Sunday, November 29, 2015

November Wrap-Up

Hi guys I'm back after a hiatus sorry for disappearing! Things got insanely hectic at work with training days and side projects to the point where I got so exhausted each night/week all I had time to do was sleep - and that's all I wanted to do. I did learn a lot on training and got some really good take outs.

You may skip this section in italics:
I went on a 2 day course for Design Thinking which is a way of thinking from the customer's point of view and looking at a concept purely from a desirability perspective (because feasibility and viability are constraints that really limit possibilities). I loved the positivity to the course and the way all ideas were encouraged and nobody was shut down. If we could take this and apply it everywhere I think it would boost people speaking up (confidence) and generate even greater ideas.
Last week I was on a 3 day conference with guest speakers on leadership and development. The leadership speaker was really inspiring and I liked the themes she spoke of. I finally had a huge weight lifted off my chest when my group presented a 6 month compulsory side project we'd had to do on strategy. And then on Friday I got to visit a high school and mentor students on resume/interview skills. The students cooked us food which was reallly tasty and it was such a rewarding day with great performances. It felt so weird stepping back into high school!
But Friday marked the end of my first year of work (in a way) and that's all my side projects completed so I'm FREEEEEEEEEE *dances*.

What's next? Well I've got a few reviews and my Lyla Payne interview post coming up (finally) and I'm going to tell you all the fun things I did in November!

I'm sooooo excited for the festive season, I've been doing heaps of Christmas shopping. If you follow me on Instagram you'll see all my posts about Christmas trees (I LOVE decorations), and if you follow on Twitter then you'll have seen all my present wrapping spam tweets lel.

I quietly celebrated by 23rd birthday on the 10th (which funnily enough was the last post I did). It's the most low-key I've ever had for a birthday. Thank you so much to Mel @ YA Midnight Reads for the lovely present and my mum for giving me $200 to spend on books - and spend I did hehe.

Mockingjay Part II + Aqua S
Last Sunday I went to see the final Hunger Games movie with Jess @ My Reading Dress. Despite what a lot of people said I absolutely loved Mockingjay Part II. For me, the decider for a book > movie adaption is how well it follows the book and it did this perfectly. It was suspenseful, full of action and kept me at the edge of my seat. I loved the acting, especially Josh Hutcherson and Natalie Dormer. Also Haymitch and Effie whew. Afterwards I got Baileys flavoured ice cream from Aqua S which I must admit was delicious. Side note: Jess and I went to DJs and I picked up another Christmas tree but this one was one of those leafless birch trees with lights - something I've been coveting for years. Random I know.

Hard Rock Cafe
We celebrated a workmate/friend's birthday on Friday and went to Hard Rock Cafe. I ordered the Mushroom and Swiss Cheese burger which was REALLY good. I love mushrooms and I love Swiss cheese, add on meat and I'm set. I can't say I'd go back though. The burger was $20 and I'm pretty sure I could get the same thing for much cheaper elsewhere. The whole menu was very exxy and I didn't think it was worth it. Their service was splendid though, the waiters really funny and nice.

There's my blog woo!

Last Friday was BTCYA (Between the Covers YA - HarperCollins Australia's YA arm) Sydney and I had sooooo much fun. We got to hear about all the fantastic books that are currently out as well as upcoming releases. I'm so excited for all the wonderful books next years, especially The Crown's Game by Evelyn Skye which is high fantasy, which y'all know is my favourite genre. I'm also extremely excited for Passenger by Alex Bracken AND I GOT AN ARC. The goodie bags came with ARCs of Passenger - a special Aussie ARC which I'm really pleased about as well as another book (I got Demon Road by Derek Landry) as well the beautiful Ten Thousand Skies Above You poster. It was such a great night with bookish peeps and Terry :D I'm so sad to see Manda (and Tim) go, they are the crux of BTCYA and they're leaving big shoes to fill! The guest author was Jamie Curry, a YouTuber who wrote a memoir. She was really funny and I recommended her a bunch of YA contemporaries. I might post a full breakdown of the night later this week.

