Tuesday, June 30, 2015

June 2015 Monthly Recap

a look at how this past month went in my life, both on & off the blog
(previously known as Reflect & Renew)

what happened.

1. Course culminatings & exams. WHAT A CRAZY MONTH JUNE HAS BEEN. It has been crazy and hectic and so busy. I feel like I’ve just been going at it non-stop and now that I’m finally on vacation, it’s simultaneously AMAZING but also disconcerting because why don’t I have any obligations right now. Relatively speaking, I don’t think this year was as bad as last year, mostly because I already knew what to expect. But also like I don’t remember a thing about how I managed to complete all my stuff because I had way worse time management skills last year so like… how did I even pass all my exams? I still don’t have great time management skills (something I’m working on…) so for a large part of June, I was frazzled with all the work I had to complete. I feel like I crammed a lot for my exams but I don't know, I still got good marks although most of them didn't change (increase or decrease) so they were the same marks I had going into my finals which is good I guess since they were in the 90s anyway. I'm happy with my final result but also I can't help but wonder what I would have been able to achieve if I had better time management skills and had an actual schedule and gave myself enough time to study for all my exams and prepare. But anyway they're good marks so I'm happy, I just know I have to work on my time management for next year. Speaking of which...

2. JUNIOR YEAR OMG. I can't believe junior year is NEXT YEAR. I am so fucking scared. But also excited because I love all the courses I'm taking (regretting my decision not to take physics even though I'm not planning on going into science, I just feel like now even if I did want to do it, I can't and I don't like not having options). If you've been through junior year, can you please offer me words of wisdom? Because I am slightly freaking out.

3. SICK. I was sick again this year during exams. It happened last year and it happened again this year. My aunt thinks it might be like muscle memory where your body just remembers what happens and falls into that habit. If so, I AM SO SCREWED because this means I’m going to be sick for all my exams during high school. I’m better now but still it was kinda stressful because I had a horrible fever / sore throat / runny nose / just flu in general two days before my history exam and I was just so nim on doing anything. I didn’t even have the energy to watch TV or read a book. All I wanted to do was sleep but I COULDN’T because I had an essay to write the next day that I had to prep for. OH MISERY.

4. NHL playoffs / finals. I should shut up about this but basically my team, the Chicago Blackhawks, won the Stanley Cup and I am happy. But also sad because June was an amazing month filled with exciting hockey and now it’s all over and I have to wait until like October. What am I going to do with my life?

5. Haliburton. I went to Haliburton two weekends ago and it was MISERY. I hate going north where there are just trees and nothing else because while the scenery is gorgeous, THE MOSQUITOES ARE NOT. And the fact that there is nothing around me, nothing to do, is not. I am just a city girl through and through but also like seriously. The mosquitoes are enough for me to call it quits forever and ever. They honestly like me so much and I get bitten so much all the time and it is the worst. I got three mosquito bites on one eyelid one day and my eye just swelled up so much that it was basically just a slit. Seriously I am convinced the only thing good about northern Ontario / cottage country is Kawartha Dairy which almost made up for the rest of my misery. It is the best ice cream ever oh my god. SO GOOD.

6. RELAXING. Now that school is over, I am not doing anything except locking myself in my room and relaxing. Because finally I have time to do everything that I’ve wanted to do during the school year but didn’t’ have time for: watching TV, listening to music, reading and of course, NAPPING. These past few days doing nothing has been amazing and I am so excited to continue to do nothing. YES.

7. Summer vacation next month. I'm also really using the time I have NOW to relax but next month I'll be away on vacation for a month. And I'm parts excited but also parts dreading it and this is going to sound so FIRST WORLD PROBLEMS and it is but I'm going to Shanghai mostly to have a little tour around and they basically block all social media AND THAT MEANS TWITTER AND BLOGGER AND GMAIL so basically I will be cut off from contact to the western world in every form and that is something I am not excited about because I practically LIVE off social media and the internet. So let's see how that goes. 

8. Blogging mojo back again? One really great thing I've managed to accomplish this month was a blogging schedule / system. And it's been working super well for me so far which makes me really happy. I'm excited to be getting back into the swing of things and starting up routines again like these monthly recap posts. You'll also notice that I changed the name for this as it was previously called Reflect & Renew. It was something I started back when I was still blogging at Random Reads and to be honest, I think the name is quite dumb now so I kinda just wanted to change it to something more standard and you'll notice some shifts to the layout as well. And THIS is another reason why I'm sad to leave for July. There's no Blogger in China because it's blocked which means just when I've FINALLY gotten back into the swing of blogging, just when I've FINALLY started to be excited about blogging again, I have to stop for a month-long break because I'm on vacation and give up precious time to blog because before I know it, it'll be September again and I'll have to go back to school and be so busy and exhausted I'll have no time to blog and HONESTLY I JUST. Oh well (quietly sobs because why).

monthly playlist.

I don’t have a monthly playlist for June because it was one of those months where I listened to very little music because podcasts took over my life again. But if you want to know the music I did listen to, just head over to this post because that was the only music I was really listening to as my life was ALSO consumed by course finals and exams and these were the albums that got me through finals (also Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp a Butterfly which was not included in the post but definitely deserves a shoutout for keeping me sane during those crazy weeks).

currently reading, just finished & up next.

I'm taking it slow by reading one book at a time. I just finished Magnolia by Kristi Cook which I talked about in my monthly wrap-up and now I'm reading The Second Summer of the Sisterhood by Ann Brashares as part of my reread of The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants series. Up next, I have a bunch of books I need to read. Honestly I have a physical TBR of more than 20 books right now and I don't know how I'll get through all of them. Still figuring out what book I'll read after the Second Summer, I'm kinda going off on what I'll be in the mood for afterwards but most likely I'll be moving on to Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard or Bras & Broomsticks by Sarah Mlynowski.

new blog finds.

