The Weekly Debate (16): On Teenagers & Love

So I'm partially digressing from the traditional format of asking an outright question, but I think it's better this way. I ramble on, rant my thoughts, and at the end, find what I was really trying to ask. A type of self-discovery, as you may say. (Just like I do with all my English essays, sigh.)

On to the topic at hand, I've been bringing up Fanfiction and Fictionpress in my posts. Before sitting down and typing this post today, I just wasted a few hours on Inkpop. And I actually mean wasted, because that's how I feel right now. Not wasted time as in time I should have spent doing homework and studying for AP's -- as true as that may be -- but as in those stories weren't worth my time. That sounds unbelievably cold-hearted (especially because it's not true; everyone spends time on their stories and that in itself warrants appreciation), but that's the way I feel after most of these user-posted stories I read, quite a few of which I read halfway then dropped. I'm not saying this feeling occurs exclusively when I read user-submitted stories, as it definitely does happen when I read some other published books, but my recent overdose in these communities has me realizing my problem.

unknown source

Yes, I term it as a "problem," with "it" referring to my reading preferences. I'm a hopeless romantic in every sense of the phrase, and can never resist a story's enticing whisper of romance, whether it be: angsty and grief-ridden type, "cutesy high school" and idealistic, or intense and reminiscent of Bella-Edward. I can never resist an unique dystopian plot. I can never resist a intricate fantasy. And so the list goes on-and-on. But if I'm honest to myself, when reading YA I need romance. Which is incredibly sad, but true.

First, to clarify: Am I trying to imply that YA is shallower than adult books and, thus, I need romance to tide me over? A most resounding no. For me, YA and adult books serve different purposes; they focus on different aspects of relationships, life, etc.. A YA book about rape and an adult book about the same subject have equal potential to be equally gritty and moving. I strongly believe that any flaws stem from author execution, and it makes me sad that some people will write off YA because they think it's "fluff" and "for kids." Then why do I feel a greater need for romance in YA? I often turn to YA for escapism, as it often is more idealistic and relatable to my teenage mind, and since I'm a huge, huge romantic, romance is part of that escapist mentality.

(Dear writers,)

Why do I end up disappointed? If you ask that question, I'd like to ask in return: Why did you make your characters so stupid, ignorant, [other negative attributes that are teen cliches]? And on a tangent: Why is the romance so idealistic? I am so freaking tired of stories where characters taking a couple APs are geniuses. I'm tired of girls being hot-and-cold and with a never-ending supply of insecurity. I'm tired of girls who throw themselves pathetically over guys after one "true love," aka "true lust," glimpse. I'm tired of when characters continue to hold that Edward ideal, like Platonic Idealism. What's more, I get pissed when that "mousy nerd girl" gets with the "football captain hottie" and still thinks she's not worthy of him. I know I sound like a hypocrite when I say I also like YA because it's idealistic, but god. With someone so insecure, for instance, I don't see that relationship lasting a year, let alone a lifetime.

Yet I can't help myself from reading these books because of the romance. I can usually tell in the first chapter whether I'll like the characters, but the plot is just too damn good to give up. I read a few chapters, reach my breaking point, and the rest of the book is either a battle of wills (if I like the characters enough to want some closure for them) or simply never read. It's like self-torture, but I can't stop.

Ultimately, I pick up a book because of plot, I put it down because of characters. If you're writing about teens, they're generally as smart as you and me plus some volatile hormones (cue the rebelliousness, occasional immaturity, et al). As for high school, there are no gleaming locker banks and spotless courtyards. High school right now is a cruel place, regardless of cliques. Yes, there are teens that get high then go to class, but that's about a few to a few hundred. A much larger number are extremely competitive, back-stabbing, boyfriend-stealing "nerds" that happen to also dress well and like to party. Most teens know that high school is a competition, whether academically or romantically, and it shows. And yeah, I'm also referring to that girl in my AP Macro/Microeconomics class who enjoys parading her UPenn sweater and bitches all the time -- but she does wear cute skirts.

From Taylor Swift's Love Story

Whew, okay, just felt the need to rant. Some questions I have:

·         What’s wrong with the bus? In Maryland, we’re required to take Driver Ed classes if we want to get a permit before 18. I have friends who either don’t have the time or don’t have the money to pay for class, let alone a car. A lot of people at my school don’t drive, or else we’d be seriously lacking in parking spaces.

·         I don’t want high school love to seem like the be-all-end-all, because in almost all cases, it’s not. I’ve sworn off dating until college because it’s just a huge hassle. But how can authors make high school love seem realistic, without the characters seeming pessimistic? What justifies having a high school romance, considering all the statistics that go against you? Talk about ruining the mood: “I love you! But, you know, this relationship will probably end in 4 months and 3 days when I go off to college. We can try long-distance, but there’s a 4.32% chance that it’ll work out.

·         What makes you want to read a book? Continue reading it?

As an additional note, I'm sorry my Weekly Debates can't decide what they want to be: a question, a debate, a discussion, a rant... gah. Oh, and using my superior teen knowledge (and inspired by a cute author on Fictionpress), I declare that you burn .0000001 calories by pushing the comment button. ;)

Waiting on Wednesday (2)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine.

I have not read a single Stacey Jay book. An outrage, I know. I've heard great things, I'm just not much of a zombie fan, sorry. But I just may be able to remedy my void of Stacey Jay with her two awesome, upcoming books (links to goodreads):

Juliet Immortal - Releases on September 13th

"These violent delights have violent ends
And in their triumph die, like fire and powder,
Which as they kiss consume."
—Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

The most tragic love story in history . . .

