Monday, March 31, 2014

The Undertaking of Lily Chen by Danica Novgorodoff

The Undertaking of Lily Chen by Danica Novgorodoff

review with gifs (do not own any)

Written By Lauren

copy from publisher, but all opinions are my own

Official Summary: In The Undertaking of Lily Chen, Deshi, a hapless young man living in northern China, is suddenly expelled from ordinary life when his brother dies in an accident. Holding Deshi responsible for his brother’s death, his parents send him on a mission to acquire a corpse bride to accompany his brother into the afterlife, in accordance with an ancient Chinese tradition that has many modern adherents. Eligible dead girls are in short supply, however. When Deshi falls into company with a young--and single--woman named Lily, he sees a solution to his problems. The only hitch is that willful, tart-tongued Lily is still very much alive. As Deshi and Lily adventure through a breathtaking mountain landscape, meeting a host of eccentric characters and dangerous adversaries along the way, Deshi just can’t decide whether to kiss the girl or to kill her.

Review: I have seen various bloggers do reviews full of gifs, and while I don't normally do so here, I often find them enjoyable. Therefore, I thought I'd share my thoughts about this graphic novel with a gif here and there. First off, a bit more about the book - Deshi's older brother has passed away and his parents believe in this old idea of acquiring a corpse bride for the deceased so they are not alone in the afterlife. Deshi is sent to find a dead body worthy of his brother, but he eventually meets a girl named Lily. As you can see from the summary above, Deshi either has "to kiss the girl or to kill her." What a dilemma, huh?

Come on Deshi, KISS THE GIRL!

When I first thought about the idea of a corpse bride, I was immediately brought to the image of the movie by Tim Burton.

Deshi would only be so lucky to find an adorable, dead girl instead of having to decide whether he should really kill a living, innocent one to fulfill his parents wishes. The idea seems so absurd, but it's easy to imagine people living by such old beliefs. Plus, Deshi feels fully responsible for his brother's death and this is the only way to make things up to his parents.

Throughout the book, Deshi is desperately trying to find a suitable corpse bride, while Lily Chen continues to follow him on his journey. She believes he is going to his brother's wedding, which is true just without all the gory details, and she wants to escape her family as her father wishes to marry her off to one of the town idiots.

A bit how I imagine Lily in the beginning; excitable and full of questions

This is a long graphic novel, but it does read quickly and there are many illustrations without words, where Novgorodoff shows off the landscape and the various travels the characters are going on. Besides Deshi and Lily, there are moments with Song (who Deshi paid to find him a corpse bride) as well as Lily's dad, who believes a young man kidnapped his daughter.

I would definitely recommend this to older teens as there are some adult moments, though nothing too graphic.

I'm glad to have had the chance to read this novel as it certainly dealt with some interesting issues. It's something I would never have picked up on my own, and while I still wouldn't say it's "buy-worthy" for me, I'd recommend it to people interested in other countries and their customs. I really appreciated how Deshi and Lily believed in different things. On one side is Deshi who clearly lives a bit in the past, and on the other is Lily, who wants a modern, happy life. It's an interesting dynamic as their journey continues.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Book Promo/Giveaway - Miss Mabel's School for Girls

Let's welcome Katie Cross to the blog to celebrate the release of her YA fantasy, Miss Mabel's School for Girls, which releases March 27th, 2014!

For me, writing a book involved a lot of staring at a computer screen, slapping the delete button, pulling my
hair out, and Pinterest.

Oh, yes. You heard right. Pinterest.

The power of Pinterest comes from the images. I always find photos that I want to remember and have access to, so I pin them to a board for later reference. So, I thought to myself, Hey, I'm releasing my first book, Miss Mabel's School for Girls. Why don't I give the readers something to look at in anticipation of the book?
So instead of a boring interview where I talk about how great I am, I'm here today to take you on a visual tour to give you a few ideas of what you can expect to find in this exciting new young adult fantasy novel, Miss Mabel's School for Girls.

