Saturday, February 28, 2015

February 2015 Reflect & Renew

A monthly post looking back and reflecting on how the month went in terms of blogging and otherwise, as well as looking forward to the next month and "renewing" myself for all that's to come. (Get it?) Read on to find out what went down with me this month and what will go down next month!

what happened.

1. FREEZING WEATHER. Back in December, meteorologists reported a long and bitter winter for Canadians and I did not believe them. But in my defense, it was also ten degrees with no snow at all at a time where Toronto is usually already getting the worst winter has to offer. I BELIEVE YOU NOW, METEOROLOGISTS. I SHOULD HAVE NEVER HAVE DOUBTED YOU. As a Canadian, I think I'm pretty used to cold weather. -10 degrees celsius is like nothing to me, it's basically SUMMER but once we start hitting the -20s and the -30s excluding the windchill, that's where my limit breaks. Because the wind is the worst thing in the entire world. Cold weather with no wind is okay. Add in the wind and it's just eye watering, snot running, ears numbing EVERYWHERE. Hopefully this improves over the next few weeks but I'm not holding my breath.

2. So many books! I went on a slight book borrowing craze and now I have TOO many books that I don't have enough time to read and it's really stressing me out because between my homework and all the other commitments I have, I barely have enough time to read a book a week. Where can I go to get more hours in a day?

3. The power of music. This month, I witnessed a jam session on a subway like those ones you see on Youtube where a group just comes on the train with their instruments and start playing and singing? Honestly the best thing ever. It was a Sunday and a cold one so a particularly not fun day to be commuting so it just brightened up my whole day and I could see it made everyone else on the train so happy too. It was sorta beautiful because in that moment, we were all connected by the joy we felt from listening to the music and seeing the musicians' enthusiasm and I just can't articulate the feeling exactly but it was wonderful and beautiful and really made me think about the power of music and how it brings everyone together. And now I have vowed to myself to start learning how to play the piano again and learn how to play the guitar and about music so I can get in on that because it was truly a wonderful sight to see.

4. Two months gone already? Also, that. What the heck? Where is time going? I am not ready for this. Sloww down please!

latest obsessions. 

1. Spotify. I got back into extreme Spotify using again. It's just so convenient to track down songs I've heard on the radio or any of the other ways I learn about songs from and it's also so convenient for finding new music to listen to and love. Have not been able to live without it.

So speaking of Spotify, I've included my February playlist down below. And of course, tell me what songs you've been listening to this month and also whether or not you have Spotify and are as in love with it as I am?

2. Navel oranges. Perhaps this is a weird thing to include but I've had such a crazy obsession with them this month. I eat like twenty a week.

currently reading.

I am currently reading Blood Promise by Richelle Mead which is okay. I'm not that far into it but it's so long and I'm not that into this change of scenery. I miss St. Vladimir's and Lissa and Adrian and Christian and Dimitri and everyone else so it's really strange to be in Siberia now with everything totally different. Also reading Richard III by William Shakespeare for English class. It is okay, just very long and hate to say it, rather tedious in some areas. The dialogue is witty and charming, as you'd expect from Shakespeare but the overall storyline just isn't that enjoyable for me. Maybe it's a crime to say that but I stand by it. I've also read a little into Women In Clothes which is a compilation of different essays, surveys and projects done by women on clothes. Very interesting. It's a little like a Rookie magazine for adult women about clothes only. And finally I've finished the first short story of My True Gave To Me, the Stephanie Perkins holiday anthology. Hoping to finish by this weekend!

challenge updates.

  • The 2015 Goodreads Challenge: 14 books read so far which means I'm actually 3 books AHEAD of schedule. This has never happened to me before so I am very excited, though knock on wood because I want it to last.
  • 2015 Debut Author Challenge: Uh zero still. But I'm working on it. Trust me.
  • Flights of Fantasy: Three now so HA, I am making progress! This is thanks to Throne of Glass, Shadow Kiss (which is paranormal fantasy so it counts!) and Crown of Midnight.
  • 2015 Bookish Bingo Challenge: Last month I had three. This month I have 12. Still far from completing the card but good for a month right? And once I finish Richard III, I'll be able to cross off two more.
  • 2015 Classics Challenge: Zero but wait for Richard III okay? Because I'm going to be done soon and THEN, I'll have one.
  • 2015 Contemporary Challenge: Three books due to the addition of Lock and Key and Girl Online. Maybe I should have thought of counting Pushing the Limits...
  • 2015 Discussion Challenge: Oh, uh, zero? Oops.
  • 2015 TBR Pile: Crossed two more off of my TBR list (Girl Online and Throne of Glass)
  • Hail to the King: Nilch.
  • Popsugar 2015 Reading Challenge: Seven more crossed off this month! I think I'm making good progress here!
  • Fairytale Retelling Challenge: Nada
  • Reread Challenge: I've been rereading the Shopaholic series so my reread of Shopaholic Takes Manhattan brings my count to two.
  • Dive Into Diversity: I added one for Girl Online because Penny has anxiety which is DIVERSITY.
  • Around the World Challenge: I added a few for my mini challenges and the map as well but nothing outstanding. If you want to know how I've been doing though, don't forget to view my map on the Challenge page!

