Wednesday, 29 August 2012

The Summer I Turned Pretty (Summer #1)

Belly measures her life in summers. Everything good, everything magical happens between the months of June and August. Winters are simply a time to count the weeks until the next summer, a place away from the beach house, away from Susannah, and most importantly, away from Jeremiah and Conrad. They are the boys that Belly has known since her very first summer--they have been her brother figures, her crushes, and everything in between. But one summer, one terrible and wonderful summer, the more everything changes, the more it all ends up just the way it should have been all along. 

My Rating: <img src="URL HERE"> 
Who Recommended it to Me: no one in particular
Who I Would Recommend it to: Fans of Sarah Dessen and those who like light beach reads and realistic stories about regular girls and their lives.

My review:
Oh, the summer story.  The one that makes you smell the sand of the beach and the chlorine of the pool as you're reading it.  The one that reminds you how wonderfully awful summers can be.  I found it very like Sarah Dessen's books, or The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks.  A very quick fun easy enjoyable read, and I'd recommend it to those who are nostalgic about summer coming to a close but at the same time want a light read that you can finish in a matter of hours. 

The main character of this book is a 15-year-old girl named Isabel Conklin. Everyone calls her Belly. One of the things I found semi-annoying about this book was the girl's name -- "Belly". (Why am I reading so many books these days with girls who have bad names? I'm so confused.) The name Belly makes me think of a stomachache, or bellybutton rings, or the gross insides of people's stomachs.  Yes, this is disgusting, but can I help what I think? No I can't. So I'm just gonna tell you the truth.  Belly lives every summer with her mom, brother, and close family friends, Susannah and her two sons, Conrad and Jeremiah (again with the names; Jeremiah makes me think of the Bible for some weird unknown reason). They spend their days mostly hanging out at the pool, swimming, and just hanging out in general.  It sounds pretty fun, I have to admit.  

I'm not really sure how to make this into a formal review, so I'm just going to list things I liked and things I didn't like below. 
Things I Liked:
- The feel of the story.  Like I said in the first paragraph, I liked the way you could smell the sand and chlorine and have that feeling you get in the summertime just by reading a sentence of it. 
- The characters. Despite their names, they're really honest and well-figured out.  They seem like people you'd meet on the street or even people you'd be friends with. 
- Cam. I hated that she broke up with him and went for Conrad instead. I loved Cam, thought he was so sweet and that Belly was a total jerk to him. 
- Jeremiah. Thought he was great and funny.

Things I Didn't Like:
- How I could read it in a day.  I like to take my time while reading books but this one I just had no choice but to tear through.  After I read it I didn't really feel anything. 
- Conrad.  He was a jerk jerk jerk jerk idiot idiot idiot idiot! He was messed-up and annoying and I could say a loot of other things but I don't wanna get in trouble for writing them so I won't:)
- The names, as I already mentioned.  They were annoying. 

I would recommend this book to anyone who likes Sarah Dessen and Nicholas Spark's The Last Song. I liked Sarah Dessen's books a lot better than I liked this book (they are some of my favorite books) but the writing and feel is exactly the same, so I think that if you're a Sarah Desen fan you might enjoy this as well.  I also wouldn't recommend this book to boys, or to people who think that you shouldn't just go around reading light reads.  It's definitely a light book and definitely a beach read, but thats what I sorta liked about it.  

So if you're going to buy it, I say sit back and enjoy.  Read it, appreciate it, review it, and all the necessary ingredients to reading a book.  Happy reading:)


Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Clockwork Princess Teasers!!

If you're a Cassandra Clare fan then you definitely know that everyone's going crazy for the upcoming novel--Clockwork Princess-- to be released March 19, 2013! I know I'm very excited about it! I don't know if this really matters or not, but if you haven't read the first two books, you might not want to read the teasers just because there might be some minor spoilers in them.

I've decided to feature a few teasers every couple of weeks from this book until it comes out.  I might be a little unpredictable because I have no idea when I'm going to have time to post once school starts, but I'm going to try and post them as much as I can! I found these teasers from TMI Source so if you're interested in hearing more, stay tuned to my blog or check out this website! If you have a Goodreads account you can also check out some of the discussions about teasers on there. Sooo... I'll stop blabbering away and get to the part you all want to hear--the teasers.

Today I'm going to feature four of them, analyze them, and them leave your comments! thank you for reading them.

Teaser #1: Jem knotted his fingers in the material of Will’s sleeve. “You are my parabatai,” he said. “You said once I could ask anything of you.”
Analysis: This seems to mean that Will and Jem are struggling somehow with their friendship. And I have a feeling it's about Tessa, one way or the other.  Maybe Tessa decides that she is fit for Will, not Jem, and decides to break off her engagement, which starts drama between the parabatai? 

Teaser #2: And the gold of her ruined wedding dress.
Analysis: Someone, or something, has gotten in the way of Jem's and Tessa's marriage. Obviously, someone's wedding dress is ruined, and we're almost sure it's Tessa's, but how can we be sure? Something happens in a wedding of someone (probably Tessa and Jem) and causes this to happen. 

Teaser #3: Tessa put a hand against the wall as she made her way numbly down the stairs. What had she almost done? What had she nearly told Will? 
Analysis: For me, this means that she's nearly told Will something that she would never forgive herself for, or something extremely dangerous that could get her in trouble later. 

Teaser #4: “You are not really dying,” Will said, the oddest tone to his voice, “are you?”
Analysis: To me this means that Jem is well and probably not going to die.  But it also means that Jem might have told a big lie sometime in the first books. 

