Friday, March 28, 2014

The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen

Published June 2012 by Speak
Paperback, 374 pages
Borrowed from library



Macy's boyfriend Jason is away for the summer at Brain Camp leaving Macy with little to do other than study for her SATs and all her other routine stuff. When catering company Wish is hired to serve Macy's mum's latest party, Macy gets caught up with their chaos and their messiness, a far departure from what she's used to - orderly and tidy. But the more she's with them, the more she finds herself enjoying the experience and becoming someone she's never known before with the help of a great supporting cast of characters!



So after reading a string of really great books that I really loved, I was left with the worst book hangover ever. I literally could not pick up a single book without thinking about the pure book heaven I was in a few days before. Every time, I would read a sentence and feel like it just wasn't up to par and put it down. So I really needed a book that I KNEW I would like. Enter The Truth About Forever. One of my favourite Sarah Dessen novels ever and the first one I'd ever read. A reread was loong overdue and I just knew that it would be the cure to my book hangover. And it was! I had no trouble at all falling back into step with this novel and it reminded once again why I loved Sarah Dessen in the first place. 


WHAT I LIKED. 

+ The cast of secondary characters. 
Well-developed secondary characters for me is something that I can always expect to find in a Sarah Dessen novel. I love how she takes the story beyond the main characters and creates these interesting plot lines with the more minor characters. I think it adds a lot of dimension to the story and makes it just that much more fun to read through! And out of all the Sarah Dessen books I've read, I think The Truth About Forever has one of the best, if not THE BEST, cast of secondary characters. Everyone on the Wish Catering team was just so lovely and I loved how they were all so individual. I never had trouble telling any of them apart ever which happens a lot when you have so MANY characters like in this book. Everyone was just so well written and appeared so genuine. I think I would be happy reading a book centred around any one of the characters in this novel. From Kristy to Delia and even Jason, I thought I was really able to get a good sense of character from every person!

+ Macy and Wes. 
Two words: SO CUTE. Like honestly if I didn't ship Macy and Wes so hard, I would be thinking of stealing Wes for myself. Two really great and contrasting characters that just work so well. I feel like there doesn't even need to be an explanation for why Macy and Wes are a thing, they just ARE. They just work and if you don't think so... well, you can just talk to their hand. Seriously. I was basically dying of cuteness all throughout this book. Their shared scenes were the best and even though I'd already read this book and knew what was going to happen, I couldn't help but want to SCREAM at them to just kiss already. And after reading this, I think I want a Wes of my own. Like really badly.

+ Strong character development.
So that little paragraph was about the relationship between Macy and Wes and now I'm going to talk about just Macy. I think the reason why The Truth About Forever is one of my most favourite Dessen novels is because of the strong character development in Macy. Her transformation was really incredible and clear to see. She started out as this really huge perfectionist and she micro-managed every part of her day so that nothing changed. WAAAY different than Wish Catering which was why it was so interesting to see her loosen up as she got more and more involved with the catering company. And it was interesting to see how this change in attitude really bothered Macy's mother who's very much a perfectionist as well.

+ Great focus on family.
Family is one of my favourite things to see in books and I always really enjoy the strong focus Sarah Dessen has on family. I loved getting an inside look at Macy's family and the different ways she and her mother and sister dealt with the loss of her father. It's not something I can relate to but I really felt for them while I was reading this book and it made me so sad because while some of the characters had really unhealthy ways of dealing with the loss, at the end they were all just trying to get through each day.



This was such an adorable book and I'm so happy I picked it up again! As you can see, I didn't really have anything I disliked about the book which makes sense because this is one of my all-time favourite contemporaries! Everything was just so well-rounded and the characters were especially amazing! And if you've read this book, I have one word for you: WES.



people looking for a strong contemporary that'll leave you feeling all ooey and gooey inside.

**********


Judith @ Paper Riot gives it 3 and a half stars: "My only real issue with The Truth About Forever – but it may be Sarah Dessen’s writing style in general – is that there is a lot of telling."

Paola @ A Novel Idea gives it 4 and a half stars: "It made me smile, but it also made me think, and because of that I decided I was okay with the story being a bit predictable."

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

10 Things On My Bookish Bucket List

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and Bookish.

This week's topic is Top Ten Things On Your Bookish Bucket List. The gals at Broke and Bookish must have been thinking of me when they created this topic because I create bucket lists like nobody's business! And yet, I haven't made a bookish one... So it's kinda perfect that this is the topic for this week because I can finally make one! I'm going to try to avoid things that I listed on my bookish goals for this year though because I find that some overlap with goals that I want to achieve PERIOD like read more classics and non fiction.


1. Build a library/reading room
I think this goes without being said. What bookish person doesn't want a giant book storage room in their very own house? Even if it is a small room, if I can use that space to have bookshelves up and put my books there, I would be VERY happy. I just want somewhere I can read in peace and be surrounded with books. Honestly, is that too much to ask?


2. Attend an author signing
I've attended bookish conventions before where I've saw authors but I haven't actually attended an author SIGNING. Not one of those things at bookstores where you get to have a cute chat with the author and then take pictures and get autographs. But fun fact, I did see Neil Pasricha (author of 1000 Awesome Things) at a convention once but did not know he was there so didn't bring my copy! Not that it mattered anyway because when I tried to get in, the lady told me that he had to leave. So. It was pretty sad.


3. Visit Hogwarts (and Harry Potter World!)
Harry Potter was basically my childhood so I don't understand how I could ever not want to experience real and not fictional Harry Potter! I feel like I'm the only person left on this planet who hasn't gone yet. All my friends have and I'm so jealous! If anyone's planning on making a visit to either or in the near future, do you think you could hide me in your carry-on? 