highlights of the runaway reader.

what to expect in march.

  • Getting back on track with the blog so I might be taking it slow until I get things sorted out again.

that's my february! tell me how yours went in the comments.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Love-A-Thon 2015: Introductory Questionnaire

I am so excited to once again be participating in the Book Blogger Love-a-Thon! This is my third year in the running and I cannot even express to you how pumped I am. Since I first joined in in 2013, the Love-a-Thon has consistently been something I look forward to each year. It’s such a great opportunity to connect with awesome new bloggers and SPREAD THE LOVE. The blogosphere can be a nasty and toxic space sometimes and I've started to see that more and more recently which is why it’s so great we have the Love-a-Thon to remind us what blogging is really about and all the great things about the blogosphere and the people a part of it.

However, unfortunately this year I actually have a really busy weekend with IMPORTANT things to do that I cannot move. The past two years, I've always blocked off the weekend of the Love-a-Thon on my calendar so I can stay in all 48 hours (except for maybe a tiny walk to the grocery store for errands or Tim Horton’s for a donut) and just have a great, relaxing weekend of blogging and reading FUN. I tried to do that again this year but as it turns out, it just wasn't going to happen. WHICH MAKES ME SO SAD because there is honestly nothing more I want than to hang out with you guys. But I can’t so THAT SUCKS. I have pre-scheduled all the posts (like this one) to go up this weekend instead of writing them as I go along as I did last year so I’m not missing out anything. But the things I can’t pre-schedule like the commenting and the replying to comments and the random acts of kindness will probably have to hold until Monday or whenever I have a chance to get to them this coming week though I will try to get to as many as I can during the Love-a-Thon. Same thing for the chats.

EDIT 2/19/2015: I have not gotten to the scheduled posts yet because haha guys guess what else is dooming me for this Love-A-Thon. NO INTERNET. Our plan only renews on the 23rd after the Love-A-Thon and as of today, I have TWO GIGABYTES LEFT. I told my mom, she does not understand how I managed to do it YET AGAIN. Blame streaming. Not my fault. So therefore, I'm really trying to conserve in case I need it for emergency purposes/school/priorities. I'll see if I can type up the other posts in time but MAYBE NOT. They still sound fun so... I might do them after the Love-A-Thon. Totally cheating, I know. Ah well.

Um, so that’s that, I guess. That spiel might have been a little useless… I think it was more to reassure MYSELF and make ME feel better about missing out on everything this year than actually information you would actually care about. But anyway, that’s besides the matter.

Let the 2015 Love-a-Thon festivities commence! And kicking us off is my introductory questionnaire!

1. What is your name?
My name is Annie!

2. Where in the world are you blogging from?
Toronto, Canada, my lovely hometown. It truly is a great city even though we get a lot of flak from the rest of Canada for being rude and obnoxious but I swear that’s not true at all! We’re all really kind people and our city has incredible diversity and so many fabulous festivals and places to visit. If you’re planning a trip here any time soon, I HAVE LOTS OF SUGGESTIONS FOR YOU.

3. How did you get into blogging in the first place?
After a boring summer. It’s been my third year of blogging (I think?) which means I started blogging in 2012. I don’t remember that summer too clearly except for the fact I was SO bored on my vacation because it was TWO MONTHS LONG and we’d already seen everything we wanted to see and all that remained was just a lot of catching up with family and hot, hot weather and I know I sound ungracious but at the time, I really was so bored. I flew through like thirty books that summer which is so much more than I ever read. And after blowing through those books, I started searching books on the Internet which led me to Elizabeth Eulberg’s author blog which then led me to Katie’s Book Blog which then led me to all the other book blogs out there which then motivated me to start my own blog, Random Reads (which obviously I no longer blog at) in August of 2012. And yeah, I actually remember the exact sequence of occurrences that led me here!

