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Jul 29 2014

#TeenBookBloggers {6}: Bella of Ciao Bella

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#TeenBookBloggers is something the Lit Up Review team started in the summer of 2013, and we’ve brought it back to life! This summer on Tuesdays we’ll be having an interview from different teen (under 18) bloggers from around the world. At the end of the summer, we’ll host a huge twitter chat, so stay tuned for that, as well as the installments throughout the summer!

Illustration by Jennifer Vallez of http://sophieandlili.com

Illustration by Jennifer Vallez of http://sophieandlili.com

Today’s blogger is Bella of Ciao Bella.

1. How has your reading style changed since you started blogging? 
Thankfully, I think blogging has only positively changed my reading style. While I still don’t take notes or mark anything while I am reading, I now better observe the author’s ability to develop the plot, characters, setting, etc.; I have never lost the magic of immersing myself in a story. Blogging has also pushed me to read even more to keep up with reviews and discussions, which is a welcome change to my reading style!
2. How do you balance life and blogging? 
For me, balancing blogging with high school, drama productions, art classes, clubs, family, friends, exercise, and you know,sleep, definitely became much harder this past school year than earlier ones, so I spent a lot of time this past spring coming up with plans for Ciao Bella {even taking a tiny blogging break along the way}. My schedule hasn’t magically turned perfect since then, but I have figured out some of the things that work best for me! Color-coordinated to-do lists bring me great joy, so I write down everything I need to do, including blog posts and site updates, for the day the night before. I also keep an editorial calendar {again, color-coordinated} through my Gmail account and the Sunrise app, allowing me to manage the posts of my blog and the site I work on with my sister. Finally, this summer I have been writing up as many posts as I can, so my drafts folder is starting to fill with book reviews, recipes, and other features I can post throughout the coming months. My hope is that all of this planning over the summer will help elevate any stress that would come out of trying to keep up with my blogs, schoolwork, and extracurriculars all at the same time.
3. How did you first start blogging?
I had been reading doll blogs, teen-founded photography blogs, and a few book blogs for about a year when my mom was working on a WordPress site and suggested that I start one. I was hooked from my very first post. I no longer have that original blog because I started Ciao Bella in November 2011 after I felt that I needed a fresh start, and I have blogging at the URL ever since!
4. Has your blog influenced your future career plans in any way? 
Without a doubt, my blog has influenced my plans for life! Working on my site has led me to discover just how much I enjoy graphic design and illustration. It has also opened up my eyes to the number of jobs within the publishing industry. I’m not sure what I want to do in particular, but at the moment, designing book covers – thus combining my two passions of reading and art – or working as a magazine editor {which stems from my love of writing} sound pretty good to me.
5. What are some things you don’t like about blogging? 
I love blogging. I really, really do. However, as someone who holds herself to high expectations, blogging can become frustrating quite easily. It can be hard for me to let go of the fact that not every post will be perfect or that a slow day in views does not make my site worse than the day before. It’s a constant struggle, but over the past year or so, I have gotten much better at recognizing that this is my hobby, not a full-time job.
6. If you could only save one book from your bookshelves, what would it be? 
That’s a hard question for a book lover! I guess {although I would probably stand in front of my bookshelf for hours contemplating} I would go with Morgan Matson’s Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour. It was one of my first books in the YA genre, and I am a huge fan of all of Matson’s novels.
7. Speed round:
  • Tumblr or Twitter: While I do not have a Twitter account for my blog quite yet, I love that my personal account lets me quickly and easily carry conversations with my friends anywhere and at anytime!
  • Netflix or Hula: Netflix has an awesome variety of shows! I haven’t used Hula in a long time, but Netflix is something I use on a near daily basis throughout the week.
  • Ice cream or cupcakes: This was a difficult decision, but I have to go with cupcakes! Although I would never turn down a dish of ice cream {cookie dough and chocolate are my personal favorites}, I think cupcakes – from baking, decorating, and, of course, eating – are the better choice.
  • Bookmarks or random objects on your bedside table: Since the majority of the books I read come from the library, I usually have no need for a bookmark – I just use the return date card from the front instead. Currently, the random objects on my bedside table include a note cube from Vera Bradley, my beauty basket filled with headbands, brushes, and perfumes, a few books, and the latest issue of Teen Vogue, although this changes all the time!
  • PC or Mac: I will forever be a Mac fan. Whenever I use a PC, I’m usually wishing for an Apple laptop instead!
  • East or West Coast {USA}: I live in lovely Massachusetts, so I think that would explain my choice in the east coast over the west coast. My favorite part is that I am so close to many national landmarks and big cities, such as New York and Boston.

