Monday, December 26, 2011

The Best Kind of Christmas Presents


Here's my gift for you: 

This year for Christmas I asked my parents to order me the books I've always wanted that aren't stocked at my local bookstore. Combine that with the books I bought at Goodwill over the last week and the couple I've already bought since I've been home, I have these two awesome stacks of books to bring back to school:


An Off Year by Claire Zulkey
What It's About: a girl who takes a gap year between high school and university
Why I Wanted It: I'm very interested in any and all books about university. New Adult is going to happen, damn it! 

Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A. S. King
What It's About: a girl who's best friend dies
Why I Wanted It: good reviews and good writing

Hooked by Catherine Greenman
What It's About: teen pregnancy
Why I Wanted It: I always find pregnancy to be an interesting teen issue; I also think this story will be a little different since it deals with characters entering university. 

Blink by Malcolm Gladwell
What It's About: all the in the moment decisions people make and how that affects us.
Why I Wanted It: Gladwell's The Tipping Point and Outliers were both fascinating. 

Does My Head Look Big in This? by Randa Abdel-Fattah
What It's About: a girl's decision to wear a hijab
Why I Wanted It: it has a unique, controversial premise. Plus, the book starts with a major Friends reference--I simply couldn't resist. 

L. A. Candy by Lauren Conrad
What It's About:...something about hollywood. Does it really matter?
Why I Wanted It: I read an excerpt from it in Teen Vogue when it came out, and always wanted to try it. Something different. Light reading. A different perspective. Hopefully. You never know. 

Girl at Sea by Maureen Johnson 
What It's About: a girl's summer on a ship
Why I Wanted It: I enjoyed Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes, as well as Johnson's story in Let It Snow

Play Me by Laura Ruby
What It's About: a guy who films reality tv
Why I Wanted It: I love books about reality tv, and this book puts a different spin on it, telling the story from the director's perspective rather than the star's perspective. 


Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
What It's About: boring British stuff...something about Mr. Rochester...I don't know...Mia referenced it a bunch in one of the Princess Diaries books I think...
Why I Wanted It:...I didn't. It's book I have to read for my British lit class next semester. Kill me now. 

Fly on the Wall by E. Lockhart
What It's About: a girl who spies on boys
Why I Wanted It: I just finished the Ruby Oliver series and really enjoyed it. And the premise sounded fun. 

The End of Education by Neil Postman
What It's About: the education system in the US
Why I Wanted It: I'm going to be a teacher!

The Half Life of Planets by Emily Franklin and Brandon Halpin
What It's About: a romance between a girl and a boy with Asperger's syndrome
Why I Wanted It: good writing and an interesting premise. 

Evolution, Me, and Other Freaks of Nature by Robin Brande 
What It's About: a battle between evolution and creationism! Yay! And hopefully some romance! 
Why I Wanted It: I loved Brande's Fat Cat, and I think this could be a really interesting exploration of beliefs and science vs. God. 

Pledged by Alexandra Robbins
What It's About: sororities
Why I Wanted It: I liked Robbin's Overachievers, and, since watching Greek, I've become fascinated with Greek life. 

Quarterlife Crisis by Alexandra Robbins and Abby Wilner
What It's About: life in your twenties.
Why I Wanted It: I'm about to enter my twenties. And it looked interesting anyhow. 

I Am the Messenger by Marcus Zusack
What It's About: A cab driver? A robbery?
Why I Wanted It: AMAZING reviews, including John Green's endorsement (very valuable). And it seems like a different kind of book. 

I Love You Beth Cooper by Larry Doyle
What It's About: a guy who confesses his love for a girl he barely knows at graduation. 
Why I Wanted It: it seemed funny. 

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan
What It's About: two guys who have the same name. 
Why I Wanted It: I am in a little bit of a John Green phase (read: complete obsession. Vlogbrothers. Nerdfighters. Scoodilypoopers. I've finished Looking For Alaska, An Abundance of Katherines, Paper Towns, and even Let It Snow. Now I just need to finish off his back catalogue, and I'll be ready for The Fault in Our Stars in January) and I like and respect David Levithan's writing. I think these two together has the potential to be AMAZING. 

Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac by Gabrielle Zevin
What It's About: See title.
Why I Wanted It: good reviews, good writing, interesting structure. Not a terribly original premise, but I can get past that. 

Mostly Good Girls by Leila Sales
What It's About: high school drama
Why I Wanted It: I really, really liked Sales's Past Perfect. I don't really want to read about high school drama right now, but I think this might be worth it. 

Isn't that the best Christmas ever?

P. S. I took those photos with my new iPhone, another awesome part of Christmas (but not as good as the books of course :) 

Friday, December 23, 2011

TV Review: Being Erica

You may not have heard of this show. It's a little Canadian show produced by the CBC. It's set in Toronto and stars an all Canadian cast. So, I'll excuse you if you haven't seen it yet. But I won't forgive you if you don't see it soon. 

The basic premise is that Erica sees a therapist, Dr. Tom, who uses time travel to take her back to her regrets and make them right. Now, I hate any combination of science fiction or fantasy. So I really shouldn't like a show that centres around time travel. But somehow, I love it. The fourth season aired while I was at school, so I've spent the last week catching up. And boy, was it good. 

The first thing I have to say is that the show is very well planned. In the first two seasons, Erica was a patient. In the third, she was in group therapy. In the fourth and final season she is ready to give back, training to become a doctor (therapist) herself. Unlike the vast majority of shows, Being Erica actually allows its characters to move forward. Erica Strange has a clear character arc that is logical, well developed, and meaningful. She doesn't remain stagnant, and, as a result, the show is never boring. I think the fourth season is the best, because it really explores the different challenges Erica faces in becoming a doctor. And because the show is so well planned, nothing is rushed. When Erica becomes a doctor-in-training, it feels earned; when she finally becomes an actual doctor, you know she's ready. In a TV landscape where so many shows fear change or risk of any kind and seem absolutely allergic to good plotting, Being Erica shines. 

