Sunday, July 27, 2014

Goodbye, Rebel Blue - YA Bingo

Completed On: July 20th
# of Pages: 320
Bingo Category: A Book With A Colour In The Title
I have literally been staring at this book on its shelf at the bookstore where I work for months now, and I'm so glad that I had to find a book with a colour in the title, since it's finally given me an excuse to take this book out on a book loan and give it a read.

This book by Shelley Coriell had me laughing from the very first line, and I even tweeted about it:
And throughout the entire reading of this novel, Coriell's unique humor had me laughing. One particular source of humor were Rebel's Bucket List items that are scattered throughout the text, marking the end of each chapter. I have to admit that I may have to steal a couple of her own entries whenever I decide to write my own bucket list :P

I ordered the character of Rebecca "Rebel" Blue - I loved getting her perspective on things, especially since it lead to a lot of lines that made me laugh out loud as I was reading. She was flawed in very human and realistic ways, but was still one of the most interesting characters I've come across in the past while in YA fiction. Reading from her perspective kind of made me want to put a few blue streaks in my hair XDD
Oh wait a minute . . . Been there done that XD
There were a lot of elements of this book that have stuck with be well beyond the last page, and that should stick with any dedicated reader. When Rebel takes on the task of completing every item on do-gooder, perky blonde ponytail Kennedy Green, she signs on for completing one Random Act of Kindness every day, logging 100 hours of community service, running a 7 minute mile and paying to adopt a leatherback sea turtle for each of Kennedy's grandparents, among other things on her 20 item bucket list. These tasks not only are designed to help the community, but they're designed to better Rebel as a person as she works to complete every item, driven by the ideas that the late Kennedy drove into her head about fate and destiny.

This is one of those books where I felt so content in written words and in humanity once I flipped over the last page and shut the book. One special aspect of this book is that it made me not only want to create my own bucket list, but I also began to believe that I could actually get around to completing the items on my list at some point during my lifetime. For your reading pleasure, let me show you some of the items I would have on my own bucket list, including a few entries from Rebel's own list. These are in no particular order.

1) Hop into a taxi and shout, "FOLLOW THAT CAR!"
2) Visit the Jane Austen Centre.
3) Go to all the amazing conventions in the US all in the same year.
4) Ride in a shopping cart and scream, "The British are coming, the British are coming!"
5) Go to Italy and eat garlic bread
6) Go to Japan and visit the Studio Ghibli Museum
7) Spend 2 weeks in New York City doing anything and everything.
8) Get my picture taken with Ashly Burch and Anthony Burch
9) Have Katie Campshure as one of my pen pals
10) Travel across a large walking bridge
11) Meet as many iggles/miggles and amazing geek girls from the internet as humanly possible.
12) Make friends with people that are amazing enough to throw me a surprise party OR that will plan and put together a trip without making me plan every detail.
13) Audition for Niagara's Next Star just for fun.


Sunday, July 20, 2014

Fables Vol.3 - YA Bingo

Completed On: July 5th
# of Pages: 192
Bingo Category: A Graphic Novel
For anyone that doesn't know, the Fables comic book/graphic novel series is where the popular TellTale game The Wolf Among Us originates from. I recently picked up TWAU during the summer Steam sale, since my coworker told me a lot about it, plus I'm a big fan of The Walking Dead games by TellTale.

It took a lot of restraint, but I managed to finish the first 4 episodes of TWAU in 2 days, not 1, so I'd say that's progress XD And I played the newest episode the day it was released and loved it as well, and even though it's a prequel to the comic book/graphic novel series, I'm still hoping they're able to do another season of TWAU episodes, because these games are seriously fun to play. Can't wait until the Borderlands TellTale game gets released as well.

Anyway, now on to the graphic novel, which I picked up at my local comic book store while they were having a sale: Storybook Love is the 3rd graphic novel installment, and I lucked out that there weren't too many instances where I didn't understand what the characters were talking about (I was also able to pick up the 2nd graphic novel when I went to Toronto, so that helped to clear some things up as well). This was probably one of the better places to start, because in this series you get to hear Bigby Wolf tell Snow White point-blank about the connection he has to her. It was definitely interesting to read - even if it made me thinking about the process of a werewolf "imprinting" on a human from the Twilight series, which made me sad :( ), and like most of the relationships that you see in this game, they are flawed and realistic and far, far away from perfect.

What I probably like the most about this series by Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham and Steve Leialoha is that the characters, in spite of being fairy tale characters, are all portrayed in an incredibly realistic way. I won't get into spoilers for this post, but I will say that the way in which this graphic novel ends makes me really, really eager to pick up the 4th installment, and I'll be on the lookout for it the next time I head to my local comic book store.
THAT'S-A-BINGO!!
At least in part. As you can see, I've filled in a line on my bingo card, but fear not, because this does not mean the end for my reading challenge. I intend to fill up the entire card by December 31st, 2014, and I sincerely hope that it will be a goal I will be able to meet. Keep your fingers crossed for me! :)

Mail Call! 14/07/14 - 18/07/14

Sent Mail: 2 Items!
Item #1: Letter & Gift to My Pen Pal Diana!
Finally got around to sending out a package to my very first pen pal! It took me a while to finish writing her letter but I finally finished writing it while at a bar with my boyfriend watching the World Cup Final. It was certainly one way to kill the time while we waited for Germany to score a bloody goal XD

I'm a little travel-obsessed lately, since my boyfriend is headed off to California in a couple weeks (as of August, he will actually be living geographically closer to Diana then he will be to me XD), so that's why I went with the travel quote on the card that I stuck the letter in.