Thanks for stopping by, Bella!

Are you interested in being a part of the #TeenBookBloggers series? Go here to apply and we’ll email you if you’re accepted, along with your interview questions!

Jul 28 2014

Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson

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Novel: Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson | Goodreads
Release Date: May 6th, 2014
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Format: ARC
Source: BookPeople Teen Reviewing

The Pre-Sloane Emily didn’t go to parties, she barely talked to guys, she didn’t do anything crazy. Enter Sloane, social tornado and the best kind of best friend—the one who yanks you out of your shell.But right before what should have been an epic summer, Sloane just… disappears. No note. No calls. No texts. No Sloane. There’s just a random to-do list. On it, thirteen Sloane-selected-definitely-bizarre-tasks that Emily would never try… unless they could lead back to her best friend. Apple Picking at Night? Ok, easy enough. Dance until Dawn? Sure. Why not? Kiss a Stranger? Wait… what?

Getting through Sloane’s list would mean a lot of firsts. But Emily has this whole unexpected summer ahead of her, and the help of Frank Porter (totally unexpected) to check things off. Who knows what she’ll find?

Go Skinny Dipping? Um…

I’ve always loved a good friendship book, and Since You’ve Been Gone is definitely one of my favorites. Morgan Matson is an incredible writer (seriously how are her books so long but also the perfect length? I have no idea. Morgan, tell me please) and I’m a huge fan of her prose. She manages to incorporate humor and depth into her books in a subtle way that feels effortless and natural. You begin to think like her characters do, and you see the world through their eyes. It’s an incredible feeling.

Since You’ve Been Gone centers around Emily, who is living the summer she expected to have with her best friend all alone, and she’s not exactly excited about it. Then she finds the to-do list and decides to do it, which changes everything. She begins to see the world around her in a different way, lead a life she never knew she could, and let herself feel in a way she never had before. Emily and Sloane’s relationship is a close one, filled with love and support, but it’s also a bit rocky. Sloane’s the one who drives the events, and Emily is the more rational one. They balance each other out. So without Sloane, Emily reverts back to Pre-Sloane which isn’t nearly as exciting or interesting as the girl she had become.

Then Frank comes into the picture. As a surprise friend, he becomes someone who Emily grows close to, especially in Sloane’s absence. Their relationship was so, yet again, effortless in many ways. They matched so well, complimented each other in all the right ways, and he encouraged her to become the person she was meant to be. I loved how Matson built their relationship and let the two of them grow from each other!

I didn’t really have any issues with this book, except for the fact that Sloane bothered me. But, maybe that’s something you’re supposed to feel? You see her through the past, which is a bit hard to judge someone on… I’m not sure. I just wasn’t a fan.

Matson comes back with yet another show-stopping book, and I’m still a fan. Hand over the next book, please.

Jul 27 2014

The Weekly Blaze {47}: July 21-27

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weeklyblazeI hope everyone had a fantastic week! It was my last full week of summer break, so it was somewhat bittersweet for me. I’ll be starting junior year this Friday and the other Lit Up Review girls will be returning to school soon after that, so bear with us as we get back into the swing of a busy school year. Also, Grace is currently concussed, so she is taking a hiatus for the sake of her health. Send her good thoughts!

Monday, July 21: Happy Birthday to The Page Girls: We help welcome a new site to the blogosphere with a giveaway!

Tuesday, July 22: Another #TeenBookBloggers Interview: Meet Summer of Blue Sky Bookshelf!

Wednesday, July 23: Emily’s Waiting on Wednesday Selection of Blackbird by Anna Carey: “I have never read a book told in second person before, but given Anna Carey’s talent for world-building and suspense-crafting, which she proved to me in her Eve trilogy, I have confidence in her ability to pull it off.”

Saturday, July 26: Our Spotlight Book Club Wrap-Up Post: Read our mini reviews of Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour, a gorgeous novel that we all loved.

Jul 26 2014

The Spotlight Book Club Presents: The Everything Leads to You Showcase

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The “Spotlight Book Club” is one of the most exciting things we do on the blog! As avid teen readers, it’s hard to find a book club that features books we haven’t read yet and that is full of avid readers like ourselves, so we decided to start an ONLINE book club with readers like us all over the world! Each month we choose a book, and we will give you the entire month to read it. On the last Saturday of the month we will each post a mini-review along with (we hope) an author interview, giveaway, or something else fun! Throughout the month, you can start threads on our Goodreads group to interact with other book club members. The only rule is you can’t spoil the book for everyone else!

This month’s Spotlight Book Club Selection was the much-anticipated Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour.

18667779A wunderkind young set designer, Emi has already started to find her way in the competitive Hollywood film world.

