Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Armchair BEA 2014: Day 3

BEA stands for the "Book Expo America" and is an annual convention for industry professionals. Many book bloggers attend BEA each year and it's just a really fun time. Some of us, unfortunately, cannot go so Armchair BEA was created to be a virtual convention to emulate the same fun you get at BEA! More information can be found on their website here.

As I said on Day 1, it might be hard for me to churn out a post every single day of Armchair BEA so you'll have to excuse me for missing yesterday. I had so much to do that there wasn't time left to sit down and write a post but I am back today and hopefully I'll be able to drop by and comment a bit more too! I feel like I'm missing out on all the fun because I'm so out of it!

Today's topic is... Expanding Blogging Horizons

What do you think about when you think about going beyond blogging or expanding your horizons? 

I feel like the answer to this question would be simple and straightforward but right now, I'm actually struggling a bit to put my thoughts into coherent sentences. I think, for me, when someone says "expand your horizons", I think of learning something new or challenging myself and doing something that I'm not super comfortable doing or that I haven't done before. And for everyone, that will be something different. But for ME, it is:

1. Experimenting with my blog's design. I'm not great at coding or designing AT ALL so this is definitely a challenge. The hardest part is turning the idea I have in my mind into something real. I don't have a ton of skills or resources to aid me in designing a template which means I usually have to end up tweaking the plan I have in my head because I don't have the means to achieve it. As for coding, I think I can usually hold my own if there is a tutorial provided. The Runaway Reader has only had one look, and it's the one you're looking at now but I am seriously getting tired of it. It was good for something I put together in an hour but I want something that's a bit more customized. I actually created a blog template for an independent project at school which isn't super fancy but I'm really proud of it because it looks unique. Look, the drop down menu actually works properly! I don't think this is going to be the new look for The Runaway Reader but it definitely provided me with some new skills that I'm excited to apply when redesigning this blog in the summer. Hopefully, it won't be a complete trainwreck!

2. Interacting with other bloggers. This is seriously something that I struggle with big time. The first year of blogging, I didn't speak a word to other bloggers outside of blogs. I didn't communicate a ton with anybody on Twitter and while I've definitely started to interact more with bloggers on other platforms outside of our blogs, it's still really hard for me to speak up. This sounds so stupid because everything is online but talking to new people can be intimidating. The worst part is I don't get to hear their tone so I often spend a lot of time after, thinking that they think I sounded stupid or rude or mean. Or what if they don't reply at all? And I know it's all in my head but every time those negative thoughts come into my mind, it's hard for me to get back out there. Sometimes, I feel really awkward talking to bloggers because I'm among the youngest in the community and I get worried that they might just roll their eyes at me, like what does this kid think she's doing here. And OBVIOUSLY this is all just stuff that I'm making up myself to make me worry but it's what made me so nervous of talking to other bloggers and what still makes me nervous.

3. Reaching out to publishers and authors. I admit, this isn't something that I've done yet because of SCARES and WORRIES (similar to the ones I had of interacting with other bloggers) but it's definitely something I would consider new for me. And once I achieve it, I sure would say my blogging horizons expanded! It's not something that I'm super eager to cross off my list though just because I don't really have any purpose in doing it but I think it would be really awesome one day if I could gather up my courage and just go for it!

4. Filming videos. I spend a lot of time on Youtube. I think I've already made that super clear but yeah, I do watch a lot of videos and for the longest time, I always had this yearn in me to vlog. And I did start this year which I am so happy about. I do think that the hardest part of taking that first step is over and now, it can only get better. I was seriously so nervous putting that video out but now, it doesn't make sense to me. I actually have a few videos planned which I am so excited about! I love seeing videos on other blogs because I think they're a lot more personal in the sense that we can actually see the blogger and I really enjoyed my one-time thing with vlogging as well! I mean, I love talking so it wasn't a big surprise...

That's it for me! I can think of so much more but these are just the four that I think are the most applicable and significant to where I'm at with blogging right now. Feel free to share with me some of the ways you expand your blogging horizons in the comments! 

Monday, May 26, 2014

Armchair BEA 2014: Day 1

BEA stands for the "Book Expo America" and is an annual convention for industry professionals. Many book bloggers attend BEA each year and it's just a really fun time. Some of us, unfortunately, cannot go so Armchair BEA was created to be a virtual convention to emulate the same fun you get at BEA! More information can be found on their website here.

Hello friends! If you're a book blogger, you've probably heard about BEA. These past few weeks, my feed has been littered with BEA posts and while part of me is super excited for everyone who is going to then report back to us about how it was, part of me wants to shut everything out because ALL THE SADS. I mean, what could be better than a weekend spent with books and bookish people and maybe even your FAVOURITE authors in NEW YORK? 

So thank goodness for Armchair BEA where all of us who aren't able to make it to New York for BEA can have our own fun little convention! I didn't participate last year but this year, I thought WHY NOT. I may not be the best at keeping to all the activities because I do have end-of-school studying and work to do BUT we shall see. 

Today is just going to be a little question and answer session with myself to tell you a little bit more about me!

1. Please tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? How long have you been blogging? Why did you get into blogging? Where in the world are you blogging from?
Hi, my name is Annie and that right there is my face. I'm currently 14 years old but I will be turning 15 in December this year! Contrary to popular belief, both my parents are indeed Chinese and I was not born in China. I was actually born in Canada so I am 100% a Canadian citizen. I live in the wonderful province of Ontario in the wonderful city of Toronto which I love a lot. I enjoy listening to music, cooking, pottery, skating, eating and sleeping. Some other things too that I can't remember. I've been blogging for almost TWO YEARS now (it'll be two at the end of August) but The Runaway Reader has only been in existence for about eight months. Blogging has been something that I've done since 2009 but BOOK BLOGGING, I only got into in the summer of 2012 after finding other book blogs. And also it was summer and what else do you do during the summer besides trying new things?

