Sunday, September 20, 2015

Annie's Wishlist: Back to School Essentials Pt. 1

things i would buy if i had an endless amount of money.

Going back to school is something I view with a mixture of apprehension and excitement. On one hand, I hate to give up all my free time lazing around in my bed to having to wake up at 7:40 again and have a highly regimented schedule from 8:50 to 3:15. But on the other hand, I do love seeing all my friends and favourite teachers again and having something to do with my free time (hmm so maybe I don't hate it all that much?) and of course, going to back to school gives me the opportunity to do the best thing in the entire world: back to school shopping.

Each year, there is only one thing I look forward to doing at the beginning of September and that is hitting up Staples to get all the school supplies I need. This year I was a little overeager and finished it two weeks ago so currently I have pretty much checked off everything on my stuff-that-I-actually-absolutely-need-for-school list which leaves me with only my list of things-I-don't-need-for-school-but-would-really-really-like-if-I-somehow-stumble-upon-some-more-money-one-day. There are quite a few items on that list as I really like to fantasize about things to buy that I can't actually afford but what I have pictured down below is the bulk of the list! Just some things that I would like to have for school but don't actually need. Although I do believe that everyone should have these items ready and prepared for going back to school in some form or another. Like maybe not a pack of Wopex pencils in particular because they're quite pricey but obviously if you're going to school, a pack of pencils would be useful! Okay I think I've gotten a bit sidetracked so I'll just stop dragging out this introduction...

(And yes I do know school has started for about two weeks already. In fact that is the whole reason why this post is so delayed. I HAVE NO TIME but even so, there is never a bad time to muse about all the cute stationery + school stuff you can buy.)

annie's wishlist: back to school essentials.

1. fjallraven kanken backpack in ox red.
A friend first introduced me to these backpacks and since then I have been OBSESSED. I love the simple design and am in love with the array of colours these backpacks are available in. I am partial to the colour red, especially a darker red which I find looks good with practically every single colour combination on this planet so it's versatile! Not that it really matters since a lot of my clothes are in the black, white, grey, navy blue range but like say I wanted to get a shirt in burnt orange, this backpack would also look good with that shirt. I've seen these backpacks in store and they don't look super big but they'd be the perfect size to have for school trips or just days where I don't have to lug my binders with me to school. Anyway I just really like the look of these so they're definitely at the top of my wishlist this school year.

2. muji gel pens.
Muji is one of my favourite stores EVER. You legit don't know how excited I was when a Muji opened in Toronto even though its selection is very poor but like, BETTER THAN NOTHING. I love the minimalist design approach that Muji has and how they choose to focus on function and simple, intuitive designs rather than something that has a complicated design and has horrible quality. Everything I've gotten from Muji so far has been GREAT quality. Their notebooks are decently priced and are so hardy. My favourite of theirs would have to be the A5 dotted notebook with the elastic around it. THE PAPER IS SO SMOOTH. Anyway yes I do love Muji a lot and their gel pens are something I've had my eye on for a really long time. I talked about my stationery obsession in my last Latest Obsessions and these Muji gels are on my list of pens I want to buy. I've heard great things about them from so many people and from seeing them and testing them in stores, I find that they have really great colour and are really smooth when writing as well! Pens are so important for school OBVIOUSLY and if they write nicely and come in fun colours, I promise you'll be 1000x more motivated to take notes and do your work.

3. zebra mildliners.
I AM OBSESSED WITH THESE HIGHLIGHTERS. It's so hard to find cute highlighters you guys but THESE HIGHLIGHTERS FIT THE BILL. There are three different packages of these highlighters, each with a slightly different colour theme but all equally pretty. You definitely won't find the classic highlighter colours here! THEY'RE ALSO DOUBLE SIDED. (On a side note, if you would like a highlighter recommendation, I really really love the Staedtler Textsurfer Classics. They have great bright colours but they don't bleed through papers and they're not overwhelmingly bright. They also glide on paper super well. CHECK THESE OUT.)

