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!

Monday, November 30, 2015

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
A Court of Thorns and Roses #1
Published May 5, 2015 by Bloomsbury Children's
Hardcover, 416 pages
Borrowed from library

(from Goodreads)

A thrilling, seductive new series from New York Times bestselling author Sarah J. Maas, blending Beauty and the Beast with faerie lore.

When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she's been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it... or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.

Perfect for fans of Kristin Cashore and George R. R. Martin, this first book in a sexy and action-packed new series is impossible to put down!

the premise

Feyre, a human girl living in Prythian, has been taught from childhood to fear and detest the faeries who live up north. They're monsters who have had a long history of terrorizing humans. Feyre has also been told to stay away from the woods as often as possible as faeries can sometimes pop up there and no human in the presence of a faerie ever survives. But one day in the woods, Feyre kills a wolf which unknowingly sets off a string of events that place her right in the grasps of the monsters she's been told to hate and fear all her life: faeries.


Three words: what a disappointment. Yes, you read that right: I am disappointed and let down by A Court of Thorns and Roses. I don't even know where to start to begin to explain why I feel this way; there were so many things that just absolutely did not work for me at all. And I try to refrain from comparing two different works by the same author to each other and yet I can't help myself from wondering just how it's possible for me to love Throne of Glass SO MUCH - it's one of my favourite series - and also despise A Court of Thorns and Roses at the same time? SORRY EXCUSE ME JUST GOING THROUGH A BOOKISH EXISTENTIAL CRISIS HERE. Can I still consider Sarah J. Maas a favourite author? Is Throne of Glass really THAT good if I didn't like this book? (Ok the answer to this question is still yes.) Are faeries just not for me? Do I not like sexy romances? I DON'T EVEN KNOW ANYMORE.

The one thing I do know though - the ONE positive thing that's come out from reading this book - is that I should trust my own preferences over hype. I mean, the amount of hype a book gets is usually a decent indication of the quality of a book but that doesn't mean that every single book that gets a lot of praise is going to work for you. I don't like books about faeries (although I do like retellings) but I read this book anyway, got my hopes up for something great and ended up being sorely disappointed. Being honest here, I think I would've read this book even if it wasn't widely lauded by basically everyone because Sarah J. Maas, yo, but my point still stands: trust yourself over everyone else. I think if I had gone into this book with the fact that I don't like books about faeries taken into consideration, I wouldn't have gotten my hopes so high and thus, been let down so badly. In reading all those reviews, I feel like I convinced MYSELF that I loved books about faeries because everyone else loved them and this book AND I REALLY REALLY DIDN'T LIKE THIS BOOK AND IT'S MAKING ME REALLY SAD.

I think the first thing I had issue with in this book was the writing and the pacing. We all know by now Sarah J. Maas is a good writer and her writing in A Court of Thorns and Roses certainly couldn't be called bad but boring? I'd consider it. Unlike Throne of Glass, I never felt drawn in by the writing. Maybe it was the first person narration and the fact that Feyre annoyed me to no end and maybe it was the fact that the story just wasn't every strong but I just never felt interested. Up until maybe the last quarter of the book, I was bored out of my skull. Nothing happened except the detailing of every single thing Feyre did while living under Tamlin and NONE OF IT WAS EXCITING. Thorough and descriptive writing of literally every single detail is kinda Sarah J. Maas' M.O. but the difference between Throne of Glass and this book is that Throne of Glass had characters I cared about and a straightforward and clear plot that was INTERESTING and UNIQUE and EXCITING. Without any of that in A Court of Thorns and Roses, Sarah's writing ended up being really really bland and the pacing of the story didn't help AT ALL. 

I think this is where A Court of Thorns and Roses runs into its next problem. So much happens in this book and often it was a jumbled mess. I failed to see the direction of the story while reading the book and even now having finished it, I still don't know where exactly this story is heading. Like, what is the point of this story? What is Feyre's purpose? I DON'T KNOW. I just felt like thing after thing after thing was happening and none of it really made any sense? None of it connected to m 

And also I just think the story was very weak in general. Feyre kills a faerie so Tamlin comes to tell her that her payment is a life for a life. Okay, so far so good. But then he takes her to his mansion where she basically lives in luxury and has a better life than she did in human-land? And there's a curse that forces Tamlin to wear a masquerade mask 24/7? Like okay? Sure? I'm not convinced though? 

And then the romance... OH MAN did I ever hate the romance. I just wasn't keen on Tamlin (or Feyre for that matter) as a character, as a love interest and though I knew right off the bat it was inevitable they'd end up together I still hated it. Talk about something else that didn't have me convinced... SO NOT BUYING IT. And then there were also scenes that kinda made me feel a little uncomfortable (the bonfire night for those who've read this book. YOU KNOW WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT). But I have to be honest that some of the kissing scenes were kinda exciting to read because EVERYTHING ELSE IN THE BOOK WAS SO DULL. So even though I hated Tamlin and Feyre and the romance, whenever there was progression on that front, it was like AT LEAST SOMETHING IN THIS BOOK IS GOING SOMEWHERE. Although the fact he permanently has a mask on just totally killed the mood for me during their kissing / sex scenes like in one scene he just starts going to town on her and like yay that should be exciting and sexy right but then you remember he has a mask on 24/7 and I don't think that would feel very comfortable? So ha ha but no thanks.