I also really like how the show handles the time travel element. The show doesn't allow the time travel to take over; the focus is always on Erica's character. Every episode features some type of time travel, but there's no hard and fast rule that it has to be 50% or 60% of the episode. If the plot demands it, time travel can dominate 70% of the episode. If the plot doesn't need it, time travel is only used in snippets, occupying 30% to 40%. The show was also quite creative with its use of time travel. Erica and Dr. Tom when back in time and forward in time. Erica relived days until she could figure out how to do them right. Erica went to other people's pasts. Erica controlled time. Erica got a free day that would be erased. In short, the show has fun with time travel, and changing and reshaping it; it always keeps things interesting. 

Being Erica uses time travel to ask big philosophical questions. It explores regret and destiny and death and moral issues. That makes the show fascinating. It also uses time travel to create some very interesting plot twists; that makes the show intriguing. In particular, I think it really helps the romance. In the first two seasons Erica dated Ethan, her best friend who wasn't involved in time travel. That was fine, though a little boring. It was then that the show realized that Erica had to be with someone who was a time traveller. As a result, we got Kai. Kai was from the future and he met Erica when back on a long regret. When that regret was over he went back to the future, and present day Kai forgot all about Erica. But future Kai never did. He kept coming back for her, and slowly they developed into something more. But, in between this, Erica developed a relationship with Adam, a time traveler from her present. In the fourth season she had to choose between the two, and it was a love triangle more delicious than any I have seen in a long, long time

This wasn't Bella/Edward/Jacob, where it was completely obvious she was never going to choose Jacob. This wasn't Joey/Dawson/Pacey, where there was no right choice. This was a legitimate, complicated love triangle. And Erica and Kai were a more real tale of forbidden love than most love stories, because their relationship actually wasn't possible. They lived in different time periods; they literally could not live together. So even though they loved each other, they couldn't be together. And so Erica ended up with Adam. Which was good. I mean, I loved Kai, but I understand. Adam was not only possible, but Adam was the right person for who Erica wanted to be. If she chose Kai, she would only be denying herself, choosing the immature dream. By choosing Adam she choose the reality, the real guy who challenged her and made her take the essential risks. As a romantic, I always loved Kai more. But as a viewer, I understand that Adam was right choice; I love that the romance was complex enough and well developed enough to get me to that point. 

Most of all, I love the characters. That's always what it comes down to. For the longest time I hated Julianne, Erica's friend/business partner. She's a ridiculous character. But after four seasons, I love her. I can't help but adore her little quirks. I also like Brent and Jenny and Adam, and, of course, Kai. I love the romance between Sam and Lenin. And I just love the relationship between Erica and Dr. Tom. It's not at all romantic; instead, it's sweet and loving and just so caring. They have a well developed relationship throughout the series; in particular, they have great scenes in the series finale. Like Julianne, Dr. Tom was often a character that bothered me, with his endless quotes and preaching. But by the end, he too grew on me. They all did. 

They all deserve credit (from left): Reagan Pasternak (Julianne), Adam Fergus (Adam), Erin Karpluk (Erica!), Morgan Kelly (Brent), Joanna Douglas (Sam), and Michael Riley (Dr. Tom)

Being Erica has faults. I was never nearly as interested in episodes that focused on characters other than Erica, say Dr. Tom or Adam or Julianne. The first two seasons weren't as strong as the last two. But I'm just glad I got to see such a great Toronto show; it did my city proud. 

Friday, December 16, 2011

Going Home

I have my last exam in forty minutes. That means I'm going home today.

Most of me is excited. Ecstatic. Last night, I couldn't fall asleep because I was so excited. Kind of like that feeling you get on Christmas Eve. You're so excited for the next day to come that you desperately want to sleep, but you're excitement keeps you awake. I was jumping around my room. I felt like a little kid. In that way, it's nice that I've been away so long. Now it means so much more going back.

I want to open them so badly! Why can't it be Christmas yet?!?

But going back also means bad things. Scary things. And that's why there's a part of me that's not excited. There's a significant part of me that's nervous. And I know I haven't been blogging and I suck for that, but I was hoping you'd give me a few minutes of your time to talk about my nervousness. In exchange, I promise book and tv posts next week. Deal?

Right now I feel like I'm in a weird interstitial space. Like I'm not fully emotionally committed to my life at university, but I've moved past being fully engaged with my life in Toronto. If that makes sense.

I have friends here. My life is here now. My present, my foreseeable future. That makes it feel like I don't fully belong at home. Like I don't fully know how to be that person who I was last year. I feel like I've forgotten how to be a best friend, a daughter, a student. I feel like I've changed and everybody back home is going to expect me to be the same. And I'm not sure if I know how to go back like that. I don't know if I'll remember how to respond the right way and how to be who they want me to be. I don't know. I'm confused.

At the same time, I don't feel like I'm fully in this university world. The people I'm closest to, the people I care most about--family, friends, teachers--are all in Toronto. My loyalty still lies to Toronto. I still call Toronto home. I have a lot of friends here and I really like them. I like my courses. I like my future. But my past is still such a part of my life. I may not see those people everyday, but I think about them. I know they're there, supporting me. I remember that when things are hard here. The Toronto people may not be a physical part of my everyday life, but they're still an essential emotional part.

As a result, I feel like I'm caught between two worlds, not fully fitting into either of them. That makes me scared to go. And I'm sure it will make me scared to come back in January. And it scares me that I don't have anywhere where I'm fully comfortable. My life is split right now. No matter where I am, there's something missing. When I'm here, I miss home. When I'm home, I'm sure I'll miss it here. It bothers me that there's nowhere that's complete.