4. kate spade classic nylon lacey wallet.
I literally salivate over Kate Spade wallets every day. Initially I had my eye on their Cobb Hill from a while ago and their recent - but now not sold anymore - small green scalloped edge wallet as it was the perfect size for pocket change or just for when I don't want to carry a large wallet (like when I'm going to school or to a party, YOU KNOW) but BOTH ARE GONE NOW so I had another look around and I think this is my favourite wallet that they carry right now. I love how this one has a little zip inside for pocket change which is an absolute must for any wallet. I don't think I could live with a wallet that either just had one pocket or only billfolds. WHERE AM I GOING TO PUT MY LOONIES AND TOONIES? Also love how many card slots there are. Basically in love with this wallet in general. This would keep me so organized. I would never ever lose my money or my student ID or my library card ever again.

5. studio oh! 2016 planner.
As soon as I saw this at Indigo, it was pretty hard for me to stay away even though I get an agenda from school. BUT IT'S SO CUTE. I didn't buy one though and I don't think I will but I definitely think a planner of some sort is very important for school. Especially if you're in high school and even more especially if you're in grade 11+ when you start to get more homework. Things WILL go to shit if you don't keep track of what you have to do each day. I can't tell you how many times my agenda has come to my rescue. MORE THAN I CAN COUNT HONESTLY. I like to look for agendas that have a monthly view and have an interesting design. I also like it when the Saturday and Sunday sections are the same size as the other days. Honestly it pisses me off when they're half the size because honestly Sundays and Saturdays are just as busy for me. And of course if they're CUTE that's a bonus. This planner evidently checks off all the boxes.

6. staedtler wopex pencils.
I despise using graphite pencils - I'm a mechanical pencil through and through (but only 0.5 lead please) - but I make an exception for the Wopex pencils. They are BY FAR my favourite graphite pencils. They're made of a plasticy material which makes for such comfortable gripping. They are really solid and also write super nicely. I hate writing with graphite pencils because they dull so easily and I like sharp points and thin lines but I find these pencils last really well and write really great even when they do get a bit dull. Definitely my favourite graphite pencils!

I had no idea how long this post would get although WHY AM I SURPRISED so I've split this into two parts! Honestly I'm as ruthless with splitting posts into two parts as Hollywood is with splitting the last movie of a franchise into two. But I didn't want to post another giant wall of text again so instead of having ONE giant wall, I'm going with two slightly LESS GIANT walls of text.

Now for question time! What are some of your back to school essentials? What do you absolutely NEED to have? Do you like stationery and pens as much as I do? What are some of the best pens and pencils you've used? Tell me in the comments!

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Some Books I Did Like + My Thoughts On Them

Last week, I published a collection of four mini reviews on books I DIDN'T like and this week, I thought it'd be appropriate to post a more positive post on books I did, in fact, enjoy. Since I'm still trying to TRIM DOWN the list of books I have to review, I'm going to be writing mini reviews again! It's been maybe two months since I've read these books so my memory is a little fuzzy which means I probably don't have enough to say about these books to qualify for a full-length review which means mini reviews = NEW BEST FRIEND. (on my standards, I guess? Because I know these mini reviews really aren't that "mini" compared to everyone else's mini reviews. I JUST LIKE TO TALK A LOT OK??). SO BYE NEGATIVITY AND BOOKS I DIDN'T LIKE because here is a POSITIVE post about books I DID LIKE (like, a lot).


Published April 30, 2013 by Ballantine Books
Hardcover, 344 pages
Borrowed from library

A charming and laugh-out-loud novel by Lauren Graham, beloved star of Parenthood and Gilmore Girls, about an aspiring actress trying to make it in mid-nineties New York City.

Franny Banks is a struggling actress in New York City, with just six months left of the three year deadline she gave herself to succeed. But so far, all she has to show for her efforts is a single line in an ad for ugly Christmas sweaters and a degrading waitressing job. She lives in Brooklyn with two roommates-Jane, her best friend from college, and Dan, a sci-fi writer, who is very definitely not boyfriend material-and is struggling with her feelings for a suspiciously charming guy in her acting class, all while trying to find a hair-product cocktail that actually works. 

Meanwhile, she dreams of doing "important" work, but only ever seems to get auditions for dishwashing liquid and peanut butter commercials. It's hard to tell if she'll run out of time or money first, but either way, failure would mean facing the fact that she has absolutely no skills to make it in the real world. Her father wants her to come home and teach, her agent won't call her back, and her classmate Penelope, who seems supportive, might just turn out to be her toughest competition yet. 