The reason I sent her letter along in a manila envelope - which I couldn't help but decorate in Super Mario stickers :P - is that I also sent her an art print that I picked up for her at Niagara Falls Comic Con. I'm silly and I forgot to take a picture of it before I sealed it away in the envelope, but I'm sure that Diana will snap a shot of it once she receives it. It's Game of Thrones-themed, and it includes almost all of the female characters in the series. Like me, Diana is a die-hard fan of the show, and I hope she'll enjoy the signed art print :)
Item #2: Christmas In July Gift Exchange Package!
On the off chance that the iggle I am sending this to is a reader of my blog or is one of my Twitter followers, I shall not name her, BUT I will show you all the cool things that I included in her package! In her main card, a sparkly Christmas one with an inked picture of Santa Claus on the inside wearing sunglasses, I wished her a happy "holiday", and then I wrapped all three items you see in the right picture in blue sparkly tissue paper, since blue is one of her favorite colours.

The reason that I only included three things in this gift exchange is because that picture of the entire cast of Ouran High School Host Club is a box that I painted and decorated myself. It's a D.I.Y project I've been working on for a little while now. Here are a couple of close-up pictures of what the outside and inside of the box. If you're interested in me writing a How-To post about the process in putting a box like this together, please post in the comments below.
I included a second card inside of the small box, just to let the recipient know that if she received any doubles from me (referring to the novel and the comic book of course - I doubt she has an identical, hand-painted Ouran box), that she should tell me and I'll send her something else. I also suggested that she either write or email me if she would like to, and I have her some of my social media links. Here's hoping that this gets to her before the month is up and that she likes all of her gifts :)
Received Mail: 4 Items!
Item #1: Disneyland Postcard from Vlogiggle Joanna!
Yay, Disneyland! That was more or less my first reaction to this card. I once visited Disney World in Florida, when I was 8 years old, but never gotten a chance to go to Disneyland before. Joanna was able to visit there during the weekend of VidCon (as if Disneyland wasn't enough to be jealous of :P), so she picked this up to send to me to thank me for the recent cow-themed post card I sent her. You can't tell from the picture, but it's a holographic card as well. Thanks a bunch, Joanna!
Item #2: Nail Polish Subscription from +blacksheeplacquer
You know it's a good day when you get three bottles of nail polish in the mail :) I haven't gotten a chance to try any of them out yet, but I'm hoping to give myself a nice new manicure and pedicure before I visit my aunt and uncle in Wasaga Beach. The smaller bottle is an interesting silver colour with a nice glitter to it. It's similar to one I have received before that has more of a metallic finish to it. The other two are a pretty pink and blue. The pink is called Princess, which is part of the Zelda collection, and the blue is called Cloudy Skies, which is a thermal polish. I'm hoping to try out the Cloudy Skies polish first, possibly pairing it with the Cyborg glitter coat I received a while back for something a little interesting.
Item #3: Card & Letter From Pen Pal Tia!
Nothing gets me smiling more when I open my mail box and see a brightly-coloured envelope with a sticker on it as well as amazing-looking washi tape. Let me tell you, Tia is quick with her replies! I'm going to have to work hard to keep up with her while also managing my to-do mail list that I've been chipping away at little by little over the past few weeks.

The inside of the card is filled with summer-themed stickers, much like the snorkel sticker on the front of the envelope. She wrote quite a bit, and so far I can say that it's really fun getting to know her :) Much like I did at the end of my first letter, she concluded her own letter to me by asking me some questions about myself, which should make replying to her letter quicker and easier . . . once I finish the one I'm currently in the process or writing XD As to who that letter is going out to, you'll just have to check in next week to find out for sure :)
Item #4: My ModCloth Order!! :D
Any woman that has discovered the wondrous entity that is ModCloth.com (especially when there's a 50% off sale going on!) will understand the joy that one feels when you get to pick up that familiar-looking box from the post office . . . after shelling out the duty fees, of course.

The MEMO board has magnetic letters and the black surroundings is a foam cork board material. I plan on hanging this on the wall above my desk once I get my room cleaned up a little more, and I'm thinking it'll look really nice, plus I can keep my to-do mailing list on display where I can always see it XD

Like most girls receiving a ModCloth order that includes clothes, I put on my brand new, BB Dakota "Let's Decadance" dress. It is gorgeous and sparkly and I can't wait until I decide to wear it out of the house :) I'm thinking I'll be wearing this to a bridal shower happening in August, but I hope to get to wear it out of the house sometime before that. Since I was feeling a bit impatient, and I wanted to shoot a few Style Gallery photos to upload to ModCloth anyway, here are some shots I took outside with the dress and some jewelry I scored from Suzy Sheer for a couple bucks.
I'm pretty happy with how these turned out, but let me know what you think :) That's all of my mail-related news for this week. I'll be sure to keep you guys posted!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Ring & The Crown - YA Bingo

Completed on: July 13th
# of Pages: 372
Bingo Category: A Book with A Lion, A Witch, or A Wardrobe.
Back in high school I read the first four books in Melissa De La Cruz's series Blue Bloods, but this is the first book of hers that I've read since then. I was immediately excited at the premise for this book, and was looking forward to being immersed in the words of De La Cruz again. I managed to read a few (*cough* twenty) pages at work before I was able to take this out on a book loan from work, and already I recognized her writing style, and her use of bringing in the perspective of a different character each chapter.

