Seeking Saturday's Read #18: Wrapping 2014 Up With A Big Fat Bow

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Let's take a moment to realise that this is the last Saturday of 2014. That really came out of nowhere, didn't it? So I thought, why not get nostalgic and look back at the year, with the aid of a couple of pictures. I then realised that all I have is photographs of food. There's one that resembles me studying, but who do I kid, because when you think about it, my attention span must have dissipated along the way for me to snap a picture. There's something to think about for 2015 — work on your attention span, Jess. 

Before I go on, I hope that everyone is having a good holiday season. Merry Christmas to all those who celebrate. It's only a couple more days until the new year and then we'll all be grappling with dating things with a 5 instead of a 4 (it takes me a good few months to get into the groove of the new year.) This week was spent with sleepless nights, food comas and work. How fun. I've also realised that it's the third week without a review on this blog and honestly, it'll probably stay that way until 2015 rolls in. Why? Because then I will unveil the overly hyped Red Queen review that I've yapped on about for weeks on end. Don't get your expectations up, now. 

I also picked up The Burning Sky this week after being given The Perilous Sea. I figured it's now or never. This way I can marathon the first two and drown in my emotions as I wait for yet another 2015 book. Despite a few problems here and there, I'm thoroughly enjoying myself. It's heavy on innuendos and my little giggly teenage self is finding it a tad hard to remain composed. C'mon, who can keep a straight face when they're throwing wand jokes around? 

I know I said something about a video but honestly, I've been a little overwhelmed by real life to find any quality time with my computer (hence the backlog of unanswered things but I'll get there, stay with me here.) So I thought I'd use this post to congregate a collection of photographs that (vaguely) reflect 2014 for me. Yes, it does make me look like I spent the year with a ratio of 3:1, in favour of food over real life. I don't know what happened there. Without further ado, this was 2014, kids. 

To The Constrictions of Goals and Challenges, I Say No More

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

I’m messy, sporadic and am a rather uncontrollable hoarder (I thank thee, parents, for the hoarding tendencies.) And while the world got by with there reliance on diaries, beautiful timetables and colourful tabs and notes, I made do with a mental checklist that worked on whatever occasion that it pleased. It never used to faze me, that was until I amplified my usage of the internet. Two sequential things occurred: 

1. I was connected to beautiful, likeminded people who shared my passion in life and are like other halves to my soul. Bless you all. 
2. It made me sit here and re-evaluate my life as I looked on in awe as everyone completed a multitude of reading challenges—from your generic and simple GR tally to ones that involved globe trotting, diversity and etc—planned blog posts weeks and months ahead of time and made and scheduled deadlines with an ease. 

One thing (amongst the many that I’ve happily revealed to you all) that you should know about me is that I get easily inspired. I kid you not, the amount things that I've dabbled in over the past few years is astoundingly difficult to document. I come up with supposedly brilliant ventures every day (and then rethink my life choices in the early hours of the morning.) And, of course, I buy a busload of stationary to aid me in my bid to create something extraordinary (this says a lot about me. Oh, the comfort I find in consumerism.) Only a small portion (somewhat equivalent to about 3%) of these ideas come to life and even then only about 1% is maintained (and as of right now, that’s this blog right here.) You see, I’m a passionate in the heat of the moment kind of girl. It’s evident in all aspects of my life. I get a multitude of ideas all the time and I find catharsis in the form of planning. It’s a cleansing ritual—I pour and then I release. Like two years ago when I thought I’d pick up my studying game. I drew up a highly intricate timetable only to stuff it on the same night. My proudest moment ha! 

The point is, I ignorantly lead my reading goals straight into a dead end. I, of all people, should know of my horrendous fear of goal committing. And here I was, mentally signing up for this and that. I wanted to do it all, feel the validation of achieving something for once. But alas, it was never meant to be. It’s all fun and games to envision a positive outcome but it’s utterly demoralising when reality bites back. 