2. Describe your blog in just one sentence. Then, list your social details -- Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. -- so we can connect more online.
The Runaway Reader is lots of bookish fun with other things tossed on the side.

3. What genre do you read the most?
I'm not exclusionary to any genres because while some I may not enjoy as much, I believe that a book I love can be found in every genre and I don't want to miss out on a chance to find that book! I also really like change and trying new things so I always MAKE an effort to try and read things in different genres. HOWEVER, I have to say that I read the most books from the contemporary genre and that has been my go-to genre for a very long time. It's comforting for me and I love it even though I would really love if I would get more out there in the playing field in terms of what I read. But no matter what, I always come back to contemporary.

4. What is your favourite blogging resource?
There are a lot but I have to go with Goodreads because where would I be without it? The site could really use with some tweaks because gosh, is it outdated but I am not complaining because it honestly helps me so much in terms of blogging stuff.

5. What book would you love to see as a movie?
I would love to see To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han as a movie because I think that would make the best sleepover movie ever! And judging from the amount of testosterone-filled, action movies with machine guns and bombs, I definitely think we need more light and fun movies a la 10 Things I Hate About You or Mean Girls. The 90's and the early 2000's were great times for the rom-com and while I love EXPLOSIONS just as much as the next person, I don't need to see a string of shoddily made explosion movies week after week. Rant over.

So that's it for Armchair BEA day 1! There was my little interview session with myself. Hopefully you learned something new about me and if you're participating as well, link your post down in the comments! Or if not, then let's just have a little chat and tell me what genre you read the most, what your favourite blogging resource is, etc.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Bookish Radar (5)

As a book blogger, my bookish radar is always on. I'm constantly hearing about titles of books and while some of them don't particularly interest me, others so do. These are the books that I currently have my eyes on. I WILL READ THEM IF IT'S THE LAST THING I DO. Inspired by On the Smugglers' Radar @ The Book Smugglers and Waiting on Wednesday @ Breaking the Spine

Released September 3, 1999

The bestselling master of historical fiction weaves a grand, sweeping drama of New York from the city's founding to the present day.

Rutherfurd celebrates America's greatest city in a rich, engrossing saga that showcases his extraordinary ability to combine impeccable historical research and storytelling flair. As in his earlier, bestselling novels, he illuminates cultural, social, and political upheavals through the lives of a remarkably diverse set of families.

As he recounts the intertwining fates of characters rich and poor, black and white, native born and immigrant, Rutherfurd brings to life the momentous events that shaped New York and America: the Revolutionary War, the emergence of the city as a great trading and financial center, the excesses of the Gilded Age, the explosion of immigration in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the trials of World War II, the near-demise of New York in the 1970s and its roaring rebirth in the '90s, and the attacks on the World Trade Center. Sprinkled throughout are captivating cameo appearances by historical figures ranging from George Washington to Abraham Lincoln to Babe Ruth.

New York is the book that millions of Rutherfurd's American fans have been waiting for. A brilliant mix of romance, war, family drama, and personal triumphs, it gloriously captures the search for freedom and prosperity at the heart of our nation's history.

At 862 pages, New York is certainly a hefty novel and one that I'm not sure I'll be getting to until the summer, at least. It's daunting, for sure and it'd be the longest book I've finished to date (I'm pretty sure none of the Harry Potter books were that long) but I definitely think it's worth a shot! This guy is like the king of historical fiction and you might have caught on by now, but if not, I am a HUGE fan of historical fiction. History just interests me a lot (I'm even planning on taking World History courses in my junior and senior year of high school!) and New York is such an interesting place. I'd love to learn more about it through this book!

Released May 20, 2014

The star of the hit show Glee shares her experiences and insider tips on beauty, fashion, inner strength, and more in an illustrated book that’s part memoir, part how-to, and part style guide.

Lea Michele is one of the hardest working performers in show business. Whether she’s starring as Rachel Berry on Glee, rocking a glamorous look on the red carpet, recording her solo album, or acting as the spokesperson for L’Oreal, Lea is the ultimate multi-tasker. She knows better than anyone that it is difficult to be your best self and keep things in perspective when your to-do list is overflowing and you are faced with challenges, so she’s developed a foolproof system for remaining healthy and centered. In Brunette Ambition, she reveals the lessons and advice that have worked for her--from beauty and fashion secrets to fitness tips, and career insights. Supplemented with never-before-seen photos and revealing anecdotes, it’s the book Lea wishes she’d had in her teens and early twenties: A practical and inspirational guide to harnessing tenacity and passion and living the fullest life, no matter what obstacles life puts in your way.

Brunette Ambition actually just came out yesterday which is awesome because I so did not think it was going to be out so soon! I absolutely adore Lea Michele, I think she's just an inspirational and wonderful person and I love the sound of this book. I enjoy memoirs tons which is what this book is, but I also enjoy lifestyle tips which this book has a lot of as well. So I'm definitely excited to get my hands on a copy!

Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang
Expected release date: September 9, 2014

On the day Liz Emerson tries to die, they had reviewed Newton’s laws of motion in physics class. Then, after school, she put them into practice by running her Mercedes off the road. 

