Tuesday, October 8, 2013

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

YOU CAN NOW FIND ME AT THE RUNAWAY READER (THERUNAWAYREADER.BLOGSPOT.CA)!

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! :)


REVIEWS:

BOOKS NEXT UP ON MY TBR LIST:
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


MOST MEMORABLE EVENTS:
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! 


MOST PLAYED SONG:


Brooklyn- Theo Katzman


THINGS I CAN'T WAIT FOR IN OCTOBER:
Halloween because who doesn't like dressing up?
Working in my blogging schedule!
FALL TV SHOWS!


AROUND THE BLOGOSPHERE:
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!

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney

The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney
The Mockingbirds #1
Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, November 2, 2010
Hardcover, 332 pages
Borrowed from library

Some schools have honor codes.

Others have handbooks.

Themis Academy has the Mockingbirds.


Themis Academy is a quiet boarding school with an exceptional student body that the administration trusts to always behave the honorable way-the Themis way. So when Alex Patrick is date-raped during her junior year, she has two options: Stay silent and hope someone helps, or enlist the aid of the Mockingbirds-a secret society of students dedicated to righting the wrongs of the student body.

In this account of a teenage girl's search for her voice and the courage to use it, debut author Daisy Whitney reminds readers that standing up for someone, especially yourself, is worth the fight.


- Description from Goodreads.com



One of my favourite things in the entire world is landing upon a good book by accident. Or at least, without the intention to. And I'm so happy I got to experience this just when my reading was in crisis mode. A string of not so good books plus some not so good books I have to plow through PLUS school made for a very dire reading situation. I desperately needed a breather and what do you know, I found it in this book.

The Mockingbirds doesn't strike me as a book I would love. It deals with a very serious topic - date rape - and though serious topics may not leave me running for the hills, they definitely make me frightened. I'm always thinking about how far the author will delve into the situation: too little and I feel it's shallow, too much and I want to block it out, I feel so uncomfortable because the words are hitting me so hard. And truthfully, it's tough to find that balance of just right in any book dealing with very serious, very important, very real issues. But The Mockingbirds brings that.

The Mockingbirds tells the story of junior Alex who gets date-raped by another student at her school, Themis Academy. And here's where Daisy adds her originality, rather cleverly I might add. Themis isn't your typical school. The administration barely bats an eye at the secret happenings of the students. Someone got killed? Just act like nothing happened. And so obviously, this type of setting is great for misbehaviour. People can do whatever they want and the teachers won't step in. Which is why it's up to the students to make sure everyone's in line. There's a secret group called the Mockingbirds made up of Themis students whose very job is to police the grounds. And when Alex gets date-raped, she turns to the Mockingbirds for help.

I loved getting to see the inner workings of the Mockingbrids. It was so fascinating and incredibly vibrant in the way that it nearly stood out from the page. The impact they have on the students in Themis is wonderful and it's represented in the way Alex begins to develop throughout the story. As she's consulting with them about her situation, we see Alex grow into such a strong figure that it's hard not to be inspired by her.

And that was the best part of this book. Being inspired to DO something when things aren't right. I truly have to extend my thanks to Daisy Whitney for writing such an important book. It's great that teens can educate themselves with books now. You know, once again, I have to be grateful I'm growing up during a time when YA books really do hold power and influence. I feel so much stronger now having just read this book. 

Incredibly moving and just amazing in its entirety, The Mockingbirds is a book you won't want to miss. Highly recommended.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Just Go With The Flow | Day 12


Day 12 and we're all about the blogging fatigue today!


I don't know if you know but during the summer, I experienced some major blogging fatigue. After blogging for the majority of July, I felt EXHAUSTED. And I knew I needed to take a step back from it no matter how much I wanted to push through.

That's what I want to talk about today. Knowing when to stop. Stop feeling bad when you miss a post, stop thinking you HAVE to do this, stop making blogging feel less like a hobby and more like a duty. Because it isn't. I know there are many responsibilities some of you have to keep up - blog tours and ARC reviews, just to name a few - but when you're really getting sick and tired of blogging, I think it's important to forget about your commitments and take a step back. Because when you're going through blogging fatigue, you probably won't be churning out your best posts. And honestly, I think I'd rather have a few very good posts on my blog than many mediocre posts.