Someday, Someday, Maybe is a funny and charming debut about finding yourself, finding love, and, most difficult of all, finding an acting job.

I haven't watched Parenthood or Gilmore Girls (although I have been told by many that I should start watching the latter!) so I didn't really know who Lauren Graham was before reading this book but now that I've finished, I am such a fan. Obviously this book isn't a memoir but Lauren's writing was just so charming and witty and so so delightful to read. A lot of what happens in this book isn't tremendously exciting. No one goes on a car chase here. There isn't any salacious relationship either. Most of it was just detailing Franny's day to day life, which admittedly did get a bit repetitive as there are only so many auditions and casting calls you can read about before it all starts to blend together, but that's just a testament to how good Lauren's writing is because even DESPITE the fact that what happened in Franny's life wasn't the most interesting thing ever, I was kept engaged and entertained and I wanted to read on.  

Another thing I loved was the 1995 New York setting. I have never been to New York nor have I lived through the year 1995 but something about Lauren Graham's writing just made it so easy to picture myself right there with Franny. Also the side characters are AMAZING. And I thought the inserts from Franny's Filofax Lauren Graham included were so cute and a great way to show some more of Franny's personality. And speaking of Franny, I WAS SUCH A FAN OF THIS GIRL. She was charming and determined and witty and clever and someone I would totally want to be friends with. But most importantly, her situation resonated so deeply with me and I think that's the best part of this entire book. I was able to relate, even though I'm not an aspiring actor nor am I in my twenties which is so weird because those are two things that are so rooted in Franny's identity. And yet... I still had such a strong connection with Franny. Honestly I don't think I've had as strong a connection with any other character so far this year. Her insecurity and uncertainty about her future is basically exactly how I feel and there were some quotes in the book that just totally struck me like WOW that's a feeling I've always had but never knew how to put into words. 

Okay now that I'm writing this review... I'm thinking I should boost my rating from a 4.5 to a 5. Like there are still things that irked me but they're so minor compared to the massive impact that this book had on me and how deeply it resonated with me. Like it's been two months and I still haven't forgotten what I felt while reading this book and how I felt afterwards and that's saying a lot. But anyway, I really really loved this book SO HARD and I'll actually probably buy a physical copy for my bookshelf later on this month as I only own it on my Kobo.


Published May 13, 2014 by Katherine Tegen Books
Hardcover, 304 pages
Borrowed from library

Some secrets are too good to keep. 

Tabitha might be the only girl in the history of the world who actually gets less popular when she gets hot. But her so-called friends say she’s changed, and they’ve dropped her flat. 

Now Tab has no one to tell about the best and worst thing that has ever happened to her: Joe, who spills his most intimate secrets to her in their nightly online chats. Joe, whose touch is so electric, it makes Tab wonder if she could survive an actual kiss. Joe, who has Tabitha brimming with the restless energy of falling in love. Joe, who is someone else’s boyfriend.

Just when Tab is afraid she’ll burst from keeping the secret of Joe inside, she finds Life by Committee. The rules of LBC are simple: tell a secret, receive an assignment. Complete the assignment to keep your secret safe. 

Tab likes it that the assignments push her to her limits, empowering her to live boldly and go further than she’d ever go on her own.

But in the name of truth and bravery, how far is too far to go?

I remember the day I finished this book so clearly because it was one of those more memorable days but not in a good way. I had stayed at a hospital that day for nearly nine hours getting a saline drip because I had thrown up five times the night before and had a horrible fever. IT WAS AWFUL. By the time I got back to my hotel, it was already six and I remember just being tired out of my brain and so drowsy but also desperate for something to do that wasn't napping because that was all I had done for the past nine hours so I flopped onto my bed and picked up this book and started reading. And just read until I had to sleep. And you know what? Life by Commitee was just as memorable as my day. 

This was my first book by Corey Ann Haydu but it definitely won't be my last. I don't usually notice little intricacies about an author's writing unless it's really distinct so usually I judge how good an author's writing is TO ME by how engaged I was by it. And Corey Ann Haydu's writing swept me away and just kept me in this little, creepy world she created and didn't let me go from the first page to the last page. I literally did not and could not tear my eyes away.

