Top Ten Bookish Things That I Would Love To Own

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly book meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week, she posts an idea relating to books and encourages other book bloggers to respond with their own top ten lists.

This week’s topic is “top ten bookish things (not books) that you would love to own.” This list was surprisingly easy to compile, since I had all of these things bookmarked so that I could send them to anyone inquiring about what they should get me for my birthday/Christmas.

1. The Little Prince shirt (or any shirt from Out of Print Clothing)
I just think this shirt is so cute. And it’d be ample motivation for me to finally read the book, since it’s been on my to-read list forever.

2. Time-Turner Necklace
This is absolutely gorgeous. As a huge fan of Harry Potter, and Hermione in particular, and as someone who never seems to have enough time in their day, I think this would suit me perfectly. (Found on Etsy)

3. Marauder’s Map Mug
I just love how this heat-sensitive mug changes to say “I solemnly swear I am up to no good,” and even includes the footsteps seen on the Map.

4. Bookish Phone Cases
I recently upgraded to an iPhone, so I’m slightly obsessed with finding the perfect phone case, and The Sorcerer’s Phone‘s Etsy shop has so many nice, handmade ones. Harry Potter, Divergent, The Fault in Our Stars, The Hunger Games… I just really want all of them.

5. Book Necklaces
I think these miniature book necklaces are such a cute idea. What better way to show off your favourite books? (Found on Etsy)

6. Thror’s Map from The Hobbit
Although I have next-to-no wall space left in my bedroom, I would love to have this hanging up in my house somewhere. (Found on Etsy)

7. Little Free Library
I would love to start one of these, eventually. It’s such a nice idea: sharing books with the world, and having them share their favourites in return.

8. Dictionary Quote TOMS
I love this pattern. And, from what I’ve heard, the dictionary definitions that are included are inspiring and meaningful words – not just any random ones.

9. Bookish Throw Pillows
Throw pillows are, quite possibly, some of my favourite things. My small bed has six of them on it. My couch is unfortunately deprived of throw pillows, so these bookish ones would find a good home there.

10. Belle’s Library from Beauty and the Beast
I know this isn’t something that I can just go out and buy, but I would absolutely love to have my own library, complete with winding staircases and moving stepladders.

What bookish things are on your wishlist? Leave me a list or a link to your list in the comments below.

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Book Review: Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty

Rating: ★★★★

“My parents suck ass. Banning me from the phone and restricting my computer privileges are the most tyrannical parental gestures I can think of. Don’t they realize that Hope’s the only one who keeps me sane? . . . I don’t see how things could get any worse.”

When her best friend, Hope Weaver, moves away from Pineville, New Jersey, hyperobservant sixteen-year-old Jessica Darling is devastated. A fish out of water at school and a stranger at home, Jessica feels more lost than ever now that the only person with whom she could really communicate has gone. How is she supposed to deal with the boy- and shopping-crazy girls at school, her dad’s obsession with her track meets, her mother salivating over big sister Bethany’s lavish wedding, and her nonexistent love life?

A fresh, funny, utterly compelling fiction debut by first-time novelist Megan McCafferty, Sloppy Firsts is an insightful, true-to-life look at Jessica’s predicament as she embarks on another year of teenage torment–from the dark days of Hope’s departure through her months as a type-A personality turned insomniac to her completely mixed-up feelings about Marcus Flutie, the intelligent and mysterious “Dreg” who works his way into her heart. Like a John Hughes for the twenty-first century, Megan McCafferty taps into the inherent humor and drama of the teen experience. This poignant, hilarious novel is sure to appeal to readers who are still going through it, as well as those who are grateful that they don’t have to go back and grow up all over again.

Sloppy Firsts is written in a way that is very similar to the Ruby Oliver series by E. Lockhart – a series that I thoroughly enjoyed. Through Jessica Darling’s journal entries and letters to her best friend, Hope, readers get to experience the mess that is high school right alongside her. As a result, there isn’t a lot of dialogue; just Jessica’s introspective thoughts, feelings, and summations of what went on in her day. While I usually prefer books with a lot of dialogue, Jessica’s diary reminded me so much of my own, and this authenticity certainly contributed to my enjoyment of the story.