So if you ask me, the best way to cope with blogging fatigue is to just go with the flow. Acknowledge that you haven't been as into blogging as you were before and assure yourself that that's okay. It's normal not to be yippee-ki-yay about something all the time. Then, I'd suggest you take a BIG step back from blogging and just relax. Goodness, you've been sitting in that chair, typing your butt off FOREVER so it's about time you get a break. And those commitments? Forget about them. In the end, you run YOUR blog and no one will be upset if you say you're feeling a little down in the dumps... At least, I hope not! Like I said, it's hard to leave your blog but sometimes, it needs to be done. You can't go at it every day 24/7. It's just not possible so when the fatigue comes, step away from the computer and go do all the things you didn't do while all your energy was focused on blogging. Get outside and smell the flowers! Watch a movie.  Catch up on your favourite shows. Try on eyeliners at Sephora (that's what I do!). And when you feel re-energized, then you know you can return to blogging. 

So the next time blogging fatigue knocks at your door, remember this post. Remember that you need to rest sometimes. All I ask is that you try this once. If it doesn't work, fine. But if it does, congrats! You've found a fool-proof way to combat blogging fatigue head on.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen

What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen
Published by Viking Juvenile; May 10, 2011
Hardcover, 402 pages
Borrowed from library

Since her parents' bitter divorce, Mclean and her dad, a restaurant consultant, have been on the move - four towns in two years. Estranged from her mother and her mother's new family, Mclean has followed her dad in leaving the unhappy past behind. And each new place gives her a chance to try out a new persona: from cheerleader to drama diva. But now, for the first time, Mclean discovers a desire to stay in one place and just be herself - whoever that is. Perhaps her neighbor Dave, an academic superstar trying to be just a regular guy, can help her find out. Combining Sarah Dessen's trademark graceful writing, great characters, and compelling storytelling, What Happened to Goodbye is irresistible reading.


- Description from Goodreads.com



Remember that time when I said that there was a magic formula to all of Sarah Dessen's books? Yeah, well, I'm not finding it so magic anymore. 

Somewhere between Along for the Ride and this book, my thoughts on Sarah Dessen shifted from "I acknowledge all her books are similar but they're great regardless" to "I acknowledge all her books are similar and they're boring me". 

I mean, there's no doubt Dessen is a great writer. Words flow so easily out her mouth but frankly, all her characters are the same and all her storylines progress in the same way and really, after a handful of her novels, I have to say that her books aren't special any more. Take this book for example. Dave is as homogeneous as they come. I had no sense of who he was at all and you know, I had the same problem with Eli from Along for the Ride. 

And then of course, Mclean. No different from ALL the other Dessen protagonists I've read about. I mean, I honestly can't tell the difference between Mclean's character and say, Emaline's character. 

Like I said, the novels aren't special any more because I can't set them apart. Which sucks because I still remember the hold Sarah Dessen had on me after This Lullaby and The Truth About Forever. She was kind of like a comfy throw I crawled under whenever I was feeling down but now? Now I can't find that darn throw! 

And I won't give up yet because I still have faith that I will rediscover that Dessen magic but at this point, I can't help but think that it might be gone.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Introducing the Childhood Classics Read-a-Thon

This idea was born from a comment on my post, Book Voyage by Audrey from The Book Analyst. 

"On a side note, I love that you had From The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, but hate that you haven't read it! That was one of my favorite books as a child and I remember reading it over and over again."

This brought me to think about all the other books I didn't read while I was a child. Instead of perusing those classics everyone has read, I was reading Junie B Jones and Horrible Harry. Not that there's anything wrong with those two books but it's a shame I missed out on so much! So I decided it was finally time to get around to the childhood classics I missed out on.

(Excuse the bad graphic please! I had NO idea where to put the 'read-a-thon'!)

Starting this month, I will be making my way around the following list of children's books. No time is set for when to finish each book but I plan on finishing EVERY book by the end of June. And if you're interested in reading with me, feel free to join! 

1. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankenweiler by EL Konigsburg
2. The Ramona Quimby series by Beverley Cleary
3. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
4. The Time Quintet series by Madeleine L'Engle
5. The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis
6. The Princess Bride by William Goldman
7. The Giver by Lois Lowry
8. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
9. Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
10. The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo
11. The Neverending Story by Michael Ende
12. The Holes series by Louis Sachar
13. The Island of the Blue Dolphins series by Scott O'Dell
14. The Tales of Magic series by Edward Eager
15. The View from Saturday by EL Konigsburg
16. Mr. Popper's Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater
17. The Betsy Tacy by Maud Hart Lovelace
18. Ginger Pye by Eleanor Estes
19. The Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder
20. My Father's Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett

Friday, September 6, 2013

Novel Roundup (1)

Rounding up all those pesky little books I never finished!

