Going Bovine by Libba Bray



Can Cameron find what he’s looking for?
All 16-year-old Cameron wants is to get through high school—and life in general—with a minimum of effort. It’s not a lot to ask. But that’s before he’s given some bad news: he’s sick and he’s going to die. Which totally sucks. Hope arrives in the winged form of Dulcie, a loopy punk angel/possible hallucination with a bad sugar habit. She tells Cam there is a cure—if he’s willing to go in search of it. With the help of a death-obsessed, video-gaming dwarf and a yard gnome, Cam sets off on the mother of all road trips through a twisted America into the heart of what matters most.


Wow. I don't even know what to say, except that this was one of the weirdest books I've ever read... and still I found myself immensely enjoying it. I've been seeing this book around the interwebz for a while now, so I finally decided to pick it up. And while it wasn't OMG I LOVE THIS BOOK for me, it's certainly a memorable read that I'm not likely to forget.
Hands down, the best thing about this book was the characterization. Cameron's voice was so distinct and and engaging right off the bat. His emotions and reactions to everything felt so real. And I LOVED Gonzo. He cracked me up with his germaphobenss. Too funny. And Balder was hysterical! Best freaking Lawn Gnome ever! And Dulcie rocked too. While the plot could be confusing and sometimes just downright bizarre, what made me kept on reading was how invested I got with these characters.
And I loved the whole road trip-ish setting! New Orleans && Disney World, with some pit stops in between. Win!
But the plot was just....bizarre. I was finding a lot of it hysterical, but sad in an ironic way because he's dying of mad cow disease. Mad. Freaking. Cow Disease. Who writes about that? The uniqueness is like through the roof with this book. I don't want to say too much about the plot so I don't spoil anything...but Cameron got really trippy. And while the scenes themselves were funny, I was more sad for him. What I did really like was how we got to see what Cameron was like BEFORE the disease and while it was just beginning to set in... it made the change he went through much more obvious. Though sometimes I did zone out during the narration or find myself skimming...
I really don't have much else to say, because I don't want to give the book away. But this story was nothing like what I expected. It was thought provoking and funny and made you question everything. With characterization as fantastic as it was, and a plot I GUARANTEE you've never seen before, this is definitely worth a read.






Welcome to Nerdfighteria

Folks, I am officially a Nerdfighter. Now, you may be wondering, what is a Nerdfighter? Well, to sum it up, Nerdfighters are made of awesome, and help decrease world suck.

My friend introduced me to the Vlogbrothers last month. John and Hank Green, two brothers who video blog back and forth as a means of keeping in touch. It began in 2007. And yes, I am referring to the author John Green, known for works such as Looking For Alaska, Paper Towns, and Will Grayson, Will Grayson.

Let's just say that I have wasted so much valuable time watching these videos. They're so addicting. They're witty and smart and funny and relevant. And just awesome. I prefer John's videos, for obvious reasons, the whole writing thing. But Hank is pretty cool too. He's the science nerd/songwriter.

This is the video that started it all:




And some more awesomeness.



And don't forget about the song Hank wrote about Deathly Hallows, THE BOOK.





Also, John is signing EVERY SINGLE PRE-ORDER of his upcoming book, The Fault in Our Stars. This video was just posted yesterday about the madness of him signed 150,000 preorders.




Warning, these videos can get incredibly addicting. You will be watching them for hours on end. But I love these guys. I love how they tell people it's cool to embrace your inner nerd, that being a nerd is a GOOD thing. So I just thought I'd do my part in spreading the awesome.

Check out their website here.

DFTBA (Don't forget to be awesome.)

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The Berlin Boxing Club by Robert Sharenow



Fourteen-year-old Karl Stern has never thought of himself as a Jew. But to the bullies at his school in Naziera Berlin, it doesn't matter that Karl has never set foot in a synagogue or that his family doesn't practice religion. Demoralized by relentless attacks on a heritage he doesn't accept as his own, Karl longs to prove his worth to everyone around him.
So when Max Schmeling, champion boxer and German national hero, makes a deal with Karl's father to give Karl boxing lessons, Karl sees it as the perfect chance to reinvent himself. A skilled cartoonist, Karl has never had an interest in boxing, but as Max becomes the mentor Karl never had, Karl soon finds both his boxing skills and his art flourishing.
But when Nazi violence against Jews escalates, Karl must take on a new role: protector of his family. Karl longs to ask his new mentor for help, but with Max's fame growing, he is forced to associate with Hitler and other Nazi elites, leaving Karl to wonder where his hero's sympathies truly lie. Can Karl balance his dream of boxing greatness with his obligation to keep his family out of harm's way?