The one thing this book DID have going for it though was Rhysand (even though UGH I had problems with his character as well but he seemed to have the most depth of all the characters and I feel like he could be really interesting) and Lucien. Both very very interesting characters who I desperately want to see more of. Apart from that? This book was a total bust for me.

Unfortunately, A Court of Thorns and Roses wasn't for me AT ALL. The plot and the writing were dull and made it difficult for me to stay engaged with the story. I felt like the story was also sorta jumping all over the place and lagged on for quite a bit. Wasn't a fan of any of the characters really except for Lucien and Rhysand and wasn't a fan of the romance either. In my opinion, this book could have worked very well as a standalone (but I could also just be saying that because I don't want to continue the series) and I really hope it was. But no such luck. Just an all around disappointment

Having such strong opinions on this book, I don't think I can really recommend it? But if this sounds like something you think you'd like, go for it. Everyone has different dislikes and likes and I always want to say this whenever I write my reviews, especially my negative reviews: TAKE THEM WITH A GRAIN OF SALT. Something I love may be something you hate while something you hate may be something you love so I like to say to give everything an equal chance. (I also feel super guilty whenever I write a negative review and get comments like "I don't think I'm going to read this any more" so hopefully by writing this I'll feel less RESPONSIBLE)


Nikki @ There Were Books Involved gives it 5 stars: "I think I could literally talk about this book all day. Just writing this review has made me want to re-read it — to re-live the story and be with these characters again, ugh, they are so good."

Celine @ YA Midnight Reads gives it 1.5 stars: "The beginning was strong. I enjoyed Feyre and her stubbornness and I was ready for this. The writing was lush and imaginative, and I was immediately sucked into the story. But after that, things went downhill quickly."

Kelly @ Effortlessly Reading gives it 3.5 stars: "For people who were looking forward to reading A Court of Thorns and Roses because it’s a Beauty and the Beastretelling, I can tell you that on that aspect, it definitely doesn’t disappoint."

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Blog Announcement: Stepping Away Indefinitely

important updates and news regarding the runaway reader.

Hi guys, Annie here. I'm not quite sure what to say in this post besides the point of it which is that I'm taking a break from this blog indefinitely. And 'indefinitely', to me at least, always sounds a bit foreboding, like that something you think is going to happen but REALLY hope won't, will, in fact, occur. But in this context, I really do mean 'indefinitely' as in I will be making a return to this blog sometime in the future, I just don't know when yet.

Since returning from vacation in July, I haven't been active on this blog very much and recently I've tried to fix that but to be honest with you, I just haven't been in a great place physically or mentally lately. I feel like I just need a break from everything and take some time off for me to focus on feeling less stressed and less exhausted and less... everything. So needless to say, blogging is a part of that.

I wasn't initially planning on writing any sort of blog post to "announce" my break as I've practically been on a break since August but I guess it feels more comforting to me to make it official like this.

This is not the end. Just a break.

I'll be back. Love you guys and see you soon,

Annie xo

Saturday, October 3, 2015

September 2015 Monthly Recap

a look at how this past month went in my life, both on & off the blog

September's over and I'm not the least bit sad. Actually I'm REJOICING. September wasn't that bad for me but if you asked if I wanted to relive it, I would say no. It was that kind of month, you know? Not good but not the worst. It just felt like a trudge to get through. I can hardly believe that only 22 DAYS AGO I was still chilling at home on summer break. It feels like ages ago. My life since those first eight days of September has been essentially the exact opposite of relaxed. Oh and of course, to top it all off, I ended the month by catching the stomach flu! Yay!

what happened.

1. School started. This is obviously the big thing of the month. I started school! And while it's been great to see all my friends and teachers again, it's also been really stressful. I love all my classes and ended up with some really great teachers this year but just having to go through the ordeal of wondering who's in your classes, wondering where to sit, meeting new people again is always a little anxiety-inducing for me. I've also gotten a LOT of homework so far which of course isn't very fun. I definitely have a better organization system this year but I'm still very much a procrastinator so I'm trying to work on that. Overall though it really hasn't been that bad. Like I said, I've been enjoying all my classes (I'm taking math, english, biology, chemistry, ceramics, pre-AP french, world history to the 16th century and introduction to anthropology, psychology and sociology! I've been loving my biology, english, history and math classes which are all on the same day which SUCKS because then I have a great day and a shitty day when really it'd be so much nicer if they were equally good. The only one class I really regret taking though is pre-AP french. I feel like I'm in way over my head!) Plus, in a way, it is nice to get back into a routine and have something to do every day. For the last week of the summer break, I was basically DYING for school to start just because it was so monotonous to wake up and not have anything to do so in that way, it's been nice to return to school. But on the other hand, I've also had zero time to do anything but sleep, eat and do homework so there's that.