The idea of a secret society online that dares each other to do stuff was so interesting but also unsettling for me. And like obviously this isn't supposed to be a thriller or a horror but I was shit scared. Like I was honestly so frightened and unsettled by the time I finished the book with this secret online society shit. Kinda sounded like some Illuminati stuff and was CREEPY AS FUCK. 

And I'm gonna be straight with you here: didn't always like Tabitha's decisions. Especially not when it came to Life by Committee but also not when it came to Joe. The topic of cheating came up here which always makes me very uncomfortable and like I said, I didn't always agree with Tabitha's decisions but I could understand where she was coming from. That doesn't mean I condone her behavior but it's just like... yeah I can see what might have been going through Tabby's mind when she did what she did. Also Joe is so... like he's not even a dick? He's more complicated than that? I didn't like him but I also felt a certain tug towards him. IDK. It was weird. Honestly everyone in this book was so strange and I think maybe the only characters I liked were Tabitha's parents (I WANT MY PARENTS TO OWN A COFFEE SHOP). 

But by the end when all the shit about Life by Committee comes bubbling up, I was just so freaked out honestly that I can't think about any of these characters or any part of this book without like wanting to rub myself with garlics and wear crosses to ward off evil. I don't know, I'm probably overreacting and am probably the only one who was this creeped out but like I DON'T KNOW THIS BOOK MADE ME SO UNSETTLED. I half want to run away from it and half want to pick it up and read it again and I don't know what to do. BUT IT WAS STILL GOOD. I'm just also very unsettled.

Published February 3, 2015 by Henry Holt & Co. 
Hardcover, 388 pages
Borrowed from library
If seventeen-year-old Skylar Evans were a typical Creek View girl, her future would involve a double-wide trailer, a baby on her hip, and the graveyard shift at Taco Bell. But after graduation, the only thing standing between straightedge Skylar and art school are three minimum-wage months of summer. Skylar can taste the freedom—that is, until her mother loses her job and everything starts coming apart. Torn between her dreams and the people she loves, Skylar realizes everything she’s ever worked for is on the line.

Nineteen-year-old Josh Mitchell had a different ticket out of Creek View: the Marines. But after his leg is blown off in Afghanistan, he returns home, a shell of the cocksure boy he used to be. What brings Skylar and Josh together is working at the Paradise—a quirky motel off California’s dusty Highway 99. Despite their differences, their shared isolation turns into an unexpected friendship and soon, something deeper.

This book was so good. Like after a string of not so good books, it was so nice to finally read a book that KNOCKED MY SOCKS OFF. I ripped through this book in a day and I could not stop reading. I just wanted more and more and when the book finally ended, it made me really really sad. 

First of all, I LOVED Skylar and Josh. As individual characters but also together. They're both so real to the point where it's annoying because you care for them so much but they do shitty things, LOOKING AT YOU JOSH YOU LITTLE FUCKER. But you still love them. Although I still cringe over Josh's use of the f word (you know how it goes... rhymes with maggot or bag) and truthfully wasn't quite sold on how he was the douchiest of douchebags but then you fall in love with him and he's so cute. Wasn't sold on it honestly but I ended up totally ignoring that because the rest of the book was written so well and it was so good that I just didn't want to bother harping over that any more. Especially since he was a nice guy. I hate people using the f word and if you use it, you're definitely going to have me seriously question the quality of your character but I also don't believe in absolutes. I think you can definitely be the type of person who says derogatory things and then is also a genuinely sweet and caring person to the people you love. I'm not gonna make excuses for Josh and say he didn't mean what he said because I don't know HE'S A FICTIONAL CHARACTER I DON'T KNOW but I do know that at the end, I was totally sold on him. I FEEL SO TORN UP ABOUT IT. Honestly I wish Heather Demetrios just didn't include that little bit with the word because it didn't really do anything except make me really uncomfortable. But anyway. In the end, I did like him a lot. 

I also loved the secondary characters like Skylar's friends and the owner of the hotel who I forget the name of and while I wasn't the hugest fan of Skylar's mom and everyone else, I could appreciate their realness. 

