Sunday, March 29, 2015

Movies & Miniseries & Oh My!

I'm taking another break from books today to talk about some movies and TV shows I've watched lately. I don't usually watch many movies and I haven't been watching a lot of TV either but as I was off this past week for March break, I had a lot of time to just do nothing and it just so happened I was able to sneak in a few films and one miniseries in there! So with that said, let's get this show on the road, shall we?

The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst
Directed by Andrew Jarecki
If you know me, you know I am a sucker for anything true crime. Dateline? 48 Hours? Serial? I'll eat it all up. So when I saw my Twitter feed blowing up about a Robert Durst one day and then learned about The Jinx, I knew I had to watch it. And you know what? I ended up really liking it.

I've heard The Jinx being compared to the Serial podcast many times and here I will say, The Jinx was probably more riveting than Serial in my opinion. Although I did love Serial a lot, there were episodes that felt a little unnecessary, where the story wasn't as tight as maybe I would have liked it. The pacing was a problem as well especially when we got to the last episode and everything was basically exactly where we started off the podcast with. Now I definitely think the journey is more important than the destination and the journey Serial took me on was incredible but I expect a proper destination when I'm being promised one and that didn't happen. But with The Jinx, boy did I ever get an ending. It was absolutely fascinating even though I had already read about how it was going to end.

The production was fantastic. The cinematography was amazing and the narration was really great too. I loved how the producers revealed each part of the puzzle one bit by one bit and it just wrapped up really really nicely. I suppose it helps when you have as interesting a story as the one Robert Durst has to tell (who is by the way a very eccentric character) but still so well done. I highly recommend The Jinx for anyone looking for something quick. There are only six 45 minute to 60 minute episodes and even if that seems like too much time to commit to a show (which it isn't, trust me, as I have commitment issues with TV as well), the story is so interesting that you won't even notice all the time has gone.

Directed by Kenneth Branagh
Starring Lily James, Richard Madden and Cate Blanchett
Cinderella wasn't a film I wanted to see at all when it arrived in theatres. Which confuses me now, having seen it, because I was OBSESSED with Cinderella when I was younger. I had a copy of the original Disney movie on VCR and I'd force my parents to play it every weekend. In comparison to the other princesses we have now, I don't know if I'd still put Cinderella at the top of my list like she was when I was younger but for nostalgia's sake, she's still pretty high up there.

So all this rambling is basically to say, my disinterest made absolutely no sense and I am so grateful to my grandmother for dragging me to go see it because it was wonderful.

I loved seeing everything come to life; it really brought me back to my childhood. I loved the cinematography and the costumes and all the minor tweaks they made were so fitting. So magical.

And the acting was amazing as well. I thought Lily James made for a really charming Cinderella and Cate Blanchett nailed her role as Evil Stepmother. Richard Madden, who played the Prince, was a) GORGEOUS and b) so likeable. Even the secondary characters of the stepsisters and the fairy godmother and the king were so well acted.

So overall, I really really enjoyed this movie. I think this is a great choice if you're looking for something light and positive but still really well done.

Directed by Ari Sandel
Starring Mae Whitman, Robbie Amell and Bella Thorne
Having read the DUFF, I was really excited to see this movie even though I knew it wasn't going to be the same storyline. The trailer looked hilarious and going into it, all I was expecting was to just have a great time at the theatre, laughing my butt off. And I hate to say it but I'm actually really disappointed. Coming out of the theatre I don't think I regretted seeing it nearly as much as I do now.

I guess the first thing that took me by surprise was that it was truly a very teen movie. Like I almost feel like this entire movie could have been written by teens. There was swearing and a LOT of sex jokes and I don't necessarily have trouble with that; I was just very taken aback. Because usually even if it is a movie for teens, you don't always have such crude jokes. Which again, isn't something I typically have problems with. I am a teenager after all but seeing some of the jokes on screen was just so cringe worthy. A particular scene between Bianca and Wes at the mall in the food court stands out to me. I was laughing but completely out of how awkward and ridiculous it was.

I guess I just feel like this movie was trying too hard to be funny in places so the other areas just fell sorta flat for me. But I did like Mae Whitman as Bianca (secretly she was also my pick for Hazel in The Fault In Our Stars) and Robbie Amell was good too. But yeah, I still can't help but feel a little let down and wishing that I had just waited for it to come out on DVD.

22 Jump Street
Directed by Phil Lord, Christopher Miller
Starring Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill and Ice Cube
This was a movie I actually really enjoyed a lot. I haven't seen 21 Jump Street but I was in the mood for a funny, kinda kooky comedy so when I saw this on the Movie Network, I was like score!

And I did really like it a lot. Both Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill were incredibly endearing characters. I liked how this movie didn't take itself too seriously and there were parts where I legitimately could not stop laughing.

I don't know if it's necessarily a movie I'd see again but it offered me everything that I went into it expecting. I had such a fun time watching it and it provided the break that I was seeking so desperately after working on my project for five hours straight.

I think I might have to watch 21 Jump Street now though. (Also is it possible that I am finding Channing Tatum more attractive??)


There you go, some movies (and one mini-series) I've seen lately. What movies have you seen and what did you think of them? Tell me in the comments! I'll be looking forward to what you guys have to say.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Annie's Ultimate Playlist (4)

It's been so long since my last Ultimate Playlist post. Think of it this way: my last Ultimate Playlist post was written back in July, when Spotify wasn't even available in Canada yet. Whoa, right? I can't even imagine life without Spotify any more. It's majorly changed my music listening habits so thinking back to a time when I didn't have Spotify is really strange. Anyway here are all the songs I've been listening to in the past month or so.

Crystals // Of Monsters and Men
I don't remember now where I first saw this song but I remember very distinctly that when I did, I nearly peed my pants. Seriously. I very nearly did. I was SO excited. Guys, you don't understand how long I've been waiting and waiting for Of Monsters and Men to come out with new music. And now it's happening. They're back. And if the album is as good as this song is... I'm actually going to lose my mind. I CANNOT wait.