I find so many new blogs every month so I thought I'd include this new section just to show you some of the amazing new blogs (bookish and otherwise) I've been reading that you should check out too if you haven't already!

challenge updates.

  • The 2015 Goodreads Challenge: I finally took the leap and changed my goal from 70 to 100, even though it was 100 all along - I just didn't want to get my hopes up too high! But yes, I changed it and I'm feeling good. I'm still ahead which is fab and let's hope I can keep this up.
  • 2015 Debut Author Challenge: ONE BOOK. HUZZAH (The Boy Next Door by Katie Van Ark)
  • Flights of Fantasy: 4 more books since my last check-in which puts me at 9 in total.
  • 2015 Bookish Bingo Challenge: To be honest I have not updated this in a long time so... let's hold off on this until I actually get to seeing what I've done so far.
  • 2015 Classics Challenge: 2 books thanks to mandatory English assigned novels (well, one was a play).
  • 2015 Contemporary Challenge: I read 8 MORE books since the last time so that puts me at 19.
  • 2015 Discussion Challenge: Err definitely not doing so well on the one a month thing but I wrote one this month so that oughta count.. I'll work on this guys.
  • 2015 TBR Pile: 20 books in total so far.
  • Popsugar 2015 Reading Challenge: Yeah I haven't looked at this really either so let's wait on updating this.
  • Fairytale Retelling Challenge: Haha I have two! Even though they aren't actually fairy tales but I think other retellings are okay too so yeah, I have 2!
  • Reread Challenge: 8 books in total!
  • Dive Into Diversity: I'm not very good at this challenge mostly because I am so confused when it comes down to actually determining what books count as diverse and which books don't. As of right now I have 4 but I don't even think half of them count so.
  • Around the World Challenge: For this, you can view my map on the Challenge page as I update this regularly.

highlights of the runaway reader.

what to expect in july.

I'm going away for a month in July but I will have some posts scheduled while I'm away - at least one per week - so you can look out for those!

That's my June for you! How did your Junes go? Any exciting things to share? Any interesting books read? Or were you basically miserable the entire month LIKE ME working on finals and stressing over exams?

Monday, June 29, 2015

June 2015 Wrap Up

all the books i read this past month.

It feels so good to get back to blogging routine with a monthly wrap-up. Even though I had a little bit of a posting drought for a while this month due to exams and also sheer exhaustion, I'm happy with the way things have been picking up and honestly I have never felt as passionate about blogging as I have in these past few days (except maybe minus the first month of this blog's unveiling). And the same goes for reading. IT'S JUST BEEN SUCH A GREAT FEW DAYS AND I FEEL SO GOOD ABOUT THIS BLOG and that's all. Here's my monthly wrap up, guys.

This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith
4 out of 5 stars
Completed June 1, 2015

With this book, I have officially completed all three of the Jen E. Smith books currently out. I don’t know if it was my favourite one but like all Jen E. Smith books, it was adorable and amazingly written. This Is What Happy Looks Like is about this girl who ends up falling in love with a hot teen movie star and if that doesn't sound like the stuff your dreams were made of when you were a tween, I don't know what you were even doing. Because man, for me, my tween years were all about fantasizing about how Jesse McCartney (ok so not a movie star but close enough) would one day meet normal, average me on the streets and fall in love with me!!! And even though I'm no longer a tween, my love for Jesse McCartney still remains and secretly, a part of me still has that same dream as I did when I was 10. So the premise of this book was like SWOON for me and I ended up really enjoying it as well.

Fifth Business by Robertson Davies
1 out of 5 stars
Completed June 8, 2015

I had to read this for school and to be quite honest with you, I think this definitely ranks as one of my least favourite school assigned books ever. I finished reading this in full two hours before my exam after only skimming it for our class discussions and frankly, I have never had so much trouble settling into a book. Even with Cat’s Cradle last year, I eventually ended up settling into it and enjoying it but Fifth Business? Not even a little bit. Really the biggest thing I had with this book was that it was just so mind-numbingly dull. I think someone remarked in a Goodreads review how Fifth Business was an example of suspense and an exciting plot well done and I literally have zero idea what that person was talking about. There is no suspense, no excitement in Fifth Business. It’s literally just an old man talking about his life in the most long-winded, excruciatingly detailed way. Not to mention that the entire story was also really really bizarre. I don’t know, I just felt indifferent to it the entire time. Like I really didn’t care about the story, I was just reading it for the sake of finishing it, not out of any enjoyment. Maybe it’s all the underlying philosophical Jungian psychology that threw me off but I really can’t bring myself to appreciate this novel. I just don’t see the appeal of it, maybe I will when I’m older but now I think it’s safely categorized under “despised school assigned books”.

2.5 out of 5 stars
Completed June 13, 2015

This was a debut I was really looking forward to, mostly due to the figure skating aspect. I watch a lot of figure skating with my mom so I was curious to see how it played out in the book and how a romance between figure skating partners would work out (because you read about that a lot when it comes to skating pairs). I think I was maybe slightly disappointed with the figure skating aspect. I mean, this book was printed under an imprint that deals with YA romance specifically so maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised the romance was such a big part but I wanted more figure skating. I wanted to learn about how all the qualifications worked and I feel like for me at least, a lot of that was glazed over and that might also be because of some clunky time jumps. I had trouble following what was happening when at times in the book. Also kinda felt that the drama and the romance never did it for me and then the ending was really just quite a big shock. If you’ve read the book, you know what I’m talking about. It just felt to me quite an odd ending and one that maybe didn’t really fit in my opinion. There were other things too that didn’t really work for me either but I mean, I guess I did enjoy it overall. It’s not a favourite but there were parts I liked and equally, parts I didn’t like.