Why? Why did Liz Emerson decide that the world would be better off without her? Why did she give up? Vividly told by an unexpected and surprising narrator, this heartbreaking and nonlinear novel pieces together the short and devastating life of Meridian High’s most popular junior girl. Mass, acceleration, momentum, force—Liz didn’t understand it in physics, and even as her Mercedes hurtles toward the tree, she doesn’t understand it now. How do we impact one another? How do our actions reverberate? What does it mean to be a friend? To love someone? To be a daughter? Or a mother? Is life truly more than cause and effect? Amy Zhang’s haunting and universal story will appeal to fans of Lauren Oliver, Gayle Forman, and Jay Asher. 

There seems to be a lot of talk surrounding this book recently. Understandably, because it sounds fantastic. I love books like these that really focus on the relationships we share with one another and real life issues. I haven't had a good cry from a book in a while and this one sounds absolutely heartbreaking. AHH I JUST NEED IT NOW.

Released April 15, 2014

A touchingly honest, candidly hysterical memoir from breakout teen author Maya Van Wagenen 

Stuck at the bottom of the social ladder at pretty much the lowest level of people at school who aren’t paid to be here,” Maya Van Wagenen decided to begin a unique social experiment: spend the school year following a 1950s popularity guide, written by former teen model Betty Cornell. Can curlers, girdles, Vaseline, and a strand of pearls help Maya on her quest to be popular? 

The real-life results are painful, funny, and include a wonderful and unexpected surprise—meeting and befriending Betty Cornell herself. Told with humor and grace, Maya’s journey offers readers of all ages a thoroughly contemporary example of kindness and self-confidence.

Popular sounds like a really adorable book! The reviews I've read for this book are really positive so far, and it sounds like a great uplifting book. And fun fact: this book has already been optioned to be turned into a film by Dreamworks!

Released May 6, 2014

The Handmaid's Tale meets The Hunger Games in this brilliantly imagined debut set in an ancient culture where only the queen may breed and deformity means death.

Flora 717 is a sanitation worker, a member of the lowest caste in her orchard hive where work and sacrifice are the highest virtues and worship of the beloved Queen the only religion. But Flora is not like other bees. With circumstances threatening the hive's survival, her curiosity is regarded as a dangerous flaw but her courage and strength are an asset. She is allowed to feed the newborns in the royal nursery and then to become a forager, flying alone and free to collect pollen. She also finds her way into the Queen's inner sanctum, where she discovers mysteries about the hive that are both profound and ominous.

But when Flora breaks the most sacred law of all—daring to challenge the Queen's fertility—enemies abound, from the fearsome fertility police who enforce the strict social hierarchy to the high priestesses jealously wedded to power. Her deepest instincts to serve and sacrifice are now overshadowed by an even deeper desire, a fierce maternal love that will bring her into conflict with her conscience, her heart, her society—and lead her to unthinkable deeds.

Thrilling, suspenseful and spectacularly imaginative, The Bees gives us a dazzling young heroine and will change forever the way you look at the world outside your window.

I am always up for a new book that challenges me to think differently about a certain topic and The Bees sounds like such a unique book. I can't say I've ever read a book told from an animal's perspective but I am so open to having this be my first! It sounds at once really strange but also really interesting and I'm definitely eager to learn more about bees. Even though they scare me tons. Especially in swarms.

So yeah those are my picks for this month! I had five instead of four this time but I just couldn't help myself: so many good books! Tell me in the comments if you've read any of these, and what books are currently on YOUR radar!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Everneath by Brodi Ashton

Everneath #1
Published January 24, 2012 by Balzer + Bray
Hardcover, 370 pages
Borrowed from library

Everneath is based on the Hades-Persephone myth which you probably already know. Basically, in this world, there is something called an Everneath which isn't exactly Hell but is this Underworld layer beneath the Surface (Earth) and there are these beings (Everlivings) that have discovered the secrets of immortality who live there. They're not human but they need to feed in order to sustain themselves and they feed off of humans' emotions. And these humans who allow themselves to be fed off of are called Forfeits. Our main character Nikki is a Forfeit and she has just endured the Feed (what the Everlivings call the feeding period) with Cole - this really emo, sassy dude. She's given the choice to return to the Surface for six months after the Feed and she does so because during the Feed, she just kept on seeing this guy's face in her mind and she just HAS TO KNOW WHO HE IS. So she returns but she can only stay for six months before she gets sucked back down to the Everneath, this time FOREVER. Unless Nikki finds a way to jump around it...

Um... Colour me CONFUSED because I still cannot fully wrap my head around this book even though it's been a good three weeks since I finished this. Seriously. What even happened??

For the first time in a while, I jumped into Everneath without any expectations of anything whatsoever. 
I saw this at the library and just felt in the mood for a new series and something a little different than my usual contemporary. Thank goodness I did not pick up the second or the third book, because I feel like that always happens to me. But yeah, I totally went on a whim with this one and even though this book wasn't the greatest, it definitely was a rewarding experience to get into something sans all the other opinions I usually have accumulated from reading reviews when I start a book.

I should mention, to be fair, that I was in a reading haze for a large part of this book.
Don't ask me what a reading haze is because I'm afraid even I don't know. I can't really describe how I was feeling while I read this book. It was just that I felt this tremendous pull inside me to read SOMETHING so even though I wasn't 100% feeling Everneath, I zoomed through it which is so unlike me when I'm not totally into a book. And for me, it was like "yeah, I read the book but did I really read the book because it went by so fast". I don't know if that makes sense. Moving on.

