Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Room by Emma Donoghue | Book/Movie Review

About the story: 
To five-year-old-Jack, Room is the world.

It’s where he was born. It’s where he and Ma eat and sleep and play and learn. There are endless wonders that let loose Jack’s imagination-the snake under Bed that he constructs out of eggshells; the coziness of Wardrobe beneath Ma’s clothes, where she tucks him in safely at night, in case Old Nick comes.

Room is home to Jack, but to Ma, it’s the prison where she’s been held since she was nineteen-for seven long years. Through her fierce love for her son, she has created a life for him in that eleven-by-eleven-foot space. But Jack’s curiosity is building alongside her own desperation, and she knows that Room cannot contain either indefinitely . . .

Told in the inventive, funny, and poignant voice of Jack, Room is a celebration of resilience-and a powerful story of a mother and son whose love lets them survive the impossible.

Book Details

Publication Date: September 13, 2010
Publisher: Little Brown & Company
Pages: 321
Genre: Contemporary Fiction (Adult)

Movie Details

Release Date: January 22, 2016
Leading Roles: Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay

My Book/Movie Rating:

5 stars | 5 stars

My Book Review (with some thoughts on the movie):
I didn't get to read Room before I saw the movie but since I thought the film was freaking brilliant, I knew I needed to come back to the source material when I had the chance. I'm so happy that chance finally came!

The book has a slightly different feel than the movie, which is something I appreciate quite a bit. Being entirely from the POV of a 5-year-old who grew up in a secluded, atypical environment, we (the readers) are provided with an outlook that is intriguing and often surprising, but were are provided with details the movie simply couldn't elaborate on. I really loved having an even deeper look into Jack's mind and the book has increased my love for the story.

However, I think I would have loved this book less if I had read it prior to the movie because I probably would have found the book's perspective to be too restrictive. Jack being 5-year-olds restricted the complicated emotions and the reality of the tragedy. The visuals of the film, however, obliterated those restrictions. The movie was so hard hitting because it so accurately portrayed the innocence of this boy, BUT it ALSO portrayed how deeply his mother was impacted by the entire ordeal. The emotional impact was so potent in the film that it spilled over into the book scenes, filled the gaps I think I would have craved as a reader, and that's why I still loved the book. The scenes from the film were in my head as I read and I was able to make the same emotional connection as I did during the film.

If you have watched and loved the movie adaptation, I absolutely recommend reading this too! I listened to it on audiobook and the variety of narrators really added to the experience!

Monday, February 1, 2016

Chasing Spring by R.S. Grey | Release Day Book Blitz

Today, I want to introduce you all to R.S. Grey! Dedicated, always up for a laugh, and rolling in creativity, she's just one of the people you love and can't help but support! She might be the cutest authors in the indie world too, so I give her an A+! Today marks her EIGHTH book release and she is killing it! If you haven't heard of her yet, scroll down to read about her latest release, Chasing Spring, her past stories, and get to know her hilariously charming self on her social media accounts! (Her insta made me fall for her). Enjoy!

Title: Chasing Spring
Author: R.S. Grey
Release Date: Feb 1, 2016
Find on Goodreads

I thought I’d left Blackwater, Texas behind for good. I didn’t belong in the small town, but my dad wouldn’t listen. He dragged me back home in his beat-up truck and dropped a bomb along the way: Chase Matthews was moving in with us. He was the golden boy of my high school, my former best friend, and the last person I wanted sleeping across the hall. His presence was too great a reminder of the ghosts I was trying to forget.

I didn’t ask for a hero. I don’t want to be saved.

To me, Lilah Calloway meant late nights sneakin’ out, moonlit hair, and sparklers in July. She was my best friend until the day she left and I’d assumed Blackwater had seen the last of her. Then, like a tempest, she rolled back into town for the final half of senior year. The chopped hair and dark devil-may-care attitude warned most people away, but I knew if I fought hard enough, I could find the lost girl.

I didn’t want to be her hero. Some girls don’t need to be saved.

I am a lover of books, chocolate, reality TV, black labs, and cold weather. Seriously, if I had it my way, I would be curled up on the couch with all of those things... everyday.

I live in Texas where I spend my free time writing and reading. My favorite authors include Mindy Kaling & Jonathan Safran Foer. I'm a comedy geek and love all things "funny". Women like Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Mindy Kaling are definitely the biggest inspirations for my writing, though I think my work tends to skew a bit smuttier than theirs.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I've Recently Added to My TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme that was created by The Broke and the Bookish
You can find more TTT lists from book lovers and bloggers by clicking their blog name.

