Sunday, May 31, 2015

Being Sloane Jacobs by Lauren Morrill

Published January 27 2014 by Delacorte
Hardcover, 352 pages
Borrowed from library

Being Sloane Jacobs is like The Parent Trap meets Go Figure. Two girls, both named Sloane Jacobs, from different backgrounds. One from Washington DC who is a figure skater and the other from Philadelphia who is a hockey skater. By some magical aligning of the stars, both Sloanes are in Montreal for skating camps and they meet. Each one of them has a part of their life they're itching to escape so when the idea is proposed that they switch lives for a second with one Sloane ditching her figure skating for hockey camp and the other ditching hockey camp for figure skating camp, they both jump at the chance to be someone else. Both girls find themselves slowly adapting to their new environment and making new friends. But what happens when someone threatens to expose their secret?

Lauren Morrill's debut Meant to Be was one of my favourite books last year so I knew I wanted to read Being Sloane Jacobs. And while I didn't love this one nearly as much as I did Meant to Be, it was still such a fun and enjoyable read that has me convinced that Lauren Morrill was a Disney Channel screenwriter in another life because HOW PERFECT WOULD HER BOOKS BE AS DISNEY MOVIES.

I loved the Montreal setting.
I never see Canada in books so it makes me happy when I do see it! And having been to Montreal, I can say that it is one of the most beautiful cities ever and I thought that Lauren Morrill did a really great job exploring it in her novel. It transported me back to Montreal, to the cobblestone streets of Old Montreal and the POUTINERIES (one scene where Sloane Devon, the hockey player, is trying poutine for the first time made me laugh because poutine definitely isn't very aesthetically pleasing but it's the best thing ever, trust me). Honestly I think reading about Montreal was one of my favourite things about this book. I can't even tell you how happy it made me and it was so fitting too! Like Montreal's such a big city for hockey and figure skating - those are two things they love very very much - so it was so perfect. I enjoyed being able to recognize all the places & streets the Sloanes visited and understand the French phrases being used in the book. 

I also LOVED the hockey & figure skating aspect.
Both sports I really enjoy watching although figure skating is more something my mother was really interested in that I kinda adopted. My heart was doing leaps and spins while I was reading this book because I just SO enjoyed seeing these two sports on the page. I loved reading about Sloane Devon learning and struggling how to do jumps and spins and wearing fun leotards and skating to Hedwig's Theme. I loved reading about Sloane Emily's transition to a hockey player and using her figure skating skills to help her play hockey. But having said that, the fact that they both became so proficient at the sport so quickly was a little unrealistic. Like I don't have much practice in either sport (I barely even know how to skate) but from what I've heard, like it should not be that easy to land a double lutz! Because isn't there something about figure skating making your hockey better but hockey making your figure skating worse? Like they're two different types of skating, how do you just magically become so good in a month? But even though it was unrealistic, this book is just so fun that it was easy to ignore it and just go with the flow. And I loved the little hockey references. So I was actually reading this book during last night's conference final between the Ducks and the Blackhawks (on a side note, go Chicago, yesssssss. Literally everyone on that time is ace.) and the sound of ice scraping and sticks clattering was great ambiance for the book and watching Sloane Emily kill it at hockey. There was one sentence that I laughed so hard at which was when Sloane Devon told Andy, her figure skating friend, about everything that happened and she was like 'and after I told him that, it felt like Zdeno Chara, the biggest, baddest Boston Bruin, had lifted off my shoulders' or something like that and I was like oh my god because Zdeno Chara is huge and he'd scare me to death like really. So yes I really enjoyed that aspect and you can tell that Lauren Morrill did quite a bit of research.