I've been anxious to read The Berlin Boxing Club for a while. Any story that takes place during World War II has always interested me. While what went on was so appalling, it's also so intriguing and some of the hero stories that come out of it are so inspirational. This book is set in the 1930's, during pre-war Nazi Germany. Things were just beginning to get bad, the Nuremberg Laws having just been put in affect. Throughout the book, things just keep getting worse for the protagonist and his family. All the Jews get expelled from public school, they're evicted from their apartment. I know that these are the kind of things that went all, but reading about it still never ceases to appall me.
Karl Stern is fourteen-years-old when this book begins. With an atheist father and agnostic mother, religion never was a factor in his life. He didn't consider himself Jewish. He didn't even look Jewish--resembling his Danish grandfather. Being Jewish is more of a nuisance to him than anything else at first, because he still has Jewish blood, which makes the fact that his family is non-practicing irrelevant. He begins the book as a tall, lanky boy, weak and unable to defend himself. After a particularly bad beating by a few Hitler Youth, he gets taken under the wing of world renowned heavyweight, Max Schmeling, who is a friend of Karl's father. That begins the start of Karl's amazing transformation.
Watching Karl's transformation was the best part of the book. I loved watching him grow into a fantastic boxer. And it wasn't just the physical changes that Karl went through, but the mental and emotional ones as well. He learned to be fearless in the ring, and that translated into some amazing bravery outside the ring. The odds were never in Karl's favor, yet he was able to overcome so much. Also, besides the boxing, Karl was also an amazing cartoonist, and I loved getting to see his comic sketches throughout the book!
All the characterization was fantastic. Every character was distinct and believable, their actions portraying the time period perfectly. I loved Karl's relationship with his little sister, Hildy, and seeing Karl's respect for his father grow throughout the book as he learns more about him.
I found myself a little unsatisfying with the book's ending. It's not that it was a bad or sad ending... it just felt very abrupt to me. I just expected something more powerful than what I got, I guess.
And the writing in general never really wowed me. It's not that there was anything wrong with it necessarily... I think I just expected more deep and poignant narration based on the topic. Though I suppose it was told from the perspective of a fourteen-year-old boy, so how deep could it have been? But there were rare occasions where I paused from the wording. Despite this being a read I couldn't put down, I expected more out of the prose narration wise.
Overall, this was such a powerful book with such an important message. It's about finding strength in a time where the majority of the people succumbed to weakness.







Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott



Once upon a time, I was a little girl who disappeared.
Once upon a time, my name was not Alice.
Once upon a time, I didn’t know how lucky I was.
When Alice was ten, Ray took her away from her family, her friends her life. She learned to give up all power, to endure all pain. She waited for the nightmare to be over.
Now Alice is fifteen and Ray still has her, but he speaks more and more of her death. He does not know it is what she longs for. She does not know he has something more terrifying than death in mind for her.
This is Alice’s story. It is one you have never heard, and one you will never, ever forget.



Wow. This book was one of the scariest and most disturbing books I have ever read. I've never gotten freaked out by those crazy SciFi horror books. Ghosts and evil vamps and werewolves just don't do it for me. It's books like these, things that could happen in real life, that really get to me and freak me out. And while this was disturbing, I couldn't put it down.

The story is about Alice, a girl who is kidnapped at age 10 from an aquarium by a pedophile. But her name isn't really Alice, that's the name Ray gives her. Ray uses her and abuses her for five years, all the while telling her that he loves her and that she should be a good girl for him. He makes her wear clothes that are too small and only lets her eat yogurt because he wants her to stay young and like a little girl. Alice knows that as soon as she can't fit Ray's little girl mold he will get rid of her.

It was so, so sad, reading a story like this through the victims eyes. I could feel her fear, her hopelessness. She wanted to die, she was ready to die. She was even willing to find another girl for Ray to take just so it could be over for her. She describes herself as the living dead girl.

This was just so scary to me because these things do happen. It reminded me a lot of the Jaycee Dugard story in many ways. Young children do get abducted and are forced to do horrible, horrible things. And often times people don't even seem to notice.

It's not often that books are written on this topic, in this way. But Elizabeth Scott did it extremely well. My stomach was churning, my heart was thumping, and I was rooting for Alice.
This is certainly a story that will stay with me for a long, long time.






Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta



What do you want from me?" he asks. What I want from every person in my life, I want to tell him. More.

Abandoned by her mother on Jellicoe Road when she was eleven, Taylor Markham, now seventeen, is finally being confronted with her past. But as the reluctant leader of her boarding school dorm, there isn't a lot of time for introspection. And while Hannah, the closest adult Taylor has to family, has disappeared, Jonah Griggs is back in town, moody stares and all.

In this absorbing story by Melina Marchetta, nothing is as it seems and every clue leads to more questions as Taylor tries to work out the connection between her mother dumping her, Hannah finding her then and her sudden departure now, a mysterious stranger who once whispered something in her ear, a boy in her dreams, five kids who lived on Jellicoe Road eighteen years ago, and the maddening and magnetic Jonah Griggs, who knows her better than she thinks he does. If Taylor can put together the pieces of her past, she might just be able to change her future.



This is one of the most beautifully written books I've ever read. The prose is utterly breathtaking. Melina Marchetta's writing makes it too easy to get caught up in the words, caught up in the uniqueness of this beautiful story. It's heartbreaking yet wonderful at the same time. A rare combination. It's a book that's touched me in a way that few books have. One that literally makes my heart ache when I read some of it's passages. The plot line is so intricate and full of mystery and complexity. I cannot say enough good things about this book.

Taylor Markham is one of the most real main characters I've ever read. Her narration is raw and honest and just so real. At the beginning of the book she was broken and angry from all the betrayal she thought she endured. It seemed that everyone she loved abandoned her. Little by little she begins to learn the truth, and that changes everything she thought she know. Watching the change in Taylor from the beginning to the end of the book was amazing. While reading, I felt like I was solving every part of this mystery along with Taylor. I loved that she was strong-willed, yet confused, and all she wanted was to be loved.