4. Meet a blogger friend
I think it'd be really cool to meet one of you guys! I feel like I'd be really scared though because I wouldn't know what to say or do because interactions are totally different when you're not online so I don't know... I would actually get really nervous if I really knew that I was going to meet a blogger friend in real life but I know I would also be unbelievably excited! Like YOU GUYS AREN'T JUST FIGMENTS OF MY IMAGINATION. YOU'RE REAL PEOPLE. Awwww. 


5. Finish writing one full-length story
I've always kinda wanted to be an author and while I have finished a short story when I was ten, I really want to get down to writing a full-length novel! I have so many ideas and I just want to write so bad but whenever I do, I just feel like everything that comes out sucks. Sooo I'll definitely be working on this in the summer. 


6. Be quoted in a book
I've seen this on other people's lists a lot today and think it'd be really cool as well! I talked about my reviews yesterday and how they're not exactly the epitome of professionalism and honestly I don't think anyone would have a sentence like "OMG this book was so totally adorable!" on their book so this is probably pretty unlikely. But still, it won't stop me from dreaming! And I've been quoted on a publisher's website for a book once so that's pretty cool too, right? 


7. Attend BEA
This goes hand in hand with #4 and meeting blogger friends. Except here it's more just like meeting bloggers that I really admire. I hear stories about BEA every single year and it honestly sounds so much fun! I would not say no to a weekend filled with hanging around people who love reading and books as much as I do! Also New York. Enough said.


8. Participate seriously in a book club
So I'm in a book club right now but first, it's not really a serious thing and second, I don't really take it seriously. So my goal is to be in a book club and actually participate in it and read books and have insightful discussions and hang around and just chat about books! But also of course, have fun and be silly!


9. Have a book signed by an author
I should clear this up and say: have ANOTHER book signed by an author. Because I just realized that I do have a book signed by an author that I got when I was nine. It was a picture book but a really good one at that! I think it's always so sweet to get autographed or personalized books. It makes the reading experience more intimate and special.


10. Continue reading and blogging!
I don't even think this needs any explanation! Obviously I'd want to keep doing what I do because I love it! 


How about you? What are some of the things on your bookish bucket list? And more importantly, are YOU going to Harry Potter world and will you agree to bring me with? ;)

Monday, March 24, 2014

Reviewing Books As A Blogger

There have been many posts by other bloggers about the idea that you're "obligated" to write reviews as a book blogger and how there's this notion that if you don't write reviews (or as many in relation), you're not really a book blogger or you're not as good. And being someone who shares the same opinion as many others - that you don't NEED to write reviews to be considered a book blogger at all and furthermore, that that is an absolutely ridiculous thing to say - I think the message has gotten across quite nicely so I want to spend time talking about something else.

What's it like to review books as a blogger?

I started blogging with the sole intention of reviewing books that I had read. I honestly didn't think anything else would really happen on my blog (granted I had no clue what else there was available to me in the blogosphere!) so the number one thing I spent time doing on my blog was writing reviews.

I don't think you could really call them reviews though. I certainly didn't think of them as reviews. They were more a series of random thoughts I had on each book, usually two or three paragraphs with the majority of words being "OMG" and "absolutely" and "definitely" and "totally" and "CUTE".

But then, as I slowly realized that bloggers are actually serious business in the world of book promotion and marketing, I felt like I needed to suit up and get more professional with my reviews. And so when I made the move here, that was the first thing I worked on. I looked at a whole bunch of reviewing styles from a whole bunch of bloggers and brought together some of my favourite methods:

+ writing the synopsis for the book yourself. I thought the summaries bloggers came up with usually were much more concise and clear than the ones off of Goodreads so I thought it would be a good idea for me to do so

+ bolding phrases throughout the review as a way to draw attention to important concepts. I know a lot of people really don't like reading long reviews so I wanted to have options for people. If they wanted to read the whole thing, they could or if they just wanted to skim and get the gist of what I thought, that was available too.

+ a final thoughts section. This was created for the same reason as above but I also thought that this was a good way for ME to sum up my thoughts. I ramble a lot so if I had a section at the end where I just briefly summed up my thoughts, it would be clearer for me and the reader.


+ a recommendation. These are just fun little things that I like to see on other reviews and while even though I can't often conjure up books that are similar enough in style and concept, I like writing a few sentences or so for readers so they can get an idea of what the book is about or if they liked it, maybe what other books they can look for that are along the same lines.

+ an actual star rating. This was something I didn't have on Random Reads, I had word ratings instead but sometimes I felt like it was unclear what each of them meant in relation to stars so just to make it easier, I put them together and I think it works well? 

+ a section linking to other reviews of the same book. I only recently implemented this and I don't do it every time, mostly because it's hard to find a lot of good reviews for some of the less known books or less popular ones, but I think this is really helpful for ME as a reader. I like being able to hear other sides of the story and reading other reviews with maybe differing opinions gives me better perspective on whether or not I'll enjoy the book.

And you know, I'm really happy with the structure of my reviews. I kind of think about what I'd like to see in more reviews and include that in mine but I also feel like sometimes, I don't have room to just play around. That's something I miss from when I was blogging at Random Reads because I didn't have so many guidelines for myself and I was really able to review books in whichever way I wanted. And the way I'm doing it now is just not working for me. I feel like I'm always struggling to find things to say and writing paragraph and paragraph about a book while having to think about transitions and linkage of ideas is draining the fun out of it. Because I do like reviewing books - I like sharing my thoughts and seeing what other people have to say - but for whatever reason, the way I'm currently constructing them is not clicking with me.

