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Fav Books and Tunes of 2013!

January 2, 2014

Hi strangers!

I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time remembering the details of any book I’ve read more than, say, a week ago. Blogging really helped with that problem – having to think through and put into words what I liked or disliked about a book and then having those words to look back at later. But since I don’t have a blog full of 2013 reviews to consult, I thought I’d put together a quick list of my favourites of the year so Future Alita will at least be able to remember which were the good ones.

Favourite books read in 2013 (alphabetical order)

favs2013_1

I read this during the Spring 24hr Readathon. Nothing like starting the day by weeping into your oatmeal! (And not the first time I’ve done this to myself. You’d think I’d learn.)

Speaking of weeping. One of the few I actually reviewed in 2013, this book is amazing and tore my heart to shreds.

Another book I actually reviewed! What! This book was such a lovely surprise – filled with magic and wonderful characters – I wanted to read it again as soon as it was over. Instead I’ve been devouring (pun unintended) Heather Dixon’s blog StoryMonster.

Fantastic concept, fantastically carried out.

I read this on family vacation with my husband’s family and giggled the entire way through. Then came home and lent it to all my friends.

favs2013_2

Aliens attack! But this book is so much more than just aliens attacking. The only thing I didn’t like about The 5th Wave was that I didn’t realize it was the start of a series and thought the ending left a few things unanswered. But of course I will be reading the next book when it comes out. Of course I will. (Anyone know *when* it comes out??)

Super cute book about a movie star in a small town that reminded me of Win A Date With Tad Hamilton but also not quite.

I saw the movie first and loved it and its soundtrack. Read the book shortly after and loved it as well but was glad I saw the movie first so I could enjoy its light-heartedness. Because the book is definitely a lot less light-hearted. If you’re interested, I posted more thoughts on the two eons ago.

This started out all fun and quirky and then became very serious before I knew it was happening. Overall, very good.

Teenaged girl’s spiral into madness! Although at times uncomfortable to read, I couldn’t put it down. Plus, bonus points for being set in my city.

10 most listend to tracks – according to last.fm
musicfavs20131. The 1975 – Fallingforyou
2. The 1975 – Chocolate
3. Nolita Knights – Distance Kills
4. M83 vs Ellie Goulding – Anything Could Happen At Midnight
5. Nolita Knights – Let’s Try
6. The 1975 – Sex
7. Luke Sital-Singh – Dark
8. Little Comets – Jennifer
9. Farewell J.R – Night Wolves
10. The 1975 – Me

What were your highlights of 2013? Books, music, movies, tv shows..?

Fall 2013 Readathon Updates

October 12, 2013

deweys-readathonbutton5:00am – Hour 1 (The ‘Am I Wake Yet?’ Edition)

IT’S READATHON DAY! IT’S READATHON DAY!

While I am feeling extremely unprepared for this readathon, I assure you have I been looking forward to it for months. Life has been nuts and sometimes you just need to say ‘no’ to things so you can unwind, relax, and hang out with a couple hundred other readers on the internet.

My plan for the day is to work through books I’ve already started. I’m currently 1/2 way through Scarlett Fever by Maureen Johnson, 1/3 through The Diviners by Libba Bray (so long!), and just barely started Mansfield Park by Jane Austen. I also just picked up How To Say Goodbye In Robot by Natalie Standiford, so maybe I will give that a go.

Anyway, this will be the post I update throughout the day, so feel free to check back every now & then and scroll to the bottom to see how things are going. Or, as always, you can find me on Twitter.

Looking for more info on the Readathon? Click HERE

EDIT 5:05am – I’m up! (I am going to need a nap soon)

6:27am – Hour 2 (The ‘Introduction Questionnaire’ Edition)

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?
Chilly Western Canada
2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?
I’ve had Scarlett Fever on hold for a while, so I’m happy I’m able to get back into it!
3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?
At this moment, first breakfast… which is coming up right after this :)
4) Tell us a little something about yourself!
Books. Music. That’s pretty much it :)
5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?
This is my 9th (!!) readathon, and the first time I haven’t signed up as an official cheerleader. I’m still planning on sprinkling comments around the readathon blogosphere, but would also like to participate in some mini challenges. Like this one! I can’t remember the last time I did the Intro questionnaire :)

8:18am – Hour 4 (The ‘I <3 NYC’ Edition)

IMAG1610Let the food pics begin!

I’m really enjoying Scarlett Fever. Not only because Maureen Johnson’s writing is fun to read, but also because of the setting. I love New York. So much. I was back there two weeks ago and this book is helping me feel like I’ve returned for a day.

