Friday, July 31, 2015

The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West

Published May 5, 2015 by Harper Teen
Paperback, 352 pages
Borrowed from library

On the night of prom, Gia Montgomery's boyfriend Bradley dumps her in the school parking lot. Which is obviously not good for many reasons but most specifically because her friends were expecting to see him tonight. After going on and on about her fancy UCLA boyfriend for months but never actually bringing him to meet them, her friends are a little more than suspicious about Bradley. Is he real or is she just making him up? So Gia knows that she absolutely CANNOT walk into her prom without at least someone to stand in for Bradley. Enter mysterious guy sitting in his car in the parking lot. Gia corrals HIM to fill in for Bradley and to pretend to be her boyfriend so she doesn't have to face the embarrassment of showing up alone at prom. And surprisingly he agrees. Everything goes well during prom including a well-planned breakup that solves the problem of her friends ever seeing Bradley ever again. But the thing is, even after prom, Gia is STILL thinking about her fill-in Bradley. Who is he???


But you know what IS my forte? Gushing about amazing books. And The Fill-In Boyfriend is amazing so yes, there will be a lot of gushing. 

If you don't know already, Kasie West is the queen of contemporary. Her previous books, The Distance Between Us and On the Fence, were some of the best YA contemporaries I'd ever read so naturally when The Fill-In Boyfriend was announced, I was absolutely ECSTATIC. And I was not in the least bit let down. In fact, I kinda think this was my favourite Kasie West contemporary. And I know I'm kinda alone on that because most people like The Distance Between Us or On the Fence but The Fill-In Boyfriend had everything I could ever ask for. IT'S SO GOOD.

So first, let's start off with Gia. I know a lot of people had problems with her, mostly because she was shallow and lied to her friends with fill-in Bradley (who has a real name but the reveal was so cute that I'm not going to give it away) and is a bit self-absorbed. But all those things only made her more endearing to me. She's probably the one main character I relate tot he most out of all of Kasie West's contemporaries. I didn't really feel anything towards Caymen or Charlie (I think that was her name?) but I got Gia. Maybe it wasn't the wisest choice to lie to her friends and get a stand-in Bradley but under the circumstances, I can totally understand why she did what she did. Which also made me upset at how the lie changed her relationship with her friends. Because her friends - or maybe one friend in particular - was HORRIBLE. And I was not accepting the excuse Kasie West was giving me about hard lives blah blah blah. You don't purposely undermine a person like that and honestly if THOSE were my friends (judgmental, rude, mean etc etc) I might've thought about getting a fake boyfriend as well. BECAUSE SERIOUSLY. 

But that's not to say that Gia is totally in the clear. She's not. She's a flawed character and I love her for that and I think she also represents a lot of high school girls. I know she represents me. She's someone who doesn't totally know who she is and has trouble with her friends sometimes. Like maybe not putting in as much effort into her friendships as she should (KNOW THIS FIRSTHAND) or not being totally open and upfront with her friends (AGAIN I KNOW THIS). She's also extremely popular and because she's always been treated as basically school royalty, she's a little oblivious and ignorant when it comes to other people. She treats them as if they're below her and she's always the one to call the shots and basically just step over everyone else. But over the course of the book, you get to see the development and growth of Gia as a character and it's amazing. Slowly by slowly, Gia starts to realize that she needs an attitude check and in the process of that, she also starts to learn more about herself. Seeing her grow was one of my favourite parts of the book. 

Gia's deep-rooted insecurity is one reason for her behaviour and it's something that really hit me hard. This book deals with social media and how it affects teenagers and the message is something that's obvious but I think needs to be repeated sometimes. It's about not quantifying your value by how many likes or retweets you get and that's something Gia struggles with and it's something I struggle with as well. It's so easy to compare yourself to others when you can break a person down so easily into something so simple as the number of likes on a picture. It's not healthy. I KNOW THIS and yet I still do it and it's one of the reasons why I've contemplated deleting my Facebook in the past. It's just not something I take joy in any more because I can't help but compare myself to others. And it's always an ongoing mantra of "you're not as good as this person", "you're such a loser", "you're never going to be like her", "no one will ever like you" and "no one cares about you" whenever I log in. So that whole part about Gia measuring her worth by the number of likes she had was something that hit me hard. It's something I see in myself and also in my friends, like when everyone gets together to have Facebook profile picture taking sessions and then afterwards, obsessing over what's the optimal time to post the picture to get the most possible likes. So reading about this aspect of Gia, while not totally helpful in curbing my own need for self-validation through likes (I think I'm a long, long way from ever giving that up completely), was comforting. It was good to know that someone else was going through that too. 

And that sense of comfort was a huge part of why I was so attracted to Gia. In her, I saw a lot of me. I saw someone who is often shallow and very self-absorbed, who is massively insecure about herself so she seeks validation in different ways, who wants to be liked by everyone and who's often a little careless about her friends and her friendship. I also really related to her loneliness even despite being surrounded by her friends though I think my loneliness is due to something different than Gia's. Anyway I have a lot of issues, most dealing with insecurity, that I need to sort out that I won't get into here because IRRELEVANT and also maybe a little TOO PERSONAL but basically yes, I saw a lot of myself in Gia. And that's why I related to her so much and liked her so much when others disliked her for the same reasons. She brought a sense of comfort to me because she was struggling with the same things I was.

I can definitely break my love for this book into two parts. Obviously my connection to Gia is a huge part but then my love for fill-in Bradley was another huge part. I ABSOLUTELY ADORED FILL-IN BRADLEY. He was amazing and I loved the natural progression of Gia and fill-in Bradley's (we'll call him FIB from now on because I'm too lazy to type out the whole name) relationship. It was sweet and SO ADORABLE. Honestly FIB is such a gem of a person, I can't even tell you. While he wasn't Gia's type necessarily, he is SO SO SO my type. I swooned HARD. He was so adorable. I know I've said the same thing over and over again but he really was amazing. I kinda want a FIB for myself. SIGH. Their dialogue was so on point and honestly SUCH PRECIOUS CUPCAKES. WHAT THE HECK.

Also this review is getting way too long but can we just sneak in a little prayer session for Bec? The most wonderful person ever? I LOVED HER SO MUCH. And I was dismayed that there was so little of her. I honestly want her to be my best friend, she was just so cool and an example of not to judge a book by its cover which Gia needed to learn and I needed to learn. AND YEAH THIS REVIEW IS SUPER SUPER LONG ALREADY BUT BASICALLY I LOVED THIS BOOK OKAY. IT WAS LIKE THE PERFECT SUMMER CONTEMPORARY. I READ IT IN FOUR HOURS AND IT WAS THE BEST FOUR HOURS I'VE SPENT THIS SUMMER SO FAR.

