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Music in 2016.

“Music is the strongest form of magic.”

Music is my everything. If you were to put a gun to my head and force me to choose one form of entertainment, I would reluctantly choose music. Only reluctant because giving up film and books and television would be incredibly difficult. Since October 2015, I have been making a monthly playlist filled with new music discoveries from that month. I would say I consume more music than I know what to do with. So, for the past few weeks, I have been working to compile a few lists that would sum up the music I had fallen in love with over the past year. In this post, I will share these lists for all the music obsessed humans out there.

In this post, we will delve into my Top Ten Albums of the Year, my Top Ten EPs of the Year (2016 was an incredible year for Extended Plays), and some miscellaneous tracks that I listened to repeatedly throughout the year. It is going to be a long ride.

TOP TEN ALBUMS OF THE YEAR

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10. EVOLution by Sabrina Carpenter

For most, the name Sabrina Carpenter might not ring any bells. She’s an up and coming musician who has made a name for herself on Disney Channel. After producing a really good, incredibly fun debut album Eyes Wide Open at age fifteen, Sabrina switched up her sound and began writing her own music for this years effort. This was an album I did not expect to enjoy nearly as much as I do. The music is very modern, young female pop. However, it’s the maturity in songs like the reflective ballad ‘Run and Hide’ and the sassy ‘Feels Like Loneliness’ that stand out on this record. If you like polished modern pop, with evident personality and good lyrics, then I think you’ll enjoy this album.

Noteworthy Tracks: Run and Hide, Feels Like Loneliness, Thumbs

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9. Lemonade by Beyonce

I have never been a Beyonce fan. While I will overplay both ‘Irreplaceable’ and ‘Love On Top’ until the end of the world, I will also leave if you put on ‘7/11’ or ‘Drunk in Love’. I respect that she has talent, but she rarely makes an effort to showcase it. Instead opting for simple, shallow and obvious pop hits that lack any sort of substance. Hence why Lemonade caught my attention. It sounded as if a great deal of effort had gone into creating something worth a listen, and so when I did, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I loved it. The album goes through all the emotions a woman in Beyonce’s position would be feeling, and really has a message to convey and a story to tell. It also experiments with different styles, such as the country direction in ‘Daddy Lessons’ or the chill, reggae vibes of ‘Hold Up’. While this album has not made me call myself a fan of Beyonce as a whole, I can completely endorse this.

Noteworthy Tracks: Sorry, Daddy Lessons, Sandcastles

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8. 7/27 by Fifth Harmony

After all of the drama over these past few weeks, this album feels strange to listen to. However, it’s an album I can see myself coming back to a lot. A very cohesive, concise collection of pop songs with urban flavouring. It’s the kind of album that will never change the world, or even make much of an impact on a grand scale, but it makes you happy to listen to. An album representing strong woman of different backgrounds, both being strong and being soft and showing that you can be both at the same time. Sometimes their feminist message gets a little confused, especially with the track ‘Not That Kinda Girl’ in which they imply that it’s wrong to be a certain kind of sexually free woman. I also wish that they’d included the Japanese deluxe track ‘Big Bad Wolf’, as it’s one of the best tracks the group ever produced together. However, this album never fails to make me smile. I cannot wait to see what they produce together as a four piece.

Noteworthy Tracks: Dope, That’s My Girl, Big Bad Wolf

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7. The Human Condition by Jon Bellion

I heard the name Jon Bellion floating around a lot in 2016, but it took me awhile to check out his major label debut, The Human Condition. This album experiments a lot with different sounds, and also different subject matters. He goes from talking about masturbating on the album single ‘All Time Low’ to reflecting upon his Christian faith many times, including tracks such as ‘Maybe IDK’, and ‘Hands of God’. It’s a strange record, but that’s what makes it so great. Each song has it’s own set of interesting ideas, and it makes for an unexpectedly enticing listen. It combines sounds of hip hop with indie pop with musical theatre and children’s music. Some of the songs are so goddamn odd that listening to them a few times helps them to sink in. If you haven’t heard this, and you’re looking for something really fun, really interesting and a little different, this is for you.

Noteworthy Tracks: Morning in America, Overwhelming, 80’s Films

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6. DNCE by DNCE

Nick was my favourite Jonas Brother, and he also released an album this year. However, while I enjoy a few select songs from Nick’s solo career, Joe’s decision to form a band and bring an incredibly fun dose of funk pop to the charts was a smart one. I enjoy every single song from this album. Fun is the only real way to sum up this record. I smiled my way through it. It’s silly, happy, and dance-worthy with really good baselines. Not to mention the fact that, as someone who is picky with falsettos, Joe actually has a great one. The lyrics are also a standout in some more serious places – such as ‘Truthfully’ when Joe talks about a relationship where he loves the girl more than she loves him, and how it’s always been the other way around. This album doesn’t take itself too seriously, which is something we needed in 2016.

Noteworthy Tracks: Truthfully, Zoom, Be Mean

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5. Isn’t It Strange? by Lauren Aquilina

A few years ago, iTunes recommended the song ‘King’ by Lauren Aquilina to me. It made me smile in a time where so few things could. Then, as always happens, I started seeing her name everywhere. In 2016, I found out that her debut album would be coming out. Though the first single, ‘Kicks’ didn’t really impress me very much, I remained excited. Especially after hearing ‘How Would You Like It?’ which grew into one of the songs I’ve listened to most this year. This album is full of piano driven, lyric centric singer-songwriter music. My favourite moment is when she perfectly captures the feeling of slightly drunken euphoria on ‘Way Too Good’ – a feeling I never thought could be captured in music. It’s a quiet gem of well written pop music that escaped most people this year, but soundtracked a good chunk of mine.

Noteworthy Tracks: Way Too Good, Thinking About, How Would You Like It?, Midnight Mouths

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4. Glory Days by Little Mix

For me, this album took a couple of listens to sink in. At first, I was ready to write it off as better than their last album but still not great. However, the more I listened, the quicker I fell in love with everything about this album. My problem with Little Mix has always been lack of consistency. I would manage to find a handful of amazing songs amongst completely forgettable stuff. With this album, the only real low point comes in the Meghan Trainor penned ‘You Gotta Not’ which is absolute trash and does not come with my recommendation. The rest is a solid set of poppy R&B that honestly just makes me feel badass. The girls really assert themselves with this record, and I’m so happy that this is the collection of songs I get to hear live in 2017. The girls brought their A game with this one, and I recommend you try it out if you haven’t.