Reading these teasers makes me want the book even more, doesn't it you? I know I'm really excited for the book to come out and even more excited to find out what happens to Will, Tessa, and Jem! Happy reading :)


Monday, 27 August 2012

The Beauty of Food

If you know me in person, you definitely know that I'm well-known for my notoriously picky eating habits. I have the same thing every day--for breakfast, either maple and brown sugar oatmeal (which I will only eat if it's bought in Canada), or chocolate-chip pancakes.  For lunch, an English muffin, toasted, with melted peanut butter; and for dinner--well, this differs, but my favorites are spaghetti parmesan, ravioli (I love Italian food), risotto, with favorite sides being: green beans, wild rice, asparagus, strawberries, melon (watermelon is my favorite!), and a lot of other fruits and vegetables.  In terms of multicultural foods, my favorite is Italian, but I also like Chinese, Japanese, and Mexican. But those are pretty much the only foods I will eat. 

As I watched my sister and mom cook this summer, their meals were always beautiful.  Israeli cous-cous, risotto cakes, zucchini and cinnamon muffins (they sound disgusting but are actually worth living for), lemon cake with chocolate frosting, etc.  You name it, my sister will cook it.  I don't eat half of the food they serve, but I always wish that I liked it because it's always served in a beautiful way.  Some of it I eat--I love the zucchini and cinnamon muffins and lemon cake with chocolate frosting, and a lot of other foods they have served over the summer.  I think my favorite of the summer were store-bought cinnamon buns, which are TO DIE FOR.  The Canadian food is so much better than the American food!

Seeing all this beautiful food made me realize something--that nature is beautiful. Because we wouldn't have food without nature.  Look at those juicy red strawberries and shining blackberries in the picture above.  They show us that this is our Earth, and we must appreciate it by enjoying all the lovely things it has to offer.

If you want a better way to enjoy eating rather than just gobbling it up, then follow the directions to this simple exercise I read about in a magazine.  Serve someone a simple but healthy food, such as berries and cream, or carrots and hummus.  Walk them through eating it, telling them to taste each bite verrryyy slowly, and to admire the texture and taste of what they're eating.  Make sure that they're eating it slowly! The point of this exercise is to eat slowly and carefully. Don't rush through eating that piece of chocolate cake, or even those mushy vegetables.  Just eat it, soak it all in, relax, and you'll actually find yourself enjoying it.  The next time you eat, think of this.

It may seem really weird at first (it did for me!) and you might not like it because you just want to eat your food fast so you can be over with eating.  But try it, it really works.  And you don't have to do it all the time.  So relax, take deep breaths, and enjoy the wonders of nature. ♥.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

The Selection (The Selection #1)

For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in the palace and compete for the heart of the gorgeous Prince Maxon.

But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn't want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she's made for herself- and realizes that the life she's always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.

My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Who Recommended it to Me: No one. I was drawn to it by its cover (as usual).
Who I'd Recommend it To: A girl, probably age 12-15, who wants a YA princess book :)

My review:
Oh, the inevitable beautiful cover! I mean, would you just look at that? It arrived in the mail and all I could think was, "Gorgeous." I couldn't wait to read it.  I even read slowly on purpose so that I could be reading it for a long time.  And when I was done with it, I put it on my bookshelf and admired how good it looked there, right in the center of the top row. 
    But The Selection is definitely not a perfect book. But I loved it. That's really all I can say as to whether I liked it or not.  I loved it! It was awesome, the story line was crystal clear and interesting, and I liked the way the ending left me craving the next book.  I only have a few complaints about this book.  No book can be perfect, of course. 
   First I'll start with what I liked about the book. One, the cover.  Yes, this is not important at all but I thought I'd mention it nonetheless because that's something I liked about it.  Two, the idea for the story. I really liked this idea of the Illea place and the idea of getting "Selected".  These kinds of books are awesome to me, and I liked the feel of it being girly and fun to read.  It wasn't very challenging, and it was kinda a beach read, but that's sort of what I liked about it.  I liked stepping into the world of luxurious dinner parties, flowing gowns, and hot baths for a few days. Every time I picked it up I soaked each word in, admiring the way that Kiera Cass told the story. 
  Now I'll say what I didn't like.  I didn't like America, the main character.  If you haven't read this book, yes you saw right--her name is America. Like the country, or continent or whatever. 
  I have a question for all of you: Which one does not belong out of the following?
North America. South America. Central America. United States of America. America Singer. 
   Yep, you guessed it. America Singer does not belong with the four others.  While her first name was what bothered me the most, her last name was weird too! Especially since she was a singer.  Who in their right mind names their book character America Singer? If you're gonna write a book, lady, at least make your character's name pretty/cool/interesting/anything but America Singer! Now, on the plus side (literally, I'm forcing myself to see the plus side of her name right now), I did realize halfway through the book that her name had a meaning in the book, which made it a teensy bit better for me.  But every single time I saw A-M-E-R-I-C-A printed on the page, I felt like throwing the book across the room. Why, Kiera Cass? Why? Why not Sophia or Eleanor or Camille or Taylor or Samantha or ANYTHING BUT AMERICA!!! Maybe this is me overreacting but I really didn't like that part of the book. 
   Another thing that annoyed me about the book was America herself. She was selfish, stuck-up, and extremely ungrateful.  I know I was meant to feel bad for her because she was apparently starving at the beginning of the book, but I honestly (and I'm telling you the truth, the full truth, and nothing but the truth) did not have a single ounce of pity within me.  All I was thinking was, "So what?" which I know is really awful but can I help what I feel? No, I can't. 
  So these are my complaints and what I liked about the book. Yes, there seem to be more things that I didn't like, but all in all I really loved the book. It was awesome, really. Except for those two annoyances.  Now, here's something I'm still trying to figure out about the book:
  It reminded me a lot of The Hunger Games. 
  I can literally see your eyebrows knitting together in confusion, or concern for my wellbeing.  Yes, I'm comparing a yearly game show-type event where children try to murder each other to an occasional event where 35 girls bat their eyelashes at a stiff-rich prince. Call me crazy, but I'm going to explain to you why I think it's like THG. 