Wrought iron fence:
There's a wrought iron fence around the outside of the ancient manor that is Miss Mabel's School for Girls much like this one. It's known for creaking in the wind.

Potions bottles:
Potion bottles hold oh-so-many possibilities. Witches love potions, and the witches in Miss Mabel's School for Girls are no exception. These particular bottles contain a variety of spices and herbs, all of which you can win during the launch giveaway March 27th-30th!

Peacock feather:
Miss Mabel loves peacock feathers. They represent beauty and vanity: her two favorite virtues.

Green mossy tree:
Miss Mabel's School is located in Letum Wood, a lush, expansive forest that hides many secrets. Some of these secrets catch up with Bianca Monroe, our sixteen-year-old heroine, in the dark of the night.

This is another view of Letum Wood as you'll expect to find it in the summer. It's lush, gorgeous, and a little on the dangerous side.

Old book photo:
A grimoire is a book filled with magical spells, a kind of magical diary passed through generations. This grimoire is available to win during the launch day giveaway! Head over to; to find out how you can participate.

Hopefully these photos gave you an idea of the exciting adventure you'll find in Miss Mabel's School for Girls! Now, get your Pinterest on and start spreading the word! Visit; to find out how to enter the giveaway and win lots of free stuff!

About the Book:

Never underestimate the power of a determined witch.

Letum Wood is a forest of fog and deadfall, home to the quietly famous Miss Mabel’s School for Girls, a place where young witches learn the art of magic.

Sixteen-year-old Bianca Monroe has inherited a deadly curse. Determined to break free before it kills her, she enrolls in the respected school to confront the cunning witch who cast the curse: Miss Mabel.

Bianca finds herself faced with dark magic she didn’t expect, with lessons more dangerous than she could have ever imagined. Will Bianca have the courage to save herself from the curse, or will Miss Mabel’s sinister plan be too powerful?

Miss Mabel’s School for Girls is the first novel in The Network Series, an exciting new fantasy collection. A gripping tale about the struggle to survive, it will take you to a new place and time, one you’ll never want to leave.

About the Author:
My world revolves around my husband (who is a major hottie), my Vizsla's, and the mountains.

I wear hiking boots instead of heels when I need to feel powerful, and on a bad day, I love a weightlifting workout. Actually, I love it on a good day.

I don't eat bread because my thyroid doesn't like it, although there are days I miss it. Especially ciabatta. Sweet potatoes are kind of my thing. Cookies too.

I write because I never stopped.

Visit me at


Go to; and click on the 'giveaway' tab for more information. Enter to win a potions chest, an apothecary bag of herbs and spices, an old spell book that opens to hide apothecary herbs, amazon gift cards, and more! The giveaway lasts from March 27th at 7am to March 30th at 10 pm

This post is courtesy of CBB Book Promotions

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Theming Thursday: Fun Things To Do On April Fool's Day!

This Tuesday is April 1st, better known as April Fool's Day. Therefore, I wanted to share some fun ideas I've seen online that you can utilize to have fun with your kids, friends, or whoever! I don't like stupid jokes on April Fool's Day, but I do think there are plenty of fun, cute things to do!

Fart Lab (yeah, that's the name...) shows a new way of making "brownies." I would be very upset to learn the brownies were fake, but it would be quite funny!

The Kids Activities Blog has a fun frozen cereal prank to use on your kids, or even your husband/wife!

This was a picture on pinterest, but I think it's too funny. You put googly eyes on a bunch of your items in the refrigerator for the family to find!

Ah, seems like such a waste of caramel...but it's caramel "apples" - actually onions! You could make one or two with the onions for the joke and then have actual apples for after!

Lady Create-A-Lot shares 33 Harmless, Pesky Pranks if you're looking for some more ideas, but I wanted to end with just one she shared. Paint a bar of soap with clear nail polish and when someone goes to use it, it won't lather! How clever.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday - Bookish Bucket List

Top Ten Tuesday is from The Broke and the Bookish and this week's topic is---

Top Ten Things On My Bookish Bucket List
(in no particular order)

1. Listen to an audiobook - this should be obvious from my previous post, but I have yet to listen to one and I hope to do so soon!