Juliet Capulet didn't take her own life. She was murdered by the person she trusted most, her new husband, Romeo Montague, a sacrifice made to ensure his own immortality. But what Romeo didn't anticipate was that Juliet would be granted eternity, as well, and would become an agent for the Ambassadors of Light. For 700 years, she's fought Romeo for the souls of true lovers, struggling to preserve romantic love and the lives of the innocent. Until the day she meets someone she's forbidden to love, and Romeo, oh Romeo, will do everything in his power to destroy that love. 

Have I said before that I love books based off Shakespeare's plays? Because I do. I really, really do. And Juliet Immortal seems to satiate my Shakespeare-hunger, with an unique twist on the age-old tale of the two starstruck lovers we all know and love. Well, mostly. Romeo and Juliet have always come off as a bit too melodramatic for me, so I'm glad that it sounds like Juliet actually has a backbone; despite betrayal, she continues working for this ideal love that she never had. You go, girl.

As for the cover, it seems to complement the plot perfectly, from the colors to the title text. Very romantic yet with a sense of tragedy and foreboding from the tumultuous waves. Hm, what can I say? "Romeo and Juliet, the greatest love story ever told, is a lie."

Dead on the Delta - Releases on May 31st

Once upon a time, fairies were the stuff of bedtime stories and sweet dreams. Then came the mutations, and the dreams became nightmares. Mosquito-size fairies now indulge their taste for human blood—and for most humans, a fairy bite means insanity or death.

Luckily, Annabelle Lee isn’t most humans. The hard-drinking, smart-mouthed, bicycle-riding redhead is immune to fairy venom, and able to do the dirty work most humans can’t. Including helping law enforcement— and Cane Cooper, the bayou’s sexiest detective—collect evidence when a body is discovered outside the fairy-proof barricades of her Louisiana town.

But Annabelle isn’t equipped to deal with the murder of a sixyear- old girl or a former lover-turned-FBI snob taking an interest in the case. Suddenly her already bumpy relationship with Cane turns even rockier, and even the most trust-worthy friends become suspects. Annabelle’s life is imploding: between relationship drama, a heartbreaking murder investigation, Breeze-crazed drug runners, and a few too many rum and Cokes, Annabelle is a woman on the run—from her past, toward her future, and into the arms of a darkness waiting just for her. . . .

Stacey Jay has a warning on her site before the info on Dead on the Delta: "(May not be appropriate for younger readers. Parental discretion advised. Author recommends 16 and over.)" Clue in for an grittier, action-packed read? I certainly hope so.

Fairy's are always awesome in my book, as are kick-ass redheads. Overall, Dead on the Delta seems a tad dark, a smidgen violent, and a whole lot of bad boy romance. *gives the pass on the criteria for good paranormal romance* I'm not crazy about the cover though...

What are you waiting for this fine Wednesday? :)

$5 GC Winner!

First, thanks to everyone for participating! I loved reading your answers and will definitely have to slowly-but-surely listen to each and every one. My sincerest apologies to anyone's innocent ears upon which I unwittingly set the horror that is Rebecca Black.

After using to pick out the winner, I had my younger, 12-year old sister look over your responses with me (cue: fun, fun times on youtube), and so I present to you our very, very bias reader choices:

DISCLAIMER: We are HUGE Panic! at the Disco fans.

Chloe said:
Loving all of Panic! at the Disco's new album... but especially Nearly Witches (Ever Since We Met) :) Thanks for the contest!

Elise said:
Panic! AT The Disco - The Ballad of Mona Lisa Is Awesome! That is my favorite song for the day.

AND I wanted to let you know about another fabulous song, just for you to check out when you have time, Pink - Perfect.

Lea (YA Book Queen) said:
Hmm, I guess I'll be the minority and pick a comedic song....Today, I'm loving "Ching Chong! Asians in the Library Song (Response to UCLA's Alexandra Wallace)" because it's amusing, catchy, and well sung...and it's totally a kickass response to such a horribly rude and ignorant video.

If you haven't heard of that UCLA video, which my IB Chemistry so kindly played for the entire class on the projector early last week, it is astoundingly stupid and, and... I don't even know how to describe it. It's appalling and a bit funny, but the greatness lies in the responses, as Lea points out. And if you haven't listened to Panic! at the Disco before, please do yourself a favor and press that little arrow button on the video at the bottom of this post.

But I know I've been building up the suspense for long enough, so without further ado, the winner is...

Audrey (Commenter #17)

Congrats, Audrey! I'll email you ASAP with your prize. :)

Thanks again to everyone, and hope you found it as fun as I did! The good thing about me failing to post is that I guilt trip myself into impromptu contests...

The Saturday Network (29)

WHAT IS THE SATURDAY NETWORK? The Saturday Network is meant to be a quick, easy way for you to network your blog and, more specifically, get comments! All you have to do is comment on the previous blog and, in return, you're guaranteed a comment by the next participant. We all love comments, right? :)

I also randomly feature a Saturday Networker every week, and it could be you!


Technically, The Sunday Network. But semantics, semantics.

Today's featured blogger is Emily (TSN#5) from What Book Is That?, with her spot-on caption: "The question people ask when they see you reading in public." She recently celebrated 600 followers, so drop on over to say a "congrats!" :)

To Participate:
1. Submit your blog in this format:

Blog Name - Child/MG/YA/Adult/ALL (genres(s) you review)
Blog link to post
 ie. Books At Midnight - YA/MG
2. Head to the blog listed before yours and comment on his/her linked post. Thoughtful comments are appreciated, but if you really can't think of anything to say, feel free to just drop a line and say "hi!"
3. That's it! I encourage you to visit more blogs and I hope you find a blog to enjoy! :)

Commenting System Preference? & Notes

 Edit// Javascript totally screws my layout over. Poll is now on sidebar, and I'll take it off in a few days.