   - The premise.  Rags-to-riches.  Both Katniss and America (not like I'm putting them in the same breath, of course, because Katniss is just waaaay better than America its not even worth explaining) are poor and starving before they get Selected or reaped for THG.  Well, at least semi-rich in America's case, since I don't know what happens to her in The Elite yet. 
  - The idea of being "Selected" and "reaped". Same diff. 
  - Even minor things, such as interviews and costumes! Sound familiar? 
  - Illea and Panem.  Similar kind of thing, right? Well, not really, but can you see what I'm trying to say?

Do you get it? Sort of? I'm not sure what I think about that, but I know that I'm going to try to write a conclusion to what I thought about this book, even though this might be prettttyyy hard: The Selection was a really good book.  I liked it a lot.  It had faults, as all books do.  I'd recommend it to certain people but not others.  I suggest you read it if you are interested in what I liked about it.  Please, if you're going to read this book and want to, I don't want to stop you, so overlook my complaints and read the book if you feel interested! I have to say, I was inspired by the writing.  A really good approach to writing the book! So read it if you like.  And have fun reading it--reading it's sort of like curling up in a bubble bath with steam swirling around you, or like getting a French manicure in the summertime. :) (I'm trying to be poetic here.)


Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Shine by Lauren Myracle

When her best guy friend falls victim to a vicious hate crime, sixteen-year-old Cat sets out to discover who in her small town did it. Richly atmospheric, this daring mystery mines the secrets of a tightly knit Southern community and examines the strength of will it takes to go against everyone you know in the name of justice.

Against a backdrop of poverty, clannishness, drugs, and intolerance, Myracle has crafted a harrowing coming-of-age tale couched in a deeply intelligent mystery. Smart, fearless, and compassionate, this is an unforgettable work from a beloved author.

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Who Recommended it to Me: No one in particular. I like this author though so that's why i picked it up in the first place. 
Who I Would Recommend it to: everyone who wants a mystery that is haunting and will give them the chills. Probably ages 13 and up, unless you're a mature reader. 

My review:
There is rarely a time when I don't close a book after I'm finished with it.  Usually I close the book, think about it for a minute, and then move on to a different book. But this book--well, let's just say it was different. I left the book open and let all of its 350 pages blow back and forth in the wind coming from the open window to my room.  This book is positively mind-blowing and I couldn't help but think that it was pure awesomeness when I reading it. I suggest you read it too! 

First of all I love the whole girl detective, murder-mystery type books. Although this book doesn't really fit into the same category as Ally Carter's books (Gallagher Girls, Heist Society) or Nancy Drew, even, for that matter, it had a similar feel.  Watching as the reader as Cat wove the strands of the story together to create a couple different suspicions was fun, interesting, and most of all, spine-chilling. I love books like that! Some people don't understand my love for chilling mysteries, but I just can't get enough of them. This book was fabulous!

Reading this book made me marvel at how ignorant people can be, how stupid. I know that everyone makes mistakes, but as Cat talked to each person, it was an amazing realization that hit me--that people are just so ignorant and stupid twenty four hours a day, myself and the ones I love included! And Cat was definitely not a flawless heroine--she had her ups and downs throughout the book and that's what I love about her.  Lauren Myracle has hit her readers hard with the realization that no one is perfect, actually, we're all the definition of imperfect. All of us are stupid, selfish, ignorant, awful people. :) (Don't take that the wrong way. I only mean sometimes we are.)

Next, Cat. I looovvved her! She was awesome-sauce. Not only did she stand up for herself and those she loved, she was dedicated and didn't let what others think stand in the way of her goal--to uncover the mystery of what happened to Patrick.  Patrick's her friend who she hasn't talked to in three years, but still she cares deeply about his future, which I think is the mark of a true friend.  And Jason! Holy fricking god, I loved him from the start, even when he called Cat a non-repeatable name in the library and half the time he was swearing at himself and dropping the F-bomb, but that was just what I loved about him. I added a status update on Goodreads that said, "I kind of feel bad for college boy, even though that's awful..." and I looked back on it and laughed because trusting your instincts on books is the best thing you can do. 

You should be warned, though, that this is not like Lauren Myracle's other books. Not even close to the Internet Girls or even The Winnie Years. I was expecting it to be more like those, but they were completely different books, which I like. I hate it when all of authors books are the exact same thing. Myracle has branched out a bit, and I love that! This book is YA, but it's less on the "Y" side and a little bit more on the "A" side, even though I think 13-year-olds and up could read it.  I'm not even 13 yet so there were moments when I was like, "Oo-kay, I really shouldn't be reading about some of this stuff," but really and truly, this book was awesome!

so if you are a) a mature preteen, b) a book crazy teenager, c) a mystery-loving person, or d) looking for a YA book that'll give you the biggest case of chills possible, then go out RIGHT THIS MINUTE and buy this book! Or get it from the library like I did! Because this book is just totally, totally, totally awesome and I can't think of another word for it! <3 Happy reading to y'all!*

*I'm not Southern. i live in the Mid-Atlantic. That's just how the characters in Shine talk to each other :)

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Post Policy!

Well since school's almost back in session, I suppose I should say a bit about how I'm going to manage this blog when school starts.  In these couple weeks before it does, I will post as often as possible (probably once every two days, or if I'm not busy, once a day). During the school year, I will try to post on weekends and whatever days I have free on weekdays. So that's when you can expect posts from me. Just thought i'd let you know :) Happy rest of the summer!