Emi is a film buff and a true romantic, but her real-life relationships are a mess. She has desperately gone back to the same girl too many times to mention. But then a mysterious letter from a silver screen legend leads Emi to Ava. Ava is unlike anyone Emi has ever met. She has a tumultuous, not-so-glamorous past, and lives an unconventional life. She’s enigmatic…. She’s beautiful. And she is about to expand Emi’s understanding of family, acceptance, and true romance.

Now for our mini-reviews!


This book captures a vivid mood with an absolutely effortless beauty. With gorgeous details, vulnerable characters, and a sweet romance, it has everything that makes a book perfect for me! It’s lovely, and quite honestly my favorite of the year. This book is the best!

I’m passionate about passionate people – the main character, Emi, was so involved in the film industry. She was a connoisseur for set design, and it was shockingly beautiful to read about. The affection she had for her career was endearing; I love my blog just as much, and it was such a joy to read about a similar character.

And then – the romance! It’s positively swoon-worthy! Emi has a really adorable relationship with this mysterious girl Ava. Some of the best moments in the book were descriptions about how Emi started to fall for her.

It’s mesmerizing and breathtaking and soft. Nina LaCour’s debut didn’t particularly do it for me but this one…this one is something special. Read it please, so I can talk about it with more people!


Everything Leads to You is the book I have been waiting for. YA offers plenty of LGBT stories, but this is the first book I have read in which a main character’s non-traditional sexuality is not treated as a big deal or a major plot point, but simply as a part of a complex personality. Nina LaCour writes the relationship between Emi and Ava as naturally as another author would write a relationship between a boy and a girl, creating a refreshing romance that had my heart from page one. Because the author does not focus on societal disdain for the romance, she leaves plenty of space for developing it as well as including details  about Emi’s set designing ambitions. Easily one of my favorites of 2014, Everything Leads to You has it all. Reading this book was love at first sight




I am a huge huge Nina LaCour fan. I love her books and her writing style, and when I saw this one at TLA I got so excited for it. And I have to say, it didn’t disappoint. LaCour has crafted yet another poignant, beautifully written insightful novel about love, loss, and family, with some humor thrown in. Emi and Ava were a couple I immediately adored – they both cared so deeply for each other on a much more emotional level than I think many YA couples do, and in the novel their romance was, as Emily says, refreshing. Their story grabbed me from the start. I couldn’t ask for a better book, LaCour! You’ve stunned me again. Everyone, go get this book. Now.


I loved almost everything about this book. The book is soft and subtle, allowing for a beautifully written story. I love how it’s about a girl that happens to be homosexual without letting that be a major part of the story–it is what it is and it’s already been established in the plot. The book redefines what family means, and it shows readers such a pure, real, healthy, supportive friendship. I also enjoyed the fact that this gave an insight into the film industry and seeing Emi’s love for her job and what she loves. Though there were some lulls in the pace and there were times when Emi annoyed me, this is a wonderfully written, subtle, quiet, beautiful book about friendship, life, relationships, film, and so much more. I agree with everyone else and highly recommend Everything Leads to You.

Jul 23 2014

Waiting on Wednesday {48}

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Waiting On Wednesday is originally hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, but we just love this meme so much we had to tag along! Each Wednesday, one of the Lit Up Review writers will post a book she is looking forward to, along with the summary and cover. You can find all of these posts by clicking on the category button and selecting “Waiting on Wednesday,” and fill up your Goodreads shelves with great books to get excited about!

18710739Blackbird by Anna Carey | Goodreads
Release Date: September 16, 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen

This twisty, breathless cat-and-mouse thrill ride, told in the second person, follows a girl with amnesia in present-day Los Angeles who is being pursued by mysterious and terrifying assailants.

A girl wakes up on the train tracks, a subway car barreling down on her. With only minutes to react, she hunches down and the train speeds over her. She doesn’t remember her name, where she is, or how she got there. She has a tattoo on the inside of her right wrist of a blackbird inside a box, letters and numbers printed just below: FNV02198. There is only one thing she knows for sure: people are trying to kill her. 

On the run for her life, she tries to untangle who she is and what happened to the girl she used to be. Nothing and no one are what they appear to be. But the truth is more disturbing than she ever imagined. 

The Maze Runner series meets Code Name Verity, Blackbird is relentless and action-packed, filled with surprising twists.

I have never read a book told in second person before, but given Anna Carey’s talent for world-building and suspense-crafting, which she proved to me in her Eve trilogy, I have confidence in her ability to pull it off. I can tell this will be a painfully addictive read, and I cannot wait to get lost in it.



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