4. How did you come up with your blog name?
My first blog was Random Reads, as mentioned above and that came from an email that I had created back in the fourth or fifth grade (that I embarrassingly still use for pretty much everything). It was randomreader which I thought was SO smart at the time and unique because oh my god, who would know it? I was both RANDOM and a READER.

Pigs. (Random, right? Wait a few seconds… HAHA GET IT??)

So I thought it would be fitting after having that handle for so long that my first book blog would be named after it. When I decided to create a new blog in 2013, alliteration was something I really had my mind set on. And I knew I also wanted ‘reader’ to be a part of the name so I literally flipped to a random page in the R section of the dictionary and took the first word I saw that would work which was ‘runaway’. Honestly I don’t think it makes a lot of sense but I do like it more than Random Reads so there’s that… I have heard a pretty good logical explanation of my blog name though about how books are an escape and as a reader, I run away to books to escape (which definitely, definitely made a lot more sense being told to me than now as I’m telling you).

5. What genre do you read and review the most on your blog?
I read the most contemporary so I think it would make sense that most of the reviews on my blog are also for contemporaries? Which reminds me that YES I HAVE BEEN PARTICULARLY SUCKY AT BLOGGING. I will work on it.

6. What other types of posts do you do on your blog, apart from reviews?
Really anything that strikes my fancy at the moment. I've done Top Ten Tuesday posts, discussions and monthly recap posts. I have a bunch of features I do as well: some on covers, others on ‘just bookish things’ and yet others on books I want to read and places I want to visit and music I enjoy and films I've seen. I do Life of Blogger posts and lists of my favourite drinks at Starbucks and really anything, ANYTHING I want. Some things not even book related.

7. Best blogging experience so far?
The Book Blogger Love-a-Thon!! Seriously though, the Love-a-Thon is always such a great experience for me. I love doing all the fun challenges and commenting and finding new bloggers and talking to everyone. It’s always been a lot of fun.

8. Favourite things about the blogging community?
Obviously I love the books otherwise I wouldn't have joined the community. I love finding out about new books and discussing books but more than all of that, I love the people. The book blogging community really has some of the nicest, sweetest people ever. I am so so grateful for blogging as it’s given me the opportunity to talk to and become good friends with so many fabulous people that I wouldn't have met otherwise.

9. Name the 5 books you’re most excited for in 2015.
P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han because I loved To All the Boys I've Loved Before and Lara Jean is my literal BFF while Peter is my literal BF.

The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski because Arin and Kestrel.

Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling because she’s Mindy Kaling and I absolutely adored her last memoir and love The Mindy Project.

Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen because even though I haven’t had a good experience with her books since The Truth About Forever and This Lullaby, I am not giving up hope that I will one day stumble upon another Dessen I love.

A Whole New World: A Twisted Tale by Liz Braswell because Aladdin. Do I really need to say anything else? And retellings. Basically everything right with the world.

10. What’s an underrated book you think everyone should read?
Oh man, talk about a tough question. I am not going to say Boy on Ice because I've said that so many times over already and wish as I might, everyone will NOT read it because it’s not in everyone’s interest. Although it is very good so if you’re interested in athletes and hockey you should definitely pick it up.

I guess on another Young Adult related note, an underrated book to read is Torn Away by Jennifer Brown which is about the aftermath of a horrible tornado. It’s quite a short book but it packed all the emotional punches. I have never felt a story as viscerally as I did with Torn Away. Small Damages is another lesser-known book that I quite enjoyed as well.

11. Which book boy or girl would be your book BFF?
Well since I've already made a post all about how we’d be a perfect match, I’m going to go with Lara Jean from To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han. (Oh and add to that list the fact we both like under-ripe green bananas.)

12. Apart from reading, what are your other hobbies and interests?
Apart from reading, I also enjoy pottery which I've been doing for maybe two years now and I love it. My school actually has ceramics as a class you can take which is fabulous because that means I can continue with pottery during school time and get a credit for it! We don’t do a lot of wheel stuff since there are only maybe 15 for a class of 30 which is unfortunate because that’s what I tend to like but the not-wheel stuff is fun as well.

I also like listening to music and am always up for new music (which is a plea for you to please drop some music recommendations in the comments below!). I also like watching TV although I cannot commit to a show for my life and watching movies although I also cannot commit to a full length movie unless I’m being forced to watch it or it’s a rom-com. Swimming is another thing I've come to like and on the topic of sports, I also like watching soccer (but only when my favourite team in the entire world, Germany, is playing) and watching the Leafs lose.