The Assassin's Blade by Sarah J. Maas
4.5 out of 5 stars
Completed June 24, 2015

How Throne of Glass became one of my favourite series EVER, I have no idea because it all happened so quickly honestly. One second I hadn't even read any of the books and the next, I'm massively in love with everything about this world. At first I as hesitant to read The Assassin's Blade just because I wasn't sure how I'd receive it when it didn't have all my favourite characters (beside Celaena of course) but why did I ever doubt Sarah J. Maas aka QUEEN because seriously I barely even noticed Rowan or Chaol or Dorian weren't there. I was just so intrigued by all the novellas. They were all very interesting and offered a lot of new insight into Celaena's background and also some characters that we know of but were still kinda an enigma like Arobynn who is much less enigmatic and so much more hateable. And then there's Ansel and of course SAM. Dear lord, SAM. This is going to ruin my Chaelin ship, I'm telling you right now because I am all about Samlaena (???) right now. SAMMM COME BACK BABE. Ok anyway. Really ace and now I need to go complete my Throne of Glass collection before Queen of Shadows comes out. Is it normal to want to reread the series already when it's barely even been six months since I've read it???

Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen
5 out of 5 stars
Completed June 25, 2015

I have a full review for this coming out mid-July (keep your eyes peeled!) so I'M NOT GOING TO SAY TOO MUCH but honestly I loved this book so much. WHY DIDN'T I GET IT FOR 40% OFF WHEN I HAD THE CHANCE I'M LEGIT SO MAD RIGHT NOW. Basically this book was amazing and reminded me how GOOD Sarah Dessen is when she is at the top of her game. I haven't had the best of luck with Sarah Dessens lately but Saint Anything makes it all okay because I loved this book so much. READ THIS BOOK.

On the Bright Side I Am Now the Girlfriend of a Sex God by Louise Rennison
3 out of 5 stars
Completed June 28, 2015

Oh this book just takes me back to my fifth grade days. I started my sorta reread of the Angus, Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging series because I never ended up finishing it and I want to find out what happens with Georgia! I admit that the novelty of these books have worn off, though I'm not surprised exactly. I think it's a good book to read when you're a bit younger and when you maybe don't have the full capacity (or you choose to ignore it, honestly I'm not quite sure what it was for ME in fifth grade) to understand how self-absorbed and ignorant Georgia can honestly be at times. And that's made ever more clear now since 14 wasn't so long ago for me and it's like... yeah I was and am immature and self-absorbed as well but never to that extent... But STILL there is something so absolutely charming about Georgia and I can't put these books down. They're rather fast as well and are good if you want a laugh just because she's so absolutely ridiculous but I kinda love her for it.

Magnolia by Kristi Cook
4.5 out of 5 stars
Completed June 28, 2015

I also have a review scheduled for this in July so I don't want to give away too much but I also did really enjoy this. If you're looking for a good contemporary romance, Magnolia is a solid choice. Kristi Cook writes some seriously good romance in this book. I also really enjoyed the Mississippi aspect of this book although the Romeo & Juliet aspect fell a little short for me. But a really great and addictive read! I read it in like four hours directly after I finished On the Bright Side and could not put it down.

Favourite book of the month.

I know I rated The Assassin's Blade a 4.5 stars but still I debated for a while which book would get the title of "favourite book". In the end, I HAD to go with Saint Anything just considering how much I enjoyed reading it. It's definitely what I would consider on of Sarah Dessen's best ever novels, if not THE best.

Least favourite book of the month.

UGH. I am sorry, Mr. Z if you are reading this, but I honestly despised this book just because it was so dull and bizarre? Like what the even heck? You can 100% bet that I will not be reading the rest of this trilogy.

What books have you read this past month? Any books that BLEW you away? Any books you hated? Come on, DISH IT TO ME! 

Sunday, June 28, 2015

9 Authors I Want to Meet SO BADLY!

You know, sometimes I feel a little out of place in the blogging community just because I don’t really happen to go to author events all that often. I have trouble finding out about them and then when I do find out about them, they’re usually at super inconvenient times or places for me. So the stars have just never aligned for me to actually attend an author event. I’ve been to a few book festivals in the past but that was so long ago, I barely even remember who I saw (but I think Neil Pasricha was one of them). All this is basically to say that I really haven’t met any of my favourite authors. WHICH IS SO SAD because authors are just the best people and how cool would it be to meet the genius mastermind behind your favourite characters and stories??

These nine authors are not only some of my favourite authors but also they just seem like the coolest people ever which is why I would love to meet them given the chance to do so one day. BASICALLY this is my author wishlist, like all the authors I want to meet so super badly. (Also I just realized that all nine of these authors are women? That was not on purpose… But girl power, right?)

So in no particular order, the nine fabulous authors I’d give anything to meet…


I almost feel like this list would be a sham if I didn’t have the QUEEN on it. The person behind one of my favourite series of all time and some of the best characters I have read EVER. Seriously though, don’t you ever just sit back and think to yourself how complex Harry Potter truly is and how damn smart J.K. Rowling is for pulling all that out of her head? But in addition to being an incredibly intelligent and talented and kind person, she’s also the absolute COOLEST. Like I don’t know if you’ve seen her Twitter but she is always dropping TRUTHS. Like her response to the girl who tweeted about how she never perceived Dumbldedore as gay? Or when she replied to someone asking about Hogwarts letters and said that we all secretly got one? Or when she replied to Matthew Lewis about his photoshoot? Like BESIDES just being an amazing author already, J.K. Rowling goes out and becomes the best human also so you know, I don’t really know why you WOULDN’T want to meet her.


