Friday, April 29, 2011

Book Review: I'll Be There by Holly Goldberg Sloan

Title: I'll Be There
Author: Holly Goldberg Sloan
Pages: 400
Expected Publication: May 3, 2011
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Summary taken from goodreads:
Raised by an unstable father who keeps the family constantly on the move, Sam Border hasn't been in a classroom since the second grade. He's always been the rock for his younger brother Riddle, who stopped speaking long ago and instead makes sense of the world through his strange and intricate drawings. It's said that the two boys speak with one voice--and that voice is Sam's.

Then, Sam meets Emily Bell, and everything changes. The two share an immediate and intense attraction, and soon Sam and Riddle find themselves welcomed into the Bell's home. Faced with normalcy for the first time, they know it's too good to last.

Told from multiple perspectives, Holly Goldberg Sloan's debut novel offers readers fresh voices and a gripping story, with vivid glimpses into the lives of many unique characters. Beautifully written and emotionally profound, I'll Be There is a story about connections both big and small, and deftly explores the many ways that our lives are woven together.

My Review:

Please excuse my incoherency since I stayed up late finishing this amazingly wonderful book!

The story is so compelling and the characters so real that you'll start to forget that it's just a book and that Sam, Emily, and Riddle are only characters. Nevertheless, my heart still broke for Emily and I was cheering Sam and Riddle on throughout the course of the book.

I don't want to give too much away about the story, but it's a definite must read!

With an enthralling story, genuine characters, and absorbing plot, I'll Be There is everything that you could ask for, easily making it one of my all-time favorite reads.

Also, this is Kare from Epic Book Nerd's review of I'll Be There. It basically sums up everything that I loved about the book, but it kind of spoils the plot a little. Well, it mainly tells you why the characters are so amazing, which I didn't do that in my review cuz I want you to read the book and see their awesomeness firsthand. :P

Thursday, April 28, 2011





Now that my caps-lock is back under control... that is all. :P 

See ya later~

I want to re-read the Harry Potter series now.:L

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Problem With Society in YA Books

Everyone knows about Twilight. You either hate or love the series -- the books or the movies, whatever you choose.

Some of the main reasons why people don't like the series is because of the message that it subliminally sends out to young and impressionable teens: that it's okay to fall in love with (forgive) a guy just because he's the hottest thing in the world, stalking = true love, and that it's okay to be completely obsessive with your partner in a relationship.

The other day, I was reading articles about how most of today's YA books' romances are unhealthy while also sending the wrong message out to girls, the books' main audience. These are some of the articles that I read that I thought were really great in explaining what message YA books today are sending out to readers and why the community should improve before teens really start believing what books say society is like.

The most of the articles mention each other, so either way, you're going to end up checking them all out anyway. :P

In bookshop's post, Bad Romance (or, YA & Rape Culture), she talks about how she decided to read Hush Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick even though she was already warned that she wouldn't like it by both friends and the internet and how the book sucked. She talks about parts of the book that pissed her off, how the book "repeatedly and systematically reinforces rape culture", and points out several other bestselling YA books/series that have creepy heroes that everyone somehow finds redeeming qualities (such as being extremely hot) that somehow makes everything okay.

Bookshop mentions Another post about rape by Harriet J in her post that discusses and explains rape culture in society and the grief girls go through when they say no to rape -- and when they don't.
It’s a rude fucking awakening when a woman gets raped, and follows the rules she has been taught her whole life — doesn’t refuse to talk, doesn’t refuse to flirt, doesn’t walk away ignoring him, doesn’t hit, doesn’t scream, doesn’t fight, doesn’t raise her voice, doesn’t deny she liked kissing — and finds out after that she is now to blame for the rape. She followed the rules. The rules that were supposed to keep the rape from happening. The rules that would keep her from being fair game for verbal and physical abuse. Breaking the rules is supposed to result in punishment, not following them. For every time she lowered her voice, let go of a boundary, didn’t move away, let her needs be conveniently misinterpreted, and was given positive reinforcement and a place in society, she is now being told that all that was wrong, this one time, and she should have known that, duh.
I would quote her whole article if it wasn't so long and end up being redundant in my point. Just click the link and be prepared to have your mind blown open to a woman's reality.