And shopping is always fun, as is eating and sleeping.

13. Apart from book shopping, what do you like shopping for?
Wow, smooth transition much! I swear I did not plan that one.

And to answer your question, EVERYTHING. I like shopping for everything. There is not a thing I will not like shopping for. It’s really a shame that I’m not a billionaire and therefore, cannot actually buy all the things I want but give me the money and WATCH ME GO. I’ll buy kitchen utensils, clothes, perfume, soap, food, random wooden flowers… Really anything. I have a slight problem in that I’m always seeing things I want.

Some of my favourite stores to visit at the mall include:

- Indigo/Chapters

- Williams Sonoma

- Sephora

- Bath and Body Works

- The Body Shop

- Urban Outfitters (and all the other clothing stores like Aritzia, American Eagle, Forever 21, H & M, Anthropologie, Brandy Melville, Topshop and etc. Even though I might not get anything, I can still drool over the clothes right and imagine they are on me?)

- I can’t think of anything else.

14. At a party, the DJ suddenly changes the song and it’s your song. What song would be playing?
Oh god, probably a Taylor Swift song because I hardcore jam to her like always. Maybe Blank Space or I Knew You Were Trouble (which I will happily announce I know all the harmonies too) because those are the best Taylor songs to jam to.


And because this question reminds me a lot of This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales, I’m going to add my favourite Smiths song, Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now, in honour of all the indie clubs I will go to in the future in which I will make sure the DJ actually switches it to that.

15. Pick out either a book you want turned into a film/TV show or a book film/TV show you want turned into a book.
This is so hard! I can’t think of any book I’d want to be turned into a film OR a show. They’re just two different mediums and it’s hard for me to comprehend how a book that’s SO GOOD at being just a book would end up as a show or a film. I think there are other people better qualified to make that decision of whether or not to adapt this piece of literature and vice versa with the film/TV show thing. Although I do have dreams of better Vampire Academy and Percy Jackson adaptations.

And since I’m still not quite to let you guys go, here are some rapid-fire question and answers.

1. Favourite colour?

2. Order at Chipotle?
A chicken burrito with white rice, corn salsa, tomato salsa, pinto beans, lettuce, cheese, green peppers and sour cream

3. Chocolate or vanilla?
Chocolate always

4. Cold or hot?
Cold because you can always put on more layers and be warm! There are only so many layers you can take off when you’re hot until you’re just perpetually uncomfortable and sticky

5. Coffee or tea?
Coffee always. I will never understand the love for tea ever. The only time I can stand it is when it’s been diluted by tons of milk and sugar.

And now we've really reached the end. Thank you for reading so far, I know that was a pretty long introductory questionnaire but hopefully you've learned a little bit more about me! If you've done this questionnaire as well, link yours below in the comments. Do we have anything in common? And if you haven’t done this questionnaire, pick one (or a few) questions to answer so we can all get to know each other a little better!

See you guys back at noon when my first mini challenge goes up!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

January 2015 Wrap Up

Back at it again this month! January wasn't a fantastic reading month for me (I only managed to finish five books) but I haven't slacked off on my Goodreads challenge yet! I'm even one book ahead! So hurrah for that! And this month I've also decided to include a little something extra that will probably become a regular thing in the monthly wrap up. Curious to find out what it is? You'll have to read until the end!

Completed January 4, 2015
A cute memoir about one woman's life SO FAR without a single date. A different type of memoir but also really interesting. Katie Heaney was absolutely HILARIOUS in her narration which made arguably "unordinary" situations like having a crush on a boy in kindergarten and writing about him in your diary and thinking you were instantly married really interesting as if it wasn't something that we've all gone through. There were some parts that were hard for me to get through especially after a while when it just seemed to be roughly the same story over and over but all in all, really enjoyable!

Just One Year by Gayle Forman
4 out of 5 stars
Completed January 11, 2015
I'm glad to have finally finished the Just One Day duology because now I know what everyone is raving about! While I enjoyed Just One Year and Willem's view of things, Just One Day is still always going to be my favourite. For me, Just One Year just didn't have that same emotional impact although the same Gayle Forman prose we all know and love is here! And the travelling but even more so this time! I definitely think being able to follow Willem on his globetrotting adventures was my favourite bit of the book.

Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella
4 out of 5 stars
Completed January 20, 2015
I was missing myself some Sophie Kinsella so I decided I'd reread Confessions of a Shopaholic so I could get to Shopaholic to the Stars. It's been so many years that the movie version has become more familiar to me so it was weird to read the book and be like "That's not what happened!" I did still thoroughly enjoy it though. Sophie Kinsella will always continue to make me laugh and cheer me up. Becky Bloomwood is amazing and I will eagerly binge read the rest of the series while awaiting Sophie Kinsella's next release. The perfect book for gloomy wintry days.
4 out of 5 stars
Completed January 25, 2015
Pushing the Limits was a "hey, why not?" book for me last year. It wasn't a book I'd usually be inclined to pick up but after all the positivity, I thought I'd give it a shot. And I ended up really enjoying it so I thought I NEED MORE and picked the next book, Dare You To, up as well. Which I think I may have liked even more than Pushing the Limits. If you've read Katie McGarry you know that there's something SO addictive about her writing and her stories. I COULD NOT STOP READING. And so many swoons and feels.  

4 out of 5 stars
Completed January 27, 2015
After reading and thoroughly enjoying Dare You To, I HAD to pick this book up immediately. And again, I LOVED IT. I think Isaiah might be my favourite boy out of all of them and his and Rachel's story was just so good. Katie McGarry sorta took a bit of a darker turn with this book with drag car races (is that what it's called?) that gave me all sorts of KAVINSKY/THE RAVEN BOYS thoughts. Again, really well written and so addictive. The only thing that bugged me were the pet names and the use of possessives by Isaiah. Much like Ryan and Noah before him, there was a lot of MY girl and weird pet names like angel (not as bad as nymph, I will say) that just made me really uncomfortable. But that is a minor detail in consideration of all the other things about this book and THIS series that makes it such a treat to read!

Favourite book of the month.

A hard call to make because there were so many good books I read this month but in the end, I have to go with Just One Year. Super well written with a travelling aspect I LOVED and really just everything I could ever want in a contemporary.

Least favourite book of the month.

What a great month it was to have my least favourite book be only a THREE-STAR read! By all means, Never Have I Ever was not a bad book but in comparison to the other books I read, it was definitely my least favourite.


My January, reading-wise! How did your January go? What were your favourite and least-favourite books? Do you like the idea of including favourite and least favourite books in my wrap up? Looking forward to hearing your thoughts!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Series Review: Burn for Burn by Jenny Han & Siobhan Vivian

The Burn for Burn Series Review

general overview.

What is the series about?
Oh MAN, where do I begin? Well, first off our three main characters are Lillia, Kat and Mary. That's a good place to start. And though they become good friends later on in the series, at the beginning they don't really know each other. They only meet and bond together when they discover that each of them has one person they'd really love to get revenge on. So they develop a series of revenge plans to get back at their respective person. But things don't go as planned. In fact, things get REALLY crazy and out of hand. 

Expect a lot of crashing and burning in terms of relationships, boys, kissing, pretending, fire, dying, cliffs, car crashes and maybe something of the fantastical nature.

How did you hear about this series?
From the blogosphere, where else? Back in 2012 (I think), I heard about Burn for Burn even before it was published on a blog and immediately went I WANT TO READ IT NOW. It took me a while to get to it (like two years) but it happened.

What attracted you to the series?
Revenge. I love revenge plots in my books. They're just so exciting. And always add such an interesting villainy dynamic to the characters. Like the Breaking Bad situation (note: I haven't actually watched Breaking Bad. I just know about it). The characters are doing horrible horrible things but yet... you can't help but root for them. And if you're being honest - or if I am - it secretly gives you a thrill to read about all these heinous activities. 

I swear I'm not murderous or evil. I just think about these things?

series breakdown.

Burn for Burn (Book #1) | See my review here
Burn for Burn centers mostly on Lillia, Kat and Mary and their revenge plots to get back at the people they don't like: Alex, Rennie and Reeve respectively. Although I thought that some of the revenge plots went a bit too far and were unlikely to occur in a real high school environment, I quickly learned that Burn for Burn isn't about all things real. It's very much like Pretty Little Liars in the sense that everything occurs in its own little world and while there aren't any crazy, totally impossible things occurring like witchcraft or wizardry, it's the fact that there's just so much drama that makes it seem highly unrealistic. But apart from that, Burn for Burn was a hit for me as a first novel! I was fascinated by Lillia, Kat and Mary's stories and was HOOKED. Could not wait to read the second book.

Fire with Fire (Book #2) | See my review here
Fire with Fire... what can I say about this book that I haven't already said? I spent so many weeks gushing about this book following my read that I don't know what there is left to say. I loved Fire with Fire with ALL of my heart. An absolute home run for me. I gave the first book five stars but I loved this one even more. If I could, I would have given it six stars. I can't even explain why I loved it as much as I did. Just everything from the way the story continued to how the characters were developed was PERFECT. I still get chills thinking of this book because DAMN IT WAS AMAZING.