Okay so I’ve only read Open Road Summer by Emery Lord (although I did love that a whole lot and am already convinced she is going to be added to my favourite contemporary authors squad) but again, have you seen her Twitter? BECAUSE IT’S THE BEST THING EVER. I know this might be so creepy to say but every single time I see an Emery Lord tweet in my timeline, I just KNOW it’s going to be the best thing ever even without reading it because all her tweets are just GEMS. So even having not read all her work, I am already dying to meet Emery Lord because her coolness is just EMANATING from my computer screen and I can feel her cool vibes and just know she’s a fabulous person as well. I KNOW IT.


To be honest with you, Sarah Dessen and I have a little bit of a rocky relationship. There have been Dessens I’ve really really enjoyed that I even consider favourites but there have also been a lot of books that I haven’t enjoyed. But this does not, by any means, mean I am denying the talent of Sarah Dessen because she really does write some of the best YA contemporary ever (even if I haven’t loved all of them). Her stories are realistic and heartfelt and ALWAYS manage to successfully capture what it’s like to be a teenager and all that comes along with it – friendship, romance, family, etc etc. Sometimes, I still like to picture myself as an author (even though I haven’t written for like ten years and that dream is basically done for me) and when I do, I always end up imagining myself to hopefully be an author of the Sarah Dessen sort. Like the author who writes these amazing contemporaries that reflect the reality of life and teenhood. Who writes stories that are authentic and get people to want to shout, at the end of it all, about how much they loved the book. Which is what I did after reading The Truth about Forever and This Lullaby, two books that still remain one of my favourite books of all time EVER. And so for bringing those characters and their stories to my life, and many many other stories that brought me comfort and the assurance that yes there is someone out there who understands, who’s gone through what I’ve gone through even if it IS a fictional character, I will appreciate Sarah Dessen endlessly (and also why I NEED to meet her!!!).


Before you say anything, yes she counts as an author! Although yes I admit I just really want to meet Mindy Kaling regardless. I don’t love her TV show any more (although now that it has ended on cable TV at least, I am sad) but I love her. And I think she’s hilarious and so smart and just a wonderful person. MINDY, IF YOU’RE READING THIS, LET’S GET COFFEE TOGETHER AND CHAT!


Sarah, I need to meet you. Because THRONE. OF. GLASS. That series has made me a lover of fantasy once again. Like to be clear, I never had anything against fantasy except for a long time I always preferred contemporary to fantasy and though I still kinda do, reading Throne of Glass has reminded me of how awesome fantasy can be as well. I have never fallen in love with a series so fast and had so much fun reading a series so even though all the Throne of Glass books aren’t even out, I am firmly in the Sarah J. Maas fangirl squad and there really isn’t going to be anything moving me from my spot.


I love Jenny Han. Ever since I read Shug when I was 8, I have been a huge Jenny Han fan. Although I
didn’t super love the Summer I Turned Pretty series, I did really enjoy Burn for Burn and of course, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. And I don’t know, I just think Jenny seems like a really fabulous person as well. AGAIN, I MAY SOUND LIKE A STALKER HERE but from all the pictures I’ve seen on Twitter and blogs etc of her author events, she looks like she’s just always so put-together and has the cutest clothes ever. SHE JUST SEEMS LIKE THE CUTEST PERSON EVER OKAY.


Because Anna and the French Kiss is one of my favourite contemporary series EVER. I don’t think any further explanation is needed because that alone is enough.


The Raven Boys was a series I enjoyed a lot that I wasn’t expecting to enjoy and while I haven’t read her other books, I want to meet Maggie anyway (and there might be a pattern you see here) because I KNOW SHE IS THE COOLEST PERSON EVER. But from Tumblr as I follow her Tumblr and she just always has the best responses to questions. Also yeah, I’m definitely starting to realize as well that social media has quite a large influence on whether or not I want to meet an author.


I LOVE MORGAN MATSON. She is one of my favourite authors ever and maybe possibly even my favourite YA contemporary author? SHE’S JUST THAT FANTASTIC. I have read all her books and loved every single one of them and I am so pumped for her upcoming book because even though I barely know what it’s about, IT’S MORGAN MATSON, IT’S DEFINTIELY GOING TO BE GOOD. I am always going to be all about Morgan Matson. Also I will take the time here to say that if you haven’t read any Morgan Matson books or if there’s one you still haven’t read, GO AND READ IT NOW. I promise you, it will not let you down.

There you have it, the 9 authors I would give anything to meet! Now I’m going to ask you: which authors are you dying to meet? And also, HAVE YOU MET ANY OF THESE AUTHORS?? AND CAN YOU ATTEST TO THEIR FABULOSITY / AWESOMENESS?

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Recent Additions: June 2015

books and other stuff i've received lately.

I have been on a book buying spree lately. On my standards. Because this may not seem like a lot to many of you but considering the number of books I bought last month and then the books I bought this month, it’s actually quite a bit for someone who usually goes like 3+ months without buying a single book. I’m not sure what sparked this change in behaviour though I literally just think it was me waking up one day realizing that there are so many books I “need” to own that I don’t.

There are also few books in this post that I didn’t buy but we’ll get into that bit a little later. For now, these are the books I bought this month!

