Lauren’s Uppercase Review

I am no stranger to subscription boxes—Nailette, PopSugar, ipsy, Birchbox, Petit Vour…you name it, I’ve probably signed up for it. Why it never dawned on me to search for a book themed subscription box, I’ll never know—but Kiesha told me about Uppercase Box and I knew I had to try it!

Uppercase is a YA subscription box service. There are two options: Expert Pick ($29) where they choose a book they think everyone will love, or the Personalized Rec ($35) where they choose something specifically for you. Being a cheapskate and thrill-seeker, I rolled with the Expert Pick.

So cute!

So cute!

The packaging is adorable! It was obviously sent in a plastic mailer, not this. I was thrilled to feel a hardcover book.

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Bertie Botts Beans and book swag!

The Expert Pick option includes book swag, a book, and a book item. My book item was a small box of Bertie Botts Beans, which is extremely creepy because my co-worker and I were reminiscing about booger-flavored beans just this week.

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What’s better than book swag? Autographed book swag.

I received Forbidden by Kimberley Griffiths Little. It looks like something I would have picked out myself, so I’m pretty excited about that. I also got an autographed card and a pin. Each Uppercase box includes a handwritten note from the Uppercase creator, so that’s pretty nifty, too.

Overall, I really enjoyed this subscription box. However, I will not be resubscribing due to the cost—it’s a little too steep for me.

I bought this box with my own money—no perks involved!

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Happy Thanksgiving: Books We Are Thankful For

Books we're

To many people, a book is just a book. To us, a book has the power to change a life, a perspective, a bad day into a good one, a regular moment into an extraordinary one. A book has the power to transport you to another place, another person’s life, another time. In the spirit of thankfulness, we would like to highlight the books that we are most thankful for.

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The Harry Potter series by JK Rowling

6I wouldn’t be doing my list justice if I didn’t mention Harry Potter. I first picked up Harry Potter from my local library in 1999. I was almost ten and actually believed that my American Hogwarts letter would come in the next year. After finishing the first book, I immediately ran out (just kidding—my mom drove me) to the library to pick up the Chamber of Secrets and Prisoner of Azkaban. By the time I’d finished, my entire family was hooked on the book. My first midnight release party at Barnes and Noble was for the Chamber of Secrets—that’s right—my mom let me stay up past midnight.

As a homeschooled kid who lived in the country, friends were sparse. Books, on the other hand, were numerous, and my only rule at the library was that if I couldn’t physically carry the stack, I had to put some back. I grew very strong for such a nerdy child. Harry Potter was the first real series that I became an obsessive fangirl with, and I continue to hold that status today.

River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze by Peter Hessler

94053This book gave me the travel bug, and a love of learning about other cultures. I read this during my sophomore year of college; I was in an Eastern Civilizations class, and this was an assigned reading. I read it in a week. It was truly the first nonfiction book I read that I really, really felt a connection to. It made me want to join the Peace Corps for several years before I decided against it. I haven’t re-read it since that class, but I think I ought to.

Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer
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I read Life As We Knew It for a Teen’s Choice Award committee I was involved in for the library (because I wasn’t nerdy enough in high school, being on yearbook, newspaper, and showing chickens in 4-H). It’s about a girl who is trying to survive with her family when a meteor knocks the moon closer to the earth, creating disaster and devastation all over the globe. It made me realize how unprepared we all would be in that situation, and that we need to stop taking our way of life for granted.

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60510The Study Series by Maria V. Snyder

I know I sound like a broken record here, but seriously. THESE BOOKS. I feel like before I (finally) read Poison Study, I was kind of at a stagnant place with reading. I would read all of these books and while I liked them, I wouldn’t get as sucked in as I remember getting when I was younger and I couldn’t figure out why. Reading this series has completely changed that and renewed my hope in books, renewed that hunger for reading that I’ve always had and that had somehow dwindled over the past years. So thankful Lauren recommended the series, and so thankful that I finally started reading it.

Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah1472878

I can’t NOT put this book on here. I read it and recognized the similarities between Kate & Tully’s lives and mine & my best friend’s and immediately made her read it. We’ve both read it numerous times since then and it’s just as good the 2nd and 3rd times as it is the 1st.

hpThe Harry Potter Series by JK Rowling

We moved around a lot when I was growing up, and I remember before I made any friends in my newest neighborhood, I would spend all of my free time reading these books. I even made my mom buy me all of them because the library closest to our house always had an insane wait list for them. HP and all of this friends (and foes) got me through starting new schools, making new friends, and dealing with the angsty teenage feels that we all go through. As I got older, the series became a way to bond with my younger brother and brought us closer than we ever would have been without them. Hogwarts and Harry, every character and every setting, JK Rowling herself… they’re all lifesavers and I will forever be grateful for it all.

Kiesha

Lauren’s Picks: Gifts for Book Lovers

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Unsure of what to get for the book nerd in your life? Lucky for you, we’ve scoured the internet for the coolest budget-friendly holiday gifts. Have other ideas? Post them in the comments!

Harry Potter Dumbledore Quote Print – $15

SimpleSerene | Etsy

SimpleSerene | Etsy

This is one of my absolute favorite quotes, and I love the font and design of this print. You could pick up a $5 frame from Target or Walmart to complete the gift.

Brave New World Shirt – $28

Out of Print

Out of Print

This is a fabulous unisex gift—not to mention, there are plenty more options on their website! Simply choose their favorite classic book and you’re set.

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Why I’m taking a November reading hiatus

27b8b4996d49814c1c9e699f3756fe84I can’t believe that another November has rolled around—it’s here—it’s…tomorrow.

It’s time for NaNoWriMo, or National Write a Novel Month, if you aren’t familiar with it.