Every single character was wonderful. They too were as complex as Taylor was and all had their own stories. Jonah Griggs was perfect for Taylor in a completely imperfect way. And though throughout the first half of the book the fight more than they get along, you easily get caught up in the romance that they claim isn't a romance and are rooting for Taylor and Jonah. Raffy is such a supportive best friend. Then there's Santangelo, The Brigadier, Hannah, Jessa. All these characters easily could've been real people. They were so well fleshed out and despite the extensive number of characters, not one of them felt unnecessarily

Now, the mystery of this story lies with Hannah's manuscript. A manuscript that tells the tragic story of Tate, Narnie, Webb, Fitz, and Jude. Taylor's been reading bits and pieces of this manuscript for ages, relishing in the story and the love that these characters had for each other. But it was not just a story. And for the purpose of not spoiling the story I will say no more. But let me say that it was these passages of the story that got to me the most. From the very first page of the prologue, I'm already shaken up and left breathless. These are the words that begin the story.


My father took one hundred and thirty two minutes to die.

I counted.

It happened on the Jellicoe Road. The prettiest road I’d ever seen, where trees made breezy canopies like a tunnel to Shangri-La. We were going to the ocean, hundreds of kilometres away, because I wanted to see the ocean and my father said that it was about time the four of us made that journey. I remember asking, “What’s the difference between a trip and a journey?” and my father said, “Narnie, my love, when we get there, you’ll understand,” and that was the last thing he ever said.

We heard her almost straight away. In the other car, wedged into ours so deep that you couldn’t tell where one began and the other ended. She told us her name was Tate and then she squeezed through the glass and the steel and climbed over her own dead – just to be with Webb and me; to give us her hand so we could clutch it with all our might. And then a kid called Fitz came riding by on a stolen bike and saved our lives.

Someone asked us later, “Didn’t you wonder why no one came across you sooner?”

Did I wonder?

When you see your parents zipped up in black body bags on the Jellicoe Road like they’re some kind of garbage, don’t you know?

Wonder dies.
Are you not already speechless? I was.

This book deals with many heavy topics such as death and loss, violence, substance abuse, and suicide. But the way it's written is unlike anything I've ever read. I just can't say enough how much I've fallen in love with this book. I read it for the first time two summers ago, and I can honestly say I got so much more out of it not than I did the first time around. It's just such a compelling story. One of the biggest MUST-READ's there is. There are an endless number of quotable passages, and I will end this review with one of my favorite passages from the book.


It's funny how you can forget everything except people loving you. Maybe that's why humans find it so hard getting over love affairs. It's not the pain they're getting over, it's the love.







I. Met. Sarah Dessen

What a fantastic week I had. I just got home for MASC Student Council camp. And I met Sarah Dessen. adlfjoeifjlkajfoiejaflkaejflkajflk!!!



**Luna Blu is actually the restaurant in WHTG that was inspired by the restaurant she originally worked at. Sorry for the minor fail. Four hours of sleep will do that....

I love this picture so much.


(PS I'm sorry my hair is a mess in the vid. It hit 104 here today. Madness. Haha)



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July 30th is...

Hi, everyone! Paige here from The 828! I’m honored that Marisa would invite me to guest post on her blog while she’s at camp! Thanks so much, Marisa!
Now, since Marisa’s blog is called The Writing Dancer, I figured I’d post something about dance for you all.



I know there’s a lot of dancers and performers here on Blogger so hopefully you will all enjoy this!

In America today, we have A TON of holidays, such as Christmas, Easter, Halloween, Mother’s Day, Father’s day, St. Patrick’s Day, Memorial Day, Earth Day, Independence day, Thanksgiving, and so much more.
Those are all popular holidays that many people celebrate. Then, there are the less popular ones…



Like for example Toothache Day on February 9th, National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day on April 2nd, Race your Mouse Day on August 28th, and even a National Pumpkin Cheesecake Day on October 21st.

There is one special holiday that deserves all our attention and participation...
National Dance Day on July 30th!

National Dance Day was created by So You Think You Can Dance’s executive producer and judge Nigel Lythgoe! (Which just happens to be my favorite show)

What is it exactly? National Dance Day was created to encourage the nation, young and old, to get up and move! Individuals, families, organizations and communities from across the nation come together through their creative expression of dance.
According to the SYTYCD blog, “D-Day” is meant to generate national awareness for dance. The day is also intended to promote health and wellness in our nation.

Events will include local celebrations at participating Six Flags parks across the country. There are three different routines you can learn if you’d like to go dance at a local Six Flags!











Can’t go to Six Flags but still want to participate? You can upload your dance to The National Dance Day Facebook page!


So choose a routine and get dancing! I know some of you are thinking,”Paige, I can’t dance!”


Yes you can! Everyone can dance! It’s about passion, and if you love it, you can do it! The dance videos are different levels also, so even if you've had no experience, you can still learn one!

Dancing is just so good for your body, and it’s fun! So get up and get dancing, everyone! Check out the SYTYCD Blog for more info on National Dance Day!