Because I love Throne of Glass, it’s one of my favourite fantasy series and it’d be blasphemy if I didn’t own a copy of it.

Throne of Glass featuring a postcard that I received from Asti. Just thought I would throw it in here because it is ADORABLE.

I know I had The Assassin’s Blade in last month’s Recent Additions but I never ended up getting to it. Because library deadlines are always horrible for me. Also it was this really gross and smudgy looking copy and while I love the library, I’m also really picky about the library books I get because if it’s too dirty looking, I am staying far far away from it because THINK ABOUT THE GERMS. So anyway I returned it because there were holds on it but I decided since I’m probably going to buy a copy of it anyway because I freaking love Throne of Glass and Celaena, why not do it now so I don’t have to worry about deadlines? Which is a smart move on my part because it’s taken me like five days just to get through four chapters.

Again, I love Anna and the French Kiss, it’s one of my favourite series so it’d be so wrong to not own this book. Doubly so since I already own Isla & the Boy Next Door. AND it was on sale for $5.99 so it was just too good to pass up, even if it is the old, maybe slightly cringey cover.

If you’re ever in Toronto, you need to go check out BMV which is the best bookstore ever. I go there to get all required reading books for school and sometimes other books as well. They usually have a fantastic selection of books from all different genres for a significantly cheaper price and they’re usually all in pretty great quality! I found this book at a BMV for $7.99 and since I’ve had my eye on it for ages, I just had to get it. I haven’t completed any of the prompts yet but I had a little flip and some of them are FRIGHTENING (like the dead bug one. EW.) but hopefully it’ll be fun.

I found this book at a sale for $1 in relatively good condition so of course, I had to get it. I read Eat Pray Love a long time ago though, like maybe four to five years ago? So I don’t totally remember it besides the fact that I did like it. It’s not really a book on my list of novels I was just DYING to get a personal copy of but it was a book I liked enough and if I saw it on sale for $1, I would get which I did. And I do like travel books so even if I read it and suddenly despise it, at least there would be the travel component that I’d still enjoy. Although really, it was $1. I barely even get a cup of cheap convenience store coffee for $1 so I think the loss, if it is indeed a loss, won’t hurt too much.

And now for the books that I didn’t buy. So fun little story: before we all part ways for summer, my friends and I decided to do a book swap of all our books and kinda pass books to each other to read. A little awkward because I showed up with only 2 books and everyone else had like ten but anyway a fun time was had by all and we all ended up with a bunch of great summer reading material. Here are the books that I was lent / am going to read this summer (and tell me if you’ve read these books and what your thoughts were) (and also thanks friends, I guess??).

I remember watching the One Day movie like five years ago and actually really liking it even though all the critics thought it was horrible but I actually thought it was really cute! And I really liked Jim Sturgess but anyway. Since then I’ve been meaning to read the book so I’m actually very excited for this one. I mean I guess I already know how it ends but it’s about the journey, not the destination right? And while I certainly remember what happens at the end (hint: it involved a lot of tears from me), the rest of the movie remains fuzzy for me so this might be a fun chance for me to get reacquainted with the story.

To be very honest with you, I never really had any interest in reading this book. I know a bunch of people absolutely love this book but it just wasn’t the type of book I typically read. However, I do know a LOT of people love it and it does sound like a very well-written book, not to mention an insightful and important one so I’m open to giving it a shot and going for something I don’t usually go for.

British authors are my favourite and though I haven’t read anything by Sue Townsend, I have heard good things and when I heard about this book, it just sounded right up my alley. Like a riches to rags type story with the Queen and her family at the center of it all? Sign me up!

To be very honest, angels still make me apprehensive whenever I find them in the pages of my books. The idea of angels just make me super uncomfortable but I have heard very good things about this series so again, I’m willing to go for something I don’t usually go for.

So the only thing I really know about this book is that my friend and a bunch of other people really really like this book and this series. And as I have high faith in all of you, I am sure that this book is every bit as good as you guys say (but KNOCK ON WOOD just in case).

Another book I only have a very faint idea of its premise although I hear it is good. All I know is that I was going to read this for my independent reading assignment last year but then changed my mind to read The Night Circus. We shall see how it goes then?

As excited as I am for all of these books, I am also overwhelmed by the sheer number because this, in addition to the other books I have but still haven’t read, makes for a very big number. But I guess there’s no better time than the present as I’m on summer vacation to get through all these books right?

What about you? What books have you gotten recently? What are your reading plans for the summer? And do you have any words of wisdom for me before I read any of these books (ie what should I know beforehand, what should I prepare myself for etc)?

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Feeling My Age in the Blogging Community

feeling my age in the blogging community.

The great part about the blogging community and YA in general is that it’s accessible by people of all different ages and from all different backgrounds. I love that every day, I’m able to share my love for reading and chat with so many interesting people. It’s one of my favourite parts about blogging. But sometimes, there are moments when I just feel incredibly young.

Which I suppose I am. At 15, I’m definitely on the younger spectrum of book bloggers but a lot of times, it just doesn’t feel that way. Partly because I tend to think of myself as older than 15 (but also sometimes I feel like 5 so I don’t know, age is a very strange thing for me) and also partly because ANOTHER great part about this community is that age rarely plays a big factor into anything. I know for me at least, it’s not something that comes to mind when I’m tweeting someone or commenting on a blog (or at least NOT OFTEN but I will get into that more later). I don’t think “OH is this person older than 18 because then it’d be a little weird for me to tweet them” before I tweet someone. That’s just not something I think and I LOVE that. I love that I’m able to communicate with so many awesome people, many of whom I would probably not get a huge chance to talk to if I knew them in real life. So it’s pretty awesome that the community is so inclusive and embracing that even at 12, when I started blogging, I didn’t feel super overwhelmed by everyone because everyone’s just so nice.

