Tuesday, October 8, 2013

I'VE MOVED!!!!!!!!!


Looking forward to seeing you guys at the other side!

PS. I realize how this may look like a joke but it isn't. Cross my heart.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

The Random Reads Team

Maintaining a blog is tough. There's just so much you have to do and it's crazy to think that I'm able to fit it in my busy schedule! But I admit that I do get some help... Here's a list of some things that really help me make Random Reads run as smoothly as possible! I would NOT be here if it weren't for these guys so let me take the time to acknowledge them for all the hard work they've done for me over the past year and a half! I love my team!

UPDATE: I am the world's largest idiot. Because hey guys, I've already done a TTT on a similar topic. And I only realized that AFTER I wrote this whole damn post out. But I'm not willing to delete this post after I spent so long slaving on it so shh, don't say anything and hopefully, in a few years, I'll be able to forget this ever happened.
1. Goodreads
Goodreads is a lifesaver! It is seriously every book blogger's paradise. Great for snagging synopses for reviews, covers, quotes, and marking down books you've read and books you haven't read. Plus, there're giveaways, fun quizzes and lists, book clubs, and awesome bookish conversations. It's fantabulously wonderful and I love how every bookish thing I could ever possibly need is all in one amazing, beige-colored place!

2. Disqus
I was never happy with the built-in Blogger commenting system and so finding an alternative was a MUST. Thanks to some easy peasy research, I picked Disqus and now? I can't imagine ever going back to Blogger! I love Disqus! There's automatic reply notifications for commenters and for me, there's automatic comment notification as well as a built-in filter that encompasses every cuss word you could ever think of, ever.

3. Feedly
The thing about me is I follow a lot of blogs and I need somewhere they can all be nicely organized. This is Feedly. It is an absolute darling when it comes to providing me a reliable reader to all of my favourite blogs! There are so many social network sharing options and you can even tag your posts (which is handy for the 'Around the Blogosphere' portion of Reflect & Renew) or save them to read later! The interface is also super neat and tidy, making reading posts very comfortable.

4. PicMonkey
Though graphics take time, I love making them. Haven't really sat down and played with PicMonkey in a while but it still is my go-to site whenever I need a fun graphic for my blog! With a great selection of fonts and overlays and themes, there are endless possibilities to what you can make! 

5. Google Analytics
Google Analytics keeps on top of every statistic for Random Reads. While numbers aren't everything, it's a good idea to have an idea how your blog is doing and there is no better stat-keeper than Google Analytics. Does it's job amazingly!

6. Feedburner
I'm glad for something like Feedburner to help take off the matter of feeds completely off my hands. I don't even know what feeds are and why they're important so obviously, it's good that I have a program to help deal with it. All I know (and it's enough) is that I have it and it works. 

7. Twitter
As you may or may not know, the REAL book party is held on Twitter. Seriously, the book bloggers rule Twitter and it's a great way to get to know people. I love having conversations on Twitter with bloggers I admire plus it's a great way to get your blog out there! It's more likely for people to stumble on your Twitter account than your blog, after all.

8. Pinterest
Whenever I feel sucked of creativity, I make a quick skip over to Pinterest and search up blogging boards. There are so many tips and freebies and INSPIRATION. It's a great fix for whenever you're feeling a bit dull.

And finally...

9. My lovely green blogging notebook
I started out using OneNote to help me organize my blog and it worked great but the only thing was, I wanted to be able to access my schedule and my to do and my drafts without opening my computer every time. So I went out to buy myself a five subject notebook and now it's my blogging BFF. It is with me at all times and really, I can't tell you how much I love it. It's so handy and definitely the most important thing on this list. Without my notebook, I would be NOTHING.

