Required Reading

Ok, we all suffered, or didn’t suffer, whichever you like, through Summer Reading, and reading book after book in school. Theres something about being forced to read a certain work, or read in general, that can make people vehemently hate reading. But did we ever have to read a book that we absolutely fell in love with? For me it was “Mistaken Identity” by Don and Susie Van Ryn, and Newell and Colleen Cerak. This book tells the tragic story of a two young women who were in a car accident and when the police came, they identified the girl who passed away with one name, and the girl who was in the coma with another. After one family mourns the death of their daughter, another prays for theirs to wake up. And when she does they realize that they have made a mistake. This book deals with a lot of religious issues, but I would still recommend it, if you aren’t offended by prayer and religion.

 This is a super short post, but comment down below what your favorite book that you had to read in school.

A Year In Books : January Progress

So, I’ve decided to do monthly updates on my reading progress over the course of the year. One of my goals this year was keeping track of what I’m reading, because last year I have no idea what I read.

Has my life made progress in January? Not by much. I spent almost every day of January either working or being sick. I have the most obnoxious deviated septum (I assume), so there are about two or three weeks throughout the year where I don’t have some sort of cold or sinus infection. Being sick all the time, especially in the winter has awarded me with a lot of free time to drink tea and read books. My favorite Tea this month was, as usual, the Teavana Youthberry and Orange Blossom tea. Not only do i get to feel fancy and make my own tea bags out of it, it is also pink, my favorite color. Because I had a lot of time on my hands this month, I was able to finish two books. 

The first one that I finished was The Fault In Our Stars by John Green, which I have already reviewed on my blog. If you read that review, you know that I read that book in all of 6 or 7 hours, and if you’ve read that book, you’ll understand that I was too emotionally scarred to pick up another book right away.

The next book I read, I am incredibly proud that I made it the whole way through, was The Maze Runner by James Dashner. I was having so much trouble getting into that book, that I got to Chapter 6, and completely gave up on reading it. The day after I finished TFiOS, I was feeling incredibly motivated and decided to give it another shot. I’m glad I did, because TMR picked up and ended up getting better. That review is coming.

Currently, I am still working on the audiobook for Delirium by Lauren Oliver, but that is incredibly long, and I’m still trying to get into Starters by Lissa Price. Recently I started reading Crossed by Ally Condie, the 2nd installment of the Matched, Crossed, Reached Trilogy.

What have you read in January?

My List : 
(Bold = finished, Italics = currently reading)

1. The Fault In Our Stars by John Green.
2. Eve by Anna Carey
3. Crossed by Ally Condie
4. Reached by Ally Condie
5. An Abundance of Katherines by John Green.
6. The Maze Runner by James Dashner
7. The Scorch Trials by James Dashner
8. The Death Cure by James Dashner
9. The Kill Order by James Dashner
10. The Uglies by Scott Westerfield
11. Pretties by Scott Westerfield
12. Specials by Scott Westerfield
13. Extras by Scott Westerfield
14. Stolen by Lucy Christopher
15. Feeling for Bones by Bethany Pierce
16. Such a Pretty Girl by Laura Wiess
17. Exit Here by Jason Myers
18. Thin by Grace Bowman
19. The Bling Ring by Nancy Jo Sales
20. Paper Towns by John Green
21. The Handmaidens Tale by Margret Atwood
22. Tricks by Ellen Hopkins
23. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
24. The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling
25. Starters by Lisa Price
26. A Year With Aslan by C.S. Lewis

New Books in 2014. Are we excited?