The subplots were not as fleshed out as I'd have liked.
There's this whole thing in Being Sloane Jacobs about each of the Sloanes having their own familial issues that they'd like to escape from and I just felt like that part wasn't as in-depth as I would have liked it to be. Like it was such a big motivation for them to swap lives but it wasn't really touched upon which I guess is okay since everything more or less tied together in a neat little bow by the end but still. And also I was not fully convinced with either of the romances but it's okay because basically while this book may not have been the most technically great novel, IT WAS A LOT OF FUN AND I REALLY ENJOYED THAT.

I really enjoyed this book so much. It was the perfect distraction from all my finals. It may not have been the best book technically as there could have been more character and plot development but it was so much fun. It brought me the same type of satisfaction that Disney Channel movies bring me which, speaking of, this book would be great as a Disney Channel movie. Like petition to get this optioned by Disney please. It's like the best combination of The Parent Trap and Go Figure, that Disney movie where the figure skater has to go to hockey boot camp. LIKE YES. And plus I feel like if it were a movie, everything would play out so much better like the romances that kinda felt a little instant with no actual background and the familial issues each one of the girls had. But yes overall, I really liked this book a lot. I loved reading about Montreal and hockey and figure skating - all things I don't see often in books but I want to see more of! 

people looking for a light contemporary that will definitely satisfy your cuteness quota. If you like Disney Channel movies (specifically Go Figure - man what a great movie), CHECK THIS ONE OUT. And if you like hockey and figure skating, this is a good one too.


Stormy @ Book. Blog. Bake. gives it 4 stars: "One of the things I really liked about Being Sloane Jacobs was that the two Sloanes didn’t really like each other at first, but through their trade came to have a mutual understanding and friendship." (by the way, I totally agree with this!)

Emily @ Books & Cleverness gives it 4 stars: "The characters were funny and smart, there’s some family drama, and a touch of giggle-worthy romance. But below the surface it’s also a book about following your heart and finding yourself along the way."

Magan @ Rather Be Reading says it's worth it: "There’s tons of self-discovery, a sweet love story (or could there be two?), depth, and a generous dose of laughter."

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Recent Additions: May 2015

books and other stuff i've received lately.

May has been incredibly good to me. Because besides all the exams and the assignments and the stress, there have also been wonderful days in the sun and a lot of ice cream and watermelon and - oh right, books. I've gotten four books this month which might not seem like a lot to some but for me, that's more than January, February, March and April combined. And since all the books are so incredibly gorgeous, I decided I'd make a post about them (as well as this other thing that I got that's not book related - I kinda want room to move around and not just hole myself into posting only about books I've recently got in this post since I don't buy many books anyway). 

Disclaimer: my camera is not amazing nor am I an amazing photographer by any means so these pictures undeniably will be of poorer quality but hopefully, not too horrible? 

How does one go from seven pairs of earphones to not even one in working condition? After my Apple earphones suffered a mishap when they got stuffed in my bag (they were in the same compartment as my scissors and I'm not sure how it happened but somehow the scissors cut the wires?) two weeks ago, I was looking for new ones to replace them. I didn't want or need $100 ones but I also wanted earbuds that would look nice and be of fairly good quality. Enter Happy Plugs, which I found one day on a trip to Urban Outfitters. They really are as adorable as the packaging suggests although the quality is still up for debate. I'm no sound expert but they don't exactly deliver sound nearly as crisp and clear as my Apple earphones did. But they're not horrible either so it's okay. As long as they last me for at least two years (I feel like that's a reasonable amount of time for earbuds I paid $33 for, right?), I'll be happy.

And now, for books. I got The Assassin's Blade by Sarah J. Maas from the library this month. I still haven't started it but I am unbelievably excited for it. I absolutely adore Sarah J. Maas' writing and this will be perfect while I wait for Queen of Shadows.

In other "books I didn't buy" news, I received a copy of Tiffany Schmidt's Hold Me Like a Breath in the mail after winning the Goodreads First Reads giveaway. I'm pretty sure it came out on the 19th and because I am me, I still have yet to read more than two chapters. But I will, not only because despite the mediocre reviews I've read, I am still very much interested in this book and also because I won this so it'd be kinda rude to just be like "thanks but nope not going to read it". So I'm counting on you guys to HOLD ME TO IT and MAKE SURE I read and finish this soon and then write a review for it. HOLD ME TO IT OKAY.