Today's topic:
Ten Books I've Most Recently Added To My TBR

1. Lovely, Dark and Deep by Amy McNamara
Dana at The Book Hoarder covered this in one of her recent videos and it caught my attention! It's about a girl who loses a loved one and her life kind of spirals. It sounds like there's a lot of darkness, inner healing, and love that take place. Dana also said it was written beautifully so it sounds like something I would enjoy!

2. Salt of the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
I don't know anything about this book; however, I enjoyed Ruta's debut novel, met her in 2014, and I'll be seeing her again on her SotS tour so I'm excited to read more by her!

3. La Douleur Exquise by J. R. Rogue
This is a book of poetry! I don't read poetry often, but Jenn's poetry resonates with me and I cannot wait until I own this in paperback. The cover compliments her work so well. Get sneak peaks of her work on her Instagram.

4. Tree of Codes by Jonathan Safran Foer
Dana from The Book Hoarder also mentioned this book in her last video (linked above). Looking at the cover you might think it's just an interesting contemporary or something...

And then you see what's in between the covers and you realize interesting is an understatement!
I'll be honest. I have no idea what it's about. It costs over $100 at online book retailers, but my library has it so I'll be checking out this beautiful creativity soon!

5. Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson

6. With this Heart by R.S. Grey
I've been following the author on social media for a while now. Initially to support her work because I didn't think her books would be up my alley, but she was a kind person with beautiful design skills (she design all her cover art!) worthy of some extra support! Now I've fallen in love with her online persona (because let's be real, we don't actually know these authors we love so much) and I'm starting to think I might like the stories she tells. Since this was the first book of hers I heard of, I'm going to try it out first and then continue with the rest!

7. Chasing Spring by R.S. Grey
Oh, look! Another R.S. Grey creation. Reading this synopsis made me finally realize I needed to pick up her work. 

Synopsis: I thought I’d left Blackwater, Texas behind for good. I didn’t belong in the small town, but my dad wouldn’t listen. He dragged me back home in his beat-up truck and dropped a bomb along the way: Chase Matthews was moving in with us. He was the golden boy of my high school, my former best friend, and the last person I wanted sleeping across the hall. His presence was too great a reminder of the ghosts I was trying to forget.

I didn’t ask for a hero. I don’t want to be saved.

To me, Lilah Calloway meant late nights sneakin’ out, moonlit hair, and sparklers in July. She was my best friend until the day she left and I’d assumed Blackwater had seen the last of her. Then, like a tempest, she rolled back into town for the final half of senior year. The chopped hair and dark devil-may-care attitude warned most people away, but I knew if I fought hard enough, I could find the lost girl.

I didn’t want to be her hero. Some girls don’t need to be saved.  

8. Through the Dark by Alexandra Bracken
I never did get very far into the first book of The Darkest Minds triology, but when I saw how much rave these story collections were, I needed to pin it to my TBR. I'll get to book one eventually...

9. A Million Drops of Rain by Amber L. Johnson
Sequel to Puddle Jumping, which was one of my all-time favorites read last year, and I legitimately cried when I learned that readers would get a follow-up on Lilly and Colton. I loved everything about Puddle Jumping so I can only imagine how much I'll love this one! No cover, yet, it'll release this July! 

10. Blankets by Craig Thompson
I've heard lovely things about this autobiographical graphic novel! I haven't read graphic novels, but I would like to give this one a try.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

To All the Boys I've Loved Before & P.S. I Still Love You | Jenny Han Duology Review

Photo credit: @nadeethequeen on

About To All the Boys I've Loved Before: 
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the story of Lara Jean, who has never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed. But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, even her sister's ex-boyfriend, Josh. As she learns to deal with her past loves face to face, Lara Jean discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all.

Genre: YA contemporary/romance
Pages: 288 | 337
Publication Years: 2014-2015
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Ratings by the book:
To All the Boys I've Loved Before
4.5 stars

P.S. I Still Love You
3.75 stars

Overall Rating:
4 stars

My review:
To all the readers who love contemporary, 
For what it was, for everything it was, To All the Boys I've Loved Before and P.S. I Still Love You are lovely, perfect stories. The family dynamic, the cultural standpoint, the teenage woes, the 2015 relevance, the first-love butterflies, and the different, yet, equally great romantic interests... they were all wonderfully relatable and charming story elements. Jenny Han's words read with such ease that it's always a fun experience to read her work.  
The best part of this duology is its moral of living life to the fullest. To opening yourself up to a whole world of possible experiences and opportunities if only you took them; risking the lows and the heartbreaks for moments filled with excitement and love. And even when things don't turn out for the best, at least you feel their effects in full. At least you're not living a half-life. If this hadn't been the message and Lara Jean hadn't learned this throughout the course of the series, I would label this duology as "just another YA contemporary". And I would demand more romance, damn it. I love experiencing and feeling those exciting and joyous moments alongside the main characters of a story. I need to develop strong, emotional connections to characters in order to LOVE a story, you know?
Maybe I'm still demanding more romance, but I suppose I'll concede because of every other lovely aspect this story has going for it. 