Now it's your turn! Tell me who's on YOUR blogging team! What helps your blogging experience? Leave a comment!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Quote Madness: The Universe Versus Alex Woods

Quote Madness is a feature here at Random Reads where I share some of my favourite quotes! Inspired by So Quotable at So Obsessed With. :)

The Universe Versus Alex Woods was definitely one of the best surprises I had as far as books go this year. I've been meaning to compile a Quote Madness for it but as per usual, forgot. I saw a display of the book at Indigo the other day and immediately jotted down a note mentally to post it today. And here it is! The best quotes (or quotations as my English teacher is trying to get us to say) from The Universe Versus Alex Woods!

“Even very low-probability events can, and indeed do, occur.”

“Although I don't use it nearly so much anymore, I've decided, five years down the line, that Mr. Treadstone's verdict on 'kind of' was kind of unjust. Obviously, this phrase can be redundant or reductive, or just plain stupid in some sentences, but not in all sentences. I wouldn't, for example, use a sentence like 'Antarctica is kind of cold', or 'Hitler was kind of evil'. But sometimes, things aren't black and white. And sometimes 'kind of' expresses this better than any other phrase. For example, when I tell you that my mother was kind of peculiar, I can think of no better way of putting this.”

“If you're a boy, any display of sensitivity is gay. Compassion is gay. Crying is supergay. Reading is usually gay. Certain songs and types of music are gay. 'Enola Gay' would certainly be thought gay. Love songs are gay. Love itself is incredibly gay, as are any other heartfelt emotions. Singing is gay, but chanting is not gay. Wanking contests are not gay. Neither is all-male cuddling during specially designated periods in football matches, or communal bathing thereafter. (I didn't invent the rules of gay - I'm just telling you what they are.)”

“In case you didn't know, in secondary school - especially in the early years of secondary school - diversity is not celebrated. In secondary school, being different is the worst crime you can commit. Actually, in secondary school, being different is pretty much the only crime you can commit.Most of the things the UN considers crimes are not considered crimes at secondary school. Being cruel is fine. Being brutal is fine. Being obnoxious is fine. Being superficial is especially fine. Explosive acts of violence are fine. taking pleasure in the humiliation of others is fine. Holding someone's head down the toilet is fine (and the weaker the someone, and the dirtier the toilet, the finer it is). None of these things will hurt your social standing. But being different - that's unforgivable. Being different is the fast-track to Pariah Town. a pariah is someone who's excluded from mainstream society. And if you know that at twelve years of age, you're probably an inhabitant of Pariah Town.”

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Where Beauty Lies by Elle and Blair Fowler

Where Beauty Lies by Elle and Blair Fowler
Sophia and Ava London #2
Published by St. Martin's Griffin; August 13, 2013
Hardcover, 272 pages
Borrowed from library

The London sisters return in this charming new novel about love, friendship, and the perils of fame. Despite their very public arrest, Ava and Sophia London are about to discover that in L.A. there's no such thing as bad press. Suddenly, they are the hottest "It" girls in town and are one step closer to making their brand, London Calling, a household name. Their newfound celebrity status takes them jet setting to New York City to expand their brand into fashion and home goods. Their first stop is fashion week, where they're about to put on their inaugural fashion show...but not if their rivals have anything to say about it. The same unseen enemies responsible for framing them in L.A. are back - and determined to ruin the sisters for good this time. Can Ava and Sophia find out who's trying to destroy them before it's too late?

- Description from Goodreads.com

The first book in this series, Beneath the Glitter, was an unexpected surprise! I ended up really enjoying it and so when I got this book, I had high expectations for it. Which, I should know by now, is never a smart idea because I always end up feeling let down! Why do I never learn?

The Things I Liked:
1. The sisters, Ava and Sophia. They are just so incredibly adorable together and I can't even handle it. This is why I want a sibling. 
2. Dalton. That whole thing with him being arrested was totally weird but I've loved him since the first book (hipsters are totally my type!) and I'm so glad he's back! 
3. New York Fashion Week! I love fashion and I follow Fashion Week online religiously so this was really exciting for me to read about. 
4. Ava and Sophia's fashion show. From the way it was described, it sounded fantabulous! I would love to see it play out in reality! 