With the end of For The Book Fanatic, I thought my blog sure could use a new feature. I stumbled upon some of my older notes regarding Random Reads and thought this would certainly make a great, fun feature! I don't DNF books often but when I do, I like to keep tabs on them in my little blogging notebook. Now, I can record them here and save space for other things in my notebook!

Since this is the first post of a feature I had ideas for for a long time, there will only be two books highlighted today! And on a separate note, if there is a book you think is worth another shot, I would love for you to let me know in the comments! :)


I really enjoy books set in a summer camp because it has always been my wish to go! And you know, whenever I can't do things, I tend to live vicariously through books. However, the camp in this book just didn't meet my standards! 

Now I know I haven't been to camp but I've read a lot of books set there and I have friends who go who talk about it so I think I have a pretty good idea of how it's like. And this one was nothing like anything I imagined sleepaway camp to be. They had an activity they did every day, every week. You can't pick two or three each night, you pick one at the beginning and you're stuck with it to the end. Like if you happen to choose something boring like studying different types of trees, that's too bad because you have to do it every day for hours without fail. But while I was looking to read this book for the camp, it wasn't why I stopped reading. After all, who says all camps have to be the same? 

No, the reason why I DNFed this book is because between the alternating perspectives of the three sisters and the same tone for each, it was getting a bit dull. And the boys they were all going on about? There wasn't much information about them so every time the sisters went on about their respective crush, I just wanted to scream shut up and give me some information on them. Besides what their hair color is. On another note, how do you expect me to swoon over a guy with WHITE hair? Uh, no.


Besides sleepaway camps, I also really like seeing history play a part in novels. And Cleopatra Confesses offered that. I remember reading one of those Princess Diaries (funny because this author actually wrote for that series) on Cleopatra and being absolutely hooked by her. She's definitely one of my favourite princesses, along with Anastasia of Russia. 

But when I started reading, I found myself losing interest rapidly. It wasn't anything in particular, just the book as a whole for some reason managed to come off as dull and stiff for me. 


So what do you guys think? Have you read any of these books? Are these worth another shot?

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Theme Song Thursday (2): Lola and the Boy Next Door

Welcome to Theme Song Thursday where I choose a theme song for a book of my choice on Thursday! This is a sporadic post which will only be updated when I have material.

I finished Lola and the Boy Next Door earlier this month and during the time I spent reading this book, there was one song I just COULD NOT get out of my head. But before I reveal the song (here's a hint: it's by one of my all-time favourite artists), I'll give you some background information on Lola that might be crucial in understanding why I chose the song.

(SORRY GUYS, I CAN'T EXPLAIN HOW THE SONG RELATES TO THE BOOK WITHOUT SPOILING SOME A LOT OF IT. PROCEED WITH CAUTION.)

Lola and the Boy Next Door is a story about a girl named Lola and her neighbour Cricket. They've been neighbours ever since they were young, growing up together and becoming friends but in order to support his sister's blossoming figure skating career, Cricket moves away with his family. And before he does, something happens and he breaks her heart. So when he leaves, Lola is happy because she doesn't want to see him again anyway.Well, after two years of being away, Cricket and his family move back into the house next to Lola's much to Lola's dismay. But soon, the dynamics change and Lola finds the feelings she used to have for Cricket come back.

In the song that I chose, the girl is singing about the boy next door and she's wondering why he's still with her girlfriend when it's clear she's getting him down and basically saying that he should be with her instead. So while this doesn't make sense from Lola's view, let's switch the 'she' into a 'he' and it makes perfect sense, right? I hope...

Exhibit A
You're on the phone with your girlfriend
She's upset
---
Max is always upset at Lola!

Exhibit B
I'm the one who makes you laugh when you know you're about to cry
I know you favourite songs and you tell me about your dreams
---
Just like the guy and girl in this song, Lola and Cricket are super tight!

I have to say that the music video also pairs pretty well with the book. It starts with a girl in her bedroom but then eventually moves on to show the boy and girl exchanging handwritten notes to each other. Which is...exactly what Cricket and Lola did? 

via Fanpop
And at the very end, the girl and guy attend a dance together in both the music video and the book! 

Pretty clear that this song was made for Lola, right? Can you guess what it is?



Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Shameless Self-Promoting | Day 11


Day 11! Only four days left! Which is great because I am starting to dread how many of these posts I have to make...