P.S. But seriously, Jenny. Please show us more romance next time! 😘

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

2015 Year In Review

2015 Year In Review

Ohtay! So. I never actually filled this out for 2015 when it was publicly appropriate to do so. When I finished the semester that December, I was so severely deprived of all reading-for-pleasure that I basically binged for the last week and a half before 2015 ended. I needed to catch up on my Goodreads reading goal, ya know? So I'm doing this late, but I don't care because I'm feeling nostalgic and want some reflection on 2015.

2015 was mostly a really great year for me. January-August was overall pretty decent with some amazing spikes in excitement, adventure, and achievement. September-December in one respect wasn't as bad as life could be, but at the same time, I would describe that semester and the overwhelming amount of responsibilities a time of stress and misery. I don't like to wish away time (we only have so much allotted to us on this earth!) but I really couldn't wait for that semester to be over. So let's take a look at my year more in depth:

1. What did you do in 2015 that you have never done before?
I studied abroad in Italy! In Italy I visited Rome, Isle of Capri, and Venice. While in Italy I ate food I've never tried before (lamb brain, anyone?), ate gelato every freaking day, tasted new wines and alcoholic drinks (moscato is my drinking buddy, but I had to try to chocolate shot!), and spent time with a dozen incredibly fun people! It was an experience I'll always have fond memories of. I got two new jobs on campus. I scratched the last draft of the story I was writing (not new), started over, wrote further than I previously reached in my story, and in doing so I wrote more in a few weeks than I ever have! The story still isn't finished, but I'm practicing not beating myself up for that and just being happy I've pushed myself to where the story is right now. :) I also started a social experiment. 

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
Yes (for the most part), and yes.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Yes! My cousin (whom I visited in June 2014) gave birth to her twins during her second pregnancy!

4. Did anyone close to you die? 
No, thankfully.

5. Where did you travel?
Italy: Rome, Isle of Capri, Venice. Boston, MA (we were delayed a day on our way to Italy), and Amsterdam, Netherlands (does the airport count? I have it stamped in my passport...)

6. What would you like to have in 2016 that you lacked in 2015?
I would like to have (and have been working on) more peace of mind, a simpler life, and the ability to channel out the stress I often (unknowingly) put on myself. Happiness.

7. What dates from 2014 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
May 27, 2015 - The day I said goodbye to my Italian companions <3

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
I worked really hard to achieve 4.0s in my second and third semesters in college.

9. What was your biggest failure? 
This is always a hard question for me. I guess I gained back most of the weight I had lost the previously. That was disappointing.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
My acne came back in the fall. Annoying buggers. I did have one cold illness in the fall that kicked me back like twenty steps, but I managed.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
My trip to Capri? My $5 head scarf from Italy? More books? I don't buy entertainment often, but when I do it's all good.

12. Where did most of your money go?
Same as last year: college, travels, and books.

13. What did you get really excited about?
Italy! Landing two awesome and intimidating jobs! Moving in with my three best friends!

14. What song will always remind you of 2015?
See You Again by Charlie Puth featuring Wiz Khalifa

15. Compared to this time last year, are you...
Happier or sadder? Less happy.
Thinner or fatter? I gained back some weight I had lost.
Richer or poorer? Richer! I gained back the money I had spent last year and then added some!

16. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Writing. I want to write books but I get so unbelievably discouraged at the mere thought of trying. It's pitiful really. My hobbies such as knitting and sketching.

17. What do you wish you’d done less of?
It didn't take up too much of my time because I've been significantly better at it but not mindlessly browsing the web. I've wheedled out at least 85% of the mindless scrolling through social media I used to do out of boredom, but more recently picked up the habit again.

18. How did you spend Christmas?
I visited my grandma at her nursing home. Read. Had dinner with my family. Read some more. :)

19. What was your favorite TV program?
Parenthood, which has been the case for the past SIX YEARS. I'm so sad I won't be able to say this same answer next year because Parenthood is ending this coming February waaaaah!

20. What were your favorite books of the year?
The Kite Runner, This Star Won't Go Out, Breaking the Rules, Maybe Someday, Cruel Beauty, Where She Went, Just One Day, and MORE.