I just feel like whenever I sit down and review a book, I have this expectation of myself that I'll be able to write as amazing reviews as other bloggers, like ones that belong on Kirkus or the New York Times. But honestly? I'm just a blogger - and I don't mean that in any demeaning way but just intending to say that I'm not a professional. And I don't seek to be. Because in all honesty? Coherence has never been my strong suit. And half the time, I don't even understand what any of the reviewers over at the New York Times are babbling on about. So for me as a blogger, I think that sharing my thoughts is the most important. I really don't expect people to come to me for a proper review that will help them make an informed decision about whether or not to read a book. I just want people to gain some insight and above all, enjoy reading my reviews! Because it feels like there's this almost unanimous agreement in the blogosphere (to me, at least) that reviews are least fun to read and totally boring and readers dislike reading them the most. And as someone who actually did and still does enjoy writing reviews, it's kind of disheartening to me because there's nothing I like more than chatting about books.

So I just wanted to say that I will be breaking up my reviews a bit and organizing them in a way that makes it easier for me to come up with cool and interesting and fun things to say, particular to each book. Because sometimes, I do feel like reviewing is unfun because there's this pressure to be super professional in them and also because I feel like people skip them more often. Which makes sense because that's what I do too BUT I want to make sure that for the reviews people do click on, they find themselves enjoying the reviews as much as anything else.

And...I know this was kind of a rambly post without any sort of focus. Mostly I just wanted to tell you guys about my new way of reviewing but then it kind of expanded and grew into this ginormous wall of text. The title is kind of misleading too. oOOPS.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot

The Princess Diaries #1
Published July 21, 2001 by Turtleback Books
Paperback, 283 pages
Borrowed from library



Mia Thermopolis is just a regular fourteen year old girl living in New York City. Her life isn't anything special until her dad re-enters the scene and breaks the news that he is actually the prince of Genovia, making her the princess of Genovia. And so now Mia has to learn how to be a princess even though it is the LAST thing she wants to do.



This was one of the books where I saw the movie before I read the book. I mean, honestly I didn't even know The Princess Diaries was a book first until a few years ago. But because I loved the movie so much (Julie Andrews, come on people!) I thought I would give the book a try. And I'm sad to say this because I wanted to like this book so bad for the sake of the movie but honestly, it was a let down. One of the few cases where I think the movie was actually better than the book.

The biggest problem I had with this book was that it seemed really juvenile for a young adult book. I felt like a lot of the dialogue sounded like it belonged in a middle grade book, not that there's anything wrong with that but I think if I had known that that was what it would have been like, I may have thought twice about my decision to read it. 

And seeing as Mia is the same age as I am now, I think I'm allowed some leeway to talk about fourteen year olds. Because we are definitely much more mature than is depicted in this book. Like sure we whine and complain but we don't sound outright stupid like Mia does most of the time. Mia comes off as a really insensitive person who cares only for herself. She whines and whines and whines about everything which left me totally unable to relate to her and wanting to pull my hair out. I mean, yeah I whine and complain a lot but I also think at my age, I'm able to try and look at the bright side of things and deal with a situation in a better way than just simply walking away from it. And being with fourteen year olds all the time, I think a lot of my peers are able to do that too. So...what's up with Mia??

This was also one of the reasons why the whole diary setup didn't work for me. Because when you have a book written in diary form, you REALLY need a good protagonist. You're closed off from basically everyone else, it's just the reader and the main character's thoughts and if the main character is annoying and unlikeable, then it's really hard to make the diary format work. And I did NOT like Mia at all, so reading page after page of her annoying narration felt too much for me.

But apart from Mia, I think every other character had me pulling out my hair as well. With the exception of Michael, brother of Mia's best friend Lilly and Tina, who Mia befriends. These were the only two characters who I really, genuinely liked because they were both just SO NICE. And maybe they were a bit one-dimensional but after sitting through characters who were so mean and petty, just plain old NICE was a breath of fresh air for me.



I picked this book up because I really enjoyed the movie and unfortunately, this book let me down. The majority of the characters really grated on my nerves, especially Mia who I couldn't stand at all. The diary format of this novel didn't quite work for me either and apart from the characters who I very strongly disliked, everything else was kind of mediocre and average. All in all, I think I definitely preferred the movie over the book.



fans of the Confessions of Georgia Nicholson books as well as books about becoming a princess.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Annie's Ultimate Playlist (1)

Yes, another feature! When I went to write this month's Reflect & Renew post, I just felt like all my music was taking over it and the focus wasn't as much on the blog and what I was reading and doing as it was on the music. I thought that it would be better to share the songs I'm currently loving in a totally separate post which frees up Reflect & Renew PLUS allows me to share so many more songs! I'm kind of thinking this will just be a sporadic post, like whenever I have a bunch of music, I'll just write one up so I'm not sticking to any schedule with this. At the very least, I think I'd have one post a month.

Starting with this month, March! March is not over yet but already, it has not been the most fun and exciting month I've had. A lot of work and stress and I think I've gained like ten new wrinkle lines from frowning so much. (Also why I haven't posted in a week and haven't responded to any comments. Sorry, sorry! Will get on it soon) Which is why a lot of the songs I listened to this month are very upbeat and happy. Trust me, I needed it. So without further ado, my picks for March!


There She Goes//The La's
I think this was definitely one of my most played songs this month but honestly, it's so catchy and fun that you can't NOT enjoy it. Or at least, I can't not enjoy it. 

Let's Get It On//Marvin Gaye
I was playing this song the other day and my dad started jamming with me. I think he was thirty or twenty when this song came out so it's definitely been with him for a really long time and me, as a result. It's just one of those classic songs that never fail to make the day brighter. 

Come On Get Higher//Matt Nathanson
Such a sweet song! But whenever I hear this, I think of a Sunday morning making pancakes in a lakeside cottage. Weird...

Rhythm of Love//Plain White T's
I haven't listened to the Plain White T's in AGES (Hey There Delilah, anyone?) so it was interesting to dig this song back up again. Exactly what I needed too!