Thanks for reading, happy National Dance Day on July 30th!

Come visit me over at my blog The 828!







The One and Only Jelsa Mepsey: On Writer's Block

Lalala. I was asked to write a blog post. Hey guys, confession?

I don’t know how to write a blog post!

I’m supposed to write something about reading/writing/editing, so here goes! Here are my tips for writer’s block!

-Title trouble: Where you want to name your project, but you just don’t know how!

Tip #1:

Try not to use a character’s name in the title. Part of the fun in opening up a book is figuring out the main character’s name! What’s the fun in that if you give it straight up?

Tip #2:

If you don’t have a title in mind and you think you absolutely have to have one, guess what? You don’t. Keep writing. A title might restrict your writing to narrow-mindedly follow certain ideas. Write as much as you can before naming a project, or just give it a temporary one. Sometimes, you may like it enough to make it your actual one.

-General writer’s block trouble: Where you need to finish the story, but you don’t know how to.

Tip #1:

Read everything you’ve written so far. Thoroughly read it and refresh yourself of what has already been established. Move forward from there.

Tip #2:

If that doesn’t work, maybe one of your characters is causing a problem because you don’t know enough about him/her yet. Fill out a character chart for him/her. There are lots of them out there! Force yourself to fill out every single blank. Don’t hesitate. If you don’t know the answer, make one up. If you really have to, change it later. But if you can, fill the chart out and stick to it.

Tip #3:

This is actually the best one. Get in the shower. Forget everything else. Just take a nice, hot, long shower. Showers are the best places to come up with ideas. Usually, this is a great way to figure out how to continue with rising action, climax, and falling action business. If anything, it gives you a break and allows you time to think and release some stress, so it won’t harm you in any way to try this.

Tip #4:

Sometimes what you really need to cure writer’s block is a break from that particular project. Maybe not from writing itself, but sometimes it’s best to leave a story alone for a while. It could be a day, a week, a month, or even six months. It all depends on the story itself. Trust yourself to finish it eventually. Leave it somewhere where you’ll still see it once in a while, but don’t touch it. You might be surprised what you go through during that time and subconscious ideas that may come to you.

Tip #5:

Save this for last resort. If you really have absolutely no clue whatsoever as to what to do, find someone you trust and ask him/her to read everything you have so far and give you their opinion on what you should do next. Then find several other people and do the same. Maybe they’ll suggest something you like, maybe they won’t. But if they don’t suggest something you like, this might be a good time to figure out where you really want to go and to go with it.

In all honesty, no one can tell you how to write your story. Everyone has their own ways to overcome writer’s block. These are just little things you can do instead of throwing everything in the trash can like every writer wants to sometimes. Save everything, even the junk. You may get to use it someday!

Hoping this is of lots of use to you all,

Jelsa :)

http://jelsasjunk.blogspot.com

Goodbye Interwebz (Again)

Yet again, my friends, I am off. I'm heading to MASC Student Council Leadership Camp until Friday. I'm super excited, and anxious. The last leadership thing I went to, NYLSC, was amazing, so I'm hoping this will be just as great! Last time I knew no one who was going, but this time one of my really good friends is going too, so that'll be fun!

This camp is at a college. I'll get my first taste of dorm life, which will be interesting to see. I can't wait to meet new people, and see my friend who I haven't been able to see since school got out. And while I get those pre-leaving home jitters, I know that I'm going to have a blast once I'm there.

I have a couple fabulous guest posts lined up for you this week my friends. The one and only Jelsa Mepsey is guest posting tomorrow, and the lovely Paige from over at The 828 has a great post for you on Thursday! Be sure to check them out.

I'll be back on Friday, most likely in vlog form since that seemed to go really well. :D

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My First Vlog

I totally did this on a whim... I thought it would be fun.
Let me know what you think. Should I make this a weekly thing? Not necessarily always about books, just in general xD
People said they wanted to hear my voice... was it what you expected? I know I'm always way off in my head when I picture people's voices. Haha!





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Holy Wow... It's Been Two Years?

On July 16th, 2009 I decided I wanted to write a book. It was a decision that came out of nowhere. I'd always been an avid reader, so I thought "hey, why couldn't I do that?" The idea for Dancing Through Life came to me out of nowhere. (Though back then it was called Just Dance and the version now is WAYY different than the original.) I sat down at my then Toshiba laptop (which I killed from overuse, I believe) and began writing.

I haven't stopped since.

So in honor of my two year writing anniversary, as well as my 100th blog post (woo!) I thought it'd be cool (and amusing/embarrassing) to post the first chapter I ever wrote of Dancing Through Life. This was before grammar/tense mattered. Before inkpop or figment... before I even considered ever letting other people read this. Before I knew much about cliches, appropriate word count, descriptions, etc. And my knowledge of the writers market was zero. This is just from a 13 year old girl who wanted to write a story.

So I hope you enjoy. (And laugh while I'm cringing)

***

My name is Chloe Smith. The day I turned sixteen my life changed forever. As a child I couldn’t wait until the day I turned sixteen. I imagined myself cruising down the highway with my best friends, top down, music blasting. My dad promised that the day I turned sixteen he’d give me my first driving lesson. Boy do I wish he hadn’t.

