Friday, August 27, 2010

Once Was Lost

In my world, Sara Zarr is easily compared to Elizabeth Scott. While Zarr doesn't have novels coming out quite as frequently as Scott, she manages to keep me captivated from page one and by the end, I am always begging for more.

Sweethearts by Sara Zarr has been one of my favorite books since it's release in 2008. Something about it just... wow. It totally wowed me.

But this review isn't for Sweethearts. This review is for Once Was Lost.

I was skeptical when beginning this book. I am not a religious person, and so the religious and spiritual aspect of this book turned me off. I was afraid to try it, worried that Zarr would disappoint me with a novel that preached to me.

I should not have been worried, and I should have read this when I first bought it.

The religious and spiritual journey of the main character, Samara, is one of my favorite aspects of the book. Like me, she questioned the validity of her God and whether miracles can really happen. She looks at all the bad in her life and wonders how God can possibly exist if he lets such horrible things happen.

Her thoughts were such honest thoughts, and I could truly connect with what she was feeling. My father isn't a pastor, but I know what she's going through. I think that many teenagers could relate to this part of the story, whether they are willing to openly admit it or not. Having questions about faith is just a part of growing up, and that was portrayed in this novel perfectly.

I loved the story, and how it flowed smoothly and easily from page to page. The characters, while I feel they probably could have been expanded on just a bit, were very likable and realistic. And I especially enjoyed how the conflict was presented, built up, and resolved.

This novel was truly wonderful. Anyone looking for a good book about a girl growing up and facing challenges would love this... plus, there is just a hint of romance for those who can't resist.


Saturday, August 21, 2010


Vlogging is a very cool and awesome thing that a lot of bloggers are doing. However, I'm very nervous to start trying it for a variety of reasons.

1. I don't have a webcam. Is that how most vlogs are made? Is it possible to use a regular digital camera on the video setting??

2. I'm shy. Not really with other bloggers, but my biggest problem is that I'm afraid that someone will walk in on me. Will my new roommate thing I'm a weirdo for talking to a camera? Will someone hear me talking to myself through the paper-thin walls? Is this a problem anyone else has/had?

That's really about it. But I was just wondering if anyone has any thoughts/suggestions about vlogging in general. I might start doing a couple vlogs every once in awhile, or I might just stick with plain old blogs.


The Unwritten Rule

Elizabeth Scott has done it again.

Once again she has written a book that had me completely awed. Scott has the ability to write novels that leave me thinking, and always wanting more.

The thing that I really loved about The Unwritten Rule was how realistic it was. Previously in Elizabeth Scott's novels, I've noticed a lot of cheesy, happy endings. Not to say that this book didn't have a happy ending, but it was done in the right way.

I also loved the characters. The main character, Sarah, is easy to sympathize with. She is an average girl with an average problem: she likes her best friend's boyfriend. I think it's easy to say that the majority of us have been there. And her best friend, Brianna, is easy to dislike. However, she also gets a huge sympathy vote because of her uncaring parents. The male lead, Ryan, is likable enough, but easily forgotten.

This wasn't my favorite of Elizabeth Scott's books, but it was still worth the read. I couldn't put it down.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

In My Mailbox: Week 5

Information about In My Mailbox can be found here on The Story Siren's blog!
1. Sand Daughter by Sarah Bryant

It was on sale for $1 at Borders, and I thought it might be an interesting read. Something different, which may or may not turn out to be a good thing.

2. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

I'm going to be reading this for school soon, and I've actually wanted to try out a few more classic novels anyways.

Not much for me this week, as you can see. But I am still satisfied :)


Saturday, August 14, 2010


This sequel to the wonderful novel Shiver definitely did not disappoint.

My favorite part about Linger was that it answered most of the burning questions that we were left with at the end of Shiver. I had questions about the wolves and about Sam and Grace's relationship, and it answered those questions as well as introducing new conflicts and ideas.

I also really enjoyed the incorporation of new characters into the story. While it bothers me that there were two entirely new narrators, I was also pleased because I think that's how it should have been in the first place. There were a few places that I got confused with who was talking, but overall Maggie Stiefvater did a good job alternating points of view.

Like Shiver, Linger was a book that leaves the reader wanting more. I can't get enough of this series. I love the characters, all of which have such unique and interesting stories and ideas, and I love the writing. These books have a way of painting wonderful pictures in my head, and I can't wait to see what Stiefvater comes up with next.

I would definitely recommend these books to anybody who could go for a good love story, or even a good werewolf story.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Blogger Buzz: Reading Vacation

Melina from Reading Vacation

Blog: Reading Vacation


What do you think makes your blog special?