It's funny though . . . throughout the majority of the time I was reading this book, I couldn't shake the feeling that aspects of the plot, and even the characters, were incredibly familiar, and reminded me of something I'd read before, but not from the Blue Bloods series. Then it hit me; I remembered a book series I picked up from the Welland Public Library a summer or two ago, and I realized that this book, which I thought going in would be the beginning of a series but was later proved to be a stand-alone YA novel, is uncannily similar to Anna Godbersen's Luxe series. This is by no means of criticism of The Ring & The Crown, because I really did enjoy it, but I couldn't get the similarities out of my head. Those who have not read this book as well as Godbersen's Luxe series may not realize the similarities, but I will be remiss if I don't allow myself to list them here.

De La Cruz's character Marie, the princess of the Franco-British empire, to me seems like a mix of Godbersen's characters Elizabeth and Diana. Her personality is much like Diana's, but her heart is much like Elizabeth's, who falls for her family's servant, much like Diana falls for a castle guard and wishes to run away with him. The guard in question, Gill, is very similar to Godbersen's William Keller, although William's fate is very similar to a fate of another character in De La Cruz's novel, who I will not name as to keep from spoiling the story. De La Cruz's Ronan reminds me greatly of Godbersen's Penelope, and the initial relationship between Penelope and Henry is similar to the relationship between De La Cruz's Isabelle and Leo. There are other similarities as well, quite a few, but the point of this review isn't to point them out. Regardless, it really is uncanny how many things that this one book and the Luxe series have in common.

Anyway, getting back to the book at hand. Probably because I had The Luxe and it`s proceeding novels to work as context, I was sure that The Ring & The Crown would be the beginning of a historical fantasy series that would extend to at least three books, perhaps more. However, it is a stand-alone novel, which wraps up more or less by the time the last page is reached. Honestly, I found some of the wrapping up near the end of the book, such as where a conversation between Aelwyn and Marie answers a very large number of questions, to be perhaps a bit too tidy and a bit too sudden. Of course it is entirely possible that I just missed a fair amount of the foreshadowing that hinted at the book's conclusions, and if I gave it a second read I would find the answers that the characters come to much more justified.

Another thing that I expected from my reading of the Luxe books is that all the characters would get happy endings, in spire of their unfortunate circumstances, and everyone would be unbelievably happy by the time the story was done. De La Cruz certainly dangles the idea of hope in front of the reader's eyes throughout the novel, but if you are looking for a perfect wrap-up and a 100% happy ending, this might not be the book you're looking for. The fact that De La Cruz ended this novel in both a realistic and more-or-less fair way left me feeling quite satisfied. Because this story, like life, is not a fairy tale, and you can't always have all your loose ends tied by the time the curtain closes, and I found the ending to be surprising, yet I was still pretty happy with it.

Here I need to get into some spoilers: All that being said, I do wish that one character in particular could have received a happier conclusion, that being Isabelle. While it is hinted at near the end of the book that she is living happily by the sea with her son, when we last read a chapter from Isabelle's perspective, the love of her life has been murdered and Burgundy, the man who had treated Isabelle so cruelly her entire life, is obviously the culprit that will not see justice, but instead demands that Isabelle marry him so as not to risk her being cast-off from society because of her illegitimate child, who could easily be his or Leo's, with no real way of knowing. There is no way of knowing that this rumor Marie has heard about Isabelle is true, and if this book embraces realism the way it does, more than likely it is a lie and Isabelle is forced to live with the disgusting character of Burgundy until the end of her days. While I know that every story can't have a happy ending, this particular ending did feel a little harsh. Alright, no more spoilers.

The Ring & The Crown was an incredibly interesting read, and it had me hooked from the very first page. Pick up your own copy as soon as you are able.

Monday, July 14, 2014

A Trip to Toronto: Part 2 - 08/07/14

So now I get to tell you about all the fun parts of my recent day trip to Toronto to visit two of my friends from high school. Let's get to it!

A couple street car rides and a short walk later, the three of us arrived at my heaven on earth - a board game cafe! I walked in completely in awe, taking in the comfortable seating, the long table close to the window and the wall lined with pretty much every board game I could think of, from Monopoly to Pandemic, from Power Grid (and an expansion pack I did not know existed) to Hanabi. Unfortunately they didn't have a copy of Betrayal at the House on the Hill, which is a game I've been hoping to play for a while now. Hopefully I'll get the chance by the end of this month, but that's a story for a snail mail-related post ;)

At the cafe we were soon met up by three of Alex's friends, and we started off with something simple and fun, that being Cards Against Humanity. I'm surprised that this game could still be fun to play in a public place in the middle of the day, but we played for quite a while and we had a blast. After we got tired of playing that, we tried out a game called Snake Oil, which is a game you have to be outgoing to play, mainly because of the fact that you're trying to sell outright silliness. You use two cards - "snake" and "oil", "blood" and "umbrella", "shell" and "socks" - to try and sell a miracle product to a specific type of person, like a vampire or a castaway or a babysitter. We came up with the most ridiculous stuff, it was a lot of fun.