21. What was your favorite music from this year?
Daughter - discovered this year; loving!
Greg Laswell - discovered this year; loving!
Mat Kearney - discovered in 2013; love his pandora station
Ben Rector - discovered in 2013; love his pandora station
Bon Iver - discovered a few years back; never gets old; he is my go-to!
James Vincent McMorrow - discovered in 2012; new gets old; he is another go-to!

22. What were your favorite films of the year?
I made a post on m top 14 here!

23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 18 and didn't do anything remotely 18-celebration-like! I'm a big family person so my parents surprised me by taking me to an awesome Italian (my favorite!) restaurant I had never been to and met up with my aunt and uncle. :)

24. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
If I could have read more in September through November. My reading went AWOL during my first semester. And although I wouldn't replace the memories I made with reading, I wish I could have added more hours into the year to make up for my loss of reading (I only read 3 books for my own enjoyment the entire first semester!)

26. What kept you sane?
Music, my friends, and my family.

27. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2014.
#1 - It's okay to not have your shit together on every aspect of life. You'll get there.
#2 - The world is at your fingertips; you can do anything you want to do as long as you make it happen <Basically my year motto.
#3 - Take chances! You're only guaranteed today! <Also my year motto.

28. What regrets/disappointments do you have about 2014? 
Wasting too much time on little, mind-numbing activities (like surfing the internet) and procrastinating when I could have been writing or working on my "dreams" instead of just drowning in escapism. I also wish I had followed through with more of my plans to meet up with people when I said I wanted to get together with them. I know life gets really busy, but I don't want to keep making empty promises. I feel phony when I do that and I don't mean to.

29. Words or sayings that remind you of 2014:
"Proud of you" "bae" "Ohmigawwwd" "I love your more" "That's debatable" "Bye Felicia!" ^^Things me and my friends say jokingly LOL.

30. Did you have any new favorite foods or drinks?
I started enjoying shrimp more this year. I also really enjoyed the peach pie I had for the first time. I love peaches, why haven't I had them in pie form before?

31. Did you have any new favorite health/hair products?
Not that I can think of.

32. Did you have any new obsessions?
I can't think of any right now, but I know I did. I'm a fangirl for Pete's sake. ;)

33. Did anyone new walk into your life?
Lydie. Sierrey. Anna. Dozens upon DOZENS of friends from my first semester.

34. What was your personal style? In clothes, accessories, room decorations, etc
Casual with flare here and there. Jeans, tank tops, flowy tops and leggings, big sweatshirts, sneakers. Minimal accessories. I always wear hair ties on my wrist. I either wear my hair natural (curly), a high bun, or at night I will braid it before bed. As far as decorations, I love neutrals and blues. I themed my dorm room around those colors and will do the same next year.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Must Reads for 2016

None of these are 2016 releases; rather, they're all the books I haven't had the chance to read and want to make a priority this year! They don't pertain to my 2016 reading goals, although, they are ones I'm super pumped about. Are you looking forward to any?(:

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Airport Blue Goals for 2016

2016 is the year of Airport Blue! Which means it's going to be f*cking great. So let's kick it off with some good juju, some lucky stars, and possibly-attainable goals:

Reading Goals for 2016:
I have seven reading goals: four are ones I've been doing for a couple years now and want to continue; three are brand new. Many of these goals overlap with each other.

1) Read 1 book a week | 2015 was the first year I didn't even get close to accomplishing this goal, but I still love trying so ONWARD!

2) Read 5 of the oldest books on my TBR list | A book qualifies if I added it to GR between June 2012 and May 2013. Examples: A Child Called It, American Gods, A Stolen Life, The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, Flicker, These Broken Stars, The Westing Game, etc.

3) Read 5 books published in each of the past few years | This is the third year I'm participated in this challenge and I still don't know what to call it/how to efficiently describe it. I want to continue reading a certain number of books based on their publication dates. I find it helps my reading diversity and this way I'm not neglecting old books. The yearly categories I want to read 5 books in are 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2010-2011, and before 2010.