Jessica Darling, our narrator, is someone I immediately identified with. She’s intelligent, engaging, cynical, and sometimes crazy, which made for a hilarious and thought-provoking read. Her voice perfectly captures what it’s like to be a teenager in high school, especially one from a small town, and I really enjoyed watching her slowly reevaluate her opinions and preconceived notions about her classmates and her town throughout the course of the book.

Before reading Sloppy Firsts all I knew about the story was that Marcus Flutie was practically everyone’s book boyfriend. So imagine my surprise when he was introduced as a “dreg” and a “Krispy Kreme” – or a drug user with red dreads who was certainly not my type. Thankfully, Marcus evolved as a character, and managed to make me appreciate his unpredictability and intelligence, even if I’m still not quite sold on him.

The secondary characters in Sloppy Firsts are just as interesting as Jessica and Marcus, and I really enjoyed watching the “Clueless Crew” and other stereotypical, high school archetypes grow into something other than the labels they were given. High school relationships aren’t the only facet that was explored, however; Jessica’s parents are present, flaws and all, and equal time is devoted to exploring their relationship.

And can I just say how well McCafferty treated the topic of sexual relationships in high school? Instead of perpetuating the virgin/whore dichotomy that is seen way too much in YA fiction, sex was discussed in such a frank and open way – and given that this came out in 2000, that’s pretty impressive.

Overall, I really enjoyed Sloppy Firsts. Although I just started this series, I have a feeling that it’s going to be one of my new favourites.

Liebster Award!

I’m honoured to say that I’ve been nominated for the Liebster Award by the lovely Lauren at The YA Book Spot. Thank you so much! :)

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Rules:

  • You must link back to the person who linked you
  • Answer 11 questions from the person who nominated you
  • Nominate 11 new bloggers and come up with 11 new questions to ask
  • You cannot nominate the person who nominated you
  • You must let the person you nominated know you nominated them

I was asked:

1. What is your favorite song/band?

First question, and I’m already stuck without an answer, haha. I don’t really have a favourite band or song, since I love so many different artists.

I’ve been listening to City and Colour a lot recently, since I’m going to see Dallas Green in May (which I’m so excited about!), and one song that I keep coming back to is The Lonely Life.

I also really love the Arctic Monkeys, and might be slightly obsessed with their new album. AFI has been a fairly constant fixture since I saw them in January, and Bastille, Mumford & Sons, and Vampire Weekend are also quite well-loved.

2. If you could have any power what would you choose?
Teleportation. That way, I could escape the cold Canadian winter whenever I needed to, I could attend author events since I’ve sadly never been to one, and I could travel the world for free. Never being stuck walking home in the middle of a thunderstorm is really appealing too.

3. Who is the one author you want to meet the most?
Rainbow Rowell. She just seems so lovely and the idea of fangirling over Benedict Cumberbatch with her just seems so perfect. And after reading all of her books, I came to the conclusion that I just really want her to be my best friend.

4. What’s your favorite childhood book(s)?
Harry Potter, Inkheart, A Series of Unfortunate Events, and The Paper Bag Princess. They’ve stood the test of time and remain some of my favourites to this day, which is truly the sign of an excellent book.

5. If you could have lunch with one character (from book/TV show/movie etc…) who would you choose?
I’m torn between Hermione Granger, the Doctor, Jess from New Girl, and the Darkling. I’ll probably go with the Doctor though, in hopes that I could charm him into making me a companion.

6. What’s your favorite quote?
I have so many favourite quotes – to the point where I once had the majority of my wall filled with post it notes containing quotes that resonated with me. Here are just a few of the ones I like:

“Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.” – Neil Gaiman, Coraline

“A dream dirty and bruised is better than no dream at all.” – Laini Taylor, Days of Blood and Starlight

“Here’s what I think,” I say and my voice is stronger and thoughts are coming, thoughts that trickle into my noise like whispers of truth. “I think maybe everybody falls,” I say. “I think maybe we all do. And I don’t think that’s the asking.”
I pull on her arms gently to make sure she’s listening.
“I think the asking is whether we get back up again.” – Patrick Ness, The Knife of Never Letting Go

“I realized then that even though I was a tiny speck in an infinite cosmos, a blip on the timeline of eternity, I was not without purpose.” – R.J. Anderson, Ultraviolet

7. Where do you want to travel to the most?
I’ve always wanted to go to England. My Grandma came over to Canada during World War II, and I’ve grown up hearing stories about what it was like. I would love to finally meet some of the family members who live there, as well as visit the more touristy attractions.