Once we were done with that we decided we'd go back to Alex and Kelvin's place to play another board game without having to pay an hourly fee. On the way out, however, I spotted a card game that I'd recently heard about the night before in the FGB Cons At Home: Tabletop hangout, called Gloom. so I bought it when I went to the back to pay for my time, the waffle I ordered and a glass of Fanta.
We passed by this place as we were walking - we didn't go in, but I kind of wish we did XD
After that our group split up for a bit - Alex and a guy only known as "No Socks" went off to grab a bite, Alex's friends went off to a Korean BBQ place, and Kelvin and I headed off to grab some more Roulette Doritos that he introduced me to earlier at his and Alex's place, and then to hang out at the apartment and wait for everyone else to join us for a game of Munchkin.

Eventually we made it back to the apartment building - it amazes me how much walking you can do in Toronto, and yet you've barely covered an inch of it on a map! Pretty sure we could have made it mostly across Welland with the distance from Castle to where Alex and Kelvin are staying. Luckily I love walking, so if I do get the chance to move to Toronto for a few months, I definitely won't be put out. 
My friend Kelvin checking out the afternoon view from the balcony. Apparently they cut into the screen over the balcony on purpose. Didn't exactly help my nerves, or my fear of heights.
Once we got back to the apartment - and I sufficiently burned my mouth off the first few Roulette Doritos I decided to pop into my mouth - I happened to ask Kelvin what two of the doors went to that I hadn't seen used since I got there. One was a door to a second bedroom, and one went out to a balcony.

The light hitting the buildings as the sun was going down took my breath away. People can easily call most big cities dirty, like Toronto, because of graffiti and the usual examples of street grime, but when you've got a glorious Toronto sunset to look at from a balcony on the 21st floor, it's hard to think of things like that. I snapped up a few other photos as well, feel free to take a look.
After that it took a while, but soon everyone from the cafe arrived back at the apartment, and we put together a game of Munchkin. It was too dark to get a good picture, but I wish I had because for the short time that we did play we attempted to play with two expansion packs, Zombies & something about Cthulhu, I can't completely remember. It was rather interesting, to say the least. One of Alex's friends had a curfew though, and the rest of the group minus No Socks left with her. I was watching the time rather carefully myself, because I knew I had to catch the last bus back to St. Catharines or I'd be screwed. Luckily I managed to keep a good eye on the clock, and Alex headed out with he to bring me back to the bus terminal.

He happened to mention something as we were waiting in line for my bus to stop loading. It was his belief that I was the one who helped him become part of our group that hung out together at school. In fact he even quoted me regarded something I said sometime before prom. My mother had told me when I was in 10th grade that when my senior prom came around, she would gladly pay for a limo to take me, and the friends I've had since 9th grade, from our house to the hall where prom would be held. Alex didn't come to our high school until grade 12, but he was in our English class, and it didn't take long for him to become one of my friends. Apparently when I relayed this information my mother had given me to my friends, Alex pointed out that I didn't know him in 9th grade, and I said to him, "Well, yeah, but you're one of us now!"

While knowing this, he felt bad that we had lost touch over the past couple of years, and he wanted to right that wrong, which was why he had invited me to hang out for the day and why he hoped we could keep in touch and hang out more when neither of us are busy. It was really nice of him to say that, and for him to say that and think that I was the reason that he is friends with the people from high school that he still knows today . . . I'm not sure if all of that's true, but it's nice to think I have a friend that holds me in that high of a regard. I'm glad I have the friends I have, and I'm glad that he allowed me to enjoy a day in the city with him :) I hope there will be many more in my future.
Here's a look at my "haul" from my day in Toronto - an on-sale copy of the second volume of Fables from The Silver Snail, a copy of the card game Gloom from Castle Board Game Cafe, and a bag of randomly-spicy Roulette Doritos.
That's it for this day trip! Here's hoping I'll get to walk the streets of Toronto with new and old friends again very soon. Until then, you'll be kept posted.

Mail Call! 07/07/14 - 11/07/14

Received Mail: 3 Items!
Item #1: The Perks of Being A Wallflower Pin from Cafe Press!
Yet another impulse purchase, after I strictly told myself that I needed to stop spending so much money from buying things online . . . old habits die hard I suppose.

But at least I got this on sale! Items from Perks of Being A Wallflower, based more off the movie than the book from the looks of it, were on for 20% off at the time I purchased this large-sized pin. Cafe Press of course has a bunch of other cool stuff as well, like mugs and t-shirts, so I suppose merely buying a pin from that site is an example of restraint on my part XD I'll be fastening this pin on my backpack pretty soon; can't wait to show it off once I'm back on campus.
Item #2: Postcards & Note Cards from frogmealink!
Again, I fall weak to the sight of another sale . . . I really have no willpower when it comes to online shopping XP