My birthday came and went in a blur. When I woke up, excitement was all I could feel. I felt like I was going to burst. The day I was waiting to come for so long was finally here. I got out of bed and went downstairs where my mom and older sister Chelsea were downstairs making breakfast.

“Happy birthday Chloe!” my mom and Chelsea said in unison.

“Thanks,” I said, already smiling ear to ear.

“We made you your favorite, chocolate chip pancakes with whipped cream,” mom said.

“Yeah, we worked our asses off, so you better eat before it gets cold.” Chelsea announced.

“No, not yet, Dad went out to get you a coffee. Wait until he gets back.” mom says.

My mom never let me drink coffee. She claims that no good can come of someone addicted to caffeine. On the other hand, I loved coffee. Since the day I turned 13, practically every time we passed the local coffee shop, Crazy 4 Coffee. I would ask. After awhile she declared I could have coffee as a treat, only on birthdays and holidays. Although, that doesn’t mean that every time I’m with Mandy, my best friend since I was five, we don’t stop at Crazy 4 Coffee, for our regulars. Me, I always got an iced medium French vanilla, extra extra. Mandy always got a small mocha.

“Okay that’s cool,” I said, trying to hide my excitement. Apparently I failed though , because Chelsea then said. “You’re grinning like that just for a coffee? Wait until you see your present. Then at least you have a reason to get excited.”

“Shut up. Who cares if I’m happy? I’m finally sixteen!”

“Yes, you are, and honestly do you feel any different then you did yesterday, when you were still fifteen?”

Truthfully, I didn’t, but I knew I would soon, when I was out on the road with my dad, finally. So I just said “Yes, actually I do.”

“Whatever.” Chelsea is 18, and just graduated from high school. She thinks she knows everything. Of course it doesn’t help that she has been a straight A student since kindergarten. Or that she got a full scholarship to Harvard Law, where she is planning on eventually becoming a DA. Whatever. School was never really my strongest point. I’m not saying I’m stupid or anything, I pulled a solid B average in all my classes. Not that I don’t think school’s important. Of course it is, if you’re planning to be a doctor, or a lawyer, or a scientist, or something else to that effect. Seriously though, who needs to know the square root of pi, or Newton’s 3 Laws of Motion, to be what I want to be… a dancer.

I started dancing when I was three years old, and from the very first day I loved it. I loved the feeling of being free, not having a care in the world. All you need to worry about is keeping beat with the music and not missing a step. Even from a young age my parents and instructors saw the potential I had, so I started competing. I loved the sense of accomplishment I felt when I won, or made it to nationals. I felt like I finally found my purpose, something I was good at that my sister couldn’t take from me. She had her grades, I had dance.

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

When my dad got home we all ate down and had breakfast. I was too anxious wondering what Chelsea meant by “when you see your present at least you’ll have a reason to freak out,” to even enjoy it though.

“Can I please be excused?” I asked.

“Not until you finish those pancakes,” mom said.

“Come on pal, finish the breakfast, then we can get to the fun part of day,” he said grinning at me.

“Fine,” I complained. I finished every bite. Well at least Chelsea will be happy.

“Ready for presents?” my dad asked. You could hear the enthusiasm in his voice.

“Well it’s about time!” I said, laughing.

“Well first I got you this,” my dad said. He was holding a small white jewelry box. I took it out of his hand, and opened it. Inside was a silver necklace. On it was a small delicate ballet slipper. I didn’t hesitate to put it on right away.

“It’s beautiful. Thank you”

“You’re welcome. Come on your other presents from your mom and I is outside.”

“Outside?” what could it be? Surely it wouldn’t be car. I dismissed that thought quickly. No way, I couldn’t get my license for another six months. Sure enough, in the driveway way a brand new red Honda Civic.

“No way!!” I squealed. Words couldn’t even describe how I felt. Since I was turning sixteen, I kind of expected my parents to go overboard. When my sister turned sixteen, they sent her and her best friend Melissa to New York City for a weekend. But a car… and none the less my dream car, that was just crazy.

“Oh my god!!! Thank you thank you thank you!!!” I all but shrieked as I ran over to hug my parents.

“Ready to take it out pal?” my dad asked.

“Yes!!”

“Now Jim, can’t you wait a little later, we have the whole day for that,” my mom said in her stern voice.

“Nonsense Kathy, Chloe’s been waiting sixteen years for this,” dad replied.

“Fine, but I want you guys back within the hour,” mom said.

“Kayy… thank you so much!!!” I answered.

“No problem sweetie,” mom said.

I got in the car and everything felt surreal. The new car smell, the leather interior, it all felt like a dream. Dad taught me the basics a few weeks ago; all that was left was to get moving. So when my dad got in the passenger seat I adjusted the mirrors, put on my seatbelt, put the key in the ignition, put the car in drive, and off we were. I was finally doing what I’ve been waiting for all these years.

“Good job Chloe, you’re doing great,” my dad would say every now and then. Everything was just as I imagined. I would even say it was perfect. This was the best birthday ever and it was only going to get better from here. That was until the accident. The accident that changed my life.

***

Duh duh duh.... LOL.

Isn't it amazing how much we can grow as writers in such a short period of time?