I feel divided. Scared. Nervous. Absolutely out of my head excited. So many emotions. It's overwhelming.

And that's me right now. Thanks for reading. I promise, I promise, I promise, to get back to more regular blogging. And I promise to mention something pop culture-y very soon.


Saturday, November 26, 2011

Interacting with Other Human Beings (it's so complicated!)

When you start university, you meet hundreds of new people. In my first week here, I must have meet fifty people a day. And very quickly, I realized a few things about meeting people:


1) Sometimes, having something specific in common (same hometown, same program in high school) is a great jumping off point to start a great friendship

2) Sometimes, even the most specific, most significant thing will not make two people friends (being from the same high school, being in the same program)

It seems as though it has to be the right mix of things. You have to have an entry point of some sort, or the conversation dies and you never speak to the person again. And you also have to have a conversational flow, a genuine interest in the other person.

For example, there's this one girl who's an english major and drama minor, just like me. And, best of all, she's from Toronto. On paper, we should have a ton to talk about. In reality, our conversation lasted five minutes. Sometimes, it's just not there.

I know, this isn't really a new phenomenon, some new discovery I've made. It's just something I like to think about. I'm also fascinated by the types of conversations you have when you first meet someone, by the way we instantly judge people whether we mean to or not, because of their clothes or hairstyle or accent or whatever. I was thinking about all of this a lot since school started, and as all these thoughts swirled around my brain, I kept coming back to one conversation.

It was the second or third day since I had started university. I was eating lunch with a girl from my frosh group and we were talking about music. She was Quebecois, and only knew Quebec music. I knew some popular stuff, but mostly just my favourite bands, specifically, Great Big Sea. I must have mentioned GBS in that conversation, because a minute later another girl approached the table.

"Did I just hear you talking about Great Big Sea?"She asked

"Uh...yes." I answered ('Cause I'm so quick witted and articulate like that). "Uh...why?"

"I love them!" She said. 

From there, we discussed Great Big Sea songs and cds and concerts. Somehow, we transitioned into talking about the Barenaked Ladies and YA author John Green and all kinds of awesome stuff like that. I remember walking away from that conversation with such a good feeling. It took me a little bit to figure out why.

What I eventually figured out was this:

What was so amazing about that conversation was that I was excited. I was discussing something that I was interested in, that I was passionate about, and that was just SO MUCH FUN.

That conversation really made me think about myself. What made me excited and interested and passionate. What did I enjoy talking about, more than anything else? For me, this is the list:

1) Great Big Sea
Already mentioned. Great Canadian (specifically Newfoundland band). If any of you knows them at all, you should know my favourite song from their cds is probably When I Am King. My favourite concert song is far and a way Ordinary Day. Sean McCann is my favourite singer in the band. I'm kind of a teensy bit obsessed with his voice.  
2) Barenaked Ladies
Another great Canadian band (from Toronto! Woot! Woot!). Best song: If I Had A Million Dollars. Best singer: Steven Page.  
3) Young Adult novels 
Meg Cabot, Sarah Dessen, Megan McCafferty, John Green, E. Lockhart, Judy Blume, Ann Brashares, Robin Benway, Deb Caletti, Simone Elkeles, Stephanie Perkins, Jenny Han. Name any of the authors and I can talk for hours. I'll debate romances and main characters and endings and just about anything else to do with these books. Hence the blog.  
4) Romance
TV, movies, books, doesn't matter. I LOVE ROMANCE.  
5) TV
TV in general I'm also obsessed with (which you've probably noticed). It's kind of funny, actually. Someone will say something like "I only watch a few shows", assuming that I haven't seen the shows. But then I tell them--"Name the shows. I watch so much tv that I will inevitably know at least one show you watch". And it's always true. And even if I don't watch the other shows, I still know a ton about them. Ratings. Plots. Actors. Which brings me to my next thing... 
6) Celebrities
Name any two celebrities and I connect them. Name any movie and I can name all the actors in it and probably the director and maybe even the screenwriter. I am completely insane. 

Looking at this list of things, I guess I could kind of hate myself. I mean being obsessed with TV and celebrities is not something most people would think is a good thing. But, you know, they're my things. By this point, it doesn't even feel like I picked these things. They're just a part of me. And you know, I'd rather be passionate about a few specific, weird things than nothing. Otherwise I would never get to have fun, awesome, exciting conversations.

Moreover, I'd rather be able to talk intelligibly about a few things than broadly about many things. A few months ago, my mother asked me why I read so many YA novels--why didn't I branch out more? By response was that I would rather master one genre than dabble in many. I would rather know YA inside and out, top to bottom. I like that I have read so much YA. I like that when I read books like Anatomy of  a Boyfriend, I can relate it immediately back to Forever. I like that when I read a John Green novel, and I see he wrote another book with David Levithan, I can think "Oh, I know him. He's the one who wrote Dash and Lily's Book of Dares with Rachel Cohn". Now, I actually read YA books just so I can round out my awareness of the genre. This week, for example, I read Maureen Johnson's Little Blue Envelope series not so much because I was interested in the premise, but because I knew they were important books in the genre. I would rather know those books, and relate them to other books, and read tons of online blog posts and articles about YA, than just read a book alone, separate from all that. I would rather be passionate than well rounded.

I started this post talking about how people relate to each other and somehow I've gone off into discussing the deep dark corners of YA. Slowly, I promise, I'm circling back. You see, writing that last paragraph was so fun for me. Thinking "hmm, what YA author should I reference here? What book should I mention here?" was really engaging for me. Talking about what I'm passionate about, no matter how bizarre it may be, is SO MUCH FUN.

Okay, I'm trying to circle back but it's not quite working. Basically, my point is this:

It's fascinating how people relate to each other, and if you can find someone you relate to well and share passions with, hold on to that person. Because it will be SO MUCH FUN.