Bookshop also has many links from responses to her post, one of them being the post that lead me to her article. While browsing through in which a girl read's blog, I found one of her old posts titled why ya romance needs to change. She states her reasons on why it should change, most of them already mentioned in this post, but she writes it so logically and passionately that you should definitely read it. She also wrote a follow up post in response to her first one to clarify some matters and also add on to her argument which was written just as well as her first post. [By the way, I am completely jealous of the fact that she could those posts write so eloquently at the age of 16. I'm a year older than her and I'm not even sure that I could write half as well as she does!]

This is an advertisement. How was this even allowed to be published?!
The Book Lantern also posts plenty of discussion topics about the many flaws in the YA community or in society in general. One of their recent posts, Sluts, Fags, and Whores, is about slut shaming and the double standards in genders concerning the number of sexual partners a person has (ex. girls are called sluts while guys are called studs). Another post that I enjoyed reading was Teen Angst, Lust and Abuse: The New True Love?, which also goes along with the other posts mentioned earlier in here.

Anyway, that's what I wanted to say. I never gave much thought on how the romances in YA books were, but I'm definitely going to be on the look out from now on. Luckily, the most recent books that I've read all had strong, healthy relationships.

I also wanted to mention something that my AP Lang teacher told our class in the beginning of the year concerning relationships. When you think that you're in a good, healthy relationship, you should always ask yourself, "Does he/she make me a better person?" and that should tell you the right answer.


Monday, April 25, 2011

Book Review: The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

Title: The Sky is Everywhere
Author: Jandy Nelson
Pages: 272
Publication: March 9, 2011
Publisher: Dial
Summary taken from goodreads:
Seventeen-year-old Lennie Walker, bookworm and band geek, plays second clarinet and spends her time tucked safely and happily in the shadow of her fiery older sister, Bailey. But when Bailey dies abruptly, Lennie is catapulted to center stage of her own life—and, despite her nonexistent history with boys, suddenly finds herself struggling to balance two. Toby was Bailey's boyfriend; his grief mirrors Lennie's own. Joe is the new boy in town, a transplant from Paris whose nearly magical grin is matched only by his musical talent. For Lennie, they're the sun and the moon; one boy takes her out of her sorrow, the other comforts her in it. But just like their celestial counterparts, they can't collide without the whole wide world exploding.

This remarkable debut is perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen, Deb Caletti, and Francesca Lia Block. Just as much a celebration of love as it is a portrait of loss, Lennie's struggle to sort her own melody out of the noise around her is always honest, often hilarious, and ultimately unforgettable.

My Review:

Wow. Wow. Wow.

I devoured this book in one day. I couldn't stop reading it, couldn't stop thinking about it when I wasn't reading it.

I loved the writing. It was gorgous, enthralling, tantalizing. The words flowed together to make up an amazing story full of grief, love, and those bits of unexpected humor that had you chuckling in the midst of heartbreak.

And the characters were all complex and real and so unique. Lennie's family is certainly eccentric, her grandma always wearing floral dresses and pruning people's bushes on walks to town, her uncle the town Romeo, and her sister, Baily, the actress who was full of life and love. Then, there's Toby, Baily's boyfriend who's drowning in grief over her death, and Joe, the new boy in town with the hundred watt smile and his own baggage. And Lennie. She could be any girl that you know in grief, suffering from guilt and confusion and heartache, and that's what makes this book so compelling and real.

However, there was one thing that I couldn't understand in The Sky is Everywhere. After Baily's death, how come Lennie is suddenly interested in guys? I just don't understand how a switch could suddenly turned on like that...

On another note: Jandy Nelson, can I have Joe Fontaine? Or any of his brothers? Please? Pretty please? I want a guy crazy in love with me with the brightest smile on the earth and whose batting eyelashes can make anyone swoon. :D

I picked this book up because I kept seeing rave reviews praising The Sky is Everywhere. I'm glad that I gave into peer pressure. :L

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Tokyopop is Closing & an Update

The news came out last week, but I kept on forgetting to talk about it.

