Thursday, August 27, 2015

Latest Obsessions: July + August 2015

just some things i've been obsessed with lately.

Book reviews are currently the only thing I have on my list of posts to write and I really should get to them, but that, of course, only means that I'm not gonna. So here's another edition of Latest Obsessions, courtesy of my procrastination and contrariness.

But before we get started, I have some blog-related news I'd like to share with you: I've started a bookish tumblr! You might have noticed that prior to this week, I had my two personal tumblrs linked in the sidebar but after much debate, I finally decided it'd be fun to start a tumblr under the name of this blog so it happened and now you can find the link to that tumblr in the sidebar. Unless you're super lazy, then you can just click here and you'll be redirected to The Runaway Reader: Tumblr edition.

As for other blogging stuff... it's going slow. I did not do much scheduling or blogging on my vacation at all so I've kinda had to readjust to everything and in all honesty, I've only just started implementing my old system again for September so there may be some radio silence on my part for the next two weeks as I plan and schedule and get myself ahead for the upcoming school year because trust me, if I don't figure out a schedule now, my blogging will become virtually extinct come this September.

Okay, that's it, let's get started.


Unfortunately we don't have a Uniqlo in Toronto (yet!! I'm so excited for when it opens here though) but while I was on vacation, there were SO many Uniqlo stores. The first time I walked into one, I was kinda freaking out just because I'd been dying to visit one for ages. They have a lot of basics but they also have some more fashion-y pieces for not crazy prices. I found this one puffy bomber jacket that looked really cute but didn't end up getting because there weren't many things in my closet I'd be able to wear it with. I did get a flannela light blue oxford shirt and a nautical looking sweater, all of which I love. The only thing is that the tailoring is a little bit weird? Like in terms of their dress shirts and button ups, I definitely notice it's more fitted than what I usually get at Urban Outfitters, American Apparel etc etc but it is a little tight around the shoulder / arm area which is not the greatest. But in general, I am obsessed with this store. Also they have free tailoring for any pants you buy which is awesome because I'm really short so all the pants I buy usually fit nice until you get to my feet and there's like two inches of fabric left.


I know, I'm such a nerd but trust me, they're literally the best thing ever. I stumbled upon one back in May while I was looking for some studying tips and since then, I've been hooked. You will not find a better place to get studying tips and tricks and motivation than the study tumblr community. So, so useful. Most of the blogs are run by people who are actually students so you're getting first hand advice from people who know what they're talking about. Knowing that I have this wealth of information so easily accessible and a community that inspires and motivates makes me feel so much more confident and prepared for this year. If you're looking for some advice on studying / tips to help you in school / just general motivation, I'd really recommend googling a few studyblrs as they're really really helpful. (Oh, and if you want, you can follow my studyblr here.)

karlie kloss ( + her youtube channel).

I LOVE KARLIE KLOSS. And I've loved her since I first saw her in Vogue like three to four years ago maybe? And now since she's friends with Taylor Swift, we all know how much of a cupcake she actually is and I love her even more. I've been keeping up with her Youtube channel a lot and SHE ACTUALLY IS THE SWEETEST. I can't not smile watching her. Also I have her cover of Glamour this month which I really adore. So there's that. My favourite person of the month.

coloured pens + notebooks.

I blame this on the studyblrs I follow because if you have ever seen the notes and the stationery collections on there, YOU'LL UNDERSTAND because you'll want to buy all the fun pens as well. Pictured above is my pencil case for school (which is really just a Clinique makeup bag that my mum got with her skin cream things) and it's just all my pens and pencils (I have my calculator and scissors and graphite lead and all that OTHER stuff in a separate pencil case which is also a Clinique makeup bag because I am INSANE AND RIDICULOUS like that). Some, I got while on vacation because Shanghai bookstores have really good deals on pens and lead pencils and then the Staedtler ballpoint pens and highlighter and the Sharpies and all the rest I got here from Staples with the exception of the multicoloured pen which I got from Muji. I've never been really diligent with my studies and taking notes and such but with studyblrs and now these beautiful pens, I'm like SO READY to take on the school year. We'll see how long it lasts but for now, I'm really digging all my cool pens. Would definitely recommend the Staedtler ballpoint pens even though I usually like my ballpoints to have a finer tip. They write so smoothly and the colours are gorgeous. Also really like my Pentel Fiesta lead pencils. Hoping to update my pen collection later on this year as I've spent too much money on them right now but in December, I might get the Staedtler rollerballs and the Muji gels as a birthday treat for myself.

l'occitane delightful rose hand cream.

I got a tube of this hand cream this month and IT SMELLS AMAZING. I always like carrying a tube of hand cream with me during school because it's such an easy way to freshen up and when I smelled this at Sephora, I was like I HAVE TO HAVE THIS. It smells soo lovely. And I don't know, I've always loved the look of L'Occitane hand creams and have been dying to try one so this kinda worked out quite well.

peek freans fruit cremes.