What new books are you most excited for in 2014? (Stand alones and first in series)
I think I am most excited for “Dorothy Must Die” by Danielle Paige. DMD is a new spin on The Wizard of Oz, in which Dorothy has returned to Oz and has become a tyrant. As someone who grew up loving the Wizard of Oz, I am super stoked for this new rendition.
I found a list on Goodreads of upcoming releases for this year, and I’m going to talk abut some.
First, Cassandra Clare, the author of The Mortal Instruments, and Infernal Devices series’ has two new books coming out this year. One is “The Bane Chronicles,” which is a book of ten short stories, all centered around Magnus Bane, the only character to appear in every Shadowhunter novel. Clare teamed up with Maureen Johnson and Sarah Rees Brennan to write this one. Also, we are all waiting for Clare’s new series, Magisterium, premiering with “The Iron Trial.” “The Iron Trial” Is about magicians, and sounds awesome.
Another one, that I had never heard of until I saw this list, is Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins, which looks like the classic struggling in love story. Amy Plum will be releasing the first novel in a series that looks incredibly promising, After The End, which is about a girl who is told her whole life that a war has destroyed her whole world, and finds out that it isn’t when she is left alone by her whole family and sets out to find them. Definitely on my “want to Read” shelf.
There is speculation on Goodreads that John Green is publishing a new novel this year, or maybe it was announced and I’m just behind. The thing is, there is zero information on this book. It’s noted as “untitled” on Goodreads, and there is no summary or set release date.
The last book I am dying to read is “Panic” by Lauren Oliver, which follows a girl named heather who gets sucked into a dangerous, high stakes game called “Panic,” and have no choice but to win.
What books are you most excited for this year?

Audiobooks. Do you like them?

 I recently got a Kindle Fire HDX, and with that, comes a free month of audible.com. I’ve been listening to Delirium by Lauren Oliver, and I’m loving it so far. I have already listened to Divergent by Veronica Roth, and Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins. I can’t decide if I like the idea of listening to a book, rather than reading it or not.

I know that I like to listen to other things while I read, and listening to an audiobook sort of kills that possibility. But on the plus size, I’m listening to Delirium right now, and writing a few blog posts. Also, when I had a car, it was great to listen to them while I drove. 

But then again, the quality of the book can depend on the narrator. I’ve turned down many an audiobook because the narrator’s voice was annoying as hell.

 I don’t know, does anyone else have an opinion on this?

Book Review : The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

 First of all, let me start off by saying that I read this book in about 6 hours. I woke up on January 9th, picked it up and literally did not put it down until it was mid afternoon. I would also like to note that I am not quite emotionally stable right now, thanks to this book. But, in any case, lets get started.

*SPOILERS EVERYWHERE*

 The Summary :
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green tells the story of 16 year old Hazel Grace Lancaster, who is currently suffering from Thyroid cancer, which has now spread to her lungs. When Hazel’s mother decides that she is depressed, because she would rather spend her time reading than out in the “real world,” she is forced to join a support group for other teenagers with various cancers. Hazel is constantly trying to find a way out of going to support group, and even while she is there, she is sarcastic as ever. Enter Augustus Waters, the new cute cancer survivor that can’t keep his eyes off Hazel. As Hazel begins to spend time with Augustus, she finds herself feeling more than she thinks she should, even though he makes it abundantly clear that he is completely into her. When Hazel tells Gus that she wrote letters to their favorite author for years with no reply, he gives her the best gift she could have ever gotten, His Wish. The Genie’s (read – The Make A Wish Foundation) grant “cancer kids” with their last dying wish. While Hazel used hers on a trip to Disney World when she was 13, Augustus chose to save his. He gave that wish to Hazel, and flew the two of them, along with Hazel’s mother out to Amsterdam to meet the author. At this point, theres nothing that Hazel can do, but love him, and not worry about their future. This trip is full of surprises, beginning with Augustus dropping the “I’m in love with you” bomb (probably not the best metaphor, but you get the gist) on the plane, to their author, Peter van Houten being a complete and total “doucheface,” To Augustus dropping the “I have cancer again” bomb. Suddenly, the tables are turned, and Hazel is the one fighting to keep him alive. After Augustus arranges a pre-funeral, attended by only Hazel and their friend Isaac, who is now blind from having eye cancer, They are forced to attend a real one. All Hazel is left with is the last correspondence between Augustus and van Houten, which is actually heartbreaking to read.