The main reason why I was not feeling this book was because I felt so in the dark.
When I started reading, even though I had done a Goodreads search on it, I had this niggling feeling in the back of my mind that this was not the first book because it starts at a place where I felt like a previous book, if there was one, would have ended. I almost feel like there should have been a novella or something to start this series off just to provide some more background information. Because goodness, was it hard to keep up with the book! The beginning was okay because the whole Everneath and feeding off of people was pretty straightforward for me, though I never did get why there was the option to return to the Surface, why Nikki had to return to be Queen, why there had to be a new Queen, what exactly the Tunnels were... And yeah, I just have a lot of questions. I don't know if this is a product of the speed at which I read this book but I'm just MISSING SOMETHING. This whole world just did not make sense to me. Am I the only one?

Nikki was boring.
I mean, I get why she was the way she was - all emotionless and such - because she just came back from the Feed and her emotions are drained and she's exhausted. OKAY I GET IT. But I don't know if that's license to have a really one-dimensional character, in my opinion. She just didn't really have a personality. 

Also, the love triangle. Could you even call it that?
Now I, for one, am not a person to condemn something before I even see a bit of it through. Which is why in general I'm pretty open to love triangles and I firmly believe that they CAN work given the right circumstances. But goodness gracious, the synopsis for this book makes it sound like a Twilight-esque love triangle and dude, we do NOT need to go back there. In reality though, it wasn't so much a love triangle because from square one, it was always about Jack. But something about their relationship just didn't work well for me. I didn't quite see the chemistry there.

And now about Cole, the second "love interest".
Right off the bat, it's clear Nikki couldn't give less of a shit about Cole now that Jack is back in the picture so I wouldn't really call him a love interest, but he is there. For some reason, I found myself really intrigued by Cole. He was unpredictable and though I wish he was more fleshed out, I appreciated the complexity in his character and how there always seemed to be a much deeper meaning to everything he did. And the fact that there seems to be a little bit of affection Cole has towards Nikki makes the story really interesting. I mean, he's painted as the bad guy but there are times when I had second thoughts because some of his actions made it seem more like he was just looking out for Nikki. 

Everneath was just an okay read for me. I felt really in the dark about what was going on for the majority of this book and I ended up with a LOT of questions. There were also a lot of other things I had trouble with like Nikki's character and the romance between her and Jack wasn't something I believed. Everneath did get really exciting in the last quarter but for me, it was a bit like too little, too late. The ending, in all honesty, was predictable and didn't really do anything to balance out my mixed feelings. Not sure if I'll continue with this series.

fans of modern-day retellings, especially ones that are based on Hades and Persephone

Sunday, May 18, 2014

The Diviners by Libba Bray

The Diviners #1
Published September 18, 2012 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Hardcover, 578 pages
Borrowed from library

Evie O'Neill has a strange talent that allows her to look into someone's past by touching one of their possesions. And it's this talent that gets her sent from her home in Oklahoma (or Ohio?) to the fascinating city of New York City to live with her uncle when her parents have finally had enough of her antics. It's supposed to be a punishment but honestly, Evie could not be happier! As she arrives in New York though, something deeply sinister has started targeting seemingly random victims and murdering them in the most gruesome way. The police are on a desperate hunt to catch the killer and turn to Evie's uncle, Will to help them decipher the strange symbols branded on each victim's body. Evie can't help but get herself involved as she realizes that her talent could help catch the killer and in doing so, learns the true and terrifying identity of the killer and what it means for the world.

I am so happy I finally got to reading this book because I really enjoyed it! I had previously read A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray and really liked that too so I was happy to find that her other historical fiction/paranormal/mystery series was even better for me! 

This book and I had a pretty anticlimactic relationship.
I just felt like I should get this straight out because it wouldn't be fair to ignore it. I had to take a break from reading this book while I was halfway because I had to send it back to the library. I'm sure you guys get the frustration I felt but it had to be done unless I wanted to add ten more dollars onto the current eight dollars I owe in fines to the library (yeah, I should get that sorted out soon). So there was just this long time when I didn't read this book at all. And when I finally picked it up again, the charm that I initially felt wasn't there any more. It's probably more the fact that I HADN'T read it for so long more so the fact that the book itself got worse but it sucked nonetheless because I had a few hundred pages to go and it was supposed to be climaxing for me, but just wasn't. (Only now did I realize how that sentence may send a different message. Let's just move on, please)

Libba Bray rocks at crafting really authentic historical settings as per A Great and Terrible Beauty, and the 1920's New York scene was wonderfully done in this book!
I've always been really interested in the Roaring Twenties for some reason. To me, it just exudes sophistication and luxury and I KNOW this was most definitely not entirely the case for many people in the 1920's, but it is NOT my fault The Great Gatsby makes it seem fabulous (and I mean the new Baz Luhrmann film because I know how the book is supposed to be a criticism of the changing of society but WHATEVER. LET'S NOT GET INTO THAT RIGHT NOW. I KNOW THIS MAKES NO SENSE SO LET'S JUST STOP.) Anyway, even though I do not live in the 1920's so cannot attest to the accuracy of portrayal in The Diviners, judging from how much attention Libba Bray pays to the little details like the slang they used and the larger, historical movements that were taking place then, it seemed like everything was done very well. At least, as a reader who doesn't know better, I could really imagine the scene very well.