These are the four books I actually bought this month (and all in less than a week for approximately $65 which I consider a win because you honestly can never get 4 books for $65 any more. It's always closer to $80).

Pictured here are 3 out of the 4 books I bought: 

1. Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson which I've already read but have been meaning to get a copy of for ages because it's one of my favourite YA contemporaries and also because the formatting inside with the playlists and the scrapbook are just too precious. Also ROGER. Also it'll look great next to Since You've Been Gone (meaning that I only have to buy Second Chance Summer before I complete my Morgan Matson collection!)

2. Very Good Lives by J.K. Rowling which I have not read but will soon. I've flipped through it though and the illustrations are so lovely so I am excited to sit down with it and hopefully, end up with a little extra motivation and wisdom by the time I finish it. 

3. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling which I also have already read but I found it at this cute little bookstore that sells old, used and out of print books and it was on sale for $10. I have all the Harry Potter books on my Kobo but unfortunately, only have the first and the last in physical form so have made it my goal to hunt down all the British editions. I only had $15 that day but I'm definitely going to make a trip back down another day with more money armed so I can complete my collection.

And the last book I bought? None other than PS I Still Love You by Jenny Han which came out today and I am so happy after months of waiting. Luckily, I also had an early closing at school today and an Indigo nearby so I walked over with a friend to get it and can I just say that it is absolutely beautiful and they look so good together and I am so excited to read it OH MY GOD. I am so ready for more Lara Jean and Peter Kavinsky. LET'S DO THIS.

A picture of their spines together because LOOK AT THAT BEAUTY. I HAVE NO CHILL RIGHT NOW. HOW DO I GET OVER THIS? Praise Jenny Han, literal queen.

I wish I had taken more pictures of TATBILB and PSISLY together because they really are stunning but my camera died so you'll just have to trust me on their beauty. Although I really don't doubt that you already know.

And that brings us to the end of this post. And it feels a little awkward because I never really know how to conclude my posts. So um yeah, here's the end? Hope you enjoyed this post? Tell me interesting things in the comments? Someone teach me how to write conclusions? (But really though, tell me in the comments how you conclude your posts because my lack of ability to do so is a problem.)

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Annie's Ultimate Playlist (5)

As we're nearing the end of the school year and finals have been piling up, I've found myself turning to music to help me cope with the seemingly insurmountable to-do list I have. Here are some of the albums I've been listening to in the past month to help me keep my sanity during long hours of studying and homework completing (except when I take breaks to write a blog post) and just generally, to get me pumped up and energized.

Our Own House // MisterWives
This is my go-to album whenever I'm doing boring, tedious work like math homework or French conjugations because it is so full of energy. Enough to keep me awake during the monotony of drawing graphs and solving quadratic equations. This album is also great for impromptu dance parties whenever you feel like you need a little break from work, as I can attest to from personal experiences.

Favourite tracks? Queens, Vagabond, Coffins, Hurricane, Imagination Infatuation, Not Your Way

I Forget Where We Were // Ben Howard
Ben Howard is always good for homework. Every Kingdom is upbeat, cheery but in a much more softer way than Our Own House which makes it perfect for work that requires a little more deep thinking like English essays and even though I Forget Where We Were is a lot darker and moodier in sound, I have tried it and it works just as well for writing essays as Every Kingdom is.

Favourite tracks? Conrad, Evergreen, She Treats Me Well, I Forget Where We Were, Time Is Dancing

Begin Again // Various Artists
Since watching Begin Again earlier this month, I have not stopped listening to this album (and when I say this album, I really only mean the Adam Levine / Keira Knightley songs that were in the film) because it's just so much fun. And I take back what I said about Keira Knightley's voice, it's really grown on me. Works well with really any homework ever, though I did listen to this a lot while studying for my physics test.