Truth: While I'm proud of my blog as a whole, I'm not proud of any single post. None of them stand out to me which is why this task is particularly hard. I know I say that for a good 80% of the fifteen tasks but this time, I really mean it. Thank goodness I only have a hundred or so posts under my belt! 

1. My Bookish Confessions Part 1 & 2
Part 2 is currently the most popular post on Random Reads. Seems like you guys just LOVE reading about all the weird things I do with my books.

One of the better reviews I've written by far. I mean, have you seen my older ones? Gross.

I was super excited to see the new Anna and Lola covers and share them with you. This was one of my favourite editions of Seeing Double!

This was part of the Book Blogger Love-a-Thon and one of my absolute favourite posts. Lisa has been one of my favourite bloggers for a long while and even though she has stopped, at least I can look back to this post and think of all the great memories! Also, I spent a heck of a long time on the questions so I would really appreciate it if you went and checked it out. Show some love, right?

My Top Ten Tuesday from before I knew Top Ten Tuesday was a thing. Oh my god, this is the most embarrassing thing ever. I would cry if anyone read it but for your enjoyment, I thought it was worth putting on this list. Pretty entertaining stuff. 

Monday, September 2, 2013

Somebody Up There Hates You by Hollis Seamon

Somebody Up There Hates You by Hollis Seamon
Published by Algonquin Young Readers; September 3, 2013
Paperback, 239 pages
Received from publisher through NetGalley -- thanks! 

Chemo, radiation, a zillion surgeries, watching my mom age twenty years in twenty months: if that’s part of the Big Dude’s plan, then it’s pretty obvious, isn’t it? Somebody Up There Hates You.

SUTHY has landed me here in this hospice, where we—that’s me and Sylvie—are the only people under 30 in the whole place, sweartogod. But I’m not dead yet. I still need to keep things interesting. Sylvie, too. I mean, we’re kids, hospice-hostages or not. We freak out visitors; I get my uncle to sneak me out for one insane Halloween night. Stuff like that. And Sylvie wants to make things even more interesting. That girl’s got big plans.

Only Sylvie’s father is so nuclear-blasted by what’s happened to his little girl, he glows orange, I swear. That’s one scary man, and he’s not real fond of me. So we got a major family feud going on, right here in hospice. DO NOT CROSS line running down the middle of the hall, me on one side, her on the other. It’s crazy.

In the middle of all of this, really, there’s just me and Sylvie, a guy and a girl. And we want to live, in our way, by our own rules, in whatever time we’ve got. We will pack in some living before we go, trust me.


- Description from Goodreads.com



I did not like this book. From that first chapter with it's excessive use of anyway, okay, and so as transitions, I knew this book would not be my friend. 

Unfortunately for anyone looking to read this book, I cannot guarantee that anything past this sentence will be spoiler-free so please proceed with caution. Okay, I actually spoil the entire book for you. Just a heads up.

Let's start with the basics: the story. Somebody Up There Hates You centers around a boy named Richie who has been diagnosed with cancer with less than thirty days to live. And since Richie is fully aware of the fact that his death is near, he plans to give life everything he's got. Which of course, includes his virginity. 

Now the thing about this book is that it has such potential to explore important topics such as death and illness. Important topics that I think we need more of in young adult. But instead, it brings this completely RIDICULOUS plot that I have to say is unfortunately shallow. Why? Because the main character is dying from cancer yet the entire book depicts him as a stupid horny teenager.

Wait, I know you're confused. What is going on right? Never fear, my dear friends. I will recount the story from the very beginning.

So far, we've established that Richie is a cancer patient and he's dying. Okay, so the next thing you need to know is that he's in the hospice and on the day his story starts, his uncle Phil comes and visits him. Phil is crazy, the 'black sheep' of the family. And somehow, he convinces the nurse on duty that she should let Richie get out of the hospice for Halloween and they somehow don't get questioned by anyone else as they leave. 

Phil and Richie eventually end up at a bar which proves how crazy he is because why would you bring a dying teenager to a bar of all places? And then leave him unattended with some busty Marie Antoinette? 

That's Uncle Phil for you.

But even weirder is what happens next. Marie Antoinette wheels him to some private corner and unzips his pants to give him a hand job. 

Who DOES that? To a sick person no less.

And then funny because once she does find out Richie is sick, she runs away. Is this girl blind? I'm being very blunt here (sorry!) but when someone's dying of cancer, there are physical signs as the author describes in the beginning! So how come Marie Antoinette doesn't see that he has no eyebrows and eyelashes, skinnier than the average teen, and just overall, sickly looking? That just makes absolutely no sense to me whatsoever.