But I’d also be lying if I said it didn’t sometimes bug me that I’m so much younger than a lot of other bloggers. It’s more a personal feeling that I get. I’ve never been that person who’s like super comfortable with parents or teachers and I just mean that in the sense that usually my conversations with a parent or a teacher lies in the “polite” realm. On the other hand, I do know a lot of people who are very personable all the time, whether they’re talking to a peer or someone older than them, and can make friends with anyone even if that someone is a teacher or a parent. And for me, that’s just not a quality of mine. It’s not that I’m scared of my teachers or parents of other people or that I ONLY talk to teenagers and everyone else is excluded. It’s just that for me, there’s always been somewhat of an uncomfortable barrier between me and then people that are technically my “authorities”. I mean, to clarify, OBVIOUSLY you’re not going to talk to your teachers the way you talk to your friends. Like you’re not going to swear in front of them (most of the time) or swear at them or do any of the other things you do with your friends that would be inappropriate to do with a teacher but in the realm of casual conversation, that’s something that is appropriate that I still feel uncomfortable with.

And I don’t know exactly why that is – I think I probably need more time to think it out – but maybe a little bit of it is just that I always feel like a dumb teenager because I feel like adults or people who aren’t teens always have a perception of teenagers being kinda careless and ignorant of others. Which is true to an extent I suppose. Your teen years are kinda the years when you’re hyper-focused on yourself and I do know / have seen teens be a public nuisance and I recognize that I am, at times, a nuisance myself though I try really hard not to be. But yeah, I would definitely say a part of that perception leaks into my actions as I try really hard to be the opposite of that. But it still leaves me all self-conscious and that often leaks into other parts of my life like blogging, for instance.

Like as an example, sometimes when I go to tweet something, if I think about it too hard, I get a little self-conscious. Like I kinda think all my tweets are incredibly inane anyway so when I think about it too hard, it’s like oh there are people who are following me who know a lot more than I do / have more experience / are more mature / are older / are wiser who probably just think this is so stupid, who think that I’m stupid and YES I PROBABLY SHOULD DELETE THAT TWEET RIGHT NOW BECAUSE NO ONE CARES.

Sometimes, I shy away from commenting on blogs too if I feel like it’s maybe a bit more directed to an adult audience. Like even if it’s still about YA books, a more adult-directed YA book blog? There are a couple that I really love but just seeing in the comments that there are a lot of adults, it kinda makes me cower into my corner a little and I don’t comment. It’s not ageism, I don’t only communicate with people my age, but something about being the one teenager amongst a sea of older, more mature and wiser adults makes me feel insecure about myself because I start thinking about how I stand out like even if the blogger didn’t know me beforehand, they’d surely be able to tell from the quality of my comment that I was a teen; my comment isn’t as valuable because I’m not as intelligent / experienced with life stuff; maybe the blogger would think it’s weird and think I’m a crazy stalker when they see a teenager reading their more adult-directed book blog.

IT’S SUPER RIDICULOUS I KNOW. Especially when all of the bloggers I have talked to have been so kind and friendly, regardless of their age. There have been amazing bloggers I’ve met younger than me, the same age as me (or roughly) and older than me – sometimes ten years, sometimes twenty years, sometimes more.

So yes I know it’s absolutely bizarre and ridiculous that I should feel this way especially when I have been given no reason to feel this way but anyway.

I guess there really isn’t a point to this post except to say that sometimes I feel out of place in this community because I’m really really young. And other times I feel young in this community, it isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Basically just file this under “random feelings Annie has about blogging / reading that are totally random and don’t end up actually having any importance or meaning”.

But I’m also curious: do any of you feel out of place in the community due to your age? Like now that you’ve heard my side of the story and my feelings, I’m wondering – am I the only one who feels this way? Like as if my age is almost a hindrance, if not in reality but personally, for me when I’m communicating with other people who are most of the time older than me. Whether you’re in your teens like me or in your twenties or your thirties or your forties or even if you’re in your hundreds (!!!), can you speak to this? Is this a common feeling for you as well? Or has this never occurred to you?

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

2015 Reading Trends Pt. 2

I am proud to finally reveal part 2 of my 2015 Reading Trends post series. It’s been a long time coming (good on me for not making any promises in the first post because I would not have met the one week deadline, as you can see) and an INCREDIBLY stressful road all culminating to this moment, so you better enjoy it because I put a lot of blood and sweat into this (kidding, kidding) (although it was very stressful because I had accidentally deleted my first draft where I had half the post already written and then promptly forgot all my ideas upon my attempt to recall what I had typed up. QUEL DOMMAGE. But that’s all past now so yay!)