Noteworthy Tracks: FU, Power, Beep Beep, Touch

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3. Cartwheels by Ward Thomas

My surprise favourite of the year, and also the only country album on this list – honestly, a shocker. Until five months ago, I had never heard of Ward Thomas, and most of the world still hasn’t. They are a British country duo and this is actually their second album. I don’t want to be dramatic and say that it’s flawless, but I cannot find a bad song on here. They harmonize perfectly together, and their lyrics pack more punches than I was anticipating. Songs like ‘When It’s Not Me’ really had me looking at my own life and the way I see people. It’s a perfect blend of country pop that will not alienate people who aren’t too fond of the country genre. Melodies that get stuck in your head, lyrics that can make you cry or smile, messages that make you think, harmonies that make you want to listen forever. This album has everything I could have ever wanted, and I am so grateful to have found these two in 2016. Please take a listen, because they deserve the exposure.

Noteworthy Tracks: Cartwheels, Almost Easy, Guilty Flowers, Safe

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2. Mad Love by JoJo

Ten years. Without exaggeration, that is how long I have been here, waiting for this album. While the rest of the world forgot about JoJo, I was grasping at everything I could get my hands on. Mixtapes, unreleased tracks, legendary covers. The day the release date was revealed, I actually cried. I wish that was a lie. Mad Love. was exactly what I had started to believe would never come. JoJo stepping into her own and showcasing the person that she truly is. And that voice! It’s back in full force, cutting through the listener on tracks like ‘Music’ and ‘High Heels’, and making you feel all sorts of sexual on ‘Like This’ and ‘Edibles’. This album plays, searches for sounds and experiments where she wasn’t allowed for ten years. It rejoices in the simple idea of music, and shows the undeniable force of Joanna Levesque off to the world. This sassy R&B comeback may have slipped past a lot of people, but it’s worth a listen. If you jammed to ‘Leave (Get Out)’ or ‘Too Little Too Late’ back in the day – listen to this album. If you love powerful voices and albums that make you feel every emotion under the sun – listen to this album. It’s everything I could have ever dreamed up for her return.

Noteworthy Tracks: FAB, Edibles, Music, Reckless

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1. Dangerous Woman by Ariana Grande

If you know me in any capacity, this is a kind of predictable entry. Perhaps it will inspire some eye rolls. Honestly though, while Ariana’s last effort – 2014’s My Everything – was good, it likely wouldn’t have topped my list that year. Dangerous Woman shows the Ariana that I want to see more of. Her being authentically herself. She had writing credits on a large percentage of this album, and every song felt like something she really wanted to say. Everything from the wide eyed lovesickness of ‘Moonlight’ to the experimental, soaring vocals on ‘Touch It’. Every part of this album felt like her, and it really is the best moment of her career. If you like pop music that isn’t afraid to say whatever it wants. If you like badass females. If you like albums that are both accessible, but experiment with different sounds. I recommend this album wholeheartedly.

Noteworthy Tracks: Greedy, Into You, Moonlight, Touch It

Honourable Album Mentions: Who You Selling For by The Pretty Reckless, Stories for Monday by The Summer Set, Big Day in a Small Town by Brandy Clark.

TOP TEN EPs OF THE YEAR

10. Savin’ Pennies, Payin’ Dues by Lacy Cavalier

Not every song on this EP has landed itself a space in my music library, but Lacy Cavalier has the potential for an A+ country career. Best Track: Waitress

9. Summer by Cassadee Pope

After years of absence in the country music scene, Cassadee returned with a small sample of what’s to come. The high points on this prove that she is an unstoppable force. Best Track: Kisses at Airports

8. Bop City by Terror Jr.

Rumoured to be led by Kylie Jenner, this group is sassy indie R&B music at it’s finest. It should honestly not be as good as it is. If you’re into chill R&B vibes, check this out. Best Track: Come First

7. EMOTION SIDE B by Carly Rae Jepsen

Carly unexpectedly gifted us with a small set of castoffs from her critically acclaimed 2015 album, and somehow they’re just as good. Absolute pop mastery. Best Track: Impossible to choose.

6. Citrine by Hayley Kiyoko

Goddess of queer girls everywhere, Hayley Kiyoko produces the gayest EP of the year. It’s indie pop about girls loving girls and it’s absolutely perfect. Sugary lovesick pop. Best Track: Ease My Mind

5. kinda by LANY

2016 quickly turned LANY into one of my favourite bands. This EP is flawless summer-y indie music with incredible detail to the lyrics. It makes me feel all kinds of summer love. Best Track: pink skies

4. Year 2K Mixtape by Kalie Shorr

Kalie Shorr is a country artist who blends the genre with a mix of pop and R&B. It creates a seamless sound entirely her own. I’ve been replaying this adorable EP for months now. Best Track: Rearview

3. Deux by Megan & Liz

Another country pop masterpiece. Megan & Liz are two of my favourite musicians, and this EP has beautifully produced moments of greatness. It also gave me my favourite song of the year. Best Track: Home is You

2. Starfire by Caitlyn Smith

Flawless voice, flawless lyrics, flawless production, flawless style, flawless everything. This EP packs so much power into five songs. One of my favourite discoveries of the year. Best Track: Tacoma

1. Intertwined by dodie

This EP is an absolute gem of awkward acoustic indie pop perfection. It showcases both the playful and serious sides of dodie. Every aspect is beautiful. Best Track: Sick of Losing Soulmates

AN ASSORTMENT OF TRACKS I LOVED THIS YEAR THAT HAVE NOT BEEN MENTIONED

Chewing Gum – Nina Nesbitt
New York – Ed Sheeran
Love on the Brain – Rihanna
Death of a Bachelor – PANIC! at the Disco
Million Years Ago – Adele
Girls Your Age – Transviolet
Hello – Allie X
Memo – Years and Years
Figure Me Out – The Summer Set
Only Us – Dear Evan Hansen Cast
Monster – The Girl and the Dreamcatcher

So, the moral of this story is that I listen to way too much music. Will that stop me, however? Not at all. May 2017 bring many more musical moments to fall in love with, for both me and all of you.

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13 Films of 2016.

“Film recognises neither time nor space, only the limits of man’s imagination.”

I suppose it hasn’t been said on this blog thus far, but I adore films. Over the years, I have gathered a large library of favourites – both those considered traditionally good, and those that are not. My DVD collection is one I continue to update, despite the ease of streaming and Netflix. There’s something about owning and displaying physical copies of things you love. Each year that passes, I watch a lot of films. Many rewatches, but also many new discoveries. This year, I decided to list my favourites.

The only required qualifier for this list is that it must be a film I watched for the first time in 2016. Regardless of the year it was released. This is also not a list of the ‘best’ films of 2016. My tastes do not always line up with what is critically acclaimed. These are just my favourites – ones I plan to watch multiple times, ones that made me laugh or feel something or just stuck with me over time.