Evie was fabulous!
Seriously, I loved this gal. She just seemed like a really fun person, and I have to say, her word choices started to make their way into my vocabulary while I was reading this book! And even though she is our heroine (with the help of her wonderful friends as well!), she wasn't all shades of perfect which made her so relatable and authentic. Evie makes rash decisions a lot of the time, she can't keep her nose in her own business and often gets waaay ahead of herself but in the end, you know that she's just a regular teenager trying to be the best she possibly can and help others. And the fact that even though Evie makes a lot of mistakes, underneath it's obvious that her intentions are pure is what made me love her so much.

The romance: it's not the main focus, nor is it the secondary focus.
I love a little romance in my novels and sometimes, I find myself missing it when there isn't much in a book but there was so much else to occupy me in The Diviners that I didn't mind at all. The romance in here is a bit confusing anyway. There seems to be two potential love interests for Evie but it's not a love triangle at all and one of them is being set up with Evie's best friend Mabel by Evie and... yeah, it's just really not the main focus of the novel at all. Which was so refreshing because there's so much happening in this book anyway that anything else would have been too much. I won't say who Evie ends up with (though seriously it won't make a difference if you know) but I will say that out of the two main male characters in this book, I was always partial to Sam, the mysterious thief who is just SO CHARMING. I was super suspicious of him at the beginning because reasons but I'm not so much any more. I feel like he has his own backstory of why he did what he did that's really intriguing so I'm interested in seeing more of him in Lair of Dreams!

Yes, this book is long but it flew by for me!
I was really so enraptured by the writing that the 578 pages did not seem at all like a daunting task. This book was just THAT good. I mean, besides the whole break I mentioned in the first paragraph.

The Diviners is such a layered novel with so many dimensions that I think anyone can find something they'll like in this.
Seriously. You get historical fiction, touches of mystery and paranormal situations. You have relatable teen problems and a wonderful cast of characters. It's heartbreaking and funny. It's intense and heartwarming and JUST SO GOOD. I recommend this for everyone.

The one thing I regret is that I didn't run to the bookstore to get this book the day after I had to return it. Because that break really killed the mood for me. I mean, I still really enjoyed this book but GOSH, if I didn't take that five-month long break from The Diviners, this book would have gotten a Badge of Honour hands down. I still really enjoyed it though. I thought everything was really well done and yeah, overall just a really fantastic book! Huge fan!

If you haven't read this yet, you really really should.


Rachel @ Read. Write. Ramble says: "The Diviners is a lot creepier than I expected. In a good way! The supernatural elements are so thorough and detailed and genius, and I couldn't see any of the plot twists coming. The murders scared the crap out of me."

Ana @ The Book Smugglers gives it a 6/10: "The irritation comes from its excesses – and if there is ONE word I could use to describe The Diviners it would be just that: excessive. This is an incredibly bloated book."

Thea @ The Book Smugglers gives it a 7/10: "Thankfully, The Diviners is saved by two things: the strength of Libba Bray’s writing (which is, as always, engaging and effortless), and the appeal of the novel’s main characters."

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Life of a Blogger (3): 101 Things I Love

Hosted by Jessi @ Novel Heartbeat. Life of a Blogger is a weekly feature designed to reveal more about the blogger outside of books and blogging.

This week, we're talking about... 101 things you love.

Life of a Blogger posts are one of my favourites to read because Jessi always comes up with such fun topics! I always like to try my best to participate just because I think it's a lot of fun but sometimes, that doesn't always happen due to REAL LIFE INTERFERENCE. Or... when I'm just being lazy. But this week's topic of 101 things you love was too fun to pass up on! I love making lists and I was in science learning about black holes when I started this list so it definitely helped kill some boredom! At first I thought 101 things was A LOT but now, looking back, I feel like it's too little. Regardless, brace yourselves because this is going to be a LONG list. In no particular order, these are the first 101 things I love that popped to mind.