Tokyopop's US publishing company is closing as of the end of May. D:

For nearly 15 years, TOKYOPOP, led by Stu Levy, its founder, CEO and Chief Creative Officer, has pioneered the English-language manga movement and touched the hearts, minds and souls of enthusiasts worldwide.

Today, we are sad to inform our loyal community of manga fans, our passionate creators of manga content, our business and retail partners, and other stakeholders who have supported us through the years that as of May 31, 2011, TOKYOPOP is closing its Los Angeles-based North American publishing operations.

TOKYOPOP film and television projects and European operations, including the German publishing program, will not be affected by the Los Angeles office closure. In addition, TOKYOPOP will continue its global rights sales via its office in Hamburg, Germany.
I'm really sad to hear that Tokyopop's ending. Almost half of the manga that I buy are from Tokyopop. I don't know what's going to happen to all of the series they've serialized, but I hope that some other publishing companies will take some of them up. Seriously, Tokyopop has published an insane amount of series since its creation.

What sucks is that Tokyopop isn't the first manga company to shut down. It's just the first major publishing company to do it. Other now obsolete manga companies such as Broccoli [I can only think of that Broccoli at the moment] were relatively small, which was why they didn't have enough sales to stay support themselves and stay open.

But Tokyopop is ubiquitous when it comes to manga, and it's the major pioneer of the manga industry in the US. It's the main reason why manga is so integrated in the US today.

I just can't believe that it's shutting down. ):

On to other subjects... This weekend has been extremely peaceful compared to earlier this week. I was so stressed on Monday when I found out that I had a AP test, a quiz, and this insanely long homework assignment all on Thursday.

I didn't know how I would survive the week since the AP bio test I had was on stuff that could not understand and definitely could not learn within a few days. And my US History homework consisted of me flipping through my ginormous book and doing a page summary of every unit we've covered this year as a study guide for the EOCT we have next week; freaking endless. I had no idea how I'd find time to do all of that and try to understand my AP Bio textbook while babysitting every night.

Then, the best thing happened on Wednesday: I found out that my whole AP Bio class couldn't take the test on Thursday since we had to go to the lunchroom to fill out AP exam applications, my math quiz was moved to next week, and since my US History teacher wasn't going to be there on Thursday so it was due on Monday, and that we were going to have a convivium [party] in Latin to celebrate Rome's birthday also on Thursday.

It was the most peaceful Thursday I've had in forever. :D

And I've had an excellent weekend so far, too. Been busy reading for the majority of the weekend from books to original stories on Wattpad to blogs to my AP Bio guide.

Just finished reading The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson. Very awesome book. Review coming up within the next few days. I do want to say this, though: I want Joe Fontaine. Gah. He's the most sweet, infectiously joyful guy I've read so far.

Anyway, this next week is going to be excruiating since I have mock AP exams and the US History EOCT [history was never my strongest point] and other tests and quizes in between. Then, the next two weeks are the real AP exams, so I've really got to study for those.

Dunno if I'll have much time to blog, but I've got plenty of reviews and some other random stuff to post, so the blog won't be neglected. Plus, I'm going to be reading every chance that I get [not only books, though...], so I can make a dent in my TBR pile.

But I doubt that I'll be gone for too long since I can't seem to stop blogging about whatever catches my interest, so you can prolly expect short, random posts about whatever. Like this post, it was supposed to be pretty short, but I guess I had a lot to talk about after all, lol.

Oh yeah, if you haven't noticed, I've cleaned out some of my Movies to Watch list and added some links to some pages on the left side of the blog below my picture of Pon [or is it Zi? :\].

I wanted to keep track of all of the movies and stuff that I've read or watched this year. Plus, I wanted to have a list of all the books I've read this year with links to the reviews. IDK why. I just wanted to do it.