Kasie West is truly the queen of contemporary. The Fill-In Boyfriend was another home run for me. I absolutely loved it and maybe even a little more than her other two books. A lot of it has to do with Gia and how I related to her in a way I didn't with the other main characters. Gia and I have a lot in common and a lot of things we need to sort out so seeing her come to terms with the things about herself she needs to improve gave me great comfort, as a lot of HER things are MY things as well. So it was a very impactful book for me in that sense but also the writing is just great. I liked how this book dealt with some other important issues rather than just being romance, romance, romance and did it in a better way than The Distance Between Us and On the Fence. I LOVED fill-in Bradley. He's definitely my favourite Kasie West love interest now and yeah I just really enjoyed this book. Maybe the only thing was that things with Gia and her friends were dealt with a little better at the end but apart from that, I had a really really fun time reading this book.

people looking for a book to put a smile on their face or someone looking for a cute contemporary. The Fill-In Boyfriend will 100% do the trick!


Debby @ Snuggly Oranges give it 4.5 stars: "...The Fill-In Boyfriend is fluffy, fun, and surprisingly deep."

Nereyda @ Mostly YA Book Obsessed gives it 4.5 stars: "I’m used to Kasie’s books having open endings, but this one felt more unfinished than her others. I still had so many questions, mostly concerning Gia’s friends."

Monday, July 27, 2015

10 Facts About Me

After nearly three years of blogging and just hanging around in the blogosphere chatting with all of y'all, I kinda feel like you already know all there is to know about me. Like in my time blogging, I've never really held back with the more personal details of my life and maybe at times, I should have exercised more caution but honestly I think of you all as my friend and friends tell each other things! You guys certainly know more about me than many people in my life.

When I was thinking of ideas for posts to have up on my blog while I was away on vacation, the idea to do a "facts about me" post came to me. I legitimately thought I had already done one but one search and it turns out that no, I indeed haven't even though I have written plenty of other posts in a similar vein (like 101 things I love and 101 things I hate). Since I haven't done this type of post just yet, I thought this would be a good time to do it, as I'm leaving for vacation and such and it's the type of post that doesn't need a lot of prior planning or preparation. And I know this might seem horribly lazy of me but honestly you try scheduling for four weeks as a non-scheduler and a blogger who has never written this many posts in this short amount of time EVER. I'm feeling very very close to burnout. So I thought I'd give myself a little break and write this post instead, which also ended up a lot longer than expected although why am I still surprised that my posts are so long because I TALK SO MUCH. But anyway, hopefully this doesn't seem as self-indulgent and self-absorbed as I think it is and you guys enjoy learning a little bit more about me; I know for myself, I always enjoy finding out more about the blogger outside of blogging and of course, books.

10 facts about me.

1. I was born on December 17, making me a Sagittarius.
I have somewhat of a love / hate relationship with my birthday. I really like that it's during the winter and so close to Christmas as there is something about the winter holidays that's just so romantic and whimsical to me. However, I do not like having to wait so long for my birthday to come and I know that sounds strange because everyone has to wait the same amount of time but when your birthday's at the end of the year and everyone you know has already turned 16 or 17 or whatever, the wait just seems that much longer and it's not fun. But apart from that, there really isn't very much I dislike about my birthday. And on a side note, I've never really bought into the whole astrology thing but there might be some TRUTH to it or maybe it's just destiny because I find that the sign Sagittarius massively suits me. Everything I've read about the characteristics of Sagittarians (?) basically fits me to a T.

2. I am an ENFP.
For Careers this year (which everyone says is such a joke course but I thought was actually very useful), I had to take the Myers-Briggs test to find out what my personality type is. I've taken it three times and all three times I've basically gotten the same result (except once when I got ESFP but it said that the difference I got between sensing and intuition was very marginal, meaning that it could really go either way which makes sense for me). It was interesting to get my result because I basically thought everything really fit me except for the first one which is introvert vs extrovert. I think of myself more as an ambivert because there are times when I'm extremely introverted and other times when I'm extremely extroverted ALTHOUGH if you told me I had to pick, I always pick introvert even if I may appear more extroverted? But I guess I can't really argue if the Myers-Briggs test thinks I'm more extroverted. I also found this article recently on ENFP struggles and related so HARD the entire time so yeah, I'm a little more convinced now. Also fun fact, ENFPs are also known as "champions" and Nelson Mandela was one!

3. The back of my phone is covered in stickers.

Oh hey, check it out. There's my phone! In all its pink glory. I don't remember why exactly I thought it would be a good idea to put stickers on it any more but I have to say that I have yet to get super embarrassed about it. Maybe the day will come soon... But the good thing is that it's very hard for me to lose it and it's very easy for others to identify if I do lose it. I left my phone by my locker in the school hallway once and THANK GOD my French teacher picked it up and sent it to the office but when I talked to her, I basically just went "did it have stickers?" and she was like "a ton" and then I was like "sure thing, that's my phone!"

4. I don't mind brussel sprouts but I HATE okra.
I don't understand why everyone hates on brussel sprouts. They are honestly the most inoffensive vegetable ever. They don't taste like anything and they don't have a weird texture either. They're basically like cabbage balls. How do you hate that? And when they're cooked well, like with a balsamic vinaigrette glaze, YUM. Okra, on the other hand, is disgusting. It's slimy and honestly feels like I'm eating someone's slobber. Like in those animated movies where the dog is just like slobbering everywhere. When I eat okra, I feel like the equivalent of that dog slobbering on me. So honestly if anything people should be hating on okra, NOT brussel sprouts. This is a legit thing I'm protesting guys.

5. I pride myself on my fashion knowledge.
I read a lot of Vogue and Teen Vogue as well as blogs / websites like Who What Wear so I do kinda pride myself on my fashion knowledge. I'm not a whiz at it or an expert by any stretch of the imagination but I do know quite a bit, like more than the average person, I guess. Fashion's just always something I've been super interested in so I read / watch a lot about it and I would consider myself pretty up to date about trends, the latest popular brands, supermodels etc etc.

6. I was OBSESSED with Jesse McCartney as a child.
He was probably the first celebrity crush I remember having. I remember watching him and his music videos on Disney Channel when I was 6 or 7 and being like "who's this young charming blonde guy?" And even though that was nearly a decade ago, I still admit to loving him and frequently jamming out to his music. I guess some things just never change?

7. I'm turning 16 this year in December!
Oh fun. The big sixteen, right? I probably won't have a sweet sixteen mostly because I don't like having huge parties on my birthday. For me, my favourite thing is just to have a quiet dinner with my family on my birthday and then go home, take a bath, relax and watch a movie or read or go on Tumblr. So no sweet sixteen for me! But I'm going to try to convince my parents to let me get my G1 / driver's license because it's something I want REALLY bad but they're not too keen about (I think they're both very worried that I'll crash into a tree or something because I wasn't paying attention and I mean, yeah, I guess it makes sense why they would think that but still...)

8. Hairdressers always ask me if my hair is permed.
And no, it's not. I get this question a lot because my hair, for some weird reason, isn't like the Asian hair you usually see: straight, shiny and BASICALLY GORGEOUS. My hair is crazy. Like insane. It's not straight unless I straighten it. It's not shiny no matter what I do to it. And there's a lot of it, it's crazy thick. Most days, it hovers around wavy but right after I've washed it, it gets super curly and if it's been a long time since I've washed it, the grease kinda pulls it straighter if that makes sense. But it's also really poufy and frizzy. Like if it's hot out, my hair just poufs out or if it's raining and my hair gets wet, as it dries, it poufs out so I look like I've been electrocuted or something. Honestly my hair is such a struggle. IF YOU HAVE STRAIGHT, SHINY HAIR, just know that I envy you.