Ashes to Ashes (Book #3) | See my review here
Oh Ashes to Ashes.. you disappointed me. I didn't hate you - like you were still addicting as Jenny Han & Siobhan Vivian novels usually are - but I didn't love you either. I don't blame you though because Fire with Fire was a hard act to follow considering how much I loved it. And the thing is, when it comes down to it I blame myself more than you. Because going in I had so many preconceptions of how I wanted the book to end that if it was written any differently, I would have been upset. And I was. I don't want to be mean or rude but secretly I pretend this book never happened and the series ended with Fire with Fire leaving me to fill in the ending myself. Because frankly I prefer mine much more. The ending to Ashes to Ashes was just incredibly disappointing and also sorta confusing? Like not really sure what happened to the characters there...

What was your favourite book?
Without a doubt, Fire with Fire. Could you tell? The characters were fantastic, the plot was so interesting and fascinating and EVERYTHING WAS JUST SO GOOD. I flew through Fire with Fire. Literally. I could not put this book down while I was reading it. I was just so invested and so in love and sigh.. just amazing. I honestly wish I could relive my reading experience with Fire with Fire!

What was your least favourite book?
Well I hate to say it but sorry, Ashes to Ashes. You just didn't live up to my expectations. I admit a lot of it was my fault for getting too carried away and attached with how I wanted the story to end but objectively speaking.. I think you still would have been my least favorite. Just because the ending was so unsatisfying REGARDLESS. Half of the characters we'd stuck so long with were ignored and I didn't feel everyone got what they deserved in the end. Still addicting and I read it in like three days but in comparison, definitely my least favourite. 

in detail.

What was your reaction upon finishing the series?
I guess, disappointment from the ending of the third book... I wasn't super angry or upset, more like mild disappointment. A let down. A let down in which you're more sad than actually mad. I had just hoped for more. I had hoped for good endings for all the characters that I had come to love so much. I didn't even need happy! Just... good. If it made sense. If justice was served. And I just didn't think that happened for a lot of the characters. 

But also content. I was happy to have finished the series because lord knows how rare that is. Honestly, Ashes to Ashes really put a damper on my Burn for Burn/Fire with Fire enthusiasm but in the end, I was happy to have been able to ride along with Lillia, Kat and Mary although when I finished the last page, the story had developed so far away from what it first was in Burn for Burn that it was almost as if I was reading a totally different story. I still don't know how I feel about that. 

Was the pacing good?
I'd say yes. It's also been a while since I finished this series so I can't be sure but I thought that things developed really nicely over all three books. There was an overarching storyline but I also felt like each book sorta dealt with their own individual conflict which was really fun and interesting.

Was the ending satisfying?
No.. I've said so many times already but I'll repeat myself just because this question is asking for it: I wasn't hugely disappointed but I wasn't happy either. I really felt the ending only focused on what happened with Lillia and ignored everybody else which bothered me because I really wanted to know that justice was served and everyone got what they deserved, whether it was a happy ending or not so much. But instead, I was left with a lot of questions which sucked after reading about these characters that I came to care for so much.

What did you like about the series?
The characters. Especially Kat, Lillia and Reeve who ended up growing on me so much from the first book to the second. I loved the writing which just read so smoothly and flowed so nicely. I loved the idea of revenge plots in the first book and then how that developed into a really intricate story later on in the next two books. I loved how the books made me FEEL and reminded me why I love reading so much. Jenny Han & Siobhan Vivian threw me into this world and I absolutely loved it. Didn't want to leave. Made me forget about my actual surroundings. Made me relate so much and feel so much. All things I look forward to when I read. 

What didn't you like about the series/what could have been better?
Is it mean to say the last book? Because overall I was pretty satisfied with everything. Even the last book which was my least favourite FOR SURE was still great and got three stars because Jenny and Siobhan are GENIUSES who hook me with their captivating characters and stories no matter what. But... I do still wish things ended a little differently. Apart from that, nothing really!

final thoughts.

Who would you recommend this to?
Fans of Pretty Little Liars might enjoy this. Also if you're looking for a contemporary with a twist and LOTS of action, this series should be right up your alley! It's fun, exciting with interesting characters and solid writing. 

