gave us a look at different people/parts of the plot that Ally and Jake didn't necessarily interact with. I thought that was a very unique approach.
So as for this book, I only have one compliant. OMG THE CLIFFHANGER! Why did you do this to me, Kieran? How the heck am I supposed to wait until May for the next book?! Gah!! I seriously can't wait!!

She's so Dead to Us by Kieran Scott

When having money is all that matters, what happens when you lose it all?
Perfect, picturesque Orchard Hill. It was the last thing Ally Ryan saw in the rear-view mirror as her mother drove them out of town and away from the shame of the scandal her father caused when his hedge fund went south and practically bankrupted all their friends -- friends that liked having trust funds and new cars, and that didn't like constant reminders that they had been swindled. So it was adios, Orchard Hill. Thanks for nothing.
Now, two years later, Ally's mother has landed a job back at the site of their downfall. So instead of Ally's new low-key, happy life, it'll be back into the snake pit with the likes of Shannen Moore and Hammond Ross.
But then there's Jake Graydon. Handsome, wealthy, bored Jake Graydon. He moved to town after Ally left and knows nothing of her scandal, but does know that he likes her. And she likes him. So off into the sunset they can go, right? Too bad Jake's friends have a problem with his new crush since it would make Ally happy. And if anyone deserves to be unhappy, it's Ally Ryan.
Ally was hoping to have left all the drama in the past, but some things just can't be forgotten. Isn't there more to life than money?

This book is a reread for me, one that I read only a couple months ago, but it’s a quick read and I wanted it fresh in my mind since I just got the sequel. I love this book. Great intricate plotline, awesome three-dimensional characters, and perfect teen voices. I have no complaints. In fact, I think I may have loved it even more the second time around.
First off, the writing is fantastic. Scott really has a spot-on grasp of the teen’s voice. This book is told from both Ally and Jake’s perspective, which already earned Scott some bonus points in my book, as I LOVE multiple POV stories. Both of their voices were distinct, engaging, and honest. I felt like I really got to know Ally and Jake throughout the book. The prose and dialogue were witty and hilarious, with many LOL moments.
So, plot. Ally’s father was an investor. He talked all of his friends—Ally’s friend’s fathers—into this investment that went bad, costing people millions of dollars. So Ally and her parents leave town one night—Ally not having a clue what’s going on—and the father abandons them shortly after. Now, eighteen months later, Ally is back in Orchard Hill, and everyone on the Crest (the rich side of town) hates Ally. Except for Jake Graydon—who now lives in her old bedroom. But he’s friends with all of Ally’s old friends, who are just plain cruel to her when she returns. I won’t say more than that, but let’s just say that I love this storyline. It’s not your typical rich turned poor story. There’s many layers to this, deeper reasons why Ally’s old friends are mad at her. Usually I back away from rich kid stories because they always have this fake air to them… but this story felt real in so many ways.
The characters are awesome. I loved Ally. Everything about her was real to me, her emotions especially. All of her friends hate her for something that had nothing to do with her, and after trying to make things right and failing, she doesn’t mope around and wallow. Her old friends don’t intimidate her out of doing what she wants to do activities-wise. She was strong in that way—but vulnerable in others. And I love that she’s a basketball player. Then you have Jake, the cocky gorgeous guy who is now living in Ally’s old bedroom. He’s not used to girls making things difficult for him. I love Jake. I love watching him realize that he does care about her. He’s stupid sometimes, I will admit. But his redeemable qualities, all the good things he does for Ally, outweigh his teenage boy stupidity. Even the mean girls have depth. Shannen, Faith, and Chloe, Ally’s old friends, all have valid reasons to be angry. Not that all of them are necessarily justified…but I get it. Sometimes a person just needs someone to blame when bad stuff happens.
Another thing that was great about this series is that the parents played a significant role to the plot. I love stories where the parents are involved and important to the storyline, because there’s so many stories that seem to have non or minimal-existent parents in them.
So yeah, I love this book. And I’m so excited to read the sequel He’s So Not Worth It and see where Ally and Jake’s story takes me!

Dreamland by Sarah Dessen

Ever since she started going out with Rogerson Biscoe, Caitlin seems to have fallen into a semiconscious dreamland where nothing is quite real. Rogerson is different from anyone Caitlin has ever known. He's magnetic. He's compelling. He's dangerous. Being with him makes Caitlin forget about everything else-her missing sister, her withdrawn mother, her lackluster life. But what happens when being with Rogerson becomes a larger problem than being without him?