But anyway, Phil eventually returns Richie back to the hospice and when Richie steps into his room, he finds the only other teenager in the hospice and his true love though I'm not sure how that happened, Sylvie. She's shrouded in darkness and everything's mysteriously sexy and she leans in to him and says, 

"I don't want to be a virgin anymore."

Which basically implies that she wants to have sex with him. Naturally, Richie gets excited and they start attempting to do it right away. Attempt is the key word here because it takes a few times before they really go all the way.

One of more memorable times is when Richie and Sylvie are in a smoking box and everything's getting hot and steamy when Richie's grandmother pops up. Where did that come from, right? She sees them though and is all nonchalant about it and even proceeds to concoct a master plan so they can have sex. 

I don't know about you but I'm thinking that it's not such a great idea that two dying cancer patients (I just have to keep mentioning this because none of this book makes sense) have sex. 

I'm also thinking that the characters in this book don't know it because it seems like they let this happen in front of their very noses. Literally because as Richie says in the beginning, the doors are clear so there is no privacy at all. If patients were having sex, don't you think someone would notice through the clear doors even at night? 

The answer to that is no because Richie and Sylvie have sex. And everything is bliss. 

Until the next morning when Richie finds out that Sylvie has been knocked unconscious by their midnight hookup due to massive blood loss. I can't say I'm surprised that something bad happened. 

From here, things just go downhill. Richie gets targeted in the hallway by Sylvie's dad. He's upset at Richie for causing his daughter to be in this unstable state and reasonably so. The guy's already been through a lot and now to find out that his daughter is in even worse condition because of some guy who screwed her must be devastating. Richie doesn't seem to understand this at all. 

Having said that though, I do not accept the way Sylvie's dad reacted to the situation at all. It was repulsive. He actually reached over and punched Richie right there and then causing HIM to blackout and fall into his own unconsciousness. 

This, of course, is illegal and wrong whether the victim has cancer or not so a lot of legal problems arise and some other confusing sub-storylines. In the end, I think you will be glad to know that Sylvie and Richie are still alive and strong. 

And everything I've said so far is exactly why this book didn't do it for me.

When the word cancer is mentioned in a book, I get intrigued because I love reading books centering around serious issues. But there have been many times when I have been seriously let-down by these issues books. Because in reality, there is very little 'issue' present. Like this book. Majority of the time I forgot that Richie and Sylvie were suffering from cancer because very little actually centered around cancer. 

Instead, the book was filled with convoluted chapters with events that are either
(a) too convenient to be believable 
OR
(b) completely ridiculous. 

The one silver lining is that Hollis Seamon knows how to write a good teen narrator. Everything that came out of Richie's mouth could have easily been seen coming out of my mouth or one of my peers'. I liked how it was written very conversational. Like Richie was sitting in front of me and we were good ole buddies reminiscing on our wild days. 

But apart from that? I think it's pretty clear that this book wasn't for me. Unfortunately.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Reflect & Renew: August 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! :)


REVIEWS:

BOOKS NEXT UP ON MY TBR LIST:
Somebody Up There Hates You by Hollis Seamon
The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
Winger by Andrew Smith
Criminal by Terra Elan McVoy
Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers
Seven Deadlies by Gigi Levangie Grazer


MOST MEMORABLE EVENTS:
Attending a live taping of a show!
Zooming down a 310 foot high roller coaster at the amusement park
Having a baking day with my friends
Watching Simon Schama's Power of Art back to back to back
Getting free razors on the street
Finding an amazing Mexican restaurant
High school orientation!
Chowing down on some delish Middle Eastern food
Getting my nails painted at Sephora
Seeing Victoria Duffield in concert (!!!)
Watching CATS
Watching the movie, Once
Eating some great fro-yo (Menchies and The Red Bench)
Wandering around Honest Ed's before it closes!


MOST PLAYED SONG:


Roar - Katy Perry


THINGS I CAN'T WAIT FOR IN SEPTEMBER:
The first day of school - duh!


AROUND THE BLOGOSPHERE:
Reem talks about the different types of readers. Which one are you?
This post inspired me to take 'must-read' out of my vocabulary. Find out why.
Chrys is officially the queen of infographics with this super cool one about bullying in the blogosphere.
Meredith at Lit Up Review shares five GREAT tips on how to balance school and blogging.
If there's anyone who understands what little book bloggers go through, it's Shanelle. Here's proof.
Carrie shares tips on how to speed-read! With school kicking in full mode, I definitely need to learn how to do this!
Claire cracks down on some of the things book snobs say. Incredibly entertaining!
View great fan made covers for classics here!
I have no clue how to use Google Analytics but now I know how to use it to check pageviews for items on my sidebar. Thanks Tanya!