Skid Row (Downtown) // The Little Shop of Horrors Soundtrack
I've never seen The Little Shop of Horrors, I barely even know what it's about. All I know is that Jack Nicholson was in the movie. But I heard a rendition of this song a while ago and fell in love with it so here it is! Also is it bad that I always get The Little Shop of Horrors confused with the Rocky Horror Picture Show?

Fresh Blood // Eels
YES, YES, THE ONLY REASON I HAVE THIS SONG ON THIS LIST IS BECAUSE OF THE JINX. I KNOW OKAY?? But seriously, I couldn't have imagined a more fitting theme song than this song. So chilling.

Something Big // Shawn Mendes
Gotta support our homegrown talent!

Seasons of Love // Rent Soundtrack
I've been seeing so many Rent references lately - is it because I've started listening to this song again? BUT IT'S SO SINGABLE. I mean, the first part... Like the part without all the crazy harmonies and stuff. FIVE HUNDRED TWENTY FIVE THOUSAND SIX HUNDRED MINUTES. Somehow I feel like knowing this will come so useful one day.

Bloodstream // Ed Sheeran
I wasn't an Ed Sheeran fan but this might the beginning of a new phase because I've been listening to X an increasing number of times in the past month. The only song I don't really like is Thinking Out Loud but the others one I've heard are pretty dope!

There Is A Light That Never Goes Out // The Smiths
The Smiths!! So good! I forgot about this song but I'm glad to have found it again. Also... I'm reminded that I still haven't seen 500 Days of Summer. Should I get on that? Is it really as good as I've heard it is? I do love Joseph Gordon Levitt and Zooey Deschanel though...

Every Other Freckle // alt-J
I've always felt like alt-J is the exact type of music I'd like from the few songs I've heard but I've never really bothered to get into them. Mostly because I NEVER know what the guy's singing about. It sounds like he's babbling in gibberish 80% of the time honestly. But... I do love this song.

Just the Way You Are // Billy Joel
Oh. I've ran out of interesting things to say again. Here's another song, I guess? It's really good? Okay?

Homesick // Catfish and the Bottlemen
This is a band I've only discovered recently. I first heard Cocoon, really liked it and then of course, Spotify stalked them and found this song! And liked it too!

Ready for the Good Life // Paloma Faith
This song always makes me feel ready to take on the day! It's like my brushing my teeth song. I just shout it at my mirror and I feel instantly better.

Nashville // David Mead
This is such a sweet song! And it fits with my around the world themed playlist so bonus!

Lana Del Dre // Tep No
I'm so confused by the title of this song?? Like I'm assuming it's Lana Del Rey but like what the heck? I don't get it.


Okay so those are some songs I've been listening to a lot in the past month or so? I'm sorry, I'm writing this a little late and I'm super tired so some of the descriptions may be a little crazy or lacking... Anyway I hope you enjoyed this post. Let me know what songs you've been listening to lately!

Okay, now I should go to sleep.

Monday, March 23, 2015

For Real by Alison Cherry

Published September 9, 2014 by Delacorte Press
eBook, 304 pages
Borrowed from library

When Miranda, Claire's older sister, finds out her boyfriend, Samir, has been cheating on her, she is in shock and pain. So to help Miranda cope with the breakup and make her feel better, Claire plots a way to get revenge on Samir: by joining the reality show Around the World that he has signed up for as well. When Claire & Miranda make it on the show, they're excited to travel to different countries and be with each other but more importantly, to kick Samir's butt, humiliating him on national TV and thus, getting him good for the things he did to Miranda. But things don't necessarily go to plan, as in there's a secret plot twist in store for Claire and Miranda when they join Around the World that they weren't expecting at all and it's one that ruins all their plans. 

So my first thought? Not a fan. I was really expecting to love this book after I saw Veronika's review and found out that it was about SISTERS and TRAVELLING AROUND THE WORLD on a realtiy TV show that might as well be called The Amazing Race (also known as one of my television obsessions). It had all the elements I already loved and I was so prepared to be gushing about it in this review but it just didn't happen for me. It's hard to pinpoint exactly what didn't do it for me as it was more a combination of things.

I had trouble engaging with Claire's voice/character.
I could never totally relate to Claire throughout the entire book. Sure, I could see how it might be frustrating to always be in an older sister's shadow as I have felt that way. Though I don't have an older sister, I do have some experience with feeling like you're not as good as one of your friends and wanting to present yourself as perfectly as possible to compete with that. I get that and I also get being in way over your head when you meet a guy for the first time that seems like he has an interest in you. I get feeling like OH MY GOD, we're meant to be and just ignoring the rest of it. I get ALL of that and yet I had trouble with Claire's character. I think I maybe only managed to understand her character on a very basic level because for most of the book, I was SO annoyed by her and so frustrated. It just seemed Claire wasn't as fleshed out as she could have been. Her struggles and issues were there but I feel like they weren't dealt with or expanded on with great detail or feeling? Which made me not interested in her narration at all. Furthermore, I found Claire to also be incredibly judgmental and obnoxious about other people. My memory's a little fuzzy but there were a few scenes that stick out to me when Claire just makes opinions of other people based on  their appearance and "classic" stereotypes. Like when she meets Troy, one of the other racers who's also a male stripper, and immediately waves him off. I guess it could be understandable why one person would perhaps degrade a stripper due to the perception we have of them in our society but as someone who makes a very pointed effort to not judge anyone based on first appearances or very little knowledge, I just found this particular trait of Claire's to be a little grating. Although this does get cleared up towards the end of the book where we find out not everyone is who they present themselves so I don't think it's fair to really pick at that too much.

I had trouble with the other characters as well.
I honestly do not think there is one character in this book I liked. They were all so annoying. Miranda, Claire's sister, is really a very horrible sister (more on this later). Samir is cocky and disdainful. Don't even get me started on Will, Claire's love interest, which I thought just added a LOT of drama to this book that I wasn't really in the mood for but the ending, in terms of their relationship, was perfect. Really, the only person I even slightly liked was Troy for telling Claire off for her preconceived notions of him. Like YES, THANK YOU.