Primadonna//Marina & The Diamonds
The first time I listened to Marina & The Diamonds I think I was very judgemental. Now though, with my taste changing and expanding, I've actually come to love Marina very much and this is one of my favourite songs!

Want U Back//Cher Lloyd
This is just one of those songs where I'd want to put on full-blast and dance and sing along to it forever. So much fun!

Die In Your Arms//Justin Bieber
Putting on Justin Bieber always manages to make me smile like a goof and this song isn't any different! Personally I think this is one of his better songs. And on a side note, the covers for this song are amazing as well! Check out Madilyn Bailey's and Ariana Grande's!

(I Can't) Forget About You//R5
Sometimes when I pop into Family Channel (usually to catch the latest episode of The Next Step) I usually find myself stuck on their Fam Jams where they play one music video. It's kind of a nostalgic moment for me because it was this where I first discovered Jesse McCartney, Hilary Duff and the Jonas Brothers but for the most part, I always find myself really bored of their songs because they play the same five OVER AND OVER. But whenever they play THIS song, I immediately start wanting to dance. It doesn't even matter if it's on like ten thousand times a day. I will INSIST on dancing every time.

Drunk In Love//Beyonce ft. Jay-Z
I've never been a HUGE Beyonce fan. Like I do like her music and really admire her but none of her songs have ever instantly clicked with me. Except for this one. I can't stop listening to it!

Flake//Jack Johnson
Love this song, especially the bridge!

Chariot//Gavin DeGraw
I've been stumbling upon a lot of Gavin DeGraw's music lately and this is one of my favourite finds!

Happy//Pharrell Williams from the Despicable Me 2 Soundtrack
I think out of all the people at the theatre, I was the one who enjoyed the movie the most. I really really liked it and when I heard this song playing, I didn't know what it was then but just remembered that it really suited Gru's vibe. And now, it's being played on every single radio and I couldn't be happier because this song makes me so HAPPY whenever I hear it.

Work//Iggy Azalea
I don't really listen to rap that often so this is a pretty rare occurrence but Work is really good. Trust me. 


AAAND that's it. I know that's a LOT of music for March but hopefully you guys find some really great songs to listen to. And because you can never have too many songs, why don't you share some of your current favourites in the comments below? 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Bookish Radar (4)

As a book blogger, my bookish radar is always on. I'm constantly hearing about titles of books and while some of them don't particularly interest me, others so do. These are the books that I currently have my eyes on. I WILL READ THEM IF IT'S THE LAST THING I DO. Inspired by On the Smugglers' Radar @ The Book Smugglers and Waiting on Wednesday @ Breaking the Spine




Released April 2, 2013


A vibrant, food-themed memoir from beloved indie cartoonist Lucy Knisley.

Lucy Knisley loves food. The daughter of a chef and a gourmet, this talented young cartoonist comes by her obsession honestly. In her forthright, thoughtful, and funny memoir, Lucy traces key episodes in her life thus far, framed by what she was eating at the time and lessons learned about food, cooking, and life. Each chapter is bookended with an illustrated recipe—many of them treasured family dishes, and a few of them Lucy's original
inventions.

A welcome read for anyone who ever felt more passion for a sandwich than is strictly speaking proper, Relish is a book for our time: it invites the reader to celebrate food as a connection to our bodies and a connection to the earth, rather than an enemy, a compulsion, or a consumer product.



So this pick is a little bit of a departure from the common YA fiction that I feature here, but I saw this five or six months ago on A Cup of Jo and it just looked SO CUTE. I finally remembered to get to it so it's actually being shipped to me right now! I'm a major foodie and these illustrations look amazing! I also like memoir-esque type novels so that's a plus. 


Making friends has never been Elise Dembowski’s strong suit. All throughout her life, she’s been the butt of every joke and the outsider in every conversation. When a final attempt at popularity fails, Elise nearly gives up. Then she stumbles upon a warehouse party where she meets Vicky, a girl in a band who accepts her; Char, a cute, yet mysterious disc jockey; Pippa, a carefree spirit from England; and most importantly, a love for DJing.

Told in a refreshingly genuine and laugh-out-loud funny voice, THIS SONG WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE is an exuberant novel about identity, friendship, and the power of music to bring people together.




The end of last year with all those wrap up posts, all I remember is seeing this book EVERYWHERE. Seriously, everywhere! I don't think I remember seeing so much of it when it came out but it was crazy how many lists this topped! So you know, I think it's about time I added this to my list. After all, I do like music, contemporaries, English people and LOVE.



A panda walks into a café. He orders a sandwich, eats it, then draws a gun and fires two shots in the air.
"Why?" asks the confused waiter, as the panda makes towards the exit. The panda produces a badly punctuated wildlife manual and tosses it over his shoulder.
"I'm a panda," he says at the door. "Look it up."
The waiter turns to the relevant entry and, sure enough, finds an explanation.
"Panda. Large black-and-white bear-like mammal, native to China. Eats, shoots and leaves."

So, punctuation really does matter, even if it is only occasionally a matter of life and death.

Now, we all know the basics of punctuation. Or do we? A look at most neighborhood signage tells a different story. Through sloppy usage and low standards on the internet, in e-mail, and now text messages, we have made proper punctuation an endangered species.

In Eats, Shoots & Leaves, former editor Truss dares to say, in her delightfully urbane, witty, and very English way, that it is time to look at our commas and semicolons and see them as the wonderful and necessary things they are. This is a book for people who love punctuation and get upset when it is mishandled. From the invention of the question mark in the time of Charlemagne to George Orwell shunning the semicolon, this lively history makes a powerful case for the preservation of a system of printing conventions that is much too subtle to be mucked about with.