This is the only book by Sarah Dessen that I haven’t read at this point. I discovered Sarah back in seventh grade, and I don’t know why I’ve held off on reading Dreamland for so long. I think it’s the fact than whenever I saw it at the book store, there was always something I wanted just a little bit more, so this book just fell off my radar. Then I saw it at Borders and got it pretty cheap, so now I have the complete Dessen collection on my shelf.
Dreamland did not disappoint writing wise. My favorite thing about Dessen’s writing is her beautiful prose, her ability to just sweep you away with her writing. The way she crafts her words is truly something. That said, Dreamland was her fourth books, and I definitely see the improvement in her writing her latest books. Her books are always filled with quotable quotes galore.
This is definitely the darkest of Dessen’s novels. Caitlin always felt like she lived in her sister Cassandra’s shadow, so when Cass ran away to New York at the beginning of the book, it left Caitlin empty, not quite knowing who she was. She struggles to find her own path and make her own decisions. Her mother is withdrawn and indifferent at first, because Cass and Cass’s activities were her own world. Soon enough, she begins throwing herself into Caitlin and her activities as well. In the midst of struggling with all this, Caitlin meets Rogerson Biscoe. Brilliant, gorgeous, abusive, Rogerson. I applaud Dessen for her ability to craft this so realistically. Of course, the abuse wasn’t right away. He even portrays many likable qualities.
While this was a powerful story filled with brilliant prose, I just didn’t like it as much as Dessen’s other novels…completely for personal reasons. I could never truly sympathize with Caitlin and her decisions. And it’s nothing Dessen did, it’s just my personal feelings. My belief that no woman should take being hit by someone who supposedly loves you. I get that Caitlin felt like she needed Rogerson, and I get why she felt that way. But at parts I just wanted to smack some sense into the girl.
And Rogerson. I’m so used to falling in love with Dessen’s boys. Wes from The Truth About Forever, Owen from Just Listen, Dexter from This Lullaby. But I HATED Rogerson. I mean, I was supposed to hate him, but still. And yet Dessen throws in these bits of information that almost makes me feel bad for him at moments. It’s so wrong… yet from a psychological standpoint I do understand why he is the way he is. That doesn’t mean I can’t hate his actions and the way he treats Caitlin though.
Dreamland is a realistic portrayal of a girl struggling to find herself in the midst of chaos. I definitely recommend it if you’re looking for a book with this sort of plot…as there are not too many books out there like it to my knowledge. I found myself rooting for Caitlin at the end of this book, waiting for her to finally wake up.

Favorites Friday (1): Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

Hope you enjoyed this video blog! I hate my voice on camera... but I think everyone does. I'm pretty sure I cut out all the rambling tangents, baha. I knew this video was going to be longer than I intended, because of the subject (VA!), but at first I had a good fifteen minutes on it.... I get kind of carried away when it comes to VA.

I want you guys to help me pick the next book/series to feature! Pick from the following:
1) If I Stay & Where She Went by Gayle Forman
2) Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
3) Anna and the French Kiss by Stephenie Perkins
4) Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler
5) Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson

...as you can tell, I have many books worthy of Favorites Friday, baha!

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Bloodlines by Richelle Mead

When alchemist Sydney is ordered into hiding to protect the life of Moroi princess Jill Dragomir, the last place she expects to be sent is a human private school in Palm Springs, California. But at their new school, the drama is only just beginning.
Populated with new faces as well as familiar ones, Bloodlines explores all the friendship, romance, battles and betrayals that made the #1 New York Times bestselling Vampire Academy series so addictive - this time in a part-vampire, part-human setting where the stakes are even higher and everyone's out for blood.