Miranda and Claire's relationship didn't seem to change much.
So again, I read this a while ago so things are a little muddy for me but I do remember the feeling of being incredibly dissatisfied at the end because I didn't feel like Miranda & Claire's relationship really improved. They made up at the end but honestly, I didn't see anything that convinced me Miranda was going to stop being a patronizing and condescending older sister. Throughout For Real, this relationship is built upon a lot. We see from Claire's point of view how Miranda is the perfect sister and great at all the things she isn't good at. How Miranda sees Claire as incapable and therefore, patronizes her and condescends her. And truly, she was horrible. But then they made up and yay that was it? I wasn't really convinced at all.

I didn't get as much travel as I expected and I was overall just disappointed by how the reality show was presented.
Let's not jump around anything here: Around the World, the reality show in this book, is The Amazing Race. I love reality shows especially The Amazing Race so it was pretty interesting at points to get an insider's look at how the show is filmed as I know Alison Cherry did quite a bit of research into that (based on the acknowledgements). Like the process of choosing contestants was very interesting for me and the fact that sometimes it's kinda fabricated a bit for television. I remember this one scene at the starting line when the cameramen called Claire and her partner back to the starting line to refilm their running off which was very intriguing for me. So I liked that aspect but as for the presentation of the actual reality show, not a fan. Like I mentioned in the premise section above, there is a twist to the reality show they're on so it's not exactly like The Amazing Race. And while I thought that twist sounded pretty cool at first, as the story wore on, I just wasn't a fan any more. The challenges probably could have totally fit if Around the World were an actual TV show but for some reason, on paper, it just seemed all rather silly and juvenile to me. And for a book about a reality show that takes contestants around the world, there wasn't quite as much description of the countries as I expected. Which I don't mean to word in a way that it sounds like I think the book is worse off for that because certainly that shouldn't be something obligatory but just putting it out there that that was another reason why the book wasn't for me. When I hear a book has talk of globe trotting, I really want the author to bring that to life and make me feel like I'm right there with the characters too and I didn't feel that here.

The bottom line? For Real just wasn't for me. It had all the promise of being a book for me, what with the sister relationship, the travelling, the Amazing Race aspect, but in the end, it was a flop. I found myself disinterested in Claire and her story for most of the book and all in all, For Real just failed to impress me with its execution.

Fans of The Amazing Race. And I don't know why I keep on thinking this because it makes no sense but somehow my mind is hung up on the fact that readers who liked Beauty Queens by Libba Bray might really enjoy this one too.


Veronika @ Reading is Dreaming with Open Eyes gives it 4 stars: "For Real is an emotional but quite funny read about two sisters who couldn't be more different if they tried."

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Making Harry Potter Wands

So hey, a little bit of a random update today. I didn't have this post planned at all but I thought you guys might be interested as it is book-related.

To give you a little background: To graduate, in Ontario at least, a student must have 40 hours of volunteer work by the end of high school so I do quite a bit of volunteering here and there. One of the things I do is volunteer at my library and attend meetings and supervise activities that they have on from time to time. So a few days ago, my leader emailed us and asked us if we would be open to help out on Wednesday for a Harry Potter wand-making workshop. I said yes, partly because it sounded pretty cool and fun and also partly because I haven't been the best at volunteering at past events and didn't want to make it seem like I was skipping out on everything.

So I went and it was really fun. The "children" were much older like in middle school so there wasn't a lot of supervising that needed to be done. Honestly I just spent the entire time making a wand of my own.

Here is a picture that I took of the wand. If you can't tell, I made a version of the Elder wand that Dumbledore used but it's not exactly accurate so it's like the Elder wand with my own spin on it.

My dad was quite impressed and my mom, even more so although I think that's to due with the fact she strangely thinks I am incompetent at everything. Which isn't so much annoying or sad as it is amusing. But anyway, I'm not a huge fan of it. I think it looks a lot better from afar but for something that I wasn't really trying to excel at, I think it's decent.

They're actually really really simple to make. I'm pretty sure these are the exact set of instructions my leader found on Pinterest. All you need are chopsticks, hot glue, beads and acrylic paint. The hardest part for me was to get the glue to stay on the chopstick. I consider myself pretty crafty with a hot glue gun after hours of gluing together popsicle bridges for my science fair but our glue was a little runny so it was quite hard to get it to pile on the chopstick without dripping everywhere. And it wasn't even hot, it was just very runny and sticky so a little hard to work with. Then I put little tiny seed beads on the individual balls to get that holey look that the Elder wand has and then I painted over it with some matte brown acrylic paint.

There were some neat wands that some of the kids came up with. I saw some Harry wands, some Hermione wands and even a Luna wand. Most of them actually worked with the plasticine which I think ended up quite well too but air dry clay might be even better because it's moldable and you can have a dry surface to paint over after.

So yeah, all in all I would consider our workshop to be a success! The craft was really simple and fun and creative so if you're thinking of something to do with kids at a party or something to do yourself when you're bored, this might be a good idea! And then you won't have to spend the thirty dollars or however much it costs to get a legit wand from Ollivander's! It's definitely a win win situation!

All right, that's it from me today. I just wanted to share with you guys this little bit of news. Honestly I had no idea that you could make DIY Harry Potter wands before yesterday so it was pretty cool being able to try my hand at it. Have any of you done this before or heard of this craft before? Leave me your thoughts!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

February 2015 Wrap Up

Not to brag or anything but I kicked ass in February. On my standards anyway. NINE books. Which is like 2 books a week. What is this madness? When do I ever read this fast?  So thanks to that, I am now four books ahead of my reading challenge. I don't want to get too excited since it's just the beginning but at this rate, I can probably even reach 80 and beyond by the end of the year. So long as this reading craze doesn't stop. And books gods if you're reading this, honestly I think it's only fair it doesn't. After all I was slumping hardcore for so long. Now that I have my reading mojo back, it's only fair for it to last the rest of the year so I can get a taste of success for the first time!