Seeking Saturday's Read #17: On The Consequences of Late Nights, the Critical Essay of 2014 and Mlid Reading Slumps

Sunday, 21 December 2014

My eyes are pretty much glued together at this stage. Can you sense a pattern here? Each week I deteriorate and there's one culprit to blame: my lack of sleep. You see, I'm feeling the brunt of all the sleep I've forgone in the past seven years. Consequences can really bite you in the arse. There's one solution for this and it's both simplistic and yet rather arduous (because I dare you to part my phone from my hand); I've just got to lie down and get some decent shut eye. Which I will once I get off my shift tomorrow, catch up on all the online duties that have been neglected this week and finally take some time to settle my mind. Then it'll be me time (I foresee me time starting past midnight though, to be honest.) 

Can you believe that Christmas week has snuck up on us? How did this even happen? Honestly, I've just been caught up in a rather mundane routine and so time has passed by in a blur. But I'm hoping that Christmas will allow me some time to reevaluate my year (and if not, the big 2014 wrap up coming up will just have to suffice). 

What I'm most chuffed about, however, is the reception of the major work that I spent  the majority of this year writing. I picked up an English course in my final year of senior studies that allowed me free reign—poetry, short story, speech etc—with whatever medium that I fancied. Obviously due my penchant for all things creative (like my drawing haha, what a joke that is) I made a beeline for the critical essay. It was a medium that I was comfortable with and it allowed me to capitalise on my strengths, which lay in being analytical. So over the course of the year, I poured my dear heart and soul into this paper (I kid, more like for the last month or so because deadlines are what scare a sense of efficiency into me). Fun fact, it was due to this major work that a passion for reviewing was jumpstarted. You see, originally I had gone into this project with a different topic and starting point. It was something to do with nihilism, existentialism and the art for art's sake movement. Otherwise known as a topic for discussion that would have left me in quite a precarious situation (I would be bringing sugar into an ant's nest). Next to art, the marking process for this major work is about as subjective as it could possibly get. And my final idea? It was risky (but not as much as feeding myself to the wolves). Go big or go home, kids (not the best life advice but it's the one I'm living with right now—the New Year's Eve mentality is kicking in). Knowing fully well that my work was going to be marked by a rather older generation, and therefore (and I'm generalising) rather traditionalistic mindsets, I opted for a contemporaneous paper. Without getting into too much detail (I'm perhaps saving this for a future post, or maybe my year wrap up), my critical essay studied and tore apart the evolution of the dystopia under the wing of Young Adult fiction and the aftermath. Essentially, I did the big financial investment no-no, putting my eggs into one basket. However, after a rather excruciating wait, it seemed as though though the odds were in my favour. The response to the piece was beyond my most optimistic predictions. And I'm elated. 

Reading wise, I'm slumping, mildly, this week. That being said, who didn't see this coming, especially considering how much I attempted to squeeze into last week (and rather successfully at that as well!) I'm currently reading What I Thought Was True but honestly, this book has lost me. Whether it's the fact that I can't get over the use of the name Cassidy or that I can barely read two words without falling asleep, either way, I'm not making progress. I have, however, finally picked up Rebound and all I can say is that it's promising. 

While you may not have noticed (I certainly have), there hasn't been a review around these  neck of the woods for about two weeks now. I've been reading. Heck, I've even been churning out reviews. But due to my rather messed up schedule last week, I devoured a lot more 2015 books than I should have and so those reviews are getting vaulted for the time being. Goodreads did see something new with my review of To All The Boys I've Loved Before. I loved it because I'm superficial and I can't resist a sports car. Be warned though, the protagonist narrates with an innocent naivety that will frustrate many (bar those who are enamoured and of course, me, who allowed other factors to eclipse pretty much the entire book.) I do have a double (hopefully) review coming up next week so keep a look out for that. 

That's me for the week. Now let me in on you. What's in it for your lead up to Christmas? How are you sleeping, more importantly? Do you ever feel like all the hours you've lost will come back and haunt you? 

Do You Feel Compelled To Read Seasonally?