I'm really trying to eat healthier but it's so hard when I have these lying around in the house (also see chewy fruit candy). I'm not a huge fan of sandwich cookies typically (unless they're Oreo thins) but I make exceptions for these. I used to love these so much as a kid and then my dad got two boxes again over the weekend so I'm obsessed. They're sandwich cookies with a cream filling and a STRAWBERRY JELLY CENTER. Obviously this is the best part. What I like to do is eat around the jelly until that's all that's left and then I savour it because it is so good. I am eating one as I'm typing this. It's going to be my last one though, I promise.

secret garden by johanna basford ( + faber castell watercolour pencils!)

So after talking a lot about how I absolutely lust after adult colouring books, I finally ended up getting one of my own and one that actually wasn't on my list. But Secret Garden is definitely what I would consider the start of the whole colouring phase (kinda like how Serial started the whole podcast obsession) and I saw it at a bookstore and was like, why not? And I'm pretty pleased with it. With colouring books, I really don't like them to be too complex because that'd just cause even more stress trying to figure out what the heck is going on but Secret Garden is not overly complex. I definitely prefer the pages of houses and sheds over the crazy ones with vines. Also not crazy about the pages that ask you to complete the drawings? Because hi I didn't buy a colouring book because I'm really good at drawing, otherwise I would have just bought a sketchbook but that's just me. I'm just really particular about this stuff but overall I do really like it. Here are two pages I've done.

The pencils I use to colour in these drawings are the Faber Castell watercolour pencils which I got as a gift. The paper in Secret Garden is a little thicker which is good for different mediums. Still not the best for holding water but since a lot of the details are small, I'm not using much water anyway so it's not like totally unmanageable. Obviously the paper crinkles a bit but that doesn't bug me as much especially not when I'm getting such smooth colour. Although as you can see, it can be hard filling in all the small details so inevitably, my colours do leak outside the lines a bit.

So this post ended up a little bit longer than I had planned but hopefully you guys enjoyed reading it! I know I had a lot of fun writing it but that's just because I will give any opportunity to talk about the things I love, much to my friends' dismay. Hope you guys are having a great summer!

but before you go, tell me what you've been obsessing over lately in the comments! 

Sunday, August 16, 2015

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

The Darkest Minds #1
Published December 18, 2012 by Hyperion
Paperback, 488 pages
Lent by my lovely friend

It's sometime in the future and America has been hit with a deadly disease targeting children ages 8 to 13. No one really knows what the cause of this particular disease is (named IAAN, for short) except that it basically wiped out the entire teenage population of the United States. With the exception of a few special children... The ones that miraculously avoided getting hit by IAAN have one thing in common: incredible superpowers that have their generation named Psi for a special gene they share that allows them to read people's minds or set fire to anything they touch. 

Ruby is one of these kids and she gets sent to the biggest baddest rehabilitation camp for the Psi, Thurmond. It's brutal at Thurmond so when Ruby gets offered the opportunity to escape Thurmond, she takes it. But it turns out that life outside camp isn't so easy either and Ruby has to face up to a lot of new discoveries about who she is, what she can do and how it may pose a threat to everyone around her.

Well, that would have been an extremely disappointing read if I hadn't stopped caring maybe 20% into the book. I was upset and then... I just became indifferent to all of it and it was mostly a feeling of "I've already read 200 pages, there're only 200 left, let's just get through this damn book as quick as possible" and now? I'm confused. I'M CONFUSEEEED. Because I don't get it. I really truly don't get where the hype comes from. And I hate saying this because it makes me sound like a pretentious prick, like all holier than thou and such, but I really honestly DON'T GET IT. Because The Darkest Minds was just so boring and it doesn't even have anything to do with the fact that science fiction and dystopians usually bore me anyway.

The Darkest Minds actually started off decently for me. Even not being so into science fiction / dystopian, I thought that the idea of this world where America is bankrupt and dealing with these kids with supernatural abilities by throwing them into "rehabilitation camps" that really just forced them to do menial labour was really fucked up and unnerving but interesting. 

(Also can I say that if this really happens, HOLLA FOR BEING CANADIAN and not having to be affected by IAAN.)

But that's where I ran into my first problems. See, The Darkest Minds had an interesting set up for a world but it never ran any deeper than that. I just felt like there was a real lack of explanation for how America went from international worldpower to being bankrupt. It was maybe two paragraphs in the first few chapters and then, done? And this is just a personal thing but I wish there was some sort of time frame given for this new America. Like I understand that not everyone wants to put a year to a world so I'm not faulting anyone for anything here but it's hard for me to get into a dystopian without some sort of time frame so PERSONAL PREFERENCE HERE. 