Reading: Scarlett Fever by Maureen Johnson
Munching: Oatmeal with chia seeds, almonds, craisins, almond milk; David’s Organic Breakfast Tea
Listening: early morning silence

Books finished: 0
Total pages read: 117
Total reading time: 2hrs 33min
Total challenge / comment time: 0hrs 19min

11:15am – Hour 7 (The ‘I Finished A Book’ Edition)

IMAG1615-1I finished a book! Yes, it helped that I was already 1/2 finished it when I started this morning, but it still feels good to have something on the Finished pile. I’m not sure I like how Scarlett Fever ended, but I’m still sad it’s over and my time hanging out with Scarlett and the Martins is over for now. Why is there no book 3 yet??

Reading: Trying to decide what to read next! The Diviners or How to Say Goodbye in Robot?
Munching: Eggs, plum slices, hot chocolate with hazelnut liqueur
Listening: More silence. I should put some music on at some point…

Books finished: 1
*Scarlett Fever by Maureen Johnson
Total pages read: 187
Total reading time: 4hrs 1min
Total challenge / comment time: 0hrs 53min

5:36pm – Hour 13 (The ‘Ate some food, read a book, did a mid-event survey’ Edition)

IMAG1618-1I finished my second book! It’s our book club pick for November so I hope the others all read it because I really want to hear what everyone has to say about it. There will be Things to discuss. And it was a great pick for readathon day. I didn’t want to do anything else until it was finished.

I hope everyone is having a great readathon day!

Reading: Time for The Diviners!
Munching: Lunch – BBQ Chicken pizza. Snack: Chips & salsa, wine.
Listening: Is There Somebody Who Can Watch You by The 1975

Books finished: 2
*Scarlett Fever by Maureen Johnson
*How to Say Goodbye in Robot by Natalie Standiford
Total pages read: 463
Total reading time: 8hrs 51min
Total challenge / comment time: 0hrs 53min

Mid-Event Survey Time!

1) How are you doing? Sleepy? Are your eyes tired?
Doing surprisingly well, haven’t needed a nap yet today. But I expect the tiredness will come later
2) What have you finished reading?
Scarlett Fever by Maureen Johnson and How to Say Goodbye in Robot by Natalie Standiford
3) What is your favorite read so far?
Probably Scarlett Fever.
4) What about your favorite snacks?
Hmmm… the wine was good. I definitely didn’t stock up on as many tasty snacks as I have for previous ‘thons!
5) Have you found any new blogs through the readathon? If so, give them some love!
I’ve only visited a few blogs today, but this is one of my favourite blog names I’ve come across: Are You Sitting Comfortably?… Then we’ll begin

10:01pm – Hour 18 (The ‘I bid you goodnight’ Edition)

IMAG1624-1-1Time for me to bow out. I’ve had a lovely day of reading that, as usual, went by way too quickly. See you around next time!

Reading: The Diviners by Libba Bray
Munching: Eggnog & brandy, apple pie cupcake
Listening: Broken Brights by Angus Stone (Which I usually just think of as a nice, mellow song, but now, reading The Diviners, the line “Is that the old man walking in the dark” is freaking me out a bit.)

Books finished: 2
*Scarlett Fever by Maureen Johnson
*How to Say Goodbye in Robot by Natalie Standiford
Total pages read: 568
Total reading time: 11hrs 36min
Total challenge / comment time: 1hrs 42min

Raincoast Books Teen Reads Winter Preview

September 21, 2013
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Oh hello there. Remember me? It’s been a little while, and honestly, I wasn’t sure if I’d ever be back. But the wonderful people at Raincoast Books have inspired me to give blogging another go.

Raincoast2This morning I attended the Teen Reads Winter Preview event hosted by Raincoast. I was a bit hesitant about attending, seeing as my blogging this year has pretty much been, well, non-existant. But I was lured by the promise of caffeine and breakfast and maybe a few books.

The lovely ladies at Raincoast took us through some highlights of their Fall books and then delved into what’s coming up this Winter with a sneak peak at a few Spring titles. It was so great to spend the morning chatting about books, swapping book recommendations, and hearing what upcoming books people are excited about.