I remember hearing about this book a while back and it never really struck me until recently while surfing Goodreads and I found it again! I read something similar to this except targeted to children when I was 10 and I thought it was super interesting. I find myself intrigued by all this stuff about the English language. It's honestly such a cool and complex language and this book just sounds fun and educational which is like the best combination of things ever.


The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith
Expected release date: April 15, 2014

Lucy and Owen meet somewhere between the tenth and eleventh floors of a New York City apartment building, on an elevator rendered useless by a citywide blackout. After they're rescued, they spend a single night together, wandering the darkened streets and marveling at the rare appearance of stars above Manhattan. But once the power is restored, so is reality. Lucy soon moves to Edinburgh with her parents, while Owen heads out west with his father.

Lucy and Owen's relationship plays out across the globe as they stay in touch through postcards, occasional e-mails, and -- finally -- a reunion in the city where they first met.

A carefully charted map of a long-distance relationship, Jennifer E. Smith's new novel shows that the center of the world isn't necessarily a place. It can be a person, too.




I wasn't a HUGE fan of The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight (ugh, that title will do me in one day) but ahh, all of Jennifer E. Smith's novels have such a cute premise. This one especially. And I don't know if I'm going to be left hanging like I did with The Statistical Probability but I feel like it's worth a shot. And also, I know that whatever happens, it's bound to be adorable and cute. Sometimes, that's all you really need...


And that's it for this week! What books are on your radar this week? Have you read/want to read any of the books on this list? Share your thoughts!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

7 All-Time Favourite Historical Fiction Books

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and Bookish.

This week's topic is Top Ten Books in X Genre, which is fantastic for me as a reader because I get to discover all these amazing books in different genres and maybe ones that I don't read very often. For my post though, I initially thought that I was going to pick contemporary because it's the one that I read the most often! But I really wanted to step out of my boundaries and dip my toe into another genre that I really love but don't get enough of: historical fiction. I remember being third grade and tearing through those The Royal Diaries books with all those princesses. Unfortunately, I don't read as much historical fiction now as I did then so I don't have a round 10 to give you (I don't think I ever have, now that it's mentioned) but hopefully, you enjoy my 7 picks!
This is part fantasy, part historical fiction. One of my favourite fantasy novels ever and by association, one of my favourite historical fictions too. Honestly, it doesn't have as much history as some of the other books on this list but I really really enjoyed reading it.

I read this book last year for school and I remember liking it but not loving it. There were some things I had trouble with that I mentioned in my review but that aside, Achebe really did create a very insightful and meaningful book. It was interesting to see colonization from the perspectives of the villagers and learn more about Africa. I don't think I've ever read any book set in Africa, except for a few books on Cleopatra.

I actually have not finished this book yet. I wasn't able to get the last 100 pages in before it was due at the library but whatever, because I read ahead and already KNOW that it's going to be a favourite of mine. (I'm going to go buy it this time and I'm super excited to finally be able to finish it!) I just happen to have a great fascination with all the things the book is about: spirits, New York City, and the 1920's/1930's. Really, really interesting novel that's very exciting. Bray's writing really makes the twenties feel alive!

This is a great historical fiction as well! It's a very unconventional story in terms of how it was told but it's just so beautifully written and SO SO good. I really must reread this one day! 

I read this book for book club and it was very good! Ruta is an amazing storyteller and you could really see it from this book. It was very educational too as the books set during the 1940's usually tell the story of Hitler, I find, but this one was about Stalin who I knew very little about before I read this book. 

One of my FAVOURITE historical fictions, hands down. I remember back in 2011 when everyone was raving about this book. It actually is so good though. Stockett is just such a wonderful author and the characters were really great. I recommend this if you have not read it yet!

The Season is set during Regency England which is another one of my favourite eras ever. If I could live in any time, it would probably be then - given that I was a noble so I could attend all those fun balls! So much intrigue in this book with a mystery and the most swooniest guy you'll ever meet. Oh, Gavin!


Have you read any of the books on my list? Are there other historical fiction novels you would like to recommend to me? And if you like historical fiction too, what're some of your favourite settings to read about?

Monday, March 10, 2014

Too Many Books, So Little Time

Inspired by some of my favourite Tumblr blogs: justgirlythings, littlereasonstosmile, and littletswiftthings. I love looking at the mini-posts on these blogs because they brighten up my day so I thought I'd make a bookish version!

Too Many Books, So Little Time


It's the harsh truth bookworms have to face: there are just simply too many books to read and not enough time to do so. Your brain can only process so many books in one day while the number of ones you add to your TBR can be exorbitantly high. It's a lost cause from the very start even when you're reading as much as you can. There's just no winning! Not even when you lock yourself from the outside world and hide in your bedroom reading for days and days. 

Because, well, books are addictive. Once you start reading and discovering the magic of books, you can't stop. But come on, do we really want to stop? Let's all count on our hands how many awesome places we've been to, how many super cool people we've met, how many battles we've fought with some badass heroes...and all through books! 

And as bookish people, we only know too well how great books can be. We want MORE but unfortunately, our grubby hands will never be able to get to all of them. If you're anything like me, you probably have a seemingly unending TBR list that only seems to grow bigger by each day. If you're anything like me, you've probably already come to terms with the fact that you won't be able to get to all of them. All the amazing books that you might not even be able to get to! And even worse, the amazing books that you don't even KNOW about that could very well blow your mind if you did read it. 

Sigh, the hard things readers have to go through.