From what I see, that's what life is. Finding those people you have SO MUCH FUN with, those people that you want to hang out with more than anything. Sounds simple, right, when you're meeting fifty new people a day?

(see what I did there, finally circling back to the opening paragraph? Huh? Huh? Aren't I cool?!?)

It's not simple. Not at all. It's tiring and frustrating and so incredibly rare. But that's what makes it so special.


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Why I Read YA

I read it because it helps me make sense of the world.

I read it because it makes me laugh and makes me cry and just generally makes me happy.

I read it because it helps me be who I am.

I have always loved reading. Ever since I read Mary-Kate and Ashley's Slam Dunk Mystery in the second grade, I've loved reading. It allows me to experience things and imagine things outside of myself. I was an academically obsessed nerd with very few friends, who made very little trouble and had very few adventures. But through books, I've gotten to experience so much more than that. Through Gayle Forman's If I Stay I got to experience death. Through Meg Cabot's Princess Diaries, I got to be royalty. Through Ann Brashares's Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, I got to have the three best friends I always wanted. Through books, I got to experience.

Through YA, I also got to think. John Green's books, for example, always make me think. About life, about death. About relationships. About math. About love. Through Robin Brande's Fat Cat, I started to question what I do and what I eat. Through Alicia Thompson's Pysch Major Syndrome, I got to anticipate what university would be like, think about what my future would be like. Through Megan McCafferty's Bumped, I got to think about what everyone's future would be like.

But why YA, you might ask. Don't all books do this? Yes, I'm sure they do. But only YA books do it for me. YA is the genre that speaks to who I am and what I am interested in. YA is the genre that I can relate to, more than any other. Sometimes, when I'm reading YA I can't help but break out a pencil because I have to underline a passage because it feels so real to me, because it speaks to me exactly.

Recently, I started to question the YA genre. Because it wasn't speaking exactly to me anymore. It wasn't describing my life anymore. You see, I grew up reading YA romance. I feel in love with Marcus Flutie and Michael Moscovitz and Etienne St. Clair. As a result, when I had my first real life romance, I had certain expectations. Certain ideas. Not many of which were true. In books, girls seemed so sure that this was the right guy or that was the right decision. They didn't just date; they feel in love. As I was questioning and struggling, I tried to remember a book that had incredibly awkward first kisses. I tried to think of a book where the right guy turned out to be the wrong guy. I tried to find a book where the girl not only felt awesome, but incredibly guilty and scared and unsure. But in the books, they always end up together. Things always work out.

Well, for me, things didn't work out. And for a while, I resented YA.

But when I needed YA most, it was there for me. When I was struggling to be confident in who I was and stick to my beliefs, I had Mia Thermopolis to tell me I was right. I had Judy Blume's Forever to show what my options were. And that's why I read YA: it gives me the confidence to be who I am, and it gives me the knowledge to find who I want to be. It lets me experience everything, so I can choose my things. It makes me think about my decisions and my life and my identity. It makes me me.

Why do you read YA?

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Best in Blogging

I first started reading blogs because people in my family started writing them. Now I'm still reading those blogs, but also so many others. Oh, the world that opened up for me. 

I don't really remember the first non-familial blogs I started reading. I used to just bookmark blogs a lot. I hit the "next blog" button and just surfed random sites. Eventually, I found Google Reader, the perfect way to get the updates on the various blogs I followed. 

(There's been some news that Google Reader is changing, and losing some features. Google better be careful with this one. This is one of the most useful things I've ever found. Don't mess with my Reader!)

One of the best parts of blogging is finding and sharing new things. I thought I'd do that today. I know I'm always on the look out for new blogs, so if anybody has any recommendations, please hit the comment section. I went through my Reader subscriptions and sorted the blogs I follow so you guys could check them out. Enjoy! 

Review Blogs

A nice book blog. Though I read the posts in Google Reader now, I originally warmed to this blog because of it's simple yet elegant layout. Anyways, the posts aren't all that regular, but they're great nonetheless. 

A good book blog. From a Canadian! And a librarian, a profession I always respect. Michelle runs a great blog, and has become a great blogger friend of mine. Check it out! 

There are a lot of websites that cover tv and feature tv blogging. But there are so few actual bloggers who do it! This is only of the only good tv blogs I've ever found. Shows that are covered include: Parks & Recreation, Community, Big Bang Theory, The Office, How I Met Your Mother, Modern Family, and Glee. Oh, and some dramas, but I don't watch any of those, so I'm not really sure which ones. 

A good book review blog. April's reviews are fairly informal, and very honest. She has many reviews across many genres. She also participates in a few meme things that can be interesting. She has a particular interest in audiobooks. Personally, they're not my thing, but if they're yours, you should read this blog. 

An awesome book blog. Steph's reviews are among the best I've found. She's honest. She features interesting books. Now, she's moved to China, and she shares many stories and pictures about that. All together a quality blog. 

A good book review blog. The reviews are short and usually make me aware of lots of different kinds of books. 

Writing Blogs

Steph Bowe's blog. Now, admittedly, I haven't read her book; in my defense, that's only because it's Australian and not available in any Canadian bookstores. Steph Bowe is a teenager author, who offers a really fascinating perspective on writing and publishing. Her posts are always thoughtful and though provoking. 

Jennifer Weiner's blog. She is the author of many books I've enjoyed, including Good in Bed, In Her Shoes, and Little Earthquakes. She doesn't update very often, but that's fine in a Google Reader subscription. She's smart and funny, and I love getting updates on her books. Also, over the summer, she was writing for the ABC Family show State of Georgia. She described a lot of the experience on her blog, and it was fascinating. It was particularly interesting to see how she compared novel writing to writing for tv. I think the show's over now, but she always has cool things going on. 

A really great blog from soon-to-be published author Kat Zhang. There are a lot of posts on writing and the process of getting published, and also some just about reading and life. One of the best blogs I read.