Monday, 20 August 2012

Designing A Cute Blog is Not For the Faint of Heart

To be honest I didn't think I would ever figure out how to make my blog look cute and interesting. Maybe it doesn't to some people but to be honest I like the way my blog is looking these days.  When I first started my blog I looked around at other people's blogs I found and was in awe of their perfection and beauty (ha-ha). I didn't think I would ever be able to make mine look as cute as theirs did! I had a Wordpress blog before I made this one and I didn't know you could make your blog look pretty and cute, so I just stuck with the boring old template they gave me and dealt with it. Then when I looked at the Blogspot blogs, I said, "I need to make one! They're so cute!" SO, I made my blog and spent long hours on the computer trying to figure out how to do this, how to switch this color, font, etc. etc. At first I had no idea what a "gadget" was, so it helped to know what that was. And I found some really good blogging websites that showed you how to make your blog pretty. If you're interested I would recommend The Cutest Blog On The Block and Makin' Cute Blogs because those two were the most helpful to me!

But still, I'm definitely not the expert blogger (far from it, in fact) so if you want some real experts don't listen to me. I'm just telling you guys about my experience slowly trying to put together a blog.  Some people say making a blog is easy. Yes, making a blog is easy. But making a CUTE blog is not not not not easy. My sister told me countless times that I needed to get off the computer and I sat there about to have a fistfight with the screen because I couldn't figure out how to do something. I admit it, I did ask for help from other bloggers and they were nice enough to give me it.  Although, I was probably annoying them out of their minds!

Let me give all of you new bloggers some advice: Go to other blogs for inspiration. (But don't copy them completely.) And if you want to know a basic way to adjust your fonts, colors, etc., go to Design in the top left corner of your blog (you must be signed in to do this), click on "Customise" underneath the mini blog example, and then click on Advanced and there you go! It took me longer than it should have for me to figure that one out, so finally my blog looked pretty (yay!).

A quick note on the websites above: They offer freebies such as backgrounds, banners, templates the list goes on. I'd recommend the Cutest Blog on the Block's backgrounds. They're super adorable.  Makin' Cute Blogs gives you some good advice and step by step tips on how to do things, which was also very helpful. And guys, don't get too intimidated by HTML--I was at first then I discovered that there was no need to! :)

So whether you're a new blogger and looking for some words of wisdom as to how to make a cute/fun blog, or if you're an old blogger in need of a new and interesting twist to your bare-bones blog, check out these websites. They rock! Good luck! :D

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Short Story: A Rose By Any Other Name Is Still A Rose

Hi everyone! This is a short story I just cranked out today and it's the first draft.  I'd really like some feedback on it, whether you're a published writer or not.  I've never written a short story before, so my first attempt might be pretty brutal and/or a total fail, so yeah.  I'm still a little concerned with the ending.  I want to know if there's any point to it or if it's just stupid. Please give me some feedback--not only positive comments but also things I could work on.  i'd really, really appreciate that. thank you. :)

The Story:
My eyes fixed on the creamy pink rose in front of me, I let my eyelashes flutter closed and will my mind to think.  My fingers just barely touch the silky petals, and it is so silent that it felt loud, like I was at a party where all the voices blended together into one steady hum.  Next, I can hear the water bubbling underneath the rose, and the world bursts into a colorful maze of pinks, creams, light reds, and even hints of lavender. When I open my eyes, the colors disappear and in their place was the rose, just that one rose, looking simple and quaint, much unlike the worlds it produced.  Again, I will myself to think.
      Not now. It was getting late.  Soon, dinner would be ready and I wouldn't have time to wish for anything before dinner. Someone would surely find me and declare me a psychopath, which I don't think would be saying something entirely wrong.  I held off with the urge to think.
      Thinking.  It was an odd concept.  Every woman and every man in the entire world was thinking something, and yet people talk about people who don't think wisely as if they don't think at all.  It always baffled me a bit, because when my mother declared that my brother didn't "think" after going skateboarding on the highway when he'd never touched a skateboard before, I had told her confusedly, "Of course he thought. He just wasn't thinking well." I suppose it's all a bit confusing to someone who's reading this, but you don't have to read it if you don't understand it.
    My sister, Delphine, comes into the room at that moment. "Camilla, dinner's ready." I blink one more time to adjust my eyes to the normal world, nodded at Delphine, and scampered down the stairs a few minutes later, my mind still swirling with the maze of rosy colors. I thought to myself if anyone in my family had the same power as me, if it could even be classified as "power".  I'd never told anyone about what I could do--to wish for anything I'd like and it would come true, after those rushes of colors.
   My power--or, I guess I'll call it "gift" for now--has its limits.  I can't wish for anything otherworldly, or weird, like for my dog to know how to talk or something ridiculous like that.  Strange wishes such as that are childish, anyway.  I would never wish for that, because it would be a little creepy if my dog could talk, let's be honest.  I can wish for things that normal people could get any day (if they were extremely lucky). The wish has the power to make my parents to believe that they have let me have this particular thing, so that they are not shocked when I bring home, say, a large sum of money. It always makes me laugh to see them in this state, even though I know it's awful of me.
   Dinner passes by in a blur, as things always do after I make a wish--or even if I don't, just let the power of the rose sink in.  I can distantly hear my younger brother, Henry, talking about school that day, but I don't really pay attention to what he was says.
   Delphine is almost exactly a year older than I am, which means she's fourteen. We've always been civil to each other but not very close.  We've never fought but we also don't do sisterly things, such as paint our nails together or have a sister's day out, like some sisters.  I've never understood why we don't connect much, because we're very similar, in terms of our manners.  We're both very quiet and don't speak often. We even look alike--the same honey blond hair, small mouths, porcelain complexion, and sea-blue eyes. Though I guess we are very different--I can wish off a rose and she can't. Not that I know this for a fact, but I'm almost positive it's true.  I'm sure I'm the only one in my family with this really weird power.
   After dinner, as I'm walking up the stairs, I catch a glimpse of Delphine sitting at her desk, mumbling something, which isn't rare--she talks to herself quite a bit more than normal people do.  But when I see her eyes fluttering open and closed, and her hand positioned midway through the air, my heart stops beating.  And that's when I see the rose.
   This rose is purple, but not a deep, harsh purple.  A beautiful lavender, almost as beautiful as my immortal pink rose. The door is open just a crack, so I stand there silently (I hope silently!) and watch her as she sits in the same position I do every time I make a wish.  My heart turns two times inside my chest.  I feel as if I might faint, or hurl, or both.  I can't make my mouth say words. Finally, I manage, "Delphine?" in a half-whisper, but she hears me.
   Whirling around, her eyes look bright but terrified.  "Yes?" she says as casually as she can, trying to hide the rose behind her back, but I can still see a few petals peeking out.
   "You're--the rose--wish?" I manage, and she understands what I'm saying.
   "How do you know?" she whispers, her eyes still dreamy and wistful, no doubt from the wish she just made. But her mouth is fixed in a frown, as if she's not sure what to make of this situation.  I'm not, either, so I can hardly blame her.
   I let my breath out and explain.  Explain that we have the same power and that I never knew where I got it, just stumbled upon it one day when I was six or seven or eight. And that I had no idea that she had the power too and that I wondered if our other siblings had it too.  She's just nodding her head this entire time, backwards in her rolling chair to her desk, her eyes not looking at me, but at the floor.  Even though she's not looking at me, I can tell she's hanging on to every word I'm saying.
  "Yes," she finally says when I'm finished explaining. "I did suspect someone else in this world had the same power as I did.  But I never thought it would be you." I'm not sure whether I'm offended or not at the last part of her speech.
   "Well, I thought I was the only one in the world," I say, and there's the first moment of silence where we reflect on what we've just learned about each other.
   "Oh, I'm so glad someone knows," she finally says.  "It's always been a weight on my shoulders and now I feel like it's gone. You too?"
    "Yes," I agree. How can I not agree? She is perfectly right.
    As Delphine and I sit there, sisters who have never connected before, I begin to realize something.  Sisterhood is a strange thing.  Yet it is a wonderful thing.  Sisters have more in common than they realize.  Although this story has no conflict, and it's technically no story, both of us realize the power of our power.  And though no one has confirmed it, we KNOW are the only two in the world with this gift--not only the gift of wishing, but also the gift of being sisters.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Jacob Have I Loved