9. My favourite joke is "two peanuts are walking down the street and one is a salted."
I don't know why this makes me laugh so much but every single time, IT GETS ME without fail. This is my one party joke. It's the one I tell to EVERYONE. Again, I don't know why, I just think it's hilarious. Though I will be the first one to tell you that my humour is very strange and if it's a pun that everyone else groans at, chances are that I will find it absolutely HILARIOUS.

10. I own too many high-waisted pants.
I kinda feel like once you go high-waisted, you can never go back. Or at least, that's how it is for me. Basically everything I own is high-waisted now and if I'm not wearing something high-waisted, I feel weird. My mom hates the look of them but I don't know, I quite like them. I like tucking in my shirts and I like the illusion of longer legs being on the shorter side (5'2") so they're a look I really really love.

Now it's your turn: share 10 interesting facts about yourself! What's your favourite joke? Who was your celebrity crush as a child? What's one food you absolutely DETEST? Which personality type and star sign do you fall under? Or any other interesting fact about yourself that you think would be fun to share. Let's have a little chat and get to know each other better! 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Magnolia by Kristi Cook

Published August 5, 2014 by Simon & Schuster
Hardcover, 336 pages
Borrowed from library

Jemma Cafferty and Ryder Marsden were quite literally destined to be together. Their respective families have been best friends with each other for over two centuries; they're so close that the Caffertys practically consider the Marsdens family and vice versa. For years, the two families have yearned for a marriage to permanently link their families together but there was never a boy AND  a girl born at the same time... until Jemma and Ryder. Needless to say, the two have been pushed together by their parents ever since their births. But the only thing is, Jemma and Ryder hate each other. Like blood boiling, CANNOT under any circumstances STAND each other so the last thing they want is to be in a relationship with each other. But when the tide appears to start turning and their feelings start to get more and more confused, it's hard not to speculate: will their parents get what they want after all? Or are Jemma and Ryder's pasts just too hard to reconcile?

IT REALLY IS THE TRUTH. Summer is just not summer without contemporary romances. Magnolia was one of the books I had on my list to read this summer because so many bloggers I trust really enjoyed it and also, it just sounds DAMN good. And IT WAS. Like truly, if you are looking for THE YA contemporary romance for this summer, look no further than Magnolia. It's a quick but addictive read. I promise, you will not want to put this down. I know because I wasn't able to put it down and ended up reading it in a span of five hours. 

Honestly I wish I had drawn it out a little longer or at least saved it for mid-summer because it was so good that it makes me sorry it was one of the very first books I read - since my daycare days when my teacher would advise us all to eat our least favourite part of the meal first and save the best for last, I have kinda applied that theory to all parts of my life, including summer reading lists. Magnolia was everything I had hoped that it would be and more.

Although yes, I did only give it four stars (4.5 stars if we're being technical) and that just about comes down to two teeny things that gave me some pause. The first thing is the hatred between Jemma and Ryder. I was not entirely convinced how much they really did hate each other, especially at the beginning and I guess, even now having finished the book, although given everything else that happened, it's a bit of a moot point now. But yeah, I think the hatred between was them was something that I needed to see a little more evidence of. The reason that Jemma gave was totally grounds for hating someone and it made sense, as in yes I would be mad at a person if they did what Ryder did to Jemma and yes I would probably hate them too. But apart from that, maybe the only glimpse we get of their actual hatred towards each other is in one short scene at the beginning. And that's it. So it's something that gave me a little pause and it's one thing that's holding me back from giving it a 5 star rating, although by the time I was finished I was so over the moon with how things ended up and how natural and believable Ryder and Jemma's relationship was, it was hardly in my mind. (Because let's not beat around the bush, YES OF COURSE Jemma and Ryder end up together). AND YES I know that sounds contradictory but that's how it was for me.

The other thing I don't know if I can totally disclose because it's so spoilery but for those of you who have read the book: PATRICK. That is all I'm going to say. PATRICK. (But really skip this paragraph if you haven't read the book yet. I'm not going to mention any specifics but better to err on the side of caution if you're VERY picky about spoilers) That entire storyline just had me scratching my head so hard even in the beginning. It felt unnecessary and then THE THING happened and I was left even more confused. It never felt totally resolved, instead just lingering about for the remainder of the book and that is the MAIN reason why I cannot give this book 5 stars, as much as I enjoyed it. That entire sub-plot was just so confusing and frankly, unnecessary and out of place and then everything was just dealt with so roughly. It just never sat right with me. I feel like maybe it was added to draw comparisons to Ryder and show how ONE thing is clearly better than the other which makes sense but with what happened, it just bugged me so much. I don't understand why it happened, I don't think Patrick was dumb enough to do what he did, it was honestly just so so strange like why was this even part of the book in the first place. And I hated it as well. I feel like my instinct is just to always go to the underdog and the guy that's maybe a little rough around the edges so that's why I personally felt so much for Patrick but still. SO MUCH UGH.

But apart from that, I really did like this book. It's a solid romance with many great components. Namely, the romance. Hate to love is one of my favourite tropes and Kristi Cook did it spectacularly and YES I KNOW I'M CONTRADICTING MYSELF AGAIN BUT I AM JUST A BUNDLE OF CONTRADICTIONS but yes I really thought the progression of Ryder and Jemma's relationship was very smooth and realistic. Honestly I kinda had to stop reading a few times to let out a few giggles just because there were some scenes where it wasn't really graphic (so yes if you want me to say it, there is no sex) but honestly there was so much CHEMISTRY and romantic tension between the two, I just had to shake out the swoons and tingles I had. And you know, Ryder did win me over in this book. He was just so sweet, I don't know, I just really liked him. And it certainly did not hurt that I was picturing him as James Marsden the entire time even though he's like 40 and basically 30 years older than what Ryder is in the book but honestly James Marsden is so swoon no matter how old he is. 

There were other parts I really liked as well. For starters, I really liked the Mississippi setting and even though I've never been to the South it felt like I was there so all the components of a Southern lifestyle, I thought, were very well written and it made me want to live there even though I am not a rural girl. It just all sounded very glamorous to me and romantic how everyone knew who everyone was and how you grow up with these people and have known them your entire life.

I also liked the realisticness of the storm. Which honestly I still think is kinda a spoiler. Like it's in the Goodreads blurb but it doesn't happen until 1/2 of the book in and the entire time I was just waiting for it to happen and it was not fun. So I'd tell you to not read that blurb and just go in blind but since we're here on the subject anyway... let me just say that it was written very realistically. Not that I've been in a storm but I could picture myself in the scenario and everything just felt very right.

And then besides all that, you also have the great side characters, the family aspect which I always love, the real struggles of being a teen like WORRYING ABOUT UNI that I always appreciate seeing and the writing.