I am younger than the other book bloggers, so my point-of-view and book choices are unique.

What is your favorite thing about blogging?

I love that blogging gives me the freedom to express my opinions about books and all things bookish.

Has blogging helped you in any indirect way?

This is an easy one. I have met TONS of wonderful book-lovers!

Do your real life friends/family/teachers/etc. know about your blog?

My family, my friends, and last year’s teachers know. Now that school is starting, I’ll be telling my new teachers.

Is there a specific blogger that you look up to?

Two blogs I look up to are The Story Siren and Word for Teens. I like everything about them and they have both been very nice and helpful to me.

What is your favorite book from the past year, and why?

I’ve read so many books this past year that I don’t have a favorite anymore.

If you could meet any author, past or present, who would it be and why?

I would LOVE to meet Stephanie Meyer, author of the Twilight series.

Can you give one piece of advice to new or aspiring bloggers?

Be yourself.

What has been your favorite blogging moment / experience?

My favorite experience was the day I posted my one hundredth blog post. I tried something different and posted a vlog.

Where do you see your blog in the future?

I see Reading Vacation growing up as I grow up. It’s like my baby.

Thank you, Melina, for your awesome answers and your awesome blog!

If anyone else is interested in participating in a Blogger Buzz interview, please email me at =]

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday: 8/11/2010

Waiting on Wednesday originated here. =]

My pick:

All Just Glass
by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes
Release Date: January 11, 2011

Sarah Vida has given up everything for love. From a legendary family of vampire-hunting witches, Sarah was raised to never trust a vampire, to never let her guard down, and to avoid all tricky attachments of the heart. But now Sarah IS a vampire—changed by the boy she thought she loved. Her family has forsaken her, and Sarah herself is disgusted by her appetite for blood.

Aida Vida is Sarah's older sister, the good, reliable sibling who always does her family proud. But when Aida's mother insists that Sarah be found and killed, Aida is given the one assignment that she may not be able to carry out.

Taking place over just twenty-four hours, ALL JUST GLASS tells the story of a game-changing battle that will forever change the world of the Den of Shadows. And at its center is the story of two sisters who must choose between love and duty. Dark, fully-imagined, and hard to put down, ALL JUST GLASS will thrill Amelia's fans—old and new.
My friend swears that Atwater-Rhodes is an amazing writer, and while I haven't read anything by her yet, I am looking forward to reading these and enjoying them. :)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


I finished Shiver late on Saturday night, and I was pleasantly surprised with the outcome.

This book mixes romance and the supernatural with a not-so unique twist: two lovers who can never be with each other. It was almost too sweet how amazing Sam and Grace's relationship was. They were passionate and fun, and they had a connection that was almost unimaginable.

The supernatural part is that Sam is a werewolf, and Grace is not.

Shiver was filled with suspense, and events that keep the reader wanting more. It's a real page-turner, and despite my problem with a few implausible events, I couldn't help but keep reading. I had to know what happened, and the ending kept me wanting even more- immediately!

However, I did have a minor problem with this book: it seemed unrealistic. I know that any book that involves werewolves is unrealistic, but I felt like it just wasn't thought out enough. The idea that the werewolves change with the temperature is an interesting concept, but it seems too inconsistent throughout the book (although that is part of the mystery of the werewolves). I also had a huge problem with Grace's negligent parents- they seem like they are even more clueless than any parent ever could be.

Despite these slight flaws, I thought that this book was definitely worth my time. Between the adorable romance, the suspense, and the very descriptive language, Shiver is a book that makes readers fall in love, and if you're anything like me you will be dying to get your hands on Linger.

Monday, August 9, 2010

In My Mailbox: Week 4

Information about In My Mailbox can be found here on The Story Siren's blog!
Borders Buys:

1. Peeps by Scott Westerfeld

The Uglies trilogy is one of my favorites, and I've wanted to read Peeps for years- I just haven't gotten around to it. Maybe now I will finally read it!

2. The Shapeshifters: The Kiesha'ra of the Den of Shadows by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes

One of my good friends highly recommends not only this series, but any book by Atwater-Rhodes. I'm also looking for a quick read, and despite the fact that the series seems long, I know it will go by fast.

3. Linger by Maggie Stiefvater

I finished Shiver last night, and I was sooo thankful that the bookstore was open until ten. I threw some decent clothes on and drove like crazy to make it before it closed- I HAD to have this book.


Sunday, August 8, 2010

How Starbucks Saved My Life

I had very few expectations for this book when I started it. What I expected was this: a simple book about a guy's experience working at a Starbucks.