The Things I Didn't Like
1. The way the cliffhanger from last book was dealt with. I can't explain this because it involves spoilers but let's just say that it was a really sucky way to resolve things.
2. How many times I had to suspend my belief while reading this book. Everything just seemed so over the top and dramatic. It was too much for me.
3. The love triangles galore! Love triangle here, love triangle there - again, too much.

*SPOILER ALERT* (Highlight to view spoilers!)

4. Hunter and Whitney being the villains. It made NO sense. I don't even get why it's part of the story. That entire thing was just so confusing and irrelevant!

Overall Thoughts
Not bad, not good. Preferred the first book, Beneath the Glitter, over this one. However, I really enjoyed seeing Dalton and Giovanni again, as well as the New York setting. You can never go wrong with New York!

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin 
Mara Dyer #1
Published by Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing; September 27, 2011
Hardcover, 452 pages
Borrowed from library

Mara Dyer doesn’t think life can get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.
It can.

She believes there must be more to the accident she can’t remember that killed her friends and left her mysteriously unharmed.

There is.

She doesn’t believe that after everything she’s been through, she can fall in love.
She’s wrong.

- Description from Goodreads.com

If you've read this book, you know what I'm going to scream about in a minute. If you don't, you will find out soon. But first, before we get to the GOOD part, let me get some actual reviewing in. Despite how many times I DIED while reading this book, it wasn't perfect. 

Warning: if you're looking for a paranormal with hints of romance, don't pick this book up. The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer is 100% romance with hints of paranormal. While I enjoyed the romance thoroughly (EEEEEE), I loved the bits of paranormal as well and really wished the author would have spent more time on it. The story would have been even better! I also wish that the author would have interspersed all the paranormal bits evenly throughout the book and not just jammed everything at the end. By then, the book was becoming too realistic to handle the weird, supernatural activity. It was akin to the hallucinations Mara had. One minute, I was happily swooning over Noah, the next, giant alligators are biting at him? Hold on girl, what just happened?!?

But besides that, I really had no qualms about this book. Why? Come on, I've already alluded to it! Because of Noah, silly! If you have read this book, you understand. I mean, GOSH is Noah a jerkface but for some reason unknown to me, I liked him. And not just like, LOVE. SWOON. Every time the name Noah was inked on the fine pages of this book, my heart flipped. And by the time I finished this book, my heart flipped twenty thousand times, I died about five hundred times more, and Noah will forever be my BBY. Sorry hon, he's mine now. 

And that cliffhanger at the end? I nearly fainted, I swear. I totally did NOT see that coming and now? Now, I'm crying because what is this going to mean for Mara and Noah? And unfortunately, with THAT ending, I have no choice but to read the next book. Though, let's be honest, I would have read it either way for Noah.

Overall, I thought The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer was a great read. I loved the romance though I would have wished to seen a greater emphasis on the supernatural aspects so if you're coming for the supernatural, you might be a bit let down. But if you're coming for Noah, oh my gosh, let's squeal together! 

Friday, September 27, 2013

Reflect & Renew: September 2013

Hello readers! Say hi to Reflect and Renew which you will be seeing around here at the end of each month. Inspired by Monthly Rewind at the Perpetual Page Turner. Enjoy! :)


Where Beauty Lies by Elle and Blair Fowler
Criminal by Terra Elan McVoy
Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
Feed by M.T. Anderson
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

The first day of school. Surprised to say this but it honestly couldn't have gone any better!
Gobbling up mooncakes for the...moon festival? Or is the autumn festival? Someone HELP.
Filling out the application for stage crew - it was...interesting, to say the least.
Purchasing my first phone ever!
And then, downloading apps for my first phone ever!
Receiving the Liebster Award - thanks Jasmine! 


Brooklyn- Theo Katzman

Halloween because who doesn't like dressing up?
Working in my blogging schedule!