ALSO I just realized the parallels between this book and Romeo & Juliet. I mean I KNOW it's supposed to be like a reverse Romeo & Juliet retelling but I literally just noticed that

The Caffertys - The Capulets
The Marsdens - The Montagues
Jemma - Juliet
Ryder - Romeo
Ben - Benvolio
Mason - Mercutio
Tanner - Tybalt
Rosie - Rosaline

Honestly you would think I'd have caught on a bit earlier after studying Romeo & Juliet for a whole excruciating year but I'M JUST SO DIM, I DIDN'T EVEN SEE IT. Although honestly even now as I see the parallels between the two works, I'm still not entirely sold on the Romeo & Juliet retelling aspect of this book. There are a lot of moments that jump out at me that are CLEARLY drawing reference to the play so work under the confines of "Romeo & Juliet retelling" but not under the confines of "oh hey this is what Magnolia is actually about". If that makes sense? Like a lot of scenes just felt like they were thrown in there to make it MORE of a Romeo & Juliet retelling without actually adding anything to the actual story of Magnolia and Ryder and Jemma.

But overall yes, if you're looking for a good contemporary romance, look no further than Magnolia!

Magnolia was THE summer contemporary romance I was looking for. The relationship between Ryder and Jemma progressed so naturally and there were definitely some moments that had me all SWOON. There are sooo many things to like about this book although there were two TINY bits that gave me pause and are why I didn't rate this book a 5 star read. But it was truthfully very very close to it. I read it in 5 hours because it was just so addictive and I couldn't get enough of Jemma and Ryder. The fact that it's a Romeo & Juliet retelling totally slipped my mind while I was reading so make of that what you will? It's only now in hindsight that I'm slowly picking up the parallels between the two books even though I am really familiar with the story of Romeo & Juliet, I just was out of it I suppose? But overall, a great book.

people looking for a cute but well written contemporary romance perfect for the summer.


Kelly @ Effortlessly Reading gives it 3 stars: "Overall, Magnolia was a cute fun read despite it’s awkward beginning, but it’s not one of my favorite retelling or my favorite Romeo and Juliet retelling by any means."

Sunday, July 19, 2015

An Epic Recs Reading Round-Up!

I was looking at my book log the other day and noticed how I never ended up talking about the two books I ACTUALLY read for Epic Recs on my blog: If I Stay & Graffiti Moon. Instead of making two separate reviews for them, I decided I would just smoosh them together in one post since it's been a super long time since I finished them anyway and then ALSO include the two books I did not read for Epic Recs and ask you what you thought of them. Genius idea, right? 

I guess I should maybe preface this with what Epic Recs is as some of you may not know. It's something Amber and Judith created that pairs up book bloggers with each other in a little fun recommendation game thing. So each month, you and your partner recommend each other books and then IDEALLY you're supposed to read them but since I am not the best with reading what I am told to read, it doesn't always work out that way.

If you're curious, here are the four rounds of Epic Recs I did.
(also note that Shelly was partner for Epic Recs #1 while Chloe was my partner for Epic Recs #2-4 in case there was any confusion)
I / II / III / IV

the books i READ.

Chloe and I have similar taste in books so was I surprised that I ended up liking both of her recommendations to me? NOT AT ALL. Here are my thoughts on If I Stay & Graffiti Moon.

If I Stay by Gayle Forman
If I Stay #1
Published April 6, 2010 by Dutton Books for Young Readers
Paperback, 261 pages
Borrowed from library

If I Stay was a book I probably wouldn't have ever picked up had Chloe not recommended it to me and while I can't say I LOVED it as much as others did, it was a good read. Having read Just One Day before this, I knew that Gayle Forman was a good writer and it showed again in If I Stay. I was impressed by how much she managed to fit in a relatively short book but I was also left wanting more overall. There was just a disconnect between me and this book - a book that I had EXPECTED to bring the waterworks. But it never happened. I really didn't feel anything for this book besides maybe a glimmer of sorrow and sympathy for Mia. Maybe I'm heartless or maybe there was just something missing for me. There were a lot of things I liked like Mia's family and reading about her love for the cello. Those were all really interesting parts of the story for me but then there were other parts that I just wasn't super keen about. So I mean, it wasn't a bad book at all for me but it also wasn't super freaking amazing as I expected it'd be going in. I'm undecided at this point whether or not to continue on with Where She Went. I don't have any interest to do so but it's under consideration.

And just to throw this out there to be fair but I watched the movie a week or so ago and it really didn't do anything for my opinion of this book at all. I'm sorry if you liked the movie but oh my god, it was so awful I couldn't even sit through it. Maybe my favourite part was that Adam's band's name changed and the songs they played were good but apart from that, I CRINGED SO BAD. There was this scene when Adam and Mia are having lunch at her family's barbecue and a bee stings her... the acting was terrible.

Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley
Published August 1, 2010 by Pan Macmillan Australia
Paperback, 264 pages
Borrowed from library

Graffiti Moon was another book on the shorter side that still managed to pack a lot in. I enjoyed this more than I enjoyed If I Stay but still, I felt like I was missing SOMETHING. In my Goodreads update, I mentioned that it was maybe a little too deep for me and I do feel that a lot of the time the underlying message / theme of the story escaped me. The beginning also had me a little confused but once the story got rolling, I was really invested in all the characters. The writing was amazing and I loved the unique topic of graffiti that Cath Crowley dealt with. It's definitely a very well written book that I recommend to anyone looking for a quick but powerful read. Another example of how a book doesn't have to be 1000 pages long in order to have well-developed characters and a story.

the books i DID NOT READ.

These were the books that for whatever reason I didn't get to. Now that I'm on summer vacation though, it's a great time for me to catch up on books. This is where you come in. Tell me which of these two books I should read next and why! What did you think of them? What were the best parts about the book? SELL IT TO ME.

Published February 21, 2012 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Hardcover, 368 pages

This was a book that Shelly recommended me and I KNOW, IT'S ONE I REALLY REALLY NEED TO READ. I just wasn't in the mood for a contemporary when she recommended it and then it just kinda fell to the side and I STILL HAVE YET TO PICK IT UP. I guess a lot of it is also because there has been so much praise surrounding this book and hype always scares me because I hate even taking the chance of being the odd one out. There is nothing worse than being disappointed with a book that everyone else loved and black sheeping hard. 

Published December 4, 2014 by Hot Key Books
Paperback, 352 pages

Chloe rec'd me this and I'm actually just sitting here in shock that I haven't read this yet. I love collab books and ROAD TRIP BOOKS and contemporaries in general. I'm not super familiar with E. Lockhart or Lauren Myracle but I do really love Sarah Mlynowski's work (Bras and Broomsticks anybody?) so I'm definitely willing to give this book a shot and maybe add two more contemporary authors to my favourites list! AND ALSO DID I MENTION HOW MUCH I LOVE FRIENDSHIP BOOKS SO YEAH THERE'S THAT TOO.