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Picture this: It’s the peak of Summer. The sun creeps up early every morning and crawls away late at night. Its rays are omnipresent. You give in, call it a day and pack a bag for the beach. It’s your day, a recreational and somewhat spiritual attempt at reconnecting with yourself—aka lathering up in sun creme, picking up half a watermelon and lying down by the beach.  But there’s still one thing you must do before you hasta la vista your responsibilities; you’ve got to pick a beach read. That’s right, the mother of all decisions. What gets the almighty pleasure of being the book that you'll pretend to be reading while you’re actually catching up on some zs? No offence but the dystopia doesn’t exactly denote a recreational Summer. That’s right, you’re more likely to reach for something that’s a tad more fun (which isn’t to say that a dystopia can’t be fun but hell, you get me.) You see, there’s something about the beach that is synonymous with read your fluff. Is it the weather, the atmosphere, the unspoken call for a soothing “heft-free” zone? Either way, the beach, and all other associations with Summer, can leave the reader compelled by the heightened allure of contemporaries. But why? 

Let Me Overwhelm You With Tags

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

(Don't mind the Christmas theme, I just didn't want the image to go to waste ha!) 
I’m a hoarder at heart. It’s a dominant aspect of my life and its intertwined itself into my online presence as well. I hoard shoes, clothes, books and heck, I hoard tags now. Which is beyond my comprehension because it’s not as though holding onto these unanswered questions will mean that they’ll get better with time. The window of opportunity to answer these has opened up one too many times and each time I’ve declined them. For some reason, my mind likes doing things in bulk, as though that would minimise the amount of time that must be utilised (it doesn’t. Learn from you mistakes, Jess) 

The downside to hoarding tags is that I don't have enough of a proclivity towards organisation to make it work efficiently. I copy down the questions, sure, but I rely on my memory to inform me of the lovely people who transform me into a tag-ee. And for those familiar with these woods, you’d know that my memory’s not exactly in tip top shape. What I’m trying to communicate rather tragically is that you must forgive me for missing you if you're one of the blessed people who've tagged me over the course of the past three months. That’s something I need to add to my new year’s resolutions. 

Seeking Saturday's Read #16: Retreating From the Online World, 2015's Darkling and Next Week's Ambitious TBR

Saturday, 13 December 2014

There’s been a little a bit of radio silence on my behalf this week. Accredit that to Christmas, kids. I’m swamped left and right with work and catchups and it’s been a little hard keeping balance. To be fair, I prognosticated this so it wasn’t exactly out of the blue. The sleeping situation remains horrendous. How I’ve survived without a decent night’s sleep since September is beyond me. Perhaps I’ll crash in January? 

Due to my lack of online presence this week, I’ve been making the rounds in real life. Between work and other life requirements, I managed to squeeze in a couple of lunches with dear friends. Having my Christmas shopping done and dusted has meant that I've been happily people watching without that tugging you're just as unorganised feeling. The crowds are amassing. The stress is high. I’ve also used my waking hours to accumulate some footage that I’ve taken throughout the year and am now in the process of smushing it all together into one large video recapping 2014. Honestly, it’d just be a two minute video of food because I have a problem. But that’ll all be unveiled in the last week of December. Keep an eye out for it. 

Reentering real life this week has allowed me the luxury of some (that’s the key word here) time to myself. I managed to squeeze in two books at the beginning of the week and am now in the process of two more. In an ideal world, I envision myself as someone who’d complete an extra four books by the end of this weekend but who am I kidding? That’s insanity. 

My exploration in Boomerang turned out quite surprising. While I wasn’t sold, it didn’t disappoint either. From what I've garnered from popular NA titles, there is the inclusion of mature themes, yes, but there’s  also an exploration into concepts and ideas that an average fresh faced adult would tumble into. Boomerang could work a little on its execution but overall it was rather solid. I am holding out on complete judgement until Rebound, which I hope to get knocked over by the end of next week. 

I also did this horrible thing where I read a 2015 book. Not only am I unable to release my review and sway you all to the preorder button (which you should. Highly recommend) but I’m also stuck for about the next four or so months, stewing in my own feelings. It was an intense read but I can see my 2015 brightly: I’m book pushing Red Queen to you all for 2015. For those who know of my undying love for SLA, Red Queen is the fantasy debut that you must look out for. For those who are weary, let me help your feelings dissipate with four words: We have a Darkling. I consider it my life’s mission to hunt Darkling parallels. Hell no, I do not condone unhealthy relationships. I am however intrigued by the psychological make up and the conditioning of seemingly sociopathic characters. Sue me for being curious. I have an initial review up on Goodreads but who do I kid, it’ll never be enough. Mark down February, kids, it’s going to be a good one. 