Completed February 1, 2015
So I really, really enjoyed this compilation of stories from Bob McKenzie. Although it did feel a little unstructured at times - like an album full of great songs that just don't seem to have a really tight coherence to them - the stories were interesting and well written and did serve their purpose of informing readers about the inner going-ons of the NHL and hockey and etc. Some parts were a bit of a trudge (like The Tragically Hip chapter which felt a little like filler for me) but most of the chapters were pretty interesting.

Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen
2 out of 5 stars
Completed February 2, 2015
Sarah Dessen is an author I just can't seem to give up. Even though the last book I liked from her I read more than two years ago, I still seem to want to find that next one that makes me feel the way This Lullaby and The Truth About Forever made me feel. And Lock and Key wasn't it. Frankly I was underwhelmed. I felt that Ruby wasn't very well developed and neither was Nathan. ESPECIALLY Nathan. I also found the story lagging and dull at points and couldn't really see what the whole point of it was. Didn't know WHY I was reading the book for. To see Ruby change? To see a relationship? I couldn't form a purpose for the story and that is never a good sign.

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
4 out of 5 stars
Completed February 9, 2015
I can't believe it took me this long to read this book because it was so good. I don't think I've ever been so into a book in a very long time. I was so wrapped up into this world that I never wanted to put Throne of Glass down. It reminded me of why I like fantasy so much. The writing was fabulous, Celaena was fabulous, everything was fabulous. And since I actually did write a review for this book, I urge you to read it here because that is a much more detailed description of what I thought than this is/will ever be.

1 out of 5 stars
Completed February 13, 2015
When Zoella announced she was writing a book on her Youtube channel, I can't even begin to tell you how excited I was. And then as review after review came out, doubt started to seep into me and I wasn't so sure any more if it was going to turn out like what I initially had in mind. Honestly I was just very very bored. The writing, while very enthusiastic and peppered with exclamation points, was bland. And I just didn't have the patience for all the drama that occurred. I'm not a writer so I can't tell you WHERE exactly the authors failed to capture me and forge a connection but as a reader, I can say that that was something that was missing for me. Also thank you blurb for basically telling me everything that happens for the first half of the book.

2.5 out of 5 stars
Completed February 15, 2013
It's a month later that I'm writing this and I honestly can't remember anything about this book except what happened in the final quarter. Is that bad? Although I suppose I shouldn't be surprised because I did say in my GR review that the first half was incredibly boring while the second half was AMAZING. So yeah, going through a super hard case of book amnesia right now which means I don't really have anything to provide you with except my star rating and a paraphrasing of my GR review. And maybe that there are a lot of ROSE AND DIMITRI feels. Like seriously.

Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas
4.5 out of 5 stars
Completed February 16, 2013
To everyone who said that Crown of Midnight is better than Throne of Glass, you were right. I didn't think it was possible but I ate this book up even quicker and more avidly than I did Throne of Glass. Everything Throne of Glass had, Crown of Midnight had and it was 10x better. Although I still wasn't SUPER convinced about Celaena's badass assassin skills, there were moments where I admit I was a little more certain. But I think I'm going to try to get over this because it really is a very small thing. I still did like Celaena whether she was a master killer or not. So yeah overall, 4.5 stars. Very good.

4 out of 5 stars
Completed February 18, 2015
And with that, I have finished the Pushing the Limits series! Woo! I don't know if I would consider Take Me On to be my favourite but it would definitely be among my favourites. Though the books are all pretty even for me in terms of quality. But I might have to give brownie points to Take Me On & West for not using any pet names. I'm sorry if you like them but nothing gets me to put down a book faster than pet names. And certainly not pet names like 'nymph', 'angel', etc. But apart from that, Take Me On also had a pretty solid storyline and one that enjoyed even though it was as melodramatic as the other books but I don't know, I kinda liked that. And West and Haley... Sigh. I love them so much together. Probably my favourite couple, besides Beth and Ryan of course.
3 out of 5 stars
Completed February 20, 2015
Good novella. I wasn't really interested in Lila at all but it was still enjoyable to read her own little story and it was like "why not?" since it was included in my copy of Take Me On. It was a little confusing at first because I wasn't sure what was going on and it wasn't super clear but then it came together and it was good. I don't really have anything else to say... It was like one of those easter egg chocolates you get from the dollar store. They're not great by any means at all and you wouldn't go out of your way to buy them (unless it was Easter) but they're still good because they're still chocolate. You know what I mean?

4 out of 5 stars
Completed February 24, 2015
I love Sophie Kinsella so much and rereading the Shopaholic series has just been so much fun for me. My memory sucks so it's actually a lot like reading it for the first time as I remember barely more than a very vague overall storyline of the book. I enjoyed it nonetheless. Becky is a strange character because she acts so clumsily at times and can be so dense that I feel like I should find her annoying but instead it's really really endearing. How Sophie Kinsella manages to do that is beyond me but again, a really fun book. Enjoyed reading about all of Becky's antics and NEW YORK and this series is just so great and never fails to make me laugh ever.

Favourite book of the month.


Least favourite book of the month.

There shouldn't be any surprise here either. Unfortunately, Girl Online just wasn't my thing.


And that is all for my February wrap up! Tell me what you read in February in the comments and whether or not you've read these books and what you thought! And also, happy March reading! (even though it's already half over. Oops)

Monday, March 9, 2015

Annie's Wishlist: Spring 2015

Lately, I've been hit with the reading and blogging bug. Things have just been going really well for me. I feel refreshed and excited about reading and blogging all over again. But sometimes... I'm not always in the mood to blog about books and what I've been reading. The Runaway Reader has never been just a book blog and I never wanted it to be (mostly because after my foray into a second personal blog didn't work out, it was easier for me to screw the rules and do everything I want in one place). While I do love books there are so many other things I enjoy doing as well that I love to talk about. And one of those things is shopping!

I really do love shopping. The mall is probably one of my favourite places. I can waste HOURS in that place. Often I won't buy a lot or sometimes I won't buy anything at all but just looking at all the cool things and fantasizing about how I could buy them one day when I become rich is enough for me. And after hours of fantasizing quietly to myself, I thought "why not introduce this as a sporadic feature on my blog?" Because surely I'm not the only one who loves shopping and wants ALL THE THINGS?