Have you read Graffiti Moon & If I Stay? Did you like them as well? What other books by Australian authors can you recommend because they're all amazing, I SWEAR THERE'S SOMETHING IN THE WATER. Was I too harsh on the If I Stay movie? Does it get better? And the important question: SHOULD I READ ARI & DANTE OR HOW TO BE BAD FIRST? And what were your thoughts on them? Also just for funsies, what's the BEST book you've ever read that someone else recommended to you (either through Epic Recs or something else entirely)? 

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

Published May 5, 2015 by Viking Juvenile
Hardcover, 417 pages
Borrowed from library

(synopsis from

Peyton, Sydney's charismatic older brother, has always been the star of the family, receiving the lion's share of their parents' attention and—lately—concern. When Peyton's increasingly reckless behavior culminates in an accident, a drunk driving conviction, and a jail sentence, Sydney is cast adrift, searching for her place in the family and the world. When everyone else is so worried about Peyton, is she the only one concerned about the victim of the accident?

Enter the Chathams, a warm, chaotic family who run a pizza parlor, play bluegrass on weekends, and pitch in to care for their mother, who has multiple sclerosis. Here Sydney experiences unquestioning acceptance. And here she meets Mac, gentle, watchful, and protective, who makes Sydney feel seen, really seen, for the first time.

The uber-popular Sarah Dessen explores her signature themes of family, self-discovery, and change in her twelfth novel, sure to delight her legions of fans.

All I have to say is that now I really REALLY regret passing up on the 40% discount I saw on this book at Indigo a few weeks back because WOW.

Just kidding, I have more to say because I ALWAYS have more to say. But where to start when there is so much to cover?

Why don't I start here: I was hesitant going into Saint Anything because the few Sarah Dessens I had read before this, of late, were not very good. Not in the sense that the writing was bad (because Sarah Dessens never have bad writing), just in the sense that I started to get this feeling that her stories followed a certain pattern. It became formulaic and I got bored. Even well loved books like Lock and Key and Along for the Ride did nothing for me. I don't know whyy, I just didn't really connect with any of the characters or the story. I didn't feel the same magic I did when I read The Truth About Forever or This Lullaby, two of my favourite Sarah Dessens. But still I read on, even as I felt pretty meh over most of the books that I read. Why did I do this? FOR THE HOPE THAT I WOULD FIND ANOTHER BOOK THAT WOULD STRIKE THAT SAME MAGIC FEELING IN ME THAT THE TRUTH ABOUT FOREVER AND THIS LULLABY DID. AND GUESS WHAT? I FOUND IT, IN SAINT ANYTHING.

I was SCARED. I didn't want to be let down again especially when there was just so much promise for this book. And I wasn't let down and that made me so so happy. See, I knew - I JUST KNEW - I would find another Sarah Dessen I would love ONE DAY. Because Sarah Dessen at her best DOES EVERYTHING RIGHT. Her writing is on point, her characters are well fleshed out and always AUTHENTIC, her storyline is tight and she always manages to deal with maybe some more sensitive issues with great poise and sophistication. Those are qualities I look for in great contemporaries (or in great books PERIOD), they're what I think about when I think of what a great contemporary looks like and they're what Sarah Dessen has learned how to do PERFECTLY. Admittedly there have been some books of hers that I haven't enjoyed as much, where I felt like maybe there was something missing, but looking at some of my favourite books of hers, she always has that perfect balance of great characters, great plot, great writing and a really strong emotional attachment for the reader. 

Saint Anything had that. 

It had the great writing that was beautiful, introspective and seriously TUGGED on my HEARTSTRINGS. So many gorgeous lines in this book. So quotable. AND I LITERALLY DID NOT WANT TO PUT DOWN THIS BOOK FOR A SECOND. I started it one evening and just read until it was really too late for me to be up and still reading (midnight) so I had to put down the book and IT WAS SO SAD. Then the next day I woke up and the first thing I did was read the book but then I had to go out and be pried away from it again and IT WAS AGONY. Like honestly, I have not been this immersed in a book for a very very long time. Just every single time I wanted to keep reading until I finished. IT WAS THAT GOOD. And considering it's 400 pages (although I read an eBook version), I READ IT PRETTY FAST like in under 24 hours. SO AGAIN, proof that Sarah Dessen is a bombass writer.

It had the great story that I've come to expect with Sarah Dessens. Everything just wove together so beautifully, even the sub-plots just came together so nicely. HOW DOES SARAH DESSEN DO IT? Just looking back on it now, there definitely were a lot of different storylines going on. We had the main ongoing plot with Sydney and her parents dealing with older brother Peyton in jail but we also had one with Ames, Peyton's creepy friend; the Chathams and their crazy family and Mama Chatham with MS; Layla Chatham, Sydney's friend, and her relationship with a guy; Mac Chatham and his adventures with his band and the Chatham pizza business. There IS  a lot going on but never for one moment did I feel confused or overwhelmed and that is just a testament to how GOOD of a writer Sarah Dessen is, to be able to balance all those storylines and weave them together so well. 

It had the AMAZING CHARACTERS. Okay guys, you may want to sit down for this because y'all know that when it comes to characters, I am NOT messing around. I love my characters and they really do make or break a book for me. And Saint Anything's characters MADE the book for me. I just have so much love for all these characters. Even the unlikeable ones. They're written so well that I can't help but take a step back in admiration.

Let's start with Sydney, our main character. To be quite honest with you, I didn't really connect with Sydney all that much while I was reading the book. Her narration felt a little stiff for me and kinda like same old, same old (which I guess is one of the problems I have with Sarah Dessen books. The narration is very similar - it's good writing but similar - so when there isn't anything else going on that interests me like the plot or standout characters, I get bored). It felt like an adult in a teen's role, if that makes sense, it just felt a bit emotionless and detached BUT as the book progressed, this became better although I still didn't really connect with Sydney. I FELT for her though and I UNDERSTOOD her. I understood why she felt the way she did about Peyton and the accident and I felt for her when her parents turned a blind eye towards her. I felt for her when SHIT HIT THE FAN. Really, one of the best things about this book was watching Sydney slowly change and develop as she got to know the Chathams. It was beautiful to see her grow from a sorta meek, lonely girl into one who was funny and surrounded with great friends.

Another great thing about this book were the RELATIONSHIPS (I know I'm jumping around here but there's SO MUCH TO SAY). I loved the different relationships here. I loved seeing the friendship between Sydney and Layla. It was kinda my favourite thing ever. Layla was a character I immediately liked, her radiant personality felt like it was even radiating off the page. I liked how she and Sydney just clicked. I also liked Sydney's relationship with her old friend Jenn who honestly didn't leave very much of an impression on me until the later half of the book. 

Seeing the contrast in family dynamics was very interesting as well. On one hand we have the Stanfords, who are kinda dysfunctional and still trying to figure things out and adjust to this new development of Peyton in prison. Sydney's alone at home a lot, her parents don't pay attention to her and when they do, it's to be unfairly overbearing and strict on her like not allowing Sydney to hang out with Layla or the Chathams. It was difficult, I'm not gonna lie, to read about Sydney's mom just totally neglect and push away her interests and wants. But then we also got to see how things shifted and changed and got better. It was intriguing also to read about the family's relationship with Peyton which changed a lot throughout the book. And it was great to be able to see Peyton and Sydney's relationship change as well and I think at the end of the book, we were at a really great place with that. 