8. Favorite book for this year so far?
2014 has been an excellent reading year for me so far. I’ve had a lot of 4 and 5 star books, but my favourite so far is Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan, which I reviewed here. It felt like it was written just for me, and I absolutely can’t wait until the final book in the Lynburn Legacy series is released!

9. What fandoms are you part of?
I haven’t been really active in fandom for a while, but I used to belong to the Harry Potter, Merlin, BBC Sherlock, Glee, and LOST fandoms. Now I just tend to fangirl over anything and everything in a completely unorganized fashion, regardless of the strange looks that I receive.

10. Do have any OTPs and if so who? (Can be from TV show/book/etc…)
Charlie/Claire from LOST. Nick/Jess from New Girl (though I also ship Nick/me). Alina/the Darkling from the Grisha series. Merlin/Arthur from BBC’s Merlin.

11. Who is your favorite character? Why?
Hermione Granger is easily my favourite character. She’s so real, and I can relate to her in so many ways. I love that she’s a bookworm and that she loves learning, since it showed me that there are people out there who are just as passionate about these things as I am. She’s such a loyal, determined friend who is perfectly capable of facing danger and standing up for herself. She’s such a great role model for young women, and I’m so thankful that J.K. Rowling created her.

Thank you again for the nomination, Lauren! And sorry this took so long to post!

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Friday Finds (April 11)

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Friday Finds is a weekly event hosted by Should Be Reading, where you discuss books that you’ve discovered and added to your to-read list over the course of the week. These books don’t have to be ones that you’ve purchased – they can be books that you’ve borrowed, found online, heard about from a friend, etc.

As always, if you’re interested in learning more about one of these books, click on the picture and you’ll be taken to its Goodreads page.

What books did you find this Friday? Leave me a list or a link to your Friday Finds post in the comments below.

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Book Review: Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King

Rating: ★★★★★

Vera’s spent her whole life secretly in love with her best friend, Charlie Kahn. And over the years she’s kept a lot of his secrets. Even after he betrayed her. Even after he ruined everything.

So when Charlie dies in dark circumstances, Vera knows a lot more than anyone—the kids at school, his family, even the police. But will she emerge to clear his name? Does she even want to?

Edgy and gripping, Please Ignore Vera Dietz is an unforgettable novel: smart, funny, dramatic, and always surprising.

At it’s core, Please Ignore Vera Dietz is the story of a grieving girl who has recently lost her best friend. However, it’s so much more than jthat. Familial relationships, the age-old question of nature vs. nurture, zen wisdom, and romantic love are equally important explorations. The mystery of Charlie’s death and the dissolution of his friendship with Vera hovers behind every action and flashback, and continuously made me wonder what would have happened if someone had spoken up – would things have played out differently, or was this an inevitable outcome?

Please Ignore Vera Dietz is very much a character-driven story, partially due to Vera’s desire to be ignored by the high school masses. Vera’s voice is incredibly compelling, and her raw sadness, and anger bleeds through in her words, regardless of how much she tries to mask it. She’s intelligent, hard working, and genuine, and I immediately found myself connecting to her. My heart broke for her – and for Charlie and her father, both of whom were also wonderfully written, flawed characters that I couldn’t help but love.

King tackles many difficult topics in Please Ignore Vera Dietz: from abusive parents to alcoholism, among other things, it certainly isn’t a light read. While it may seem like that’s a lot of tough issues to display at once, it’s certainly reflective of reality — these awful circumstances happen more often than we’d like to think, and sometimes are even happening next door. It’s not all gloom and doom, however; Between talking pickles and a narration from the pagoda, these heavy, and sometimes uncomfortable, topics are counterbalanced with the perfect amounts of surrealism and humour.