1. My family
2. My friends
3. Blogging
4. Reading
5. Travelling
6. Chocolate
7. Dylan O'Brien (because he is the bae)
8. Mixtapes and playlists
9. Wearing perfume (because it makes me feel elegant and fancy. Plus, it disguises my sweat odour after Phys. Ed.)
10. Music
11. Christmas (because it is the best holiday)
12. Google (because what would I do without it?)
13. Marathoning movies
14. Watching popcorn pop (also, the smell of popcorn popping)
15. Sharpies (in all the colours. Also, Sharpie tattoos)
16. Top knots (because they're just so pretty and sophisticated. Mine aren't great but I've been improving!)
17. Craisins (eaten alone or sprinkled into some oatmeal)
18. Water balloon fights
19. Sleeping (this was a cop-out because who doesn't enjoy sleeping?)
20. Learning new things
21. Twitter
22. Musicals and plays (preferably seen live)
23. Impromptu dance parties
24. Shopping
25. Giving gifts (and receiving too, but giving is always so much fun because you get to see the other person's reaction! Unless they don't like what they've gotten...)
26. Roller coasters
27. Eating something great I made (I can't cook so when this happens, it's definitely something worth celebrating.)
28. Food Network (that channel is basically on 24/7.)
29. TLC (I just love reality shows, okay?)
30. Pretty stationary
31. Carrots (makes sense since I was born in the rabbit year.)
32. Being in the rain
33. Talking (some will say I talk too much, and too loudly)
34. Iceland
35. Pottery
36. Blank notebooks
37. My iPod (I have two, they're both super old but I love them to death.)
38. Jelly beans (especially the ones in fun flavours like BARF. Just kidding. Well, only partially.)
39. Starbucks (need any recs for what to get? I have tons!)
40. Crime shows (ie. Criminal Minds, Castle, Motive, Dateline Real Life Mysteries, 48 Hours, etc.)
41. Feeling like I've done something good for others/made a difference
42. Urban Outfitters
43. Feeling healthy
44. Finding someone with common interests
45. Birthdays (not just mine!)
46. Watching New Girl (regardless of how much worse it's gotten. Old habits die hard, I guess. Not that it's been a show for that long but...)
47. Coffee (anything but straight black though)
48. Animals
49. Watching award shows and critiquing fashion choices
50. Painting walls
51. Popping bubble wrap (my grandmother loves this too! No joke, she has a pile of wrap in her room that she pops for relaxation!)
52. Singing in the shower
53. Makeup
54. Cheesecake
55. Worn-in jeans
56. Pinterest
57. Making people smile and laugh
58. Nail polish
59. Root beer floats
60. Being in the snow (until it turns into gray slush.)
61. Keds
62. Getting dressed up
63. Swimming in lakes
64. Making lists
65. Ice cream (especially mint-chip and cherry.)
66. Tumblr
67. Rom-coms
68. Cookies
69. Gel pens
70. Feeling included
71. Stripes and polka dots
72. Bubble tea (I find Bubbletease has the best original Iced Milk Bubble Tea with Black Tea, but Ten Ren's has great flavours!)
73. Watching Youtube videos
74. Bath + Body Works (I always walk out of there smelling amazing. Cashmere Glow & Japanese Cherry Blossom are my favourite lines!)
75. Not having to get out of my pajamas
76. Tim Horton's (holla for the Canadian spirit!)
77. The smell of books
78. Dreaming about my future
79. Watching hockey
80. Stuffed animals (I have too many.)
81. Doing well on an assignment/test
82. Getting mail (excluding bills and flyers, of course because those aren't fun.)
83. Noodles and pasta
84. Campfires (brings back such great memories! Aside from when my eyes were irritated by the smoke.)
85. Karaoke (Dancing Queen is my specialty!)
86. Sleepovers
87. Excel Winterfresh Mint Gum
88. Plants and flowers (especially daffodils, daisies and ferns.)
89. Chipotle (especially their chicken burritos. Yum.)
90. Freshly washed blankets (because they're great to snuggle in.)
91. The sound of cellos
93. Taking a nice, long bath to unwind
94. Being Canadian
95. Having no homework to do
96. The colour blue
97. The feeling after a great workout (not that it happens so much to me because ha, working out.)
98. Hiking
99. My computer (makes me sound like I'm too attached but it's true. I don't know what I'd do without my computer, and Internet!)
100. Werther's Originals candies (but really any candy is fine by me.)
101. Hugs (because they're just awesome.)

And that's my list! That took longer than I thought it would, but it was super fun trying to come up with things that I liked. It was a lot easier than expected but I'm not sure how next week's topic (101 Things You Hate) is going to go because I can't think of anything I really hate? Anyway, tell me in the comments what some of the things you love are and we'll have a little chat! 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

A BookTube Introduction: 5 BookTubers I Love!

Then, I had 60 videos in my Watch Later playlist on YouTube. Today, I have 107 videos. I KNOW, I'M CRAZY. I'm subscribed to over 200 channels of all sorts, but I have to say one of my favourite YouTube communities is that of the BookTubers! Which is what I want to talk about today! 

In the two years I've been blogging, I'm definitely seeing a rise in BookTube and just YouTube as a whole. I remember back in 2009 when the only thing I would use YouTube for was to search up music videos and listen to music. And while there were a handful of YouTubers who did start their channels way back then, there are SO many more starting up channels each day now. 

But moving back to BookTube... I'm fairly sure it was basically non-existent when I started blogging two years ago. And now there are so many people on BookTube! Even though I am not an active participant in the BookTube community, I do watch from the sidelines and keep up with all of the videos. And since I've definitely noticed a rise in BookTubers and its increasing popularity, I thought that I would share some BookTubers that I really enjoy watching. 

Many of you are most likely already loving and watching their videos but in the off chance you aren't, here's your time to check them out! They're all extremely fabulous!

(Yes, there are only 5! I thought that was a nice, round number but since I have SO many BookTubers I love, if this goes well, I might make another one!)

Jesse was one of the first BookTubers I discovered and he is just the BOMB DIGGITY. He seems like such a nice and friendly person and I always seem to laugh tons whenever I watch his videos. Which, by the way, are wonderfully filmed and superbly edited. And the lighting is amazing. And everything is just AMAZING.

2. NovellaZoo

Novella Zoo is a channel that was recently started but it's quickly become one of my favourites. And I'm not sure what her name is because I don't think it's ever been said but LET ME BE BEST FRIENDS WITH YOU PLEASE. Seriously, she just looks like such a cool person and she's hilarious! Plus all her tops are fabulous. And hurrah for being a hockey fan and Canadian (though, often, those two go hand in hand)!

3. Christine from PolandBananasBooks

Christine was the VERY FIRST BookTuber I ever found. I remember watching a video of hers after a book blogger tweeted about her. She's just such an amazing BookTuber and watching her videos always make me so happy. She's very outgoing and enthusiastic and it's definitely contagious! Her reviews are also really great and analytical and while I often have not read the book so can't stay for the entire video, when I do, it's always really fun to see what Christine thinks. She has such a great online personality that it actually feels like I'm having a conversation with her about the book in real life!

4. Regan from PeruseProject

Regan is another one of my absolute favourite BookTubers! She always has such wonderful ideas and great book recommendations. Seeing a new video from her in my subscriptions just makes my day. And I'm in total admiration of how much thought she puts into each of her videos - and also how absolutely gorgeous she looks with a red lip (which always seems to make me look like a clown). She seems so sweet and she likes Bastille so go check her out!