And, of course, they sent us home loaded down with books and other goodies

Raincoast1

Crewel by Gennifer Albin (signed)
Altered by Gennifer Albin
Antigoddess by Kendare Blake
Before My Eyes by Caroline Bock
Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
The Clockwork Scarab by Colleen Gleason
16 Things I Thought Were True by Janet Gurtler
A Tale of Two Centuries by Rachel Harris
Racing Savannah by Miranda Kenneally
Nil by Lynne Matson
Expiration Day by William Campbell Powell
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Strange Sweet Song by Adi Rule
The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

Plus a couple totes, notebook, and a fancy personalized bookmark. On top of that, I won a signed copy of Eleanor & Park.

Of the stack I came home with, I’m probably most looking forward to Fangirl (while I didn’t love Eleanor & Park, I really liked Rainbow Rowell’s writing and have been wanting to read more of her stuff), A Tale of Two Centuries (time travel love story? yes please), and 16 Things I Thought Were True (just looks super cute). But The Winner’s Curse and The Clockwork Scarab also look really interesting, as do Nil, Before My Eyes, and Strange Sweet Song. Really, I just want to read all of them right now and I don’t know where to start.

These are some other titles I’m looking forward to that were talked about:
This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales
Cress by Marissa Meyer
Something Real by Heather Demetrios
Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira
Going Over by Beth Kephart

Thank you so much, Raincoast!

So anyway, yes, I’m hoping you’ll see me a little more frequently around these parts. I most likely (definitely) won’t be doing individual reviews for every book I read (at least to start), but I would like to at least do a round up post every month of what I’ve read.

See you soon!

~ alita

Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo (thoughts)

June 5, 2013

SiegeAndStormThe highly anticipated follow up to Shadow and Bone! I enjoyed the first book much more than I expected, mostly because I expected not to like it at all. And one of the reasons I really liked it was because of the main character, Alina. So, I was looking forward to hanging out with her once again.

In Shadow and Bone, Alina is just discovering her power and how to use it. In Siege and Storm, she is trying to get a handle on the responsibility that comes along with that power. It’s a responsibillity that I know I wouldn’t want, but Alina steps up – somewhat grudgingly at first, but mostly because she understands that with her gift she can do what no one else can. And also, it turns out she has a taste for power.

However, taking on this responsibility meant a lot of committee meetings, strategy planning sessions, and waiting around for the Darkling to strike. But don’t worry, Siege and Storm isn’t completely lacking in action. Bardugo has provided battles on land and sea – and in the air – featuring soldiers, Grisha with supernatural powers, and mythological creatures.

Really that only thing that irked me was Mal and his response to Alina’s new power and responsibility. At the beginning of the book Mal and Alina are on the run and hiding from the Darkling, and during this time Mal is in his element, keeping Alina safe and working towards a more permanent freedom. Meanwhile, Alina is wasting away and feeling useless because she’s not able to use her power and is unable to contribute to their new future together. However, once their plans are derailed and they get to the Palace, the tables are turned. Suddenly Alina is the one with all the responsibility and incredible power and Mal is reduced to playing bodyguard. And okay yes, they both could have handled some of the situations better and maybe Mal was born to be an awesome tracker and nothing else. But he had no right to make Alina feel bad about the role she had to play and try to convince her to run away, back to how things were at the beginning. Way to be supportive, mister.

Also, one of the other characters made a very good observation early in the book: for soul mates, the two of them were awfully insecure about their feelings for each other.

However, even with all that melodrama, it was still a great read. So if you’ve read the first in the Grisha Trilogy, definitely check this one out.

Source: borrowed ARC

Spring 2013 Read-a-thon Updates

April 27, 2013

I’ve said it before and I’m gonna have to say it again: if there’s one thing that can force me out of a blogging hiatus, it’s the 24 Readathon. I’ll be updating this post with my progress, so if you’re interested in seeing how my 8th Readathon (whaaaaat??) is going, check back here throughout the day.

Or come find me on Twitter.

More info on the Readathon HERE

5:00am – Hour 1 (The ‘I Might Be Awake, But Probably Not’ Edition)
I usually set my alarm for 5am on Readathon days (and wake up before it goes off), but since I’m feeling pretty run down from the week, that may not happen this time. But I should be up and about shortly! In the meantime, let’s look at the books I have lined up for the day.

I used to get a bunch of short, quick books from the library in preparation for readathon day, which was great for me reading stats, but not so good for my TBR pile. So this year I’m going to stick with books that I already have on hand. This is what I’ve pulled from the TBR shelves:

ReadathonApr13_Books

Black Hole Sun by David Macinnis Gill (I tried to start it a while ago, but immediately put it down again because I just wasn’t feeling it at that moment. But I’ve been reassured since then that it really is good, so maybe this is the time to give it another go.)
Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson (I’ve already started this, so it will probably be one of my focus books of the day.)
The Root Cellar by Janet Lunn (One of my favourites from when I was a kid. Picked for today for no other reason than because it is short-ish.)
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness (Depending on how much I want to cry. But I might even start with it.)
Sabriel by Garth Nix (Book club pick, so it should probably be another focus book. I have started it, meaning I have read the prologue.)

