Top Ten Books I Read In 2013

Once again, thanks to The Broke and The Bookish for organising the themes for Top Ten Tuesday. It's recently become one of my favourite blog features and I look forward to participating a whole lot more in 2014.

Honestly, I haven't had the chance to read as many books as I would like to this year but luckily there have been a few gems in the mix. 

Enjoy :)

  • Wild Awake by Hilary T. Smith - If given the chance to describe Wild Awake in only a few words, I would say it is a love letter to bike riding and punk rock (what an awesome combination). It also manages to be a really well written book on mental illness while also being free of those overused cliches often found in the YA genre.

  • Life in Outer Space by Melissa Keil - The author has managed to write a refreshingly honest and realistic main character in Sammy, who is perfectly content obsessing over obscure zombie films with his band of geeky friends. That is until a World of Warcraft playing girl turns up at school one day and changes his life for the better. I also loved the awesome movie recommendations in this book, I added a heap of horror flicks to my must-watch list :)

  • Shades of Earth (Across the Universe #3) by Beth Revis - While I often say I'm not a huge fan of fantasy or sci-fi, this series has broken the wall down for me. It quickly became one of my favourites back in 2011 and I highly recommend the enthralling series to anyone who has even the slightest interest in YA. *SPOILER* After a tumultuous journey, we finally see Amy and Elder reach Centauri-Earth but of course it is not the paradise they had envisioned and there is quite a bit of work to be done if they plan on making it habitable for all who chose to make it to the final destination.

  • Wildlife by Fiona Wood - In a companion novel to Six Impossible Things (which I also loved),  we are introduced to Lou and Sibylla who each have their own demons to face at Camp Fairweather. I absolutely loved this book for it's simplistic and humorous writing style. And of course, almost any Aussie YA can win me over extremely easily... they just seem so damn realistic to me :)
  • Chain Reaction (Perfect Chemistry #3) by Simone Elkeles - Another series finale enters my favourite book of the year list. While I really enjoyed this book, I think I much preferred the first instalment with the format getting a little tired in books two and three. A little more variation would've been nice but still super enjoyable to read!
  • The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen - From the very beginning, Sarah Dessen has been my favourite YA author and I think it will always be that way. There is no other author who has such a loyal band of followers for such simple plot arcs. As the title says, Emaline wonders how she can have "the moon and more" in this story which focuses on a small beachside town and choosing the "best fit" college.

  • Inside Out & Outside In (Insiders #1 & #2) by Maria V. Snyder - After completing the Across the Universe series, I was feeling game for a little more sci-fi in my reading catalogue so I picked up both these books. I guess they caught my interest because they gave away so little detail in the blurb, before long I was moving on to the second book which just shows how much I really do enjoy this genre.
  • The Originals by Cat Patrick - I'm a huge fan of Cat Patrick's previous books Forgotten and Revived so it was an easy choice to make when The Originals was released. This one follows the lives of identical triplets who are living the life of one girl.... which means they each spend a third of the day at school, etc.
Q: What were some of your favourites from the past year? Any recommendations on what I've missed?

Top Ten Books I Wouldn't Mind Santa Bringing Me

It's time for another edition of Top Ten Tuesday thanks to The Broke and The Bookish.
This week's topic is books I'm hoping to get for christmas. Enjoy!

Zac and Mia (YAY! for Aussie YA)
by A.J. Betts 

Eleanor & Park (Winner of the Goodreads Choice Awards)
by Rainbow Rowell 

Ketchup Clouds (A new cover and pub. date for the US market?)
by Annabel Pitcher

Stupid and Contagious (Not a huge coffee fan but this sounds too cute to ignore!)
by Caprice Crane 

by Lisa Shanahan

Ten Miles Past Normal (Mmm, goat's cheese!)
by Frances O'Roark Dowell

Guitar Highway Rose (Another Aussie gem I need to get my hands on)
by Brigid Lowry

Someday, Someday, Maybe (Gilmore Girls Fan Club United)
by Lauren Graham

An Off Year (Gap Years FTW)
by Claire Zulkey

The Fortunes of Indigo Skye (I like to think of this author as the alternate Sarah Dessen, do you agree?)
by Deb Caletti

What's on your bookish wish list for tomorrow?


Welcome to another edition of 5x5 Q's, this week we're chatting to Chantelle from Fat Mum Slim!
Q: What would you most like to accomplish in the future? There are lots of little things that I’d love to do in the future; travel, health, blogging, career, life, family. But generally speaking, I just want to live each and everyday of my life. To be grateful. To be content. And to spend lots of time with the ones I love, and live life without regret.

Q: What would you buy with a million dollars? Remember when a million dollars seemed like SO much money. Now houses are close to that much? Anyway… I’d buy us a pool, renovate a few things at home, and a trip to Disney World. Now to buy a lotto ticket…

Q: What is your favourite snack food? It changes all the time, but at the moment I’m addicted to Peckish Rice Crackers. Yum.