A.S. Enter the contest for a $5 GC! :D

A.A.S. Sorry, I fail. I really do. I don't know where my head is these days, but I thought IMM was today and The Saturday Network tomorrow. So, I'll be switching the two around, and TSN will be tomorrow. The sad thing is, I've been so busy with school, I haven't had time to buy books. My mailbox is despairingly empty.

A.A.A.S. High school bloggers will be added on soon! Sorry I missed your comment, but I didn't know I had to approve some of them from IntenseDebate's admin page, grrr. Also sorry if I missed your comment on a different post too. :(

A.A.A.A.S. Editting my previous comment, I do know what I was thinking about: setting in stone my college visitations over spring break. Plans: Columbia, NYU, UPenn, Carnegie Mellon, University of Michigan. More details coming soon to high school bloggers (with resumed contact -- sorry I fail again), so that maybe we'll see each other?! That would be so effin' awesome beyond words.

(Sorry to annoy with all the antescripts. Perhaps I should include another for this comment...)

Now, finally, onto the real question at hand: as a commentator, which commenting system do you prefer? As a blogger that's tried IntenseDebate for a while, I still don't have any real feelings for it or against it. As a commentator... I'm kind of torn between IntenseDebate and blogger, as long as their is no word verification on the latter. Thus, since I sincerely hope this blog is enjoyable for YOU as well as me, I'd love to hear what you think! Though perhaps this poll will be helpful to other uncertain bloggers as well.

Thanks in advance for your input, me lovelies! ♥

... did you think I'd leave you hanging on the music front?

Impromptu $5 Amazon GC Giveaway ♥

Just because I love you guys. Comment below with your favorite song today and get entered to win a $5 gift card. Open to anyone, anywhere with no other requirements, and I'll close this impromptu contest on Sunday night. :)

**Note: Sorry, anyone who comments with Friday by Rebecca Black is automatically disqualified. And before you question my judgement, have you heard that song? Ugh.

The Weekly Debate (15): Is there such a thing as a "good" book?

Damnit. I am officially wrung dry of creative juices for these weekly debates.
Public Service Announcement: I apologize in advance for any weekly debates that seem more like weekly questions. No trauma is intended.

But onto the real issue at hand, does a "good" book really exist? In my IB Theory of Knowledge class, we have internal assessments due next week, in which we give a lecture on a "knowledge issue." Being the music fuh-reak that I am, I decided last week to question what makes music "good." And as I now sit down and begin planning my presentation, why couldn't that theory also apply to books?

The way I see it, the issue lies in whether "good" can be judged objectively. My opinion? No. I think there are obvious similarities between the books that are deemed "good," such as the strong heroine we all seem to admire, the tantalizing romance, and the enthralling writing, yet those don't necessitate that a book is good. A book can be appreciated for its literary features, perhaps being called "strong," "solid," "stunning," but would you say any of those words carry the same connotations as "good?" The greatest critics can call a book "the epitome of English language" and it still might not be "good." *coughHeartofDarknesscough*

I suppose all these quotations on "good" lead me to attempting -- keyword: attempting -- to define the concept of goodness. How much does the media or our surroundings affect us when we try to judge something as "good?" Is there absolutely no doubt in your mind that you can read a glowing Kirkus review, read the book, then review the book/give your thoughts on the book while honestly saying your opinion hasn't been affected by outside sources? I know that for all I try, I can't say that. And if we judge books by emotional appeal, don't even get me started on the subjectivity. So perhaps the key here is that "good" itself is abstract and not inherent; it depends on what standards you define something by.

Yet, if a "good" book is so subjective, what's the use in book blogs? For readers, I would say finding someone with similar tastes to yourself, but that kind of goes without saying. Don't go off trusting that 5+++ star review -- even if it's mine -- because it says a book is "good." For bloggers, that's exactly why I say remain true to yourself. It's not about mob-gushing about how "good" a book is, it's you and the book, then you sharing your opinions. And you know what? We get that. Or I at least hope all authors can.

Anyways, excuse my rambling. What do you think? Am I too pessimistic? Am I just stating the obvious? Do you disagree? Do I ask too many rhetorical questions? If you're wondering, the answer to the last one is a resounding YES.

All-in-all, even if this wasn't quite coherent, I think I have a good idea for where I'm starting my lecture on (definitely opening with clips of Justin Beiber and analyzing whether he's "good"). Now, as for you...

I ask: Is there such a thing as a "good" book?

**Note: Please be aware I am not under the impression that some author and books are not shoot-me-now, pure genius. This "good" concept just gives me an itch.

Review: Sean Griswold's Head by Lindsey Leavitt

Lindsey Leavitt's website here // $11.55 from {amazon}
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children's Books (March 1, 2011) 
Hardcover: 288 pages
Source: Publisher 
According to her guidance counselor, fifteen-year-old Payton Gritas needs a focus object-an item to concentrate her emotions on. It's supposed to be something inanimate, but Payton decides to use the thing she stares at during class: Sean Griswold's head. They've been linked since third grade (Griswold-Gritas-it's an alphabetical order thing), but she's never really known him.