A great group writing blog. Posts are fairly regular, on topics ranging from book reviews to discussions of the currents issues in YA writing. Always interesting, always intelligent.

A nice little blog chronicling the life of a girl who's just starting university and just getting into the world of writing and publishing. There are also a lot of personal posts, which I enjoy. A very thoughtful and interesting blog. 

A really good writing/pop culture blog. The author is young and interesting. Just my kind of thing. 

The best blog I've come across. It features many posts on issues in YA lit, as well as book reviews and writing tips. My favourite posts are Field Trip Fridays, which always has a million great book-related links. Everyone should follow this blog. It's amazing. 

Personal Blogs

There are a million and one parenting blogs out there. But for some reason I like this one. And I don't even have kids! Katie, the blogger behind it, is also a teacher, which I enjoy reading about. 

A dad blog. It's smart and funny and clever. A really great spin on the parenting blog. 

A blog describing the life of a young woman and her husband. There are a lot of pop culture things, and just generally interesting posts. 

The blog of college student in California majoring in drama. I'm currently doing a drama minor, so I find it kind of interesting. 

Monday, October 10, 2011

Book Review: Lola and the Boy Next Door

I am currently writing this from Toronto's Billy Bishop airport. My flight back to school got delayed by half an hour and I thought it'd be the perfect time to share my thoughts on Lola and the Boy Next Door.

I couldn't wait to come home this weekend. I missed my parents so much. I wanted to sleep in my bed. I needed to talk to my friends. And, of course, I had to pick up a copy of Lola.

Anna and the French Kiss was The Book last year. Everyone read it, everyone loved it. In my original review, I had a relatively lukewarm response, but as time went on it grew on me more and more. I reread so many parts, fell in love with Anna and Etienne so many times. When I heard about Lola, I was EXCITED. September could not come fast enough!

Now, having read it, I can't say it was worth quite all that excitement, but it was certainly an enjoyable read. Here's why:

-It functioned very well as a companion novel. 

The first author I ever read who did anything companion-like was Sarah Dessen. Her characters would all pop up in each others books. Sometimes they'd be introduced with full, speaking lines. Sometimes they'd just be described in a restaurant. Either way, we got to see what was up with them, make sure our favourite couples were still together. It was nice, a little bonus. Nothing to get all that excited about, but enjoyable for paragraph or two.

The only other companion-like series I've read is Simone Elkeles's Perfect Chemistry. In those books, the previous characters came back as supporting players, with full plot arcs. That was fun too. Not only did I get to see what happened to the characters, I got to experience another part of their relationship.

With Lola, I wasn't sure what type of "companion" I would get. Would it be more Dessen or Elkeles? I'm glad to say it was much more Elkeles. Anna and Etienne were Lola's friends. They appeared in numerous scenes. They had cute romantic moments. They didn't really have any conflict or development, which was a little disappointing, but still fine. It was nice to read about them again. I really wish there was another book about them. I love them so much!

-It wasn't as good as Anna

The set up of Lola is basically the opposite of Anna. In the latter, the girl protagonist was in love with the mysterious boy with a girlfriend, Etienne. In the former, the girl, Lola, has the boyfriend, and the boy, Cricket, is openly in love with her anyways.

It was a strange reversal. Usually, a lot of a novel's mystery revolves around the fact that the boy may or may not like the girl. Here, we knew almost immediately that the boy loves her. There was no mystery. This put a lot more emphasis on Lola's internal struggle as she tried to choose between her boyfriend and the boy she really loved.

I didn't buy it all that much. I really wish that the boyfriend, Max, had been developed better. As it was, Lola looked rather dumb for staying with him. Cricket was the obvious choice, the right for her. Anyone could see that. It got annoying after a while, when Lola wouldn't admit it.

-I didn't love Cricket all that much

He's cute. Adorable even. Geeky, in the perfect way. Unique. Interesting. But also, kind of perfect. Etienne had faults. He made mistakes! But Cricket wasn't that well rounded. It made him less real. It made me love him less.

Who would I choose--Etienne or Cricket? It's hard to say. I think Cricket fits my personality better, but I think Etienne is the sexier choice. I'm not sure. What do you guys think?

-San Francisco is no Paris

Anna and the French Kiss made me love Paris. It made me want go there, just to visit Point Zero. It made the city seem amazing, so exciting.

Lola didn't really do the same service to San Francisco. It sounded like an interesting city, but it was not nearly as central to the Lola as Paris was to Anna.

-Lola was a good protagonist

I really did like Lola. I loved her costumes, and I liked the journey she went through as she explored what the costumes meant to her, what they said about her. I liked her relationship with her fathers, and I liked how she explained their gayness. I liked her relationship with Cricket. I liked her.

To me, enjoyable is the perfect word to describe this novel. It's not life changing, genre defining, career inspiring in the way Anna was. But it makes me want to read the next novel, Isla and the Happily Ever After. And who knows, Anna grew on me over time. I could easily see Lola doing that too.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Weekend Update

I haven't been blogging, and I'm sorry for that. I really do love it and I really want to keep it up. But, at the same time, this whole university transition thing is eating up a lot of my time. There's a lot of work to finish. There are a lot of classes to go to. There are a lot of people to see, people to catch up with back home. It's a lot, all going on at once and I'm just racing to keep on top of it. So the blog has fallen off a little. But today I'm back. For a little bit, at least.

I thought I'd do a general update on my life, everything I've been watching and reading and doing and all the people I've been spending time with.


I haven't been watching that much tv actually (yay me!!). There's only one tv for the residence, and its hard to coordinate everything so I have the tv when I want it. As a result, I've missed many of my shows.