5. Sophia from TheBookBasement

I may just be a tad obsessed with Sophia's bookshelves. I mean, come on, LOOK AT THOSE BEAUTIES. And also, her glasses. They're the cutest. But in all seriousness, Sophia's videos are the greatest. I love her for her reviews: they're so thoughtful and in-depth. Usually, book reviews are my least favourite videos in BookTube but I love watching all of Sophia's reviews, regardless of whether or not I've read the book. She's fab. 

And those are my five BookTuber recs for you! Tell me in the comments what BookTubers you enjoy watching. Do you also notice the popularity of BookTube now? And are you thinking of starting up a channel? Or maybe you already have! In which case, link it down below so I can see. Spill your hearts out, children!

Monday, May 12, 2014

[MINI REVIEW] Relish by Lucy Knisley & Gossip Girl by Cecily von Ziegesar

Published April 2, 2013 by First Second
Paperback, 192 pages
Borrowed from library

I wasn't initially going to write a review for Relish but after thinking about it for a while, I think it's important for me to get the word out about this book because I enjoyed it so much!

Relish by Lucy Knisley is a memoir in graphic novel form, but surrounding food. Which sounds confusing at first, I know but essentially what Knisley is doing here, is documenting her life through all these important milestones in her foodie life, starting from when she was a little kid and her mother and father cooked her amazing food to when she's much older and is starting to experiment a bit with cuisine herself.

I don't think this book will be interesting for everyone, namely if you're not a food person, you probably won't be as in love with this as I was. It's not your typical graphic novel but I really, really enjoyed it! The drawings were adorable and Knisley has a fun narration. Plus, between each chapter, she has real life recipes you can try out yourself! Relish was very food-oriented and I loved that! I seriously love food and have a passion for eating (and cooking it, but not so much). Literally, I watch Food Network like 24/7 so reading Relish was like extending my Food Network watching period in a different medium. Seriously so much fun and if you like food and are interested in it, I definitely suggest you pick this book up!


Gossip Girl by Cecily von Ziegesar
Gossip Girl #1
Published April 1, 2002 by Little, Brown and Company
Paperback, 224 pages
Lent by friend

So hey, I wasn't going to review this book initially either but since I was doing one for Relish, I thought I might as well write one for Gossip Girl as well. I didn't plan on reading this series at all (because watching the TV show is good enough for me) but my friend had it so I thought, "why not?" I'm really enjoying the television show so I thought it might be fun for me to revisit the beginning, but with the original source material.

If you don't know what Gossip Girl is about, it's focused on a group of really privileged teenagers living in New York City and all the drama that goes down. There really isn't a storyline in each book, it's more like the things that happen. 

And I know it sounds really stupid and bad but I found myself really entertained by this book. It's not deep or insightful but it's not written for that purpose anyway, you know? It's supposed to be a fun and light read and that's exactly what I got! I think I liked it a lot more because I do like the television series which, by the way, only follows the books in season 1 before it branches out. Again, Gossip Girl is most likely not for everyone. I will be the first to admit that all the characters are really annoying in the way that they're always complaining when they are so well off. BUT. I still really enjoyed myself reading this book. I'm not sure if there's any point for me to continue the series when I kinda already know what happens, but we'll see. If I happen to stumble upon a copy, then I might.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
Expected Publication Date: May 13, 2014 by Delacorte Press
Hardcover, 240 pages
Received from publisher through NetGalley -- thanks!

In the eARC copy I got, there is actually a note from the publisher, asking you to go into this book blind. The synopsis released is purposefully kept vague, and everything for We Were Liars seems to be all about containing the details and not giving away a lot so you can have the best reading experience ever. And I do not want to be the one who ruins everyone's experience with We Were Liars by writing a probably craptastic synopsis that will likely give away too much. So, here's the Goodreads one:

A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.

Gosh, so many things to say about this book. I definitely feel like the black sheep this time even though I did not DISLIKE this book at all. Just didn't love it or see the appeal of it as much as others. 

E. Lockhart's writing was beautiful - the most beautiful I've experienced in a while, I think.
The writing is definitely unconventional. Often, while I was reading the book, I felt like it was a mix between verse and just normal writing, if that makes any sense. There's this sense of rhythm to Lockhart's writing and everything just flowed really nicely. It won't be for those who prefer more structured types of writing that don't sound so much like it's just all the thoughts of the narrator put down into words - randomness and all. I don't know, I can't really explain it all very well but I really enjoyed the lyrical quality of Lockhart's writing and I have to say it was my favourite part about this book.

I felt like We Were Liars had a really interesting idea behind it but I'm not sure if E. Lockhart really achieved what she meant for the book to be.
I don't claim to know what her purpose was for this book but while reading, I just couldn't help but feel like this book was SUPPOSED to make me think deeper and bring across a really important message, while I only found it entertaining at most. It's so frustrating because I can't pinpoint WHAT else was needed to elevate this story, I just had this feeling that there needed to be something MORE. There were so many great bits and pieces in We Were Liars but somehow, they just didn't totally jive together and create something really wonderful, in my opinion.

I want to be fair, so I have to say that I think my expectation of this book was the main reason why it didn't work for me.
By the time I had started this book, a few bloggers I really trust had reviews out totally GUSHING over this book and from everything I had read, it sounded really interesting. I went in with an idea of this book that I think was totally different than what I ended up getting that I think it really lowered my enjoyment. I wish I had gone in without any expectations at all because I think I would have appreciated the book a whole lot more.