4) Read 7 unread books I own | The first three on this list I have let sit for far too long. The last four I acquired in October and November 2015 and don't want to neglect!
  • I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
  • When You Were Mine by Rebecca Serle
  • A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
  • Life and Death by Stephenie Meyer
  • You by Caroline Kepnes
  • November 9 by Colleen Hoover
  • All I Know Now by Carrie Hope Fletcher

5) #kindle0by17 - Half of my kindle is made of purchased ebooks and acquired ARCs, some of which have been severely neglected. I significantly improved my kindle habits last year by reading ebooks immediately after purchasing them, but there are a couple handfuls of unread ebooks that guilt trip me every time my mouse hovers over the 1-click button. I want to read these nine books so I can rid myself of the guilt and hopefully discover some oldies but goodies. The nine are:
  • Unbreathable by Hafsah Laziaf (Purchased)
  • Stalk Me (and rest of series) by Jillian Dodd (Purchased)
  • Reason to Breathe by Rebecca Donovan (Purchased)
  • Anathema by K.A. Tucker (Purchased)
  • That Boy by Jillian Dodd (Purchased)
  • The Universe Versus Alex Woods by Gavin Extence (ARC)
  • Untraceable by S.R. Johannes (ARC)
  • Breaking Free: True Stories of Girls Who Escaped Modern Slavery by Abby Sher (ARC)
  • You Are Mine by Janeal Falor (ARC)

6) Continue/Finish 5 Series | I really would like to have all these series under my belt by the end of 2016. They're starting to weigh down on me. I'd like to have to start 2017 on a new reading slate; however, nineteen books is a lot to catch up on, especially in addition to my last goal. If I get to half of these, I'll still consider myself successful. :)
  • The Selection by Kiera Cass - What's left: The Queen, The Favorite, The Crown
  • Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins - What's left: Lola, Isla
  • Jessica Darling by Megan McCafferty - What's left: Fourth Comings, Perfect Fifths
  • The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau - What's left: Independent Study and Graduation Day
  • The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer - What's left: Fairest and Winter
  • Newsoul by Jodi Meadows - What's Left: Asunder, Phoenix Overture, and Infinite
  • To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han - What's left: P.S. I Still Love You
  • Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas - What's left: Heir of Fire, Queen of Shadows
  • The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey - What's left: The Infinite Sea, The Last Star

7) Read 5 books discussed in my list unwatched book talks | This one isn't a big deal if I don't complete, but I have 10 of Christine Riccio's book talks tabbed to watch later (some of which I tabbed in 2013 and 2014) as well as some of my friend Trina's reviews so I want to read these books already so I can finally watch the videos! Some of these include: The Darkest Minds, We Should Hang Out Sometime, These Broken Stars, Heir of Fire, Queen of Shadows, The Infinite Sea, Isla and the Happily Ever After, P.S. I Still Love You, The Martian, Illuminae, All the Bright Places, Me & Early & the Dying Girl

Life Goals for 2016:
1) Watch 1 new movie/documentary/TV show a week - Third year in a row!

2) Write my first complete draft - I don't care how many times this is on my list of goals. Each time it is I get a little further and that's all I really want. 

3) Express my passions - I say I like writing. That I like photography. That I like blogging. That I like knitting and crafting and music. That I express who I am through these activities. That I channel my thoughts and emotions into them. But I want more proof. I want to do more.

4) Rest in silence

5) Eradicate my fears - Find them and set fire with a blow torch. Don't let them stop me.

6) Compassion, kindness, and support - Do it. Be it.

7) Take more care of my mind and body

Thanks for reading!


Friday, January 1, 2016

2015 Goals Check-In

The difference between the progress made on my reading goals versus my life goals is a stark contrast. 2015 was my busiest year yet. Real life consumed more of my time than fictional life, which is relieving because I wasn't living in the clouds, yet, sad because BOOKS! Because I was so focused on other aspects of my life, when I reevaluated my goals midway, I realized I no longer cared to reach most of the reading goals. And by the end of the year, I didn't not have the time to read as many books as these goals required so... let's start with the reading results shall we? Get those bunched up knickers out of the way.

My 2015 Reading Goals:
Note: The italics include books I was able to apply to challenges.

1. Read 5 of my oldest ebooks (added before 2015) | Incomplete
Collide by Shelly Crane
A Matter of Fate by Heather Lyons
Smash into You by Shelly Crane
On the Island by Tracey Garvis-Graves

2. Read 5 of the earliest books added to my TBR list | Incomplete
Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty
Nightshade by Andrea Cremer
Burned by Ellen Hopkins
The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan

3. Read 5 books I owned before 2015 | Incomplete
The Resurrection of Aubrey Miller by L.B. Simmons
City of Heavenly Fire by Cassie Clare
I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

4. Read 3 classics | Incomplete
A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis

5. Read 5 books that inspired Disney/childhood movies | Didn't start

6. Read 5 historical novels and/or memoirs | Incomplete
Light on a Ground of Darkness by Ted Kooser

7. Finish 5 series I've already begun | Incomplete
The Mortal Instruments
Wolves of Mercy Falls

8. Read 10 new-to-me authors | Complete
A.S. King, Heather Lyons, Ted Kooser, Elizabeth Gilbert, Kat Zhang, Tarryn Fisher, Tracey Garvis-Graves, Ellen Hopkins, Megan McCafferty, Patrick Ness, Andrea Cremer

