Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Review: Lola and the Boy Next Door

Lola and the Boy Next Door
Author: Stephanie Perkins
Obtained: Library

Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn’t believe in fashion . . . she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit -- more sparkly, more fun, more wild -- the better. But even though Lola’s style is outrageous, she’s a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood. 
When Cricket -- a gifted inventor -- steps out from his twin sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.

First Sentence:
"I have three simple wishes. They’re really not too much to ask."

Even though I didn’t like Anna and the French Kiss all that much, I took a chance and went ahead and read Lola and the Boy Next Door. It completely exceeded my expectations. I was expecting something more similar to Anna, and instead got something more similar to a lot of YA “chick lit” . . .  and actually liked it more for that!

Lola is a good kid. She doesn’t get in trouble, doesn’t do drugs or alcohol, etc. Her only “rebellion” is her boyfriend, Max, who’s 5 years older than her. Her two dads (yep, gay parents, who reminded me of Cameron and Mitchell from Modern Family) do not like him. LONG STORY SHORT, the boy she’s liked since forever, Cricket Bell, has come back to town and now she’s got to figure out how to handle the situation.

Honestly, I just loved that this story wasn’t as complicated, long, and difficult, as Anna’s. I loved that I could predict the ending. I loved Lola’s fashion sense. I loved Cricket for everything. I loved Anna and Etienne’s little side character roles. I loved her detective-story-obsessed best friend.

I wish I grew up with a friend living in a room right across from me. How cool would that have been? VERY.

So although this was predictable and sugary sweet, I loved many aspects of this story. With her talent for unique, realistic, amazing characters, Perkins can make any story a great read, and I just appreciated this one more than her last one. Keep writing!

Content Warnings: Language, kissing, sexual situations/comments


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Monday, November 21, 2011

Review: All These Things I’ve Done

All These Things I’ve Done
Author: Gabrielle Zevin
Series: Birthright #1
Published: 2011 by Farrar Straus Giroux
Obtained: Library

In 2083, chocolate and coffee are illegal, paper is hard to find, water is carefully rationed, and New York City is rife with crime and poverty. And yet, for Anya Balanchine, the sixteen-year-old daughter of the city's most notorious (and dead) crime boss, life is fairly routine. It consists of going to school, taking care of her siblings and her dying grandmother, trying to avoid falling in love with the new assistant D.A.'s son, and avoiding her loser ex-boyfriend. That is until her ex is accidently poisoned by the chocolate her family manufactures and the police think she's to blame. Suddenly, Anya finds herself thrust unwillingly into the spotlight--at school, in the news, and most importantly, within her mafia family.

First Sentence:
"The night before junior year – I was sixteen, barely – Gable Arsley said he wanted to sleep with me."

What a beginning, huh? From the first sentence I was hooked. Is this girl a bit … loose? Does she say yes? What kind of guy is this Gable? Where is this going? What will this reveal? Such a fascinating opener. I quickly devoured this book.

The story of Anya is pretty straightforward. Her father was in the mafiya, but now he’s dead. She’s trying to get through school, keep her siblings safe, and take care of her dying Grandma. Also she has a good supply of chocolate, which is essentially illegal. Oh, and her relatives keep shouting the word “birthright” at her. When her ex-boyfriend gets poisoned from her family’s chocolate, she finds herself on an ugly stage. Suddenly she has to deal with more issues than usual.

I’ll be the first to admit that the plotline of this story was slack. There wasn’t any obvious over-arching story plan except the character’s relationships with each other, and her relatives being pushy. But despite this, I was completely hooked. I’m not sure what made it so addicting, but I had to find out what happened next. It’s almost like a TV show, in the sense that things keep happening, but not all of them add to the overall plot direction.