It must also be mentioned that I tried for a top ten, but as you’ll see, it didn’t work out. Now, in no particular order…(because I am terrible at that).

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Lights Out directed by David F. Sandberg

It needs to be said, 2016 was a brilliant year for horror and thriller films. After deliberately going into this not knowing anything about it, I walked out of the theatre blown away. The plot was intriguing, chilling and everything was incredibly concise. The film played with our fear of what could be in the dark expertly, and also left audiences with a lot to think about. Each character was given a lot of emotion, motivation and development which pushed  forward and blended with the horrific elements of the story beautifully. Without giving much away, because I do think it’s best to go into most horror films blind, I will say that this is a spectacularly made film – in general, even outside of it’s genre.

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Deadpool directed by Tim Miller

I have gone on record many times to state that I am not overly fond of Marvel, DC or any comic book movies for that matter. The film market is so saturated with them, and the lack of work and originality bores me easily. There are, however, exceptions. Deadpool is one of the big ones. There seems little point in delving into the plot, I don’t doubt you’ve all seen this. I just appreciate the fact that effort went into doing something different, creating something compelling. This film stands apart from most comic book movies because it can stand on it’s own as a film, not just another superhero movie. It’s hilarious, well shot, intriguing. More like this, please.

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Sisters directed by Jason Moore

When I say I adore Amy Poehler and Tina Fey, that is no exaggeration. Parks and Recreation is one of my all time favourite shows, and Tina Fey is just literally everything. Together they make the perfect team. This film is about two very different sisters, going home to clean out their childhood house. They wind up throwing a party, and ridiculous hijinks ensue. I watched this with my little sister, who is my best friend, and I think that added a great deal to the experience. We laughed, screamed in absolute shock and had the most wonderful time. If you’re looking for an exceptionally entertaining comedy with great chemistry between it’s actors, I recommend this. Especially if you have a sister you’re close with.

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Men, Women & Children directed by Jason Reitman

Let me start with the negatives. Yes, this film appears preachy. Yes, it is overdramatic. Yes, you leave feeling as if there is something wrong with using the internet at all. However, something in this film stuck with me. It touched on some real issues with our society today and things being online can do. This entire film feels incredibly bittersweet, and each of these people feel so real that you could meet them in your day to day life. It’s by no means a great film, but it’s a film that remained in my thoughts throughout the year, which earns it a place on this list.

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Ask Me Anything directed by Allison Burnet

Perhaps my favourite genre is indie, coming of age films. This is a fact that I will announce without shame. This was exactly the reason I selected this film one night on Netflix. Based on the trailer, I assumed I had it figured out. Young girl takes a gap year and is cheating on her boyfriend with an older man who is also in a relationship. She starts blogging about her adventures while out of school. There’s something about this film, however, especially the ending. It caught me, and though I watched it on the first day of 2016, it stayed in my thoughts for twelve months. It has surprises, leaves you with confusion and is also just a fun watch.

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The Conjuring 2 directed by James Wan

If I was being honest, while I enjoyed the first Conjuring film a lot, I didn’t feel the horrific aspects of it lived up to the hype. While it was an incredibly well made film, my level of terror was low. I went to see the second film in cinemas as late at night as was possible. From beginning to end, I was jumping. The story had me on edge, the visuals were incredible, the performances were captivating and the tension was high. I sing this films praises a lot because I could honestly watch it again and again. Even despite that terrifying nun (who is apparently getting her own film, can someone please hold me?)

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Moana directed by Ron Clements and John Musker

Disney, Lin-Manuel Miranda, a familiar culture and character in Maui. Though the trailers had me somewhat skeptical (as much as I didn’t want to be), I was completely blown away by this film. I teared up, as I always do. I laughed so much. I acted like a complete dork every time I heard Lin’s voice or saw his name. I was completely moved by the messages of this film, and I left a happier person than I had been when I walked in. Moana is both an inspiring and relatable character, and they’re the best kinds because you can see yourself in them. Despite not feeling special, she proves that she is and believes it. The music is stunning, the visuals are some of the most incredible you’ll see, and the story is touching. If you haven’t seen it, make a plan to.

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Why Him? directed by John Hamburg

I got the chance to see this film for free in exchange for writing a review on it. I hadn’t thought about seeing it at all before this, but I’m honestly really glad I did. It’s a somewhat festive film about a father meeting the man his daughter is dating, and being completely convinced that he is in no way good enough for her. It’s the kind of ridiculous humour that I always appreciate in films. I laughed until I cried and was completely sucked in by the characters. James Franco brings to life a character that should be annoying, but is instead loveable and complex. Not to mention, as a Parks and Rec fan, it was really fun to see Megan Mullally here.

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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them directed by David Yates

Me, at the beginning of 2016. “Fuck you, stop trying to make me care about Fantastic Beasts!” Me, sitting in the cinema. “HOLD ME I AM FEELING TOO MUCH I CRY!” The moral of this list, I suppose, is that I am too skeptical. I went to see this out of obligation, curiosity and a love for Eddie Redmayne’s adorable face. And, being as extra as I am, I sobbed through the entire second half. I wish I was kidding. Something that initially felt like a cash grab, and probably still was, made me feel emotions I never imagined it could. I cannot wait to see more from this franchise. I’m all in now.

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Weepah Way for Now directed by Stephen Ringer

If you were watching Disney Channel in a certain era, you probably remember Aly & AJ. Potential Breakup Song is a classic that I still hear people talk about. For my sister and I, it went deeper. They were our everything. We saw ourselves in them and have been obsessed with over ten years. This film is semi-autobiographical, and directed by Aly’s husband. He wanted to tell the story of their relationship, because he felt that it was so special and unique that it needed to be captured this way. It tells the story of two sisters and their relationship, and relationships outside of theirs. It depicts a screwed up family, loneliness, mental illness and tons more. Everything about the film is so natural, and feels incredibly real. This film flew under the radar, as it was a quiet independent work, but it was probably my favourite of the year. I highly recommend it.

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Don’t Breathe directed by Fede Alvarez

Once again, I like to go into horror movies with little information about the story. All I knew of this film was that it was getting rave reviews from critics. I really don’t think I have ever seen anything quite like this film. The concept behind it, and the way they use sound and build tension with it, is absolutely spectacular. It’s something you truly have to experience for yourself, because that’s what it was. It was an experience. It completely immerses you so that you feel as if you are in this house with these people, hiding and staying silent as if your lives depend on it, because they do. If you are a fan of horror, thrills or suspense, you honestly have to see this film.