9. Begin 10 series | Complete
A Matter of Fate, What's Left of Me, Nightshade, Ruby Red, Jessica Darling, Love Me With Lies, Never Never, Collide, Burned, Puddle Jumping

10. Read more Shelly Crane books | Complete
I read to somewhere between 25% and 50% of Collide and Smash into You before dropping them both. As much as I love Shelly Crane's Significance and Wide Awake series, I couldn't handle the sickly sweetness of these two.

11. Read 1 book a week | Incomplete
I read 44 books this year. Still happy I read this many, but I'm looking forward to (hopefully) more next year :)

12. Read X number of books from my TBR pile based on their release dates | Incomplete
This was going to be an all inclusive and overarching goal, but seeing as how this would have required 65 books and I read 44 books this year, I clearly, did not reach this goal.

My 2015 Life Goals:

1. Write my first completed draft | In Progress
Halfway through the year I started my story from scratch, which put me behind on word count, but it allowed the story to progress SO MUCH SMOOTHER. I still ran into some hiccups along the way (lack of motivation, other writing woes, busy semester) so I did not complete my first draft, but it doesn't matter because I still worked really hard on what I did accomplish and I'm excited to continue writing next year!

2. Watch 1 new movie/documentary/TV show a week | Complete

3. Hone crafting skills | In Progress
Faltered on wood working and painting, but the creative juices have been in motion!
  • Altered a bookshelf (added new shelves)
  • Loom knitted an infinity scarf
  • Took two graphic design classes - drawing-based and computer-based
  • Barely tried calligraphy (wasn't good, but I'll keep trying)
  • Made Christmas snowflake ornaments
  • Painted my room!
4. Go to my first concert | In Progress
Yeah...about that. I was invited to quite a few concerts by a friend, but none of them peaked my interest enough. I wanted to see Julianne and Derek Hough during their MOVE: Live On Tour; unfortunately I couldn't make it. BUT GUESS WHAT?! I've purchased tickets to see Selena Gomez and Josh Groban in 2016! That counts right?

5. Educate myself and vote when I can  | Complete
I voted on a state proposal.

6. Develop a healthy living style | In Progress
Healthy living, I've determined, will always be a give and take for me. Some weeks I am really good at eating a clean diet and exercising when I can find time, while other times I just need all the sweets and bed lounging! For me, it's about the balance, and that's not something I'm going to measure on a complete or incomplete scale.

7. Consciously appreciate the things and people I have in my life and show that I mean it | Complete

8-11. Personal goals concerning character | In Progress

12. Try new things without fear holding me back | Complete
I went to Italy! Flew across the Atlantic for the first time! Tried limoncello. Ate gelato... and lamb brain. And tried some other new things ;)

Top 15 Films & TV Shows of 2015

My goal for the past couple years has been to watch at least 52 movies, documentaries, or TV shows--one per week-- every year and both years I have exceeded it! If you're curious to know what else I watched in 2015, here's a full list, but the main reason for this post is to share my top 15 movies and TV shows of 2015! A quick run-down of how I do this:
  • This lists includes things I've watched for the first time; some of these are 2015 releases, some are not.
  • They are listed in the order I watched them, both on this top 15 list and the master list.
  • I count TV shows by the season for condensing purposes, but for this post I'm going to shove the seasons into one slot.
  • I rate any form of media as a reviewer, not a critic. Meaning: I might mention some technical aspects of a movie or book that I really liked/disliked, but I rate them based on my overall enjoyment. My rating scale is as follows:
  • 5 stars - Rarely use them, but when I do, they imply: I loved it and considered it perfect
  • 4 stars - Not perfect, but loved it!
  • 3 stars - I enjoyed it.
  • 2 stars - Some aspects were decent.
  • 1 star - Did not enjoy.

My Favorite Films & TV Shows of 2015:

Edit: I didn't realize until it was too late that I never included my all-time favorite TV show, Parenthood, to my full list for 2015! Parenthood is a TV show I have watched air on TV for six years now and it's sixth and final season aired during 2015's winter/spring. If you haven't watched it before, it's on Netflix, and I highly recommend giving it a shot! 

Now Is Good - 5 stars (Netflix) 
It's all about the heartstrings, man. Tug 'em until my eyes are waterfalls. Then I love you. Love the vibes, the storyline, Dakota Fanning's attitude... I love Now Is Good.