2. Publish my own book - this is definitely a big one! I'd love to call myself a published author someday.

3. Celebrate 10 years blogging - I have been blogging on this site for almost seven years, so I would love to make it to 10!

4. Have a book club reunion-  I used to be in an online book club and a bunch of us have met a couple of times. This was years ago now, though, so I'd love to have a vacation/reunion with some of the members in the near future.

5. Visit BEA again -I have been to Book Expo America once, but it was only for one day and not even the entire day...I'd really like to go back and truly experience the convention.

6. Read the entire works of Oscar Wilde - I love Wilde, from his works to his biography, but I would love to say I have read his collected bibliography.

7. Plan more book-themed parties - I love party planning and I have planned/hosted a couple Harry Potter parties, a Hunger Games party, and one literary-themed party. I'd really like to have more parties based around a book or series in the future!

And that's all I can currently think of! What is on your bookish bucket list??

Monday, March 24, 2014

Review: Batgirl/Robin Year One

Batgirl/Robin Year One

Review by Lauren

Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

copy from library; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: Robin's baptism by fire as dons the costume of Robin, the Boy Wonder for the first time and patrols the night by Batman's side. In his earliest adventures, Robin learns very quickly that what he thought would be fun is actually a matter of life and death.

And in the action-packed origin of the original Batgirl, explore Barbara Gordon's transformation from average citizen into costumed super-heroine.

Review: I've been trying to read more graphic novels, but I never thought much about comic books. However, Angie from Angela's Anxious Life mentioned that many libraries have collections of comics in one book so that it looks and feels very much like a graphic novel. I saw Batgirl/Robin Year One at the library I work at one day and figured it would be nice to finally give this type of "graphic novel" a chance. Let's just say that I would definitely read Year Two or whatever comes next in this "series"!!

The first half of the book is Robin and he is already working with Batman, but it's obviously the beginning of his career. He's extremely capable, but he's also just a kid. Alfred, Batman or Bruce Wayne's butler, worries constantly about him and isn't sure he should be taking part in allowing another young boy to live this kind of life. Robin's stories begin with just an illustration and no drawing, so you can easily tell when one comic ends and the other is about to begin, but it's nothing too distracting. I found myself easily going from one story to the next, like a chapter in a book.

Batgirl's stories come next and they are set up in the same fashion. I liked that Batman and Robin played a relatively large part in Batgirl's stories since I had gotten used to reading about them in Robin's section. I knew a bit about Robin before going into this book, but basically nothing about Batgirl so I found her origin story to be fascinating. I will say that I found myself enjoying Robin's section a bit more. While Batgirl can definitely hold her own fighting the bad guys, some of her story was a bit "annoying" if you will since she basically starts out on her crusade to annoy her dad and get people to take her serious. It's nothing that takes away from the overall story, though, and I would still happily read more of her adventures.

I like Batman, but I am no expert, so I think these stories (and this book) is great for fans like me. That's not to say that more "experienced" Batman fans wouldn't enjoy this collection either. Throughout both sections, I liked seeing a mix of villains, though I wish we had more of the Joker. Maybe he'll be included more in the next collection. At any rate, I think these comics were great, and the illustrations were bright and nicely done.

Read this book for the graphic novel reading challenge

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Audiobook Recommendations!

Here is one of my book lover confessions...I have never listened to an audiobook. I have wanted to for a long time but I just never thought I'd have the focus to truly listen. Plus, I don't drive so I can't stick an audiobook on c.d. into the player or the rest of the car has to listen as well. However, the weather is starting to get nicer out and I really want to be a bit more active.

Therefore, I want to try and download some audiobooks onto my iPod, so that I can go and try listening while I walk around my neighborhood. So that's where you all come in! Please recommend some awesome books on audio that I could check out! Hopefully it will kill two birds with one stone- I can finally listen to some audiobooks and I'll be getting some exercise in!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Theming Thursday: Frozen Party

Thanks for the great reception last week for my first Theming Thursday. This week I decided to focus on all things Frozen (since I'm super in love with the movie and it was released this week). You can use these for kid parties, play dates, and even adult parties (some of the ideas can be suitable for adults too!). If you want any more ideas for a Frozen gathering, please let me know what you're looking for and I'd be happy to help! Also, be sure to leave comments for future Theming Thursday topics!