 

The Characters :
Hazel – Hazel is remarkably real, and finally a female character that gives us introverts someone to relate to. She isn’t all enthusiasm, and “I’m gonna beat cancer” attitude. While there is nothing wrong with that attitude, in fact it is one to be celebrated, it is refreshing to read a “cancer book” wherein the main protagonist is realistic about her prognosis, which is great because according to Hazel, “cancer books suck.” Although her experimental medication is helping, she understands that her days are limited, and she doesn’t want to put Augustus through the pain of losing her. Her narrative is strong and very emotional, and it kept me feeling, right along with her.
Augustus – Even without knowing what he looks like (see – Ansel Elgort. Damn.), I was immediately attracted to him. What can I say, I’m a sucker for a crooked smile. Augustus is the type of person who’s demeanor demanded attention. He was fully aware of his charm, his wit, and he never seemed to let his smile falter. He is a fiercely loyal friend to Isaac, and an incredibly devoted love to Hazel. He doesn’t care that he might not have her forever, he is more than content with having her now. It literally broke my heart when his cancer came back, and when he agreed to fight for her. He was prepared to live in excruciating pain, so that she wouldn’t have to live with the pain of losing him. Also, how cute is it that he exclusively calls her “Hazel Grace?”
Isaac – From the sighs, to the obnoxious PDA, to the funeral, all the way to the last pages of the book, Isaac is the best friend I’ve ever read about. Isaac, who cares more about losing his girlfriend than losing his eyes, never stops being a friend to both Augustus and Hazel. His eulogy for Augustus, at both the pre-funeral, and the real funeral broke my heart. No one should have to lose their best friend. 
Peter van Houten – Oh my God, even with a little bit of development at the end, I couldn’t fully like him. I’m sorry, you don’t treat your fans like that, or your assistant like that, or people in general like that. After he flew out to attend Augustus’ funeral, and finding out the truth about his daughter, I can almost sympathize. Almost.
Hazel’s Parents – Hazels mom may be your typical helicopter mom, but you can actually feel her love for Hazel on every page. She never ceases to be there for Hazel, even when she says some pretty nasty “teenagery” things to her. Her father shares a quiet kind of love. Honestly, I envy Hazel’s relationship with her father, even over her relationship with Augustus.

 

The Plot :
Like I said, I did not put this book down for longer than a quick bathroom break. I was taken into Hazel’s world, and wasn’t fully prepared to leave when the book ended. Thats the heartbreaking thing about TFiOS, it ends. It ends, and you expect it to go on for a few more pages, to actually end, but it doesn’t. She reads the letter, and makes one comment, and poof. Last page. Unless I’m just reading too far into this, I’m going to go ahead and call this a metaphor (Augustus loved his metaphors) for the unfinished life. Of course it didn’t end mid-sentence, like Hazel’s favorite book, An Imperial Affliction did, but It still felt like there should have been more. But this is honestly the truest and most beautifully heartbreaking love story that I have ever encountered. The voices were honest, the lighter parts were seamless, and most importantly, the emotions were real.

 

The Thing we Aren’t Supposed to Talk About :
I know that the minute this book was released, everyone and their grandmother started wondering, “Is this book a true story?” “Is Hazel supposed to be Esther?” While I do fully believe that TFiOS was inspired by Esther Earl, a young nerdfighter, and friend of John and Hank Green, I also know that Esther is Esther, and Hazel is fictional. We can only hope that somewhere in Heaven, or whatever you believe to be the afterlife, Esther has read this book and loved it as much as we all did.

The Overall :
This would be my first 5 heart book, of it didn’t completely break my heart. I am docking 1/2 of a heart to make up for the time I spent crying. I know that part of the point of this book is to remind us that novels end, and that there is no “what happens next” for most fictional characters, but I can’t help but wonder what became of Hazel Grace Lancaster. 4.5 out of 5. Amazing work. I would recommend this to anyone with a heart.

Don’t forget to be awesome.

2014 Bookish Goals and Resolutions.

So, now that we know my non book goals for this coming year, I would like to share some of my bookish goals.

