Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Annie's Ultimate Playlist (2)

April went by super fast! And yes, I know, it's not over JUST yet but seriously. Where has the time gone? I just feel like I sat around all month sleeping and studying. Ugh, gross. I can't wait for school to be over! Less than two months to go!! I spent most of April listening to covers of songs on Youtube and I debated for a while to post a special edition featuring covers and I might still do that but today I just thought I would stick with the routine and share a few songs that have seriously raised my spirits after weeks of cold, rainy weather and a load of homework.

I Wish//Stevie Wonder
I don't really know what to say except that it really cheers me up?

Falling Slowly//Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova from the Once Soundtrack
The entire Once soundtrack is basically heaven. Marketa & Glen are seriously geniuses and while I like all of the songs they wrote for Once, I think Falling Slowly is my favourite just because it's so sweet and lovely and gives me #ALLTHEFEELS. Go watch the film now. And then get tickets to see the musical. 

Riptide//Vance Joy
I remember someone bringing this song up on Twitter a really long time ago and I remember watching the music video and thinking the song was really good but that the video was the weirdest thing. And then a month ago, it popped up on my Tumblr dash and I started listening to it again and WOW, IT'S REALLY CATCHY.

Big Yellow Taxi (Paved Paradise)//Joni Mitchell
This song feels very summery to me which is why I've been replaying this like crazy. Because when I listen to this song and close my eyes, I can almost make myself believe that it is, in fact, summer and it is, in fact, not raining outside my window and freezing.

The Lonely Life//City and Colour
Great song, and great artist.

Girls Chase Boys//Ingrid Michaelson
Ingrid's latest album, Lights Out, came out recently and though I haven't had the time to run down to HMV to get it, I'm really loving this single! Very, very catchy.

That Girl//David Choi
Oh, how this song brings back fond memories. My cousin introduced me to this song when I was seven (or six?) and I absolutely loved it. I still go back and listen to it from time to time, like I did this month!

Gypsy//Lady Gaga
Fun and very dancey!

The Moment I Knew//Taylor Swift
I recently started listening to this song again and I think I love it more than a lot of the songs that made it onto Red. Definitely a bigger fan of The Moment I Knew than Girl At Home but that might just be me...

Pop Song//Theo Katzman
Really fun song that will 100% brighten your mood by miles. GO LISTEN TO IT NOW.

All Apologies//Nirvana
Fun fact: Lorde did a rendition of this song a few weeks ago at the induction ceremony celebrating Nirvana's induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. 

West Coast//Lana Del Rey
New Lana Del Rey single!! And I really, really, really like it.

Mr. Polite//The Jungle Giants
This song has the CUTEST music video.

Skinny Love//Bon Iver
I heard this song for the first time a few weeks ago after hearing the name mentioned for like basically forever. I FINALLY listened to it and am in love with it. I also listened to the Birdy cover and I think she did a really good job but I don't know if I prefer it over the original. I just feel like they're so different that I can't really compare. I like them both for different reasons, you know?

She Looks So Perfect//5 Seconds Of Summer 
It's crazy how fun this song is!

That's it! Okay, whoa, even more music for the month of April and WOW am I running out of things to say for the descriptions. But anyway, what songs have you been listening to this past month? Tell me in the comments! 

Friday, April 25, 2014

Reasons Why Lara Jean & I Could Be BFFs

I've been reading a HECK LOAD of books recently and one that I was super over the moon about - and still am - is To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han. I have been SO excited for this book ever since it first popped up on Goodreads. I even had it in one of my Bookish Radar posts! So when I got my hands on a copy and read through the entire thing, I was so happy to feel that I wasn't a bit disappointed at all.

One of my favourite things about the book was the main character, Lara Jean. While a bit naive and childish at times, she just had this totally fun and optimistic outlook on life that really emanated from the pages. Seriously one of the cutest and coolest characters I have ever read about! The whole time I was reading this book, I was just like
"OMG this girl needs to be a real person so I can hang out with her because we could so totally be BFFs. PLEASE."
And here are some reasons why Lara Jean is clearly my kindred spirit (and vice versa).

1. You love to bake yummy cookies and cupcakes!
I 100% cannot bake. It's too much of an exact science for me to excel at it. Also ovens confuse me, so there's that. But even though I can't bake ON MY OWN, if someone else was super good at baking, I could most definitely do my part if they give me instructions. And Lara Jean is a great baker. Throughout this book, she's whipping up multiple batches of scrumptious desserts and while they all sound so complicated to make, I'm sure I'd have no problem mixing ingredients or rolling out dough. In fact, baking with someone is one of my favourite things to do! Usually, I do it with my nana but if Lara Jean and I were friends, we could do it together! And then of course, eat everything once we're done too!