But for whatever reason, I decided that I need new postcards! I also bought a graduation gift for one of my girlfriends on this site, but I won't be sharing a picture of it in case she stumbles on here sometime. I picked out 5 postcards, all with great art and amazing literary references. Unfortunately, 2 of the designs I picked were sold out, probably because of the sale Emily was hosting before closing her shop while she recovers from her surgery. So I picked out 2 more, and as a gift, Emily threw in 2 note cards for me! One is designed from Herman Melville's Moby Dick, and the other is a very macabre, but very awesome design that I will be sure to save for a "special" occasion.
Item #3: Notebook & 6 Greeting Cards from Wit & Whistle!
I always enjoy getting to order things from this shop, even if none of the things I order are meant for me to keep :)

The main reason I ordered something was because I was hoping to purchase the notebook that you can partially see in the second picture, which says The World Is A Book & Those Who Do Not Travel Read Only One Page. While I would love to keep this for myself, as a hope that I could document my travels across the globe one day, it is actually meant to be a goodbye gift for my boyfriend, who in a few weeks will be moving to California to work at a vineyard there for 3 months. After that, he hopes he'd be able to head off to another part of the world who will be beginning their harvest just as the one in California is coning to a close, so it could potentially be a year or more until we see each other again, and that's if we stay together while we're apart.

I'm feeling pretty confident though :) I gave it a lot of thought, and I decided that he is worth the wait, and the distance, so we're going to try and make it work, one day at a time. Not to mention, with him working in the states, it gives me an excuse to send him care packages anytime I feel like it XD I hope he likes this notebook. If you guys have any other ideas for something else I should include in his going away gift next week, please post in the comments, because I'd love to hear your ideas :)

As for the greeting cards, there are only 4 in the picture because I'm keeping two of them a secret for the time being. The two at the top are cards I'm planning on sending to family or semi-family members that I know will be getting married in the next few months. The bottom one, I'm not sure what I'll use it for yet, maybe for my grandmother's birthday. And I'm thinking the middle one there I might send along with a mix CD to somebody. I'm not sure who yet, but I'll surely figure it out.

That's all for last week's mail! I didn't send anything, but I'm gearing up to get a few great things in the mail this coming week. Until then, I'll keep you guys posted!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Disenchantments - YA Bingo

Completed on: July 6th
# of Pages: 307
Bingo Category: A Book Set In The Summer

This is a book I recently ordered because it's one I enjoyed a few years back when it first arrived at the bookstore where I work. I took it out on a book loan, read through it pretty quickly, and clearly the story, characters and general atmosphere of this novel stuck with me enough to feel the desire to order my own copy years later.

Since then a paperback copy of this book has been released, and of course paperbacks are cheaper than hard covers, but there is something about this book that has "enchanted" me and made me need to have this edition of Nina LaCour's book. It's got the sunglasses that the narrator Colby describes all the girls wearing, the shades being "too big for their faces" and the girl has the rainbow on her shirt, much like the design that Meg gets tattooed on her chest. It's got the summer sun shining through in the top right corner, and the girl with the long blonde hair is how I picture Beth looking in the flashback scenes, before she chops off her hair in the present day, just before hers, Meg's and Colby's last day of high school.

While this book might look on the surface to be a story about four teens out on their own for the first time, touring California with their band, looking to get famous and find out what they're meant to do in life through a humorous sequence of events . . . it's really not like that. For one, you find out pretty early in the story that while the all-girl band made up of Bev, Meg and Alexa, named The Disenchantments, is passionate . . . but they are perhaps lacking in rhythm, among other things. They're far from the most talented musicians around, but playing music and performing is something that is important to them, and so they travel around over the course of a week to various towns and meet a whole myriad of people.

During this, Colby is trying to figure out what to do with the rest of his life; he never applied to college, planning instead to tour around Europe with his best friend from childhood Bev for a year. She shocks him by telling him on the first day of their tour that she won't be going with him to Europe and instead will be heading off to college in the fall.

I love this book for a million reasons, and it's difficult to put all of them into words, so I suggest you pick up a copy for yourself. One of these reasons is an idea that this book proves false, and rightly so. The characters in this book play along with the idea that it's easy to come up with these grand ideas, things you want to do that may seem a bit far-fetched, and while people may say that they're going to do these things, most of the time people go in knowing that these amazing things they want to do will never happen. At one point in the story, Colby is the one who is told upfront about this anomaly, and decides not to accept, and instead realized that if you really, really want something to happen, the only things in your way from making your ideas a reality is you, and you can always overcome that obstacle if you've got half a mind to. It just involves never giving up on your dreams and those far-fetched ideas brewing in your head.

So pick up this book if you'd like an enlightening, funny, uplifting summer read.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet - YA Bingo

Completed on: July 2nd
# of Pages: 377
Bingo Category: A "Classic" YA Book
Originally I was going to use Little Women for this bingo square - once I finally finished reading it of course - but it just didn't feel right to simply put The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet in a category as simple as "A Book with a Female Heroine" so I'm going with this. And The Lizzie Bennet Diaries is, after all, based off the glorious Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, so this modern adaptation, finally in book form, is a modern "classic" in its own right.

From the first few pages I was already enraptured in getting to see another side - so many new sides - of the characters that I've grown to love through the Emmy award-winning web series. Just the intro with Lizzie and Charlotte gave me a taste of what was to come, and I found the multiple passages where Lizzie confides in Dr. Gardiner to be very interesting as well. Who knew there were so many conversations, so many secrets within the lives of these characters that we were not privy to from Lizzie's - or Lydia's - videos? And the conversations and secrets contained in Lizzie's diary, where she writes with no filter, are very big ones at that.