But this goes with everything else. There'll be more things you'll want to do than you'll ever have time for. I believe that as long as you're enjoying what you're doing now and continue doing that, then that's amazing. Because hey, you could miss out on some really great books but you could also miss out on some REALLY BAD books that you'll be thankful you've never read. Ultimately, I wish (and maybe you too) wish that I could read every single awesome book but that's just impractical. If I'm enjoying my books now, then great! All I need to do is to continue to read and chat about books and HAVE FUN.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Published December 31 2012 by Pamela Dorman Books/Viking
Hardcover, 369 pages
Borrowed from library



Completely out of the blue, Louise Clark loses her job one day. With her family already struggling with money, Lou has to find a new job fast. And so she stumbles upon a job opening to be a caregiver for Will who's stuck in a wheelchair after getting into a terrible accident. But looking after him appears to be a bigger challenge than she expected. Will is moody and grumpy and it takes Lou everything to get him to warm up to her. But soon they find themselves enjoying each other's company and things change big time for each of them.



OH MY GOD. THIS BOOK GUYS. THIS BOOK. 

Don't shame me for squealing and crying and DROPPING DEM CAPS in this review because trust me, when you read this book, you will feel like I do right now, even though I finished this book two weeks ago. You will want to scream to the sky how fucking great this book is and shake your fists at Jojo Moyes for tearing your heart apart but at the same time, being amazingly talented. 

When I read the first page of this book, I did not realize how great it would be. It's a slow(ish) burn but once you start, Me Before You really kicks in. I honestly can't believe I did not read this book sooner! So many people have told me how great this book is and I, being me, just did not listen. 

OH MY GOD THIS BOOK IS SO GOOD I NEED TO BUY A HARD COPY FOR MY BOOKSHELF.

Me Before You is the BEST book I've read in a long time. Maybe two years.

The story was just absolutely wonderful and I loved how Moyes wove all the bits together so seamlessly. Will and Lou were painted magnificently - so genuine and characters that you can't help but love. They're not special in any way, they're normal people but they mesh so well together and Moyes writes in a way that makes them seem as if they pop from the page. The best part about reading this story is to see how Will and Lou change each other in such a short time. With each page and each conversation they have, it's like having a layer peeled away from their exteriors and so by the end, you're just so invested in these two characters and their stories and you just want to root for them so bad...

I won't say anything else because I don't want to spoil any of you. This is that kind of book where you must not flip ahead or search up for spoilers. Please, please listen to me because I am the type of person who always does that and I restrained myself from doing so with this book and it paid off. You really can't get the full impact of this story if you ruin the entire flipping story for yourself.



THE best book I've read in a long time! I can't even tell you how great this book is, as you can see by my stupid review. I honestly don't know how to put in words how good this book is so just trust me, PLEASE. YOU NEED TO READ THIS BOOK. If there's ever a book recommendation you take seriously from me, it should be this book. The story is so wonderfully woven together, the characters are amazing, the setting is amazing and in general, Me Before You was just so good. Really thought-provoking, really unique, really GOOD. I'm not a book crier but I had tears STREAMING down my face at the end. PLEASE READ THIS. PLEASE, GO AND FIND FOR YOURSELF HOW MAGNIFICENT THIS BOOK IS. IT'S AMAZING.



FREAKING EVERYONE.

**********


Hannah @ So Obsessed With says "Me Before You was funny, thought-provoking and sad. I thought it was very well-written, and it managed to be heartbreaking without being trite."

Christina @ A Reader of Fictions gives it four and a half stars: "I deem the buzz and all the positive reviews to be completely accurate."

Cassie @ Books With Cass gives it five stars: "If I had all the money in the world I would buy a copy of this for all of my readers and book-blogging friends and force it upon them. I would do this because there are so few books that you come across that stick with you. Forever. This book will stick with me."

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Lying Untouched On My Bookshelf (1)

The other day, I was organizing my bookshelves and I realized that the majority of my books have never been read. Obviously, I knew even prior to the organizing that I don't read every single book I buy/receive (I'm looking at you, Wicked) but the exact numbers were unknown to me. So it was crazy for me to see that there were SO many books that I had never read. Some of them have been collecting dust for over five years!

Clearly, I have a problem.

But I do want to change. I do want to read these books on my bookshelves I've never read - or at the very least, give them a shot and so a new feature was born: Lying Untouched On My Bookshelf (I know, great title). Basically, I'm going to pick one book every time and talk a little bit about how I got, why I was interested and what I know about it and then ask YOU what you have heard of it and/or what you thought of it to help me decide whether I should read it ASAP or maybe pass until a rainy day. 

I thought that I would do these Lying Untouched On My Bookshelf posts in video-form. Vlogging is something I've wanted to do for a while and it's on my blogging goals for this year so I thought that this would be a good opportunity to get a head start on it. 

And now that I've actually made a video I can say that I will 100% not be making these on a daily basis. Because I suck at it, my camera is crappy and because uploading takes like three hours and honestly, I ain't got time for that. But anyway, I hope you guys enjoy the video even thought the quality is crappy and I'm so awkward! I'm working on it... 



Haha, isn't my thumbnail so attractive? 

Tell me what you think of it in the comments and of course, make sure to tell me what you know of The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey. Should I read it or pass?

Friday, March 7, 2014

Welcome, Caller, This Is Chloe by Shelly Coriell

Welcome, Caller, This Is Chloe by Shelly Coriell
Published May 1, 2012 by Harry N. Abrams
Hardcover, 299 pages
Borrowed from library



A few weeks ago, Chloe was at the top of the social pyramid at her high school. Her best friends, Brie and Mercedes by her side, Chloe ruled the school with her charisma and charm. Everyone loved her but then, a fight starts between Brie, Mercedes and Chloe and Chloe ends up at the bottom. Now, her two best friends hate her, everyone else hates her as well and to make matters worse, Chloe is sent to work at the dingy school radio station as part of her independent project. She doesn't want to be there and she knows she doesn't belong but as the days pass, Chloe starts to befriend the wacky crew at the radio station and slowly, discovers the true meaning of friendship. Or something.