HelloGiggles publishes this list of 8 everyday words coined by famous authors.
Reem explains why you SHOULD listen to music while you read - plus suggestions!
Also at I Read & Tell, Reem sorts writers into fun categories. Check them out!
More free bookmarks from Epic Reads.
Take this fun survey at Flip That Page to find out what type of blogger you are.
This review of Adrokable by Debby really makes me want to read it now.
A wonderful post at Writer of Wrongs celebrating everyone's favourite bushy-haired know-it-all, Hermione.

That's all, see you next month! :)

Criminal by Terra Elan McVoy

Criminal by Terra Elan McVoy
Published by Simon Pulse; May 7, 2013
Hardcover, 288 pages
Borrowed from library

A searing and gripping read that explores the depths of desperation true love can inspire, from the author of Being Friends with Boys.

Nikki’s life is far from perfect, but at least she has Dee. Her friends tell her that Dee is no good, but Nikki can’t imagine herself without him. He’s hot, he’s dangerous, he has her initials tattooed over his heart, and she loves him more than anything. There’s nothing Nikki wouldn’t do for Dee. Absolutely nothing.

So when Dee pulls Nikki into a crime—a crime that ends in murder—Nikki tells herself that it’s all for true love. Nothing can break them apart. Not the police. Not the arrest that lands Nikki in jail. Not even the investigators who want her to testify against him.

But what if Dee had motives that Nikki knew nothing about? Nikki’s love for Dee is supposed to be unconditional…but even true love has a limit. And Nikki just might have reached hers.

- Description from Goodreads.com

Despite all the great things I'd heard about Criminal before reading it, I was still rather skeptical. Terra Elan McVoy was an author I knew for writing fun, light reads so Criminal was a far cry from her usual books. In addition, I didn't particularly love her light reads (see The Summer of Firsts and Lasts) so going in, I didn't really expect to be blown away. But my god, this book was great! I mean, is this even the same author that wrote The Summer of Firsts and Lasts? The writing seemed completely different. Nikki was a strong narrator who managed to tell her story very matter-of-fact but also with a lot of emotion...if that makes any sense.

The actual storyline of the book, I have to say, is rather dull which is fine because it's NOT the storyline that makes this book so great. For me, the main attraction of this book was the idea that not everything is black and white. Lines are blurred in reality and they are in this book. I wasn't sure if I was supposed to feel bad for Nikki or not. On one hand, she did totally assist a murder and I don't really think that 'love' was a solid excuse for that. Not that you could call what Nikki and Dee had 'love'. It's more of an addiction as Nikki says, a need to be wanted. Which I can accept because who doesn't like to be wanted? But gosh, Dee was such a dick - not to mention completely shady. I really wished Nikki listened to Bird about Dee. It would have saved her going through a lot of crap. 

But at the end, I couldn't help but feel proud of Nikki. She has gone through so many crappy things and the fact that all those things happened to her and she could still be positive? I think that really says something about the character development in this book.

While this wasn't the strongest book, I loved the themes McVoy touched upon in this book. Definitely dark and gritty but incredibly eye-opening!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Views on Book Banning

In honor of Banned Books Week, I thought I would write up a post on it. Banned Books Week could not have come at a better time for me. Just a few days ago, I had a great chat over Twitter with Emily about book banning. It really got me thinking to the point I had so much to say that I had to say it. So here I am, at my computer typing away.

Credit to Arial at In Italics for this gorgeous graphic! View more here.

Like most bloggers (and I say bloggers because that is the only demographic I have a decent knowledge about), I am not a proponent of book banning. I do not think someone has the right to judge or determine what people can or cannot read.

However, it doesn't seem to me that 'book banners' mean to offend people. They're just trying to protect, most often, the youth of our society. We've seen enough in the media to recognize all the scary things our teenagers face now: cursing, sex, drugs, alcohol. And the fact that this happens on a day-to-day basis can be really unnerving for some people because they have absolutely no control over it whatsoever. And I guess if they can somewhat limit the exposure to drugs and alcohol and sex and cursing, then we as teenagers are less likely to get involved with them? Just some speculation, to be fair I suppose. To offer both sides of the story.