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Suicide Squad directed by David Ayer

Another comic book based film made my list of favourites from 2016? I can picture myself from a year ago staring in disbelief. I could lie and say my main motivation for seeing this wasn’t a sudden obsession with Harley Quinn, but what would be the point? I can see the flaws this film has. They are glaringly obvious. The pacing is awkward and weak, many storylines lack development, Jared Leto is the worst Joker in history, and Enchantress was a weak villain. However, none of that took away from the fact that I greatly enjoyed watching this. The emotion felt in scenes featuring Deadshot was a lot more than I anticipated. Margot Robbie was incredibly as Harley, and I can’t wait to watch her (hopefully very gay) spin off films. The music was perfect, and I had a good time. Isn’t that the point of films, anyway?

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Finding Dory directed by Andrew Stanton

The last film on this list is also what I rewatched as my last film of 2016. Finding Dory succeeds where many sequels fail. It returns with former compelling characters, adds new ones and actually makes you feel something beyond nostalgia. Dory is actually one of the few side characters I would trust to lead their own film. She remains funny, charming and inspiring. You feel for her in a way that tugs at your heartstrings overwhelmingly – or at least, if you’re anything like me. I cried through the whole thing. Twice. As someone who often feels like a Dory – useless, a burden, helpless – I find a great deal of comfort in the lessons she learns in this film, and it feels very close to my heart. This is a sequel I can see myself returning to a lot over the years.

And there you have it. I made a conscious effort to consume as many films as I could this past year, and I am incredibly pleased to have found so many to add to my collection of favourites. If you have any recommendations to fill up my New Year, don’t hesitate to comment or tweet me to let me know. I’m always looking for new things to watch.

Happy New Year, everyone. May 2017 be magical.

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Five Books of 2016.

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies.”

Holy crap, apparently I still exist? There is little point in recapping the two years I have missed on this blog because in terms of the subjects I post about most often, it’s been relatively uneventful. The new year approaching felt like the perfect time to resurrect this little corner of the internet. I miss writing. I miss sharing my thoughts. Expect to see more on this blog in the near future. Some similar content, some entirely new things. I find myself rather excited to see where this goes.

And now, onto the books. In the past, the majority of my posts have been book related. Favourite books, things I’ve been reading. In the two years since recapping a miserable February in which I read a single novel, not much has changed. My motivation to read slipped out of my hands and I have been grasping to get it back. Normally I would do a Top Ten list, but since I read only thirteen books this year, I figured five would do. So, here are the top five books I read this year that gained a place in my heart, listed in the order I read them.

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Wonder by RJ Palacio

Because I’m astonishingly lazy, I have been eyeing this book and not reading it for about three years. Something about it caught my attention, and I had heard nothing but wonderful things. Wonder is both a heartbreaking and heartwarming story about ten year old Auggie, a child with a facial deformity, attending public school for the first time. Palaicio writes in a child’s voice so effortlessly that you really feel as if you are living in Auggie’s head, and all of the emotions that go along with that. I honestly think everybody should read this book because it really makes you think about the way we treat people, and you walk away feeling beautifully inspired. Warning, however, there will be tears.

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Binge 
by Tyler Oakley

As I am sure is the case for many, the concept of YouTuber books quickly lost it’s sparkle for me. Admittedly, the ones I did read were enjoyable. I did, after all, put Grace’s Guide on my list of Best 2014 reads. But the more I saw it, the less interested I became. However, something inside compelled me to listen to the audio version of Tyler Oakley’s written effort and I have to say, it was impressive. The voice, and honesty grabbed me immediately. There were things I never needed to know about Tyler featured in this book. If you’re looking for a YouTuber book that feels ridiculously genuine and worth your while, this is the one I would pick up.


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by Josh Sundquist

Ah, yes. Another book that has been on my to read list for far too long. In a way, this also contradicts my previous statement about YouTube books, as Josh Sundquist also makes videos on the platform. This book details his realisation that at age twenty five, he had never had a girlfriend. So, naturally, he tracks down every girl he ever liked or came close to dating to ask what went wrong. The results range from cringeworthy to hilarious to rather sad. Josh comes out of the experience having learnt a lot about himself, and the reader also learns right along with him. It’s a quick, entertaining read that somehow leaves you wiser than you were when you picked it up.

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Show Your Work by Austin Kleon

This was one hundred and ten percent my favourite book I read this year. You will notice that four out of five of the books on this list are non-fiction, because I cannot get enough of books that inspire me like this one did. I recommend this highly to any creative person reading this post right now. If you want to feel inspired to create more, and share what you’re making then read this book. I plan to read this over and over again when I need that extra push of motivation and inspiration to live the creative life I dream of living, and I hope my recommendation can pass this feeling onto others.

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This Modern Love by Will Darbyshire

Look, there it is. Another YouTuber book. I think the best thing a YouTuber can do when creating a written work is have a unique idea. Something to bring that’s intriguing and special. In This Modern Love this is achieved by compiling letters from anywhere and everywhere detailing moments of love and relationships. The book is split into the beginning, middle and end stages. Some are funny, some are heartbreaking, some make you think. I started this book just as I was getting into a new relationship and reading words that I completely understood gave something incredibly special to my experience. I can see myself picking this up again and again, and I recommend you do as well.

While 2016 felt like a failure in my reading world, each of these books are gems that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. So, I cannot really have failed so spectacularly. Despite my reading goals being higher, I feel satisfied with the words and stories I experienced this year. I hope you have also found some treasures, and here’s to great bookish 2017s for everyone!

…And also a 2017 where I actually post on my blog.

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February in Books.

“We all have our bad days, but one thing is true; no cloud is so dark that the sun can’t shine through.”

Sometimes we set goals for ourselves and fail to reach them. There are times that we have other things on our minds. February, for me, quickly turned into one of those months. Many novels were started only to be discarded when they failed to immediately grab my interest. In the end, I read one book. Yet the one book I completed was nothing short of incredible. I felt every part of it and it has stayed with me through the month.

Love, Rosie by Cecelia Ahern

After getting excited by the trailer, I checked out ‘Love, Rosie’ in theatres last year. What did I find? A heartwarming tale of two best friends who could have turned lovers but the timing continues to fail them. It was a film filled with tears, laughs and fist pumps. Everything about it was my cup of tea. At last, I found myself in a bookstore and I remembered that I had wanted to check out the novel the film was based on. So, I did. What did I find here? An even more emotional journey that made me cry more times than I can count. The novel is told through a series of letters, IM chats and email conversations. It was a style I had never read before, but I style I adored reading. It made everything feel even more real somehow. I also loved how much more extended the passage of time is. We meet Alex & Rosie when they are children, and the novel ends when they are fifty years old. Seeing how two characters grew together and apart over the course of so many years was so incredible.