THIS WAS SUCH A CUTE BOOK. I should have known though. From the very first page, when Chloe confessed her love for vintage shoes, I should have KNOWN that this book was going to be tooth-achingly sweet and that I would like it. To be fair, how can you not like this book? It's just so adorable!

First thing is that I loved how the story experimented with sub-plots without going all over the place. Sometimes, I feel like that happens in novels that have side stories for the secondary characters. It gets kind of muddled and overtakes the main story line. This did not happen in this book, or at least, I did not feel it did. The side stories were good - they satisfied my want for MORE of the secondary characters - but they didn't overwhelm and by the end of the book, everything was wrapped up nicely. 

I also really enjoyed the characters. Especially the radio crew! They were all so fun and quirky and just such a nice bunch. I also really, really liked Grams. And of course, Duncan! I absolutely adored him! Chloe was a favourite of mine as well. She was so witty and funny and charming and just someone that seemed genuinely nice. I would love to be friends with her if she were a real person! We'd bond over our shared love of shoes.



Really, really enjoyed this book! The characters were great, especially Chloe and the romance was super cute. I loved the sub-plots as well as they gave the reader an opportunity to learn more about the great secondary characters. Really thought this book was very good. It was so cute and sweet and the idea of having a radio show is so cool. Can I have one?



people who are looking for a cute and sweet read with good characters. I think this would be good for fans of Stephanie Perkins and Kristin Walker.

**********


Alexa @ Alexa Loves Books calls it "a quick read, with hints of darker issues in the story."

Magan @ Rather Be Reading thinks that you should Read It Now: "I highly recommend Welcome, Caller, This is Chloe. This is a debut novel for Coriell and I applaud her for successfully writing a character I could connect with in so many ways."

Racquel @ The Book Barbies gives it five stars: "Shelley Coriell portrays this quirky, funny girl in such a realistic teen way, I swear to you this Chloe character is real somewhere out there. I actually see a lot of her in some people I know and I just loved that so, so much."

Celebrating Six Months Of The Runaway Reader!

Six months ago, I made the rather sudden decision to pack my bags up at Random Reads and start all over with a new book blog, The Runaway Reader. I was really nervous at first because honestly, I made the entire move in less than five hours. Made a header, drafted a color scheme, uploaded some background, wrote my first post and done! There wasn't much thinking behind it except for the fact that I had been feeling more and more upset about what Random Reads was like and thinking that I would give anything to be able to wipe my slate clean and do it all over again. So when I revealed the news, I didn't know what would happen and how people would react.

Flash forward six months later and I can tell you that starting The Runaway Reader was the best decision in my book blogging career thus far. Never has a day gone by where I have regretted my decision to leave Random Reads. It feels to me like I've been blogging here since the very beginning and it's just some place I'm very comfortable. I felt like with Random Reads, I didn't really have any idea of what I was doing and when I wanted to be serious about book blogging, I wasn't quite sure how to transition. But now, I DO have experience and blogging comes much more easier to me. I have things worked out, I know what I'm doing and I know what I want in my blog. And I think that's the most important thing of all.

So here's to six amazing months of blogging and many more!!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Life of a Blogger (2): Introvert or Extrovert

Hosted by Jessi @ Novel Heartbeat. Life of a Blogger is a weekly feature designed to reveal more about the blogger outside of books and blogging.


This week, we're talking about... whether you're an INTROVERT or EXTROVERT.

Before I start, I feel like I need to clarify what being introverted and extroverted mean, respectively. I hope you don't think this comes off a bit condescending but I just find that people, including myself, get really confused about the definitions. I've talked to a couple people about this and I notice that we usually have a tendency to link being an introvert with being quiet or shy and being an extrovert as being someone who's loud and outgoing. But that is not the case at all, or at least not the whole story.

While being an introvert can certainly mean that you are a shy and quiet person, introversion does not imply that one must be shy and quiet to be an introvert. Really, all that an introvert is is someone who is more comfortable by themselves than with other people around them. So an introvert can definitely be shy, but that does not exclude being a loud person, for example, as a characteristic of an introvert. On the other hand, an extrovert is someone who's more comfortable surrounded by people. They're very social and tend to talk before they think (while introverts generally spend more time thinking).

Now having cleared that up, what am I?

I'm pretty sure, with only very little doubt, that I am an extrovert. I don't think I was as a kid but I think since I was a preteen, I've been an extrovert. I MUCH prefer having people around me than being alone by myself, especially in busy places. It's terribly awkward for me to have to wade through a crowd alone versus having people around me, even if it's just one. It doesn't mean I'm social all the time because there are times when I get moody and just shut everyone out, but most of the time I tend to lean towards extroversion rather than introversion. The only time I'm good at being alone is when there's a laptop, a television, a cellphone, or a book nearby. That is the ONLY time I will ever rather being alone than with other people. And usually when I'm moody, it's not even a matter about not wanting to be with anyone as it is more a matter of finding the right person to get me out of my funk.

I love talking to people and having people around me and while I'm not always really outgoing, I do definitely love having fun and letting my hair down. And that thing about how extroverts tend to talk before they think? Describes me to a T.


What about you? Are you an extrovert or an introvert? Do you like being surrounded by people or being by yourself?

Sunday, March 2, 2014

[MINI REVIEW] The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han

The Summer I Turned Pretty #1
Published May 5, 2009 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Paperback, 276 pages
Borrowed from the library



The Summer I Turned Pretty is a novel that would look right at home in your beach bag. And not just because it's set during the summer. The Summer I Turned Pretty is the type of fluffy, light and fast-read you want when you go to the beach. Nothing too serious to dampen your mood. Nothing too complex to make your head hurt.

It's set during the summer at a beach house and centers around this girl named Belly. She's grown up at the beach house, along with her mum's close friend Susannah and her sons, Conrad and Jeremiah who share the place with them. There really isn't much of a storyline in this book, to be honest. It's mostly just about this love triangle between Conrad, Jeremiah and Belly. 