Rook No. 17 has these Frozen printable invitations for a party (FREE!) Above is just one example (she has three options) and you can also see how she edited them with the details, and in the end, it looks just like a fun movie ticket!

Stuffed Suitcase had a really cute Frozen Family Dinner Movie Night. You can see their menu above, including some of the particular food ideas like Troll Stones as meatballs. Yum!! The site offers free printables for the food labels and even a list of questions to use during dinner for discussion.

My Sister's Suitcase had a fun Frozen party as well for her children. I really like the fun food and crafts she had! My favorite food idea is probably the donuts, which you can see in the photo above. The noses are made with orange Starbursts. How clever!

She also offers a free printable for a fun Frozen themed scavenger hunt. The cards include various lyrics from the movie with words missing...there is usually a clue then at the bottom that helps you know where to go to find the next clue! This is one game I could see even adults having some fun with; it's just cute!

Catching up with Kate shows off this fun printable where you can Build a Snowman. Just visit her site, double click the photo to get full size, print, and now you have a fun activity for the kids!

Simply Designing with Ashley shows you how to make this fun peppermint rock candy, which is perfect for a Frozen party! A friend of mine made something similar around Christmas (though it wasn't peppermint) and I was thinking it would be fun to have at a Frozen party, so it was cool to find a set recipe for others!

Yellow Bliss Road had a fun Frozen party with lots of cute "snowy treats" to enjoy! I like the idea of including popcorn with all the sweet. And the marshmallow pops are so cute!

She even offers a recipe for Snowball playdough and free gift tag printables. This would make a really cute party favor or activity!

Some more free printables that you could use for your own Frozen affair!!

Frozen themed banner at Bakingdom

Frozen bookmarks from Seven Thirty Three- yes please!!!

Frozen party printables with Straw Flags, Cupcake Wrappers, and more from Homeketeers. For just $1.99, you can get the rest of the printables....but there are a lot of free ones if you want a simple affair!

Homeketeers also offered Hershey Kiss labels and treat bag toppers for Valentine's Day, but I think they would be really cute to use as party favors!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Tune in Tuesday with Idina Menzel

Tune in Tuesday is brought to you by Kate's Tales of Books and Bands

As most of you probably know, today is the DVD release of the movie Frozen. I'm so excited and I must get my hands on a copy ASAP. For today's Tune in Tuesday, I wanted to honor Idina Menzel who is the voice of Elsa (and sings the amazing song "Let it Go"). I've been a fan of Idina's for awhile now, and I've even seen her live, so I thought I'd share something a bit older than "Let it Go."

"Take Me or Leave Me" from the musical RENT. The video below is the scene from the movie version!

"Take me for what I am
Who I was meant to be
And if you give a damn
Take me baby
Or leave me"

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Secret Side of Empty by Maria E. Andreu

The Secret Side of Empty by Maria E. Andreu

Review by Lauren

copy for book tour, but all opinions are my own

Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Official Summary: As a straight-A student with a budding romance and loyal best friend, M.T.’s life seems as apple-pie American as her blondish hair and pale skin. But M.T. hides two facts to the contrary: her full name of Monserrat Thalia and her status as an undocumented immigrant. But it’s harder to hide now that M.T.’s a senior. Her school’s National Honor Society wants her to plan their trip abroad, her best friend won’t stop bugging her to get her driver’s license, and all everyone talks about is where they want to go to college. M.T. is pretty sure she can’t go to college, and with high school ending and her family life unraveling, she’s staring down a future that just seems empty. In the end, M.T. will need to trust herself and others to stake a claim in the life that she wants.