The TBR list took forever to type up. I only decided to do it since I was bored while babysitting, lol. It's freaking massive. I'm pretty sure the list had over 250 books. I decided to put all of the books that I had already read this year in it, too, since I plan on making a list yearly with an updated list every year where I take off all of the already read books the year before. Then I could compare the lists and see how much of a difference I made.

So, I watched Yunho and Changmin perform Rising Sun on Music Bank's 600 episode special today, and it made me miss DBSK like crazy. Don't get me wrong, I liked the duo's performance, especially since I haven't heard Rising Sun in forever and since it's one of my all time favorite songs by them and also because it's the song and music video that converted me into being their fan those few years ago, but it wasn't the same without all five members.

When it got to the part where Jae did his solo and when it was Micky's rap, I kept on expecting to hear their voices. Gah. This is making me nostalgic. I need to go watch their original music video. And maybe some old variety show with all of them in it. Like Star King or X-Men.

Anyway, here's Yunho's and Changmin's version of Rising Sun. They just keep looking hotter and hotter, lol. :D

This is the original music video for Rising Sun. The final factor that made me take an interest in DBSK during my freshmen year.

Every time I see recent pics of Jae, I'm instantly in awe of how handsomely perfect he looks. Found some pics of him at the airport, and he's looking pretty damn fine. XD

Also, I've finally watched Big Bang's Love Song and f(x)'s music video.

Neither music videos make much sense -- maybe because I don't know what they're saying, lol -- but they're both catchy in their own way.

Love the chorus in Love Song. :) I hate this love song~ I hate this love song~

This is f(x)'s comeback after what seems like forever since Amber hurt her leg, and I'm really liking their new album. The songs are catchy, although some of them are a little too cutesy for my liking. Eh, they'll prolly grow on me.

Haven't been keeping up with Kpop much ever since this year started; not entirely sure why, but I think it was because I didn't have much time for it, to go on allkpop and try to keep up with all of the celebrities and scandals (I mean, I can't even keep up with all of the craziness that happens in America, lol) and other random updates.

I've only been keeping up with Kpop music from ihoneyjoo since I need new music to listen to regularly. And I know about the latest songs from watching the weekly music shows that showcases the latest live performances of Kpop artists downloaded from kpopella.

I kind of miss not knowing what's been going on in the kpop world. I only keep up with DBSK because I follow some DBSK blogs that has up-to-date news on them. 

Anyway, I've got to go now. 

Friday, April 22, 2011

Tumblr Pics 10

Woot! No school today! I love any excuse for a holiday. :L

Also, the 'rents and bro have left for Florida for the rest of the weekend, which means that I have the house to myself for a couple of days! :D That is, if sister dearest doesn't come home, although Mommy said that she had better be home since she doesn't want me to be home alone. But I highly doubt that Shelle will come home; if she does, it won't be for a long time. :P

I don't understand why it's such a big deal if no one's home with me. I'm not even going to be at home much since I still have to babysit for the majority of the weekend, so I'll only be at home at night. Plus, it's not like this is the first time that I've stayed home alone at night [not that the 'rents know... :P]; I've never done anything crazy before.

Whatever. It's not like they'll ever change their mind any time soon. -__-

Anyway, enjoy the pics! They're as random as usual. :L

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Book Review: The Berlin Boxing Club by Robert Sharenow

Title: The Berlin Boxing Club
Author: Robert Sharenow
Pages: 416
Expected publication: April 26, 2011
Publisher: HarperCollins
Summary taken from goodreads:
Fourteen-year-old Karl Stern has never thought of himself as a Jew. But to the bullies at his school in Naziera Berlin, it doesn't matter that Karl has never set foot in a synagogue or that his family doesn't practice religion. Demoralized by relentless attacks on a heritage he doesn't accept as his own, Karl longs to prove his worth to everyone around him.

So when Max Schmeling, champion boxer and German national hero, makes a deal with Karl's father to give Karl boxing lessons, Karl sees it as the perfect chance to reinvent himself. A skilled cartoonist, Karl has never had an interest in boxing, but as Max becomes the mentor Karl never had, Karl soon finds both his boxing skills and his art flourishing.