Anya was complex. I’m not sure if her character was just written poorly, or if she was supposed to have so many different sides to her, but it was intriguing regardless. She was tough when she needed to be, and caring when that was appropriate. But mostly she was strangely jaded for such a young person, world-weary and blunt. UGH, I can’t seem to express what I’m trying to say, but basically she’d toughened up a lot in her years. It was difficult for her to handle all that she had on her plate. She’d lived through SO MUCH CRAP (her dad shot right next to her, her mom dying, her brother becoming mentally injured, etc.). No wonder she was the way she was.

Win and Scarlett are my favorite characters. Win is so charming, lovely, and awesome, he’s one of my new favorite fictional YA guys. Scarlett WAS winning the award for most awesome best friend, until she did that thing (if you’ve read it, you know what I’m talking about). But I still like her.

I’ve seen some negative reviews for this book, I think mostly about Anya and the plotline, but even with those slight hiccups, I really loved this book! I enjoyed the world Ms. Zevin created, and I adored the side characters. It was very addicting, and I can’t wait for the sequel! :)

Content Warning: Kissing, pressure to have sex, language.


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Friday, November 18, 2011

Just Bought - Inheritance


Inheritance (Eragon Series (informal name)) by Christopher Paolini

OH YES. I scored this for $16.79 from Kroger instead of the list price of $27.99!!!

Now all I have to do is read Brisingr again. When it takes 3 years to get the next book out, I tend to forget everything from the previous book.

But now I have them all!!! It’s always so lovely knowing that I have an entire series. Especially when it’s a series that’s taken 12 years to be complete. That’s three years a book. INSANE.

But I’m very thankful that he finally published the last one.

849 pages. BRING IT ON. (as soon as I’m caught up with where the last one left off, haha)
I’m so ready to close this series. I hope it’s a satisfying end.

Have you made any exciting purchases lately?
What series are you eagerly waiting to finish?
Do you read the Eragon series? If so, have you gotten your hands on Inheritance yet?

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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Review: Waterfall

Author: Lisa T. Bergren
Published: 2011 by David C. Cook
Obtained: Library

Most American teenagers want a vacation in Italy, but the Bentarrini sisters have spent every summer of their lives with their parents, famed Etruscan scholars, among the romantic hills. Stuck among the rubble of medieval castles in rural Tuscany on yet another hot, dusty archeological site, Gabi and Lia are bored out of their minds… until Gabi places her hand atop a handprint in an ancient tomb and finds herself in fourteenth-century Italy. And worse yet, in the middle of a fierce battle between knights of two opposing forces.

            And thus does she come to be rescued by the knight-prince Marcello Falassi, who takes her back to his father’s castle—a castle Gabi has seen in ruins in another life. Suddenly Gabi’s summer in Italy is much, much more interesting. But what do you do when your knight in shining armor lives, literally, in a different world?

First Sentence:
"We paused on our hike, panting and wiping our upper lips as our guide – the old Italian farmer who owned this land – chopped down a small sapling, clearing the overgrown trail."

I was hesitant to read this series. I’m not going to lie, it was mostly based on the cheesy covers. But after seeing some very good reviews (BookChewer’s was extremely positive) I gave it a shot.


Gabi and her younger sister Lia have spent their lives being dragged around to their parents’ new evacuation sites. There’s only so much of that a girl can take. So at one particular dig site, the girls go inside a tomb and find a strange painting that can take them back  in time. When Gabi comes to, she doesn’t see Lia, and she emerges from the tomb straight into a battle. Luckily, the “good guys” rescue her. As she tries to create a story that explains her appearance, she desperately tries to find her sister. This brings her into direct confrontation with the “bad guys.” Also, she tries to ignore the way she feels about Marcello, a handsome … engaged … knight.

I love all time-travel stories, despite their typical explanations which never fully make sense. In this one, they have that one “portal” to get back, and it’s all about how long you leave your hands on the painted handprints. Gabi needs Lia if she wants to go back, because there are two sets of handprints, perfectly fitting their hands.