"With wry humor, Sara Louise recalls her turbulent adolescence on Rass Island and her intense jealousy of her own twin sister. Strength of characterization and memorable external and internal action mark this superbly crafted novel as a quest for self-knowledge."--1991 Newbery Committee (ALA). Newbery Medal; ALA Notable Children's Book; ALA Best Book for Young Adults.

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Who Recommended it to me: my Sister
Who I would recommend it to: every young girl.

I'm so impressed with this book. Sara Louise is one of those rare, spectacular REAL characters, with real thoughts and real reactions. Katherine Paterson is a beautiful writer and I have loved all of her books. This one, I think, is my favorite along with Lyddie . It made me think a lot about, in a word, sisterhood .

Caroline is beautiful, smart, talented, and many more things. She has a lovely singing voice and has always been the prettier, more intellectual, more popular sister. Though Louise's parents claim they love their twin daughters equally, it is evident that they favor Caroline. Louise is just there. Not a minute's worry, as the book says. She's like a shadow. There, but hardly noticeable. Louise has known all along that Caroline will be the successful one. She'll be a singer. An actress. A dancer. And yet Louise doesn't know what she'll do with herself. She aspires to be a doctor, yet she knows it won't happen in the back of her mind, because Caroline's career is more important than Louise's. 

In plain words, this book was a very sad book. I don't cry when I read books (usually), but this book gave me a very sad feeling, like I'd lost something, even though it ended happily, her life joyful and sort of how she wanted it to turn out. The edges of her life are still rounded, but it's a start. Though happy, it is very sad. 

Five stars for Jacob Have I Loved. Amazing, heartfelt, and all around fantastic. It doesn't surprise me that this book won the Newbery Medal.

Goals for the 2012-2013 School Year!

I've been thinking a lot about what I want to achieve in and out of school this year.  Not only for books, reading, and blogs, but for a lot of other things too.  Each year before the upcoming school year, I make a list of 14 things I wanted to achieve in the school year.  I completed 13/14 of my goals for 6th grade (the one I didn't achieve was playing tennis 3 times a week--i just didn't have time to do that). and I'm determined to set goals I can achieve this year, not easily but still believable.  After much thinking, here are my 14 goals:

Annie's Goals for the upcoming year:
1. Do well on the field hockey team and play midfield.
2. Get High Honors in school.
3. Work hard in ballet class--especially in the winter when I'm not playing any other sport.
4. Practice piano for 10-15 minutes a day, depending on how much time I have.
5.  Complete all my homework each night.
6. Make new friends and be nice to everyone
7. Update my blog at least twice a week
8.  Read a book every couple of weeks
9. Continue writing my fiction story
10.  Finish 7th grade successfully
11. listen to my parents when they say i should do something
12.  Email my sister once a week.
13. Eat healthier--less chocolate and more vegetables!
14. Go for 2 or 3 mile runs in the winter.

Even though most of you don't really care what my goals are, this is just a place to keep track of them and not lose them and have them in one convenient location. thanks and wish me luck for this year! :) haha

New Design?

Day after day I looked at my blog and thought it looked kind of boring. Compared to all the other cool blogs I visited daily, mine looked drab and same-old, same-old, so I wanted something different... and this is what I came up with.  I think I'll probably make a few other changes in the future but for now this is what my blog's going to look like.  I'm not sure about it...the other design had that sweet, innocent, cute look and this one looks a little more aggressive-toned. Do you like it? Does it fit the tone of my blog? Please let me know because I would love to hear if you like it or not. I just wanted to say that was the biggest livesaver ever! They offer really really cute backgrounds (hence the name of the website) and they are so helpful! so if you're ever in need of a cute blog background, I'd recommend going to that website :)

Anyway--just thought I'd tell you guys so that you werent totally confused when you went on my blog! if you'd like to leave me a quick note about what you think about the new design i would love to hear it. thank you for visiting my blog!