Just like with the web series, the main focus in Lizzie's diary is with her female relationships - Charlotte, Jane, Lydia - and while we see a lot more Darcy than we did in the web series (mainly because the dairy includes a lot of re-tellings of what we'd only previously seen via costume theater), he does not by any means take center stage in Lizzie's diary, or in her life. I'll admit, even know I know that the main point is to focus on Lizzie's female relationships and that it's a very good thing, I couldn't help but crave at least a little more of an appearance from the newsie that we all know and love, but I'm pretty sure that's more or less wishful thinking. Then again, there is one part near the end of the book . . .
Yeah . . . that was a great moment. If you're wondering what that tweet is referring to, then you'll just have to pick up your own copy and find out for yourself!

I am so glad that this book exists, mainly because it took these modernly-adapted characters back a little more towards their roots and with that somehow made each and every one of them a little more real. Whenever we pick up a good book and are compelled by the characters, those characters tend to stay with us long after we've turned the last page. Clearly these characters stayed with us beyond the final video, but now they are able to take up an even bigger residence in our minds and in our hearts.

For the record, if you haven't seen The Lizzie Bennet Diaries and are reading this . . . then let me tell you, you've got some catching up to do, better get on that ASAP! XD

A Trip to Toronto: Part 1 - 08/07/14

Anybody that knows me will know that I will take any chance that I can get to go up and visit the big city just two hours away from me that doubles as Ontario's capital city. And when my friend Alex from high school invited me up to visit since he started subletting the apartment of another mutual friend of ours, I couldn't resist :) Yesterday I hopped on a bus headed straight for T.O, and decided to tweet a bit along the way.
(starting from the bottom and going up gives a semi-timeline of the beginning of my day)

Getting locked in a bathroom stall was certainly an interesting way to start off a trip, but it kept me on my toes - or in this case, it had me army-crawling on a freshly-cleaned (thank God) bathroom floor. The bus drive was more or less uneventful. I relaxed in my seat, listening to my audio book the whole way there (What Happened To Goodbye? by Sarah Dessen) while sending off the occasional tweet and messaging my friend Alex to make sure he was going to be meeting me at the terminal. Finally we arrived, I hopped off the bus, and Alex was waiting there for me!

As we walked inside and down through "the path" to avoid the rain, we caught up on what was new with each of us since the last time we'd seen each other, which had been January at a party with a bit too much hard lemonade involved to really catch up properly. When we ended up outside again, it happened to come up in our conversation about how I have an infinite love for book stores as well as comic book stores. Conveniently enough, we were right across the street from the Silver Snail, which I'd never been to before, so we went right on up into the amazing comic & board game store slash cafe. I didn't get any pictures inside, unfortunately, but I did get a wicked deal on a Fables graphic novel, so all is well!
My ultra-weird friends from high school. Alex is on the left, Kelvin is the one on the right.

After that Alex and I headed out (in the rain) to his current living quarters, which was actually the apartment of our friend Tristan who is currently traveling in Europe. Tristan's lived in Toronto for 4 years now and the first time I was seeing his place was on Alex's invitation, which is something I'll be bugging Tristan about when he gets back, I assure you :P

So I hung out with Alex, and now Kelvin, in  the apartment for a bit, letting my phone charge after all the tweeting I'd been doing on the bus. The plan was that a few of their friends would be meeting us at a board game cafe downtown (since only 3 people for board games wasn't overly exciting). I was in heaven, since at this point in my life the idea of a board game cafe was as much of an urban legend as a unicorn with a rainbow-coloured mane. Even the idea of running out into the rain without my rainbow-coloured umbrella at hand couldn't keep my excitement at bay!
This is what Kelvin looks like when he has "Mr Sandman (Bring Me A Dream)" stuck in his head.

This trip was also the very first time that I have ever ridden in a street car, so that was exciting! I was in Toronto the first time I'd ridden on a subway too. And on a train as well! But that was on a different trip, back in my last year of high school. we ended up getting stuck in a shelter in the middle of the street for a bit as the rain poured down, but I didn't mind. I was still too busy taking in the city to be bummed out about the bad weather, even though my sandals were soaked through. This is where I came across something I found to be remarkable.
Across the street we saw a guy with a red cloak with a hood and some sort of long stick, whom we only noticed after Kelvin pointed out that he looked like he belonged in the realm of Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings. That's when Alex recognized who he was, and began to tell us the most interesting story.

Apparently, this guy shows up on this exact street corner, every Tuesday around the same time, and sings. But not just regular singing. What we eventually heard come out of this guy sounded like something from a Medieval period piece, like some sort of minstrel straight out of a history book. He had brought some sort of box to stand on, and he used his stick, and pulled down his hood as he began to perform. Unfortunately, that's when the next street car arrived, and we were kind of desperate to be safe from the rain, so we didn't really get to watch much of his performance. On the off-chance any natives to Toronto come across this post, maybe you know more about this guy? If so, please post in the comments below, because I'm dying to know more.