OK I ALSO LOVED THAT SKYLAR AND JOSH WORKED AT A MOTEL AND EVEN THOUGH IT SOUNDED KINDA ICKY (I'm the type of obnoxious person that refuses to stay in anything that isn't at least a Hilton or some equivalent) IT ALSO SOUNDED SUPER COOL LIKE HAVING THEMED ROOMS? YES!! And like I said, the owner of the motel was super sweet! 

Okay I also appreciated the topics Heather Demetrios touched upon here. Like poverty, for instance. It was definitely very sobering to read about what Skylar had to go through and made me think twice about my current position and how lucky I am. My family may not be insanely rich but we have more than we need to get by and that's something that I should be grateful for every day. Because there are people who are in Skylar's position who have to forego food some days to save money and there is something just so, so, so unjust and harrowing about that. And then of course there are people who don't even have a place to live to start with and yeah, it just got me really thinking about my privilege and how it shouldn't ever be something I take for granted. 

I also really liked how Heather dealt with Josh's character being a soldier and showed the very real consequences of being in the military and witnessing things that no person should ever have to witness and do things that no person should ever have to do and all these different, complex things that come along with being in the military.

Overall I really loved this book. The only nitpicky thing I have is that while I LOVED reading from Josh's point of view and I loved how it was written, it was often unexpected when his sections would pop up so I only wish that there had been a more natural transition between Skylar and Josh. But that's pretty much it! This got a 4.5 from me although it's really more a 4.8 so I'm rounding this to a five star. 

Published March 31, 2015 by Bloomsbury
Hardcover, 384 pages
Borrowed from library

Following her pitch-perfect debut Open Road Summer, Emery Lord pens another gorgeous story of best friends, new love, & second chances.

Brimming with heartfelt relationships and authentic high-school dynamicsThe Start of Me and You proves that it’s never too late for second chances.

It’s been a year since it happened—when Paige Hancock’s first boyfriend died in an accident. After shutting out the world for two years, Paige is finally ready for a second chance at high school . . . and she has a plan. First: Get her old crush, Ryan Chase, to date her—the perfect way to convince everyone she’s back to normal. Next: Join a club—simple, it’s high school after all. But when Ryan’s sweet, nerdy cousin, Max, moves to town and recruits Paige for the Quiz Bowl team (of all things!) her perfect plan is thrown for a serious loop. Will Paige be able to face her fears and finally open herself up to the life she was meant to live?

After reading Open Road Summer and being very impressed by it, I was DYING to read this book, sure it was going to be EVEN better. Turns out that no, it wasn't. I definitely did not enjoy this more than Open Road Summer but it wasn't bad either. The beginning was a little shaky for me. I found myself a little bored by Paige's narration and nothing really happened but I would say that I really enjoyed the last thirty pages or so. 

There are so many great things about this book though. The fact I didn't love it is more a me, not you thing because truly there are so many good things about this book and I have no doubt that most people would love this book. It has the solid friendship group that I love to read about, it has a cute nerdy love interest which I so appreciated and also a former love interest, Ryan, who didn't reciprocate Paige's feelings but also wasn't a dick which I LOVED. I was so afraid we'd go into dick territory with Ryan but thank god that didn't happen.

And yeah.. I don't really have much more to say about this book. I was a book I liked enough but not one that blew me away. There were so many good things about this book but none of them really got to me and made this book a LOVE in the same way that Open Road Summer was for me.

So how's that for a more positive turn of things? Make sure to tell me whether you've read these books and what your thoughts were on them! 

also happy labour day to everyone (or everyone who celebrates it)

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Some Books I Didn't Like + My Thoughts On Them

If you're a student like me, you're probably also feeling the equal parts of excitement and nervousness that going back to school brings with it. That is, if you haven't already returned to school. Here in Canada, school starts the day after Labour Day which falls on the first Monday of September. Luckily this year, Labour Day fell a week into September which means that we basically all get an extra week of summer vacation. But at this point, it's so close that a few extra days doesn't really make a difference to me (though I'm sure I'll be wanting to swallow my words once school actually starts). I can already feel the arrival of school beating down my back and images of stacks of papers to complete and full calendars and late nights and early mornings and all too short weekends are FLASHING BEFORE MY EYES.