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Love Story by Jennifer Echols

For Erin Blackwell, majoring in creative writing at the New York City
college of her dreams is more than a chance to fulfill her ambitions--it's her ticket away from the tragic memories that shadow her family's racehorse farm in Kentucky. But when she refuses to major in business and take over the farm herself someday, her grandmother gives Erin's college tuition and promised inheritance to their maddeningly handsome stable boy, Hunter Allen. Now Erin has to win an internship and work latenights at a coffee shop to make her own dreams a reality. She should despise Hunter . . . so why does he sneak into her thoughts as the hero of her latest writing assignment?

Then, on the day she's sharing that assignment with her class, Hunter walks in. He's joining her class. And after he reads about himself in her story, her private fantasies about him must be painfully clear. She only hopes to persuade him not to reveal her secret to everyone else. But Hunter devises his own creative revenge, writing sexy stories that drive the whole class wild with curiosity and fill Erin's heart with longing. Now she's not just imagining what might have been. She's writing a whole new ending for her romance with Hunter . . . except this story could come true.

I read LOVE STORY as an eARC through Simon and Shuster's Galley Grab program.
It's publication date is July 19, 2011.

This was my first Jennifer Echols read. Forget You and Going Too Far are both on my to-read list and I've heard great things about them. So when I saw this as an eGalley, I downloaded it immediately, knowing that I had to read it. And this book left me conflicted. Because it was good. I thoroughly enjoyed it, reading it in less then a day. But then it seemed like parts were missing, and the story as a whole felt incomplete.

First off, I loved that Erin was a writer. The fact that she was also in college made for another refreshing twist. It's not often that I read a book where the MC is a writer, and in some ways that makes her relatable right off the bat. Better yet, we actually got to read some of Erin's stories. The book starts out with a sexy historical fiction piece about a rich girl who's in love with the stable boy at her grandmother's horse farm. It's not much later that we learn this story is based on truth when the stable boy walks into Erin's creative writing class. Hunter stole Erin's heart--and her inheritance.

I have conflicted feelings about Hunter. Like, I wanted to fall in love with him. So bad. But I could never really figure him out. He was so polite, and smart, and well let's be honest, hot. And I could tell as the book progressed that he really cared about Erin. But then he'd be all sneaky and lying again, and then I was back to not knowing how how I felt about him. Honestly, I was just as confused as Erin was.

Back to Erin. I loved her in the beginning... how she wanted to be independent in trying to establish her writing career. How she worked so hard to pay for her college after her grandmother cut her off. Back as the book went on, Erin began to annoy me. I didn't understand her thought process at some points. She'd jump back and forth about her feelings for Hunter so quickly that it was hard to keep up. The love/hate relationship kept throwing me off... I was expecting more of a classic love story out of this book.

What I did really enjoy was the backstory that was usually told through Erin's and Hunter's short stories. For a good half of the book, I was like "where the heck are Erin's parents?" and then the explanation came in a very creative way. I liked when Erin went back to Kentucky for a weekend and spent time with her horse... though I was expected more out of that weekend to be honest.

The writing itself was really good. It was honest and there were some great moments. The narration was never boring. Though I may have been annoyed as hell with Erin at points, something about the story just made me keep reading. There were quite a few LOL moments thrown in, which I loved. The writing itself has compelled me to read more of Echols work. I loved her style.

Reading back on what I've written so far, I feel like I'm making mostly negative comments. But I did like this book. It truly had some GREAT moments in it, and once I started reading, despite my issues with the main character, they were really fleshed out and real. I couldn't stop reading. I did feel like these characters were real people. Annoying people, but real all the same.

What's stopping me from giving this book a four star "great read" status is the ending. It was way too abrupt. I wanted more of resolution. Instead I got nothing. It was one big dot dot dot....

Overall, I liked Love Story and am glad I read it. I think I just expected more out of it... but it's worth giving it a shot.







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Harry Potter: It All Ends on Friday


Who else is so incredibly excited for Friday? If you don't know what Friday is, well, do you live under a rock? Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II comes out! Then it'll all be over. I can't believe this incredible series in coming to an end in the movie world. I've already made plans with my best friend to go see it on Friday. And I know I'll be in tears when it's over.

Harry Potter is what started it all for me. I began the first book in 2nd grade, when I eight years old. Most kids where reading Charlotte's Web and Magic Tree House Books, and there I was, during silent reading getting absorbed into the world of Harry Potter. I swear, these books are what got me hooked on reading, and are the reason I'm still reading on such an insane rate today.

While this chapter of Harry Potter is ending, a new one is beginning. And that is called Pottermore. Only limited information has been released, but from what I gather it's meant to be an interactive book with exclusive information. It was also said that eBooks can be purchased (which doesn't make a difference to me, but I know it thrilled others.) It'll be very interesting to see what that site will bring.

All I know is BRING ON DEATHLY HALLOW II. Ahh, I'm so excited <3

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As You Can See, Book Reviews are Back!

I bet you all have noticed that book reviews are coming much more often with this new layout.
Of course I have to utilize that wonderful "reviews" tab, so this will now be a book review blog as well. I really do love reviewing books... I don't know why I've stopped. But yeah, book blog is just another thing I can consider this blog to be now :)

If there are any particular books you want me to review, please feel free to let me know!