Sarah J. Maas
HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOLY GUACAMOLE. You guys know Sarah is my absolute favourite author and that the Throne of Glass series is basically my favourite series. Meeting Sarah has been my dream for the past 3 years so I can't believe my dream has come true. She is so funny and sweet and lovely, I just loved hearing her speak. Sarah is extremely humble and down to earth and when she signed my book she was like "omg so nice to finally meet you" wherein I died inside and went to heaven. I really hope Sarah comes back to Australia in the future and props to Sonia and the Bloomsbury Sydney team for making this possible.

Books Read
While I didn't read a lot of books in November, the ones I did read were quite massive and had quite a few pages.

  • Cress (The Lunar Chronicles #3) by Marissa Meyer - I loved seeing all the other characters in this and the progression of Thorne's character
  • Elantris by Brandon Sanderson - definitely my favourite Sanderson book so far. Loved the magic system and all the characters.
  • Their Fractured Light (Starbound #3) by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner - review to come
  • Winter (The Lunar Chronicles #4) by Marissa Meyer - satisfying end to the series. The thing about Meyer's books is that her heroines don't show their true strength until the next book when we see them from another's perspective. In their own books they're like damsels in distress. Cinder and Kai though so much love for these two.

Book Haul
  • Enchanted Forest by Johanna Basford - about time I started on this adult colouring thing. It's oddly therapeutic,
  • The Beautiful and the Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald - I'm collecting these gorgeous editions they're so pretty!
  • Until We Meet Again by Renee Collins - I can't remember where I heard about this but I love the concept of timeless romances and time travel. Also a standalone so yay!
  • Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson - I got a review copy from Simon & Schuster AU when this came out but I've always wanted the hardback because the jacket is awesome - it opens up on the inside to a photograph of Emily and Sloane
  • The Devil You Know by Trish Doller - I LOVE Trish's books. Her debut Something Like Normal is one of the most fab contemporaries ever. Ok so what I don't understand about this is WHY this is a different size to her other 2 books which ARE the same size? It looks weird next to them...
  • The Peony Lantern by Frances Watts - I heard about this at BTCYA and I was so intrigued because it's Aussie YA and set in feudal Japan. I just had to get it at the event!
  • Firefight (Reckoners #2) by Brandon Sanderson - I'm reading Steelheart atm and I'm SO glad they had the smaller paperback out at the Dymocks sale
  • Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon - I've heard great things about this so it's high time I got my hands on this. I've heard this is becoming a movie too?
  • Nowhere But Here (Thunder Road #1) by Katie McGarry - it doesn't usually take me this long to get a Katie McGarry book but for some reason I just wasn't in a rush to get this because it wasn't in the PTL universe. I'm still excited to read this because I adore Katie's gritty and edgier YA style
  • Dead Ends by Erin Lange - I haven't heard of this but Mel (YA Midnight Reads) got this for me for my birthday thank you!
  • The Next Together by Lauren James - what was it I was saying about time travel and romance? Yeah. Thanks Mel for this!
  • Ten Thousand Skies Above You (Firebird #2) by Claudia Gray - I don't care that I don't really love this series because these covers make me love them and I am so invested in these beautiful covers AHAHA
  • Their Fractured Light (Starbound #3) by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner - yayyy the final Starbound book. Thanks to Allen & Unwin for sending me this review copy!
  • Passenger (Passenger #1) by Alexandra Bracken - NO WORDS. NONE. ALSO THAT COVER WOW. Thank you, thank you BTCYA for this ARC.
  • Nimona by Noelle Stevenson - I've heard so much about this graphic novel (and was doubly convinced after BTCYA) I needed it in my life
  • The Red Queen (Obernewtyn Chronicles #7) by Isobelle Carmody - thanks Penguin Teen Australia for sending me this monster of a book. It is seriously massif. Like do you even lift?
  • Obernewtyn (Obernewtyn Chronicles #1) by Isobelle Carmody - I guess I have to start the series now aye? At least I don't have to wait 28 years O_O
  • The Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy by Maggie Stiefvater - you guys this whole hardback boxset was $20.99 on Booktopia and I had free shipping. Yes you heard right. I don't care that I already own Shiver in paperback and I never finished it, this was too good of a deal to pass up
  • Winter (The Lunar Chronicles #4) by Marissa Meyer - THIS TOOK ME A WHOLE WEEK TO FIND HOLY MOLY. And I devoured it. It was soooo good.
Reading: Broken at Love (Whitman University #1) by Lyla Payne // Steelheart (Reckoners #1) by Brandon Sanderon
Listening To: What a Feeling by One Direction (THANKS JESS FOR GETTING ME OBSESSED)
Watching; Flesh and Bone - I found this on Stan, it's a new mini-series about ballet. It's dark and graphic but I'm loving it so far.