But I guess I do still have a week so before I have to succumb to that reality, I thought I would use my last few days of freedom and relaxation to write some more blog posts so I don't get even MORE flustered when school starts. And this is the first post I'm checking off my to-write list!

This summer, I had surprisingly a lot of time to read even though for a large chunk of it, I was travelling. But I ended up reading more than 15 books in July alone which is huge for me, like that never happens. And a lot of the books I really liked but then there were some other books I didn't like very much which I'm going to be reviewing really briefly in this post. (Or at least in relation to my typical reviews... These are maybe 500 words as opposed to 10 000 so for me, they are mini.)

I'm not going to lie, I did have fun with these reviews. DON'T COME AT ME WITH PITCHFORKS PLEASE, OK? Because I admit it, I enjoy writing negative reviews because I like having a good rant. I don't do it to be a meanie or a bully. But anyway, I didn't have a whole lot to say about these books to get a whole review out but I've been trying to slim down my list of books to review and I think my thoughts on these books are interesting enough to at least warrant a short discussion so I've just squished them all together in one post. Like, let's not drag out the negative too long, right? Let's just do this, get in, get out and focus on good books we love! Yay! (Seriously though, DON'T STAB WITH YOUR POINT PITCHFORKS.)


Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg
Published February 25, 2014 by Point
eBook, 288 pages
Borrowed from library

For Macallan and Levi, it was friends at first sight. Everyone says guys and girls can’t be just friends, but these two are. They hang out after school, share tons of inside jokes, their families are super close, and Levi even starts dating one of Macallan’s friends. They are platonic and happy that way.

Eventually they realize they’re best friends — which wouldn’t be so bad if they didn’t keep getting in each other’s way. Guys won’t ask Macallan out because they think she’s with Levi, and Levi spends too much time joking around with Macallan, and maybe not enough time with his date. They can’t help but wonder . . . are they more than friends or are they better off without making it even more complicated?

From romantic comedy superstar Elizabeth Eulberg comes a fresh, fun examination of a question for the ages: Can guys and girls ever really be just friends? Or are they always one fight away from not speaking again — and one kiss away from true love?

I used to be a huge Elizabeth Eulberg fan after reading my first ever book by her (Take a Bow) when I was eleven. Since then I've read and enjoyed Prom and Prejudice as well as The Lonely Hearts Club but I haven't read anything by her in recent years. Which leads to me to think that maybe I've outgrown Elizabeth Eulberg's books? I just found everything super underwhelming. I was looking for a nice fluffy book for the summer - something along the lines of Kasie West - but what I found was a big bag of BORING. The writing was not engaging for me in any way and the plot was so slow. Like literally this book details the entire history of Levi and Macallan's friendship and basically the same thing happens over and over again. Oh, we actually do secret feelings for each other but we're not going to tell the other person because that's just going to ruin everything! So what do they do? They basically take turns being unavailable until FINALLY they get together. Like Macallan'll realize her feelings for Levi but OH DAMN, he's dating her best friend. They break up. Then Levi will finally get the courage to tell Macallan he likes her but then SHE'S dating a person. And so it goes. 

The switching perspectives along with the present to past switching was so annoying. The plot was annoying. The story was annoying. The writing was annoying. The characters were annoying (oh my GOD, were they EVER). 

But the worst thing was how this book was presented as a GROUND BREAKING novel in which two friends of opposite genders never actually like each other romantically BUT THEN THEY DO. And I get it's like they were friends first and they're still going to be best friends but if they're still going to end up falling in love, why did I have to read through all that? I wanted to see how Elizabeth Eulberg dealt with Levi and Macallan's friendship because it seems like every single book and movie and TV show loves for their male and female friends to fall in love and given the title, I thought we might have something a little more nuanced here? BUT IT'S JUST THE SAME. Honestly it can't be this hard to find a book that's just about a girl and a guy being friends.. and that's it. Without even having anyone question it. This happens all the time in reality. Is it too much to ask for that to be represented in books as well?

Superlatives #1
Published May 20, 2014 by Simon Pulse
Paperback, 336 pages
Borrowed from library

Tia and Will’s lives get flipped upside down when they’re voted Yearbook’s Biggest Flirts in this sassy novel from the author of Endless Summer and The One That I Want.