2. You love clothes and have a great sense of style!
It's pretty evident that Lara Jean loves clothes and dressing up from all the descriptions of what she's wearing in this book. And that is AMAZING because I love clothes and dressing up too though unfortunately, my closet doesn't seem to be as vast as Lara Jean's is and I don't explore as much as she does. But I am open to new things and her FLORAL BABYDOLL DRESS.

3. You love shopping!
I don't think you can enjoy clothes and dressing up without liking shopping. It's just not a thing. And even though I think Lara Jean gets most of her clothes off a Japanese street website (see how much I know about her?), I'm pretty sure she wouldn't complain if we went on a shopping trip together. Oh my gosh, how fun would that be? Oooh, and we could even go on a hunt together to find the cutest vintage clothing! YES PLEASE.

4. You're a Harry Potter fan!
For Halloween, Lara Jean dresses up as Cho Chang and reprimands someone for not reading the entire Harry Potter series and I was just like, "yeah, go girl!". And while I don't agree that the Prisoner of Azkaban was the best out of all seven, I would love for someone to be totally down with marathoning the entire series with me again and then watching all the movies.

5. You like rom coms!
I remember way in the beginning when Lara Jean admits to liking rom coms and since I LIVE to find the quintessential rom com, Lara Jean and I could totally have a movie night and just watch all the rom coms ever.

6. You'd be cool with talking about boys with me!
Now this is a bit of a leap because I'm not sure if Lara Jean actually would but all things considered, I think Lara Jean would be great at gushing over boys with me and then crying over them and then overanalyzing everything with me. And that is obviously a very important quality in a friend.

7. You're a bit dreamy-eyed like me!
I love to dream about all the things I want to do in life and make up fantasies starring me actually doing those things. And from the very beginning, Lara Jean appears to be in the same boat as I am with dreaming about being in Paris. Which by the way, Lara Jean, is definitely a place I would come with to visit!

8. You're just a fabulous person through and through: sweet, kind, caring, quirky and genuine!
This is why Lara Jean is one of my favourite characters ever and why I really would love to be her best friend. She's just such an authentic character and so lovely. It's kinda hard to imagine why anyone would NOT want to be her best friend because she has great qualities in her that make her seem really fun to hang out with. And yeah, there are some things that maybe aren't so great about her but all in all, Lara Jean is a pretty damn good person.
So that's my list of reasons why Lara Jean and I could be best friends! After thinking up of all the ideas, I only want to be friends with her even MORE. There needs to be a real life Lara Jean. Seriously.

And seriously, if you have not read To All the Boys I've Loved Before yet, I highly recommend that you do so! You probably can't tell or anything... but I really enjoyed this book! And if you want to hear more about what I thought, my review will be going up in the next week so keep your eyes peeled!

Now tell me, based on the reasons I gave for why Lara Jean and I could be BFFs, do you think YOU and Lara Jean could be best friends? Also, have you read this book?? If you have, tell me so we can have a little chat about this book because I need someone to talk to! Gah, the sequel is so farrr away! 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

How My Summer Went Up In Flames by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski

Published May 7, 2013 by Simon Pulse
Paperback, 302 pages
Borrowed from library

Rosie might have just gotten herself into a little bit of trouble... Following a breakup with her boyfriend who cheated on her, Rosie lets her anger get the best of her and sets his car on fire. Then attempts to make amends. And is considered a creepy stalker that needs to STAY AWAY so on the first day of summer, she gets slapped with a restraining order. When Rosie's neighbour and good friend Matty declares a road trip with a couple of his good buds and invites Rosie along, her first instinct is NO WAY. But her parents thinks it's a good idea for Rosie to distance herself from her ex-boyfriend so that she doesn't get into more trouble. So across the country, Rosie goes! And oooh, there may be a boy in a car full of boys to keep her mind off of her ex...

Who's ready for summer to start? Because I DEFINITELY am. Maybe you can tell by the number of books set during the summer I've been reading lately? Not a bad thing at all though because I love summer time! And this book sounded like the PERFECT book to get me into a summery mood with its focus on a fun road trip across the country! Hooray!