So that is really the genesis of Annie's Wishlist. I won't be making these regularly, just whenever I find things that I like and think are interesting. For today's edition, I've focused on clothing items (and shoes) that I've seen on the interwebs that are really, really cute! Make note that this does not necessarily equate me thinking I will look good in them. Because I probably won't but you know...

Oh, and one final thing! All of these items have been pinned onto my Pinterest which acts 1/2 of the time as my wishlist so if you'd like to see all the others things I'm obsessed with, the link is here! If you're not, then just excuse my self promotion.

1. Jeffrey Campbell Who's Next Leather Boots
Oh my GOD, these boots are to die for. Selena Gomez was wearing them last month and although the slit looks a little funny when she walked (but I do love them as they sorta make an otherwise standard pair of black boots more unique), the boots look GORGEOUS in the stock photo. I have a pair of black boots right now (I like to call them vintage because they are my mother's old pair from when she was in her twenties/thirties) with a tiny heel and although they are nowhere near as badass as these are, I still feel so amazing when I put them on. It's a wonder what nice black boots can do for you. My days go infinitely better when I have my boots on. I just feel ready to take on the day. If I wrote a fashion handbook for women, I'd definitely suggest strongly in the book that everyone get themselves a pair of black boots.

So anyway... I'm a little obsessed with these boots and black boots in general. Especially ones with a heel because I'm on the shorter side. And ones that look as PRETTY as these ones.

2. Brandy Melville Peyton Denim Shirt
I've been looking for a nice denim chambray shirt for agesss because I have this fantasy in my head that when I do find the perfect chambray shirt, I'd pair them with these kick ass red velvet jeans and loafers and a cute little crossbody satchel and a fedora and a blazer and just look like the EPITOME of schoolboy chic or whatever they call it (that might be actually be really hideous in real life though, I'm not sure...) This is not that perfect chambray shirt but it's still cute! I need a denim shirt anyway. I don't really know how I'd wear this though. It seems like high waisted black jeans are the only way to go or black shorts. I just don't know if skirts would go very well with it? Ahh I don't know. The model makes it look so pretty though. That's her job, I KNOW but still. Okay moving on.

3. Nasty Gal Wendy Dress
I love Peter Pan collars so much and especially when they're on dresses. And this dress is so adorable! It definitely reminds me more of Wednesday Addams than Wendy though. I feel like if it were a few shades darker, it could totally double as my Halloween costume for Wednesday Addams (which I am still trying to make a thing). But it's so cute!

4. Birkenstocks Arizona Sandal
I REALLY REALLY REALLY WANT A PAIR OF BIRKENSTOCKS. Apparently once you break them in they are the most comfortable shoes on earth and I really need that. I haven't been to a podiatrist ever but I'm pretty sure I should stop stuffing my feet into really flat shoes like Keds or shoes with pointed toes like my boots and Converse and Birkenstocks are really comfortable so... you see my reasoning? I like the Arizona ones more than the flip flop ones just because I like to have the option to wear them with socks or not. I know this sounds ludicrous because socks plus Birkenstocks are always such a faux pas and I've been called crazy for thinking I can make them look cool but the thing is, I DON'T. I'm just a big proponent of comfort and pieces you can wear all year round (or at least for most of the year).

5. Forever 21 Boxy Pocket Top
So oops I couldn't find the link to this, probably because I found it through Pinterest so who knows how long it's been in circulation? Could be YEARS. Which is sad because I really do like this. I like maroony-y colours and pockets on shirts and long sleeves and slightly boxier, looser styles so basically I love this shirt.

6. Brandy Melville Laura Cardigan
I'm fairly sure that the cardigan pictured is the Laura Cardigan but I'm not sure because Brandy Melville didn't have the exact one on their website when I checked which is sad but okay let's just talk about cardigans. One can never have too many cardigans or sweaters in general. I have countless cardigans and sweaters but I always have room for more. Especially knit ones. That are black. And as cute as this one. It just looks so cozy! I just want to snuggle up into it!

7. Urban Outfitters MINKPINK Harajuku Kid Jacket
I wish I could pull this off. I really do but I really probably won't be able to. The black one looks a little more subdued and feasible but I love the powder blue of this jacket! It's so cuteeee. It'd be so fabulous for springgg. And it's so colourful. And it looks so fun and comfy.

8. American Apparel Denim Pencil Pant
I haven't seen these jeans in the American Apparel stores or on their website but I was browsing ASOS the other day on Pinterest and FOUND THESE. Which are literally the jeans I have been looking for. I'm not a huge fan of the American Apparel Easy Jeans just because they look suffocating at the waist but these look substantially more comfortable as they're not literally sucking in your entire hip part. Also I like the size of the leg opening.

9. TNA Equator Leggings
I admire people who rock leggings when they're not exercising because I have just never found the courage to do that. I always feel so bare? I need a new pair just for running purposes because I'm hopefully going to train for a 5K soon and since they aren't that expensive, I will probably get one. Though I don't really know the difference between all the different kinds? I just picked a random one that didn't have any ruching or stuff like that.

10. Missguided Stripe Oversized Knitted Cropped Sweater White
The sleeves look sorta weird but I feel like if you push them up like the model did, they won't be so disproportionate. It looks so cute though. I love stripey things. I have a lot of striped stuff but I can never run out. They're just so cute! I remember once in sixth or seventh grade, this one girl was talking about horizontal stripes making you look wider so you shouldn't wear them but vertical stripes on a top would just be weird??

11. Urban Outfitters BDG Obie Flannel Button-Down Shirt
HOW AM I CANADIAN IF I DON'T HAVE A FLANNEL? And while I don't think this is actually like flannel flannel material, it is really cute and a gorgeous colour. I went through my dad's closet once to find a flannel and I did find one but it was too big so.