2. Other things I did in September: went to Momofuku, bought Queen of Shadows, FINALLY sorted out our internet/wifi, did not buy a dress I really liked, attended the Maple Leafs fan fest, strolled through a park, ate out a lot and baked muffins. So yes, I finally went to Momofuku and it was good! The cup they give you seemed a little small at first but they're actually quite generous with their soft serve so I found it was actually quite a decent amount. The only thing was the price which was SO expensive for an ice cream but I also wouldn't be opposed to buying it if I'm having it once every few months. I tried the milk soft serve with cornflakes (after reading Alexandra's experience with it in her ice cream post, one of my favourite posts of all time) but I would definitely be up for going back and trying their other flavours. And their cookies as well (slightly sad they don't have Klossies here though).

And I BOUGHT QUEEN OF SHADOWS. And it's a signed copy!! Let's not talk about how I still haven't read it yet (school OKAY) but at least, I own it which means I can find out any time I want what happens with Aelin and the gang.

We sorted out our internet which was great! I'm going to skip over this as it's not really interesting or exciting to anyone but me and my parents because we've been trying to get it done for SO LONG.

Major regret of the month: not buying a dress when I saw it on the rack. It was a dress I really really loved but I didn't get it the day I saw it and when I went back a week later, SOLD OUT. I can't even get it online because all the sizes are US only.

This next one is kind of a funny story. I was never really planning on going to fan fest but then a friend of mine got tickets so we went. And like it was fun but also not overly exciting? We didn't really get to meet any players but we got free tickets to a Marlies game which is cool so that's a thing I'll be looking forward to in October!

And yep, I went to a park that I'd never been to before and it was gorgeous. We also ate out a lot this month which is rare since usually we only eat out maybe 4 to 7 times a month? But we ate out a LOT this month so I had some really great food! And finally I baked muffins. Which probably very exctiing for most of you but I can't and don't bake so the fact that I made muffins and they tasted good is a breakthrough! Though I did bake them with a friend so maybe that's why they didn't end up horrible.

3. Mid Autumn Moon Festival. This month was also the mid-autumn moon festival and I don't know if it's strictly a Chinese thing or if other East Asians celebrate it as well? But yeah, we don't do a lot for the festival except for going out to dinner and eating mooncakes which are both fun things to do.

4. Stomach flu. Well this is definitely not fun. Technically speaking, it's October 2 and I still have it so it's not strictly a September thing but it started on the 30th and it has not been fun. I went to the hospital and they gave me Zofran so I've stopped vomiting which is VERY good but I still have a lot of pain and discomfort with my insides and am slightly dehydrated with a sore throat even though I've been drinking a lot of water. And I have the Taylor Swift concert tonight! Haha!

monthly playlist.

This month, I listened to a lot of RY X, The Arcs, Ben Howard (as his album I Forget Where We Were is perfect autumnal listening), Nic Hessler (Willa, if you're reading this, THANK YOU), Tove Styrke and Mamma Mia (since I watched the movie in FULL for the first time - I've only caught bits of it on TV but they've been from different moments in the movie so I've practically seen the entire thing out of order and in tiny snippets - and then my school insisted on playing a lot of Mamma Mia in the mornings which I'm not complaining about!).

currently reading, just finished & up next.

Thanks to school and just being really overwhelmed with all the things I have to do, I haven't really been reading very much. The last book I finished was Shopaholic to the Stars by Sophie Kinsella which I finished over two weeks ago. So yeah, I haven't finished any new books in two weeks but I am currently reading Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray, the follow up novel to The Diviners and it's really good but also slow going because it's soo long. But I think it's a safe bet to say I'll be able to finish it by the end of this month!

challenge updates.

Despite my best efforts, I've slacked off on all my challenges. I've stopped keeping track of what books count to which challenges so I can't tell you to save my life how far I've gotten into each challenge. I'll probably do a wrap up post near the end of the year and recount all the books I read that can be counted towards which goals but as of now, it's not really a top priority. BECAUSE SCHOOL.

highlights of the runaway reader.

what to expect in october.

I don't know how October's going to go blog-wise but as of now I would not expect a massive turnaround from how things were in September. I'm still recovering from my sickness and having taken a few days off from school, I have SO MUCH work to catch up on and so much stuff to do in general that it's making me a little terrified. But I think I'm almost certainly going to recap my experience at the Taylor Swift concert on Friday on the blog so you can look out for that in the next few days / weeks / whenever I get my shizz together? And of course, the follow up post to my back to school wishlist!

Do you guys have anything fun / interesting planned for October? How was your September? I haven't chatted with you guys in a while so talk to me in the comments!!

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)