Favourite tracks? No One Else Like You, Lost Stars, Tell Me If You Wanna Go Home, A Higher Place, Coming Up Roses

And now, back to finishing my history assignment. But before you go, maybe you want to answer these questions?

What albums / songs do you listen to while studying or doing homework? What type of music do you find works really well and gets you motivated to study? Does listening to music help you focus? Or is there another method that you use? 

Saturday, May 16, 2015

If We Were Having Coffee #3

I haven't been posting lately and don't currently have any posts up in the queue so I thought I'd do a little check-in and tell you guys how I've been. Things have been CRAZY lately, what with school wrapping up and so on, so I haven't had a lot of time to keep up with the blog which I am very regretful about because I actually do have so many ideas for posts and other stuff I want to achieve but my time management skills really SUCK though I am striving to be better at scheduling and not procrastinating (more on that later). So yeah, this is just a little update on what's been going on in my life lately (oh, and this was taken off of Jamie's site!)

If we were having coffee, I would tell you about all the work I have to do and how stressed it's making me. School's wrapping up so this isn't unexpected but somehow every year I still find myself ill-prepared for the barrage of work suddenly being handed to me. Exams are coming up second week of June but right now I haven't even begun thinking about them, let alone studying for them, as I have tests and quizzes and giant culminating projects to finish before then. Some of the things I have to complete before my exams (which I have five of spread over a great schedule so it won't be horrible): a French oral presentation that I've only really done the research portion for (and a super rough outline) which is due on the 29th although my notes and visuals are due this Tuesday meaning I need to get the script done by Tuesday, a quiz also in French on imparfait & passe compose as well as Les Miserables which we read an abridged version of (thank god for the musical), my Science culminating on Wednesday in which I have one hour and fifteen minutes to complete fourteen different labs we've done this year with only three minutes being allotted for each and two rest periods, my English culminating speech on Thursday which I haven't even really started, my Science Physics test on Friday and I barely know the equations for refraction, my History culminating due on the 26th which I may have been too ambitious about (I'm making a collection of  6 12 x 9 cm stamps), my Careers culminating presentation on Crown attorneys on the 28th (which I'm not as worried about) and then finally my French oral presentation on the 29th. But I guess the bright side is that in two weeks, all this will be over and I only have my exams to worry about.


If we were having coffee, I would tell you about how I've been trying out bullet journalling in an attempt to get more organized and productive. After seeing a post on Stacked, I was super intrigued by this new form of organization as I'd been trying out to-do lists before but they never really panned out for me. So after watching the video, I cracked open my little Muji notebook again and started bullet journalling. In all honesty, the method I'm using now for my to-do lists isn't all that different than what I was using for, except for maybe the star symbol, the arrow symbol and the overall format of it. Because while I thought the bullet journal system was very interesting to learn about, a lot of it just felt like so much unnecessary work and just didn't appeal to me at all. Maybe it's also because I use other notebooks & mediums for functions that the creator uses the bullet journal for so I don't feel the need to have everything else in mine. Like I have a separate agenda for school work, a Calendar app on my phone for all the dates I need to remember and another journal I've been keeping up with all the random sketches and thoughts and ideas that I'm ALLOWED to put in my bullet journal too. So I guess really the video didn't help me that much as it didn't change my method a ton but it did get me more motivated to jot down the day's task so that's a plus? (Although actually finishing everything is another matter that I'm still working on)

If we were having coffee, I would also tell you about my other journalling endeavors for the past month and a half. I've fallen off it a little in the past month but I've already written entries for one month straight so at this point I'm pretty certain I'm not going to abandon it as I've done the multiple other journals I've tried out. Sometimes things hit me randomly when I'm like OH I must do this. Back at the beginning of April, I was like I need to start journalling again so I went to Muji to get a notebook and at first I was kinda hesitant because I thought I'd write one page and then ditch it like all the times before. But I've actually stuck with it! So I'm very happy about that. Writing takes a lot of time but it's also extremely cathartic and I'm sure in a few years it'll be interesting to look back on 15 year old Annie.