Okay and the thing that probably bugged me the most was the fact that we don't get any explanation for how IAAN comes to be. Like it just happens. It's just accepted? From reading up on the other two books, I'm under the impression that the cause of IAAN eventually gets revealed but I had such a problem with the book just being like "here's this thing that happens and no one knows why and oh yeah, there are some kids that don't get killed by it and they have superpowers." LIKE HOLD UP, there are so many questions about that. And I KNOW we supposedly find out later about the cause and it's uncovered and everything but IN THIS BOOK, it just felt like a lazy out and I really feel like the lack of information given about everything was to this book's detriment. Like I hate infodump as much as the next person but I'd definitely rather the author just puking out all this information about their world so that I at least have some sort of UNDERSTANDING over having zero information and explanation at all. 

Also there was this one statement in the book that made me so confused ("The government was never scared of the kids who might die, or the empty spaces they would leave behind. They were afraid of us - the ones who lived.") because it sounds like the government knew about the Psi kids even before IAAN and OK SO THIS COULD WORK AS AN INCENTIVE TO KEEP ON READING IF IT'S INTRODUCED IN THE NEXT TWO BOOKS but it was included at the end of the first chapter so without knowing that there's more information coming in the rest of the trilogy, it just made me super super confused especially given how little information we're provided with in the first place. 

And then another thing on the lack of explanation - we never truly get told what each of the colours' powers are. Like never explicitly. So in the book, Psi kids are classified by colour based on what their powers are. Green all have the same power, Orange all have the same power and so on and so on. Throughout the book we sorta get hints at what the colours do but I was just WAITING for Alexandra Bracken to come straight out and say THIS GROUP DOES THIS. Like I don't understand why she couldn't have done that because it would have saved everyone from a lot of confusion later on. I mean, I kinda picked up on the fact that Greens have a photographic memory and that Orange can do creepy mind shit and Reds set fire to stuff and Blues transport stuff but I just wanted to be told and not have to painstakingly piece the hints I'm given throughout the book. Also what the fuck do Yellows do? I never got that? Like melt electronics???

I also never really felt pulled into Ruby's narration. Honestly? I thought the writing was bland and Ruby a pretty one-note character. I understand she went through a lot and what she told us about Thurmond sounds horrible but as a reader, a 400 page pity fest is not fun to read about. She was always saying "I'm a monster. I need to be locked up. I'm dangerous. You can't love me. I'm not like you." It got repetitive super fast. Like yes you can accidentally do horrible things but if you're learning how to control it, you can use it to help people? She was just so so frustrating. ALSO SOMEONE HELP ME BECAUSE I DIDN'T UNDERSTAND THE ENDING AT ALL. HOW DID SHE END UP MAKING THAT DECISION? DID I MISS SOMETHING?

AND I WAS SO NIM ON THE ROMANCE. As soon as Liam was described as hot (or something along the lines of that), I was like NO NO NO I DON'T WANT THIS TO HAPPEN. And it happened. And I was not pleased with the end result or the execution. It just didn't feel organic, especially not when Ruby was pretty much isolated from boys at Thurmond and talked about how she didn't feel comfortable around them. I get that she could still find someone attractive but the pace at which she finally ended up falling in love with Liam was hard to believe given her background. I felt like their attraction had no basis except for the fact that they were the only people around of similar age and of opposite gender. Also Liam was just a super boring character. And with the ending, it seems like the romance is a huge part of what happens in the second book and ugh I just don't know if I can get into that if I'm not on board with the romance. 

The Darkest Minds was also just soooo long. Like there were so many scenes you could have cut out. There were so many things that Alexandra Bracken threw at us, it was almost like she wanted to include as many relevant tropes for the dystopian genre as possible. It was one thing after another after another and I never could guess what was going to happen next but I always knew SOMETHING was going to pop up again so it was predictable in that sense. There just didn't seem to be a very natural flow to the book. I can name about two or three scenes that immediately jump to mind that could have been cut. 

I think the two bright spots in the book were Chubs and Zu who I really really liked. But in reality, they're such a tiny part of the story that I never really got to know them as well as I wish I could have. 

There was one part that really had my attention but the rest was confusing and boring. Especially the ending. I still don't get the ending. EXPLAIN SOMEONE?

Well The Darkest Minds was not at all what I expected and not in a good way. It's a shame to so furiously dislike this book when a bunch of my friends absolutely loved the heck out of this. But I just couldn't see the appeal. To me it was boring and confusing. The worldbuilding could have been stronger in some areas, the characters fell a little flat and the romance felt wholly unnecessary. I do think Alexandra Bracken has an incredibly interesting idea here with kids who have superpowers that pose a threat to the government and an America gone total-disaster-zone but the execution could have gone a LOT better. This book has a HIGH rating on Goodreads though so I'm very definitely in the minority. I suggest checking out other reviews to gauge if it's for you because it's a favourite of many!