1. I’m rereading more
I don’t know why but this year, I have seriously been hit by the rereading bug. Before this year, not only did I NOT reread but I also didn’t understand why anyone would want to reread. I mean, hello, these are words that you’ve already read, this is a story you already know the ending of, so where’s the fun in doing it all over again? But I should’ve known, as someone who has always flipped to the end of books and even skimmed huge chunks of books in advance, it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey. It’s about revelling in the joy of how things unravel and develop, and settling back into the familiarity of old characters and settings, and just savouring the glory of this one book. Like if you’re having a really great meal at a buffet – say, a really great lasagna – do you not go back for seconds? Why just stop at ONE when you can have it TWICE and basically as many times as you want? And that’s what I’ve come to learn this year (the book bit, not the lasagna bit). I’ve been revisiting old favourites like the Shopaholic series by Sophie Kinsella, the Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants series and the Confessions of Georgia Nicolson series for all of those things I’ve mentioned above. Also in the case of Georgia Nicolson, the fact that I haven’t finished the series which really really bugs me because I NEED to know what happens to the Sex God and Dave the Laugh and who she ends up with and etc etc. AND also another thing to add: sometimes when you’re reading some really shitty books and you’re just DYING for a book that’s actually good, rereads are useful because they’re already books you’ve read that you know you enjoy. So that’s another reason why I’ve been rereading books this year. Not that the other books I’m reading for the first time have been shitty this year but sometimes, they are OR you get bogged down by the STRESS of reading and just want something comfortable and AMAZING without having to go through the process of wondering “is that actually good and worth my time??” So basically, I am 100% on board the rereading wagon and you should be too because it’s fantastic.

2. I’m reading more books per month on average
But really just MORE books in general. At one point this year, I was on speed for 120 books and now I know for some of you who are INSANE and read like 200, 300 books a year, this is nothing but for me, even hitting 100 is a challenge sometimes so 120 was a huge deal. But of course, all good things must come to an end and when we’re talking about how much I read, that’s something that’s pretty much inevitably going to drop. And drop it did! But also I had culminatings and exams last month and this month so I’m allowed to slack off a little right. And PLUS I’m still ahead of my Goodreads reading challenge so I am technically still a success (even though I have my goal set at 70 when I was really aiming for 100 the entire time but just didn’t want to make myself feel bad if I didn’t reach it. I think that was smart). On the subject of WHY I’ve been reading more this year though, I’m not really sure. I’ve been reading a lot more eBooks and I’ve always felt I read faster reading on my Kobo but that may also totally be a concept I’ve concocted from my imagination. I think it may just be that I’m slotting more time to read? Like I read a post before about how you need to MAKE time to read, like if you really wanted to read 100 books a year or 200, you can make the time to do so and I think that’s what I’ve been doing this year. Like before I used to read only at night and now I’m reading on my commute to school, my commute to basically everywhere, in line, waiting, at lunch, during class – LITERALLY whenever I am able to do so and feel like it. Also I’ve been watching less TV so I think that’s a definite factor as well.

3. I’m using the library more
Well, I’ve always used the library a lot since I am horrible with buying books and literally just want to buy every single book, regardless of whether I’m ACTUALLY interested it or not, so I’ve made myself use the library and check out books before I go buying them to make sure I am not spending my money like crazy AND on books I despise. It’s worked really well (but let’s not mention the fact that in the past month alone, I have bought ten books – more than I probably bought in the last six months of last year put together. They WERE all books I already read and loved though so I think I get a pass, right?) and I’m a firm believer in the library but this year, maybe even more so? Probably 97% of the books I’ve read this year have come from the library and this high percentage probably also has a lot to owe to the fact that I’ve discovered the magic of eBooks and Overdrive which is so easy that I don’t even have to LEAVE my house to get books. PRAISE. Because yes, I really am that lazy.

4. I’ve been reading a greater variety of books
Okay now I’ve actually took a look at my spreadsheet and it appears to be pretty on par with last year but I just FEEL like I’m reading more diversely, okay? Like instead of the 10 000 contemporaries I usually read, it’s like 5000 and that’s a pretty BIG step down for me. So far this year, I’ve read – in addition to my YA contemporaries: YA fantasies, a Shakespeare (!!!! look at me being so cultured !!!!!), a Canadian classic (!!!! again, look at how academic I am !!!! even though I did loathe it a bunch), a YA thriller, memoirs and NON-FICTION WOWEE. Like I said, it’s actually pretty similar to what I read last year but I guess because I’ve also been kinda branching out in genre in terms of what I’m marking to-read on Goodreads, I have this notion that I’m reading more diversely? Though that notion isn’t entirely wrong because I HAVE been branching out a lot in the books I’m interested in. Like recently, I’ve been finding a huge interest in non-fiction in general and finding myself reading up about these different non-fiction books and being super intrigued and eager to learn more. I read a book about Russian society and culture last month and it was maybe the first non-fiction book I’ve read that wasn’t a memoir or a biography of someone else’s life and you know what? I really, really enjoyed it. I thought it was exciting and entertaining and that wasn’t something I would have thought a non-fiction book could be last year. So yeah, although I may not actually be reading more diversely than I think in comparison to last year (YET), my reading taste HAS changed a lot. Like I’m finding a lot of books that interest me outside of YA and in terms of books within the YA label, I’ve also found myself wanting to reach for books that aren’t just contemporary.

I have to be honest with you, 2015 has been a great reading year for me. I’ve read a lot but more importantly, I’ve read some really fantastic books and that’s made keeping track of the books I’ve been reading really fun for me. Just looking at my spreadsheet and analyzing it to find trends / patterns for these posts, I’ve come to realize the sheer amount of books that I’ve just so THOROUGHLY enjoyed reading and it has me all like THANK YOU BOOK GODS WHAT HAVE I DONE TO DESERVE THIS AMAZING RUN and when is this going to end?

What about you? How has your year in reading been so far? Do you keep track of the books you read as well (whether you have a spreadsheet or you use Goodreads or another method entirely)? And have you noticed any trends or patterns in your reading this year, good or bad?

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Winger by Andrew Smith: A Chat Review with Natalie!