If we were having coffee, I'd tell you about how excited I am to see the premiere of the Bad Blood music video this Sunday! With all the teases on Twitter and the bajillion people going to be in it, I am SO beyond ready to watch this music video. Although I will definitely be disappointed if it isn't at least the length of a feature film movie. Like please with so many people it HAS to be AT LEAST 2 hours. Right??

If we were having coffee, I would tell you about how I made the exec committee of one of my school's organizations. Which made me really happy! It wasn't even something I was initially planning on trying out for but after not being successful with three other clubs I just BADLY wanted to be involved with SOMETHING next year so I tried out and... am now in charge of social media for the club. Which I am immensely excited for so yay!

If we were having coffee, I'd tell you about how I'm going to Shanghai / other parts of East Asia that are yet to be determined this summer for a month in July. FOR ONE MONTH which means I probably won't be able to blog for an entire month! The details haven't been sorted out yet apart from that yes, we're going so I don't know what we're really doing except for probably visiting some relatives and friends. I'm kinda excited but also a little apprehensive about it. There's no reason to be and I know it makes no sense but I am?

If we were having coffee, I'd tell you that I've started watching Game of Thrones. As in I'm only on episode 2 so have very little opinion on it. The only thing is that I find it such a bore to get through at times. Like it's only one hour but that hour seems to go by so much slower than all the other hours I spend watching shows like The Newsroom for instance. But I'm going to stick it out as I've been told it gets very good. Also the Lannisters make me want to PUKE. They're horrible especially Cersei and Joffrey like STOP.

If we were having coffee, I'd scream about how fast the year is flying by. Literally where has the time gone? I still feel like it's the beginning of May and I'm like OH there's so much time for my projects and then oh wait... it's already the 16th though I literally thought the 6th was yesterday.

That's pretty much all for me right now! Now tell me in the comments - since we're having coffee and all - what has been going on in your life?

Sunday, May 3, 2015

2015 Reading Trends Pt. 1

I've been keeping track of the books I read every year since 2010, although it was only recently that I switched from old-fashioned paper documents to Excel spreadsheets (when I finally learned how to use them). Which is a much better format for gathering information about my reading patterns and preferences. All the important information about the books I read, right in front at me at a glance. Yesterday, I was bored and procrastinating on my assignments and took to comparing my 2014 spreadsheet to my 2015 spreadsheet and noticed some major differences. I thought it was pretty interesting to see how much my reading habits have changed so I thought I'd share them with you too!

Here's part 1 of my post, part 2 will be published later on this month though HOPEFULLY in the next few days but knowing my streak with sticking to my plans, let's not get our expectations up.


1. The use of half stars.
For two years, I had never felt the need to use half stars. In fact, I SCOFFED at it. When other bloggers agonized over Goodreads not having half stars, I just sauntered past everyone with my nose in the air because I was able to sort my books easily into five distinct categories - no need for any further complication. It was just "bad? Ok sir, that's a one star for you. Better but not great? 2 stars. Decent, good - 3 stars. Amazing? 4 stars. BLEW MY SOCKS OFF HOLY COW? 5 stars" and that was that.

I still use that model when I rate my books now but I don't know, maybe two years of reviewing books and not using half stars caught up to me? Maybe this is the fate of every single blogger out there. Maybe it was just a matter of time before I joined everyone else in begging for half stars. Or maybe it's just that I've read more books this year so far than any other year ever? And in reading more, maybe I've just naturally started to want more nuance in my ratings.