That’s it! What’s in your readathon stack? What are you starting with? And, most importantly, what are you having for breakfast?

5:08am Edit: A few minutes late, but I am up and snuggled into my blanket nest with my first book. Let’s do this!

IMG_3607

You have every right to look scared of that monster, Eeyore.

7:35am – Hour 3 (The ‘It Feels Earlier Than Usual’ Edition)
So far this morning I’ve had first breakfast and my first nap. And am more than half way through my first book. I think we’re off to a good start.

Reading: A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
Munching: Hot cereal & tea
Listening: nothing but wonderful early morning silence

Books finished: 0
Total pages read: 130
Total reading time: 1hrs 49min
Total cheer comments: 0
Total naps: 1

.

.

8:48am – Hour 4 (The ‘I Finished My First Book’ Edition)
… and I’m still drying my tears. I need to take a little mental break before moving on to my next book, which will probably be Suite Scarlett. I don’t have any new food pictures to share with you (although my stomach is starting to rumble for second breakfast), so instead here’s a pic of my reading spot for the day.

IMG_3605

Hooray for blanket nests!

Reading: in between books
Munching: nothing! gasp!
Listening: construction next door.

Books finished: 1
*A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
Total pages read: 205
Total reading time: 2hrs 37min
Total cheer comments: 0
Total naps: 1

.

.

11:00am – Hour 7 (The ‘Second Breakfast’ Edition)
Now that 2nd breakfast has been eaten and I’m comfortably into my 2nd book, it’s time to get to some cheering. I hope you’re all having a great Readathon day! Thanks to everyone who has stopped by and commented this morning :)

Reading: Suite Scarlett by Maureen JohnsonIMAG0872-1
Munching: Eggs, toast, back bacon, tea
Listening: Youth by Daughter

Books finished: 1
*A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
Total pages read: 266
Total reading time: 2hrs 24min
Total cheer comments: 0
Total naps: 1

1:34pm – Hour 9 (The ‘I’ve Changed Out Of My PJs’ Edition)
I’ve changed into Real Clothes (read: yoga pants & a t-shirt) and somehow that has made me feel a little more energized and pumped for the day. Having lunch probably helped, too.

I’m really really enjoying Suite Scarlett. I actually started it earlier in the week but was having trouble getting into it. I’m so glad I decided to push through it today! Not only is it a fun read, it’s making me want to go back to New York like crazy. Like, now. If I suddenly disappear from the readathon this afternoon, it’s because I’ve booked a last minute flight and am packing my bags.

IMAG0873-1Reading: Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson
Munching: Sandwich, chips
Listening: A Lack of Color by Death Cab for Cutie

Books finished: 1
*A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
Total pages read: 322
Total reading time: 5hrs 22min
Total cheer comments: 12
Total naps: 1

3:36pm – Hour 11 (The ‘Snack Time’ Edition)
IMAG0875-1I’ve hit the ‘heathy snack’ portion of the day. Still chocolate, popcorn, and leftover birthday champagne to look forward to this evening!

I’m still working away at Suite Scarlett. Right now I’m hoping I can finish this and at least start another book before I pack it in by Hour 18 tonight. I think that’s doable!

Reading: Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson
Munching: veggies, pita chips, hummus
Listening: Heavy machinery working away next door

Books finished: 1
*A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
Total pages read: 375
Total reading time: 6hrs 41min
Total cheer comments: 23
Total naps: 1

8:46pm – Hour 16 (The ‘I’ve Started On The Champagne’ Edition)
IMAG0880-1Whew. As usual, this day has flown by. But I feel like I’ve been productive since my last update. I worked out, read in the bath, finished going through my cheerleading list, had dinner, finished my second book, and successfully opened a bottle of champagne without causing any damage to myself or our home.

Instead of starting something brand new, I think I’m going to move to Sabriel next. It’s our book club book for May and I should probably read past the first 15 pages.

I’ll only last another hour or two, but I should be back for one last update!