Oh my God! I've never been so excited for a spin-off series. I'd been anticipating this book ever since it's been announced! Vampire Academy is such an incredible series that I was so anxious to be back in the world, no matter what way, shape or form. I'm so happy to say that Mead has begun another enticing series which in no way disappointed me. Her writing is still incredible! The narration and description and everything were so well-done. But I expected nothing less.
I was actually pretty interested--if not excited-- that Mead chose to continue the story through Sydney's eyes. I loved her entrance in Blood Promise, loved the entirely new element she and the Alchemists brought to the VA world. In fact, one of my favorite lines in Blood Promise is a Sydney line. "Just because I like you, it doesn't mean I still don't think you're an evil creature of the night. You are." Haha, I love that! Anyway, I was uber-impressed with the transition into Sydney's POV. I'm so used to Rose's voice--but the change and tone of this book was immediate. The characterization of these books never cease to amaze me. Sydney's narration was strong in a completely different way that Rose's was, and the voice kept getting stronger as the book progressed. Another thing I liked that Mead did was that she made Sydney self-concious. Rose was gorgeous--and she was confident in herself enough that she knew it. But Sydney's a different story, always comparing herself to Moroi and commenting on her appearance. It just made her real to me.
And Adrain. Oh Adrian! Love him! He was still his charming and witty self. Oh, he cracks me up! We get to see this softer side of him as well...which was fantastic. Everything about Adrian was awesome in this book. Jill it took me longer to really like. I felt for her and could sympathize, but it was only towards the end that I loved her as well. And Eddie! So glad that Eddie was incorporated into this! God, I love these characters. Even some of the new ones rocked. It was great playing detective, trying to figure out who the good and bad ones were. And there was a Rose sighting! Only for a second, but still! Rose!
Plot wise, I was impressed. Mead sure filled that California boarding school with drama and suspense. VA is super action filled, whereas with this one you had to play detective and keep guessing what was going on. It still amazing me how many characters Mead incorporates into her stories without a hitch. I felt like the plot was slower paced than VA, but that only makes sense. We still got an epic scene at the end though!
Another thing that was refreshing was the lack of romance in this book. It does look like Mead is setting up an epic romance for later on, but I'm just so glad she's taking her time in developing this and not rushing things. It definitely adds more to Sydney's character, and it keeps me as the reader so interested in what's to come. It definitely added a different aspect to the series from VA. Though there is some romance between other characters, it's definitely no priority for Sydney.
I think what I really need to stop doing is comparing this series to VA, though it's hard not to. I personally feel like it's A MUST to read VA before this, but in all honesty someone could pick this book right up and be totally fine. There's so many qualities in Bloodlines that makes it feel like it's own series and not a spin-off, and I really loved that.
Of course, nothing can ever beat what is Rose and Dimitri, in my opinion. But this book set up what will be an epic series. Just like VA, I'm betting that each book will get better and better, and I'm so excited for the next one! LOVED this!!

Why Do I Reread?

People ask me this question all the time. Both family and friends. They can't grasp why I would want to reread a book that I've already read. "But you already know whats going to happen!" is the common response. What they don't understand is that, (in my opinion,) I gain so much more the second time around both from a reader's and a writer's perspective. I catch minor details that I missed the first time around. I study the author's writing style and characterization. I look for foreshadowing. I know a book TRULY deserves to be on my favorites list when I can reread it and feel just as passionate about it than I did the first time around.

I've been spending the past week re-reading The Vampire Academy books, my all-time favorite series, in preparation forBloodlines, it's spin-off series. (Which comes out today!!) I found that reading this for the second time around gave me a whole new appreciation for the series. Richelle Mead's writing truly is brilliant. The intricate plots, the twists, the fact that there are so many characters throughout the course of the series but they all seem to hold their own and you never get anyone confused or forget about them. The creativity to come up with this concept in the first place is amazing, but the way to pull it off the way she did is just...wow. I knew everything that was going to happen, yet my heart was still racing a though I was reading these books for the first time. When I tell people about the series, they look at me as if it's just another Twilight. And I want to smack them... because the only thing VA and Twilight has in common is the word vampire.

I've reread every Sarah Dessen book at least once, and I've reread my favorites (The Truth About Forever & Just Listen) three times...maybe four? I just love these realistic stories and the subtle details I continue to pick up in each one. Also, I study these books writing wise, especially when it comes to pacing. The one thing I love about Dessen is she doesn't do those ridiculous whirlwind romance where everything is too fast. Nope, she draws out the romance, making it realistic and sweet in the most perfect way.

Another series that I pull out and reread once a year is The Mediator series by Meg Cabot. These books are just so perfect, and they never let me down. A kick-ass mediator MC, a hot ghost, intricate plot, and awesome writing? Win. This series will forever be on my favorites shelf.