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Clean by Amy Reed


Olivia, Kelly, Christopher, Jason, and Eva have one thing in common: They’re addicts. Addicts who have hit rock bottom and been stuck together in rehab to face their problems, face sobriety, and face themselves. None of them wants to be there. None of them wants to confront the truths about their pasts. But they’ll all have to deal with themselves and one another if they want to learn how to live. Because when you get that high, there’s nowhere to go but down, down, down.



I read CLEAN as an eARC through Simon & Schuster's Galley Grab program. It's publication date is August 8th, 2011.

CLEAN takes place in a teen rehab facility in Seattle, through the perspective of five teenagers dealing with different forms of substances abuse. It's many told through the perspective of two teens: Kelly, who's there for coke and alcohol abuse, and Christopher a meth addict. But in one way or another, we got to slip into the heads of the three other teens.

See, I'm really torn about this book. Parts of it were raw and real and emotional. Then there were parts where it just kind of got over-the-top and unbelievable. Most of the parents were all portrayed as really two dimensional in my eyes. And some of them were just so horrible, so one dimensionally mean, that I just couldn't believe it at some point. Only one parent, Eva's father who had lost his wife which sent him into his own depression, felt real to me.

The characters were all fleshed out, and I understood their motives. Everyone had this excessive baggage, stuff that'd be so hard to deal with. I just didn't connect to some of the characters as much as I would've liked to. I felt for Jason the most, just because his father was so, so horrible. I liked Kelly's narrative the best. Hers felt honest and real to me, and I feel like she grew the most out of everyone. Christopher's bored me at points. Of course he's the sheltered church boy, so what's to be expected? His chapters were these really long and rambling paragraphs that I'd find myself skimming at points just to get to the next part. Which, I guess that's what his character was. Boring. But it wasn't really good for holding a readers attention. I think the book would've benefited more if it was written between Kelly and Jason, because Jason interested me much more.

My favorite character was Shirley, the Group Councilor. She cracked me up! She wouldn't take anybody's shit, and I loved that. She has this acronym for the word fine that is "F-ed up, Insecure, Neurotic, and Emotional." I thought that was funny and clever on the author's part. But while she was tough, she really cared about those kids. She praised them when they deserved it, and ridiculed them when they screwed up. She really acted like the mother figure for those kids.

I found myself having issues with the language itself in this book. Now, I don't mind profanity and swearing at all in books, because teens do swear occasionally, so why censor this? But the swearing in this was excessive. That didn't even bother me too much, considering it was a book set at a rehab. What did start to bother me were some of the conversations that got so obscene, I actually cringed at points. It was only once or twice, but it just wasn't necessary in my opinion. So if you have a problem with profanity in books, this definitely isn't a read for you.

This book isn't about drugs. It's a book about the effect of drugs, and finally realizing you aren't alone no matter how much you feel it. There's always someone out there who understands what you're going through and wants to help. It's a powerful read, despite some of the issues I may have had with it. It's themes are similar to those of Impulse by Ellen Hopkins. If you like raw, honest narration, I'd say to give it a go. In the end, I'm glad I read this. It wasn't the most spectacular read, but it definitely makes you appreciate what you have.









Fixing Delilah by Sarah Ockler



Things in Delilah Hannaford's life have a tendency to fall apart.
She used to be a good student, but she can't seem to keep it together anymore. Her "boyfriend" isn't much of a boyfriend. And her mother refuses to discuss the fight that divided their family eight years ago. Falling apart, it seems, is a Hannaford tradition.
Over a summer of new friendships, unexpected romance, and moments that test the complex bonds between mothers and daughters, Delilah must face her family's painful past. Can even her most shattered relationships be pieced together again?
Rich with emotion, Sarah Ockler delivers a powerful story of family, love, and self-discovery.



This book took my breath away. What a beautiful story Sarah Ockler has pieced together, full of complex characters, beautiful prose, and interesting twists. I've heard nothing but great things about this book, but nevertheless, I wasn't expecting to love it as much as I did.

Ockler's writing style is just so incredible. She knows how to use words to make you think, to get you invested in the characters and the story, and to just resonate with you. There's paragraphs I read that really hit home at points. I'll shamefully admit that I am the type who sometimes skims long paragraphs of prose to get back to the dialogue, but I didn't do that once in this book. I thought the prose was the best part of the book.

Delilah was such a believable character, right down to the core. I loved how she wouldn't give up in her pursuit to learn about her past. And how by digging deeper into her family history, she learned more about herself. I loved her and Patrick's relationships, I'm such a sucker for best friend romances.

But what I loved most about book was the focus on the dysfunctional family, and how well it was handled. The romance was a nice subplot, but that's what it was. A subplot. The true core to this story was fixing a broken family, and that was just so refreshing to read. Especially watching Delilah and mother and how their relationship changes over the course of the summer. All she wants is for her and her mom to be close again. For her mom to be willing to talk. With all the YA that has parents who are absent for the most part, seeing a parent play a key role was so nice!

Honestly, if anyone else tackled a plot like this, I don't know what I'd think. Ockler's breathtaking, amazing writing is what made the book what it is. Her ability to flesh out character's and narrate as though she is Delilah is something I've seen in few authors. It makes for an incredible read.

What drew me to this book to begin with was the cover. It's gorgeous, and describes this book perfectly!