There's still a lot more that happened in Toronto - I haven't even gotten to the board game cafe yet! - but I think I'll leave it there for now. I've got more pictures and more of the story to tell you guys next time. So until then, I'll keep you guys posted!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Mail Call! 30/06/14 - 04/07/14

Sent Mail: 1 Item
Letter to My New Pen Pal Tia!
Getting new pen pals is always exciting, and I find that the first letter you send can be one of the longest ones to write, because you're trying to introduce yourself and start things off for the next letter so that they'll be encouraged to write back. As you can tell from the inside of the card, I had a lot of fun with the decorating, and I kept it all themed, using the scented stickers that I haven't pulled out in a while and a new stamp set that I'd picked up at Michaels a while back. Plus a random Facebook "like" stamp in navy ink for no real reason.

One thing that Tia and I noticed right off the hop when we were paired by the IGGPPC and started writing each other was that we have more in common with each other than we have with other pen pals, meaning that our top 5 geeks loves were the most similar. Another think you might find interesting is that before we were even paired, Tia and I were following each other on Twitter. When we found this out we had a good laugh about it. Tia does some vlogging, something I'd like to get into a little more, and she's also a big reader among other things. I'm sure we'll get along just fine. I hope she likes my letter!

Truth be told, I did mail a second item this week, but it's a secret. I really want to tell you guys, but I can't say. It's going to an awesome person though, and I hope it shall be well received.

Received Mail: 2 Items!
Item #1: My Pre-Ordered Copy of The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet!
. . . Which I then finished reading in two days, by the way :P My review will be up soon.

It was funny, I was in the middle of filming an attempted vlog when my brother showed up, carrying an Amazon box under his arm that had been waiting outside. So I actually had a filmed reaction to getting my book! . . . but then I accidentally deleted it XP Oh well! I still have the book, and it is utterly and completely fantastic.
It's nice to finally be a part of the group who pre-ordered their books, which have finally arrived and are at arms length. I'm very excited about it, and I know I have a pen pal and friends on Twitter that are just as excited as I am, but none of my girlfriends IRL are the least bit excited about it, not even the one that first got be into The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. So that's a little sad. At least I have a bunch of internet people I can tweet to about the book!
Item #2: Book & Washi Tape Order From Chapters.ca!
This order was a bit of an impulse (and I know that impulse orders are bad for my health, and the health of my credit card), but I've been looking for some extra items to include in the 2 Giveaways that I'll be hosting in August, and I figured that since I'm obsessed with washi tape that surely others out there are as well, so I'll be including some washi tape rolls in both of my giveaways.

As well as all the wahsi tape rolls, which you can't see because it's well buried underneath, I ordered a hardcover book for myself, namely The Disenchantments by Nina Lacour. It's a book I read a couple years ago, and while the paperback would have been cheaper, I'm absolutely in love with the hardback's cover, which you will find out more about when I get to re-reading and then reviewing this book.

That's all for now! I'll keep you guys posted!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Mail Call! 23/06/14 - 27/06/14

Again I've been slacking on blog posts. This has been a particularly hard summer for me, goodness knows why. Summer is supposed to be fun! And when school starts it's supposed to be chaotic and horrible-feeling, and yet here I am, very much behind on my posting because of my annoying-as-hell emotions and anxiety.

I don't know if I will be back-tracking on all the mail I've missed posting about just yet. I did get some interesting things: a TFiOS preparedness kit, an amazingly decorated letter from my #1 pen pal, a cute note card from my newest pen pal (from the IGGPPC I have 3 now), among other cool things. If there's enough requests I'll eventually backtrack and post about these things, but for now I'm going to be trucking forward. I also won't backtrack on my Photo-a-Day challenge either: you can see all the photos I've taken and uploaded on Instagram if you so desire. Now for the mail!

Sent Mail: 5 Items!
Item #1: Card & Ticket for My Sister-in-Law, Brittany.
To be honest, I didn't really need to send my sister-in-law this card, but I decided that I would do it anyway.

See, over a month ago, I happened across an awesome Facebook deal, where you could get not only advanced tickets to a musical that I've been wanting to see for SO long, but they were also discounted tickets. Since Brittany took me to my first concert and I know that she generally enjoys my company, I had the great idea to take her to this show with me. She didn't first find out about it from this card, I told her over dinner a few weeks ago, but I figured I would get her excited by sending her this card with the stamped date of the show and with a printed copy of her ticket inside.

The show that we are going to see, ladies and gentleman . . . is Wicked.
(That's why I used green & black ink inside the card. The washi tape on the envelope was a dark green one too)
Ever since I first heard about it online and heard the music, I've been dying to see Wicked for myself in person. I've watched full productions online, but I know that YouTube videos can hardly beat getting to see such an amazing spectacle in person. One thing that I'm also super excited about is not only will we be seeing such an awesome show, but we'll be sitting in the 6th row of the orchestra! 6th row! That's SO freaking close, I'm so excited about this. The tickets were very reasonably priced as well, which is why I will be treating my sister-in-law to a very wicked evening come September.

She will have to drive us there, so it's not a complete treat, but other than driving she gets to relax and not worry about a thing, so I`d say that's pretty good :)

Items #2-3: Birthday Packages to Fellow Vlogiggles Rebecca & Chelsea!
Chelsea's birthday, truth be told, was back in March, so it is way, way overdue! At first I was just so occupied that I wasn't able to get her gift together in time, then when I did have it together she was moving so I had to wait for her new address, and once I had that I slacked some more, and I finally got around to sending it off last week.

rebecca's is belated as well, but her birthday just happened this past month, so I feel a little less guilty about it. last year I made her do a funny birthday dance on camera (as you can see in the .gif above), but this year her card & gifts are a little bit nicer.