Had a Divergent vibe with the classifying business... I think if you like dystopians, this might be a good one to try.


Jen @ Books & Other Happy Ever Afters says: "The slow pacing and shaky world-building were excused with my love for the characters and the fantastic ending."

Brittany @ The Book Addict's Guide says: "I really, really enjoyed this book! I wasn’t quite sure exactly what I was getting into when I started and I have to say, I’m pleasantly surprised!! THE DARKEST MINDS is a combination of a dystopian world with paranormal abilities."

Zoe @ Stories On Stage gives it 3.5 stars: "While it’s unfortunate I didn’t find this to be the gripping and heart-breaking novel that most readers did, I will say that it is quite strong in the entertainment department, and was certainly enjoyable despite its flaws."

Sunday, August 9, 2015

DNF Review: Smart Girls Get What They Want by Sarah Strohmeyer

Published March 26, 2013 by Balzer + Bray
Paperback, 348 pages
Borrowed from library

So... what's it about?
Smart Girls Get What They Want centers around three really smart girls - Gigi, Bea and Neerja - and yeah, that's about all I know as I didn't finish the book and the few pages I read didn't really offer me any insight into what the plot is...

Here's the synopsis from Goodreads:
"Gigi, Bea, and Neerja are best friends and total overachievers. Even if they aren't the most popular girls in school, they aren't too worried. After all, real life will begin once they get to their Ivy League colleges. But when an unexpected event proves they're missing out on the full high-school experience, it's time to come out of the honors lounge and into the spotlight. The trio makes a pact: They will each take on their greatest challenge and totally rock it.

Gigi decides to run for student rep, but she'll have to get over her fear of public speaking—and go head-to-head with gorgeous California Will. Bea used to be one of the best skiers around, until she was derailed; it could be time for her to take the plunge again. And Neerja loves the drama club but has always stayed behind the scenes—until now.

These friends are determined to show the world that smart girls really can get what they want—but that might mean getting way more attention than they ever bargained for. . . ."

What initially attracted you to it?
For the summer, I always like to stock up on fun YA contemporaries. It just never feels like summer unless I have a stack of contemporaries to get through. So I was looking around on some blogs for good contemporaries and saw that this one in particular got a lot of love. I have to be honest that after reading the synopsis on Goodreads, it didn't really sound like a book I'd typically be interested in but there were so many great reviews for it that I thought, why not give it a shot?

How far did you read until you decided it was over?
I think I gave it a fair shot. My Kobo tells me I stopped at the 35% mark, meaning that I read 85 pages out of the total 234 there were.

Why'd you put it down?
I don't know... There were a lot of things that just weren't working for me. I really did want to get through this but by the time I reached the 60 page mark and realized I had 180 more pages to go , I just couldn't do it. Even though there were all these five star and four star reviews floating around in my head telling me to continue. 

The narration wasn't working for me. I'm kinda picky about my writing. Some types work for me, some don't. And this one didn't. I just couldn't settle down with Gigi's narration. It was supposed to be a little quirky and charming and funny but it didn't work for me. Maybe it was also because the book took so DAMN long to get started, like I stopped at the 35% mark and it was only THEN that it was revealed to me, as per the synopsis, that Gigi, Bea and Neerja wrere trying out for all these things. So the fact that it started off so slowly probably just made me even less crazy about the writing. Because when a book is exciting, I find that I'm a little more tolerant with the writing. Like even if it's not really my taste, I'm able to forgive a lot of it because the story's pulling me in. But with this book, the story just took SO LONG to get started that it only highlighted the fact I didn't like the writing even more.

A lot of why I stopped reading this book was my indifference. I was indifferent to Gigi and Bea and Neerja and all the characters. I just did not care at all. Like not to be mean but I found all the characters to be super bland and one-dimensional. And also I don't know... it felt very juvenile for me. And this is something that I have trouble with now that I'm actually of the same age of many YA characters. Gigi and her friends are in sophomore year. I just finished my sophomore year and still, I didn't feel I could entirely connect to Gigi or anyone's voice, for that matter. Like I don't know, some of the things they were talking about and that they did was just super bizarre for me. In fact, this entire book was really bizarre. I just didn't get it? 