‘Love, Rosie’ tells Alex & Rosie’s story. Two best friends from a young age who continually get screwed by time. It is obvious to others that they have feelings for one another, and they even acknowledge it but not to one another. Years continue to go by filled with separation, marriages, children, family drama and the two continue to communicate and have feelings for one another and yet every time one of them comes close to doing something about it, something happens to prevent it.

I recommend reading the novel first, as I always will. However, the other way is completely acceptable also. Sometimes I do find that reading the book after the film lessens the stress and disappointment of a film adaption. Perhaps I would shave been displeased with the film if I had read the novel first. Whichever way you chose to do it, I hope you take the time to experience this tory. Because it truly was a beautiful one.

Here’s hoping next month will be a better one for reading. 

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Fifth Harmony – Reflection (Album Review)

As a long time fan of Fifth Harmony, patiently waiting for them to drop their debut album ‘Reflection’ has been tedious. However, the time between the X-Factor finale and the record release date has given the quintet time to develop their sound from the bubblegum stylings of ‘Me & My Girls’ to the R&B sass of a track like ‘Bo$$’. For a group of girls who are predominantly still teenagers, this time and growth is important to produce and discover their sound. And at last, the group appears to have gathered an album of material that they feel excited about.

What listeners get is a diverse collection of flavours and sounds that are put together to say one thing. These girls are young, still in the process of discovering themselves and that’s okay. Somehow the styles featured within the record come together to form a surprisingly cohesive body of work. There are the pop sounds of tracks like ‘Sledgehammer’ and ‘Everlasting Love’ mixed with R&B, horn driven sass appearing on tracks such as ‘Worth It’ and ‘Top Down’. While this debut is not perfect, it is enjoyable, young and fun.

Top Down: The album’s opener builds most of it’s energy on background finger snaps and gang vocals. Aside from these, the production is fairly minimalistic barring the horns that burst into the mix around the minute mark. As for Fifth Harmony, this is one of the few tracks in which they attempt a rap cadence. However, in contrast to ‘Bo$$’, Normani is not the only girl taking on the MC persona. Personally, I find the sass of the rap verses on ‘Bo$$’ more enjoyable but the effort here is appreciated. My greatest nitpick with the track is that, somehow at nearly four minutes, it overstays it’s welcome a little bit. 3/5

Bo$$: This girl power track features some of the sassiest deliveries on the record. Even after months of replay the energetic drum beats and build of the chorus are still enjoyable. Each member proves their worth here with well formed harmonies, fantastic ad-libs from Ally and Camila, bursting high notes from Ally and an energetic cadence from Normani. This ode to feminist figures such as Michelle Obama and Oprah remains a fun-filled highlight of the record. 4/5.

Sledgehammer: Penned by ‘All About That Bass’ singer Meghan Trainor, ‘Sledgehammer’ feels like an older sibling to the group’s previous EP ‘Better Together’. Without a doubt, this is one of the most dance worthy tracks on the record. The lyrical content is simple and sweet, but nothing too noteworthy. The breakdown of the bridge is a stand out moment where the drum beats cease and the track takes a turn for the sensual until the beat driven chorus bursts back in. It is undeniable that this pop track is going to remain a fan favourite. 3.5/5.

Worth It ft. Kid Ink: ‘Worth It’ is definitely reminiscent of Jason Derulo’s ‘Talk Dirty’ with a horn line driving it’s chorus. Once again, the girls choose the feminist girl power route, asserting the fact that they are ‘worth it’ through the chorus. Kid Ink’s verses do nothing to add to the themes of the track and could easily have been off. Even less interesting is the fact that he is given two sections of the track and simply repeats the same verse twice. Lyrically, the track does feel incomplete and hasty but is energetic enough to warrant repeated listens. 3.5/5

This is How We Roll: With a mellow pop chorus built on distant guitar driven power chords, ‘This is How We Roll’ pairs multiple genres by moving quickly to a ‘Dirty Bit’ Black Eyed Peas inspired bass drop. The blend of pop and club beats is jarring, but in a surprisingly enjoyable way. Many of the lyrics feel clumsy or oddly mature (“We’re making it clap/We don’t need hands for that”). The track’s biggest shining moment is Camila’s triumphant stab at an unexpectedly raspy power note at the tail end of the bridge. Overall the lasting effects of the track are underwhelming but dance inspiring. 3/5.

Everlasting Love: Following a slew of R&B/Hip-Hop fused tracks perfect for club hopping and empowering females, Fifth Harmony tackle a doe-eyed, teenage romantic track. The bouncy piano line sprinkles itself across the track the create a sweet, bubblegum flavoured lovesick moment appropriate for a record by a group of teenagers. The lyrical content can border on cliche, yet with a twist. The idea of the future you haven’t met yet is a concept tackled rarely within pop music and here it is sweetly, simply put. Production on the track calls back to 90s R&B. 3.5/5.

Like Mariah ft. Tyga: Noticeably sampling Mariah Carey’s ‘Always Be My Baby’ in a track dedicated to the singer herself would be a risky move by even the most established artists, yet here it works. ‘Like Mariah’ is easily one of the records biggest standouts. Fifth Harmony croon their way through this track filled with vocal sighs and whistle tone moments reminiscent of the singer in question. Everything about the track is sweet and sensual. Even Tyga’s part on the track, though not memorable, is not exactly terrible, merely skippable. While this track may be polarising, expect it to become one of Fifth Harmony’s most notable songs as time goes on. 4.5/5.

Them Girls Be Like: While any lyrics on this record referencing internet slang and easily dateable ideas such as Instagram can be cringeworthy and awkward, Fifth Harmony take this in their stride. Though ‘Them Girls Be Like’ could have flopped hard due to being stuffed with references like these, the song is simply a fun snapshot moment in the record. Girls from this generation will relate to the calls outs to selfies, hashtags and even Mean Girls. It’s enjoyably silly and the girls take it on with enough swag to earn them credit. 3.5/5.

Reflection: The albums title track is built around minimalistic, trap-inspired beats leading it to rely heavily on it’s harmonies and background vocal moments. ‘Reflection’s’ lyrical concept is a creative twist. The girls throw a series of compliments to what appears to be a male love interest. However, once the hook hits we discover that they are, in fact, ‘talking to their own reflection’. It is clear from the fun calls out throughout the song (“So fresh!”/”Flex, turn up!”/”What planet?”) that the girls aren’t taking themselves too seriously in this empowering track and the sheer amount of fun they are clearly having propels this track to standout status. 4.5/5.

Suga Mama: 90s R&B is a clear inspiration for the girls throughout this record, and this track (which is easily comparable to ‘No Scrubs’) is no exception. The track sees Fifth Harmony taking control of the situation and making it clear that they aren’t going to be the one continuously paying for everything within the relationship. Piano and percussion lead the production and leave listeners bopping along to the assertive track. The pre-chorus harmonic breakdown is also a beautiful moment. 3/5.