I’m being ambitious with the lead up to Christmas (why, I’ll never know, considering this is the busiest week or so of December). I’m hoping to gobble up To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, especially due to all the hype surrounding it (and because I'm dipping my finger--I'd rather not envision toe--into contemporary waters). Plus, the kiddo’s name is Kavinsky. In what world do I resist a Russian name? And for all those who know of my Veronica Mars love, you should know that I’m chuffed to be in the midst of chowing down the second book, Mr. Kiss and Tell. I said milk me and they sure did. My NA journey continues on as I spend this week reading Amour Amour. It’s a mix of circus acrobatics and hot guys with Russian names. Need I say more? 

Regarding the aqua notepad ploys, I want to thank you all. You’ve given my argument heft. There’s a house meeting tomorrow night. I’m going to squeeze my way in and fight for my shower thoughts because I want them documented. I’ll keep you updated. 

Side note, my AUS giveaway of The Imaginary by A.F. Harrold and Emily Gravett is ending this weekend. The winner will be announced via twitter.

If you round it up, there's about a week until Christmas. What are you plans? Is your spirit at full force? And what's your reading schedule like? I want to know it all. 

Blog Ideas Sprout At The Oddest of Times

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Either I self-fulfilled my own prophecy or I’ve just got a knack for prognostication. Whichever it was, I’m behind with my posts. And everything in general. That themed week I sneakily hinted at? It’s been postponed due to a rather unfortunate attempt at planning that neither factored in life, sleep nor sanity. But I’m here to make up for it. I’m ready to get a little personal (when am I not?) 

You see, I’m a shower thinker. Stay with me here because I do realise how weird that sounds.
I don’t know what it is about water but I get my best ideas in the shower. Magnificent things, really (I don’t want to get ahead of myself here but I truly think some scientific breakthroughs are a possibility if I’d keep in the shower for a little while longer). The thing is, as potentially life-changing as these ideas are (I once belted a tune that I swear could of become a hit single), I can’t retain them. At all. Once that tap winds back to where it began, I’m blank. My philosophical, inventing self dissipates.  There’s not a trace to be had. I leave myself with nothing. Which is honestly so cruel. 

This bothers me so much that I’ve actually considered drastic measures that have had my household question my life choices.  Like that time I called a house meeting and shared my thoughts on installing a white board in the shower. Needless to say, the votes were heavily against me. Let me tell you, none of them support my creativity (side note: I later called a meeting to suggest that we install a voice memo contraption. That got weird looks as well). Alongside cures for the incurable, interesting political entrapment ploys and other crazy exploits, blog discussions are also things that pop to mind when I’m in the shower. That’s where I get my adventurous ones, the ones that start off as seeds with the potential to grow into greater things (am I over-valuing myself here?) But how do I preserve them for long enough to actually take action and bring them to life? Could my inclination towards being unmethodical be limiting my potential?

Seeking Saturday's Read #15: On Making It To Uni, Being Overwhelmed By The Holiday Season and Exploring NA

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Short and sweet? It's 1:30am and I'm jotting down a post. Obviously I excel at time management. I took me a mighty long time to get back on track with comments and even now I'm attempting to pick up my slack. I'm low on time so stick with me here. 

All in all, it's been a busy week, to say the least. First off: the university worry has dissipated, slightly, for I made it. I got in. And to my dream course (Law and Commerce for all those who are curious). It was a big shock and but a very welcomed one. I honestly lost hope at the end there but I am now existing in a state of elation. 

I must forewarn that as the Christmas season picks up the blog will also be affected. In fact, you may not even notice it (but I will. I notice what I'm going to do. Will I meet my own personal deadline?) but it'll happen. Work is piling up and squeezing in dinners, lunches and parties with friends and family really takes up a bunch of time. And so the only moments that I'm left with are those late at night and/or up until early morning because after that life starts all over again. But hey, I try. I like to keep busy. 

Next week's posts are themed once again (obviously they're still in my mind right now. What I need is time). I will hint that they may involve two new releases for 2015 so keep an eye out for that. And I have tags that need to be caught up on. I will. I promise. 