Tia just wants to have fun. She’s worked hard to earn her reputation as the life of the party, and she’s ready for a carefree senior year of hanging out with friends and hooking up with cute boys. And her first order of business? New guy Will. She can’t get enough of his Midwestern accent and laidback swagger.

As the sparks start to fly, Will wants to get serious. Tia’s seen how caring too much has left her sisters heartbroken, and she isn’t interested in commitment. But pushing Will away drives him into the arms of another girl. Tia tells herself it’s no big deal…until the yearbook elections are announced. Getting voted Biggest Flirts with Will is, well, awkward. They may just be friends, but their chemistry is beginning to jeopardize Will’s new relationship—and causing Tia to reconsider her true feelings. What started as a lighthearted fling is about to get very complicated…

This book was so boring and unmemorable I can't even tell you what happened in the book. All I remember is a make-out scene at the beginning that made me wonder if I was reading a New Adult and honestly that would have been totally okay with me if it meant MORE EXCITEMENT. But unfortunately the rest of this book was at a stark contrast with the beginning being so completely boring.

Like the first three chapters I was so interested. Like who's this Will guy? A blonde who's super tall with an ear piercing who plays hockey? Um, the only way you could get me to fall even more in love with him at this point is if you told me he was a swimmer and a soccer player and a musician. Like he already sounds pretty perfect to me. But then he was literally the most boring character ever? I kinda felt like he just whined the entire time and about EVERYTHING. And then Tia was a really bizarre character as well? Not even personality wise, mostly just her narration was super confusing to me and gave me some trouble following along. This is probably just a me thing but I found her voice to be very distinct which can be good OR bad. In this case it was bad. I'd almost definitely rather a main character like Sarah Dessen's where the main character's voice maybe isn't as defined but the writing's good and not confusing. 

To be honest with you, I can't even express what I disliked about this book. I just kinda disliked it all. Wasn't a fan of Will and Tia's relationship. Thought everything that happened was super weird? Thought the superlatives thing was super weird. And like all of a sudden there's this sideplot that feels really serious about Tia's sister with an abusive boyfriend that just came out of nowhere. And it wasn't dealt with well enough for me to really understand why it was there at all. Like it literally had nothing to do with anything else in the book.

If I could sum up my feelings toward this book, it would be SO FREAKING BIZARRE.

Also side note I am so sick of characters who slack off at school but are actually so smart that they could "get a high enough SAT score to get a full-ride scholarship" (paraphrasing here.) Like UGH GO AWAY. Honestly I've seen this so many times and it bugs me so much. Like yes not all slackers are dumb but you can not try for your four years of high school and not hand in a single thing and still, it'll be okay because you're so smart that you can ace the SATs, no problem??? EFF OFF.

(Okay so maybe this is just me airing out my grievances about having to take the SATs in a year but STILL.)

How to Be Bad by E. Lockhart, Sarah Mlynowski and Lauren Myracle
Published May 6, 2008 by Harper Teen
Hardcover, 336 pages
Borrowed from library

From the authors of ttyl, Bras & Broomsticks, and The Boyfriend Listcome three unforgettable characters and one exhilarating novel

Vicks is the wild child whose boyfriend has gone suspiciously quiet since he left for college; Mel is the newcomer desperate to be liked; and Jesse will do anything to avoid a life-altering secret. Each one has her own reason for wanting to get the heck out of their nowheresville town, even just for the weekend. So they climb into Jesse's mom's "borrowed" station wagon and head south.

Hearts will be broken, friendships will be tested, and a ridiculously hot stranger could change the course of everything.

This was recommended to me by Chloe through Epic Recs and we have similar taste in books so I was really hoping that I'd like this book. The only author that I'd read prior to this book was Sarah Mlynowski and I've really enjoyed her books so I had high hopes for this one but unfortunately, it didn't end up working out. I never connected with any of the characters, never felt intrigued by the story and never really enjoyed the writing either. I'm not sure how the authors approached this book, like if they assigned a different character to each person but I never got a really good grasp of what each character was like. Or maybe I wasn't paying enough attention, that could also be it because I was really bored.