And then there's the whole nerds vs popular kids thing that really bugged me. Granted, I haven't read the book and the things I'm gathering from other reviews, it seems like this is something that gets kinda solved or isn't really an issue? But it was something that majorly annoyed me in the 80 pages I read. One of the things I hate in books and in shows is when there's a clear divide between the nerds / braniacs and the popular kids. And how the popular kids are all brainless and dumb (although with Mike, this book kinda disputes that so that's good) and horrible and mean. And I hate that! Again, this is something that's only recently started to affect me as I've been in high school but honestly I just hate hate hate the portrayal of nerds as losers and how they can't be friends with the popular kids. I'd be lying if I said no there isn't some divide between the two but honestly from everything that I've been through and that I've seen, it's never as catty as it's portrayed as in books. There are a lot of popular kids I know at my school that I genuinely like, that are genuinely nice and that are really really smart. It's so bizarre for me to see popularity in books or movies always based on looks because yeah while that's a large part of it, a lot of the time you don't get popular just based on how you look. Like a lot of the people who are popular are just really really friendly and outgoing. They're not bad people and that's something that bugged me so much in the pages I read of this book. I don't care if it's something that gets cleared up in the end, from the 80 pages I read, this was something I had a lot of trouble with. It's just so so so cliche.

So anyway, I don't know.. this entire book just didn't really work for me at all. 

But on a positive note, was there anything you did like about it?
I hate when this happens but I honestly cannot find a single thing I enjoyed about this book while I was reading it.

Final Notes

Smart Girls Get What They Want just really really didn't work for me. And it leaves me a little confused because there are so many great reviews for this book so it's kinda like what am I missing here but also a little bit of what do you guys see in it WHICH I HATE THINKING ABOUT AND SAYING but if we're being honest here, I truly truly do not understand the attraction with this book. Yes I know I didn't read the entire book but even with the 80 pages I read where basically NOTHING happened, it just wasn't very good at all. I really pushed myself to get through this book but after 80 pages I just couldn't any more. I was holding out for it to get better and you know, it probably does but I just did not have the patience to wait around. I think sometimes being in high school now, it ruins some books for me because I'm always comparing the descriptions of the high school in the book to my own experience. And sometimes when things just don't feel right like with this book, I have a hard time ignoring it and getting into the book. So that's a part of why I didn't finish reading this book and another reason is also I just didn't connect with any of the characters and didn't really care about them at all. So unfortunately overall, Smart Girls Get What They Want just didn't really work for me. 

Friday, August 7, 2015

The Book Blogger TMI Tag

I saw this tag recently on Novel Ink and I had such a fun time reading Erica's responses that I thought I'd go ahead and do it as well, even though no one tagged me. But I have an affinity for surveys / questionnaires. I've never met one that I haven't wanted to fill out / answer right away (the reasons you don't see ten thousand surveys on this blog isn't for a lack of interest, my friends. Hint: it starts with L and ends with "aziness") and this one is no different! So let's get started, shall we?

the book blogger tmi tag.

How old are you?
I'm 15 AND HI TAYLOR SWIFT BUT NO ONE'S TOLD ME THEY LOVE ME YET SO SOMEONE TELL ME WHAT'S UP WITH THAT. I've basically been waiting to turn 15 since I was like 8 just so I could sit next to a redhead named Abigail and have someone tell me they love me. WHY HASN'T IT HAPPENED YET? What a disappointment. Six more months, universe. Don't keep me waiting. MAKE IT HAPPEN.

What book are you reading?
I am currently rereading Bras & Broomsticks by Sarah Mlynowski. I'm not very far into it so I don't know if by the end of it, I'll still like it as much as I did in fifth grade but it's definitely bringing back some fond memories. I never ended up reading Parties & Potions which is why I'm rereading the first three books so I can refresh my memory and cross another series off my to-finish list.

What are you wearing?
I wish I could say A GORGEOUS CHIFFON MARCHESA DRESS or a KICKASS LEATHER JACKET WITH SAINT LAURENT ANKLE BOOTS or something else fancy and high-fasion and wow so chic but the reality is I'm sitting here in front of my computer, wearing an old white t-shirt and these hideous terry cloth shorts. It's a look that says "I just came back from a jog! Woo, look at me, so healthy!" or "I'm going on a jog as soon as I finish replying to these emails! But still, look at me! Making good life decisions every day!" but the truth is I haven't moved from my spot in maybe half an hour and I'm drinking a coffee and that's why I'M SO CRAZY RIGHT NOW. IN CASE YOU WERE WONDERING.

Favorite OTP?
I don't really have an OTP... There are characters I really like together but I don't spend a lot of time in thinking about one in particular that would be my be all and end all. I really liked Chaolaena for a while and I still do but then there's the matter of SAMLAENA / CORTDOTHIEN (literal no good ship name for these two) so I don't know! I'm so conflicted. But hey, here's a proposal for a new ship: ME + ROWAN WHITETHORN. MMM? HOW ABOUT THAT? I love him so much though.