Fixing Delilah is a beautiful story about finding truth, mending a broken family, and finding unexpected love through it all. It's a quick read. I would turn the page, wanting more, only to find that it seemed to be over before I blinked. And it's a must read!







My Blog is All Shiny and New

Look at this layout! Isn't it amazing?
I have these insanely talented friends, Evie and Laura who made this brand stinking new layout for me in a day. I love it! The colors, the fonts! This new look is just what my blog needed. Along with the new look, as you can see there's a review page. Meaning I've decided to bring book reviews back on a more regular basis, so woo!

Let me know what you think! I love it too much for words! Thank you so much Evie and Laura!!

I'm just going to stare at my screen for a moment, thank you very much.


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Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins Review



Anna was looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. So she's less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris--until she meets Étienne St. Clair. Smart, charming, beautiful,Étienne has it all... including a serious girlfriend.

But in the City of Light, wishes have a way of coming true. Will a year of romantic near-misses end with their long-awaited French kiss? Stephanie Perkins keeps the romantic tension crackling and the attraction high in a debut guaranteed to make toes tingle and heart melt.


What can I say about this book? Well, as Anna would say,ohmyfreakinggod! This is another book that is being added to my all-time favorite contemporary fiction list. And it's pretty close to the top. Words can't describe how much I loved ANNA, but I'll do my best.

First off, the Paris setting. How gorgeous is that? I felt like I was in Paris myself while reading, and experiencing France through Anna. This book did an amazing job of making feel like you're in Paris without lots of info dumping about Paris... if that makes sense. I want to go to Parissobad now!

Anna is one of my favorite MCs. She's the kind of girl who can be your best friend, one everyone can relate to, I loved how her name was Anna Oliphant, so her best friend calls her banana elephant and collects said objects for her. I loved how she had a clear, distinct, quirky, and unique voice right off the bat, and that it never faded. I love how she loves to critique films. Anna is flawed, and she knows how to screw up for sure, but that's PERFECT because it's real. I also liked the bleached stripe in her hair, because what teenager hasn't done that/wanted to do that?

Then, there's Étienne St. Clair, the French/American with a swoon-worthy British accent. Talk about HOT. To most, he's known as St. Clair, but to Anna he becomes Étienne. And by God, I think I'm in love with St. Clair. I know I've said this before people, and that I go through many fictional boyfriends, but this is the real deal. The wake-up-and-are-still-thinking-about-him-throughout-the-next-day kind of love. Question: Where are all the St. Clairs in the world? I want one! Because he's perfectly imperfect. He's hot and funny, smart and a history geek, and just sooo sweet. But he's also an idiot for taking forever to see what was right in front of him! Again though, it makes him real. Another thing Perkins did that I loved for some reason was that she made St. Clair short. I don't think I've ever heard of a short male lead. It seems to be a pretty general thing in YA that guys are "tall". So go St. Clair for rocking the sexy shortness!

My God, I love him.

There were a lot of minor characters, and they were all handled extremely well. Every single character played a significant role. No one was simply just there. Each minor character had it's own mini subplot and a story of their own.

I just loved Perkins's writing style in general. It was so light and fun and HILARIOUS. So many times I found myself laughing out loud. There's this one character who emphasizes a word in every sentence. Too funny. One thing that annoyed me a tad was that THE CAPS WAS EXCESSIVE. After awhile it stopped bothering me so much, but there are other ways to emphasize. But that's really my only teeny weeny nitpick.

What else can I say about this book, apart from continuing to ramble on like a crazed fangirl? I freaking love this book so much. Honest to God, I'd give it 6/5 stars if I could. I don't know what I expected going it to this book... but it far exceeded ALL expectations.

Yes, it is THAT good.
Read it. Now.




Bermuda is:

Freaking gorgeous! What an amazing island. And such a fun week! I went on a Boston to Bermuda Cruise through Norwegian Cruise Line. Since it was straight out of Boston, no flying was involved, which was fantastic!
The Cruise part was awesome. Great food. Fun activities. And the entertainment was AMAZING. The production cast could've been on Broadway. They had a show called Bollywood and the dancing was incredible. A magician from Vgas had a show one night, and there was a comedian who was freaking hilarious.
Bermuda itself was amazing. The color of the water was beautiful. Though I feel kind of jipped when it comes to the pink sand beaches. I didn't see no pink sand beaches! We went to Horseshoe Bay, and the sand had tiny pink particles in it, but I was expecting legit pink sand.
But you wanna know what WAS pink? The buses:
See!
Incase you didn't know, Bermuda is British Territory. Meaning that the cars drove on the other side of the road. And the steering wheels are on the opposite side of the car. It's so weird! And those buses were crazy! Does Bermuda have a speed limit? There were so many sharp turns, I was convinced we were going to crash into something. And being on the other side of the road threw everything off too.
After it all, I got a sweet T-shirt that says "I Survived the Pink Bus."

As well as a pink bus piggy bank that totally matches my room xD.
But anyways, here are a few more pictures:
I'm a sucker for good scenery pictures.
Gorgeous, eh? I love that there houses are pink and teal and orange. So pretty!
Palm trees!
The wheel is on the wrong side of the car xP
The water is sparkling :D
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