I could go on and on about books that I feel are worthy of rereading... but I really would love to know what you guys think. Are you a big rereader? What books do you have to reread every year?

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A Video Blog on the Perfect Chemistry books by Simone Elkeles

Truth: this video was supposed to be longer and more in-depth than it is. My mom came in seriously right as I was making it and told me we had to leave. I figured I'd finish it later but then it was night and it would've been awkward. I had enough material to put this together though. At least you get a small sense of my love for this series :)

If I didn't just bore you to death, and if you want, I could do another video blog discussing more about each book specifically, like I planned to this time around. I'll talk more plot and characters, whereas this was more of a general gushing, haha. Just let me know in the comments if I haven't already persuaded you enough to read this series!

I'm hoping to turn posts like these into a weekly segment called "Favorites Friday" where each week I will feature a new book or series--vlog style. Let me know what you think!

Hope you enjoyed!

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Chain Reaction by Simone Elkeles

Luis Fuentes has always been sheltered from the gang violence that nearly destroyed his brothers’ lives. But that didn’t stop him from taking risks—whether he’s scaling a mountain in the Rockies or dreaming of a future as an astronaut, Luis can’t stop looking for the next thrill.

Nikki Cruz lives her life by three rules—boys lie to get their way, don’t trust a boy who says “I love you,” and never date a boy from the south side of Fairfield. Her parents may be from Mexico, but as a doctor’s daughter, she has more in common with her north-side neighbors than the Latino Blood at her school. Then she meets Luis at Alex’s wedding, and suddenly, she’s tempted to break all her rules.
Getting Nikki to take a chance on a southsider is Luis’s biggest challenge, until he finds himself targeted by Chuy Soto, the new head of the Latino Blood. When Chuy reveals a disturbing secret about Luis’s family, the youngest Fuentes finds himself questioning everything he’s ever believed to be true. Will his feelings for Nikki be enough to stop Luis from entering a dark and violent world and permanently living on the edge?

If you're a fan of the first two books in the Perfect Chemistry trilogy, Chain Reaction will not disappoint! I devoured this book and enjoyed every second of it. I've been anticipating this book since Rules of Attraction's release, curious as to how Elkeles was going to tell the youngest Fuentes brother's story.
Oh, Luis, you were supposed to be the good one! In the first two books, Luis is portrayed by older brothers Alex and Carlos as the good brother. The straight A student. They tried to shelter him from gang activity. In this book we got to really see Luis, the thrill seeking, adrenaline junkie side that he tries to keep hidden from everyone else. I loved Luis! I loved that despite his bad boy streak, he's still smart and wants to be an astronaut. While sometimes I didn't like what he was doing, I always understood why he was doing it. Though sorry, Alex is still my favorite Fuentes brother.
Nikki is a great female lead as well. She had that all guys are out to get me mentality, which would annoy me in most cases but I totally understood, considering her first relationship ended with a bad breakup and an ectopic pregnancy. She's the only Mexican out of the three perfect chemistry girls (though she doesn't speak spanish,) and is definitely the most stubborn of the three. She judged Luis too quickly, but she just wanted to protect her heart. And I can't really blame the girl for that.
Luis and Nikki's connection was intense--but their relationship got to be somewhat of a mess. When they finally got together, things got hot and passionate, despite Luis's lies and deception about Latino Blood. I loved how the relationship was about more than the physical connection. In fact, some of my favorite scenes were some of the low key ones. Like when Nikki takes Luis to the animal shelter, or when he's helping her do her math homework. When things were working, they were so cute together.
One of my favorite parts about this book was keeping up with Alex and Carlos lives. That despite the book's focus on Luis, we still got a good sense of what was going on with the other Fuentes brothers. At the beginning of the book we got to see Alex and Brittany's wedding! That made me so happy. And I literally laughed out loud at some of the things Carlos says. The family dynamic set up here is incredible.
The thing about these books that always gets me, that as over the top as some of the gang stuff seems to me, this is a real portrayal. These things do happen. It's horrifying, all of it. Being jumped in, being jumped out, the threats, the tests of loyalty that can ultimately ruin your life. I can't believe that some of this stuff really goes down.
I'm so sad that this series has come to an end. Finishing this makes me want to go back and reread Perfect Chemistry and Rules of Attraction right now! I loved these edgy books and I can't wait to see what Simone Elkeles has in store for us!