We Know: ‘We Know’ closes the standard edition of the record and sees the girls showing off their impeccable vocal styles while putting yet another male in his place, though this time with a hint of bitterness and regret. For the most part, the track is entirely acapella with only a couple of piano moments and finger snaps supporting the chorus and hook. Each girl takes their turn at the wheel and drives this track with their unique talents. Harmonic moments, falsetto notes and Camila’s ever present ad-libs come together to make this the most interesting track on the record. If Fifth Harmony are looking for a direction to take their next effort, they should look no further than ‘We Know’. 5/5.

Going Nowhere: Surging forward with background claps and a pop flavour that makes this rank among the best pop moments from the record, ‘Going Nowhere’ shows the girls sitting down with a boyfriend attempting an exit strategy and telling him straight that he ‘ain’t going nowhere’. This track could have easily found it’s place among the standard edition tracks on the record. 4/5.

Body Rock: Catchy and club dance floor worthy, ‘Body Rock’ is helmed by respected producer Harmony Samuels. The synth driven, up-tempo track takes a couple of listens to hit home but once it does it is undeniably enjoyable. If you are looking for a Fifth Harmony track to bust out your ridiculous dance moves to, this is that track. 3.5/5.

Brave, Honest, Beautiful: Meghan Trainor pens her second track for the girls of Fifth Harmony which recalls Destiny’s Child’s ‘Bootylicious’ in it’s intro. If you don’t smile at least once while listening to this track, then you’re doing something wrong. Rumours have surfaced that the track was inspired by Fifth Harmony’s own Lauren. Whether or not the rumours are true, the song is bound to give insecure teens a moment of sunshine in which they can feel good about themselves. Perhaps it’s only because I’m not a fan of Meghan Trainor, but her verse felt unnecessary and grating. But regardless, this poppy track leaves me feeling like I can ‘dance like Beyonce’ and ‘shake like Shakira’. 3.5/5.

Fifth Harmony’s debut shows that the girls are here to have fun, inspire and discover themselves as artists. While the styles tend to jump back and forth, there is an undeniable confidence to the groups deliveries that make this an incredibly convincing, enjoyable album. If you’re a fan of Fifth Harmony, you’re sure to the love this record. If you’re not, I would still recommend you give it a try.

High Point: ‘Like Mariah’ and ‘We Know’.

Low Point: ‘This is How We Roll’

Overall Rating: 3/5.

January in Books.

“Books turn muggles into wizards.”

Stepping into 2015 I was a reinvigorated reader. The tail end of 2014 had reminded me of the joy in words and stories told. Due to this fact, I was able to keep on top of my reading challenge this month. Five books were consumed and, for the most part, enjoyed. So, why not share my thoughts in a wrap up of sorts? Without further ado, here is a run through of my January reading and post consumption thoughts.

Finding Me by Michelle Knight.

Goodreads Rating: 3/5

Somehow in the past year I have found myself enjoying more than the healthy amount of Dr. Phil. Due to this, I managed to familiarise myself with the story of the Cleveland kidnappings that became publicised in 2013. Knight has appeared twice on the Dr. Phil show and, though disturbing, those episodes were some of the most fascinating to me. Following this, I found out that Knight had also written a book going into more detail regarding hers, Amanda Berry’s and Gina DeJesus’s stories. After receiving the memoir as a Christmas gift, I picked it up almost immediately. What did I find? Details that were best read in moderation. Naturally, the story told within ‘Finding Me’ is horrifying. The things that Ariel Castro did to those three girls are things that no human should have to go through. As a book, it was okay. The writing style was nothing special. But who could fault a book for these things when the story inside was something that needed to be read in order to get a greater grasp on the reality of humanity.

Girl Online by Zoe Sugg / Siobhan Curham

Goodreads rating: 3/5

If Goodreads did half stars this would have been a two and a half. Unfortunately, I found myself unable to fully enjoy this book. Perhaps this is due to the fact that I am simply not fifteen anymore, or to the cliched story and irritating characters, I’m not sure. As a constant inhabitant of YouTube, I am subscribed to Zoe Sugg, who conceptualised this novel. This was the majority of the reason I bought the book even despite the ghostwriter controversy plastering the internet. Going into this, I wanted to enjoy it a lot more than I did. There were instances where I felt so frustrated with the characters and the situations they put themselves in. While I enjoyed the character of Elliot a fair amount, and the book had a couple of sweet moments, it just wasn’t for me. Honestly, I will probably skip the sequel.

City of Glass by Cassandra Clare

Goodreads rating: 5/5

For whatever reason, I found myself reading the first two books of The Mortal Instruments series roughly a year apart. Once again, it has been a year since I picked up City of Ashes and enjoyed what I found. This time, however, City of Glass has wowed me to the point of astonishment. I had heard that this was a fan-favourite and where the story would really begin to kick off and this is absolutely true. Not only was the world even more bright and developed but the characters practically jumped off the page. From the first chapter onwards the story is a never-ending ride of twists and turns and events. There is never a dull moment in this ride of a lifetime. Characters I loved, I grew to love even more. It is easy to tell that this was the intended wrap up for what was intended to be a trilogy. And while I loved where it ended with everything tied up nicely for me to squeal over, I am stoked that I get to enjoy three more novels with these characters.

 We Were Liars by E. Lockhart.

Goodreads rating: 5/5

Slow in it’s pace, but mysteriously gripping. While We Were Liars was a quick read, it was an intriguing one. I picked this up after the hype and mystery around it won me over. Boy, was I taken aback and far from disappointed. As anyone who has read this book will tell you, there is not much that you can say about it because it is better to go in with a blank board of knowledge and discover as you go. What I can say is that the writing style was so perfectly poetic and beautiful that it just drew me in and kept me reading. I adored the uses of metaphor that often border on confusing. I also adored the inclusion of fairytales the character had come up with which moved the story along and tied in wonderfully. Overall, this novel is worth a read. There really is not much else to say.

 Bossypants by Tina Fey.

Goodreads rating: 5/5

If you ever intend on reading this, take everybody’s advice and listen to the audiobook. There is something so endearing about hearing Fey herself tell the stories. ‘Bossypants’ is an entertaining, sometimes even heartwarming memoir from one of the funniest women in comedy. Fey is honest, self aggrandising and even thought provoking in this book and it is well worth the listen. In truth, there is never a dull moment in this autobiography. It sees a young Fey spending her time with a mismatched group of majorly homosexual friends to an older, but not so wiser Fey messing up her first interview at Saturday Night Live. She explores her career through Saturday Night Live to 30 Rock and there is even a small Mean Girls mention in the mix. Both fans and non-fans alike can find something to enjoy.