Soo... this was a bit of a random post. I just kinda wanted to have fun with something as you might be able to tell because reading it back now, I'm pretty sure I just sound like a super hyper teenage girl. Which I guess makes sense because I AM. So yeah obviously this wasn't book related but I had fun with this so if you're reading this now, I hope you had fun reading it too? 

Although I am admittedly very embarrassed by this post having read it back. I just sound incredibly shallow and privileged and spoiled. Oh well. I don't know if I want to press delete after going through all the work of figuring out how to get transparent backgrounds in pixlr.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

The DNF Files: Women in Clothes

Published September 4, 2014 by Blue Rider Press
Paperback, 528 pages
Borrowed from library

So... what's it about?
Women in Clothes is a collection of essays, surveys and various other things by women on the clothes they wear, their style and the fashion choices they make day to day. 

Here's the synopsis from Goodreads:
"Women in Clothes is a book unlike any other. It is essentially a conversation among hundreds of women of all nationalities—famous, anonymous, religious, secular, married, single, young, old—on the subject of clothing, and how the garments we put on every day define and shape our lives.
It began with a survey. The editors composed a list of more than fifty questions designed to prompt women to think more deeply about their personal style. Writers, activists, and artists including Cindy Sherman, Kim Gordon, Kalpona Akter, Sarah Nicole Prickett, Tavi Gevinson, Miranda July, Roxane Gay, Lena Dunham, and Molly Ringwald answered these questions with photographs, interviews, personal testimonies, and illustrations.
Even our most basic clothing choices can give us confidence, show the connection between our appearance and our habits of mind, express our values and our politics, bond us with our friends, or function as armor or disguise. They are the tools we use to reinvent ourselves and to transform how others see us. Women in Clothes embraces the complexity of women’s style decisions, revealing the sometimes funny, sometimes strange, always thoughtful impulses that influence our daily ritual of getting dressed."

What initially attracted you to it?
I think I found this book through Goodreads on one of my book finding sprees and thought it looked like an interesting and enlightening book on fashion. I love clothes and makeup and while it never occurred to me to stop for a minute and think about my fashion choices and how they reflect who I am and the world around me, I thought that Women in Clothes would be the perfect book to get me to start thinking about it. 

How far did you read until you decided it was over?
I forgot to check before I returned it to the library but I think I was around the 180 to 200 mark. Which considering the book is 528 pages long is nothing more than a decently sized dent.

Why'd you put it down?
Well... the due date on the book was up and since there are a ton of holds on it at the library I had to return it even though I did give myself three days to try and get as much finished as possible. And I tried for the first night and then I couldn't do it any more. 

I feel like given another chance, I might have been able to find insight in this book and a new favourite to grace my bookshelves. I realize that 180 pages out of a 528 in total is hardly enough for me to form a proper judgement as I'm sure there were some essays or surveys that I missed that were really good so I'm not denying the book's potential.

But the 180 pages I read were just mediocre. I think I knew going into this book that it wasn't going to be a very structured collection. I imagined it to be similar to Tavi Gevinson's Rookie Yearbook with pieces from all sorts of people except that it was directed to a little bit of an older audience and all about fashion. And that was more or less what I got but something about the book just became really repetitive for me. Reading the essays and the surveys were interesting but none of them stood out. I did notice when reading the appendix that the authors did make an effort to include women from all different backgrounds which is good but when you're reading, that type of diversity was often irrelevant unless you get to those essays specifically about a woman's experience with clothes and how it related to her background but otherwise, that type of information wasn't mentioned. I feel like they could have included a bio for each woman with the surveys and the essays instead of having a whole separate section for it at the back.

So... I don't know. I mean I obviously had to return it but I think even if I had an endless amount of time, my opinions would stay the same. 

But on a positive note, was there anything you did like about it?
I liked the idea of the book. I liked the surveys. I liked the essays. I liked the collections of clothings. I liked the projects. I liked the book. But it was just a little too long and repetitive so that over time, the book's novelty wore off for me. 

Final Notes

So Women in Clothes is an interesting situation because even though I did DNF it (let's leave the fact that I had to out of this), I do still feel like I could have gotten a very rewarding reading experience from it. Because I didn't hate it at all. Sure a lot of it was very scattered and it's loosely organized but I did enjoy everything I read even though it wasn't LOVE. I just feel like it's length and repetitiveness put me off from wanting to continue. I don't think it's the type of book you read word for word front to back in one sitting anyway. So I'm probably going to end up buying this book from Indigo to keep and just refer to whenever I want to. That way I can flip through the book depending on my mood and can thumb through it however fast or slow I want. 

I know this won't be a favourite of mine though and I know it probably won't achieve what it set out to do for me. Perhaps I am wrong, perhaps there is a hidden gem in the pages I didn't read but a lot of the stories I went through, while interesting, didn't scratch very deep under the surface. 

I still want to own it though. I know, this is so weird because I just said it wasn't going to be a favourite but it was fun to read at points and I think without time restraints, Women in Clothes would make a great coffeetable book for me to just browse through or skim through whenever I please. 

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Throne of Glass #1
Published May 7, 2013 by Bloomsbury USA Children's
Paperback, 404 pages
Borrowed from library

In a magical land far far away named Erilea, there lives a young assassin named Celaena Sardothien. Locked up in a prison where she's forced to mine salt, Celaena hasn't seen the outside world in a year and she's sorta accepted that this will be her life. Until the dashing Crown Prince of Adarlan swoops in and claims her as his representative for a competition being held at the King's palace. Twenty three people from all background, trained to beat, hit and kill, representing twenty three different palace officials gather together and Celaena is one of them. If she can beat all twenty two of her opponents in a battle of strength, speed and wit, she'll gain her freedom from her miserable prison and be named the King's official Champion. But will she win?

My first thought: I can't believe it took me this long to read Throne of Glass. I first learned about this book TWO YEARS AGO. I remember because I hadn't been blogging then and remember seeing ARCs of this book being distributed and bloggers RAVING ABOUT IT. Now, here we are, three years later and I've only just finished the first book. Tell me who else is better at being slow to the game than I am. (The answer is no one.)

