Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas + Happy Holidays 2015!

important updates and news regarding the runaway reader.

Hey guys,

Just wanted to pop in really quickly to wish you a merry Christmas or if you don't celebrate, a happy December the 25th and a great holiday season overall! Can you believe that 2015's already coming to a close? It feels like just yesterday I was watching the New Year's Eve broadcast in New York on my television for 2015 so to think we're six days away from 2016 is crazy. Hopefully everyone's enjoying the downtime and spending some quality time with friends and family! There won't be any more scheduled posts for 2015 on this blog but I've been coming up with some cool ideas for posts in 2016 and am hoping to start actively blogging again (ie. not taking a two week hiatus in between each post I publish) so look out for that!

Before I leave you though, my guest post for Veronika & Ruzaika over at The Regal Critiques went up today so click this link to see what 5 sweet treats I look forward to indulging in this holiday season!

merry christmas + happy holidays everyone! see you all in the new year xoxo

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Nowhere But Here by Katie McGarry

Nowhere But Here by Katie McGarry
Thunder Road #1
Published May 26, 2015 by Harlequin Teens
Hardcover, 496 pages
Borrowed from library

the premise

Emily Jennings live a nice, unencumbered life in Florida with her mom and her dad so when her biological dad in Kentucky sends an obituary for her paternal grandmother and her parents decide to go to Kentucky for the funeral, Emily isn't excited. In the least bit. She doesn't know much about her biological dad except for the fact that he's a biker and while she is a little curious, she isn't willing to give up her perfect life to dredge up the past that she and her mom both agree are better off being ignored. But then Emily gets to Kentucky and slowly, slowly, finds herself settling into life there and opening up to all the people part of the biker club who she's come to love. But tension is in the air and there could be a very real threat that will tear Emily away from everyone she loves.

This is probably one of the most ridiculous books I have ever read but I loved EVERY MOMENT OF IT. Katie McGarry is my SHIT, you guys. I cannot get enough of her. Although I find that her books do tend to get a bit formulaic, it's a formula that lures me without fail every single time so you know, how can I complain? When it comes to YA romance, there is no doubt that Katie McGarry is one of the BEST.

Nowhere But Here centers around our main character named Emily who's a very straight-laced, stick to the rules type of gal and on a trip back to Kentucky, where her biological family is from, she gets caught up into the "family business" of sorts which is the biker club and it's through the club that she also meets Oz, her dad's best friend's son. Who's been raised with the club and cannot envision his life without the brotherhood of a biker club. And then obviously, they meet... sparks fly... but also DANGEROUS BECAUSE BIKERS AND MOTORCYCLES AND GANGS AND STUFF.

I think one of my greatest hesitations going into this book was the whole inclusion of a biker club. I probably shouldn't have been so quick to judge as I know next to nothing about them but when I think biker club, I think Hell's Angels, Sons of Anarchy and usually some illegal activity? And I feel like after reading this book, my opinion has changed slightly? I understand the idea of wanting a brotherhood and having people to back you up who you know you can trust but also there were other parts that I still didn't love. Like the objectification and over-sexualisation of women which made me uncomfortable. But despite that, I still thought McGarry offered a new and enlightening perspective on biker clubs.

And now about that romance... I actually really liked Emily and Oz together. I didn't love Emily as a main character, thought she was a little frustrating but I really liked Oz! In all honesty, I'm still not sold on, like, the tall, leather jacket wearing, sorta brutish dude who rides motorcycles (why Noah wasn't a favourite either) so Oz won't be one of my favourite boys out of all the McGarry novels (that probably goes to Ryan or West) but you know, I really admired him. And OBVIOUSLY Oz wasn't ACTUALLY a bad boy. Obviously he was the bad boy who's a secret softie which you know, by now, I should be tired of but I'm not? Because Katie McGarry is damn good at writing and at writing romance in particular. There are some scenes in this book which, if anyone else had written, I WOULD HAVE PEED MY PANTS OFF AND NOT TAKEN THE REST OF THE BOOK SERIOUSLY AT ALL but because it's Katie McGarry, the casual fall into hot boy and I am holding you close to protect you but then oh my god my breathing's stopped / hitched what!!! still makes me laugh, I admit, but also makes me really antsy for like THE BIG MOMENT when the main characters finally kiss or get together. REALLY GREAT ENTERTAINMENT VALUE HERE THOUGH. The entire time I was reading this book I think I was frantically oscillating between FITS OF LAUGHTER and SCREAMING and SQUEALING. You will get laughs and swoons so what's not to love?