Way too excited for Bloodlines!

My lack of posting in the past couple days--whether it be book reviews or just posts in general has everything to do with me sweeping myself back into the world of Vampire Academy in preparation of Bloodlines. Right now I'm on book four, Blood Promise and am still amazed at how well these books are written. Richelle Mead truly has some of the best characterization I've ever seen.

I can't believe it comes out in a week! The wait is finally almost over! I'm so beyond excited for this book. I cannot wait to see where Richelle Mead takes this brilliant series. It's told from Sydney, a human alchemist's, POV. This is so interesting to me because she is the polar opposite of Rose, so I cannot wait to see how this narration compares.

Also, it seems that we're going to be getting more Adrian in this book! Squeeee! I felt so bad for him by the end of Last Sacrifice, I hope he gets his happy ending.

A lot of people seem to be skeptical of this series, and are already comparing it to VA and think that it won't be as good. Me, personally? I will read anything Richelle Mead writes, and I'm sure this series will be just as fantastic, in a completely different way that VA is fantastic.

And who isn't excited for some Rose/Dimitri appearances?

VA fans, are you excited for Bloodlines? How do you think it'll be?

And if you haven't read VA yet... WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? READ IT NOWWWW!

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The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

What is most notable about this funny, touching, memorable first novel from Stephen Chbosky is the resounding accuracy with which the author captures the voice of a boy teetering on the brink of adulthood. Charlie is a freshman. And while's he's not the biggest geek in the school, he is by no means popular. He's a wallflower--shy and introspective, and intelligent beyond his years, if not very savvy in the social arts. We learn about Charlie through the letters he writes to someone of undisclosed name, age and gender; a stylistic technique that adds to the heart-wrenching earnestness saturating this teen's story. Charlie encounters the same struggles many face in high school--how to make friends, the intensity of a crush, family tensions, a first relationship, exploring sexuality, experimenting with drugs--but he must also deal with the devastating fact of his best friend's recent suicide. Charlie's letters take on the intimate feel of a journal as he shares his day-to-day thoughts and feelings.

This book is good. A whole lot better than I expected. While it's not the best thing I've ever read, it's certainly a memorable read that will stick with me for a while. I've been eyeing this book for a while, and the main reason I read it is because it's on my school's summer reading list. After reading this, that fact surprises the hell out of me. I'm actually proud of my school for providing some REAL books with narration that a teenager can relate to and understand.
Charlie is so likable right off the bat. The story begins right before his freshmen year. I found myself relating to all of his feelings so well. The narrative was raw, deep, and emotional, filled with so many quotable quotes. But, through this narration, you never really get to know Charlie himself. You more like get insight to what he thinks about the people and things going on around him. The brilliant thing though, is through Charlie talking about other thing, you do get to know more about him. He's introverted. He puts others before himself, which is good sometimes but not when he does it too much and begin to lose himself and think that he doesn't matter. The minor characters are all done very well too. Charlie's brother and sister are never named, not once. But they didn't have to be. I still felt like I knew them. Sam and Patrick were awesome.
The writing style was a tad rambly for my taste. Although the letters were meant to be personal and diary-like, so I suppose it makes sense for Charlie to go on random tangents. I kept feeling like I was waiting for something to happen, and the plot didn't tie together until the last 25 pages, where everything begins to make sense. Because of the not knowing and the occasional randomness, parts did drag. Though I did really enjoy the Rocky Horror Picture Show tie-in. (Time Warp was stuck in my head during all those scenes.)
The book deals with heavy topics. Drugs and alcohol, suicide, sex, bullying, harassment. It was all told from an honest and innocent perspective. You keep wondering throughout the entire book what the heck Charlie's deal is. What's the reason for the letters in the first place? And then it clicks toward the end and everything comes together and makes sense. And it's quite sad actually.
Still at the conclusion, you can't help but feel hopeful. Now, in my opinion this book isn't OMG. But it's still very good, and definitely worth the read.
So, I guess we are who we are for alot of reasons. And maybe we'll never know most of them. But even if we don't have the power to choose where we come from, we can still choose where we go from there. We can still do things. And we can try to feel okay about them.