Basically it’s a month of wreckless abandon writing, all in a feverish attempt to reach the finish line: 50,000 words. It’s month filled with coffee, too many dollar bills forked over to the Starbucks corporation, sore wrists, angry curses to the Writer’s Block Gods, and pure frustration.

Don’t let that list fool you. It’s my favorite month out of the whole year. I’ve been counting down to November since August, and I can’t believe it’s finally here.

This is my sixth year attempting NaNoWriMo. I hope it will be my second year winning and crossing that 50,000 word threshold.

Last year, I barely crossed the 50,000 word count, with a novel I had hoped would be a suspenseful thriller/mystery. I just reread it after not touching it for a year—it’s not that good.

This year, I will be trying my hand at a fantasy novel that has been in my head for several years. Fear has been holding me back—fear of what, I’m not sure. Failure? The inability to accurately convey my idea on paper? Showing my idea to other people? It’s an interesting process.

Due to the sheer amount of writing I will be doing in November (an average of 1,667 words a day, to be precise), I will be taking a break from my usual binge reading. Kiesha will still be reading and reviewing, but she’s in school (*and* works full-time), so she’s pretty busy, too.

To prepare for November, we’ve decided to participate in a 30 Day Book Challenge. Every day will feature a different prompt, and we’ll answer accordingly. Pretty simple.

Any other NaNoWriMos out there? Let me know! I’d love to add you as a Writing Buddy.

Lauren11

Throwback Thursday: Goosebumps Series

This particular book scared the crap out of me.

This particular book scared the crap out of me.

Happy (almost!) Halloween! In honor of Halloween, I’d like to throwback to one of my favorite childhood series: Goosebumps.

As a kid, I was proud of how many books I read in a series. I read nearly all of the Junie B. Jones books, all of the American Girl Books, 16 Dear America books, eight Warriors books, and up to book #29 in the Magic Tree House series. I was very proud of my Goosebumps number–up to The Horror at Camp Jellyjam, #33–I know these numbers because I kept track of them in my super nerdy diaries, where I bragged about my numbers. Some people keep track of notches on the bedpost, I kept track of how many books I read…it explains why I didn’t get a boyfriend for a very long time.

R.L. Stine is a boss. He has a way with writing terrifying children’s books (I am still terrified of puppets after reading Night of the Living Dummy) with humorous twists so you didn’t really have to hide underneath your covers at the end of the book.

Looking at Goodreads, there are 62 books in the Goosebumps series—considering I started reading them 15 years ago, this blows my mind. The last was published in 1997, near the time I was reading them…clearly my library didn’t have them all or I lost interest, because my number (33, in case you forgot) was pretty sub-par.

Did you read Goosebumps as a kid? Which one was your favorite?

Lauren11

Throwback Thursday: Goddess of Yesterday by Caroline B. Cooney

226550I received my hardback copy of the Goddess of Yesterday during a summer reading program at my local library in 2004. To get our free book from the book cart, we had to read for five hours and turn our coupons in. I read five hours the first day of the summer program and pitched a fit when my mom wouldn’t take us back to the library the next day.

I chose this book from the book cart solely for its cover. I’ve been attracted to fantasy novels from a young age, and without reading the inside cover, I assumed this was a book about Medusa. I was wrong, as it is definitely more historical fiction, but I loved this book just the same. I’ve read it several times since choosing it from that cart, but lost it in a move several years ago.

Goddess of Yesterday is about Anaxandra, who is kidnapped by a king at a young age to be a companion to his young, crippled daughter. She adjusts to life in their culture, until it is sacked by pirates—and she’s the only one who escapes. She assumes the identity of the king’s crippled daughter, Princess Callisto, to survive, and is taken in by the King of Sparta. Helen, his wife, and Paris, her mister, do not believe she is Princess Callisto, and Anaxandra must stay out of the way of spoiled, witchy Helen of Troy to survive.

To this day, I still love the main character. She is extremely resourceful, strong, independent, and likable. She doesn’t need a man to save her, and she saves herself. She is complex and I found myself feeling for her—terrified, relieved, terrified again. Cooney does a fabulous job at shaping her other characters, too, and I also found myself hating Helen of Troy, who is extremely spoiled and terrible.

The story moves along quickly and wraps up well.

Lauren11

 

 

Read It, Watched It: Divergent

divergent-jpg_234142-550x309Books adapted into movies are rough—if you’ve read the book, you can’t help but compare the book to the movie. If you’ve seen the movie and then try to read the book, it can be difficult to finish because you already know the ending. I’m always nervous to watch the movie of a book I enjoy because it tends to ruin it.

This wasn’t the case with Divergent, though. Granted, I read Divergent last year, so perhaps I’m forgetting a few bits.

Casting is one part that can bother me when watching a book-turned-movie—either the characters are completely off, fall a little bit short, or are 100% spot on. While I don’t think I quite pictured Shailene Woodley as Tris, I think that Theo James is perfect as Four. Scratch that. Theo James would be perfect as anyone.

The movie stayed fairly close to the book, but the primary part that I was annoyed with was the lack of timeline and friendship with Christina. In the book, Tris has a pretty close-knit group of friends, the closest of whom being Christina. The reason it’s so difficult for Tris to kill Will is because he’s dating Christina—and Tris was good friends with Will. The boys that they cast as Dauntless initiates all looked the same, too, which would make it difficult for non-readers.

There was also a lack of timeline—it felt like everything happened within a matter of a few days, whereas it took months in the book. Because of this, everything felt sped up and forced, especially the relationship between Tris and Four.

I get that it’s difficult to turn a 300-page dystopian science fiction novel into a two-hour long movie, but I think it definitely could have been better.

I’ll still watch the sequel when it’s released, and this movie wasn’t terrible—I’d say 3/5 stars!

Lauren11