And then on the OTHER hand, we have the Chathams who are loud and boisterous but also incredibly tight-knit and it's clear that they're full of love for each other. It's something that's new for Sydney, or at least something she hasn't experienced in a very long time, and to be able to see her come to develop her relationship with them was so fun. I loved seeing her growing relationship with Mrs. Chatham and how Mrs. Chatham would offer her advice and guidance. And I loved seeing the interactions between Layla and Mac and Rosie, the three Chatham siblings.

But back to the characters, let's run through this quickly:

Sydney - really came around to her by the end. I felt for her at times but also had a deep understanding for who she was
Sydney's parents - I disliked what they were doing a lot of the time but could also see where they were coming from. By the end, I really liked how they developed
Peyton - He came around for me as well
Ames - Did not come around for me. Gave me the heebie jeebies just EW.
The Chathams - LOVE
Layla - LOVE
Jenn - LOVE
Eric and Irving (from Mac's band) - Eric was so amusing to me the entire time and Irving needs his own novel. He was HILARIOUS.
Mac - BEST FOR LAST OBVIOUSLY. Mac, Mac, Mac, Mac. Honestly the best person ever. He was so kind and sweet and just ADORABLE. One of my favourite Dessen guys and probably one of my favourite YA male characters EVER. I loved him and his relationship with Sydney was so sweet. I liked how natural it felt and how everything unravelled so nicely. I ALSO liked how there was no drama between them. I was kinda scared that there was going to be a BIG breakup or some scandal but there wasn't that and I was so grateful. I liked the two of them together so so much. HONESTLY MAC. But also as much as I liked them together, I also liked how their relationship didn't take up the novel. Like it wasn't the focus and that for me was so so important and so great to see. 

And then of course if you're still not convinced that this book is amazing and Sarah is amazing, let's just talk about how she dealt with important issues with such sophistication and sensitivity. And also the fact that this book made me so HUNGRY all the time. There was so pizza and I LOVE PIZZA. Literally was craving my hawaiian / triple cheese / vegetarian / bianca (is that how you spell it?) / margherita (again, is that how you spell it?) pizzas the ENTIRE TIME. And then there were the Yum Yum lollipops. Which, I MEAN, root beer and cola lollipops are the best okay, let's just lay that down right now. AND THEN THE FRIES. Honestly it kinda grossed me out that Layla put salt and pepper in her ketchup and then on her fries but everything else was just OH MY GOD (also lol if you've read this book can we just talk about the fact that Spence ate his fries using a fork and with MUSTARD should have been a sign that he was not good??). Like I loveeee fries you guys. And the best fries I have ever tried EVER are still the fries they sell at Costco. Next time you're at Costco get yourself a portion. THEY ARE SO DELICIOUS. 

So yeah, those are all the things I loved about Saint Anything! IF I HAVEN'T CONVINCED YOU, well then I don't know what else I can say MOSTLY BECAUSE THIS REVIEW IS ALREADY SO LONG.

What can I say that I haven't already said? Basically this book was AMAZING. It reconfirmed to me that Sarah Dessen is one of the best YA authors ever. Everything from the characters to the writing to the plot was just so well done. Honestly I am APPLAUDING RIGHT NOW because Saint Anything might just be Sarah Dessen's best work ever, or if not the best, ONE of her best. I SHOULD HAVE BOUGHT IT WHEN I HAD THE CHANCE SO MUCH GRR.

contemporary lovers looking for something deep and heartfelt. If you like reading about well developed characters and strong relationships, read this book and if you just want to read a GOOD book.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Blog Announcement: Leaving for Vacation! (A Month Long Sort-of Hiatus)

Hi guys, just a quick little post today to notify you of what’s going to be happening with my blog for the next month or so.

If you’ve read my June Reflect & Renew post, you might already be aware that I am going on vacation starting the tenth of July (so tomorrow) for approximately a month. I’ll be visiting Asia, mostly staying in Shanghai to see my relatives and then maybe visiting Tokyo as well, though nothing has been set in stone yet. I’m super excited but also slightly disappointed because going on vacation means no time to blog.

Good news is that I have scheduled some posts to go up while I’m away so there will be at least one post per week for every week that I am away, though I have been a little extra productive these past few weeks so there will be a few more schmooshed in between.

But as for everything else (Twitter, other forms of social media, email, comment responding, etc), there will be a month-long lapse in activity. Part of it is because I will be doing a lot of travelling and most likely won’t have a lot of access to the internet or even a computer but part of it is also because I will be in China where, as you probably know, blocks basically all the major English speaking websites. Which means, to my devastating sadness, no social media of any sort for a month. But hey, maybe this will be good for me! Maybe this will help ease my dependency on social media. But yes also if you need to contact me for anything, just know that you’ll probably have to wait until mid-August / some time during the second week of August before you get a reply.

And I’m pretty sure that covers everything I need to say for now… so I’ll see you all in a month. Hopefully you’ll enjoy the posts I have scheduled and yeah, that’s it! Don’t miss me too much (although I’m sure you’re all going to hold a celebration that I’m gone as soon as I leave).


PS. I actually don’t even know what I’m going to do this month without any contact with any of you for a month so here I am, asking for help to keep my sanity. If you are willing to help keep me sane by way of email (I’m pretty sure Hotmail / Windows email isn’t blocked in China), I’ll send you my email address to set up an email correspondence so you can entertain me with things and keep me updated with what’s going on in the blogging community / the rest of the world and in exchange I’ll entertain you with descriptions of my travels and all the food I’m eating (and maybe even a postcard to your door!)

There, now I’m really done.


Annie xx

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

10 Hyped Books I've Never Read

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

This week's topic is 10 Hyped Books I've Never Read and guys, take a seat because I could go on and on about this topic FOR DAYS but I've narrowed it down to 10. Let's get one thing out of the way here: hype scares me. It really does. I'm afraid of getting let down by the book and then being the black sheep. While it sucks being the odd one out when you're the only person loving a book everyone else hates, it's so much worse being the person hating a book everyone else loves (well, for me, at least). Because I never want to be blasting a book everyone loves, I want to join in on the fun! Some of the books listed are ones I've avoided for that exact reason. Others are just books I'm not that interested in reading. But either way, one thing all of these books have in common is that they are massively hyped. Enjoy!

10 hyped books i've never read.

1. City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

I know there are a lot of diehard Mortal Instruments fans out there so please don't hit me or come at me with pitchforks when I say that I truly have no interest in reading this series at all. When my friend asked me about it, I told her that I felt like the window of time in which I would have read the book had already passed and it's true. I mean, if I did want to read this book, I would've read it years ago in fourth grade or fifth grade. And okay to be fair, I did try once. I picked up the book, read maybe the first chapter and then put it down. Obviously that's not enough to form a proper judgement on the book but yeah.. it's been so many years now and there are so many books out and I've heard things about Cassandra Clare that raise questions, regardless of whether they're true or not, I DON'T KNOW, I don't really bother to find out the details about these things. And I just cannot rationalize investing that much time reading a series that long that I probably wouldn't have even considered at all, if not for the hype.