Summer's Almost Over...

Heheeheh...flip-flops. The greatest things ever made. 
So, summer's almost over.  School will begin in a couple weeks, there's already a different feeling in the air, and I'm not on vacation anymore  - __ - I can't decide whether I'm happy summer's over or sad it's over.  Yeah, I know, weird thought.  Most people are so sad that summer is over but I'm the kind of person who likes to DO things and sometimes summer gets a little on the boring side and all I do is read, swim, update my blog, and play tennis and field hockey.  I like to go to school. I admit it.  There's something incredibly exciting about Pre-Algebra, don't you think? (Nope, I'm not being sarcastic.  I actually LIKE Pre-Algebra, weird as it seems.)  But also there's something incredibly SAD about summer being over. No more beach days.  No more awesome sleepaway field hockey camps.  And worst of all, no more flip-flops!!!! Not only are flip-flops against the dress code, they won't be in season anymore.  When school ends, I'm more excited about wearing flip-flops than going to the beach.  Yes, it's weird. And yes, I am a weird person.
    But flip-flops aren't the point of this post even though I love them more than I can tell you. The point is I've had an interesting but good summer.  I've gone to music festivals, seen friends, spent time with my sister before her crazy excursion across the world this year, grown my hair long, painted my fingernails obsessively, read more books than any other summer, made a blog, spent probably too many hours on the computer, argued with my mom, gotten school supplies, eaten a lot of watermelon and caramel-y candy bars that are only found in Canada (Caramilks), watched the Olympics, turned 12 and three quarters, listened to music that I normally wouldn't listen to, and a lottt of other things.
  I love my blog and having a place to rant about random things, review books, and just write, write, write.  Everyone has given me so much inspiration and even though I don't have that many followers my now 35 followers mean the world to me and I think I would have given up without them supporting me and commenting on my posts.  Yes, this is the part where the blogger gets teary but I'm just not that kind of person.  I just wanna say thanks, and that's it.
   While I'm really excited for the upcoming school year, I have to be honest and say that I'm a little scared.  Being a 7th grader and starting a new school--how will that work out for me? Good? Bad? Somewhere in between? Will I start on the field hockey team? What about the tennis team? Am I gonna make friends easily? Am I going to have ANY time to read and write posts? :O Am I going to really miss my sister badly? A lot of things are running through my mind right now.  Don't get me wrong. I'm pretty excited about everything. But there are also minor worries.
   Enough of that, though! School year, here I come!!!!!

Monday, 13 August 2012

Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen

When Elizabeth Bennet first meets eligible bachelor Fitzwilliam Darcy, she thinks him arrogant and conceited; he is indifferent to her good looks and lively mind. When she later discovers that Darcy has involved himself in the troubled relationship between his friend Bingley and her beloved sister Jane, she is determined to dislike him more than ever. In the sparkling comedy of manners that follows, Jane Austen shows the folly of judging by first impressions and superbly evokes the friendships, gossip and snobberies of provincial middle-class life

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Who Recommended it to Me: Sister, mom...the list goes on.
Who I would Recommend it to: Anyone, especially young girls and women, who want to appreciate a good work of exceptional literature.

My review:

I knew that after reading this book that Jane Austen was an amazing woman. Her voice in the novel is clear and full of beauty, her characters vivid, bright, and so completely and utterly real. Her critics think that it's a joke that it should be considered one of the greatest works of literature of all time and that endless scenes of dinner parties and dances are unimportant, but I thought it was one of the most beautiful things I've ever read. Jane Austen herself is one of the few authors I've read books by, that has such a heart and voice as she writes and articulates the story line. Elizabeth Bennet is an imperfect and completely fallible character, as each heroine in a good book must be. When I first read the book, at age 10, I was charmed by Elizabeth and thought she was wonderful. After further consideration, which included talking to my sister, I concluded that while it may seem at first glance that Elizabeth has good judgement, she ended up judging a book by its cover (figuratively). She and many others thought Mr. Darcy an awful-spirited man before they got a chance to know his true nature. The beauty of the articulation Jane Austen explores of that classic theme leaves me in awe of the structure of the story. 

It was one of the first classics that I read and each time I reread it, so far only twice, has been unforgettable and better each time. My parents are literature freaks, bibliophiles and lovers of literature and beauty in books, as are my siblings as they grow older. My mom always tells stories about high schoolers looking at the book with disgust before reading it and its wonders. My brother and sister are English teachers, even. While I sit at the place of the youngest in my family, I always watched them read Shakespeare, Austen, Tolstoy, Charlotte Bronte, and other works of literature, I always felt a deep wanting to read those books too. Finally, after much begging, my mom agreed to let me read Pride & Prejudice and Emma, and I reading those books just days within each other, I fell in love with Jane Austen's writing. With Elizabeth Bennet and her bad judgement, with all literature. This summer I even read half of the masterpiece Anna Karenina (Leo Tolstoy) and then realized it was too much to manage, finish, and comprehend. But I sincerely loved it. I love Shakespeare--everything including A Midsummer Night's Dream, Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, and everything in between. I read my first Shakespeare play at the age of seven or eight and Jane Eyre at the age of 11. 

Though classic literature might seem tiresome and tedious, and this might seem like an overly poetic analysis, I think everyone just has to sit and think a little bit about what they read, like I did after reading Pride & Prejudice. If you shut a book, get up and do something immediately after, then you know that the book had no meaning to it. Good literature should be slowly savored and carefully thought about, in my opinion, and that's how you know what's a good book and what's not. Good books make my mind hurt. Pride & Prejudice made my brain ache when I was thinking about it–but in a good way. 