Besides Katie McGarry works in some really lovely side characters as well. Honestly I think I was MORE in love with the side characters. I adored Olivia and Eli. THOSE TWO ARE MY JAMS. They were so well-developed and done so thoughtfully and in all honesty they made the book so worth reading in addition to the romance.

So another successful Katie McGarry! Even though this wasn't one of my favourites, I still really enjoyed it. I think no matter what Katie McGarry's books will ALWAYS be addictive. Even though I feel like I'm borderline exhausted of the good girl meets bad boy from the ghetto storyline, I also love how her books deal with a different sort of reality than I'm used to? I think it makes her stories incredibly interesting and entertaining.

Definitely have started noticing a certain formula Katie McGarry uses for her books but it hasn't stopped my enjoyment whilst reading any of her books yet so I'm okay with it. Nowhere But Here isn't a book I would typically go for but because it's KATIE MCGARRY, I enjoyed wholeheartedly even despite not being sold on our protagonist, Emily. I enjoyed the romance and loved the side characters. The writing was great as always and I enjoyed the dual POVs. I think in Katie's books, they're actually very useful and helpful. Will definitely read the next book in this series!

if you enjoy romances along the lines of Miranda Kenneally or if you enjoyed I'll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios, you will enjoy this! Perfect for someone who's looking for a well-written YA romance that also touches on themes of family, friendship as well as has excellent side characters.


Willa @ Willa's Ramblings says: "Nowhere But Here is yet another remarkable book from Katie McGarry, one of my all-time favorite authors. It’s worth not only a read, but also a reread, and another reread."

Mishma @ Chasing Faerytales says: "Overall, Nowhere But Here is a wonderful read with beautiful moments of family, hot romance and great characters!"

Sarah @ What Sarah Read gives it 4.5 stars: "As I mentioned before, Oz and Emily have amazing chemistry, so it’s only natural that we get some feels-filled moments."

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Light Up Bracelets, Awkward Dancing and Eavesdropping on Strangers: A Taylor Swift Concert Recap

random tidbits from my life.

In honour of Taylor Swift's turning 26 today, I'm going to be finally posting my Taylor Swift concert recap! Yay! 

If you've been following me for a while, you might / probably know that I love Taylor Swift. She is one of my favourite artists for a number of reasons:
  • Her songs are all SO good and catchy, perfect for shout-singing along to
  • She is a lyrical genius (see State of Grace, Clean, All Too Well, Sad Beautiful Tragic)
  • Her outfits are SO CUTE (honestly Taylor Swift in her autumnal attire is what I ASPIRE TO)
Plus she seems like a genuinely nice person? Like I know that's her brand and it's what she's known for and she's probably spent a LOT of time cultivating the image of being girl-next-door and relatable but I also feel like that's a tough act to sell if you aren't at least mostly a nice and relatable and charming person, you know? And from watching interviews and seeing her in concert, I just think she's really intelligent. She's very articulate and obviously knows what she's doing and takes control of her business in a very savvy way and is obviously very musically gifted so YOU KNOW. Major admiration for her.

1989 came out last October and honestly? I don't think I've stopped playing it since. I feel like it HAS to be my favourite album from her just by virtue of how many times I've played it but also Red so I don't know but it really is a damn good record okay. So anyway, when she announced she was going on a world tour for 1989, I was like I NEED TO GET TICKETS. I saw her during the Red Tour when she came to Toronto and it was absolutely FANTASTIC so I just knew I had to get tickets for 1989.

I ended up going with my friend Paige. We went on night 1 of her dates in Toronto which was the first Friday of October (October the 2nd). The day before, I had somehow contracted a really bad case of the stomach flu and literally puked my stomach out all day. Ended up going to the hospital where I stayed until 3 the next day (so Friday). Took the day off school and was MIRACULOUSLY healthy enough to at least walk and not have to sit down every 30 seconds. My vomiting had subsided which was FANTASTIC and all I really had were stomach cramps which were manageable. 

So I ended up taking the subway to Union Station where I then waited for my friend Paige. And for some reason, I always way underestimate how big Toronto is and it isn't until I go to like a concert or a play or something like that when I realize holy shit there are so many people in Toronto. Literally SWARMS of people of all ages dressed in Taylor gear. Which was very helpful because, as I joked to Paige, it was kinda like follow the ants. If you've ever been around Front St / Wellington in Toronto (like Union Station vicinity), you know that it is literally the WORST and MOST CONFUSING part of Toronto. There are literally no signs to tell you how to get from point A to point B and if you don't know where you're going, tough luck. But because there were so many people all going to the concert and it was easy to discern who's who, even if we didn't know where we were going, we could have literally just followed the crowd all leading to Rogers Centre.