Of course, I couldn't miss Parks and Recreation. So far, the season is off to an above average start. I haven't found either of the first two episodes all that funny, but I'm just happy to watch these characters I love so much. I found Tammy 1 to be an interesting contrast to Tammy 2, but not AMAZING or ABSOLUTELY HILARIOUS like it maybe could have been. And, of course, I was sad when Ben and Leslie broke up. But, for once, I actually think a break up was good. I mean, it was right for the story and right for the characters. And it left the door open for them to get back together in the future, which is enough for me. For now.

I've also been watching Grey's Anatomy. I find all the drama oddly relaxing. It's so soapy. I'm finding it a great show to relax in front of after a long day. So far, I think this season is very solid. I like how the Christina/Owen storyline ended. I think the Derek/Mer stuff is going well. If they don't get that baby I will be so mad. She is just so cute.

Also, on a sort of different (but still tv related) note, I signed up to write for the arts and culture section of my school newspaper. And guess what my first articles going to be on. TV reviews!!! I am so excited. It's only a four hundred word piece, nothing huge, but still. I'm going to review four shows: Modern Family, Two and A Half Men, Glee, and one I haven't decided on yet. I'm kind of nervous to write the article, but kind of excited too. And, hey, I figure I've reviewed tv enough times on this blog that I should be okay at it.


Since I haven't been watching too much tv, I've been reading like crazy. Here's my list:

I'll Be There by Holly Goldberg Sloan
Paper Towns by John Green
The Boy Book, The Treasure Map of Boys, and Real Live Boyfriends by E. Lockhart
Love Off Limits by Whitney Lyles
Bumped by Megan McCafferty

I didn't LOVE any of these books, but I liked them all. I'll Be There was a different type of read for me, a book I'm really glad I read. It wasn't quite as good as some people may have hyped it out there in the blogosphere, but still, solid. Paper Towns was very, very well written, which shouldn't surprise me, given that it is a John Green novel. I was annoyed by first sixty or seventy pages because I didn't like Margo, but after she was gone, I really, really enjoyed reading the interactions between Miles and his friends.

I finally finished the Ruby Oliver series, and I was satisfied. I really liked Real Live Boyfriends. And I really fell in love with Noel. I'm sad this series is over. I really like Ruby and I enjoy the untraditional format of the books. And I want more Ruby and Noel! They are so adorable.

Of course, the real news in reading this week is new releases: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer and Lola and the French Kiss. I'm living in a very small, very french town in Quebec right now, so I can't buy them here. Thank god I'm going home next weekend. I promise to post a Lola review ASAP.


It's been a pretty good friend week. I have one very good friend that I get along with well. I have another friend who's really nice and always good to share a meal with. I have a few other friends from my classes. Overall, I feel very good about where I am on this front. I would like to make some more friends in my residence and in the english program, but that's just a bonus.

I know, I can't believe it. I actually have friends! Who would have thought!

In terms of friends back home, things are divided. This last week, a lot of the people I've been emailing have become unresponsive. Except for F, thank god. We actually used video chat and talked to each other for hours. It was so nice to see her and hear her voice. It was so nice to talk to some who knows me so well, to someone I know so well. We have so many inside jokes and so much history. It's really just lovely, talking to her. I can't wait to see her next weekend.


I never thought I'd have a category like this. But, suddenly, it seems I need one. Because I kinda-sorta-maybe have a boyfriend-ish person. This I really can't believe.

I don't think I'm quite ready to talk about it. But you can imagine I'm excited by it.

So, that's my life right now. What's going on with you guys? 

Sunday, September 25, 2011

A Different Kind of Dinner

He asked me to meet him for dinner. That was something people did—met friends after class, for lunch, dinner, whatever. But this, this felt different.

            Because he wasn’t one of the girls from my English courses or my frosh group or my dance club. Because he was from the same hometown as me. Because he had nice blonde hair and he seemed smart. Because he had called me smart in class.

            From the moment he asked, my brain couldn’t stop playing with the idea. What did it mean? Why was he asking? Was he aware that he was a boy and I was girl? Did that matter? What was going on here? Why, just why? And why was I so freaked out by it? It probably meant nothing. Less than nothing. A friendly meal. Maybe his friends were all busy that night. Maybe he didn’t have any friends. At best, all I could be was a nice person to chat with. At worst, I was someone to sit with so he didn’t look like a loser for eating alone.

            Don’t overreact, I kept telling myself. He’s just being friendly. He wants to be your friend. Who are you kidding, thinking it could be anything more than that, anything at all? He was just a guy, asking a question. Don’t blow it out of proportion, I thought. Don’t get your hopes up, I repeated again and again and again.

            I kept moving through my day. Finished a reading, emailed a few friends back home. Thought about him. Went to my next class, pulled out my binder, waved at my friend. Thought about him. Listened to a student presentation. Drew a picture of a flower in my notebook. Thought about him.

            I had thought about him so much, and had tried so hard not to think about him, that I knew I would be nervous to actually talk to him. I knew I would check the mirror before I headed out, brush my hair twice just to make sure.

            He wasn’t there, when I got there. Figures. All this thinking, and ridiculous fantasizing, and he doesn’t even show up. This wasn’t the best; it wasn’t even the worst. It was less than those things. Less. Than. Nothing. What was I thinking? Stuff like that doesn’t happen to girls like me. Guys don’t talk to girls like me. Unless they need help with their homework.

            This is okay, I thought. Good. I don’t have to be nervous. I’m fine eating alone. I’ve done it before, and I’ll certainly do it again. Just a typical night. Get over it.

            I grabbed pasta, I grabbed pizza, I grabbed salad. Whatever I could find. Fork. Knife. I filled my glass with lemonade—my special treat for nights when I have to eat by myself. I balanced my plate, my cutlery, and my drink, and turned around to look for a seat.

            And he was there.

            And he smiled.

           I smiled back.

           He motioned to a table.

           I sat.
           I was no longer capable of complex thought. Simple actions were my limit now.