Reading: in between books
Munching: veggie beef nachos, champange
Listening: Bloodflood by Alt-J

Books finished: 2
*A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
*Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson
Total pages read: 527
Total reading time: 9hrs 16min
Total cheer comments: 40
Total naps: 1

11:12pm – Hour 19 (The ‘Time To Say Goodnight’ Edition)

This evening has degenerated into watching How I Met Your Mother on Netflix, so I’m calling it a night. Thanks for the blog comments and twitter chats and general bookish merriment. Thank you to the organizers and co-hosts – this event wouldn’t be nearly as amazing without you.

I’ll see you all in the Fall!

Final Read-a-thon Stats:
Books finished: 2 books + started a 3rd
*A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
*Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson
*Started Sabriel by Garth Nix (started)

Total pages read: 561
Total reading time: 10hrs 41min
Total cheer comments: 44
Total cheering time: 1hrs 49min
Total naps: 1

Total participation time: 12hrs 13min (not including Twitter time, working on blog posts, etc)

Weekly Round Up (03.31.13)

March 31, 2013

These were my 5 most listened to tunes from the last week, according to last.fm:

1. Falling by Haim (3 sisters + 80s inspired = awesome)
2. Forever by Haim
3. Overdose by Little Daylight
4. Hold on to the Metal by Royal Canoe
5. Jennifer by Little Comets

The sunshine has appeared and I am listening to all the summertime music with the windows rolled down. Happy Spring, indeed!

- – ~ – -

“It’s Monday What Are You Reading” is a weekly event hosted by Sheila that lets you share books you’ve read over the past week and books you have coming up.

Finished:
Cinders & Sapphires by Leila Rasheed
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Posted:
Snippet Thoughts: Madness Underneath, Cinder, This Is What Happy Looks Like, Cinders & Sapphires

Currently Reading:
The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson (reread)

Up Next: Either City of Bones by Cassandra Clare or Sweethearts by Sara Zarr

What are you reading and listening to? Did any new books find their way into your possession?

Snippet Thoughts: Madness Underneath, Cinder, This Is What Happy…, Cinders & Sapphires

March 26, 2013

MadnessUnderneathThe Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson

The only other Maureen Johnson books I’ve read are the Little Blue Envelope ones, which I thought were okay. But the Shades of London books feel much more like books the Maureen Johnson of Twitter fame would write. I highly enjoyed the first in the series, The Name of the Star, and The Madness Underneath did not disappoint as a follow up. Well, until Maureen Johnson RIPPED my HEART out. Let’s just say that finishing it at my desk during my lunch break was a bad idea. I will be on tenderhooks waiting for the next book in this series to hit the streets.

Source: Borrowed (and now own)

ScarletScarlet by Marissa Meyer

Another second in a series that I had high hopes for. I didn’t quite enjoy this as much as Cinder, but it was still very enjoyable. Still being attached to where Cinder left off, I had wanted more of Cinder & Kai’s story. But Scarlet eventually won me over. Like in Cinder, I liked how Meyer reinvented the Little Red Riding Hood story and how characters overlapped from both Cinderella and the upcoming fairy tales. Looking forward to Cress – although it’s a million years away yet!

Source: Borrowed ARC

what happy looks likeThis Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith

I’ve been meaning to read The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight for forever and now I’m even more certain I need to read it. Because This is What Happy Looks Like was completely adorable and filled with happy tinglies. Ellie was a relatable, regular girl who was understandably jumpy about her quiet life being disrupted. And I thought that Graham was a great mix between awkward with being a celebrity and in love with being an actor. Definitely check this one out – it will make a great summertime book.

Want a bit more? Caitlin & I put together some questions for Wilbur, Graham’s pet pig: Wilbur the Pig, Interviewed!

(All through reading it, it kept reminding me of a movie I’ve seen about a movie star in a small town – I’m thinking maybe Win A Date With Tad Hamilton? But it could have been something else. What other movies can you think of with a similar premise?)

Source: Borrowed ARC

Cinders-and-SapphiresCinders & Sapphires by Leila Rasheed

This book was like Downton Abbey, but with less substance. Downton Lite, if you will. Told from multiple points of view, it is filled with the great big cast of characters you’ve come to expect in a turn of the century English manor. You’ve got your proud heiress struggling with duty vs passion, your conniving ladies maid, your exceptionally proper yet loveable butler, and, of course, your Indian gentlemen primed to ruin it all. I actually liked the downstairs storylines more than the upstairs ones, and wish more time would have been spent on some of the upstairs/downstairs crossovers. This is the first in a series and although it had all sorts of potential, it lacked the kind of edge needed for me to what to continue with subsequent books.

Source: ARC from ALA

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