Once we actually got to Rogers Centre, it was probably around 6 but we hadn't eaten dinner yet so we decided to walk around and find a place to eat. We were going to go to this really nice Italian restaurant but there was a LINE so we ended up going to this Japanese sushi place across from the TIFF Bell Lightbox. It was basically like a make-your-own-sushi place which was so cool! I ended up getting a sweet potato tempura and avocado roll with barbecue eel sauce. SO GOOD. And then we walked back to Rogers Centre at which point it was maybe around 6:50 and SHAWN MENDES WAS GOING TO START PERFORMING but the lines were soooo long. Like at least 1 km and a bit more so we ended up budding in line which obviously is wrong but also like I kinda feel like at that point, it's kinda fair game for everyone? Because the line was SO long and if I was in line, I would have totally welcomed people budding because dude, I UNDERSTAND. Or maybe I'm just saying this to make myself feel better?

(excuse the quality of my pictures, took them with my crappy camera but this was the view of the stage from our seats)

But anyway, we ended up getting into the stadium maybe a little bit after Shawn first came on. AND WE HAD REALLY GOOD SEATS. For the Red concert, I was like all the way back in the 500s, like maybe 520? LITERAL NOSEBLEEDS. TAYLOR WAS LESS THAN AN ANT TO ME. SHE WAS A SPECK. But this time, we got seats in the 113s which were pretty solid! I kinda think floor seats are only good if you're literally right beside the stage but otherwise they're kinda shitty because you have to look over everyone's heads which is a dealbreaker for me because I'm 5'2" so you know.

(my seats at the Red concert two years ago, way up in the 500's - obviously zoomed in with my camera a LOT)

But yeah we got good seats and Shawn was really good. I remember watching his Vines ages ago and though I've never been a huge fan, it's nice to see someone from Toronto make it big! And truth be told, I've definitely morphed into a Shawn fan since the concert. LIKE NEVER BE ALONE AND STITCHES AND NO STRINGS ATTACHED ARE SUCH JAMS.

And then Vance Joy came on! Who was really charming and came out with a Blue Jays cap. He sang a few songs and a cover of Stay With Me. Honestly I only vaguely remember his setlist because I'm not super familiar with his album (although I've listened to it a bit since the concert and I can't say I'm the biggest fan of it as a whole? Though there are some songs I definitely love) but he for sure performed Riptide, Georgia and Fire and the Flood.


There was probably forty five minutes from when his setlist ended and Taylor was about to come on so me and Paige ended up walking around. We walked to the floor just to see what it was like and then visited the Blue Jays benches and then went back up to the concession stand area for food and that was also where they had the Taylor Swift Nation photo booth and Taylor's display cases of her clothes which was really interesting because it means she actually probably buys a lot of the dresses she wears for events and such. Which is so cool? So we got to see her Blank Space Ralph Lauren costume on the horse, the EW! Natalie on Fallon costume, the Zuhair Murad she wore to the AMAs (I think? Or Billboard Awards?) from a few years back and her Shake It Off costume!

We got back to our seats right as Taylor came on stage and opened her concert with Welcome to New York which was SO GOOD. I took one picture and then gave up trying to document my evening because my camera sucks.

She was so good and I had so much fun dancing and singing along to her but the ONLY downside to the concert was that I was sitting next to a girl I feel was probably a little drunk or maybe just clueless because she kept on WHIPPING ME IN THE FACE WITH HER HAIR and NEARLY GOUGING OUT MY EYES FROM HER ARM WAVING. And at some points she actually like grabbed me by the shoulders and started to sing with me which is like, okay I don't mind strangers and I'm sure you're really nice and I don't mind this as much as I do you nearly hitting me in the face but still personal space!! And then she like started to talk to the guys sitting in front of us and I was eavesdropping on their conversation and it was weird but also very interesting. And then at one point she just yelled FUCKING SIT DOWN and I'm like okayyy. BUT IT WAS ENTERTAINING and made my night more memorable so that's gotta count, right?

But anyway, I had a lot of fun, jumping and dancing even though I said I wouldn't because of my stomach cramps. Taylor was fantastic and put on a great show. Red was awesome but 1989 was maybe even better. Her dancers were fantastic and there were such cool props and you could probably google all of this if you wanted to but yeah it was fab! Also the light up bracelets were so cool! They lit up automatically during the entire show, switching colours and it was just the coolest thing and so smart. Also I loved how during her transitions (by the way, such fast costume changes!!), she had little videos of each of her friends talking about their friendship and stuff like that and also the graphics during some of the songs were so great like Clean and WANEGBT (by the way, HER CLEAN SPEECH. ICONIC) I loved her renditions of I Knew You Were Trouble, We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together and Love Story and also when she looped Blue Jays during Blank Space, that was AWESOME. She sang You Belong With Me for her surprise song and then brought out Keith Urban! Who I was excited about because you know, anyone famous is exciting but I was hoping for Drake even though that would have been unlikely and obviously even if she could, she probably wouldn't have brought out The Weeknd or Alanis Morisette out again (even though I WOULD HAVE DIED FOR ALANIS) but Keith Urban was still so cool! And he sang Someone Like You and John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16.