+ Rosie, the protagonist.
I had conflicting feelings about Rosie the entire time I was reading this book. On one hand, I really admired how she was a very independent person and took action for her life rather than sitting around and not doing anything to help herself. She's definitely feisty, but I loved that about her! And there were some qualities in her that I could see in myself as well. Rosie acts on impulse and often lets her emotions lead what she does (a la the whole igniting the ex boyfriend's car on fire). While I don't think I'd ever light my ex boyfriend's car on fire, I'm very impulsive as well and often do things without thinking about the consequences. But despite all the qualities that I admired/could relate to in Rosie, I thought that she was really self-centred and honestly, didn't give much thought to anybody else. From the very start of this book, Rosie has made it clear that she does not want to be on this road trip and while most of it is just whining, she actually does leave for the airport once and totally ruins everyone else's plans. I understand that this is probably not the ideal situation for her, what with the restraining order and all, but I also think that Rosie could have given more thought to others and how her actions would affect them, instead of just following her feelings.

+ The pacing.
Truthfully, I thought this book was pretty slow. I think a problem that happens with a lot of road trip stories is that they often are very repetitive - for me, at least! It's just one event after another and another and really no variety and spontaneity. And that's why a lot of road trip books get muddled in my brain. They sort of all become one because they're all so similar and there's nothing setting them apart. And I feel like that's what happened for me with this book. There was nothing unique about the road trip at all and it was just one place after another and a little drama here and there but nothing JAW-DROPPING. I guess you could say that in terms of pacing, it was all pretty consistent throughout this book but it felt so slow for me that a lot of times, I was just bored. Imagine it this way: instead of an intense roller coaster ride, it was more like an endless flat strip of road that just went on and on and on...

+ The romance.
Okay, to everyone who read this book, who really had any doubts that she would have ended up with Logan? Like, COME ON. I liked the progression of their relationship and how it wasn't like BAM, but honestly I had a hard time believing it. There just wasn't anything THERE at all. No chemistry between them. I could see them as friends but in a relationship? Not so much.


+ Avery and Matty and Spencer.
While there wasn't much exploration of the secondary characters, it was easy to see how most of them were really sweet! Especially Matty, Avery and Spencer. They were really such genuinely nice characters that any scene they were in was instantly a hit for me!

I've had my eye on this book since last year when it came out! It sounded like a quirky contemporary that would get me into the mood for summer so when I saw it in the library, I was like YES I NEED IT. While it was definitely a fast book to read, it didn't satisfy me at all. I felt really bored after a hundred pages in and by the end, I just thought reading it was kinda pointless because I didn't come out with anything. It was just a very surface-level book with too many things that didn't like.

If you enjoyed Reunited by Hilary Weisman Graham, I really think you'll like this too as they're both very similar! People who are looking for a fast pick-me-up type novel should try this!


Willa @ Lit Up Review says "This book has fantastic character development, hilarious prose, and a road trip worth taking! Rosie and her friends are a cast of characters I loved reading about, and I can’t wait to see what Jennifer Salvato Doktorski has in store next!"

Jen @ Pop! Goes The Reader gives it three stars: "While it lacked the raw, emotional intensity of Jessi Kirby’s In Honor or the quick wit and creativity of Morgan Matson’s Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour, Jennifer Salvato Doktorski’s debut novel How My Summer Went Up In Flames is a light, fun story that’s a great addition to the road trip sub-genre."

Sana @ Artsy Musings of a Bibliophile also gives it three stars: "For the most part, it's a story about a girl getting over a relationship through a cross-country road trip which is a fun concept but it wasn't executed well enough to make me feel that it's an awesome book. However, I do look forward to reading more by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski."

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

An Introduction to Let's Visit & The Very First Post

One of the things that I love SO much but don't get to do often enough is travelling! I love visiting a new place because there are so many new things to see and experience! But like I said, I don't get to do it often enough due to a variety of different reasons that seem to COMBINE to ensure that I never ever ever leave my boring hometown of Toronto. Joking. I'm a student in high school right now so I'm kinda at peace with the fact that the only time I'll ever be able to go anywhere is with my parents during summer break. But because I can't travel from place to place so easily, my only way to escape lies with BOOKS (all right, and TV shows but let's not ruin the moment). And thankfully for me, there are tons of really great books with a strong focus on setting and also travel so in a mild stroke of genius, I decided to combine these two together in a feature!

And yes, it is called Let's Visit. Don't judge, I didn't have any good ideas!

Each time though, I will be picking ONE location to focus on exclusively. Initially I had planned for it to be one post and done so then the next time I planned to make a post, I could focus on another location but while I was brainstorming, I realized that there were so many things I wanted to include that I would have to split it up into a couple posts. This isn't JUST a feature on books set in a specific place, I really want to put a strong emphasis on travel and feeling as if you ARE there and all that stuff would just be too much to squish into one single post. So after much thought, there will be a series of posts for each location, each covering different topics. And as of now, I'm not sure how often these'll be up but hopefully I'll be able to have at least one up every two to three weeks.