Gone Girl - 4.5 stars (College Early DVD-Release)
No, I didn't read the book beforehand. Holy shiz miester I don't even care though because it was SO. Good! It made me all the reveals that much more shocking--although I'm working on the book so don't hate me. Might I add, this year I've discovered I dig creepy. I really dig creepy, messed up, psycho, thrilling characters and stories. I think that says something about myself. 

The Good Lie - 4.5 stars (DVD Rental)
My heart is composed of tiny cells that pulse compassion. My heart is in African and I've never even been there. My heart went out to these people and their stories.

Interstellar - 5 stars (College Early DVD-Release)
Mind. Freaking. Blown! According to my science whiz of a brother, Interstellar doesn't even include that complex of space theories or physics or stuff, but to my artsy, wordy mind, this was unbelievable! I wish I could comprehend it all better because space, astronomy, and other life forms are some of my favorite subjects to contemplate and this movie did it for me!

Friends With Benefits - 4.5 stars (Netflix)
I saw it for the first time this year, can you believe it?! And loved it. Justin Timberlake: I like you as an actor. Why haven't I seen you in other movies like this? Mila Kunis: You're also fab. With y'all be the next Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper and make another movie together? Much appreciate.

Still Alice - 4 stars (On a Plane)
Mental illnesses of all kinds need to brought to the forefront of our minds. I'm very proud that attention was brought to Alzheimer's disease with this movie. Julianne Moore does a superb job and I surprisingly enjoyed Kristen Stewart's performance as well.

Chasing Life: Season 1 & 2 - 4.5 stars (Netflix)
I told you. I don't watch TV. But THIS. This is me 100%. Great character development, sensitive issues, emotions galore... WHY FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THINGS HOLLY WOULD ABC FAMILY CANCEL MY NEW FAVORITE SHOW? *La sigh* It was freaking lovely while it lasted.

The Fosters: Season 1 & 2 - 4.5 stars 
(Netflix and TV airing)
A mild second favorite after Chasing Life. It's bordering the line of too traditional teenage-ABC Family if you know what I mean (do you??) but this one's still airing. We'll see how long I last. I'm not always feel the characters' actions, which can make for a lot of eye-rolley frustration on my end.

Inside Out - 4.5 stars (In Theaters)
It's clever, it's fun,  it's comical, it's emotional, it's Disney. Of course I loved it.

Beyond the Lights - 4 stars (Netflix)
Maybe a little cliche, maybe a little predictable, but I enjoyed it nonetheless! Fulfilling story line and character development. It was fun and up my alley!

Bachelornation 2015 - 4 Hilarious stars (TV airing) 
If we must get technical, I watched three individual TV shows: The Bachelor Season 19, The Bachelorette Season 11, and Bachelor in Paradise Season 2. But I must bunch them together because they belong bunched. Any separation would give them too much false credibility and I am not willing to take the leap. I was a newbie to The Bachelor and quickly became engrossed in the ridiculousness of it all. I started it on a whim after I saw somewhere that the season was six episodes in and available to watch online. I laughed my butt off and rolled my eyes the entire season and when it all ended, I thought I had my fill. I swear that's what I believed. And then I came back from a trip to Italy in May and my mind wanted to stay in la-la-land so when I heard I was only a week behind... long story short, I had to and now Bachelornation is a part of my Monday routines until further notice. Sorry not sorry.

Bridge of Spies - 4.5 stars (In Theaters)
For all intents and purposes, I had no idea what this movie was about. Tom Hanks. Attorney. Not current-day. Germany. Criminal. That's all I knew. And then I sat in a theater from 11PMish to 1:30AMish and then WOW. For those who don't know, this is based off true events about an attorney (Tom Hanks) defends an accused Russian spy during the Cold War. It was directed and produced by Steven Spielberg, which I didn't know until the end credits rolled in, but those facts alone should tell you it's a must-see! The film is all-encompassing in intensity, emotions, gold star acting and cinematography.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens - 4.5 stars 
(In Theaters)
I know it's only been a month, but who hasn't seen this? It's great! JJ Abrams doesn't allow a dull moment to set in ever. It was heartwarming to see the old characters and intriguing to be introduced to the new characters. The graphics are the best of the series (obviously) and I cannot wait to see where Rey, Fin, and Kylo Ren's story lines go.

Joy - 4 stars 
(In Theaters)
It hasn't received the best reviews from critics, but Jennifer Lawrence's performance is a Golden Globe nomination and I fully support that nomination. And I stand behind the film and David O'Russell's vision because even though many people say the pacing wasn't great in parts, I didn't mind the slow beginning whatsoever. If you're hesitant to watch it, I encourage you!