Throne of Glass had an illustrated map!
This is pretty irrelevant to a book review, I know but guys! Maps are so exciting! I love it when books have maps, especially fantasy novels. Like I mean, you can not have one but it's just so much more fun when you do and so much more convenient for the reader because then they have a sense of what the world is SUPPOSED to look like instead of creating their own version from scratch. For me, this helps IMMENSELY. I can't tell you how many times I flipped to the map while reading to help me gain a better understanding of the world.

I loved Sarah J. Maas' writing.
I don't know what it was but damn did that third person work for me. And usually third person really really does not work for me unless it's Harry Potter but I so enjoyed it in this book! I honestly think it would have been weird if I were directly in Celaena's head so this way worked much better for me. I was still able to get a really good idea of who Celaena was as a character and I was still able to get really invested with the story. At first, seeing how long it was and seeing how tiny the font was, I was a little intimidated but there was something about Sarah J. Maas' writing that just worked so well for me. I ripped through the pages. Like I could not stop reading. I read everywhere I could just because I was so obsessed with the story. So Sarah J. Maas, if you're reading this (which would be totally cool if she was), YOU ARE A DAMN GOOD STORYTELLER. 

Celaena was an interesting main character.
I liked her a lot. But I also thought she wasn't really as kickass as everyone was making her out to be. Throughout Throne of Glass, it was very easy for me to forget her background as an assassin. The only scenes that really made that clear were the scenes in which she spent kicking ass (literally) out of all her opponents. Apart from that, there was very little I felt really indicated she was an assassin. Her manner didn't seem at all like a girl who killed people for a living. I felt more like I was being told she was an assassin rather than me actually believing that through what she said and what she did and what she thought. But nonetheless I still found Celaena an incredibly interesting character. Like hey I'd rather you not be an assassin anyway if we're going to be best friends and talk about dresses and eat candy and swoon over Chaol. Because fancy imagining your best friend beheading random dudes in her past? No thanks. But I digress. The point of this is not to talk about my blossoming friendship with Celaena, the point of this is to say she's a really interesting character with qualities I can so admire (although she doesn't always come off as an assassin to me) so READ THIS BOOK if you want interesting female character!!

I got The Diviners and Shadow and Bone and The Winner's Curse flashbacks.
And also The Hunger Games. It was weird reading Throne of Glass for me because I was just constantly reminded by so many other books. The Diviners for all the strange, supernatural killings. Shadow and Bone because of the palace setting and the interaction with ROYALS. The Winner's Curse because Chaol and Celaena very much equals Arin and Kestrel in my mind. And The Hunger Games because of the whole competition thingy. Now I don't think this is a bad thing nor do I think this is a good thing. I think it's just a thing, you know? Like it just was for me and it didn't impact my enjoyment in any way but it's interesting to note, for me anyway because it sorta brought together all my favourite parts of these books in a really interesting way.

There was very little dialogue in some parts.
Okay so this sorta bugged me. I don't know if it was just in this particular book that I noticed how little dialogue there was or if it really was that Throne of Glass had an extremely little amount of dialogue and I guess if it's not necessary, then it'd be better not to include it but I felt like I was just being told a lot of stuff and I didn't actually get to see that in play. Like I was told about how Dorian and Celaena adopted an alligator (which is just an example, totally did not happen) but I didn't actually get to see that myself through their dialogue. If that makes any sense? I don't know... I just like it a lot when there's interesting and witty dialogue in a book and I felt that there was a real lack of it in this book whether there really was or I was just hallucinating and making stuff up.

Throne of Glass made me fall in love with fantasy again.
This is going to be the one thing Throne of Glass will be remembered for for me: bringing back my love of fantasy. I'm a mostly contemporary reader nowadays but way back when I was in love with fantasy. It was the only thing I liked to read (the Septimus Heap series anybody?) and when I still wanted to be a writer, the only genre I'd write. I was obsessed with the idea of magic and wizards and dragons. But somewhere through the years, that just stopped? It wasn't like I started hating fantasy, I just stopped reading it so much and slowly turned to contemporary instead. But with Throne of Glass, I've been reminded all over again of why I used to love fantasy so much and how I need to read more of it! I've always enjoyed the fantasy novels I've read in the past (like The Winner's Curse and Tiger Lily) but I never felt the rush I did when reading Throne of Glass. The rush of "oh yeah I remember why I loved fantasy now".

TEAM CHAOL ALL THE WAY but Dorian is okay too.
You didn't think I could end this review without talking about this, did you? Okay so obviously the boys are a big part of this book and it was all I heard about before I started reading. I've seen a lot of Team Chaol people but I've also seen some Team Dorians and going into this book, I wasn't sure which side I'd fall in. Well, having read that book I can officially profess that I am Team Chaol (this has only been cemented after reading Crown of Midnight). Like I love Dorian with all my heart but I just feel like he and Celaena are so much better off as friends. Whereas Chaol and Celaena... oh my god MY HEART. 

So basically, WHY DID I TAKE SO LONG TO GET TO THIS BOOK? It wasn't a five star read for me but it was still pretty dang good. I was hooked from the very beginning and it was bad because I could not put the book down no matter where I was. I NEARLY MISSED MY STOP ON THE SUBWAY ONCE BECAUSE I WAS SO ENRAPTURED BY THE BOOK. I loved Celaena so much even though I was sorta unconvinced that she really was an assassin. I mean, obviously I KNEW that because I was told but I didn't actually get to see any evidence of it, you know? That's probably the only thing I'd say about this book besides the little dialogue and the ending which sorta lost me for a bit. But action scenes usually do lose me so no surprise there. Overall, solid read and I highly recommend this book to fantasy likers and haters alike!

people who enjoy high fantasy and books such as The Diviners, Shadow and Bone, The Winner's Curse and The Hunger Games (as Throne of Glass was like each of those books in a certain way). If you want an addictive book, pick this up! And if you want a lovable female main character, Throne of Glass might also be for you!


Asti @ Oh, The Books! gives it 4 stars: "There was enough action, romance, and mystery to keep me entertained. And I feel like as a first book it wrapped up well by ending one segment of Calaena’s adventure and preparing us for a whole new one."