I spent this week being naughty and completely destroying my own reading calendar by picking up The Winner's Crime much earlier than intended. That book ruined me. You're going to want this one so jump onto the series now if you haven't already. For those apprehensive about giving it a go, I say hold on for a tad longer and marathon the two books. That way you won't be overtaken by a sense of frustration.

So technically the picture is a lie. I am not on chapter 33 of Boomerang. That being said, I do intend to pick up Boomerang as my read of the week. A NA contemporary? How positively transgressive for Jess. I'm hoping to marathon this and Rebound but who knows how much time I'll actually have on my hands. 

I came home to a box full of chocolate strawberries. I then consumed them for dinner (I kid.) But they truly were delicious. In fact, 2am me is quite hungry (notice how time passed from the beginning to the end of this post?) I think I've lost it. Sleep more, Jess. Holiday season needs you at your peak. 

How packed is your holiday period? Christmas party, anyone? Or are you all rushing about, trying to get together the christmas presents? Tell me about your week and your plans! Are you all fans of NA? 

A Book For Everyone This Christmas + Giveaway (AUS only)

Friday, 5 December 2014

I like books (ha!) I like them throughout the year, as my bank account can sadly attest to, but I also like them at a particular time: Christmas (and my birthday which is so conveniently close by, oh my family love that). I’m an advocator of the written word and I like to use this time of the year to force books I love, or books that I know will be loved, onto my cherished few. Honestly, if they read just one book throughout the year I want it to be something that I’ve chosen for them (there’s that selfishness coming out again) and so there’s always a lot of pressure to pick well. I want to wow. I want to bring back the joy of reading. I want to stop making so many dramatic proclamations (there’s my first new year’s resolution). 

The point is, today I’ve teamed up with Bookworld in order to bring you a Christmas Gift Guide for most (if not all) your needs as well as a sneaky little giveaway at the end. Bookworld is a fantastic Australian online bookstore with amazing prices. And that shipping (which mind you, is now a flat rate of $5.50) is impeccably fast. Customer service is ace and there are always discount codes and other fabulous incentives for members. 

So here I am, attempting to tackle all personas. It was a task. There was brainstorming involved, let me tell you that. So without further ado, let’s get this show on the road. 

If Everything Is Conventional Then What Does It Take To Be Avant-Garde?

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

It’s no secret that YA fiction has exploded over the recent years. It’s an ocean out there and it’s heavily populated by a fair amount of fish. Which, in theory is good. There’s a fish for everyone, you see? But there’s also the other argument. That we’re been overpopulated by the same breed (is it considered a breed with fish?) of fish, thus making the former argument feeble. When you compare it to the survival of all species, ourselves included, was it not variety that saw to our development. If we'd continued on with our merry lives, happy with one breed of fish, would it not be ignorant of us to deny the potential of being evolutionarily stagnant and in time, rather uninspiring?

Let’s abandon the fish metaphor here (because I’m getting rather confused, if I may say so myself). What I was initially trying to get at is that we’ve had a heck of a lot of books under the YA tree as of late (no complaints here), but with this I’ve also seen a very popular cause of complaint spring up: conventionalism. Often I like to peruse the reviews of a certain book that I’m looking towards. Call me paranoid about running into a complete dud and whatnot but honestly, I just like to know what I’m in for. I’ll even look up spoilers if I have to (I’ve got no qualms about searching them out but if someone intentionally spoils me then hell hath no fury like a woman spoiled. Hello hypocrite.) The point is, more and more often, I’m coming into contact with sentences that run along the lines of “…super cliched. We’ve seen it before. Un-provoking, uninspiring, convenient, conventional, cardboard cutout” (which I've probably been guilty of at some stage), and I begin to wonder—if everything is conventional than what the heck is the un counterpart? What does it take to be avant-garde? 

Vicious by V.E. Schwab

Monday, 1 December 2014

Publication Date: September 23rd 2013
Publisher: Tor Macmillan/Forge 
Goodreads Summary: Victor and Eli started out as college roommates—brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong. Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl whose reserved nature obscures a stunning ability. Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find—aside from his sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will. Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the archnemeses have set a course for revenge—but who will be left alive at the end? 
(aka Jess may or may not have thought too deeply about this book but hey, it was a delectable read.)