Mockingjay Part 2 - 4 stars 
(In Theaters)
It's overrrrrrrrrrrrr. The saga has ended. Bittersweet, that's for sure! "There are worse games to play." Ah, it gets me every time. Certain areas could have been condensed, but I loved it as a whole. I'm not sure I can accurately rank the films in terms of favorite to least favorite. Each film holds a special place in my heart.

Honorable mentions:
Big Hero 6
The Age of Adeline
The Wolf of Wall Street

Are any of these your favorite too? :)

Thursday, December 31, 2015

My Year in Books: 2015 Reading Stats & Survey

Goodreads inspired me to make a short post about my reading stats for this year, but then I remembered Jamie at The Perpetual Page Turner makes a book survey at the end of every year, so this is a culmination of my Goodreads reading stats, the 2015 book survey, and some other stuff I threw in. P.S. I've deleted a lot of the questions from the original 2015 book survey (linked above) because they didn't apply to my reading year. Share your answers with me in the comments!

Book Data:
Number of Books Read:

5 stars - 12
4 stars - 15
3 stars - 12
2 stars - 3
1 star - 1

Number of Re-reads: 1
Never Never by Colleen Hoover & Tarryn Fisher

   First book started in 2015:
Started with a bang with Ask the Passengers by A.S. King.

Last book finished in 2015:
And ended with a bang with Puddle Jumping by Amber L. Johnson

Number of Pages Read: 

Shortest Book:
After the Bridge by Cassandra Clare

Longest Book:
City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare

Average Book Length: 

Most Popular on GR: 
Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

Least Popular on GR:
Mussolin's Rome by Borden W. Painter, Jr.
Lol, no kidding.

My Average Rating:

My Most Read Genre:

Survey Questions | Books from 2015:

1. Favorite Book You Read:
Mud Vein by Tarryn Fisher and Puddle Jumping by Amber L. Johnson - 
I'm sorry, I know it's supposed to be a singular answer 
but this is the worst question for a book addict!

2. Book You Didn't Love As Much As You Were Anticipating:
Confess by Colleen Hoover - Sad.

3. Book You Weren't Expecting To Enjoy As Much As You Did:
On the Island by Tracey Garvis Graves  - 
I could have put so many books under this category. SO MANY. But. 
Just goes to show.

4. Most Surprising Plot (Good or Bad):
Never Never: Part One by Colleen Hoover & Tarryn Fisher - Seriously. What just happened?

5. Favorite New Author You Discovered:
Tarryn Fisher - I'm kind of addicted to her writing. 
And her as a person. #PLN4LIFE

6. Most Unputdownable Book:
Puddle Jumping by Amber L. Johnson - 
Seeing as how I read it basically in one sitting... 

7. Book You Read That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year:
Titles and authors stated previously - I'm not trying to be unoriginal here, but I can't stop thinking about them!

8. Favorite Cover Of A Book You Read:
Because it is perfection.

9. Most Memorable Character:
Olivia from
The Opportunist by Tarryn Fisher - She is somethin.

10. Most Thought-Provoking/Life-Changing Book:
Ask the Passengers by A.S. King.

11. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read:
"He stayed all winter." -Senna, Mud Vein by Tarryn Fisher

12. Best Book From A Genre You Don't Typically Read/Out Of Your Comfort Zone:
Straight up poetry! I never read poetry books, but this was nice!

13. OTP Of The Year (You Will Go Down With This Ship!)
Olivia & Caleb from
Love Me With Lies series by Tarryn Fisher - 
They're so awful to each other, yet, so right for each other.

14. Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year:
Chloe & Will from

A Matter of Fate series by Heather Lyons - 
The BEST platonic girl-boy relationship ever! Love them so much!

15. Best Book That You Read SOLELY Because Someone Recommended It/Pressured You To Read It:
Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen - I gave it 3 stars, 
but it was the only one someone convinced me to read. 
John Green made me do it. 

Survey Questions | Looking Ahead:

1. Top Books You Didn't Get To Read In 2015 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority In 2016:

Life and Death by Stephenie Meyer
Marrow by Tarryn Fisher
Thief by Tarryn Fisher
You by Caroline Kepnes

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2016 (non-debut):
On the Other Side by Carrie Hope Fletcher (Not yet covered)

3. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2016:
Never Never: Part Three by Colleen Hoover & Tarryn Fisher

4. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life in 2016:
I hope to become more consistent with blogging! 
My 2016 Reading and Personal Goals will be up within the week :)