1. My first goal is to buy less books. Ok, I know this sounds weird, but go with me for a minute. I have AT LEAST 20 books on my shelf that I haven’t read yet. I would like to get through at least three before I buy a new one. That’s going to be a rule, Read three, buy one.
2. Another goal is to make more shelf space. I have one bookcase with 8 shelves, another with 4 shelves, and one shelf of another completely full, along with piles of books scattered around my room. I’d like to sell a TON of books, so if anyone knows of a place that I can do this, that would be great.
3. I would like to finish all the series’ and trilogies that I started. I want to reread and finish the Uglies trilogy by Scott Westerfield, I’d like to finish the Matched, Crossed, Reached Trilogy by Ally Condie. I’m working on the audiobooks for both Delirium by Lauren Oliver and Insurgent by  Veronica Roth. I’d like to finish those trilogies. Also I WILL make it through The Maze Runner by James Dashner.
4. I would like to read some more John Green. Like all the John Green books.
5. I’m going to try to find a balance between contemporary and dystopian. I go through phases where I only read one or the other, and I’d like to balance that more.
6. I’d like to finish, or at least come close to finishing the novel that I’m writing. Wait what? Who the hell said that? We’ll see.
7. NaNoWriMo. This one might wait until next year, but I WILL TRY.
8. Lastly, I would like to blog more. Ideally I would like to post every other day. Lets see how this goes.

 

Now lets get to the first 20 (26 technically) books on my TBR. I will update these as my year goes on.

1. The Fault In Our Stars by John Green.
2. Eve by Anna Carey
3. Crossed by Ally Condie
4. Reached by Ally Condie
5. An Abundance of Katherines by John Green.
6-9. The Maze Runner series by James Dashner
10-13The Uglies series by Scott Westerfield
14. Stolen by Lucy Christopher
15. Feeling for Bones by Bethany Pierce
16. Such a Pretty Girl by Laura Wiess
17. Exit Here by Jason Myers
18. Thin by Grace Bowman
19. The Bling Ring by Nancy Jo Sales
20. Paper Towns by John Green
21. The Handmaidens Tale by Margret Atwood
22. Tricks by Ellen Hopkins
23. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
24. The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling
25. Starters by Lisa Price
26. A Year With Aslan by C.S. Lewis

 So there you have it. my 2014 reading goals. I will definitely be reading more than those books, especially since I have now fallen completely in love with audiobooks. I will obviously be updating y’all on my progress as the year goes on. Definitely keep a look out for reviews on some of these books. Let me know in the comments what are some of your 2014 reading goals.

It’s a new year.

It’s 2014. It’s a whole different year than it was last year. I can’t be the only one that is baffled by that idea. Like, It was one day, where I went to work like any other day, and one night that I wish I remembered more of, and then, poof. It’s next year. While my friend was driving me home from the party the next day, enjoying a nice Wawa breakfast, We sat there and couldn’t believe that another year had passed. Then, of course, came the annual Google Zeitgeist video, and the 2013 Youtube Rewind, where I was reminded of such pop culture things, as that man jumping off a satellite, and The Royal Baby, and The Harlem Shake. I had completely forgotten that The Harlem Shake, and the Screaming Goats meme were actually in 2013.

Mind. Blown.

This year has literally been a roller coaster for me. I worked my ass off to graduate cosmetology school, third in my class to graduate, only 41 hours late. Not only did I get my first real Salon Job, I was promoted within the first five months from Assistant to full time receptionist. In June, right before I graduated, I styled my first photoshoot, and was told that I had the best looking portfolio that my school director had ever seen. My cos school had this tradition of letting graduating students choose the color or theme for a dress down day on the day they graduate, and since my day was taken, I chose to do my Disney theme that saturday, to include the night students as well. That day, two girls, one that I was friends with, and one that I had spoken to all of twice, donned their prom dresses and dressed up as princesses for me. I gave up my own plans to attend the IMATS NY event for my 21st birthday, to attend my Nephew’s 2nd birthday, and I am incredibly happy that I did. I This summer I attended my first country concerts, and got drunk at my first tailgate. I was two feet away from Taylor Swift’s Mom for  at least 10 minutes, and was too scared to tell her about my Taylor Swift tattoo. Now the only two regrets that I have involve Taylor Swift. I went to the beach more times this year than I had in the past two. I got two tattoos this year, one my most meaningful, and one my most white-girl. I decided that I deserved better, and left my first real salon job after 8 months on very good terms. I went to my first University homecoming, living the college experience in what would have been my senior year. I kept the best job of my life for another whole year, and hit my two year anniversary as, not only a party coordinator, but as my owner tells people, “The girl who does everything.” I went on an amazing family vacation to Florida, and got to see my Dream Job, The Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. I got to watch my nephew, Isaac, enjoy not one, nut two awesome Christmas celebrations. Not only did I meet my favorite youtuber, but I now call her a friend, and sometimes a grand-daughter. I discovered Mod Sun, and the power of Positivity. After such an amazing year, Nothing could keep me from ending this year on the happiest note. Then I totaled my car. I had an amazing night at an indoor trampoline park, and coming out of the parking lot, I was in an accident. With the exception of a lot of bumps, bruises, and a really cool scar on my forehead, I walked away in perfect condition. I said goodbye to a car that had been mine for two and a half years, and started a journey of saving money to get a new one. This year has been the tallest roller coaster, with WAY more ups than downs. I very much so hate that 2014 is even better.