But even though I think that book banners have good intentions, I also think it's wrong to be so judgemental and opposed to a book because it has an abundance of swearing, or that it has some sex scenes. Firstly, isn't this the reality? This IS what life for teenagers really is and it's laughable to think that not allowing someone to read a book like that would even begin to diminish it from our society. Maybe people don't like to think about the 'ugly truth' of what teenagers do but there has to be a point where you come to terms with it. Especially if you're determining who should read what. I also don't think that people realize how educational books can be. Specifically books about serious issues that teenagers face. I've mentioned it thousands of times already but issues like sex, drugs, alcohol, and more! Books tend to offer a very honest, no sprinkles depiction of them and I think that's important. For me, the way to ensure that you don't get into that type of stuff is to gain knowledge about them. Which seems a bit counter-intuitive but it's true! If you don't know what you're dealing with, then you really wouldn't know whether it's good or bad and what to do. And while that type of ignorance may seem great at first, trust me, it really isn't.

Secondly, shunning a book JUST because it might be a little inappropriate is rather narrow-minded and superficial. There's so much more to a book besides the fact that the narrator uses 'shit' a lot and if you're judging it based solely on that, you're missing a lot that could be amazing. Take the recent controversy about the Eleanor & Park banning. I was absolutely shocked! I really enjoyed that book and I thought that it hit on some pretty key issues so the fact that someone banned it because it had a lot of obscenities was incredibly upsetting for me. Here's another person refusing to accept that this is how people are! We swear! And if someone isn't all right with that, I think THEY have the ability to decide for themselves whether or not this obscenity-laced book is worth a read. I mean, who continues to do something if it makes them uncomfortable? So if they have a problem with the book, they can determine to stop reading by themselves. Really, it's unnecessary to have someone telling you to avoid this book and that book.

And that brings me to my last point. Reading is subjective. Which is why:

(a) Just because you find a book _______ doesn't mean that other people do too.
(b) reading is an independent activity (for the most part) so I think that the choosing of a book should be independent as well.
(c) I don't like the idea of someone telling me what to read.

I'll read what I want! And I'll let everyone else read what they want to! Because I truly believe there is something to gain from each book, even if it is a mindless read. Even if it's so bad you want to puke. Books are important to our society and though we might not understand that now, just wait until they're gone. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

A Short Note Regarding Goodreads

Lately, there has been some controversy surrounding Goodreads latest announcement, detailing a change of their guidelines. I'm not going to get into the specifics or talk in-depth about my stance on this. As I said in the title, this is a short notice.

I'm not sure if any of you have been following my reviews on Goodreads but just to say that I will no longer be linking my reviews to Goodreads. And that means that I will be deleting prior reviews from Goodreads as well.

Sincere apologies to anyone following me through Goodreads but I hope you'll find it in your interest to hop on over to Random Reads and follow me here!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Get This Book Now | Day 13

In honor of my Childhood Classics Read-a-Thon, here is one book I've read as a child that I LOVED!

Today is 'under-appreciated book' day and I have just the book in mind! It's by a Canadian author and it is definitely one of my FAVOURITE books of all time. I haven't read it in so long but it made such an impression on me that six years later, I'm still replaying the book in my mind.

Oy, I'm getting rather nostalgic now! This was one of the first books that taught me how influential words can be. Think about it, mere words on a page that can somehow lead to a myriad of emotions and thoughts. And Awake and Dreaming completely transcended my fourth-grade expectations and became this book that held so much meaning even then. 

And I know this probably isn't very convincing because I can't remember anything from the book except for what I felt after finishing but READ THIS. My love for this book is so vivid that I will not rest until you give this book a try. Seriously, I won't. So go run off to your bookstore/library and get this book now!