Final verdict?
This series is WORTH your time. If everything I've described about the series so far sounds like what you like, READ IT. I know I wasn't too keen on the last book but even though it was my least favourite, it was still incredibly good. The ending admittedly did damper my overall enthusiasm but I still had such a great time reading this series. It reminded me of WHY I love to read because it gave me all these wonderful experiences and feelings that I only get with a book. So if Burn for Burn sounds like your type of book, read it and then we can discuss!


And that's a wrap on my very first series review! Tell me, have you read this series? And if so, what did you think of it? Or if you haven't yet, have I convinced you? Or maybe you've come to the decision that it's just not for you. And finally, since this is my first series review, what did you think of the format? Did you like it? Or did you not like it? What could be improved/added? Looking forward to hearing your thoughts!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

January 2015 Reflect & Renew

A monthly post looking back and reflecting on how the month went in terms of blogging and otherwise, as well as looking forward to the next month and "renewing" myself for all that's to come. (Get it?) Read on to find out what went down with me this month and what will go down next month!

what happened.

1. Dog sledding trip. This feels like it happened ages ago but really it was just one month ago. At the beginning of January, my family and I headed out to Algonquin Park a little north of Toronto for some winter fun before I had to head back to school. We only stayed up there for three days and two nights but it was amazing! At that point, we hadn't gotten snow in Toronto yet so it was so nice to be able to play in all the snow and take in the beautiful views. I felt like a kid again! (Though I am still very much a kid so I don't really think that statement holds up.) And as the title suggests, we did get to go dog sledding which was so freaking cool. The dogs were ADORABLE. I've never even really considered myself to be a dog person but I think that's changed after the trip. So yep, I had a really great time on this trip. Though we did get into a teeny car accident because driving during the winter sucks... But all is well now.

2. Back to school! Ugh gross. I was so content doing nothing over my winter break! But school has been okay. Not horrible. I mean, we did get a TRUCK load of homework after the break which is so weird because we just got back from break? That made me so stressed but luckily, things are easing now. I have a midterm coming up and a math test as well that I really haven't even begun to study for but apart from that, nothing else. Though, knock on wood because I don't want to jinx anything even though I'm pretty sure more's coming.

3. Flu. Another highlight of my January. I was sick for a solid week this month. It could have been worse but it was already pretty bad so I can't even begin how "worse" would look like. I had a high fever and jumped between shivering and sweating and coughed like CRAZY. And while I've recovered from it, I also think that that period of sickness has really taken a toll on my body? Does that even make sense? Or maybe it's just my horrible sleeping patterns catching up with me but I feel so tired and dizzy so often now and I get migraines a lot more too. It might be hereditary if there's such a thing because my mom gets that feeling a lot as well but maybe it's just me...

4. World Junior Gold/Toronto Maple Leafs. So yay, Canada won gold in the World Juniors! I think this was the first time we've won the championship since like 2009? So that was nice. But what's not so nice is the Toronto Maple Leafs currently... It physically hurts me to watch any of their games now. It's just sooo bad. So hopeless. Still, I'm crossing my fingers that they'll go on an upswing soon because they're inconsistent like that and because I just need something to hold onto.

5. Reading not-slump. Back in November/December, I was in the worst reading slump where I just did not want to read anything. And now? It's waaay opposite. I'm so excited about reading for the first time in like four months and there are so many books I want to read that I can't even read fast enough to keep up. I can't say it's a bad feeling though.

latest obsessions. 

1. Overdrive. I started using Overdrive this month to borrow eBooks from my library. And I'm obsessed. Because it means not having to get up from my couch to get books to read. Although the wait time is extraordinarily long and I'm not sure why I have to wait even when there are FOUR copies available and only TWO people including me with a hold on it. How does that make any sense? But I'm so lazy that I'm willing to wait five months for a book if it means I don't have to walk to my library. Isn't that so sad?

2. Google Keep. I love making to-do lists and found this app this month and am IN LOVE. I used to use Any.Do but the thing was with Any.Do, I couldn't have multiple types of lists and see them all at a glance whereas with Keep, I can. I've gotten into the habit of using this app in lieu of my actual agenda instead of in addition to which is a bit of a problem because that will throw off my entire organization system so I need to work on that.

3. Elevate. A brain training app. Sorta like Lumosity except not. And free, for the most part anyway. I don't know if I'm actually getting smarter/increasing my brain power because it doesn't say though I have a feeling that it isn't really doing anything at all... But the games are a lot of fun so I've been sticking with this! There are three individual mini games you can play each day that work different parts of your brain like speaking, reading etc. And they're all really entertaining! Good for commutes.