Overall, Please Ignore Vera Dietz is a beautiful, heartbreaking examination of grief, love, and regret that is truly unforgettable. I highly, highly recommend it.

Waiting on Wednesday (April 9)

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Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly book meme hosted by Breaking the Spine, which spotlights upcoming releases that are eagerly anticipated.

This week, I’m waiting on Unmade by Sarah Rees Brennan, which has an expected publication date of September 23, 2014.

Who will be the sacrifice?

Kami has lost the boy she loves, is tied to a boy she does not, and faces an enemy more powerful than ever before. With Jared missing for months and presumed dead, Kami must rely on her new magical link with Ash for the strength to face the evil spreading through her town.

Rob Lynburn is now the master of Sorry-in-the-Vale, and he demands a death. Kami will use every tool at her disposal to stop him. Together with Rusty, Angela, and Holly, she uncovers a secret that might be the key to saving the town. But with knowledge comes responsibility—and a painful choice. A choice that will risk not only Kami’s life, but also the lives of those she loves most.

This final book in the Lynburn Legacy is a wild, entertaining ride from beginning to shocking end.

I absolutely adore the Lynburn Legacy series. Unspoken is one of my favourite reads of this year and although Untold was not quite as good, I was still left with a burning desire to know what happens next. Unfortunately, that wait is going to be far too long, which just really won’t do given the awful cliffhanger that this series left off on.

What books are you waiting on this Wednesday? Leave me a list in the comments below. 3

Top Ten of the Most Unique Books I’ve Read

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly book meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week, she posts an idea relating to books and encourages other book bloggers to respond with their own top ten lists.

This week’s topic is “top ten of the most unique books you’ve read.” Whether it’s in terms of plot, characterization, or narration, there were a lot of books that stood out when I was compiling this list. Here are just a few of them:

1. The Book Thief
Death is not exactly the most traditional choice of a narrator, however Markus Zusak pulls it off with aplomb. It’s such a beautiful yet heartbreaking read, and I often find myself wondering if it would have been as powerful if told from Liesel’s perspective.

2. Shadow and Bone
Ravka is such an intriguing world, steeped in Russian folklore, magic, and fantastic characters (like the Darkling). I haven’t read anything quite like this series, which helps place it even further up on my favourites list.

3. Shatter Me
Although I wasn’t a huge fan of this book, there’s  no denying that it’s very uniquely written. Littered with so many beautiful (and strange) similes, metaphors, and crossouts, Juliette’s thoughts are portrayed in a very interesting style.

4. Cinder
Cinder doesn’t fit the typical Cinderella story to a T and involves a lot of creative liberties, such as the inclusion of aliens and cyborgs, making for a very engaging fairytale retelling.

5. The Night Circus
This is such a beautiful, breathtaking, and magical read. The circus, the tents, the characters, and the plot are all so mesmerizing and different, making it one of my absolute favourite books.

6. Every Day
Every Day has both a unique premise and an unusual choice of narrator: every day, A wakes up in a different body – male, female, old, young, all are possibilities. A’s gender is never established, and it was strange talking about this book and not being able to refer to A as “him” or “her.”

7. Two Boys Kissing
Like Every Day, Two Boys Kissing has an unexpected narrator – this time, in the form of a Greek Chorus of gay men who have lost their lives to AIDS. The use of the inclusive “we” made the story that much more poignant, touching, and memorable.

8. The Knife of Never Letting Go
I didn’t expect to like this book (or series) as much as I did. The spelling and grammar varies between characters, giving them their own distinct voices – and, to further add to that, different fonts, sizes, and italics are used to distinguish between the Noise of the men from each town. The noise itself was such a neat inclusion, making for an unforgettable read.

9. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
The inclusion of found black and white photographs adds to the creepy atmosphere of this read. I’m also still not quite sure what to classify this as: supernatural horror, perhaps?

10. Angelfall
This book restored my faith in YA books that involve angels. A post-apocalyptic setting, cannibalism, angels that certainly aren’t cherubic, and a wonderful female lead make Angelfall a far cry from the “fallen angel falls in love with a human” story that I’ve read far too often.