The Hills Are Alive

I spent the beginning of my week up in Vermont. Now, normally I'm a beach goer, preferring the ocean to the mountains. That might have to do with the fact that the beach is five minutes away, while this was a 4.5 hour car ride. But I can't deny how pretty it is, and how peaceful it is when you're up there.

So I thought I'd post some pics I took throughout the week. I know everyone loves pictures :D

We went to Von Trapp Family Lodge on our way home. My family loves The Sound of Music, so we knew we had to see it. Look at how pretty the mountains are!

The Vermont Teddy Bear Factory was the cutest place ever! But dang, those teddy bears were expensive. They're all handmade, and we took a tour at the factory. At the end there was this model showing the bears move from factory to warehouse to UPS truck. I thought it was super cute!

I call this one Dr. McDreamy Bear

LOL this cracks me up. Just about died when I saw it. My seven and ten year old cousins didn't get why I was laughing so hard....


Me, my sister, and my cousins. In bear form.

Pretty Vermont-ness

That face xD

There were giant spoons hanging from the trees....

And obviously we had to go to the original Ben and Jerry's

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Divergent by Veronica Roth

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.
Debut author Veronica Roth bursts onto the YA scene with the first book in the Divergent series—dystopian thrillers filled with electrifying decisions, heartbreaking betrayals, stunning consequences, and unexpected romance.

This is going to be a difficult review to write. Usually, I know exactly what I want to rate a book when I finish it, but there's a toss up with this one. Because I DID enjoy it. A lot. It held my interest and kept me reading. I finished it in two days, and only because I had to make myself go to bed last night. It's a fast read, with lots of action and an interesting concept, that people can only be one of the five trait, that people aren't supposed to have bits and pieces of every quality. And while I did enjoy it and plow through it, it just didn't wow me.
First off, the setting itself confused me. I know it's Chicago, but I could never get a clear picture. And I found it odd that while the factions all live separately from each other (I think...I could never quite figure it out), they all interact with each other on a regular basis and the kids all go to school together. I really loved the idea of it all, the five factions, the different qualities, the tension because of it. But I think there are ways Roth could've made things more believable. For instance, why are some Divergent? How does that happen, and why don't things affect them the same? Is it a genetic mutation? I wish that it was explained more. Also, I really wanted to see more Amity in this book. I mean, they existed, but they were never really there. Of course it's possible that that faction is coming into play more in the sequel.
I liked Tris. But that was about the extent of it. I never got emotionally attached to her, never reallycared about what happened to her. Still, I liked how flawed she was. How she struggled between Abnegation and Dauntless. I liked seeing her change, seeing the brave moves that she made. Occasionally she got annoying, playing the whole "Why do you like me, I'm not pretty" card. I guess I just never got in tune with how she was really feeling. Some pretty major things happen toward the end, and it's like she's just stoic, until Four comes to her rescue and she's all happy again. I wanted to see her pain, feel her pain. And I guess I just didn't get that. I felt detached.
I did really like Four, though he was a complete and total mystery for the first half of the book. He has that certain hot mysterious factor about him. And he seems tough and fearless at points but he's really not. In fact, on of my favorite scenes in the book depicted him when he was at his most vulnerable. That made him seem real. He's the only one I really connected with in some way. All the other characters were just so-so for me. I never understood what made Al snap. I never got why Peter was so one-dimensionally mean. The characterization as a whole could've been stronger.
The writing itself is pretty good. It's fast paced, and could used a little more description, but I'm sure Roth intended it to be a fast paced, action-oriented read, so that she accomplished. The romance aspect could've used some work--but not to the point of it really bothering me. The style itself was very Hunger Games esque to me, and there were just numerous occasions in general that made me think of The Hunger Games. Not the plot specifically, and I can't really place my finger on what it was, but there were brief moments where I felt that I could've easily been back in Katniss's world.
I feel like I might be being too harsh with this. The fact is that I did really enjoy it. And I think that as time goes on, Roth is going to amount to a fantastic writer. She definitely has skills, they just need some polishing. I will be reading the sequel, hoping to see more world and character development. Pretty much I was always thinking, okay, this is pretty good. Never OMG THIS IS AMAZING.
More of a 3.5 stars.

Looking For Alaska by John Green

Miles Halter is fascinated by famous last words and tired of his safe life at home. He leaves for boarding school to seek what the dying poet Francois Rabelais called the "Great Perhaps." Much awaits Miles at Culver Creek, including Alaska Young. Clever, funny, screwed-up, and dead sexy, Alaska will pull Miles into her labyrinth and catapult him into the Great Perhaps.