But to be honest, I really have no clue how this all came about. It was almost like a switch: one day I just decided that I needed more range in my rating spectrum. The only thing is, as lovely as half stars can be when I'm stuck over two ratings for one book, IT MAKES MY LIFE SO COMPLICATED because I don't use half stars on this blog. BECAUSE I NEVER NEEDED TO. So literally the only place where my half stars even factor in is my spreadsheet which isn't visible to anyone but me so like... what's the real point?

(Though yes I do realize I can easily make half star graphics but I'm just super lazy okay. I admit it.)

2. My increased affection for eBooks
eBooks have ruled my reading this year. I haven't done the exact math but I'm pretty sure around 80% of the books I've read so far have been eBooks. WHICH IS A LOT.

I've always liked eBooks because they're so handy and convenient; I can have multiple books on hand without added weight. I'm the person who never knows what she's in the mood for. Sometimes I'll be into a contemporary but other times I'll want a fantasy which is why I always need to have multiple books on me. Because what if I'm in the middle of a subway delay and suddenly decide I'm actually not in the mood for the contemporary I have on hand? THEN I DON'T HAVE ANY OTHER BOOKS and then I'm miserable. So that's one reason why eBooks or rather my Kobo is so handy: I can carry multiple books with me. (Also my Kobo fits perfectly into my red crossbody when none of my physical copies would ever be able to)

But also, reading eBooks means not having to leave my house whenever I want a book. See, I don't really like buying eBooks just because owning an eBook doesn't really feel like owning the book because I can't actually SEE it on my shelf and anyway if I'm to pick between an eBook or a physical copy that's maybe only five dollars more, OBVIOUSLY I'm going to pick the physical copy. So I don't really use my Kobo for reading eBooks that I own, I use it more for books that I get through my library's OverDrive system. Which is SO HANDY. I can place holds on books and even though it takes a longer time for them to get to me than regular physical copies, it's so nice because I don't even have to move to get my books. All I have to do is wait for the email and then download the book and then I CAN READ IT. And all without having to walk more than 3 meters. Which makes lazy me super happy.

AND I've noticed that I read much faster on my Kobo. I'm not sure why, maybe because I'm not as focused on the page numbers? Or maybe because the small selection of words at a time is a much more efficient way of processing them? I DON'T KNOW WHY but I do know that it's really handy for binge reads and read-a-thons.

3. My page count is down.
I BLAME THE EBOOKS. Literally the only downside with eBooks is that they screw up my page count massively and because I've read so many this year, I just know my page count will go PLUMMETING. I DON'T EVEN KNOW WHY because there are actual page number thingies on the side that indicate where the actual page starts and ends and yet, a 500 page book still gets turned to a 300 page book? Literally do not understand. Different editions and how they calculate page numbers confuse me. I WASN'T GOOD AT MATH ANYWAY AND THIS JUST MAKES MY HEAD HURT.

4. Series galore!
I'm typically a very standalone gal, mostly due to the fact that contemporary is the genre I read the most of and it seems to also be the one of the few genres where I can escape the wrath of the dreaded series. Though perhaps I'm not finding them so dreadful lately. Because a good chunk of the books I've read so far this year have been part of series. Let's just count them, shall we?

First we have the Pushing the Limits series by Katie McGarry which I finished this year. Then we have the I Heart series by Lindsey Kelk which I am just about finished, save for the last book which I WILL get to. I'm also currently rereading the Shopaholic series by Sophie Kinsella. Plus I've recently finished the Vampire Academy series by dusting off books 3-6 AND gotten all caught up on the Throne of Glass series. And then there were some other series I started and finished but didn't count because I really only read one book in them BUT STILL, that's a lot. Or at least a lot for me. I typically stay away from series because TIME AND COMMITMENT ISSUES, opting instead for quick and easy standalones but this year I have been all about series.

Weird or what?

What about you? Do you keep track of the books you read? And if so, have you noticed any trends in your reading habits this year? Have they changed a lot, a little or stayed the same from last year?