Review: If you live in the United States, you have probably heard a lot about illegal immigrants. Maybe you have a set opinion on the topic, but perhaps you do not. In either case, I would definitely recommend The Secret Side of Empty. It gives you a "personal" look into what it's like to be the illegal immigrant that everyone seems to have an opinion about. What really adds authenticity to this story is that Maria E. Andreu used to be an illegal immigrant herself, and is now a documented citizen of the United States. Therefore, it's easy to feel that M.T.'s emotions are real.

There is more to M.T.'s life than her lack of citizenship, though everything ultimately revolves around that. She can't report her abusive dad for fear of being sent out of the country. She can't get too close to a guy without thinking of their impossible future. She can't leave the country with her National Honor Society, even though she has high grades and would love to go. She can't apply to colleges with her best friend, Chelsea, because she knows none of them would let her in.

Despite all of M.T.'s hardships, she tries to live the life she wants by getting out of the house and engaging in the things her peers are doing, like going to parties or dating boys. I like that the book draws you into M.T.'s life and shows how strong of a person she is, so that when things begin to unravel for her, it's easy to empathize and wonder how anything will work out.

I felt the overall story was realistic. I might not know a lot about being an illegal immigrant, but the emotions of everyone concerned felt real and the world M.T. lived in was believable. I didn't always agree with the way she treated people or how she reacted to things, but it's easier to understand when you try and put yourself in her shoes. Here is a girl who sees no future, so it's hard for her to imagine the people in her life ever sticking around.

While you may be thinking this is a depressing novel, it really isn't. There are humorous and hopeful moments throughout. I would definitely recommend.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Theming Thursday: Lego Party!

Welcome to a new Shooting Stars Magazine feature! I know, the picture isn't all that great but it's the most basic design I could do at the moment. If you want to do your own Theming Thursday post, feel free to leave your link in the comments and I'll add it to this post and the next Theming Thursday post so people can easily find it.

Basically, you can post about whatever you want as long as it has a THEME. Maybe you want to share books with a certain theme, songs with a certain theme, or even parties with a certain theme! Most of my posts will probably be about parties since I've become obsessed with planning and throwing parties with various themes these last couple years. Sometimes I'll share parties I've actually thrown, but other times I'm going to pick a random party theme and then share ideas I come up with or things I've found online that could help you throw said party. If you want ideas about a certain party theme (maybe one you are planning to throw), let me know!

Today I have ideas for a Lego-themed party in honor of my review for The Lego Movie earlier in the week!
Lego Party Ideas!

B-Inspired Mama has a fun post about a Lego party she hosted, but she includes a lot of free printables at the bottom of the post that you can edit and print for your own personal use!

The above photo is from her party post to show you one of her games - Pin the Party Hat on the Lego Man. You can print the hat and the lego man (with him just saying Happy Birthday without a name) on her website. Just go here.

This post on Squidoo is basically what I'm doing here, just even better because there are so many Lego ideas. There are lots of free printables too, so definitely check out the entire page. However, I wanted to show you a couple items you can find on the site.

You can get a free Lego party invitation that you download, print, and fill in with your details!

You can also print out these Color Your Own Lego figures. Some parties have the guests color the Legos to look like themselves, but you can do whatever you like! It would make a fun activity, game, and/or decoration for the party!

The above photo shows you what you can find in the FREE Lego party pack from Peonies and Poppyseeds. It includes straw flags, cupcake wrappers, and more. Just download and have it printed out!

If you want another fun game to do at your Lego party, head over to A Typical English Home for free printables to do Lego bingo!

Babyology shared a fun Lego themed party with lots of food and game ideas you can check out. I just wanted to share one of the simple, cute food ideas they included!

They put Lego-colored jello in cups, putting three cups in a line like an individual lego block!

And finally, another fun way to display food at your Lego party. If you want to serve up some candy, think about creating bowls OUT OF Legos!

This party idea was used by Bliss Bloom Blog. You can visit the Lego party post for this and more ideas!

That's it for the first Theming Thursday post! Again, if you want to join in or want ideas for a certain themed party, please let me know. I'd be happy to find what I can!