I had read Han's other novel, Shug and really, really liked it so I was looking forward to this one and unfortunately, it let me down. There wasn't anything memorable about this book at all and I just felt everything was very superficial and lacking depth. All in all, this book was bland and a total let-down.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

February 2014 Reflect & Renew


Fun times, February was. Haha, just kidding. February was actually the most exhausting and fastest-flying month of my life. Here I am, sitting in my swivel chair on the first day of March and all I can think of is how glad I am that it's March and not still February because it sucked the life out of me. From the weather to the crap-load of assignments I had, just not fun. In other news, is anyone else finding the year flying by really fast? I feel like I'm doing these every two weeks and not every month.

And on another side note, I feel like I'm really sucking at implementing the 'renew' part of this wrap-up. I haven't posted three of the posts this month that I said I would last month! Man, I got to get myself together!


what happened.

1. I got the results to my matchmaker questionnaire. So remember last month when I told you guys how I filled out this matchmaker thing at my school for CANFAR? Well, we got them back. And it was pretty interesting. The results that were returned were very detailed and in-depth so it was kind of a laugh to go through it. Also, did you know that my most astrologically compatible celebrity is Matthew Perry? And that the first Hawaiian cavalry was organized on my birthday? Oh, the things you learn...

2. I sold cookies at the Sportsmen show. It's cookie selling time again for the Girl Guides and to help us raise some money, we went to the Sportsmen show to sell some cookies. And it was, um, very interesting, to say the least. I think there's a reason why I've never been there and now that I have, I doubt I'd be interested in going ever again. Though there were some fun activities I got to do like archery and fishing. There was even a dog show! But unfortunately, not my thing.

3. Valentine's Day & the Love-A-Thon. Valentine's Day was the same as every other one, except this year I got a carnation...from a dude on the street promoting Winter's Tale. I don't know if I'm too interested in seeing that film but I put the carnation in a can with water and it's doing really good right now! But on the bright side, I got to spend Valentine's weekend participating in the Love-A-Thon which I also did last year. It was so much fun once again and I got to chat with great bloggers and read some fantastic posts. I absolutely cannot wait for next year!

4. BRACES OFF. Every month I have an appointment to the orthodontist to check up on my braces and how my teeth are doing. It's really a very dull matter but my appointment this month was good. It was done in twenty minutes and my orthodontist told me that if everything goes well in March, I'll be able to get my braces off and my retainer on in April! Very, very excited. I've been waiting for this news since November so definitely very happy that it's finally here!

5. Visited the horse stables. In Toronto, where I live, our police officers also patrol the streets on horseback which I've always found really interesting. I got to see the horses this week and even though I am not a horse fan and do not appreciate their slobber, I have to admit it was pretty fascinating to see them so close up and of course, learn about the care they get and how they live in an urban city!

6. Blendoku. It seems every month I find a new game that I'm really excited about and this month, it's Blendoku. It's so much fun and the idea behind it is so cool! I suck at it but I'm hoping that I'll be more skilled with blending my colors as I play more.

7. FREEZING WEATHER. I am so ready for this winter to be over, you don't even understand. I get nearly blown to the ground by the wind every day as I walk home from school. I hate ending up with frozen fingers and legs and ears. And I just hate the cold in general. I mean, us Canadians are hardy creatures but this season has been something like our worst nightmare. There was a 96-car pileup on a highway this week! Thankfully no one had life-threatening injuries but still, not fun.

8. The Olympics. I can't believe I forgot this! Um, hello? Who spent two weeks doing nothing but watch the Olympics? Despite the controversy surrounding the Sochi Olympics, I think it went really well! The athletes seemed to be really content and I was really content too watching them compete! I loved all the sports and was so happy to witness great moments on screen and of course, get excited about hockey. There's something about hockey that just gets us Canadians all excited, even if you're like me and appreciate the sport but don't know a heck of a lot about besides basic rules. I remember watching the US vs. CAN match at school during Design and getting up at 7 on a Sunday to watch the gold medal match between Sweden and Canada. Crazy, I never get up that early on a Sunday! But anyway, the Olympics were great, I can't help but get excited whenever they come around. Just two more years until the Summer Olympics again!


currently reading.

I actually don't have any books I'm reading right now because I just finished Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. Well, except for Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier but that's kind of at a stall since it's for English and I've already handed in my assignment. I also already know the entire story so I don't think it'll be as much fun reading it but I'm still going to try and finish. I'm planning on starting Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone by Kat Rosenfield. I've been wanting to pick it up for a while so I'm very excited that I'm finally reading it. I'll make sure to tell you how it goes!


listening to.

No You Girls - Franz Ferdinand
I've been so in love with this song this entire month. I love everything from the lyrics to the tune, and of course the video which I think is just about the coolest and weirdest thing I've ever seen. Okay, I take that back because their video for Right Action takes that cake.







Dirty Paws - Of Monsters and Men
I've listened to the entire My Head Is An Animal album but somehow, I totally missed this great song until this month???










Happy - Pharrell Williams from the Despicable Me 2 soundtrack
I remember going to see this movie last summer and enjoying it soooo much. It's just such an enjoyable franchise and all the characters are adorable! But anyway, I just love this song and it brings back hilarious memories of the film.









highlights of the runaway reader.



what to expect in march.

  • Book reviews for Welcome Caller, It's Chloe, The Summer I Turned Pretty, and Me Before You
  • An introduction to a new feature with Love and Other Perishable Items as the special guest!
  • Bookish Radar, the March edition (I haven't done one in so long!)
  • Plus, the reveal of a feature combining my love of travelling and books.


and that's it! tell me what you did this month in the comments.