           I don’t remember who spoke first or what they spoke about. I was too busy trying to get myself together. Stop myself from falling apart.

            But I do remember something he said later on. He must’ve said a bunch of words around it. Context. Meaning. But my crazy, crazy brain captured one snippet, instantly crystallizing it.

            “You’re cute.”

            Me. Girl. Cute. Me. Cute. Girl.


            He said a bunch of other stuff. I said some stuff too. My friends showed up. We left.

            “See you in class on Wednesday,” I said, trying to be nice. Careful.

            I don’t know what just happened, I thought, trying to make sense of everything. Anything.

            That night, I couldn’t sleep. Once again, my mind was playing with moments. Turning them over and over in my head. Remembering the cute comment. Remembering how he had said I looked good, that I was skinny. Not in an offensive way. But in a way that told me he had been looking at me. In that way.  In that different way.

            Maybe it was different. I still don’t know. Maybe I’ll find out when I see him in class tomorrow.

            But I do know one thing. Now I’m different. I’m a girl who guys actually notice. I’m a girl worth noticing.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Too Fake, Too Fast

It feels fake.

The past doesn't feel real. Without the pictures and phone calls, I would barely believe it ever happened. It feels so surreal. I had a life before this? Who was I? It feels like my whole past, my whole history, is just gone. Only when I talk to someone from home or come across some momento do I think "hey, wow, I used to be somebody." That world, that past, is so entirely different than my present world, that it makes it feel like it never even happened. I know, it sounds crazy. But I feel like I have always lived here, lived like this.

At the same time, everything here feels just as fake. Everything I'm doing here, doesn't make sense, doesn't connect with anything I did before.

At home, there's always people to remind you who you are. Here, there's only me. And that one voice isn't strong enough to do the job all on its own. I'm getting lost. I'm losing myself.

I like it here. I like the life I'm living, the friends I'm making, the future I'm planning. I'm just having a hard time reconciling it all. I had a rigid routine, a well drawn image of who I was and what my life was. Here, none of the rules apply. Nothing seems familiar. Everything has changed, and my brain is struggling to keep up.


I am painfully, ridiculously shy. But I can't be that way all the time, otherwise I wouldn't be able to function in society. So, as a result, I've developed different versions of myself. There's me when I'm "off", completely comfortable, not stressed, just being, not thinking. Than there's me when I'm "on", always working, always trying, always almost stressed to the max. All week, I've been running on "on". Today made me realize I had run down to empty. I needed some alone time to recharge. To make sense of everything. To make sure everything was real. To look through pictures and talk to people and remember that I do have a past. To remember who I am.

I'm trying to find a compromise. Between the past and present. Between home and here. Between "on" and "off".

I'm trying. But it's hard. There's a lot to take in.

Sometimes, I just like to sit next to the open window and listen to the cars drive by. It sounds just like the city.


Sometimes, I like to sit and eat alone. It feels just like high school.


I'm trying to experience new things, new people, new places. But I'm tired. Trying is tiring. Exhausting. Confusing.

There's a song by Great Big Sea called "Fast As I Can." I've found the lyrics very comforting the last few days.

"I'm going fast as I can, please don't make me rush, this feeling's coming on way too fast." 


In college, you're supposed to reinvent yourself. I just want to find myself again. I want to find what's real. To find a reality where I feel comfortable, on and off. Where I can be myself. Never mind reinventing. It's hard enough holding onto to what was already there.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Familiar vs. Foreign

All I want right now is a baked potato with butter. And sausages. And pink lemonade.

I fantasize about this meal as I fall asleep at night. I long for it at the school dining hall. In this new world, where everything is so unfamiliar and unknown, I long for one thing that I'm guaranteed to enjoy. I long for one thing that's the same.

It's officially been one week since I started university. Seven days. I know this because I made a promise to myself that I would not judge the school, that I would not judge my new life, for seven days. Well, here I am.

I think the biggest thing I'm having trouble with is culture shock. All the summer, I spent so much time trying to anticipate and prevent the predictable problems I'd face at school--homesickness, a new academic environment, loneliness, etc. But I didn't anticipate the cultural differences, big and small, and I certainly had no idea how much they would bother me.

I'm from Toronto, Ontario. My new school is in Quebec. As anyone who lives in Canada would know, Quebec is very different from the rest of the country. It wants to be different! In fact, many people here want to separate from Canada entirely. Not to mention the fact that the Quebec region was mostly influenced by the French, meaning that people speak French, and have developed their own, unique French/Quebecois culture. I was aware of the french thing. I had a vague awareness of the cultural thing, but until this week I really had no idea what it was really like.

Before I go all out describing all I've seen and all I've survived this week, I want to issue a very clear disclaimer. I understand that what I am experiencing is only one university campus, in one region of Quebec. I do not want to generalize or stereotype or anything like that. Also, I acknowledge that what I am seeing is almost certainly heightened since this a group of university students. Maybe they are this crazy everywhere.

First and foremost, there's the drinking thing. In Ontario, the drinking age is nineteen. Teens can get their hands on it before that, and I guess they do, but not in my group of friends. In Quebec, the age is eighteen, and from what I've seen and heard, it's much more accepted to drink before that. Back in Ontario, drinking is an illegal thing a few of my friends have done a handful of times. Here, it is a legal thing people celebrate, encourage even. For me, that is very weird. I don't drink. Never have, never will. That has already been a challenge for me and will continue to be a challenge for me. But it seems a lot harder here, where alcohol is so popular. Where people chant and cheer and actually change the words of the school song to incorporate drinking and drugs. At home, this thing was hidden. Now it's huge.

Another thing that was hidden back home was sex. I mean, I had a sex ed class, of course. And my friends and I would discuss sex and make jokes about it and stuff. But it was theoretical. Here, it's not. It's a real, tangible thing. I was sitting in this giant theatre with the rest of the first year class, and they actually started chanting "WE LOVE SEX! WE LOVE SEX!" Um, what? That would, never, and I mean, never happen back home.