The focus object is intended to help Payton deal with her father's newly diagnosed multiple sclerosis. And it's working. With the help of her boy-crazy best friend Jac, Payton starts stalking-er, focusing on-Sean Griswold . . . all of him! He's cute, he shares her Seinfeld obsession (nobody else gets it!) and he may have a secret or two of his own.

In this sweet story of first love, Lindsey Leavitt seamlessly balances heartfelt family moments, spot-on sarcastic humor, and a budding young romance.

Rating: View my rating system.

My Thoughts: When I think Sean Griswold's Head, I think cuteness wrapped in a bundle -- or, technically, between two hard covers and a couple hundred sheets of paper. It has it all: the nicest boy, the touching family trauma, and the inspirational self-discovery. Yet as cliché as those aspects may sound, Lindsey Leavitt adds her own spin with an authentic teenage voice and, of course, one very attractive male head. Overall, Sean Griswold's Head had me going "awww" at times from both romance and familial bonding, and I can honestly say the ending had me going banging my head a few times on my reading surface (which was, thankfully, a bed) out of sheer adorableness.

The only, and I repeat only, bothersome aspect for me was Payton's borderline annoying naivety. I could definitely see where she was coming from in having to deal with her father's MS and then with the fact that her parents hid the illness from her, but her reaction and avoidance seemed a little excessive. Yes, aversion is assured and a few tantrums granted, but for that long a time period... hm. And in the romance and friend departments, a couple times I just wanted to scream, "Can't you see the good thing right under your nose?!!!" Alas, all in the name of self-discovery, I suppose.

That being said, I still greatly admire Payton's strength and spunk. She definitely goes through some difficult times, and she falters, yet never backs down. Looking back, I can clearly track her growth throughout the book, from a girl who prided herself on her independence at the beginning to one who actually valued herself at the end. Even for a romance junkie like me, Lindsey Leavitt really conveys how beautiful self-acceptance can be, and does it all in Payton's snarky, genuine, and surprisingly relateable voice.

Me being me, how could I end this without mentioning Sean? Perfect, perfect Sean. Normally, that would be another strike on the negatives under the category of "unrealistic, untouchable," but Sean is just so darn lovable. Not only does he have the cute looks completely nailed, he teaches Payton to look past appearances, he bikes (I mean, gosh, who does that? Lindsey Leavitt has just introduced a prodigy here.), he's sweetly sensitive, and all-in-all, he's exactly what Payton needs. Whoever said "nice guys finish last?" For the record, I literally think "Sean" and biker shorts -- but that's a good thing, trust me.

Romance: PG - parent guidance suggested, but just a few kisses.
Cover: 3.5 -- I love how there's the little stick figure biker in the lower right, though I don't know why, the guy model's just not doing it for me. Maybe because that's not really how I imagine Sean in my mind?

Bottom Line: Sean Griswold's Head sends some mushy lessons about family, friends, and love -- but all the right ones. I recommend it to anyone looking for a light but heart-warming read that is guaranteed to leave an involuntary smile on your face. :)

January 2011 Bookish Thoughts

Where does time go? I realized that I've bought and read many good books since the beginning of 2011 but never quite got around to reviewing them... So here we go, my bookish thoughts (yes, good things come in three's):

edit// to clarify, I read all of these in January or February ♥

Fixing Delilah by Sarah Ockler

Keywords: childhood friends, summer, family

Why love: summer, sweet, popsicle

My Thoughts: Fixing Delilah is the epitome of a summer romance, with the slowly blooming romance with the childhood friend to the perfect backdrops. But as cliche as that may sound, the story's beautiful, pure, touching, and genuine, with a sweet message of moving on and facing your fears. Sarach Ockler is an amazing contemporary writer, and just reading Fixing Delilah makes me think of those cherry Popsicles that girl characters always seem to buy and slowly enjoy as they walk along the beach, letting the juice dribble innocently down their chin.

Author Expectations: I liked Twenty Boy Summer more (mainly because I enjoyed the main character more and the plot was a bit more unique), but Fixing Delilah definitely lived up to expectations.

Enchanted Ivy by Sarah Beth Durst
Keywords: magic, Princeton, secrets

Why love: mystical creatures, tiger boy, action

My Thoughts: Not much to elaborate on this one because I think the three aspects I listed just above pretty much summarize Enchanted Ivy. It's a fun, fast-moving book with a delightful sprinkling of fantasy and some very attractive boys. Not particularly stand out, but still a great book I'd recommend.

Author Expectations: The writing style was very different from Ice, so it's a bit hard for me to say. I prefer Ice over Enchanted Ivy because I love, love, love fairy tales, but Enchanted Ivy is a quicker, lighter read

I also interviewed Sarah Beth Durst last summer, but never got to post it up due to life complications. *smack self* But anyways, here is one of the looser parts of the interview, which I asked because Sarah Beth Durst has written three books (Ice, Into the Wild, Out of the Wild) based on fairy tales:

8. Which fairy tale would you choose to be in if you were:

· The princess: Sleeping Beauty (because at least she gets to catch up on her rest)
· The prince: Snow White's prince (because nothing bad happens to him, except for having to marry a girl he's never spoken to)
· The villain: the witch in Rapunzel (she loses her adopted daughter's love, but she doesn't lose her life or limbs, which means there's still a chance she can redeem herself)
· The unsignificant, background character: minor noblewoman in Cinderella (because at least there's a fun party)

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

Keywords: French Revolution, time travel, finding oneself

Why love: original, fascinating, beautiful writing

My Thoughts: Revolution is truly beautiful, in both writing and the details that Jennifer Donnelly weaves together. I found the characters unique, the settings rich, and the history engaging. However, it is a long book and the plot dragged a bit at times. I'm not going to lie, if you're not one for long descriptions and contemplative moments, Revolution might be too boring for your tastes. That being said, if you do enjoy these things, this is definitely one book that will keep you engrossed for a few hours.