Looking for Alaskabrilliantly chronicles the indelible impact one life can have on another. A stunning debut, it marks John Green's arrival as an important new voice in contemporary fiction.

This. Book. Is. Brilliant. Just oh my wow is John Green an amazing writer. His prose is seriously some of the best I've ever read. It's all so deep, raw, and just completely honest. I could relate to some of his words so well that I'd find my breath catching as I was reading. Pair that with some realistic and hilarious dialogue and you've got yourself an amazing read.

His characterization is incredible. I got so attached to Miles "Pudge" Halter (the nickname irony because he's skinny.) I loved his obsession with last words. Nobody does male POV better than a male, obviously. Females try to replicate it, but only guys can write characters that can be somewhat crude in that male way and still be meaningful and likable. But every single character is quirky and flawed and I loved that. Alaska has a "Life's Library" consisting of hundreds of books stacked everywhere. She is extremely moody, and can be such a bitch sometimes, but she's mostly smart and funny and daring and you end up getting extremely attached to her despite her flaws. That's the greatest thing a writer can do. All the side characters are well developed as well. Chip "The Colonel", Pudge's roommate and friend, was a great partner in crime. He was hilarious. Some of the things he said had me cracking up.

Honestly, concerning the plot, with writing this amazing, he could've written about anything. It was one of those boarding school stories with a tragic spin that I will not reveal. It was all done so well. The pranks the kids came up with, the rule breaking. I seriously cannot stop raving. Just a warning though, there is swearing and some crude jokes. It didn't bother me, but I know that it bothers some, so just a heads up!
My favorite subplot that tied into the main plot was the religion classes. Dr. Hyde was so smart. "And in my classes, I will talk most of the time, and you will listen most of the time. Because you may be smart, but I've been smart longer." The things he said about finding meaning in life, and just everything else he said was so interesting and really resonated with me, more so than I expected.

And the labyrinth metaphor? Brilliant and so thought provoking. It had my mind running in circles throughout the entire book.

It's not life or death, the labyrinth. Suffering. Doing wrong and having wrong things happen to you. That's the problem. Bolivar was talking about the pain, not about the living or dying. How do you get out of the labyrinth of suffering?

I would give this book more than five stars if I could. For me, it was just that good. Epic writing, and quotes that will forever resonate with me trumps any flaws. This is going on my favorites shelf, for sure. I definitely recommend it to anyone!

Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta

Francesca is stuck at St. Sebastian's, a boys' school that pretends it's coed by giving the girls their own bathroom. Her only female companions are an ultra-feminist, a rumored slut, and an an impossibly dorky accordion player. The boys are no better, from Thomas who specializes in musical burping to Will, the perpetually frowning, smug moron that Francesca can't seem to stop thinking about.

Then there's Francesca's mother, who always thinks she knows what's best for Francesca—until she is suddenly stricken with acute depression, leaving Francesca lost, alone, and without an inkling who she really is. Simultaneously humorous, poignant, and impossible to put down, this is the story of a girl who must summon the strength to save her family, her social life and—hardest of all—herself.