Item #4: Card & Poem to My Boyfriend
As I've shown in previous posts, I like sending my boyfriend the occasional gift in the mail. Typically when I do this I feel silly unless I have something else to send him aside from a quick "Hi!" message, so I tend to send him pieces of writing that I've come across in the past that have spoken to me in a number of ways.

While listening to the audio book for Love Letters to the Dead, which you can read my review for here, I first came into contact with this poem, "The Art of Losing Isn't Hard to Master" by Elizabeth Bishop. If you've never read it before, I recommend looking it up on Google or Goodreads to see why I was so drawn to it upon hearing it. My boyfriend's currently spending time with his family in Woodstock, and he'll probably greeted to this card when he gets back to the region. Even so, I already have a good idea of what I want to send him next!

Item #5: Letter & Card To My New Pen Pal Mia!
Here is a true testament to "if you want something, make it happen." Mia is somebody I have admired from afar from a long time, and when asked for one of the IGGPPC Sponsor questionnaires, "If you could have anyone, real or fictional, for a pen pal, who would you choose?", I listed Mia, because I thought she would be the kind of person that I would love to get to know through the written word. And she happened to see this sponsor post, and she approached me and asked if I really did want to be her pen pal.

I was so excited! It was my job to put together the first letter, and I managed to write the entire thing in one sitting, and it's a decent length as well. I was super worried about making a good first impression and I wanted to "impress" her for whatever reason, which is why I decorated the letter and the card so much and I did my best to stick to a single theme. The outside of the card has a bike on it as well, and I used some washi tape and stamps on the outside of the envelope too.

Received Mail: 3 Items!
Item #1: Brown "Ferrari" Wig from Arda Wigs!
The reason I currently have long, brown hair like I used to back in the first half of my high school years is because I'd been growing it out so that I could cosplay as Elizabeth from Bioshock Infinite in the summer. I did accomplish that mission, and I wore my actual hair when I went to Niagara Falls Comic Con. However, I wasn't completely satisfied at how the cosplay tied together. Plus, as the summer drags on, long hair has not been the most comfortable option, and I've been considering wearing it shorter again.

So, in case I do decide to cut my hair before Fan Expo in August, I'll be covered, because I found this great site that sells amazing, high quality wigs at VERY affordable prices! Their selection is unbelievable! They have every colour & style you could possibly imagine! While searching online for Elizabeth wigs, I came across the above image, and shortly after that I ended up ordering the exact same wig. I haven't had a chance to try it on yet, but I'll try and remember to take a picture once I get the chance.

Item #2: Baby Shower Invitation!
First off, sorry that all the blacked-out confidential information doesn't look all that great, I'm new to blurring/blacking out things in photos. At least my crappy-looking black smudges don't take too much away from how cute the invitation is! The envelope was stamped with two pairs of pink feet, and the invitation says that the parents to be are expecting twins, so my guess is that they're expecting two girls.

We haven't RSVP'd for this yet, but I'm really hoping that my mother and I will be able to go. This shower would be happening the day before I'm due to leave for Wasaga beach to visit with my aunt and uncle, and I think that it could be a pleasant way to spend an afternoon. Plus this gives me an excuse to shop for books for somebody, and how can I pass that up? XD

Speaking of which, I think that these girls deserve the fighting chance of becoming geek girls, so I was thinking of searching the internet for some cute, nerdy board books that we could have as gifts. But if you guys have any ideas for what sort of books I should find for this shower gift, geeky or not-so-geeky, please comment below with your suggestions - I'd really appreciate it :)

Item #3: Letter & A Crapload of Jane Austen Postcards from Fellow Postcrosser Patricia!
Look! Aren't they beautiful?!

I remember seeing the Jane Austen post card pack on Amazon, and even at local Chapters stores, but I always worried about getting them, even though I would love to have them. I figured, "Who else besides me would enjoy receiving a Jane Austen-themed post card?" Well, now I have a whole set of my own!

Patricia is a fellow geek girl from Maryland (I actually had to look that up - I don't know all the state abbreviations XP) that I met through Postcrossing. We found out from our personal bio's after getting paired up for one of us to send a post card to the other that we were fellow geeks, so we decided that we'd continue sending geeky-themed postcards back and forth. And this package includes my very first letter from her!

From this letter I've been able to learn more about her, like how she used to have a cousin living in the UK and that's how she was able to go there to visit and then pick up some awesome Jane Austen's Bath postcards, one of which she sent to me a while back. I've also learned that she is an accountant, and that she also geeks out about Sherlock, Shakespeare and Agatha Christie! I'll have to ask her whether or not she watches the BBC version of Sherlock, and if so we'll need to geek out about it. Hopefully she won't give away any spoilers though, I refuse to watch the last episode just yet :P

I cannot wait to start sending out these postcards to fellow amazing people! I can use them for Postcrossing, and to send to other pen pals and geek girls as well. This is going to be so exciting!

That's all the mail-related news for last week. I'll be sure to keep you posted!
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