And then she sang a few more songs, ended with Shake It Off and that was it. AND I WAS SAD but I also had such a fun time. Was hoping to hear her sing All You Had to Do Was Stay though because that was one of my favourite songs off 1989 but obviously time restraints but anyway SO GOOD. It made me wish I had gotten tickets to night 2 as well so I could relive the magic although obviously I would never have been able to afford both of them and obviously I'm grateful I got to see her at all. Also side notes / reflections from the concert: some fan costumes were SO GOOD. Honestly it's so cool how much effort people put into them! There was this really cool looking Bad Blood style poster two people made and it's hard to explain but it was fantastic. Also Taylor is such a great performer obviously but I think her strength is in making a giant concert still feel very intimate and like she's connecting to each and every one of us individually. ALSO SHE WORE MY FAVOURITE STYLE OUTFIT.

Nearly two months later and I'm still reminiscing about this concert by replaying 1989 over and over. Hopefully you enjoyed reading my recap although I think you deserve a prize if you even read the entire thing because wow that means so much to me that you'd put up with my rambling for so long.

Tell me in the comments if you've ever seen Taylor in concert or what your favourite song off of 1989 is! And then also, who's the best person you've ever seen live in concert just for fun! 

Thursday, December 3, 2015

The Throne of Glass Book Tag

Any excuse to celebrate the brilliance of Throne of Glass and show my support and love for the series is welcome for me, which is why today I'm going to be doing the Throne of Glass Book Tag as created by Hannah and Alexa (even though I wasn't tagged but it looked like too much fun to be passed up on!).

I picked up Throne of Glass for the first time this year and it's still crazy to me that before January, I had no idea the sheer magnificence that lay within Throne of Glass. It's now one of my favourite series and that's pretty high praise from someone who typically doesn't venture into fantasy. I fell FAST and HARD for this series, guys and since I'm planning on finally pulling on my big girl panties and starting Queen of Shadows this week (YES, I am finally doing it!), I thought this tag would be a perfect way for me to get myself reacquainted with the world of Throne of Glass.

the throne of glass book tag.

Lysandra | A book with a cover change you loved
Lysandra who? I know nothing about her besides the fact that I'll meet her in Queen of Shadows but thankfully, I do know what my answer for this question is going to be: Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan. Not to be mean but every single edition of this book was honestly hideous until the anniversary edition released recently. It is the cover for this book I have been WAITING FOR. It's not my absolute favourite cover on Earth but man, is it a step up from the other covers. I'm a huge typography nerd so I love that the main focus of this cover is the font which I happen to really like. I also find that the overall feel that this cover conveys aligns with how I felt reading Nick & Norah and it always makes me happy when covers reflect what I felt while reading the book through colours, images, etc. Definitely a successful cover change!

Abraxos | A book that's better on the inside than it looks on the outside
Open Road Summer was going to be my first choice for this but then I remember Magnolia by Kristi Cook. A book I liked a lot but that, unfortunately, has a really dismal cover. Books with models on the cover are usually a hit or miss with me and this one is definitely a miss. I think the only thing I really like about this cover is the magnolia flower under the title - I thought that was a nice and appropriate touch - but everything else? Pass. Had this not been a book I had heard tons of prior praise for, I don't think I would have picked it up based on the cover at all which would have been a shame because Magnolia is so good.

Erilea | A series with great world-building
The Diviners by Libba Bray is undoubtedly one of the best when it comes to worldbuilding. Both The Diviners and its sequel, Lair of Dreams, are MONSTERS but reasonably so when you read them and realize just how much detail is put into creating a realistic setting for the characters and the story to thrive in. I feel like everyone should just take notes from Libba Bray on how to successfully build and immerse a reader in a world. Reading The Diviners and Lair of Dreams made me feel like I had lived the 20's and when it comes to worldbuilding, for me at least, the only way I really measure whether it was done successfully or not is to ask myself if it feels familiar enough that I can imagine having lived in that world in that time.

Rifthold | A book that combines genres
The first book that came to mind was Burn for Burn by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian but you know, that might be a spoiler for those of you who haven't read the series or past the first book soooo let's go with The Fixer by Jennifer Lynn Barnes which is a really fun contemporary, thriller (review to come soon!).