Blogger or WordPress?
Well, I can't drag the platform I'm using, can I? But I do truly like Blogger. It can get frustrating because there are obviously a lot of things you can't do on a free platform but it suits my purposes. It's easy to use and straightforward and as far as free platforms go, it's good! And obviously design is something people talk about a lot in Blogger vs Wordpress debates and it's probably true that you can do more in terms of web design with Wordpress but there are some really great Blogger designs out there too that look like Wordpress! So for me, Blogger suits what I want to achieve. I don't really see the point of getting Wordpress if I'm not getting hosting and at this point, with my erratic blogging, I don't know if it's wise to invest in that. Maybe it's something I'll think about in the future though I'll have to play around with Wordpress a little more to determine that or maybe I'll just stay on Blogger forever (but get a better design obviously because mine is a little bleh). WHO WILL KNOW? ONLY TIME CAN TELL.

Going outside being active or staying in and reading a book?
IT DEPENDS ON THE ACTIVITY. If you are asking me to jog, no way Jose. I hate jogging and that sounds like the worst idea ever, why would you even ask me that unless you were making a joke. So reading, it is. But if it's something like WATER BALLOON FIGHT or WATER GUN FIGHT or LET'S GO SLIDE DOWN WATERSLIDES or LET'S HAVE A DOGEBALL FIGHT or LET'S PLAY SOCCER or BADMINTON or GO SWIMMING or GO ROCK CLIMBING or BUNGEE JUMPING, then I will have to reconsider. But a lot of it is also dependent on my mood. There are some days when I am just DYING to get out of my house but there are other days when I really just want to stay at home and read a book, maybe go on Tumblr for a while and just relax. So yeah, it really depends. But I would say most of the time, if you gave me the option between being active and reading a book, I would pick the first option just because I can bring a book to whatever I'm doing but I cannot bring the active activity to my reading, if that makes sense? Also I'm really trying to work on not locking myself up in my room all the time this year so this is part of a bigger plan for me.

What is the last book you read?
The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West and I LOVED IT. But obviously because it's Kasie West, queen of YA contemporary. I have a review for it going up on the 31st of July so WATCH OUT FOR THAT.

What is the book you’re going to read next?
I have a stack of books that are on my TBR and usually I just close my eyes and spin around and pick one at random - NOT JOKING. But because of due dates at the library, I'm fairly certain my next book will be Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham which I've been really eager to read for a long time (even though I don't watch Gilmore Girls but I KNOW I SHOULD). Let's hope I like it!

Ebooks – yes or no?
YES to ebooks. But over physical copies? I don't know. But if it's just a general question of "hey, do you like ebooks?", I'd be like "heck yeah, why wouldn't I?" They're convenient and have all the cool little functions my paperbacks and hardcovers don't and I read faster when I'm reading them. ALL WIN-WIN.

Where do you prefer to read?
In my bed at midnight with a snack of some sort and my phone nearby.

Who is the last person you tweeted?
Um.. I don't know? Ok well I checked and it was Nova from Out of Time (@NovaBlodger) and it was a fun little chat about Wednesday Addams (who is AMAZING OK. I LOVE HER.)

Whose blog did you look at last?
Novel Ink so I could link to them for this post!

Who is your favorite blogger?
Okay well I obviously can't choose just one... but I'm going to cheat and say someone who doesn't blog any more because I just found out that she stopped blogging a week ago and it's STILL TEARING ME APART and she deserves all the love even though she's gone... Chloe from YA Booklover Blog. She was one of the first bloggers I found and quickly became one of my favourites and she's also just an amazing person. Like even though she's not blogging any more, I implore you to just have a look at her old posts because they are worth every bit of the read. She is so funny and just an amazing person (and I'm probably never going to get over this, truly).

Who is your favorite book-tuber?
I used to watch a lot of Booktube but since then, I've sorta stopped keeping up with it just because I didn't have time any more to sit down and watch it for hours on end (and this is basically Youtube in general for me). And again I can't just pick one because I have so many that I really like but Novella Zoo was a channel I enjoyed watching a lot!

Who is the last author you spoke to?
LOL. This question is so presumptuous, it almost upsets me a little. I don't talk to authors really? Like I guess I have in the past but it was a one-time thing and it was a huge deal like OH MY GOD I CAN'T BELIEVE SO AND SO JUST TWEETED BACK AT ME. It certainly isn't a regular thing. They're still in a whole other realm that I'm a little hesitant to venture into.

Who is the last person you texted?
I know you were holding out for something exciting like PRESIDENT OBAMA or my secret boyfriend who happens to be Alfred Enoch but it was really just my mom. She doesn't really text and doesn't know how to view her messages so I texted her so she could figure out how to view it. Fun times!

Who is your all-time favorite book character?
Harry Potter? Tough question though. I'm gonna go with Harry Potter for now though..