Also, there's all the school spirit. I said they cheered about drinking, drugs, and sex. Well, they also cheer about everything else. Frosh week judges. Individual people who walk by. The school mascot. The school. Charity. Frosh week. I swear, they will cheer for anything or anyone, anytime. They have an endless amount of school spirit. Me, not so much. My high school was not ra ra like this. They once forced us to go to a pep rally. Everyone left the minute the mandatory time was up.

Finally, there is the issue of french. And I really do mean issue. Problem. This is an english speaking university. But a lot of the students come from Quebec, and most of them speak french. Fine. The issue I've been having is the way they speak french and when they speak french. I'll be having a conversation with people, when they'll just break into french. Suddenly, I'm shut out. I mean, I took french for ten years. I know some. I can understand a lot. But it's sure hard. Isolating. And, can I say, rude? Also, it just makes everything feel more foreign, like everyone else is in on some special secret that I don't know. Like I'm a failure or an idiot for not being fluent.

I started off with a post about problems. Maybe I shouldn't have done that. Maybe I should have focused on the positive things. The new, exciting classes. The new people. But maybe I needed this. I don't have anyone else to talk to about it. They're all from Quebec.

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Big Question

I started this blog without any real plan. I wasn't completely sure what I was going to write about. I didn't know how often I'd write or for how long. All I had was a goal--to record my teenage years.

Well, now, those years are basically over. I'm moving on, moving up, moving away. I have achieved my goal--what do I do now?

I am trying to think of a plan. Which is why I am turning to you, the great followers of my blog and the amazing readers of my posts. I need your help. I need your advice.

I have one simple question for you:

How can I improve this blog?

Any and every answer will be appreciated. Any suggestion, comment, or piece of constructive criticism, big or small. I need to know where this blog stands. I need ideas on how to expand it. I need anything and everything you can give me.

I have some questions to guide you, if you want:

1) Should I write about my experiences in university? Would those interest people?
2) Should I write about tv? I don't get many comments on those posts...
3) Should I write book reviews? Doesn't everybody else do that already?
4) Is there anything else I should post on? Any good post(s) I should repeat/continue? Or any bad posts I should stop?

As soon as I receive some answers, I will make my plan. I'm going to continue blogging, in some way, that I know. I love it too much to quit. But I've been busy the last couple weeks. And I know I'll be busy with school stuff in the coming weeks. So, I want to get it in order while I can. I want to make a plan, get organized. I want to get writing again!

Thank you, in advance, to anyone who comments.

I'm Ready

I'm ready to go. But I'm not ready to leave.

There are so many things I'm going to miss--my cat, my bed, my room, my house, my street, my city.

But those things will all be here when I get back. The people, though, they'll be gone. Or, we'll be gone. Either they'll change or I'll change or our relationship will change. Sure, we'll see each other and write each other and talk to each other. But we'll probably never be as close as we are at this moment. We probably won't live in the same city ever again. Our lives will never be as connected as they are now. We'll never know each other in the same way.

I love these people and as ready and eager as I am to leave and move forward and LIVE, I am not ready to leave them. I can't stand the thought of losing them. How can I LIVE without the people who make up my life?

First, there's my class, as a whole, all seventeen of us, together. A, who is outrageous and so, so funny. S, who is so insanely smart. Everyone. Playing flip cup together. Surviving exams together. Going to Cuba together. I love this group and I hope they all go on to do great things.

Then I have M. She's very smart. Smarter than me in many subjects. Very determined. She works very hard. And she's also incredibly clever and insanely funny. She's unique. She stands up for herself. She's just her, no apologies.

Then there's T. An individual, if there ever was one. She has passion. Creativity. Focus. Her interests range from comic books to quilting, dancing to friendship bracelets. She's always interesting to talk to.

As always, there's S. I've loved her, I've hated her, I've needed her, I've avoided her. But she's always been there. Through it all. I find our friendship interesting. She's known me longer than any of my other friends. She's known me at times and in ways that no one else has. She is fun. She is really good at math and chemistry. She's great to talk to.

Then there's F. My best friend. One of the best people I know.

We met in ninth grade. Became friends in tenth grade spanish. She spoke it better; I studied harder. She finished the semester 2% higher than me. I finished the semester with the friend I had always been looking for, the friend I had been missing for so long.

F is smart. She is insightful. She's hilarious. She's confident. She's so incredibly nice and kind.

She loves Harry Potter (Fred and George are her favourites). She hates nothing, not even badly written books, boring movies, or bad people. She sees the best in everything. She loves to memorize trivia. She knows everything about Greek mythology, Narnia, and the Lord of the Rings. She loves Johnny Depp for some ungodly reason. She loves to play the Kevin Bacon game with me.

F is special. Special to me. I feel comfortable with her. Like I can almost fully be myself around her, uncensored. I can tell her when I'm feeling too anxious or awkward about something. I can tell her if I don't like her food or her dog or her art. I can just be. I think she may be the only friend I've ever had like that.

And finally I have my dad. My best everything.

He loves basically every sport--hockey, basketball, volleyball, tennis, ultimate frisbee. He's a really great runner. He loves to watch sports too, especially when Tiger Woods is playing. He reads a lot of non-fiction. He wants to do a triathlon. He wants to travel around the world. He likes Coke, Vanilla Coke, Cherry Coke, and his dog Maddie.

He is very smart. He is funny. He is a hard worker. He has a bad temper. He is so helpful. He has a hard time apologizing to people. He is always so awesome to spend time with.

These are the people who make up my world, as it is now. I have one day left with them, and then I have to leave, even if I'm ready or not. That's sad. That's scary.

But you know what's exciting? That I'm ready to go and find new people to make up a new world. That I'm ready to LIVE.

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