Chiara @ Books for a Delicate Eternity gives it 2.5 stars: "All in all, I went in expecting this novel to be as amazing as everyone said it was. Of course, I try to go in with no expectation but when everyone around you is practically screaming about how fantastic a book is, it’s hard not to enter with some kind of expectation. Sadly, Throne of Glass didn’t live up to the hype that it has received."

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

"I Mustache You Some Questions" Tag

I had forgotten about this tag until I was thinking about posts I could do a few days ago. Veronika tagged me to do this tag way back in January and I had always meant to do it but it just slipped out of my memory. Well... here we are now. In March. Better late than never right? So without further ado, I present to you the "I Mustache You Some Questions" tag.

four names that people call me.
  • My Chinese name which my aunt sometimes uses when she sees me because she is adamant on making me speak more Mandarin. Which isn't working.
  • Kitty, except also in Chinese. I don't really get this but my dad uses it sometimes. I think it's supposed to be a term of endearment and apparently it stemmed from when I was a baby and I reminded him of a small kitten? Okay dad... (just kidding I love you)

And that's it? I've never really had an actual nickname. In my fifteen years of existence, I still have not managed to find a nickname for Annie. Which makes sense because for most people, it actually is a nickname like for people named Anna, Anastasia, Annette, Annabelle... You get the idea. The closest I've gotten to a nickname is Nan and for a while I was convinced on making it work because the idea of a nickname is just so cool but it was also sorta strange and never caught on. I've gotten nicknames for my last name before as for some reason, people find it sooo funny but those weren't common things and they didn't last very long either. So yeah... that's it? I don't really have any nicknames.

four jobs i have had.
Well I don't work and have never worked. I know there are people at my age who do but I haven't yet. Not even babysitting or mowing the lawn or something like that. My source of income right now is my monthly allowance from my parents. Eventually I do want to get a job and I was planning on getting one this summer as a camp counselor, working at a daycare or babysitting but my mum would like me to finish my volunteer hours first which makes sense. Maybe this time next year, I'll be done my hours and have a job!

four movies i have watched more than once.
  • High School Musical
  • Friends with Benefits
  • Camp Rock 
  • The Cheetah Girls 2
Basically all the Disney Channel movies, I have seen more than once. And then besides that, I've also seen Friends with Benefits a humiliating amount of times. Something about that movie just screams sad day pick-me-up for me. I was actually surprised by the number of movies I've only seen once while making this list. I'm not a movie person but I feel like there have got to be some other movies I've seen more than once. Right? Right?? Well in any case if there are others, they aren't coming to me now. So godspeed Annie and onto to the next question!

four books i'd recommend.
  • Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard for all your armchair travelling needs
  • Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas because I have officially been converted
  • The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater because so many feels. I hope you know you are missing out if you haven't read this series yet
  • Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill because it was just so freaking cute

four places i've lived.
Born and raised in Toronto, man. Have never known what it's like to be anywhere else. And while I probably will experiment with another place in the future (like maybe Montreal for uni), I think I'll always run back to Toronto. I love it too much even for all the things that annoy me. I don't know... we sorta have a love/hate relationship.

And here I'll just leave you with lyrics from our favourite little mascot, Drake:
Yo, the city is mine (which one?)
D-R-A-K-E that's me

four places i've been.

  • Shanghai, China (and Beijing)
  • Reykjavik, Iceland
  • Buffalo, America
  • Montreal, Canada
By the way I highly highly recommend going to Iceland. It is so beautiful. The people are so kind, the food is amazing, the land is beautiful and it's honestly just such a gorgeous place. Not even that cold! I went for like a few days back in 2013 and I want to go again so badly! Montreal is a pretty sweet place too. Hopefully I'll be able to visit once again (translation: I hope I get into McGill).

four places i'd rather be right now.
  • Fiji
  • New Zealand
  • California
  • Literally anywhere that isn't Toronto and freezing cold

four things i don't eat.
  • Raw fish/sashimi 
  • Any type of meat that isn't chicken and beef and pork (and occasionally lamb and duck)
  • Goat cheese
  • Jalapeno/habanero/scotch bonnet peppers
There are very few things I don't eat honestly. I will probably eat 95% of the food you put in front of me. I love food so much...

four of my favourite foods:
  • Costco fries (try these! HEAVEN IN YOUR MOUTH I PROMISE)
  • Carrots
  • Chipotle burritos
  • Pizza Pizza pizza with CREAMY GARLIC SAUCE
There's more though, trust me. I just couldn't list it all here. But maybe one day I'll write a post all about my favourite food...

four tv shows that i watch.
  • The Newsroom (Jim and Maggie. Will and Mac. Neal. Sloan.)
  • Masterchef (Gordon! Joe! Graham!)
  • The Little Couple (Will and Zoe)
  • The Voice
Honestly I suck at committing to TV shows. I always give up halfway through so there have been a lot of shows that I started and was interested in but just didn't continue with because LAZY. You know you have a problem when you're so lazy you can't even be bothered to watch TV. But the above are ones that I'm currently watching. I also love basically anything on the Food Network, a lot of stuff on HGTV, some stuff on TLC and all the old Disney Channel shows (Suite Life of Zack and Cody? That's So Raven? Disney's Recess??)

four things i'm looking forward to this year.

  • I don't know
  • I don't know
  • I don't know

four things i'm always saying.
  • Oh my god, I'm so obsessed with (insert thing/person/anything here)
  • I'm so tired
  • I'm so hungry
  • Like...
Anddd if we're being honest here, shit would probably be somewhere up there in the list as well.

four people i tag.
  • You
  • You
  • You
  • You

Since I know this tag has already been in circulation for a while, I'm going to assume that those of you who wanted to have done it and the ones who haven't yet chose not to but I guess... if you're seeing this now and think it's fun, then hey, go ahead and do it! I'd love to see your answers! Even if you choose not to do it, feel free to pick a few prompts from here and answer them in the comments. 

Until next time, au revoir!