If you haven't read this book, then I suggest you read it now. Buy it at a bookstore. Dig up your parents' old copy, if they ever read it. Do whatever it takes to read this book. Sit down in a quiet place, take a deep breath, and let the words sink into your mind.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Versatile Blogger Award!!

So I won an award!  I'm proud to be a Versatile Blogger!

First things first-- I would like to thank lovely Sydney from  Her blog is awesome so you should totally check it out. :)

Here are the rules to it:
~Nominate 15 fellow bloggers.
~Let the nominated bloggers know that they have been nominated for this award.
~Share 7 random facts about yourself.
~Thank the blogger who has nominated you.
~Add the Versatile Blogger Award picture to your post.

7 Facts About Me:
1. I am 5'3" tall
2. I want to be a journalist when I'm older
3. I play field hockey midfield or attack 
4.  I'm ambidextrous which means I can do things with both my left and my right hand. 
5. I have a very mild case of lexical synesthesia. but it is so mild i hardly notice it. 
6. I live in the most boring town in the entire United States of America
7.  I have two adorable black Labrador retrievers who I love to death. 

1. The World Revolves Around Books
2. The Random Ranterer
3. Creating A Story

As you can see there are only 3 bloggers I've nominated...but I hope that's ok that I only nominated 3 because those were the only3 I could find & I don't even know if they have won the award already or not.  Sorry if you already have, guys! 

Again, thank you Sydney for nominating me :)

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Camilla (Camilla #1)

One is the loneliest number...
15-year-old Camilla Dickinson has led a sheltered life with her architect father and stunningly beautiful mother.  But suddenly, the security she's always known vanishes as her parents' marriage begins to crumble--and Camilla is caught in the middle.  Then she meets Frank, her best friend's brother, and he's someone she can really talk to about life, death, God, and her dream of becoming an astronomer.  As Camilla and Frank roam the streets of New York City together, lost in conversation, and he introduces her to people who are so different from anyone she has met before, he opens her eyes to worlds beyond her own, almost as if he were a telescope helping her to see the stars.  But will Camilla's first love be all she hopes, or will Frank just add more heartbreak to her life?

"A thought-provoking story about a young girl's first romance, her devastation over her own parents' marital problems, and the growth of her own sense of self is back in print and should find a wide audience among old and new L'Engle fans. Perceptive and timely." - Booklist

My Rating: More than 5 stars
Who Recommended it to Me: No one really.  I like Madeleine L'Engle and her book A Wrinkle in Time so I was pleased to find that she had written other books.  So i picked up this book because of the author, not the story or plot. 
Who I Would Recommend it To: everyone should read this book. 

My review:
The book Camilla by Madeleine L'Engle is truly amazing.  There is so much meaning packed into 247 pages. I think Camilla Dickinson could be one of my favorite female protagonists of all time.  I loved this book so much.  I read it for the first time in August 2011 and was looking through my bookshelf and decided to reread this.  I'm so glad I did.  I loved it the first time of course but this time it was soo much better, I can hardly explain it.
   I was surprised that this book was written such a long time ago--the middle of the 20th century.  It seemed modern in some ways but very old-fashioned in others.  The way that Camilla talked to her friends was definitely not the way that modern girls talk to their friends.  Everything was more polite and subdued with these girls, and even though they were their complete selves around their friends, they seemed completely different in some aspects.  But I didn't think much of this until I saw the publication date, which was 1951.  And in fact I didn't know there was a sequel until just a minute ago as I was looking at the page on
   This book taught me a lot and brought up interesting views on love, life, God, struggle, and a lot of other things that have always left me pondering.  Like Camilla, I believe in God but not the kind of god that other Pres-Byterians believe in. This book shows the struggles of an average girl whose parents are struggling to keep their marriage intact and the way her best friends' parents were having the same.  I think the reason that Camilla and Frank bonded so much was that they were going through similar struggles; just as Camilla and Luisa (her best friend, Frank's sister) bonded. Unlike a lot of teenage couples, Camilla and Frank actually had some meaning to their relationship and talked about things that were important, intelligent, and thoughtful.  A lot of times, Twilight for example, the boy and the girl say things to each other like, "Oh, I can't live without you, Edward! You're my life!" which is just stupid and makes me want to hurl.
   If you want to read Camilla, you should know that this is a good book for when you're feeling sad and feel bad for yourself and want to read a sad, feel-bad-for-yourself book.  A lot of times when people are sad they want a pick-me-up, overly happy book, but I know a lot of times when I feel mad or sad or something in that realm I want a book that will make me even sadder, and though I didn't cry, this book made me want to cry a few times.  I loved this book, though.  More than 5 stars for Madeleine L'Engle.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Gymnastics: painful-looking hairstyles, success, failure, ups, and downs.