Damaris | A book based on or inspired by a myth or a legend
First book that came to mind: The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh which I absolutely LOVED. It's a retelling of 1001 Nights which is something I haven't seen done until recently and it was fantastic. I loved the writing and loved the story and I can't wait for the sequel. Oh my god guys, you don't understand how BADLY I need that book.

Kaltain Rompier | A book with an unexpected twist
I am generally unfazed by twists in books which is a source of mystery for me. I have no idea why I am so nonreactive to twists, I just am? The one book that I do remember having a very intense, like literal OH MY GOD GASP WHAT JUST HAPPENED was Dangerous Girls by Abigial Haas. I know, you've probably heard about this book and its twist a gazillion times by now but truly when I read the book, it blew my mind. I COULD NOT get over it for two days.

The Assassin's Keep | A book with an unreliable narrator
No surprise here either what book came to mind first: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart. I think it's probably one of the best known YA books with an unreliable narrator but you know, if there is one thing that is indisputable about We Were Liars, it's that the narrator (Charity? Clarice?) is very unreliable.

Asterin Blackbeak | A book that's got SQUAD GOALS
So many books I could list off for this INCLUDING Throne of Glass but ultimately, I think I have to go with Lena, Bridget, Carmen and Tibby from The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants by Ann Brashares. Honestly, to this day, I still try to strive to model my friendships after theirs because it is just so loving and accepting and MAKES ME CRY HONESTLY.

Terrasen | A book that feels like home
Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery is a book that always feels like home to me even though I've read it once but the story is so special to me, made even more so because I was gifted a copy from my grandmother.

Aelin Ashryver Galathynius | A book with the power to destroy you
I'm gonna be honest here: Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas is most likely going to DESTROY ME. I still haven't read it yet but I will be right after I publish this tag (like literally I will be picking up the book straight away) and you know, even though I'm probably going to be a mess after I read it, I'M WELCOMING THE POSSIBILITY BECAUSE SJM YO. AND AELIN. AND BASICALLY THIS ENTIRE SERIES.

Manon Blackbeak | A book that intimidated you
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling took me three years to get to and basically two months to finish just because it was so darn big and I was so intimidated. It was probably one of the first books I ever read that was over 500 pages by quite a significant amount which was scary on its own but add to that the fact that it was the conclusion of one of my FAVOURITE series and that was enough to make me want to run the other way.

Rowan Whitethorn | A book that makes you swoon

SO MANY BOOKS I COULD LIST FOR THIS. But honestly I have to go with the one and only Kasie West on this. If you want cute, swoon, you HAVE TO check out her books. They're all so fantastic and so cute but honestly I think I have to go with my favourite The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West for this one. Because OH MY GOD FILL IN BOYFRIEND / FIB / NAME I WON'T REVEAL IS ALDSJFL.

Chaol Westfall | A book that challenged you to see things differently

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys was an interesting book for me to read in 2013 because it was the first time I was really exposed to the fact that World War II was a greater string of events and not solely comprised of the Holocaust and Hitler, which WAS obviously very significant but also there were things happening elsewhere around the world like Stalin and the USSR. It was really the first time I had heard of that so reading the book was at once fascinating and horrifying but it definitely opened my eyes a lot to World War II.

Fleetfoot | A book that you received as a gift
My grandmother (same one who gave me Anne) gifted me a gorgeous illustrated copy of The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame which is one of my most prized bookish possessions because it is GORGEOUS but also because it was one of the first books I remember sitting down and reading together with my mom and at 5, it was also one of the first books that really taught me how to read by myself. (Also PS thinking of books for this question made me realize how rarely I get books as gifts now which makes me so sad? So hi friends and family, if you are reading this, my birthday / Christmas is coming up and if you were planning on getting a gift but aren't sure what to get, BOOKS would be super appreciated.)

Eye of Elena | A book you found right when you needed it

Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard was a book I read right when I was having some sort of existential crisis and questioning everything and feeling highly insecure about my future and stuff like that and when I picked it up, I was mostly just hoping for a fun reread of a book I knew was going to be good. I definitely didn't expect something that would hit me so hard and I don't know... it's hard to explain but if you read my review (which is linked in the title of the book!), you'll get a better grasp of sorta how this book moved me so much and how it came into my life at the exact right time.

Thank you to Hannah and Alexa once again for creating such a fun tag! I'm definitely in the mood to dive back into Throne of Glass and FINALLY read Queen of Shadows. Hope you guys enjoyed reading my answers as much as I enjoyed thinking of them!