So there's just some background information on this feature to hopefully clear up any questions! I do have the very first post planned for today which isn't really anything special, it's just a little introduction to the location I chose and why I did. Cool! Let's get started!

This week, for my very FIRST Let's Visit series, I've chosen a city that's been very dear to my heart for a very long time now: London!

Don't ask me why but for some reason, I've been obsessed with the idea of London for years. Living in London, attending uni in London, getting married in London - basically anything I can do, I've probably dreamt of doing it in London. If you were to ask me where I would want to live if I didn't live in Toronto, chances are I'd say London! I've never even been to London once so it is rather weird how obsessed I am with it. Is it the accents? Or the people? Or the food? I HAVE NO CLUE.

It's like one of those things that just ARE. It just IS that I love London. All my friends know that I'm absolutely in love with London. So in love, in fact, that sometimes I like to pretend that I'm a Londoner and put on my terrible British accent.

I'm not even joking.

So because I love London so much and have for such a long time, I thought that it would be perfect to learn a little more about it and honour it by choosing it for the first ever edition of Let's Visit!

Next post in this series will feature a collage of all the things I love about London! Stay tuned for more fun posts and if you have anything you'd like to see or contribute to Let's Visit, give me a shout and we'll work things out! I'd really appreciate feedback of any kind because this is the very first edition and I'd like to hear how I can make it more fun and interesting for everybody! 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller

Published September 24, 2013 by Bloomsbury USA Children's
Hardcover, 352 pages
Borrowed from library

Since she was five, Callie's been living on the run with her mother after she split with her dad. Their life is anything but stable, spent moving from city to city until one day, Callie's mother gets arrested by the police for kidnapping Callie. Now, her mother's in jail and Callie returns to where she lived for the first five years of her life and where she would have continued to live had her mother not stolen her. She needs to learn how to fit back into a familial system she's never had, find friendship she's never known and find love to make her believe again.

I hadn't ever planned on reading Where the Stars Still Shine but when I saw it in the library, I just knew that I HAD to pick it up. I don't know why, I had no clue what the book was about but something in my brain was like "yeah!" so I grabbed it. And let me tell you, that was a REALLY good decision because I ended up really enjoying this book! It's no secret I'm obsessed with contemporary and the premise for this book just sounded so good. I'm not going to lie, I was a bit sick to my stomach when the cover flap made it sound like romance was a big part of the novel because I really wasn't looking to get a romance with this book but in the end, I think everything came together rather nicely!


+ Callie and Alex.
As I mentioned, I was not excited for the romance and while it didn't suck, I didn't like it that much either. I felt like everything moved way too fast for me. It makes sense to think someone's super hot (guys if you know me, me saying this is absolutely hilarious) but given the circumstances of Callie's past, I don't know if she would automatically have sex with a guy she didn't even know. Helloooo? He could be an axe murderer! But seriously, they didn't even know each other at all and then just hopped into bed with each other which I thought was so weird. As the story progressed, their relationship came together for me in a really sweet way. You could see how much they liked each other and they were really so good for each other. I did want to see some more character development on Alex's side as totally separate from the relationship the two were in but it was still good.

+ Callie, just as a character and in general.
I have to say, I wasn't the biggest fan of Callie. I didn't think she was super annoying but I didn't like her that much either. Honestly, she made it very hard to like. I just thought with all the things that Greg was doing for her, she ought to have been a tad more grateful and yet she was breaking rules and escaping from the house and just totally breaking his trust. Which wasn't a nice thing to do at all, regardless of her background or where she's come from. 


+ The relationship between Callie and her mother. 
In terms of family, Callie has only ever had her mother Veronica. I mean, there is her father Greg but after being taken away from that part of her life when she was five by Veronica, he wasn't really in the picture. So it's just Callie and Veronica. Their life together was NOT good at all. They had food and all the necessities but it wasn't a life of luxuries either. Often they would end up holed in together in really tiny places with barely any money and shady men entering and exiting their house to meet Veronica. Definitely not a good life in any sense and definitely not a good upbringing for a child either. And you just have to think that if Veronica hadn't taken Callie away, Callie wouldn't have experienced half of all the horrible things she did. As a reader, you see this and you're just like "why doesn't Callie hate Veronica because without her, she would have had a wonderful life?". And I think in some ways, Veronica expects Callie to hate her too but Callie's just such a good person - towards the end, Veronica has some things to say about this as well which I so agree with - that despite everything that she was put through with Veronica, she has a ginormous amount of unconditional love for her. And I think it's that unconditional love that really keeps Veronica afloat as well. The things Veronica has done are not good, but through the love Callie has for her mother, as the reader you kinda start to see things her way as well and it's absolutely beautiful the love they both have for each other and how they'll both fight in the other's corner and are really there for each other.