Yes, I am fully aware that this is a book blog made by the one and only me, BUT BUT BUT it's my blog right? I can do whatever I want with it.  So I'm making Leopard Kitty books mainly a book blog but also a blog for random thoughts I have.  And how can I not post about the Summer Olympics? They're the big thing that's going on right now so I just have to make a few comments on them.
   To be specific, I'm talking about women's gymnastics.  As some of you may know, the women's gymnastics concluded last night with the individual beam and floor exercises. Warning: I'm going to be annoying and like NBC for a moment.  If you don't want to know the results for whatever reason of the gymnastics, read no further.  Also you can't get mad at me for spoiling it for you because I am warning you this very second :) Jordyn Wieber, age 17, ended her Olympics with yet another mistake on the floor, when she stepped out of bounds, just like at the Olympic trials.  But team captain Aly Raisman, 18, won an unexpected bronze and a well-deserved gold, as you know (probably!).
    Team USA went through their ups and downs through the Olympics--everyone went crazy happy for Gabby Douglas when she won the all-around gold, and for Aly Raisman when she won the floor exercise gold, but then there were the disappointing facts of McKayla Maroney, who messed up on the vault, and Jordyn of course.
Despite all the disappointments Team USA went through in the 2012 Olympics, generally they seem to be pretty optimistic about their careers.  After McKayla, 16, messed up at the vault after her near-perfect performance just days before, she tweeted, "Disappointed on how today turned out, but everything happens for a reason!! #noregrets.. Plus, the silver metal is actually pretty sick!!"    After endless criticisms of Gabby Douglas's hair, Gabby (age 16) eventually had a sense of humor about it, saying that it was ridiculous but funny that people should criticize her hair, seeing as she had just won a gold metal.  Typical of people, right? To immediately find something to comment negatively on after a huge success?  People criticized Gabby's hair because they thought it didn't look "natural"--that she should rock a style such as curls. Very true--her hair isn't natural, BUT seeing as Gabby's a gymnast, it's essential for her hair to be the least of her issues as she's flipping around, whether it be on the uneven bars, the beam, or really whatever she's doing.
   Speaking of gymnastics hairstyles, I can't help but think that those hairstyles look unbearably painful. Unlike critics, I have no problem with the way that they style their hair other than the fact that it looks as if their eyes are about to pop out of their heads because it's so tight.  I completely understand the need for hair to be out of your way if you're a serious gymnast (well, even non-serious gymasts!) but doesn't it hurt? If you're a gymnast can you tell me if it does or doesn't? I'm a pretty serious dancer and though I know that there might be less movement ( at least constant movement)  in dance I feel no need to tie my hair so darn tightly!! It just looks utterly painful.  Especially Aliya Mustafina's hair (see above picture).
   So after that brief paragraph about gymnast hairstyles, I'm going to talk more about critics.  People criticize McKayla Maroney because they think that she's a brat, or too sarcastic-looking, that she always has a grim and superior expression on her face, and whatever other people want to say about her.  I personally just laugh at these people.  I think that athletes need to be intense about their work so I have no complaints about McKayla's attitude.  I actually kind of love her attitude.  When she puts on that "game face" it doesn't look like anything can stop her and that's what I like about her.  When she walked out before her mess-up on the vault, even then she had a smirk on her face and her nose was slightly turned up.  While some people look at that behavior as "bratty", I think it's actually pretty awesome.
  So, what do you think about all of this? Gymnast hair? McKayla's "snobby" attitude? Jordyn's disappointing Olympics? Aly's success? I'd love to hear your comments. :)

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Daughter of Smoke and Bone (Daughter of Smoke and Bone, #1)


Around the world, black hand prints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil's supply of human teeth grows dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war. 

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she's prone to disappearing on mysterious "errands"; she speaks many languages—not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she's about to find out.

When one of the strangers—beautiful, haunted Akiva—fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself? 

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Who Recommended it to Me: No one in particular.  I saw it at a  bookstore and had heard good things about it in general and it looked good so I bought it. 
Who I Would Recommend it To: People who like the weird stuff.  This book is also for people who are looking for something completely different than the average Young Adult Book. 

My review:
Most reviews go from beginning to end.  Most everything goes from beginning to end, in fact. And yet, in this review I'm going to start with the end and work my way up to the beginning. 
     The end of this book positively blew me away.  It was stunning. Spectacular.  A piece of very valuable writing, almost.  Laini Taylor should be incredibly proud of herself.  The plot of this book is a masterpiece, and it was simply breathtaking. Laini Taylor is amazing at describing things.  You have to be very descriptive and very creative to write this book, and it's apparent that she applies to both.  
   So this isn't exactly the end of the book but more like three quarters of the way through, there is a big chunk of the book devoted to Madrigal.  I was surprised that it was my favorite part of the book.  I liked Karou a lot but there was something about Madrigal that was very interesting to me.  Although, technically *spoiler alert* they're the same girl :) For some reason that I don't know I just really liked reading about her.  And I wasn't expecting that because I was really enjoying reading about Karou and her several languages and blue-not-dyed hair and her mysterious tattoos.  
  While I appreciated both Madrigal and Karou, I did not, however, appreciate Akiva.  I like fictional heros to have a little bit of a personality. To me he seemed really wimpy and annoying all through the book.  I almost like boys better when they are sarcastic or stubborn with a sweet inside.  Akiva just seemed way too perfect, as did Karou and Madrigal which is my only complaint on them.  Along with a lot of other things that was something I didn't like about Akiva. 
   There were a few parts in the middle of the book when I said to myself, "Why am I reading this? I'm deathly bored and I'm skipping whole paragraphs at a time" (I had to go back and reread some of it because I missed important parts). But as I always try to do with books, I kept going and ended up really enjoying the book when I got to the part about Madrigal.  I expected to be skimming through that part to but to my own surprise I was hanging on to every single word and was proud of myself for doing that.  I think it taught me something about reading: stick with a book because while books might have their slow parts, they might get better.  This one definitely did. 
  The only other complaint I have about this book are the names.  I like that Karou means "hope" and a lot of the other names have special meanings and stuff, but to me they just seemed obnoxious (or as I almost always say without thinking, "obnoxtch"). Karou seemed like it should be a guy's name and Akiva seems like it should be a girl's name.  Sometimes names in books bother me and this was one of them.  I did like the name Madrigal though; it fit her. 
  Now to the beginning of the book.  I liked the way it started out, with Karou flipping through her sketchbook with her friend Zuzana (who I absolutely loved! She was hysterical! Probably my favorite character).  It helped me not get confused later in the book. 
  So if you're asking whether I would recommend this book to you, I would say "yes" because this is something definitely worth reading, a literal masterpiece.  Two thumbs-up for Laini Taylor!