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

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Random Reads is One Year Old!

I nearly forgot about my blogoversary amidst all the high school excitement this week. Today was orientation - something I've been waiting for the entire summer. And because my mind can't handle more than one thing at a time, news of Random Reads being one year old completely shot out of my head. Thank goodness I had it written down on a post-it note! I found it on my desk today and promptly plopped myself in front of my computer to start typing this up.

Honestly, I'm still trying to wrap my head around the fact that I have been blogging for one year. When I made Random Reads, I had just got back from my summer vacation. I spent a LOT of time during those two months staring at books on the screen, waiting to get home so I could read all those books I had been missing. And then after a few days coming back, I stumbled on a book blog. The Book Alley, I believe it was. And from there, I found Frenetic Reader and after a quick Google, tons of other blogs revealed themselves to me. It was a bit like a 'kid in a candy store' moment and before you could say that, I made up my mind to start my OWN blog.

It's so weird to think now that this ENTIRE community has existed without my knowing for so many years. Because it seems like I've been doing this for ages. To be fair, one year is a pretty long time and never did I expect my blog to do so well! I'm not great with updating them at all so it's nothing short of amazing that Random Reads has held my attention this long!

And now onto the thank you's. Thank you to EVERYONE who has ever commented on this blog, ever taken the time to read one of my posts. Thank you to everyone who has ever followed me and talked to me. Thank you to everyone who has ever helped me with something, replied to me in a comment. And thank you to every blog I follow. You all inspire me so much with your brilliance and not a day goes by where I don't look at your blog and think about how I can make Random Reads more like yours.

Every single one of you have helped make blogging such a great experience for me and I'm incredibly lucky to have met such wonderful people.

I wish I could hug you guys. But I can't, so virtual hug instead?

I also wish I could get you guys something that you can win but I don't have money, unfortunately. So you can have a virtual gift too!

Much love, Annie

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas

Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas
Published by Simon Pulse; July 16, 2013
Hardcover, 388 pages
Borrowed from library

Paradise quickly gets gruesome in this thrilling page-turner with a plot that’s ripped from the headlines and a twist that defies the imagination.

It’s Spring Break of senior year. Anna, her boyfriend Tate, her best friend Elise, and a few other close friends are off to a debaucherous trip to Aruba that promises to be the time of their lives.

But when Elise is found brutally murdered, Anna finds herself trapped in a country not her own, fighting against vile and contemptuous accusations. As Anna sets out to find her friend’s killer, she discovers harsh revelations about her friendships, the slippery nature of truth, and the ache of young love.

Awaiting the judge’s decree, it becomes clear to Anna that everyone around her thinks she is not only guilty, but also dangerous. And when the whole story comes out, reality is more shocking than anyone ever imagined...


- Description from Goodreads.com



A week has passed since I finished Dangerous Girls and I still can't wrap my head around it. It's too amazing and here's why:

Ms. Haas is an incredibly strong storyteller. She skillfully weaves stories from the past and the present in a way that doesn't feel...blocky. Everything flows smoothly together and everything serves a purpose. 

The more you read, the more jumbled the case is. With each new tale, you learn more about the crime which somehow, makes you even more confused. I wasn't sure whether the information I was presented with was meant as a clue to who the killer was or a distraction. 

And that bugged me a lot because I hate not being in the know with books. I don't want to be surprised, I want to anticipate and especially with the intensity of this book, NOT peeking at the end was extremely hard. But I promise you, it's worth it. Because there's this HUGE twist at the end that totally knocked all sense out of me. I was speechless for a good fifteen minutes. And if you knew me outside the computer, you'll know how hard it is to get me to shut up for a second, let alone fifteen minutes. 

This book is FRUSTRATING because it's so grounded in reality. Court trials are really that intense. Through the ups and downs of the case, you really hurt for Anna because you want her to win! And her narration makes it clear that not everything is fair and sometimes, you can't do anything about it. 

But now, I also have to say Abigail Haas is evil. You put me through all that and dare to throw my feelings back at my face at the end? I felt stupid for being so invested into the story when the answer was RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME. 

To sum everything up, you have to pick up this book. It's intense, confusing, passionate, twisty but all over brilliant. And I'll leave you with that. I'm kind of running out of words to describe this book anyway.