Like even though Jesse and Vicks and Mel went on this crazy adventure with alligators and hurricanes and all that wild stuff, I was just so not having it that it flew over my head. And I guess I also never really understood why the girls wanted to go on a road trip. When I think about this book, I just kinda envision a bizarre tangle of different storylines that never really came together to weave a beautiful picture for me. YOU KNOW? My reaction to this book was similar to my reaction to Biggest Flirts. Like bizarre but also tres uninterested. Like I could have done sans this book, you feel?

I think another big problem I ran into reading this book was that I absolutely HATED Jesse. She's a super religious Christian and while I have no problem with anyone who's super religious or Christian OR BOTH, I had a problem with her being really judgmental. Maybe when you are super religious it's hard not to apply your own morals to everything and everyone else and want them to act the way you believe is right but honestly I just thought Jesse was a really obnoxious character. Like even minus the holier than thou attitude she had, her behavior towards her friends just really irked me. Like maybe my least favourite character ever. I just found her so supremely annoying like please SHUT UP.

Not that Vicks and Mel were any better. Just not a fan at all. Might be my least favourite out of all four of these books, along with Better Off Friends.

The Dark Caravan Cycle #1
Published October 7, 2014 by Balzer + Bray
Hardcover, 480 pages

Forced to obey her master.
Compelled to help her enemy.
Determined to free herself.

Nalia is a jinni of tremendous ancient power, the only survivor of a coup that killed nearly everyone she loved. Stuffed into a bottle and sold by a slave trader, she’s now in hiding on the dark caravan, the lucrative jinni slave trade between Arjinna and Earth, where jinn are forced to grant wishes and obey their human masters’ every command. She’d give almost anything to be free of the golden shackles that bind her to Malek, her handsome, cruel master, and his lavish Hollywood lifestyle.

Enter Raif, the enigmatic leader of Arjinna’s revolution and Nalia’s sworn enemy. He promises to free Nalia from her master so that she can return to her ravaged homeland and free her imprisoned brother—all for an unbearably high price. Nalia’s not sure she can trust him, but Raif’s her only hope of escape. With her enemies on the hunt, Earth has become more perilous than ever for Nalia. There’s just one catch: for Raif’s unbinding magic to work, Nalia must gain possession of her bottle…and convince the dangerously persuasive Malek that she truly loves him. Battling a dark past and harboring a terrible secret, Nalia soon realizes her freedom may come at a price too terrible to pay: but how far is she willing to go for it?

Inspired by Arabian Nights, EXQUISITE CAPTIVE brings to life a deliciously seductive world where a wish can be a curse and shadows are sometimes safer than the light.

I was maybe the most excited to read this book out of all four listed here because it was so new. I'd never read a book about jinnis before and I really enjoy retellings and it held so much promise and I got let down. It didn't end up as bad as the other three were? I don't look at this book and immediately want it to burst into flames but I definitely don't look at this book with a whole lot of affection either. 

Feel like I'm repeating myself but I WAS SO BORED. I don't understand how jinnis can be made into something so utterly boring I wanted to claw my eyes out but there you go. I said in my review of The Darkest Minds that I rather have an author give me infodump over no information at all and I still stand by that but oh my god you don't understand how BORING it is to read through pages and pages of just background information included in the most unsubtle way ever.

Also the writing was so hard to get into. Which baffled me because I had read I'll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios before reading this and absolutely LOVED IT. Like it was an automatic five star but then I got to this book and it was like... what happened? (tbh, the same way I feel about Morgan Matson's books versus her books as Katie Finn). 

The worst part was the love triangle. I'm not on board with this love triangle or really anyone at all. Raif is... like I don't even care about him and Malek is just horrible. I loathe him so that might be why I ended up not liking Nalia very much either because I hated her reactions to him kissing her. Like ew stop it. 

And that's all I really have to say. I've forgotten most of what happens in this book and can't be bothered to even Google what happens. Just, no thank you.

Not gonna lie, that felt pretty good. To get all that stuff off my chest and rant for a little bit was nice. And now I'll return to being positive Annie. Hurray!

Have you read any of these books? What were your thoughts on them? Have you read any books that you really DID NOT like recently? Tell me and get your anger off your chest!