Truthfully I don't keep track of the country of origin for a book. I just kinda read everything and presume that it's American / by an American author mostly because in Canada, that's what we get the most of. So I'd say I read more of USYA and even without looking too much into it, I'm sure I'm right but on the other hand, I also probably read more UKYA than I think just because I DON'T look into it a lot and there are most certainly some authors / books I thought were American but are actually British. Like Neil Gaiman for example. I LEGIT THOUGHT HE WAS AMERICAN FOR TEN YEARS. But he's British so that's a good example of me just not knowing at all.

What is your preferred drink whilst reading?
I try to be healthy and drink water (but always with seven cubes of ice) whenever I'm thirsty or want something to drink but I'm okay with really any of the beverages I usually like to drink. So ginger ale, chocolate milk, milkshakes etc etc. They're all good for reading. AND ICED CARAMEL MACCHIATOS. And vanilla lattes.

If you hated reading, what would you be doing instead?
Going on Tumblr. Going on Twitter. Going on Pinterest. Watching TV. LIKE MASTERCHEF WHICH IS ON NOW CRAP.

How many bookshelves / bookcases do you have?
2 but one is huge so I have tons of room for books.

If you had the choice to meet all of your favorite book bloggers or all of your favorite authors, which would you pick? You can only pick one.
Probably bloggers because while meeting my favourite author would be fun, I have stronger connections with many fellow bloggers who I actually consider to be my friends and while I'm not ruling out an instant best friendship with Morgan Matson or anything, I'd honestly so much rather meet all my favourite book bloggers who I either already know and want to get to know better and be friends IRL because how fun or that I've always looked up to.

Insta-love: yes or no?
Depends on the sitch. I'm more of a believer in insta-attraction though (EXCUSE ME DYLAN O'BRIEN IN THE INTERNSHIP I JUST) but there's such a fine line between the two in books that I feel it gets blurred quite a bit. Most of the time insta-love doesn't work for me, but never say never kids. I don't want to rule anything out.

Favorite author?
I have a lot of authors I love. I don't have a singular author that's above everyone else. I could go with the token answer of JK Rowling but let's be a little more CRAZY than that. Let's go with Morgan Matson because I've read and loved all her books.

What is the number-one book on your wishlist?
THE WRATH AND THE DAWN BY RENEE AHDIEH. I want that book so bad.

Do you prefer books with female or male protagonists?
I read more books with female protagonists but it doesn't really matter for me. I guess I tend to relate to female protagonists more but there have been some really well-written male protagonists that I've related to as well. I can't really say because my pool of selection for male-protagonists is so small, I don't have a whole lot to go off of.

Which is your favourite book-to-film adaption?
Harry Potter! I actually watched the movies before I read the books but then I DID READ THE BOOKS and the movies just brought to life everything in the books so wonderfully.

What is the last song you listened to?
It was a Jake Bugg song, I'm sure, because I was listening to his album. I'm 70% certain it was Ballad of Mr. Jones.

Which do you enjoy reading more – negative reviews or positive reviews?
It depends more on the reviewer. Like I've read really interesting negative and positive reviews. I don't think the positivity or negativity of a rating affects enjoyment of a review FOR ME. I tend to focus more on reviewers. There are some bloggers who are just fantastic at writing reviews in a way that's really interesting for me so typically I'll read all of their reviews, regardless of book or rating.

Who are you going to tag?
If you have three or more vowels in your first name (like me!), I TAG YOU.

Hope you guys enjoyed reading my answers! This was just something very silly that I wanted to do and I had a lot of fun. Even if you don't have three or more vowels in your name, if you want to do this tag, I strongly encourage you to do so! I'd love to get to know a little more about you and read YOUR answers!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard

Published March 13, 2012 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Hardcover, 338 pages
Borrowed from library

After a rough breakup with her boyfriend Toby, 18 year old Bria Sandoval decides to pack everything and leave for a trip to Central America the summer before college. She finds a tour group called the Global Vagabonds that seems the perfect way for her to escape and soak up the culture of Guatemala but what she gets is rather disappointing. The trip she signed up for is a highly structured one with no freedom to wander and to make things more disappointing, she's with a group of middle-aged people, not the fun looking twenty year olds the website promised. On a whim though, Bria meets backpackers Rowan and his sister Starling and they invite her to ditch her tour group and come along with them. And as they weave through jungles and temples and ruins, Bria slowly learns what it truly means to be independent. (Also there's love and lots of fun travelling scenery!) 

When I wrote my review for Wanderlove after my first read of it back in 2013, I didn't mean to be prophetic when I said:
"Though I'm certainly no psychic, I can almost guarantee you that this book will be picked up once again in the future."
But here we are and here I am, writing a review for Wanderlove which I just reread. And it was every bit as delightful as I remembered and MORE.

You know how there are good books that are good because the writing is strong, the characters are well-developed, the storyline's tight? And then there are other books that are good that may not be as technically strong but touch you and your life in a way that you just can't ignore. Those books are the ones with stories and characters that somehow jump off the page and burrow their way into your heart and forge a true connection with you.