+ Honourable Mentions
Because I’m awful and can’t choose just ten, here are a few of the others I would include: Harry Potter, The Archived, anything by Neil Gaiman, Good Omens, and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

What are some of the most unique books you’ve read? Leave me a list or a link to your list in the comments below.

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Book Review: And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard

Rating: ★★1/2

When high school senior Paul Wagoner walks into his school library with a stolen gun, he threatens his girlfriend Emily Beam, then takes his own life. In the wake of the tragedy, an angry and guilt-ridden Emily is shipped off to boarding school in Amherst, Massachusetts, where she encounters a ghostly presence who shares her name. The spirit of Emily Dickinson and two quirky girls offer helping hands, but it is up to Emily to heal her own damaged self.

This inventive story, told in verse and in prose, paints the aftermath of tragedy as a landscape where there is good behind the bad, hope inside the despair, and springtime under the snow.

When I read a book about grief or loss, I expect it to resonate with me in some way. I expect it to make me feel or make me think… and, unfortunately, And We Stay did none of those things.

And We Stay is told in third person present tense which definitely made it difficult to read. Although the prose was beautifully written and often gave me writing envy, the narrative style made it incredibly hard to connect with Emily. Her circumstances were told to me, rather than shown, leading me to feel very detached from her character – despite the fact that I knew I should be sympathizing with her. The only points where I was able to make any sort of emotional connection with Emily was while I was reading her poetry at the end of each chapter, but even those weren’t enough to make Emily a substantial main character.

While it was difficult to understand Emily’s emotions, it was virtually impossible to understand the motivations of any of the other characters. After reading, I still don’t quite understand why Paul committed suicide — the reason behind the action was eventually uncovered, but I don’t feel like I truly had a good enough grasp on his personality to understand the emotions that drove him to such an act.

Overall, And We Stay had a lot of potential to be a book that I really enjoyed, but the third person present tense left me feeling very detached from both the story and the characters.

Friday Finds (April 4)

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Friday Finds is a weekly event hosted by Should Be Reading, where you discuss books that you’ve discovered and added to your to-read list over the course of the week. These books don’t have to be ones that you’ve purchased – they can be books that you’ve borrowed, found online, heard about from a friend, etc.

As always, if you’re interested in learning more about one of these books, click on the picture and you’ll be taken to its Goodreads page.

What books did you find this Friday? Leave me a list or a link to your Friday Finds post in the comments below.

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Book Review: Heartbeat by Elizabeth Scott

Rating: ★★★★

Life. Death. And…Love?

Emma would give anything to talk to her mother one last time. Tell her about her slipping grades, her anger with her stepfather, and the boy with the bad reputation who might be the only one Emma can be herself with.

But Emma can’t tell her mother anything. Because her mother is brain-dead and being kept alive by machines for the baby growing inside her.

Meeting bad-boy Caleb Harrison wouldn’t have interested Old Emma. But New Emma-the one who exists in a fog of grief, who no longer cares about school, whose only social outlet is her best friend Olivia-New Emma is startled by the connection she and Caleb forge.

Feeling her own heart beat again wakes Emma from the grief that has grayed her existence. Is there hope for life after death-and maybe, for love?

The concept behind Heartbeat is certainly a controversial one: Emma’s mother is brain dead, and being kept alive by machines for the sole purpose of carrying her unborn child to term. The ethical implications behind it piqued my interest and caused me to request a review copy, however I wasn’t expecting this story to be quite as emotionally taxing as it was.

Emma, our protagonist, is incredibly easy to sympathize with. While I was initially deterred by her anger, selfishness, and resentment – especially in regards to her behaviour towards her stepfather – I definitely understood where she was coming from. In a lot of cases, it’s easier to be angry than it is to be sad, and channeling all of your sadness into anger can make you feel better, if even for a little bit.

While the main focus of the story was a grieving, broken family that was struggling to find closure, there was also a romantic element. Emma and Caleb were both damaged enough to need the other person to be their support system — and this mutual understanding of one another’s situations not only helped them to better understand their own pain, but it also helped them to heal.

Overall, Heartbeat is a thought-provoking and poignant look at what it means to be alive and what it means to love.

I received a copy of this book from Harlequin Teen and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.