+ Greg, as well as the boys and Phoebe. 
Greg, Callie's father, was a really likeable character! He has two other boys now and a new wife, Phoebe but the love he still has for Callie is so obvious. And even though Veronica isn't exactly someone who's done great things, Greg doesn't deny his love for her either and I admire him for that so much. I couldn't help but think the entire time I was reading this novel how he was only 17 when he had Callie and yet he's eased into fatherhood and manhood so well. Greg is just one of those people who's so good through and through. His sons were really adorable as well and Phoebe was so nice too! Everyone in the family was super nice and really one of the bright spots of this novel! 

+ The town of Tarpon Springs. 
After reading Where the Stars Still Shine, I was so pleased to learn that Tarpon Springs was in fact, a real town in the United States! It was the best part of the book in my opinion. I've always loved reading about beach towns like with the fictional town of Colby in Sarah Dessen's novel and Tarpon Springs just really came alive through this book. I haven't ever been there but I'm sure Trish Doller did a great job portraying it in this book because I could imagine every single thing and honestly, everything was so detailed that I totally wanted to take a jet and live there forever! Since Tarpon Springs is a town that has a very large Greek community, there were a lot of Greek cultural references in this book as well and even though I'm not Greek, I thought these references really helped make the book much more intimate and interesting AND unique.

+ Trish Doller's writing.
Sometimes when a book has a really great story, that can propel the book forward because there's so much intensity and action but often times I notice much more that if a book has great writing, I can read it much faster! And Where the Stars Still Shine had that. Doller's writing was simple yet detailed and everything just went down so smoothly! Think the opposite of honey, like water... Smooth, flows well - you get the picture.

I really enjoyed this book! While Callie wasn't a super likeable main character, I thought everyone else was really charming especially her family. Trish Doller's writing was fantastic in this book and the setting of Tarpon Springs just really came alive for me. I think overall it was a bit more superficial than I would have liked, focusing a lot more on the romance but there was still some exploration of feelings of abandonment and drug abuse etc. 

fans of Sarah Dessen as well as someone looking for a romance with some more substance.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Epic Recs: April 2014

So. The last Epic Recs for me fell WAAAY under the bus. I know Shelly read her book and enjoyed it (yay!) but I still have not read Aristotle and Dante! I SUCK BALLS, I know. I had it for me at the library but I just totally forgot to go pick it up so they sent it back and now I'm up to nine dollars in late fees and other gross stuff due to the library. And to think I was going to use that money to buy the book...

Anyway, a few weeks ago, back in March, Chloe from the YA Booklover Blog asked me if I would join her in Epic Recs April and even though I failed with February, I was all "yeah sure!" because can I just make something work for ONCE? After reading her Favourite Books infographic, I was kinda scared because it was like we were the same person who liked (almost) the same books!

As always, for more information on Epic Recs and how to participate, visit the posts by Judith and Amber!

chloe's rec for me.

my rec for chloe.

Yeesh. Thinking of recs has been super hard because I haven't been reading a ton lately and every single contemporary I have loved, Chloe has already freaking read! Except for I'll Be There by Holly Goldberg Sloan which made me seriously happy because it is one of my favourite contemporaries ever... and I was running out of ideas. I read this a while ago but loved it so much. The writing is PERFECT and AMAZING and it was so touching and poignant. Gah. So much love for this book.

Chloe is making ME read one of her favourite books ever, How to Be Bad by Lauren Myracle, E. Lockhart, and Sarah Mlynowski. Hooray for girl power! I think this book sounds super fun, especially since there's a road trip and road trips in books are like the next best thing to actual road trips themselves. Possibly even better. I've only ever read anything by Sarah Mlynowski and Lauren Myracle but I love Sarah Mlynowski, enjoyed Lauren Myracle's book, and have heard great things about E. Lockhart so I definitely am confident I'll like this book!

Have you read any of these books? If so, what did you think? Tell me in the comments! 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

If We Were Having Coffee #1

I saw this first on Jamie's site  and really loved the idea of it but didn't really think of writing a post myself. I don't shy away from being personal on this blog but I don't air it out either. March has been absolutely TERRIBLE and I feel like there are just some things I really need to get out - things that I don't think would do me any good keeping it in. I always feel much better when I talk through whatever stress or problems I'm going through and I think this would be a really great medium. So really, this post is more for me than anybody else but I just wanted to get some things off my chest and sometimes, talking to the Internet is more comfortable for me than talking to actual people I know. So, here we go...