2. Looking for Alaska by John Green

Another book that I don't really have any plans on reading. I just don't really like John Green's writing at all. The Fault In Our Stars was good and I did like it a lot (though a little dubious about whether I'd still like it that much if I read it now) but then came Paper Towns and An Abundance of Katherines and if Looking for Alaska is anything like those two books, HARD PASS. Not a fan of John Green's writing / humour at all. Though if we're being totally honest, I think it wouldn't be totally unfair to say that all of the hype surrounding John Green may have just amplified my dislike of his work. If that makes sense? It's just always John Green this, John Green that, oh hey another John Green movie and meanwhile I'm sitting here just shaking my head because why? I legitimately do not see the attraction. I'M NOT SAYING THAT JOHN GREEN IS A BAD PERSON, PLEASE DON'T HURT ME. I actually think he comes off as rather charming from his videos but his books are just so blah for me.

3. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

This is a book that I actually DO want to read. I'm a history nerd, I absolutely love learning and reading about the past and that's why historical fiction is one of my favourite genres to read. I've heard so many great things about Code Name Verity and honestly I don't know why I still haven't read it. Especially since it's a World War II historical fiction and World War II is something I am massively interested in. We were studying it this year in History class and I don't know if I've ever been more eager to learn anything in my entire life EVER. The way things slowly built up to this horrible and tragic event and the complexities of everything is something that's highly intriguing to me so yeah, World War II historical fictions are just my favourite so this is definitely a book I want to read.

4. Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

To be honest with you, I don't totally know what this book is about. All I know is a lot of people love it and something about Warner and Adam and the covers with the eye on it that everyone seems to love but I actually kinda don't like. Also I know that Tahereh Mafi is a very artsy / cool person from her twitter and her blog. Again, this isn't a book I would've considered if it weren't for the hype but unlike City of Bones, I am actually very open to reading this series and seeing how it is. And I like lyrical writing and apparently Tahereh's writing is very lyrical so hopefully I like that?? I don't know, I've just heard a lot of good things about this book and it seems kinda interesting so at the very least, I want to try it and see if I like it or not.

5. Vicious by V.E. Schwab

I haven't had a lot of experience with V.E. Schwab / Victoria Schwab's work but I did read The Archived and really enjoyed that.. I've heard a lot of great great things about Vicious, it seemed that it was all anyone could talk about at a point. And this is another book that I don't entirely know what it's about but OH DAMN, IF THERE ARE VILLAINS IN HERE, COUNT ME IN. One of my favourite things in books is a well written villain. Seriously, nothing gets me more excited (but also more frustrated) than a TRULY evil antagonist. SO IF I CAN FIND THAT IN HERE, AWESOME. And also I love that this is categorized as an adult book because I don't often find interesting and well-written fantasy for adults? So Vicious basically checks off all the boxes. This is one I'm definitely going to get to very very soon.

6. The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

The 5th Wave has been sitting on my bookshelf, collecting dust for nearly THREE YEARS NOW. I was so interested in this when it first came out and there were all the glowing reviews for it but now I'm just like eh. BECAUSE IT'S SO BIG. Like every single time I see it, I kinda just skulk away because talk about INTIMIDATING. I did read The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey though and really really enjoyed that so I'm probably going to like this book as well. And with the movie coming out, I might as well read this book, right? (Although I really am not a huge fan of Chloe Grace Moretz and the IMDB cast list is so freaking long like OK THIS DOES NOTHING TO HELP MY NERVOUSNESS). But don't worry guys, I'll get to this ONE DAY.

7. Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta

Everyone sings praise about Melina Marchetta, EVERYONE. And I read Jellicoe Road so I get WHY but it's also something that makes me a little hesitant to read her other books, specifically this series. BECAUSE WHAT IF I DON'T LIKE IT? Fantasy is a little iffy for me most of the time, especially because 99% of the time, the blurbs for the books only leave me MORE confused. Like I think I've read the Goodreads synopsis for this a zillion times and yet I'm still like... what the heck is this book about? It might have something to do with the made-up names, it might just have something to do with the VAGUENESS. But so many people have praised and praised this book that I can't help and be like WELL IT HAS TO BE GOOD RIGHT IF EVERYONE AND THEIR MOTHER LOVES IT. And I mean, I did like Jellicoe Road. And it is only a trilogy which means only THREE BOOKS to finish. And I am trying to branch out of my comfort zone this year. So I should read this ASAP, right??

8. Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

I am a sucker for long, quirky titles and cute sketchy looking / illustrated covers so Simon was immediately on my radar. And then everyone started raving about it and THERE ARE OREOS IN THIS BOOK? Basically it's a match made in heaven because I LOVE OREOS (and am so pumped about the new Oreo Thins because the regular Oreos are a little too CREAM for me). And literally everyone I know has read this book and LOVED IT. And it just sounds so cute and adorable AND GOOD FOR THE SUMMER. Also any time a book has a character that shares a name with one of the characters from The Raven Cycle, it's a good thing and even more so if it's my PRECIOUS BLUE. I MEAN, OBVIOUSLY JUST ANOTHER SIGN I HAVE TO READ THIS BOOK. And I will. Promise.

9. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

I'm a little undecided on whether or not I will read this book. I started it a year ago maybe and I didn't really get into it. But a lot of people do really like this book and it's been optioned or something so I'm thinking maybe I should give it another shot. I do really like the idea of having cool photographs interspersed throughout the book that are actually part of the story. I think that's just super cool and the cover is one of my favourites but still, I don't know... Knowing me, I'll probably get to this some time in the future but it's not really a priority, I guess. Also the fact that it's a series... I'm not crazy about series because that's so much COMMITMENT and if I don't like a book, I'm not going to continue with it but I'm also gonna want to know what happens and that will just DRIVE ME INSANE. So I don't know, we'll see...

10. The Selection by Kiera Cass

Everyone whose opinion I really, really trust has read this book / series and not liked it very much and it kinda gives me Wither vibez which I absolutely HATED but still... I'M INTRIGUED. I think it might be because of the cover or the fact that it's reminiscent of The Bachelor which I admit I used to be absolutely obsessed with (omg Ben's season was the best) BUT COLOUR ME INTERESTED.

Have you read any of these books? Can you attest to whether or not the hype is deserved? And whether or not it's a book I need to get to ASAP or a book I should pass on? What are some SUPER hyped books that you haven't read? Tell me in the comments (and feel free to leave me a link to your Top Ten Tuesday!)

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Bookish Radar (9): Adult Colouring Books

a compilation of some books that have caught my attention recently.