Ok well that's me. LOL that was long. Kbye.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Your Favourite Genre

As much as I enjoy any good book, I get this immense joy when I immerse myself in a high fantasy novel.

I'm nearly finished with Brandon Sanderson's Elantris and ever since I picked it up I haven't been able to put it down - that being said, it's taken me quite a while to read it because wooooorrrrkkkk :c I notice I always feel this way when I read a high (epic?) fantasy book with lots of magic - Throne of Glass, A Court of Thorns and Roses (duh), Uprooted, any of Brandon Sanderson's books. I don't ever really feel as happy when I read a contemporary and I wondered why.

The thing with contemporaries for me is this - they deal with common problems set in my world. Yes this makes them relatable. But it also makes me feel exhausted emotionally because I deal with a lot of problems in everyday life and reading a contemporary is just like stepping out my door into real life. And a lot of the time I don't want to deal with real life (something personal about me: dealing with people actually really exhausts me which is why I basically never go out on weekends). I want to escape my problems but reading a contemporary usually makes me think about these.

This is also why post-apocalyptic/sci-fi doesn't always appeal to me too. Most settings resemble our world to some degree but it's a dystopia. These books remind me of all the ways the world can go wrong. It brings to light what humanity can become, how when stripped bare we are mainly selfish and self-preserving. Sure it also brings to light hope but we have enough disasters/issues in the world right now so I don't want to be reading about what else can go wrong.

That being said I do enjoy my share of contemporaries and post-apocalyptic - some of my favourite books are in these genres.

But then there's high fantasy...

High/epic fantasy is 100% my favourite genre without a doubt, Here is a wholly imagined world with no rules or boundaries. My problems seem small compared to the characters in these books. There's limitless possibilities and my favourite ones have complex magic systems which really make the world something I can barely fathom. I love that this world is born from someone's mind and the settings are intricate and lush. I won't know what will happen next so I'm kept guessing until the last page. (This also why I love Final Fantasy/Kingdom Hearts - magic and complex story lines in beautiful worlds.) When I escape into a high fantasy world, I become the character and I'm in that world and real life just fades away into something insignificant - I feel like I've become part of something epic? Wow that sounds weird. Anyway yes MAGIC. Funnily enough I don't like high fantasies that lack magic (shhh but I'm struggling to get through Game of Thrones and An Ember in the Ashes).

Do you have a particular genre? Any particular reason why?

Some of my favourite high fantasy:

  • Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas - I love Sarah's lush writing in this and the magic becomes more and more intense as the books progress
  • A Court of Thorns and Roses - Beauty and Beast retelling but with fey folklore
  • Uprooted - the magic in this is lovely I don't know just read it
  • Mistborn trilogy by Brandon Sanderson - metals magic system is so well thought out and complex THIS TRILOGY <3
  • Fire and Thorns trilogy by Rae Carson - this one has amazing character development with very unique magic
  • Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson - while one of the characters pissed me off too much to make me love this, the magic system is fabulous in this. It uses COLOUR. Love love love.
  • Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo - this series went downhill for me but I still love it and the first book is wonderful. Very mysterious and I love the villain and the magic classes are cool
  • Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers - assassins and serving Death and poisons yesyesyes
  • Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge - another Beauty and the Beast retelling but with slight Greek influences and this one has magic and there's this really epic feel to it
  • Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta - the first in her Lumatere Chronicles it's not extremely magic focused but there's a Tempest and prophecies and I love it. I still need to finish this trilogy off ahhh
Not all high fantasy but has amazing world building and fabulous paranormal/magic systems and settings to get lost in
  • The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon - clairvoyants  like you've never read them before in a dystopian world. Phenomenal world building.
  • The Iron Fey by Julie Kagawa - I adored the romance in this actually and I love the way Julie's written the Nevernever. 
  • A Darker Shade of Magic by VE Schwab - I could lope this in with high fantasy but this one is parallel worlds and one is based off 19th century England. Either way PARALLEL WORLDS that are SO well thought out and the magic to travel through these wow
  • Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy by Laini Taylor - angels and demons but not as we know them. Laini's beautiful writing set against the backdrop of Prague. THIS SERIES UGH.
  • The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh - a retelling of A Thousand and One Nights it's got curses and not so much magic but it's so angsty and beautifully written