This book was exactly that. This book is written about the author's own experiences: he started out his life as a very upper-class, snobby white man. Throughout the course of the book, he changed his views on life. He faces his racism issues, and he learns to accept the lower class by becoming one of them.

I have to say, I wasn't terribly inspired by this book. I wasn't fond of Gill to begin with, and while I'm glad he learned a few truths about life, I still don't think that the story held much of an emotional impact.

I also didn't appreciate the name dropping. The purpose was possibly to emphasize just how important Gill and his family were, but I got sick of hearing about "that one time with the Queen of England" or "when I met Frank Sinatra". Those are interesting life experiences, but it annoyed me and I didn't feel like the experiences contributed a whole lot to the story.

Overall, this book was just okay- my college could have picked a book far worse to make the freshman read. But I don't think I've learned any valuable life lessons or anything.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Almost to Die For: A Vampire Princess Novel

I wasn't sure what to expect when I got my hands on this book. I love a good paranormal book every once in awhile, and so I decided to give it a shot.

I was pleasantly surprised with the result. This book featured a realistic teenage girl (although I must say, she was a bit too whiny for my taste) who happened to be a witch. Interesting enough. And then she finds out that the father she's never known was a vampire. And that the witches and vampires are enemies.

This was definitely a book that I enjoyed. It was not perfect by any means. Like I mentioned earlier, the main character was just a little annoying. I also got frustrated by the fact that once again, there is a witch/vampire book that features not only one but two amazingly hot and wonderful guys, who are both pining for the plain girl. This bothers me so much. It also bothers me when the main character can only complain about it.

Despite my dislike of the main character, I did like the different take on this popular genre. The way the vampires and witches were portrayed was very different and unique, and definitely not anything I've seen before.

Overall, I'd say the book was decent enough. Will I be jumping in the air for the sequel? Probably not. But I will continue with this series as long as I get the opportunity.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

I decided to read this book after reading about it in my favorite magazine, Entertainment Weekly. The never ending praise by this magazine, and also the fact that the book was very obviously displayed in every bookstore I walked into, made me buy it.

I knew right from the start that this book would be a challenge. However, I enjoyed it and I'm glad I gave it a try.

My review for this book will come in three parts.

1. The beginning. The beginning of any book is without a doubt the most important part of it. Every book needs to have an attention-grabbing opening. Without that, an average reader could easily get bored or disinterested and move onto something more exciting. I came thisclose to giving up before the story got under way. Why? Because of the mumbo jumbo. I have no interest in the stock market or economics, and so when this book started out with some long explanations about some financial scandal, I had half a mind to give up right then and there.

2. The middle. This is the bulk of the book, and the only reason why I stuck with it. Once the story got going (and it took a little too long for my taste) I decided that I really wanted to see what happened. The character of Mikael Blomkvist didn't interest me too much, but the story he was investigating did. I found myself pulled in by the murder mystery that the book was trying to solve. I also became very intrigued by the idea of Lisbeth Salander. True to my expectations, she was as bad-ass as everything I had heard about her, and naturally that made her my favorite character.

3. The ending. Besides the part where the main mystery of Harriet Vanger's murder was solved, I skim-read the end. It was more mumbo jumbo, and a whole lot of something I didn't feel like reading. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the very last page, and the incredible cliff-hanger that was presented. Is it enough for me to read the sequel? Maybe.

Overall: This book is not for everybody. If you think you can handle a book with a lot of backstory, I'd say go for it. I also have to add that there are some very graphic sexual abuse scenes, so this is not a story for a young reader. The best person to read this would be an adult with an open mind, and a desire to read an interesting and different story.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

In My Mailbox: Week 3

Information about In My Mailbox can be found here on The Story Siren's blog!
Once again, no literal mailbox books. I did take a wonderful trip into the great city of Chicago with some good friends, and of course we stopped at a couple of bookstores. =]

1. Peace, Love, and Baby Ducks by Lauren Myracle

It was on sale. And it looks cute. :)

2. 501 Spanish Verbs

Going to study some Spanish in college... this was the most helpful book that my high school teacher had in her classroom, so I knew I had to get one for my dorm room.

3. Prophecy of the Sisters by Michelle Zink

It looks absolutely amazing, and as an added bonus: the sequel is being released today. =]

4. Say You're One of Them by Uwem Akpan

After reading Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart last year, I really want to read more African American novels. This is part of my grand plan to expand my literature to something outside of YA fiction.

Now, as a side note, I apologize for the lack of reading and reviewing lately. I've been in the process of moving, and then on top of that I just got my wisdom teeth pulled. Basically: it's been pretty stressful. Thanks for sticking through it with me!