Some time in the past (too long for me to remember exactly when) and SOMEHOW, Natalie and I decided to do a buddy read of Winger by Andrew Smith. This book had been sitting on my shelf for ages so I thought this would be a great opportunity to finally get myself to finish it. What's better than mutual accountability right? Except when your buddy is absolute shit and I AM SO SORRY NATALIE for probably being the worst person to buddy read a book with ever. I just wasn't feeling Winger at all, put it off for ages, was super fucking slow - I'm pretty sure I finished a month after Natalie did. 

But anyway, here we are finally. Natalie and I decided to do a conversation / chat review of Winger so you can read our thoughts below! We've also added our own recommendations of other books to read after you finish Winger (or if you're ALREADY a fan of Winger) based on an important topic in the book so make sure to check both of our blogs to see both of our recommendations! And with that, let's get started.

Published May 14, 2013 by Simon & Schuster
Hardcover, 439 pages

(taken from Goodreads.com)

Ryan Dean West is a fourteen-year-old junior at a boarding school for rich kids in the Pacific Northwest. He’s living in Opportunity Hall, the dorm for troublemakers, and rooming with the biggest bully on the rugby team. And he’s madly in love with his best friend Annie, who thinks of him as a little boy.

With the help of his sense of humor, rugby buddies, and his penchant for doodling comics, Ryan Dean manages to survive life’s complications and even find some happiness along the way. But when the unthinkable happens, he has to figure out how to hold on to what’s important, even when it feels like everything has fallen apart.

Filled with hand-drawn info-graphics and illustrations and told in a pitch-perfect voice, this realistic depiction of a teen’s experience strikes an exceptional balance of hilarious and heartbreaking.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Latest Obsessions: June 2015

just some things i've been obsessed with lately.

As much as I love books, it can get stifling to restrict this blog to being about books only so here is a compilation of things that I've been obsessed with in the past month that are NOT book-related. They are also things that I kinda wanted to write a full post for but couldn't end up rationalizing it when I only had about a paragraph to say about each but I need to express my passion somewhere. So of course, as usual, this blog is going to be the dumping site of my fangirling. Stay if you want?

the stanley cup final.

(via CBS)

Slightly crying because my backup team, the Chicago Blackhawks, have made it to the finals again (and yes as a Toronto Maple Leafs fan, I definitely do have a second team to root for during the post-season). I'm actually very excited for this Chicago / Tampa Bay series though as I think the two teams will match up nicely but also because it's the Stanley! Cup! Final! (Which is finally here? Like what? Where has all the time gone? Why has 2015 passed so quickly? Why am I already done with sophomore year? It's only felt like two weeks have passed??) Okay but anyway I am very very excited for this series but also very very sad because I will be busy with studying for my exams (WHICH I AM NOT PREPARED FOR AT ALL) so I probably won't get to catch much of the games but still. STILL.

my birks.

Okay well I'm not going to take a picture of my feet because ew I don't know if I want that on the internet. But yeah, these are the Birks I got last month and I am honestly so obsessed with them. I've worn them so much that it's probably time to give them a rest but they're just SO CUTE. I don't understand. They go with everything. I wear them with sweaters, jeans, shorts, skirts, dresses - EVERYTHING. And yes, I do wear them with socks as well, thanks for asking. I am very much #teamsocksandbirks. It took a while for me to break them in and when I was breaking them in, they hurt like CRAZY but now they're the comfiest thing ever and I wear them to give my feet a break in between my other shoes. 

adidas superstars.

I am so obsessed with these shoes as well (and there's Gigi Hadid wearing them above!). They just make me feel so tall and cool and while they are super comfy, mine also give me blisters sometimes from the back of the shoe rubbing against the back of my foot. But they're honestly my favourite thing in the entire world except they really only look good when I double-cuff my jeans (always double-cuff even though the Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants think it's tacky. Well okay but I promise you it's not as tacky as single-cuffing your jeans) and with certain items in my closet. I think I did wear them with a skirt one time and they weren't horrible but anyway... moving on.

muji notebooks.

I have been a very happy girl ever since Muji opened in Toronto. As soon as it opened, I went to check their collection of notebooks. I got one when I was in Shanghai and was super impressed by the simplicity but also quality of it (I use it now for bullet journalling / keeping to-do lists). I now have two others in the style above. One I use for my regular journalling (ie. anything interesting that happened during my day, thoughts I have, lists of books to buy and sometimes I'll stick in little souvenirs from my day like receipts or pieces of paper I don't want to lose) and the other I use for blogging. I've only just started keeping a blogging journal so it's too soon to say if it's working or not so we'll be on the lookout! Overall it's a very well made notebook and the good thing is that the inside isn't ruled which gives me so much more freedom to do whatever I want in a sense. If you are looking for a new notebook that is available for a pretty okay price (I got mine for $3.50) and are okay with a minimalist design, these are good notebooks to check out!

the pop rocket podcast.

I listen to a lot of podcasts but very few end up becoming favourites, ie. ones that I cannot miss no matter what, that I have to listen to immediately. And even though Pop Rocket is a pretty new find for me, it's quickly become a favourite. It's a pop culture podcast with Wynter Mitchell, Oliver Wang, Guy Branum and Margaret Wappler and it's the best thing ever. Each week, they 1) answer a fun pop culture related question, 2) talk about their favourite pop culture events and 3) share their favourite song. It's smart, it's insightful and it's also HILARIOUS.

And here, I will leave you though quite honestly I could ramble on for another ten pages but I don't think anyone wants to read that so hello, here we are at the end. And here we are again, at an awkward ending. I still don't know how to wrap up posts? Did school teach me this? But anyway if you're interested, you can tell me what some of your latest obsessions are! 

And now back to studying for my exams haha procrastination at its finest. Okay really, peace.