Author Expectations: I read Winter Rose a couple of years ago and distinctly remember enjoying it... *shrug* The main aspect that stands out to me after reading both Winter Rose and Revolution, which is marketed towards YA, is the character age difference, how Revolution's characters remain teenagers and, thus, miss out on some of the "themes" of adult books -- not that its a bad thing, just putting it out there.

Overall, January 2011 was a month of variety and awesome books. I'll probably do another one of these next week and talk about The Vespertine and such, but we'll see. Did you read/enjoy any of these books? :)


And since I'm on an Asian roll with music, today's song is a Chinese pop song that literally all the Chinese students at my high school know. It's essentially a guy singing that he'll always be there to protect the girl (he'll be her angel, her prince, etc.etc.) who's undergoing some major surgery. Sorry, I obviously need a refresher on the song's premise, and though I make it sound really bland, it's actually very, very sweet. :3

In My Musical Mailbox (24)

In My Mailbox was started by The Story Siren and inspired by Pop Culture Junkie.

What have I been doing this week? Why, two main things: 1) reading romance stories off Fiction Press (I have an unhealthy obsession with Lulai) and 2) renewing my kpop obsession and learning the dance to Stay by Mblaq. I don't know why, but I always learn guy dances (aka Lucifer by Shinee and Wedding Dress by Taeyang); girl kpop dances are just... *shudder* so girly.

That doesn't mean I'm good at dancing, by any stretch of the imagination, but I enjoy it and it gets me off my butt and moving. :)

Also, I'm sure many Hunger Games fans are already aware of this, but Jennifer Lawrence (from the movie Winter Bones) is playing Katniss. I can't really say much on the topic since I'd never heard of her prior to this announcement, but, as many of my fellow bloggers have been pointing out, she isn't exactly what I envisioned when I think Katniss. That better be a good hair dye.

So, for the actual IMM portion of this post, I only received on book this week...

A Need So Beautiful by Suzanne Young -- it's awesomeness totally makes up for my lack of books. She's such a fun writer, and I can't wait to see how she tackles a paranormal plot. The cover is GORGEOUS though, even more so in person. I think this win just about used up my luck for the month. Thanks again, Suzanne! :D

And finally, to leave off with my latest kpop song obsession:

Fan girl chant: Park Jung Min, Park Jung Min~ (Yes, he's from SS501.)
I'm happy because it's such an comforting and uplifting song. <333

Now, I'll stop boring you. What did you get this week? As per usual, leave me a link and I'll check it out!

The Saturday Network (28)

WHAT IS THE SATURDAY NETWORK? The Saturday Network is meant to be a quick, easy way for you to network your blog and, more specifically, get comments! All you have to do is comment on the previous blog and, in return, you're guaranteed a comment by the next participant. We all love comments, right? :)

I also randomly feature a Saturday Networker every week, and it could be you!


Gah, sorry again for blog neglect. *pats my soggy blog* I really didn't mean to, I just have blogging... moods. Grr, that sounds like I PMS all the time, but I don't know how else to put it. I've been wasting my time on other mundane activities, but I usually talk about "things no one really cares about" on Sundays, so I'll not torture you for now. However, I promise at least two -- I know, I know, astounding -- legit reviews this coming week: Sean Griswold's Head by Lindsey Leavitt and Purple Daze by Sherry Shahan.

Just a side note, I'm super excited that I was a runner up for Suzanne Young and Hannah Moskowitz's Awesome Contest of Awesomeness = ARC of A Need So Beautiful by Suzanne Young. I'm only bringing this up now because I'm approaching 900 followers and, you know, June is so very, very far away... ;)

Anyways, to get back on topic, this week's featured blogger is: Heather (TSN #7) @ Paranormal Book Junkie!

Heather just started book blogging last month, so go over and welcome her! She recently reviewed books in the Need series by Carrie Jones, namely Captivate and Entice. I definitely find her rating system unique, which in order from worst to best is: revenge, betrayal ("got my hopes up and left me broken and confused" -- haha, so accurate), lust, passion, and ever after. *stares despairingly at my boring star system*

I'm crossing my fingers that I didn't mess up on the inlinkz again... >_<

Contest: Purple Daze by Sherry Shahan

Nicole De Jackmo from Running Press Book Publishers has offered me (and you) an awesome opportunity: a chance to read Purple Daze by Sherry Shahan! For those of you that haven't heard of it (as taken from email):

Purple Daze by Sherry Shahan
Meet Ziggy, Mickey, Cheryl, Nancy, Don, and Phil, a group of six close-knit friends growing up in suburban Los Angeles in 1965. Through journal entries, notes, interconnected free verse and traditional poems, the six friends reveal their intense experiences and feelings about the world that is unfolding before them. Draft numbers are increasing, Malcolm X is assassinated, and the Vietnam War is escalating just as activism through the peace movement is revving up. As the United States is undergoing cultural and political revolutions, the lives of these six friends endure their own dramatic changes.