4. Trivia Crack. So I actually have yet to download this app but I've played a few rounds with my friends and am in love because I'm actually such a trivia nerd. I don't know if I have space on my phone for it because I have a dumb Samsung that only allows me 2GB OF SPACE!! Which is nothing! But we'll see...

5. The Newsroom. My friend recommended this to me and I watched a few episodes while I was sick. I'm really slow with watching TV shows so I'm still only on episode 6 but I've really enjoyed it so far. Honestly I like the part where they report the news much more than all the other parts. I learned so much about the BP oil spill just from the pilot alone! But everything else is good as well. I love Jim and Maggie and am kinda rooting for them. Olivia Munn's character is fantastic and I love Neal. And Mackenzie and Will...

6. Bankrupt! by Phoenix, good kid m.A.A.d city by Kendrick Lamar and Every Kingdom by Ben Howard. Album obsessions! I usually don't listen to entire albums but these were on hand so I listened and am IN LOVE. Prior to this month, I only knew about two or three songs from each of these albums that I really liked and now I've just found so many more I'm enjoying. Really all I listened to in January.

currently reading.

I was in a contemporary mood (and also at a point where I really needed to get cracking on my Contemporary challenge) so I picked up Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen. Not expecting to love this book but it has been that nice and comforting in its familiarity which is exactly how I expect Dessen books to be. I've also started on one chapter of Girl Online by Zoe Sugg. Don't know if I'll make it honestly. My eyes glazed over just reading the first page. It was also late though... But I don't want to throw in the towel just yet because the story does sound intriguing, contemporary challenge and also I love Zoe as a youtuber. Oh, and finally - Richard III by William Shakespeare. Reading this for school but it's actually really interesting! I'm incredibly fascinated by Shakespeare as a literature lover so reading it and looking at it in class has been so fun. His wording and phrases are just... amazing. Like wow.

challenge updates.

  • The 2015 Goodreads Challenge: I'm on track! For the first time ever! Woohoo! I've read 6 books so far towards my 70 book goal so things are looking good.
  • 2015 Debut Author Challenge: Err... zero. Which is okay because I typically don't get to debut novels until later on in the year. So I'm not worried about this. Yet. Although I did put down one debut a month...
  • Flights of Fantasy: Zero so far as well. But I am reading Throne of Glass very soon so there's that...
  • 2015 Bookish Bingo Challenge: This card is so much harder to fill out than I thought so I've only managed to cross off three so far (Book by someone under 30 - Never Have I Ever by Katie Heaney, Memoir - Never Have I Ever, and Second book in a series - Just One Year)
  • 2015 Classics Challenge: Again, zero. But once I finish Richard III, I'll have one because Shakespeare is a classic right? And then I'm also planning on reading 1984 soonish so hopefully I'll have two done by February!
  • 2015 Contemporary Challenge: One book which was Just One Year by Gayle Forman. I suppose I could also count the Pushing the Limits books I read but to me, I sorta categorize them more as romance so I didn't allow myself to put that towards the end count.
  • 2015 Discussion Challenge: My goal was one discussion a month and in January, I wrote two! So hurrah!
  • 2015 TBR Pile: Two checked off! (Never Have I Ever by Katie Heaney and Hockey Confidential by Bob McKenzie)
  • Hail to the King: Zero... 
  • Popsugar 2015 Reading Challenge: Crossed off five for memoir, book set somewhere you've wanted to visit, book turned into movie, female author and non-fiction book.
  • Fairytale Retelling Challenge: Zero
  • Reread Challenge: I reread one book in January! Yay! (That was Confessions of a Shopaholic)
  • Dive Into Diversity: This challenge is a little bit of a CHALLENGE because I'm not exactly sure what they're looking for. Diversity is a little bit of a vague term... but I counted Dare You To to this challenge just because it deals with a familial dynamic that's very different from mine and Beth also comes from a background that's very different from mine. So still not sure if that's what the challenge is asking for but I went with it anyway because it is diverse from my experience.
  • Around the World Challenge: I did really well on my map this month thanks to globetrotting Willem in Just One Year. I also filled out some mini challenges but I'll update you at the end. View my map on the Challenge page!

highlights of the runaway reader.

what to expect in february.

  • The 2015 Love-a-Thon hosted by Alexa Loves Books. Yes, I'm joining in again!
  • Plus, a slew of posts that should've gone up months ago. Still in the process of figuring things out. Bear with me!

and that's it! tell me what you did this month in the comments. and stay tuned for another month filled with blogging goodness!