But when Nazi violence against Jews escalates, Karl must take on a new role: protector of his family. Karl longs to ask his new mentor for help, but with Max's fame growing, he is forced to associate with Hitler and other Nazi elites, leaving Karl to wonder where his hero's sympathies truly lie. Can Karl balance his dream of boxing greatness with his obligation to keep his family out of harm's way?

My Review:

The Berlin Boxing Club is a great coming-of-age story depicting the life of a young Jewish boy living in Nazi Germany. 

Right from the first page, I was instantly hooked. The writing style was easy and engaging, and Robert Sharenow's depiction of the troubles a Jewish family went through during the Nazi-era Germany was hauntingly accurate. While The Berlin Boxing Club tells a sad tale, the morals of the story shines throughout the book.

Karl is a totally relatable protagonist. In the beginning, as Hitler's anti-Semitism is starting to gain power, Karl's just a young teen; he's weak. But, when he starts learning how to box from the famous Max Schmeling, you're able to see Karl grow both physically and mentally. He still has his flaws, but finally able to find the courage to own up to his mistakes and take action when there's no one else to turn to.

Also, since Karl is a cartoonist, the book has pictures and comics that he drew throughout the book, which I thought was really cool.

The rest of his family have their own problems and flaws that makes them realistic. As their lives start getting tougher, their family relationship becomes strained, but just as times hit their hardest, they manage to find their love for each other through it all, something that is rare to find in books lately. 

With it's 400+ pages, The Berlin Boxing Club transports you to a time where being who you are is a crime, and you have to find the strength to go on and get back up to survive.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Was My Dream a Sign? & Music Memories

I realize that this was a whole week ago, but I still wanted to write about this since I keep on remembering it.

Last Tuesday morning, I woke up remembering one of the most strangest dreams that I've had in a long while, which was pretty shocking since I hardly ever remember any of my dreams.

Earlier that morning, around two in the morning, I had woken up and couldn't get back to sleep, so I decided to finished reading A Blue So Dark by Holly Schindler since I had a third left to read of it. The book was pretty good; I liked the last half of the book much more compared to the first half.

So I finished the book and settled back down and tried to sleep again. As I laid there, I suddenly realized that I hadn't written a story since last year before my junior year had started, and that I missed it. I really liked writing and thinking up plots and characters even though I had so much trouble trying to find the right words to use and knew that I was just an amateur.

But I'm digressing.

As I tried to go back to sleep, I remembered that I hadn't written a story in a long time and that I wanted to start writing again.

Another subject that I thought about while trying to sleep -- and I honestly have no idea where it came from -- was about The Host by Stephanie Meyer and how goodreads says that the sequel and the third book in the series is coming out next year. I remembered thinking to myself that I'd finally get around to reading The Host after the sequel came out so that I wouldn't have to wait forever for it's sequel if I liked it.

I think that those two subjects were the main reason behind my strange dream since it involved an alien taking over a host's body with the main character as a human friend who helps her with the process. But that was only half of the dream. The other half was confusing since I couldn't remember much so there were a lot of parts that didn't add up in the end.

When I was brushing my teeth and trying to remember everything in my dream so that I could write it down later (which I did while eating breakfast -__-), I remembered reading from a couple of author interviews that some authors got their ideas from their dreams, so I was like, Is this a sign? There's so much of a coincidence happening here!

I remembered some scenes from my dream so well, like they were shots from a movie, and I can easily make a plot from all that I do remember from my dream if I can think of some answers to the plot holes that I can't reason out, so I'm wondering if this is a sign that I should write again. Or that I should write about this when I do.