PURPLE DAZE is informed by Shahan’s own experiences growing up in this frenzied period. Using letters she found from a friend stationed in Vietnam and a well-documented timeline of the year, Shahan is able to conjure up the raw emotions of the era. Each character reflects on how they are navigating the ever-changing world with deep honesty and raw emotion making the themes in PURPLE DAZE as relevant today as they were almost 50 years ago.
Again, I love the 60's feel of the cover, and Purple Daze definitely sounds like teen drama -- with a twist. Exciting, no? ;)

To enter, please fill out the form below
One winner, U.S. only
Contest ends Thursday, March 31st at 11:59 EST  
• For more information, please view my contest policy

In My Musical Mailbox (23)

In My Mailbox was started by The Story Siren and inspired by Pop Culture Junkie.

You get a gold star if you noticed the name change. IMM has now become... IMMM! Nothing major, but I'll be including a song on every IMM from now on. My bookshelf is alive with the sound of music... ;)

Anyways, these are a mix of books from this past week and the week before, since I missed IMM then. But first:

The new IMMM mascot. :3

Isn't it ADORABLE? My friend got it for me as an extremely late Christmas present, and it matches my personality perfectly. She knows I like more "emo" clothing and accessories, though I'm not confident enough to wear the clothes (Hot Topic's earrings are my favorites though). AHHHH, Hello Kitty's just so irresistibly cute. I might spotlight my Japanese keychain ones next week...

But before I get too carried away:

For Review:
Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton {reviewed}
Blood and Flowers by Penny Blubaugh -- the cover is very vivid and unique and, from what I've heard, the story itself is like that too... I'll get around to this one sometime.
Enclave by Ann Aguirre -- review coming closer to the release date; pretty solid dystopia though! :)
Purple Daze by Sherry Shahan -- love the 60's feel to the cover. It's told in verse, which I don't read often, so I'm looking forward to it.
Sean Grisworld's Head by Lindsey Leavitt -- definitely one of those pick-me-ups after a long span of dystopian/historical/contemporary/sadder things. The blog tour for this one is going on now, and my stop is scheduled for March 23rd - check back then for a review!

Demonglass by Rachel Hawkins -- guilty pleasures, I tell you.
The Vespertine by Saundra Mitchell {interviewed} -- fairly good. Not my absolute favorite, but it has a stunning cover (Saundra does not lie when she says it looks better in person); hopefully I'll find the time to write a review for it.
Prom and Prejudice by Elizabeth Eulberg -- short and sweet. Your eyes do not deceive, that's a paperback version you see there. And, yes, I made my little sister get it for me from her middle school Scholastic book fair for the low, low price of $7.

Whew, I can't help the commentary. As for today's music, it's Daylight Savings Time! And time, well...


Muse = awesome, though I like their older songs better. And for the record, I liked them before Stephenie Meyer declared them her inspiration. Starlight was my first, and still favorite, Muse song. :)

(Where does all this time go? What if you scheduled a post during "the missing hour"?)

I'll stop taking up your time and ask: What did you get this week? (Leave me a link and I'll be sure to take a peek!)

Until next time, brave adventurers~

The Saturday Network (27)

WHAT IS THE SATURDAY NETWORK? The Saturday Network is meant to be a quick, easy way for you to network your blog and, more specifically, get comments! All you have to do is comment on the previous blog and, in return, you're guaranteed a comment by the next participant. We all love comments, right? :)

I also randomly feature a Saturday Networker every week, and it could be you!


*dumdumdum* First featured TSN'er in a long while. And it's Natalie (TSN #6) @ Mindful Musings!

Natalie has an absolutely adorable and whimsical layout that's perfect for relaxing my eyes after a hard day. It amazes me even thinking this far back, but Natalie was literally one of my first few followers. She posted on Bing all the way back in my noob days of 2009 and it was from her that I learned the importance of networking and reaching out to the blogosphere -- I LOVE YOU! Natalie's super friendly and she posts concise yet heartfelt reviews, so I definitely recommend you check her out if you haven't already. :)

And that is all, my lovelies. Sending out my wishes to Japan, and hope your weekend will be better than theirs (if you're interested in supporting Japan, definitely go donate through Maureen Johnson's blog, where you can win an ARC of The Name of the Star as you give back).

To start this weekend on the perfect note: ...get it, "note"? haha. xD

One word: beautiful.
Okay, so I can't resist another one: cuuuute.
Duet's are so sweet. I may have to officially dub Saturday duet days. :3

To Participate:
1. Submit your blog to Mr. Linky in this format:

Blog Name - Child/MG/YA/Adult/ALL (genres(s) you review)
Blog link to post
 ie. Books At Midnight - YA
2. Head to the blog listed before yours and comment on his/her linked post. Thoughtful comments are appreciated, but if you really can't think of anything to say, feel free to just drop a line and say "hi!"
3. That's it! I encourage you to visit more blogs and I hope you find a blog to enjoy! :)

Giving Away Love (2) Winners!

Wow, it's been a while since I've used this banner. I'm thinking it's a bit outdated though...

The stats: 167 entrants, 219 entries, and a whole lot of love. Thanks to the 42 people who spent Valentine's with my computer and me. {this contest} ;)

But, anyways, to spare you the suspense, here are the winners:

Mariah (; #33)

Theresa (; #4)

Congrats to Mariah and Theresa! Mariah, you have first choice, so Theresa, please let me know your top two choices. And if you see this post before I contact you two, feel free to send me an email with your choice(s).

Thanks again to everyone who entered! My next self-hosted contest will most likely be when I reach 900 followers (love you guys <333), but until then... there may be a contest coming up on Monday. So check back then! :D

Waiting on Wednesday (1)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine.

Yes, you've read that correctly. Number one. I can't believe I've never done a Waiting on Wednesday before - and I don't know why - but I am happy to claim that I have now joined the legion of "WoW'ers." I can never limit myself to just one book though...