That was Wanderlove for me. Not since maybe Anne of Green Gables which I read in fourth grade has a book a touched me in this way. Somehow, reading it this time around, it just got me thinking about stuff such as THE BEAUTY OF LIFE and SECOND CHANCES and PURSUING ART and TRAVEL and LOVE and BOYS and SAVORING THE HERE AND NOW. Some things that weren't even related to the story but as I was reading about Bria and her adventures in Central America, my mind just kept on branching off into all these different topics and thoughts.

Wanderlove, to me, is a lot more than a YA contemporary novel about a girl who finds love whilst gallivanting around Central America. It's a book that truly opened my eyes about things that have been on my mind for a long while and the effect that it had on me just touches me so deeply I DON'T EVEN KNOW HOW TO EXPRESS IT. It's been roughly two years since I read this book for the first time and in those two years, monumental shifts have occurred in my life. The obvious one is that I am now in high school, not worrying about which high school to go to, and I'm a junior. Two years away from going off to college. And then of course there are those changes that are less obvious because they aren't visible - changes that occur within you. So after these two years, I've come to appreciate Wanderlove in a new light.

When I was 13, it was about the allure of travelling and having the freedom to backpack around Central America and see all these amazing sights. Now, at 15, it's about a lot more than that. It's about making decisions and finding your independence and maybe it's because I've been going through a slight existential crisis anyway of WHAT THE FUCK AM I DOING WITH MY LIFE, I FEEL SO LOST, AM I JUST GOING TO WASTE AWAY WITHOUT HAVING DONE ANYTHING USEFUL OR INFLUENTIAL WITH MY LIFE, etc etc, but Wanderlove came at the exact right time. I mean, I always knew I was going to reread it one day because I loved the travel aspect of it but I didn't know that when I did reread it, I would come to love so much more about it than all the gorgeous descriptions of Guatemala and Belize.

In the book, Bria's kinda having an existential crisis herself although she's sorta running away from it by going off to Central America. She's just gotten through a rough breakup with her boyfriend, she no longer finds joy in her art, she didn't apply to the art school she got into and she feels totally disconnected from her parents and her friends. It's not a situation that I'm in but I couldn't help the entire time reading the book just being like YES I needed to read these words.

And so this time around, I loved this book even more for acting kinda like a wise friend doling out some useful insight and advice. But of course there were also things that I enjoyed and appreciated even from the first read: the travel aspect of it, how likeable Bria and Starling and Rowan were, how natural the progression of Bria and Rowan's relationship was and how much cooler the illustrations made the book. It's just that this time, being a few years older, there were more things I found to appreciate about this book.

I know this wasn't like one of my typical reviews but to be quite honest, I was completely at a loss for words after I read this book. I knew I wanted to write a review to share my experience but I just didn't know at all how it would come together. So I know I didn't spend a lot of time talking about the things I usually touch upon like characters and the story and the writing but you'll just have to trust me on this that those were all done so so well. And now just because I couldn't resist highlighting all the quotable sentences in this book on my eBook, here are some of my favourite quotes from the book:

"And I want nothing more in the entire universe than to dive headfirst into the kaleidoscope of colours, to let them whirl around me until I become a fractal of light."
"If we've got the means to get here, we owe it to the country we're visiting not to treat it like an amusement park, sanitized for our comfort. It's insulting to the people who live here. People just trying to have the best lives they can, with the hands they've been dealt."
 "I've come to realize that sometimes, what you love the most is what you have to fight the hardest to keep."
"I've come to realize it really doesn't need to be all or nothing." 

One of my favourite YA books now of all time. This book has great writing, great characters and a great storyline which made it a joy to read but above all, it opened my mind and had me thinking hard about some things that have been swirling around for a while. It offered the same type of wisdom and comfort a good friend might and so I love this book just for the way it affected me. But honestly, even if it might not touch you in the same way, I have no doubt in my mind that it'll still be well worth a read for you, if you haven't read it yet. There is just so much good in this book. (And just fyi, I would definitely include the Badge of Honour for this book if I wasn't cringing over how ugly it is and thinking of ways to revamp it.)

people who like to travel and read about foreign places. If you're looking for a very strong YA contemporary, you should check this out.


Jamie @ The Perpetual Page Turner says: "If you love a realistic YA read that is a fun, light not lacking in substance, romantical tension that is done right and a romp across some of the most amazing places in the world…then you might want to bump this one up now!"

Steph @ Cuddlebuggery gives it 5 stars: "This book was so amazing, so deep, so beautiful and I’m very happy I stepped outside of my comfort box to read it."

Renae @ Respiring Thoughts gives it 3 stars: "Altogether, Wanderlove had a teensy bit too much cheese for my taste, but it was still a solid read in spite of its fluffy outer coating."