Again, I find myself wondering how to write a review for this. Another amazing read by Melina Marchetta. Is there something in that Australian water over there that makes people incredible writers? Because I swear, every Aussie-written book that I've read has blown me away. (Maybe it just has to do with the fact that I have an Aussie accent in my head when I read them teehee.) This book is written beautifully. I am mad jealous of your writing skills, Marchetta. Now, plot wise, it wasn't AS GOOD as Jellicoe Road for me, but it was a simple story of a girl that left me satisfied.
Francesca was an amazing main character. So real. Sometimes, when I was reading, my breath would catch, because I just relate to Francesca so well. Who doesn't change themselves depending on who their friends are? We all do, at least a little bit. I know that I've missed opportunities in the past because the kids I was friends with at the time wouldn't have thought it was "cool." And there's also been girls who I could've been friends with but didn't bother getting to know well because of my group of friends. (Middle school was a bad time haha.) I hated Francesca's old group of friends. Why do girls feel the need to put people down, especially their so-called friends, to make themselves feel better? Melina does a fantastic job crafting high school friendships and how great or bad they can really be.
Mia, Francesca's mother, is suffering from acute depression. She used to be so outgoing, and now she doesn't leave the house, barely even getting out of bed. Marchetta handles this topic well, I think. And the family reactions were all very realistic. Luca, the little brother, was the scared one, Francesca was the I'm-so-worried-but-I'm-going-to-be-angry one, and the father, Robert, just had a hard time accepting it, convincing himself that things will get better. I felt for the guy, I really did. He loved Mia so much, and you could see as the book when on just how much it was tearing him.
There are so many side characters, now that I think about it. But they all had their place and their part, so it never felt overwhelming while I was reading it. There was Siobhan, Francesca's old best friend from Year 7 who she dumped when she got into the group of (evil) friends. There's Justine, who Francesca never really got to know well at her old school, Stella's, but they become best friends throughout the book. The their's Tara, the female activist protestor. Jimmy, who befriends Francesca and comes over her house to talk fantasy books with her mother, something that actually gets her out of bed. There's Thomas, the perv, but he's still a nice kid. And then there's Will, the boyfriend. You know, I love how Marchetta writes romance. She has a simple way of writing it really, no frills and melodrama. It's awesome.
I love getting a closer look at Australian life. How differently their school system works, the different slang and terminology, everything. So sorry, but being an Aussie author automatically makes you cooler than an American one, that's just how it goes. No, but seriously, this is an amazing read. I'm unable to get over the quotable quotes that show of Marchetta's skills

It's a weird smile, but it reaches his eyes and I bottle it. And I put it in my ammo pack that's kept right next to my soul and Justine's spirit and Siobham's hope and Tara's passions. Because if I'm going to wake up one morning and not be able to get out of bed, I'm going to need everything I've got to fight this disease that could be sleeping inside of me.
Another fantastic real read by the wonderful Melina Marchetta. Read it!

Life As A Writer-A Comic Strip

This is what happens when your friends get you hooked on BitStrips.

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Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green & David Levithan

One cold night, in a most unlikely corner of Chicago, two teens—both named Will Grayson—are about to cross paths. As their worlds collide and intertwine, the Will Graysons find their lives going in new and unexpected directions, building toward romantic turns-of-heart and the epic production of history’s most fabulous high school musical.
Hilarious, poignant, and deeply insightful, John Green and David Levithan’s collaborative novel is brimming with a double helping of the heart and humor that have won both them both legions of faithful fans.

I LOVED this book. It was nothing yet everything I expected at the same time. This was my first read by both John Green and David Levithan, but I will definitely be reading more from them. I can only assume that their own works are as fabulous as this collab.
So, imagine meeting someone who has the same name as you. Weird, right? Two Will Grayson's meet, and their lives intertwine and ultimately change for the better. Both Will Grayson's were so well written, each with their own unique voice (obviously, they were written by two different people.) But both Will's have similar issues. Straight Will wants to "shut up and not care about anything," and he's afraid of being with the girl he really likes at first. Gay Will is afraid that he's automatically going to screw up anything good that happens in his life.
Let's for a moment talk about how much I love Tiny. He was hysterical. It's ironic enough when this huge, 300lb football player is named Tiny. Then to top it off, his personality was so flamboyant, and he wrote a musical. He was the best part of the book for me. He made me laugh, but he also had these serious and meaningful things to say. He affected both Will Grayson's lives so much. These two Will Grayson stories became one BECAUSE of Tiny. By far one of the strongest side characters I've ever read.
I love love love both John Green and David Levithan's writing style. Both hilarious yet poignant at the same time. You know it's John Green when one of his character's calls someone a "pile of suck." LOL. i liked that to differentiate the two will grayson's, david levithan didn't use any capital letters in his chapters. And the way he set up his dialogue was unique as well. Everything about the writing was fantastic. So many quotable quotes, such as this one.
When things break, it's not the actual breaking that prevents them from getting back together again. It's because a little piece gets lost - the two remaining ends couldn't fit together even if they wanted to. The whole shape has changed.
The thing that I loved most about Will Grayson, Will Grayson is that above all, this is a story about friendship and acceptance. Yes, of course romance plays a big part. but it was never the main focus to me. There should be more stories out there that send out this message of friendship and learning how to be a better friend.
This book was certainly a pleasant surprise. I would recommend it to anyone.