Eve by Anna Carey {goodreads}
The year is 2032, sixteen years after a deadly virus—and the vaccine intended to protect against it—wiped out most of the earth’s population. Wildlife has grown over once recognizable landmarks, and the New America is ruled by a controlling King who will stop at nothing to rebuild the nation—including enslaving its boys and turning its girls into broodmares.

The Eve Trilogy is a breathlessly told story with an unforgettable heroine. Anna Carey has imagined a remarkable and unique world, and brings a compelling new voice to the dystopian genre. Eve offers a haunting glimpse of the global pandemic some scientists say is inevitable, and a world forever altered by its aftermath. Fans of Twilight and The Hunger Games will revel in this epic story of forbidden love, and an unforgettable heroine’s extraordinary adventure

Commentary: For those of you that saw that "T" word and thought sparkling vampire, cross it out now. Is it crossed out? Good. If you're like me and thought "intense romance," then leave it there so you can squeal with me over a new swoon-worthy hero. Now, please proceed to revel in the reference to The Hunger Games.

All I can say is that those are very high standards to live up to. But if Eve lives up to its claims, then I think I'll have a dystopian winner in my hands.

Betrayal by Mayandree Michel {goodreads}
At seventeen, Cordelia is an ordinary teen with an extraordinary and frightening secret. A secret that induces vivid dreams which she not only experiences true love, but crippling fear while barely escaping with her life each night.

After a life altering event, Cordelia has an unexpected encounter with Evan, the mysterious boy from her dreams, who reveals who and what she is – a descendent of the Greek gods. At that moment everything she knows of her world is a lie, and she must leave the present and go into the past to assume the role she was put on this earth for – safeguarding her ancient empire amidst evil forces that toil hastily to destroy it.

In a race against time, Cordelia must decide if she is truly a part of this dangerous world, or risk defying the gods, and ultimately lose the boy who has put a claim on her heart.

Commentary: I love Greek allusions, so this sounds perfect. Betrayal definitely sounds like an action-filled whirlwind of myth and romance that I can't wait to experience. And the cover is very, very pretty, especially the girl's dress. :)

Crusade by Linda Press Wulf {goodreads}
Robert: Left on the steps of a church as a baby, Robert was often hungry but never stole food like the other orphans in town. Introverted and extraordinarily intelligent, he knew all the Latin prayers and hymns by heart by the time he was five years old.

Georgette: Her own mother died in childbirth, leaving Georgette with a father who, seventeen at the time, had neither experience nor aptitude as a nurturing parent, and a brother known in town as Le Fuer – The Spitfire – for his terrible temper.

Perhaps to replace something missing from their own lives, both Robert and Georgette are drawn to the news of a crusader, twelve or thirteen, no older than themselves, travelling down through France with thousands of followers – all, unbelievably, children too.

Of those thousands, this is the incredible story of two. A story of hardship, loss and of love.

Commentary: I'm not entirely sure whether I'll read this one since I tend to be wary about novels that deal with very well known events such as the Salem Witch Trials. But I just can't help be intrigued by the fact that Crusade tells of the Children's Crusade. To think how strongly the children must have felt in their cause to leave their families and their comforts, only to meet with gruesome ends... I can't imagine how to go about depicting that. Kudos to Linda Press Wulf for her courage in tackling this, and I'll have my eyes peeled for this one.

So, what are you waiting for? :)

**For Tera Lynn Child Fans: I posted about her $0.99 ebook Eye Candy a while ago, and she just announced another $0.99 chick lit today, Straight Stalk -- available now for Kindle, Nook, and whatever Smashwords is for. When your next TLC and fluffy romance fix is $0.99 cents and a click away, what's not to love?

Review: Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton

Courtney Allison Moulton's website here // $10.31 from {amazon}
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books (February 15, 2011)
Hardcover: 464 pages
Source: Publisher
First there are nightmares.

Every night Ellie is haunted by terrifying dreams of monstrous creatures that are hunting her, killing her.

Then come the memories.

When Ellie meets Will, she feels on the verge of remembering something just beyond her grasp. His attention is intense and romantic, and Ellie feels like her soul has known him for centuries. On her seventeenth birthday, on a dark street at midnight, Will awakens Ellie's power, and she knows that she can fight the creatures that stalk her in the grim darkness. Only Will holds the key to Ellie's memories, whole lifetimes of them, and when she looks at him, she can no longer pretend anything was just a dream.

Now she must hunt.

Ellie has power that no one can match, and her role is to hunt and kill the reapers that prey on human souls. But in order to survive the dangerous and ancient battle of the angels and the Fallen, she must also hunt for the secrets of her past lives and truths that may be too frightening to remember.
Rating: View my rating system.

There have been tons of reviews for this one already, so here's just my (repetitive) two cents in a mini-acrostic poem. 'Cause those are all the vogue these days, no? *dons beret*

Accurate teen-speak. This is legit right here; Courtney Moulton writes like a native. (The key to teen-speak is not cussing, it’s cussing at the right places. Stay 133T, darlings.)

Never-ending action. For a squeamish person like me, I can honestly say Courtney Moulton has got the art of “intense, bone-breaking action without excessive gore” down pat. Everyone is kick ass to the trillionth degree.

Gripping characters. Quite a few of the secondary characters I would have liked to see fleshed out a more (namely her friends), though I know I few are being saved for future books in the series – and I CAN’T WAIT. As for Ellie herself, she’s brave but vulnerable. She doesn’t often breakdown, but when she does, it’s completely understandable. I love how she didn’t feel the need to spend eons experiencing “NOWAY.YESWAY... MAYBE? NOWAY.YESWAY...” that often accompanies the – surprise – astounding revelation of the paranormal. And can I say Ellie has excellent taste in clothes and cars (I can only guess at how rich she is...)?