And there you have it. Here’s to an even better February filled with beautiful stories, starting with ‘The Darkest Minds’ by Alexandra Bracken.

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10 Books of 2014.

“Collect books, even if you don’t plan on reading them right away. Nothing is more important than an unread library.”

In contrast to it’s predecessor, 2014 failed to be an extensive reading year for me. During my hopeful, resolution filled January I set myself the goal of reading fifty books. Towards the latter months of the year I shifted that goal down to thirty. Yet as 2014 drew to a close, I rediscovered my love for unread stories. I began pulling forgotten books off my shelves and finding unexpected gems in their pages. So, while 2014 was not my largest reading year, I discovered some beautiful stories within my unread library.

Though we are a good way through January, I decided that I would compile a list of the top ten stories I discovered this year.

Disclaimer: These are in no particular order.

Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah      Ockler

Received as a gift in the 2013 Christmas period. Twenty Boy Summer was a surprisingly inspiring read.Two friends take off on a summer holiday. Frankie is looking for summer romances and adventures. Anna is struggling with the secret that she’s already had a whirlwind romance that she’s still grieving, and the boy in question was Frankie’s older brother who passed away the previous year. The relationships in the story were beautifully heartbreaking, and the events felt so real. Anytime a novel inspires me to go out and experience the world, I’m bound to carry that novel with me in my mind.

The Summer Trilogy by Jenny Han

Three books, three summers, and a wonderfully confusing love triangle. The story finds a girl named Belly dealing with her conflicting feelings for two brothers she’s grown up with every summer for as long as she can remember. Throughout the series you watch the characters grow, learn major life lessons and make even bigger mistakes. These novels tell a beautiful coming of age story filled with moments that range from tearful to hilarious. While each of the characters took their turn at being a handful, it added to the realness of the story. I read the first book while in hospital after my February car accident and it was the perfect, heartwarming read to get me through. If you were curious, my favourite is the third book in the trilogy, We’ll Always Have Summer.

The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp

Following my viewing of the beautiful 2012 adaption of this novel starring Shailene Woodley (The Fault in Our Stars) and Miles Teller (Whiplash), I discovered the novel. My experience reading it was everything I bargained for and more. Sutter Keely is a the guy you want at your party. He gets people dancing, and always brings the fun. Constantly armed with an alcoholic beverage, he just cruises his way through life. Sutter meets Aimee, a mousy girl who appears to have forgotten she has a voice of her own. The novel shows the two of them experiencing life together as Sutter teaches Aimee how to live, and Aimee teaches Sutter some lessons of her own. The relationship between the two leads is beautifully intricate and they are the kind of characters who can easily drive a book. While I had my issues with the ending, I can accept that it was perhaps the most realistic way for Sutter’s story to end.

Isla & the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

The third and final book in this series of companion novels by Stephanie Perkins disappointed some, but I was not one of those. Isla has a lot of room to grow into her own and come out of her shell, and she has had a crush on the artistic Josh for some time now. At last, in their senior year at the School of America in Paris, the two connect and romance sparks. Many complained that Isla was a weak character and they were constantly screaming for her to grow a pair and stop acting so mousy and defined by her relationship. Personally, I related to the character of Isla greatly. I could understand every one of her feelings throughout the novel and felt as if I possessed many of her traits, both negative and positive. This novel also sees the return of characters from the previous books Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door in a scene that just made the entire book for me. A beautiful conclusion to the series.

Popular; Vintage Wisdom From a Modern Geek by Maya Van Wageman.

As the year progressed, I found myself in a ‘reading slump’. Nothing was grabbing my attention, and I could not find the motivation to pick much up. Then something clicked, and I began reading books that fell into the non-fiction category. Popular tells the story of Maya, a girl who finds a guide on popularity that was written in the fifties, and decides to attempt the tips to see what would happen in modern day middle school. The results range from hilarious to heartwarming and Maya discovers a lot about people and the way they react to one another. Of all the books I read this year, this had to be the most inspiring. I felt as if this fourteen year old author was passing on wisdom and intelligence that I haven’t even begun to come into. The lessons you learn from this book are important and insightful and it is certainly a book I won’t forget in a hurry.

Unbearable Lightness by Portia De Rossi

Years ago I caught an episode of The Ellen Show in which Ellen interviewed her wife Portia about this book and it’s contents. Ever since I have been intrigued to pick it up and at last, in 2014, I did. What did I find? Beautiful, deep, thoughtful and often painful prose that let you into the mind of someone dealing with an eating disorder. Portia lays everything out on the table. Her deepest, darkest thoughts throughout her battle are shared with her audience through a wonderfully written book. Often people forget that anorexia and bulimia are, in fact, mental illnesses. Those who suffer have a warped view of themselves, their habits and the world around them. They do not truly see that they are doing anything wrong. Instead, they view their odd eating, throwing up and/or excessive exercising as the healthy decision, as strength. Books and stories like this can help remind us that it is important to treat these things as seriously as possible.

The DUFF; Designated, Ugly, Fat Friend by Kody Keplinger

Due to an impending film adaption, I at last pulled this forgotten novel from my bookshelves. Boy, am I glad that I did. This is the story of Bianca and her struggle with the idea that she is the DUFF of her group (the designated, ugly, fat friend). In the process she deals with her parents separation, her fathers alcohol issues and the fact that she finds herself sleeping with the boy she claims to hate, Wesley Rush. Throughout the book Wesley and Bianca discover one another as real people with real problems instead of simple ideas formed in the corridors at school. Their relationship is one of the most real I’ve read in some time and the depth of this novel caused me to have a lot of feelings as I stayed up into the late hours of the night reading. There are moments of true pain, of true beauty and of true bliss. Sadly, it appears the film is taking the bare bones of the story and turning it into a simple, cheesy, pointless story about Wesley helping Bianca to become a standard idea of pretty. I’m disappointed, but at least I have this book.

Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks

At long last, I have now read a Nicholas Sparks novel. The film adaption of this intrigued me when it came out a couple of years ago. Something about it was different to Sparks’ usual romances, and there were twists and turns that truly had my mouth hanging open. Therefore, I selected it as my first Nicholas Sparks’ read and I was far from disappointed. Not only was the romance beautiful in true Sparks fashion, but there was enough suspense to keep me up reading through the night. The fact that Sparks chose to write portions of the book from Katie’s ex-husbands perspective really struck a chord with me. You got to see into this deranged villains mind and it was a fascinating ride. Katie’s relationships with everybody around her felt so real to me and I ended up getting so lost in the world of this small town. Every character was stunningly captured and I loved them just as much as Katie grew to. I could continue to write glowing compliments towards this book, but I’ll simply leave it at this. A beautiful read.