If I do write this, and I'm pretty sure that I'm going to at least attempt to, it's going to be completely different from anything I've ever written so far. I've written stories ranging from fantasy to contemporary to kids with superpowers, but this would be my first attempt at science fiction, and I'm kind of excited to try it out. It would require lots of planning and thinking concerning how the worlds and societies would be like, and this is the first time that I immediately knew how the first half of the story would take place, which I really like since it cuts back on a lot of indecisive dillydallying. Now, if I could just figure out the ending, then I would be fully committed on writing this story out. :L

But, since I'm in a writing mood (sorta), I also want to try to continue or revise my old stories since all of the stories that I've written so far were eventually forgotten about so they're all unfinished and lying in notebooks and binders collecting dust and memories. -__-" Whenever I look back on them, I remember the time period when I wrote them and how I wanted the plot to be and the excitement of trying to write it down exactly as how I pictured everything in my head, and the nostalgia comes back and hits me like a ton of bricks.

I miss the old days, like the time when I was in Middle School and I didn't have to study and life was generally much simpler back then.

Yesterday, after school, I went with Sydne to Wal-Mart to get her new iPod since her old one finally broke [it wouldn't turn on anymore]. Since we couldn't listen to her iPod, we listened to her PSP during the drive in her car. But, it eventually died, and we listened to the radio a bit before we got tired of it and Sydne told me to get a CD out from her dashboard compartment thinger.

One of the top CDs was The Click Five, an old pop/rock band that my sis and I [and apparently Sydne] really liked years ago when their CD first came out. We shouted in surprise at seeing it and immediately played it, thinking of the past.

Oh man, the memories. I suddenly remembered a scene of Shelle and me hanging out in our room playing on albums of our favorite bands like on the computer and just chilling and listening to it so many times that we knew most of the lyrics to the songs. Back then, music was my obsession while reading/writing was a side hobby that I enjoyed doing.

Then, when "Just the Girl", the first song on the album came on in the car, I instinctively knew when to start singing and the lyrics came pouring out of my mouth even though I hadn't listened to the song in ages.

Man, don't you love it when that happens? When you haven't heard a song in years, but you still know the lyrics to at least the chorus of it when you hear the song again? Then, memories that are connected to the song comes back, and you remember the simpler times.

To me, it's one of the best moments. Not only does the trip down memory lane lets me remember events that I usually forgot about, but I get to remember and relive the feelings and emotions that the songs brought out in me back then.

Man, I love reminiscing. I think about the future too much now that looking back at the past is a welcomed experience where I don't have worries like I do in the present and future.

Anyway, listen to it! The song [the entire album, actually] is a little cheesy since it's about a guy in love with this girl, but it's one of those old rock/pop songs about love that I can't help look back and think fondly about since I really liked The Click Five back then.

Huh. How did I get from my dream to music nostalgia? o__O


Look! I have a mustache! :{D

Lol. Later.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Manga Review: Mikansei No. 1 vol. 1 by Majiko!

Title: Mikansei No. 1 vol. 1
Author: Majiko!
Pages: 208 pages
Publication: November 10, 2009
Publisher: TokyoPop
Summary taken from TokyoPop:
You know what they say: If the century fits, back in time to become a pop-singing sensation!...Vivacious Neo loves to sing and tests the boundaries of 23rd-century modesty with her short, short skirts. When she accidentally time-travels to the 21st century, it's time to sink or sing! Before she knows it, she's teamed up with the handsome Saya as half of the ultimate singing duo. But all her dreams may vanish if they can't put on one great concert. With Saya depending on her, will Neo keep time on her side? 

My Review:

Mikansei No. 1 is a lightheartedly funny shojo manga that has an original plot, amazing artwork, and entertaining characters that are easily likable.

Neo is a hilarious heroine; the things she says and how she acts makes me crack up half of the time. Saya has such a temper, but he's so cute when he's not angry, lol. Nanato is a mysterious little cutie, and the president is such a diva.

There are some elements/scenes in the manga that are typically used throughout most shojo manga, but they were executed nicely enough that I didn't groan when I read them.

So, a pretty good start of a series!

Actually, I just found out that the series only has two volumes, so I can't wait to get my hands on the next one and see how this short series ends.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Cover Lover 5

They're all so pretty and interesting and dark and just plain awesome. :D


This cover completely blew me away. It's simple, but it packs a powerful punch. If every cover had an impact like this one, I'd be completely broke, trying to buy them all. You can check out the book here.