One thing I really like about time-travel stories is the adjustment the character has to go through. Usually it’s pretty funny. Gabi knew a lot about other time periods, but she had to really stretch her mind to remember the things she’d picked up from her parents’ work. She adjusted remarkably well, but still faced some issues, even near the end. Mostly it was hard work keeping her story straight.

Gabi was a very admirable protagonist. She had the independence and boldness of a modern day woman, and she didn’t try TOO hard to change that. She knew who she was and she knew what she wanted (her sister) and she wasn’t going to let anyone tell her she couldn’t help. Naturally this meant quite a few standoffs with Marcello, who wanted her to be safe at all costs. While she appreciated his concern, she wasn’t helpless and desperately wanted to be out finding her sister.

Marcello was hot. And strong, brave, smart, chivalrous, and respectful. I actually really liked him for more than just the way he complemented the main character. He’s a really decent guy. But there’s another guy I love even more than Marcello. His right-hand man, Luca. Maybe I’m just like Lia and I love the “funny guys,” but Luca was seriously awesome. He had all the great qualities of Marcello, but instead of being “tall, dark, and handsome,” he was blond, funny, and more relaxed.

Gabi’s main problem to get over is her indecision about staying in the past, or going back to her real time. To me, it was a no-brainer. STAY WITH YOUR HOT, TRUE LOVE. But I guess college and computers have sway. Nah, by the end of this book she still hasn’t made her decision. That’ll come in the third and last book, Torrent, which I have yet to read.

Anywho, I recommend this book for the adventure, action, humor, and romance involved. Is it predictable? Yeah, kinda. Is it a bit on the cheesy side? Um, yes.
But it’s totally worth getting past all of that and jumping into the story.
(side note: it gets EVEN better in the second book, you’ll have to wait for my official review of Cascade to know all the details, but trust me, it’s still great.)

Content Warning: Nothing.


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Monday, November 14, 2011

Hunger Games Trailer!!!

Oh yesssss!!!!

New Information Overload!!!!! So many beautiful scenes and people! If you weren’t a believer in this movie, you HAVE TO BE NOW!!!

I’m so stinking excited for this movie!!! Only 129 more days!!!

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Sunday, November 13, 2011

Vacationing and Reading/Winning/Goodreads

When I travel, I bring lots of reading material. There’s always down time, and I seem to plow through books easily when I’m away from home (don’t have internet).
Case in point, this weekend I went camping upstate. Now, I am NOT a big fan of camping AT ALL, but usually I deal with it because I can read so many books, completely undistracted (except for the endless dirt and bugs). However, this particular camping trip happened because I was touring two colleges in the upstate.
Can I just say that camping and trying to look presentable to your peers is completely the worst combination in the world? Not only did I barely have any time at the campsite (to read), but I had to spend a lot of time trying to look decent. This made me feel like “one of those girls,” the kind that brings 1343 bags of makeup and 3 straighteners just to look fantastic so the bugs can admire them (trust me, there are NEVER cute boys at campgrounds….I have no clue why not).

That aside, I’m back home and ready to start reviewing books! But first a few updates.


These are the books I took with me on my camping trip. I finished Pride & Popularity. I have been so miserable at reading lately, hence me still having not finished Goliath. I’M WORKING ON IT.



This is completely random, BUT OHMYGOODNESSGRACIOUS. I have never seen a road named “after me” before!!! This was/is extremely exciting and required me forcing my dad to stop so I could take a picture.


I also won the book mentioned above, Pride and Popularity, through a Goodreads giveaway. That also has me freaking out, because winning stuff is incredibly awesome. :) So thank you to the people responsible for that. Iloveyou.

Related to Goodreads, I do have a profile there. I don’t update it very often, but I was thinking about posting my book reviews there as well, maybe bringing in more readers. So you can find me here: http://www.goodreads.com/pinkapig94 
And I’ll put a link up somewhere on the blog itself.
Please friend me! I love seeing other peoples updates and recommendations and reviews.

Thanks so much for sticking with me! As always, feel free to comment or to shoot me an email! I promise more reviews will be up soon. :)

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