But also on the other hand, everything WAS a bit misleading.
How I see it, We Were Liars is being marketed as a mystery and that was my expectation for this book - was to get a mystery. But I thought the mystery was really weak. And nothing really suggested it might have been a mystery until you get to the ending, where you find out what happened and the "whodunnit", which is in quotations because not until the ending do you even think that there might be a whodunnit. AM I GIVING TOO MUCH AWAY? I hope not, but basically the mystery element of this book for me just wasn't there. 

We Were Liars is the kind of book that you almost 99% NEED to reread to get the full picture.
Because the ending turns the entire story on its head. It's a twist for sure (but not one that totally had me surprised), and it provides you with some interesting knowledge. But because there weren't anything pointing to the end outcome - or at least, I didn't feel there were. Some people guessed it straightaway! - it was hard to really see it all coming together when everything is revealed at the end. For me, it felt like there was a really big jump between what was reality and what was fiction and one that didn't really go all so smoothly. So definitely I think you need to reread this book to get the full impact of it when you hold the knowledge of what happens because I think then you might be able to appreciate the story a bit more. I have not reread it yet so. I will get on to that soon though because I have a feeling this book will get to me more when I have a full understanding.

So as you can see, I'm definitely very conflicted about this book. I don't really know what to think in part because this book was so confusing to me. There were a lot of things that I liked in this book but I don't think any of them were really used to their full potential. This was a fairly short book and I liked that but I also feel like a few more pages couldn't have hurt in terms of development of characters and the storyline. So you know, there were a lot of things about We Were Liars that didn't really impact me as fully as it did others but I gave it three stars (more like 2.5 stars but I don't do half stars) in the end because I did enjoy this book. It was an entertaining read and I flew through it. I just think that maybe somewhere along the lines, something got lost in translation because I'm not really getting this book or understanding what makes it so extraordinary - sorry if that sounds a bit harsh. For me, there wasn't anything that really WOWED me as I thought that maybe there would have been so that's why We Were Liars didn't work for me.

They're not really all that similar but I am getting a very Dangerous Girls vibe from this novel so if you liked that book, We Were Liars is worth a shot! 


Ashley @ Nose Graze gives it 2 stars: "My thoughts: meh. More than anything, I was bored for 90% of We Were Liars. Not much happens. It’s just a series of stories about kids on an island.. most of which are just conversations where nothing actually happens."

Stormy @ Book. Blog. Bake gives it 3 stars: "We Were Liars is a terrific book. While it didn’t hit me in an emotional way, I can’t deny that it’s a beautifully written book with a compelling story. I loved how original it was and how everything was handled."

Nara @ Looking for the Panacea gives it 5 stars: "This is one of those books that I'm honestly not sure how to review. I don't even want to say too much about it because it's one of those books where it's best to go in blind. Bigger impact that way."

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

14 Covers I'd Frame As Pieces Of Art

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

This week's topic is Top Ten Covers You'd Frame as Pieces of Art. They must have been thinking of me again when coming up with this topic because this is something I think about all the time! Gorgeous covers are what I live for and thankfully, there are SO MANY to choose from. Too many, I think, because I have FOURTEEN books to show you! Just be glad it isn't 100. It could easily have been 100 as well... 

(I probably need to make another list for this topic another time because as I'm reading other Top Ten Tuesday's, I'm discovering MORE and MORE beautiful covers that I totally forgot about! So stay tuned, because I might just do this again another day...) 

But without further ado, here are the fourteen covers I'd love to see on my wall! (Oops, I ran out of space! Sorry to the four covers I had to reduce the sizes of! I know it's unfair, especially when you're all so beautiful!)

One of my biggest bookish regrets is not getting this lovely book in hardcover when I would have gotten this cover! I mean, the paperback isn't ugly but it definitely pales in comparison to this. 

I've always really, really liked this cover because of that little girl who appears ordinary but I can't help but think that maybe there's something going on with her, like maybe she possesses magical powers? 

I love the photograph used for this cover! It's hauntingly beautiful and I think it suits the book perfectly.

Shadow and Bone has one of the most original covers I've ever seen. And I love it! 

Thoughts of the redesign are being pushed FAR, FAR BACK into my mind because seriously, that? When you have this? No, thank you. It's too beautiful for me to let it go!

There is no question that I would frame this cover as art. I mean, just look at it! HOW could I not?

There are just so many things I love about this cover! The girl's dress to the font to the lovely starry background. Amazing.

This book is currently on full display on my bookshelf because it's too gorgeous for it to be hidden away in a nook.

If I could, I would have picked ALL of Rainbow Rowell's books because they're all just so pretty. But this post would have been too long if I did so I went with Eleanor & Park for all it's minimalistic beauty.

Something about the font and the background colours just work SO WELL.

I can't even begin to tell you how much I love this cover and how badly I want it to be an actual print so I can stick it on my wall!

I love the colour in this cover and the mirrored effect we get from the... mirror. It really makes for an interesting cover!

So I knew I had to pick a Jennifer E. Smith cover because they're all so wonderful and I immediately thought of this one! I love the font and the yellow with the black. I definitely think it's my favourite out of the three!

I loved the cover for this book when it was still named Severed Heads, Broken Hearts and I love the cover for it now as it's named The Beginning of Everything. The colour and the font are calling to me again, and that roller coaster is the cherry on top of the cake! 

So those are all my picks! Did you agree with them? What is your favourite cover out of all of them? And the most important question: did I miss any??