Sunday, November 1, 2015

October Wrap-Up

Eh October ended? How what? I just can;t get over how quickly time flies. I guess it's time to recap the October reading month then!

I read a total of 5 books in October and they were generally quite enjoyable

  • Magnus Chase and the Sword of Summer (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard #1) by Rick Riordan - I was pleasantly surprised by Magnus, my review here
  • What We Left Behind by Robin Talley - this was highly disappointing, read my review here
  • Angel (Angel #1) by LA Weatherly - a bit overhyped for me. The romance was waaaay too sappy
  • Mistletoe and Mr. Right by Lyla Payne - so impressed by this different and sweet style of NA. I'm definitely checking out more of Lyla's stuff.
  • Illuminae (The Illuminae Files #1) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff- of course. What else would I rate it?

I actually loved Illuminae so much I made some graphics for it. If you'd like a particular size for a wallpaper or something just leave a comment and I can make it for you :)

These are some of my favourite quotes from the book. Ezra is smooth guys. So smooth. His charm is off the charts.

 iPhone 5/5s/6/6s wallpaper

Books I bought and received:

  • Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by JK Rowling and illustrated by Jim Kay
  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  • The Girl with All the Gifts by MR Carey
  • Ice Like Fire (Snow Like Ashes #2) by Sara Raasch
  • The Rose Society (The Young Elites #2) by Marie Lu - shit you guys do NOT read the synopsis for this if you haven't read TYE. I got spoiled so badly like this
  • The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler - I have heard nothing but praise for this
  • Captive Prince (Captive Prince #1) by CS Pacat - I saw a post about this on tumblr and had to get it
  • Illuminae (The Illuminae Files #1) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff - I went to the signing for this yay
  • Signs Point to Yes by Sandy Hall - I got this as a surprise in the mail from PanMac Aus, I love that the cover is the same style as A Little Something Different
  • When We Collided by Emery Lord - thanks Sonia/Bloomsbury Sydney
  • Inherit Midnight by Kate Kae Myers - thanks Sonia/Bloomsbury Sydney
  • Silver in the Blood by Jessica Day George - thanks Sonia/Bloomsbury Sydney
  • Mistletoe and Mr. Right by Lyla Payne (manuscript) - thanks Sonia/Bloomsbury Sydney

As I mentioned last week, I got to interview Lyla Payne when she came to Sydney, thanks to Sonia and Bloomsbury Sydney (Genevieve!). Sonia also gave us an awesome bag of goodies.

Highlights - I mentioned these in my previous weekly wrap-ups
  • Dinner and dessert with Jess @ My Reading Dress
  • BIGBANG [MADE] tour in Sydney concert
  • Interviewing Lyla Payne with Joy @ Thoughts by J at the Bloomsbury Sydney office
  • Illuminae launch party at Dymocks Sydney
  • The Imperial Russian Ballet Company performing Swan Lake
  • Helping out with a fundraiser trivia night where I also designed the website for collecting donations, selling raffle tickets and auction items - if you'd like to read about the cause and donate, click here

Currently Reading: Cress (The Lunar Chronicles #3) by Marissa Meyer - preparing for Winter!
Watching: I just recently finished watching the Korean drama Who Are You: School 2015. It was SO good. It breaks all the K-drama stereotypes with a love square. It's about high school life and bullying and it's just realistic and on point.