Grace’s Guide; The Art of Pretending to Be a Grown Up by Grace Helbig

As a part of the YouTube generation, I am continuously supporting the mainstream success of those I regularly watch on my laptop screen. Grace Helbig is arguably receiving the most success these days. Starting with this book and leading into the latest announcement that she will be hosting her own talkshow on E!. Naturally, this book was a must read for me. Not only was I excited to read a book by Grace, but the subject matter appealed to me, as a nineteen year old girl. After reading it, I can only say glowing things. The entire book is written in Grace’s trademark, comedic voice. Her personality shines through her words as she talks about her life and the many humorous moments she has faced. Within these anecdotes she gives suggestions for how to handle similar situations. From how to combat a hangover to throwing your own party to simple, sometimes bizarre sounding recipes to try. I loved it and was left wanting to give Grace the biggest hug afterwards.

The Selection by Kiera Kass

For some time, this title had been sitting on my shelves gathering dust. I finally picked it up when it was recommended by a fellow book lover who said she flew through it and loved it. Once I picked it up, everything she said rang true. Not only did I finish it in less than a day, but I adored every moment of it. The story tells of a girl named America Singer who lives in a society where people are separated into castes. America is in love with Aspen, a boy who is a caste below her and the love is not only frowned upon, but forbidden so the two are keeping it a secret. That is, until America is chosen for The Selection. The Selection is a competition which is used to select the future bride for the prince, who in this case is Prince Maxim. Since I am one of those who has a bad addiction to terrible, mind numbing reality shows, this book was so much fun for me. It’s a quick read with adorable moments, interesting characters and amusing, reality television like plot elements. It is also the first in a series.

So, there you have it. My top favourite books of 2014. May my 2015 reading year be just as good, if not better.

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2015.

“Forget the past and what lies behind you. This is your chance to begin again.”

New year, new me. Over time words such as these develop a general sense of cliche when paired together. Each year we dig through the experiences of our previous and pinpoint the things we would like the change, develop or expand upon in the coming twelve months. These resolutions are often considered pointless by the masses due to the overwhelming pressure to fulfil them which ultimately ends with us tossing the goals out the window once the month of January is over. All hope we had for this new person we were to be has faded into just another day, just another year, the same old me.

Like most, the majority of my 2014 resolutions were left uncompleted. I did not read fifty books, start wearing makeup or take a photo every single day to post on my Instagram feed. Am I disappointed with my results? Naturally. Yet here I am again at the start of a new year with the same sense of hope I felt twelve months ago. While the changeover from one year to the next is a manmade concept, it has morphed into a fresh start. A new year is a blank page. So, once again, I have my resolutions and I thought I would write a few here.

“2015. A new book with blank pages. Let’s write a bestseller.”

Write more. It is a common joke among people who write. We call ourselves writers, but we don’t actually write anything. Unfortunately, this statement sums my situation up perfectly. In 2014 I found myself writing pieces here and there, but each collection of words simply became another forgotten document on my computer. In 2015, I am resolving to not simply call myself a writer, but to be a writer. Write a novel, write a short story, write down my opinions. Write something. Most importantly, write on this blog. It has simply been gathering metaphorical dust on the internet since early 2014. A blog is intended to be filled with words, not empty.

Read 50 books. 2015 is my third year in a row of attempting this challenge. While 2013 saw success, 2014 did not. In recent months I have rediscovered my passion for books and the stories they hold. Close to my bed stands a bookshelf filled with unread books waiting for their stories to be discovered. 2015 will be the year for discovering these stories and more. So, fifty books, 2015, here we go.

Get a tattoo. While pain may not be a sensation I handle terribly well, a tattoo is something that I constantly say that I want. Why not live in the moment?

Study hard. One of my greatest faults has always been an inability to focus on activities that I do not enjoy. Included among these activities is study. While the course I am studying is something that I am interested in, the general concept of listening in lectures, note taking and studying for exams is quite the opposite. Sometimes even turning up to lectures and tutorials becomes something I dread. These habits need to change in 2015. Study. Take notes. Put everything you have into these classes because while it may not be the most enjoyable task, it is important and worth it in the long run. Instant gratification is not worth sacrificing the future.

Begin posting on YouTube. As is becoming fairly common, I watch more YouTube videos than I reasonably should. Uploading my own content is something that I intend to force myself to do in 2015. Self-conciousness has prevented me from even filming videos in the past, and I wish to overcome that. Whether I’m posting videos of me singing, short films, skits, challenges or the typical ‘talking to a camera’ type video, I just want to upload something. 2015 seems like the year to do it.

Start writing reviews. There was a period of time where I found myself fascinated with the idea of entertainment journalism and reviewing. In fact, it remains something I am quite enamoured with. Last year I told myself I was going to start writing reviews of entertainment content I consumed throughout the year. Anything from films to television to music. However, it simply became another item on my ‘Failed Resolutions’ list. In 2015, I am resurrecting the resolution and vowing to actually complete it. Since I have opinions on everything I watch and everything I listen to, why not put those opinions into words?

Learn to cook. January 2nd marks the second day my mother has not arrived home until after a typical dinner hour. Therefore, it marks the second night of unhealthy, late consumed food. At nineteen years, it is about time that I learn how to prepare something substantial to eat. While I tell myself I have failed to learn because my mother is an unpleasant teacher, it’s truly laziness that has prevented it thus far. Get past the laziness and cook good food.

Exercise at least three times a week. Get some use out of that gym membership. Throughout the last portion of 2014 I found myself attending the gym on an average of once a week. Three times a week is the minimum that I should be exercising if I want to lose the weight that I have managed to gain over the last year or so. As with the study resolution, it will be worth it in the long run. There is no reason to avoid the gym, so go for it.

Create. Write music. Make films. Tell stories. Draw pictures. DIY projects. Visual art. Textual art. Musical art. Be inspired. Take pictures. Create art from inspiration instead of setting inspiration free, untouched.

Live in the moment. Introversion is not an excuse for living in your bedroom. Throughout 2014, I found myself hiding away. I skipped classes, I fabricated reasons why I failed to attend a social event, I let friendships fizzle. 2015 is the year for now. Don’t consider what you want to do, just do it. Stop being afraid to talk to the person you’re sitting next to in class. Find reasons to go out and experience life instead of reasons not to. Explore. Make memories. The moments you remember are not the ones spent scrolling through Tumblr from the safety of your bed. They’re the times you pushed yourself out of your comfort zone. The moments you spent in human company and spoke your mind. In 2015 I wish to be the best version of myself, and that involves getting out there and not thinking about the future and the past. The past is gone and the future can wait.

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