Adult colouring books have been all the rage recently and I admit that I have been swept up by the craze as well. I wasn’t a child who enjoyed colouring books very much – something about the feel and the texture of the pages of the books, the lack of detail in the drawings (like over-simplicity) and the crayons I were typically given to colour with just didn’t do it for me – but as still-somewhat-of-a-child but definitely older, I do see the allure of adult colouring books. In the past few months, I have been aggressively Googling new adult colouring books to add to my TBR and the ones I have featured here are the books I think are the most interesting and sound like the most fun. And just to preface this post, let me say that I had the hardest time narrowing my selections to four for this post out of all the Bookish Radars I've done so far so that should give you an indication of how obsessed I am with colouring books. I still have yet to actually buy a copy of a colouring book and try my hand at it but if you have, tell me how your experience went!

Published June 19, 2015 by Little, Brown and Company

A coloring book that will relax and inspire--all the while transporting you to the City of Light.

Get your pens out, open this book, and discover Paris. Stroll the picturesque streets, cross the Seine, and live like the French do, in a world of bistros, flea markets, and opulent architecture. Feel the stress melt away as your inner artist comes alive.

Appealing to all ages, this intricate coloring book will inspire and delight.

- synopsis from

Secret Paris is actually part of a new line of colouring books from Hachette by Zoe de Las Cases centering on different cities / places in the world. There's a Secret Tokyo and a Secret New York as well though I've only seen this particular one in stores. I like my colouring books to have a certain level of complexity but not to be TOO complex that I spend more time THINKING about how the colouring and shading works rather than actually colouring. I suck at art and visualizing things in my head gets increasingly harder as the sophistication of the drawing increases. It may not appear to be in thought but sorting out to colour a colour where can get really complicated if you're having really detailed black-and-white outlines. I liked Secret Paris for the fact that it wasn't OVERLY simple but it also wasn't OVERLY complex. It wasn't so hard that I was overwhelmed but it also had the perfect amount of detail that would still ensure my attention wouldn't wane. Of course, I haven't actually tried this yet but my first impression was very good. Because besides the amazing drawings, I love the travel theme of this book. I have a serious bug for travelling so I'll probably end up buying this entire line of colouring books to sate my wanderlust.

Published January 1, 2015 by Boxtree Ltd

Working with your hands is one of the best ways to soothe anxiety and eliminate stress. This stunning, pocket-sized colouring book offers a practical exercise in mindfulness that draws on your creativity and hones your focus.

Beautifully illustrated, The Mindfulness Colouring Book is filled with templates for exquisite scenes and intricate, sophisticated patterns, prompting you to meditate on your artwork as you mindfully and creatively fill these pages with colour. Take a few minutes out of your day, wherever you are, and colour your way to peace and calm.

- synopsis from

I've seen some examples of the illustrations inside floating around on the Internet and this book just seems like so much fun. I typically don't go for the pattern-based colouring books - I like colouring books that aren't just swirls and boxes and lines - and it's partially because they get confusing to my eye and then I'll probably mess up but the designs in this book actually all seem pretty feasible for me and I love that it's pocket sized which means that I could probably use my markers to colour the illustrations in! I am firmly on Team Marker when it comes to colouring. I like pencil crayons enough and for most of these colouring books, they're probably the ideal medium to use but markers are just so satisfying for me. They're easy to use, they produce a vibrant colour without you having to shred your hands by pressing down hard and they just look really clean and sharp. But anyway yes, this colouring book looks like a lot of fun (see how sidetracked I get?).

Expected to be released August 11, 2015 by Chronicle Books

This unique coloring book features immersive aerial views of real cities from around the world alongside gorgeously illustrated, Inception-like architectural mandalas. Artist Steve McDonald's beautifully rendered and detailed line work offers bird's-eye perspectives of visually arresting global locales from New York, London, and Paris to Istanbul, Tokyo, and Melbourne, Rio, Amsterdam, and many more. The adult coloring book's distinctive large square format offers absorbingly complex vistas to color, the crisp white pages are conducive to a range of artistic applications, and a middle margin keeps all the artwork fully colorable. Complementing the cityscapes are a selection of mind-bending labyrinthine architectural illustrations for still deeper meditative coloring adventures and imaginative flights of fancy.

- synopsis from

This is a book that I am actually quite intimidated by. There was one page I saw of a famous building I can't name and it honestly made my eyes water because it was SO confusing. This one is similar to Secret Paris where it features cities and obviously for the travel-obsessed part of me, that's a huge draw. I may not be able to fly to all those places and visit them in person but at least I can colour in aerial-view outlines of them, right? So I'm willing to take on the challenge of tackling it.

Just Add Color: Geometric Patterns: 30 Original Illustrations To Color, Customize, and Hang by Lisa Congdon
Published September 1st 2014 by Rockport Publishers

Who doesn't love to color? As an adult, now that you can stay in the lines, you only need to think about what color to use! Rockport Books presents a series of grown-up coloring books for art and design lovers. Just Add Color: Geometric Patterns includes 30 original designs from artist and illustratorLisa Congdon. Each book contains 64 perforated pages to make it easy to share, frame and hang your artwork. You'll be inspired by the sumptuous artwork in this book, and the use of color is endless. Relax, enjoy your creativity and Just Add Color.

- synopsis from

One of my favourite things is colouring in patterns and shapes. Like mandalas? I draw mandalas sometimes in class and then like to colour them in. I don't know why, I just find it so fun because you don't even have to think about it. It doesn't matter if the colours are totally random, you can just do whatever. But the problem I run into is that I can't draw and really suck at being imaginative and creative so cannot ever think of exciting, interesting patterns to draw to then colour in. All my mandalas look the same and it is so aggravating. BUT. THIS IS WHY THIS BOOK IS MADE FOR ME. There are some really cool designs inside, ranging from pretty simple to BAM WOW INSANE SO COOL. And also POSSIBILITY OF THE ABILITY TO USE MARKERS HERE. Because they're all geometric patterns, there are little segments I can reasonably use my markers to colour in without having to, for example, colour in a whole big background which is honestly my worst nightmare. Like if someone forced me to colour an entire page using a marker. WORST. I hate that so much. But I DIGRESS (I got sidetracked again!!). Although I don't have anything else to really add so, yeah! I definitely have this one on my list!

Colouring books are fantastic. I can't believe they didn't become a thing for "adults" (I'm not an adult) until recently. EVERYONE LOVES COLOURING. This is a known fact of the world. Especially me. As you might be able to tell. I have yet to try any of these colouring books - or any one, as a matter of fact - but I'll probably think of buying one before I leave for summer vacation, just because I feel like they'd be fun to have while travelling to do on buses or planes. And since I'm always finding so many new colouring books, I might do another edition of this just because there are a lot of ones I didn't end up picking for this particular post but still REALLY WANT TO TALK ABOUT. 

But now, it's your turn to talk (even if you don't want to, I'M FORCING YOU HA): have you tried an adult colouring book? If you have, pleasee let me know how the experience went. I am super curious! And also, do you have any other recommendations for colouring books? Or words of wisdom from an experienced colour-er? Like what supplies are best, etc etc?

also happy canada day to anyone who is reading this and also happens to be canadian!