Wait, did I read AT ALL in 2013? Yeah, some. But the first 6 months of the year, I was in school 40 hours a week, and worked two jobs on top of that. I read quite a few books, but I have no idea what they were. I know I read the entire Hunger Games trilogy again, I listened to the Divergent Audiobook,  I read Entwined by Heather Dixon, and Perks. I know I read Matched by Allie Condie, but I can’t remember if that was in 2013 or 2012. I know that this year I’m going to keep track.

Lets talk about some goals. (These are not specific reading goals, that’s a different post)

– My ultimate goal is to make 2014 my year. I want this year to be “the year of Kelsey.” The year that I make life happen.
– I will spend less money, and save more. I’ve already started this, and I’ve learned that if I’m motivated, It’s not that hard. I want to spend less money on frivolous things, and more on things that I really want.
– I want to learn how to cook, and to eat out WAY less. This is literally the hardest thing because I suck at cooking, and my job is literally surrounded by like 15 restaurants. I promise that I’m gonna try.
– I want to drink bore tea. I stopped drinking Diet Coke before I left for Vacation, and I don’t want to ever drink it again. I want to drink more different kinds of teas.
– I need to work full time, even if thats with more than one job, but I also need to make more time. I want more “me time,” but I need to find a balance with working.
– I want to make more time to run this blog. Also more time to read.
– I want to make more quality Youtube videos, and build my audience more. I want my videos to reach more people, so that maybe one day, I can be like so many other youtubers, and turn my love for making videos into a job.
– This is so frivolous, but I really want to redecorate my room at home. I know that realistically I won’t be able to afford to move out any time soon, so I would like to make my space at my parents house a little more reflective of myself, and a little more practical, especially for bringing makeup clients in.
– I really need to build my cosmo portfolio more. I need to be doing more hair and makeup on more people, and remembering to get photos and show my skills to more people.
– I want to do more Photography. I fell in love with Photography a few years back, and when I started cosmetology school I sort of fell off the wagon with it. I want to work more on improving my Photography, and editing skills.
– I want to dance more. I danced for 17 years, I miss it more than anything. Hopefully in the next few years I can become a dance teacher.

Can we talk lessons for a second? What did 2013 teach me?

2013 taught me that no matter how hard you try to please people, and to make everyone else happy, it’s not the same if you aren’t happy. I have spent so long doing everything for everyone else, and putting myself on the back burner. This year I learned that if I am not truly happy, then I can’t make others happy.
2013 taught me that it’s ok to be a little selfish. I am not a horrible person for wanting to put myself first.
2013 taught me to not force myself to put so much effort into friendships with people who just don’t care. 
2013 taught me that if I want something, I need to go for it. Also, law of attraction. Enough said.
2013 taught me that if you focus on the positive, the negative will eventually fade away. Thanks Mod Sun.
2013 taught me that nothing is permanent. Your life can change in a second. 
2013 taught me that I am the most lucky person in the world. Not only am I blessed with a great family, an awesome set of friends, and the best job ever, But I was incredibly lucky in that car accident. If the other car had been on my drivers side, I would have lost my life, not just my car.

This has been the longs post of anything that I have ever written. I will be posting my 2014 book goals in the next few days, as soon as I work through them, and figure out exactly what they are. Thank you so much for reading this whole post. Comment down below some of your goals for this year, or some important lessons that 2013 taught you.