Enigma-after-enigma. Courtney Moulton has created a rich history to the Preliator that we only get a tempting taste of in Angelfire. It does get a bit didactic at times, though only a few rare times in the 453 pages, and I’m not really bothered by it considering how much needed to be explained – which is A LOT. One of the two major reasons I’m continuing the series is the extremely intriguing plot, which almost never happens to me when reading a paranormal series – so that’s saying something.

LOVE WILLLL. Will of the green eyes and the tousled dark hair. Will of the sensitive heart and protective arms. Will of the awesomeness. <333

Overall, a very fast-paced, enjoyable read that’s one of the top paranormal romances I’ve read in a while. And did I mention it has a gorgeous cover? That never hurts. ;)

Great debut, Courtney, and for you, my little Preliator-to-be, pick Will Angelfire up now!

Taken from Courtney's website. They're commissioned some gorgeous CG art that I absolute LOVE. *o*

The Saturday Network (26)

WHAT IS THE SATURDAY NETWORK? The Saturday Network is meant to be a quick, easy way for you to network your blog and, more specifically, get comments! All you have to do is comment on the previous blog and, in return, you're guaranteed a comment by the next participant. We all love comments, right? :)

I also randomly feature a Saturday Networker every week, and it could be you!


Sorry for the late TSN. I had a fever last night and this morning, and though it's gone now, I still have a headache and general nauseousness. So I'm going to keep this short and I may comment around and do a IMM post if I feel better tonight...

Hope you're having a better weekend!
To Participate:
1. Submit your blog to Mr. Linky in this format:

Blog Name - Child/MG/YA/Adult/ALL (genres(s) you review)
Blog link to post
 ie. Books At Midnight - YA
2. Head to the blog listed before yours and comment on his/her linked post. Thoughtful comments are appreciated, but if you really can't think of anything to say, feel free to just drop a line and say "hi!"
3. That's it! I encourage you to visit more blogs and I hope you find a blog to enjoy! :)

Weekly Debate (14): Bathroom Breaks

If you can't tell, I'm kind of stumped in the creativity department these days, so if you want to suggest a question sometime, please go ahead! Sprinkled donuts awarded to anyone who throws one out~

how cute is this? ♥

Anyways, I was sitting in the car thinking of Angelfire (an awesome book that I'll review tomorrow) and the main character's love for showers... and, of course, that got me thinking... bathroom breaks. Or, more accurately, what bathroom breaks? When I read, I generally don't notice characters' magical bladders. Yet, like today, sometimes I'm hit with a strange, discomforting feeling, wondering why don't I have one too? It's like a catch-22; I don't want to hear the details of going to the bathroom, but I still want characters to be realistic and go to the bathroom. It's just like how I say I don't like stereotypical characters, yet it seems like I'm always attracted to the same strong heroines and the same dark, sensitive bad boys. I won't lie, I like them tall, dark-haired, and loaded with smirks. I like to pride myself on admiring the unique, but what's cliche is cliche because it works and I'm not immune to that.

So how to go about these things? Is there anything such as a "tasteful" bathroom scene?... Actually, I think I'd just find that too disturbing. But perhaps working in another character saying "*jerk hand towards hallway* Bathroom, be right back," would work. Though maybe this bathroom "thing" is just me. Frankly, I don't notice it often, but it sometimes just nags in the bag of my mind... SO, excuse my ramblings. This was basically my stream of consciousness after a long and tiring day. It's just me thinking about how I say I want to read gritty, realistic fiction and being disappointed in myself when I find it's not always true. I like my white picket fence and perfect square. I like straight lines. I like cliche.

So I don't know if/how/why you want to respond to this. I'm not even sure what questions to pose. To stick with the status quo: What do you think of bathroom breaks in novels? Any other thoughts on my brain-purge?

Dudes, I think I just went off into the twilight zone. (Sorry for this debate-fail. I think I was much more coherent at the beginning.)

THIS IS ME. I'm spinning 'round looking pimpin' in the desert. Reminds me of Gaara from Naruto.

Keep Your Eyes Open ♥

(I do not claim this as any kind of meme, and specifically not one that belongs to me.)

BAM. I LOVE KIMBERLY DERTING AND I LOVE THIS COVER. The stark contrast is definitely something that would catch my eye and, of course, the girl is gorgeous. I'm an avid fan of black-and-white with minimal color, and this is perfect. Lovelovelove. Now, just to wait until November 15th...

Here's the currently available synopsis: "A romantic fantasy set in a dystopic, war-torn world, in which a teenage girl realizes that she may be the key to saving her country."
Hopefully more comes out before I go stark-zombie-raving mad. *wants*

In order of left-to-right: The Beginning of After by Jennifer Castle, Wherever You Go by Heather Davis, and The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Rodkin. 

Three more lovelies I have my eye on. In addition to being beautiful, they all sound like awesome contemporary YA fiction = must buy, must read. Looking at these three, I seem to be attracted to covers with soft, rich colors and simple text. And I still find it amazing how much a facial expression or posture can convey: vulnerability, melancholy, etc. So, hey, you can't blame me for loving these covers, right? ;)


>> As a side note to high school bloggers, I'm putting the page up as I type, but I'm still not sure where to go with it. Do you guys want to create a chat room together? Do book tours together? Ideas welcomed and loved.

Song of the Day:
Stay strong~