Q: What do you want to be when you grow up? Happy!

Q: What’s on your wish list? At the moment I’m dreaming of a new laptop, a new handbag and a block of dairy-free chocolate that actually tastes good.

Now, it's Chantelle's chance to ask me a few questions... 
Q: Do you think the world will be better or worse in 100 years time? Why? We've come so far in the past hundred years with technology, I think we can only improve for the better. It's easy to say, we're all doomed based on the sci-fi movies we all love to hate but I am going to take the positive route and say we'll be just fine :)

Q: What's the last thing you ate? I actually just had some chicken noodle soup as I'm recovering from a wisdom tooth extraction. It's much more painful than I expected and a numb jaw makes it impossible to eat anything other than soup!
Q: When someone pushes in, do you say something to them? Depends on the person and the mood I'm in, sometimes I'll be like... hey, buddy "insert serious face", other times it'll be an elderly person and I'll let it slide but it's kind've sad that we STILL have to remind people to have manners on a daily basis.

Q:  Have you ever been in an ambulance? I'm the exact opposite of accident prone. I've never had a broken bone and don't plan on ever adding it to my bucket list.

Q: Who owes you money? Nobody :) It was my new years resolution to stop lending money to frequent borrowers and now I'm much more happier. Although, I do owe a little bit of rent at the end of this month, haha!
Let me know if you'd also like to participate in 5x5 Q's!

5x5 Q's w/ Shirley from Shiirleyy's Bookshelf!

Welcome to another edition of 5x5 Q's, this week we're chatting to Shirley from Shiirleyy's Bookshelf!
Q: What's on your wish list? I’m desperate for Crash Into You by Katie McGarry to be released! So that’s definitely at the top of my wishlist. The Fiery Heart and Isla and the Happily Ever After are  both books I’m dying to read too. As for non-book items, a wallet  (the state of my current one is absolutely disastrous) and a Polaroid camera :D

Q: When have you felt most proud of yourself (& your blog)? During the two years I've been blogging, I guess the few times I felt most proud were:

  • The first time my review was tweeted by the publisher (not just RTed but the publisher actually composed a tweet specifically for my review. Also the first time my review was shared on FB by the publisher with a little comment
  • When my review was featured in the monthly newsletter for the publisher of the title
  • When I, along with my favourite Aussie bloggers were mentioned in Spirit by Brigid Kemmerer!
  • When I was given the opportunity to interview some of my favourite authors including Julie Kagwa, Katie McGarry and Brigid Kemmerer
  • When my reviews receive unexpectedly high number of views and when bloggers/readers comment on how they liked my review and are looking forward to reading the book

As for real life, I honestly can't think of any time when I've been most proud of myself (ahaha my life's pretty boring and I rarely challenge myself - I KNOW, THIS NEEDS TO CHANGE). But I guess when my ATAR was released (similar to SAT scores in the US) and I was accepted into UNSW I was pretty proud of myself.

Q: Where would you most like to travel? EVERYWHERE. AROUND THE WORLD. I’ll hopefully be going to Singapore this year & Thailand next year so YAY! I have relatives in the UK so I hope I’ll get to visit there very soon. USA, Canada, France, Italy…and basically the whole of EUROPE are countries/places I want to visit one day!

Q: How much time do you spend reading YA? When I first started blogging, I legit read YA EVERY SINGLE DAY- at school, during breaks, when I got home, before/after homework and after dinner. Last year, due to my HSC, I read less often but still read almost every day before I went to sleep. This year however, I’ve been reading YA a lot less often. I read on average, 3 days a week, just before I go to sleep. I know, it’s not a lot, but BLAME UNI!!

Q: Can you give us a little insight into your daily life? My life, as I said above is EXTREMELY BORING. I wake up (hopefully) at 7 to go to Uni on the days I have Uni. (If not, I can sleep in until like noon). I go to Uni, attend my lectures or tutorials, then hang out with friends during breaks. Sometimes I have work after Uni so I’ll go straight to work in the afternoon, or else I’ll find some friends to go home with. At home, I’ll be either doing my homework or watching TV shows – Revenge, PLL, Reign (yes, I’ve recently started watching it & am loving it!) etc. Then after dinner, I’ll be multitasking – I’ll be listening to Harry Potter  (the movies! Not audiobook!), attempting to do homework, and chatting to friends on Facebook. Anddddd I sleep at around 1. AND THAT’S MY LIFE.  
Now, it's Shirley's chance to ask me a few questions... 
Q: What made you decide to start blogging? In the early days, I wanted to start up a music blog but failed miserably. It wasn't until a few years later when my YA book habit took hold that I discovered Lauren's Crammed Bookshelf and a ton of other YA book blogs. From that point on my blog has grown immensely and also changed focus a few times, I'm still a huge fan of this format and look forward to creating much more interesting content in the future!

Q: What are some of your proudest moment - blogging and in life (I know I answered this, but I'm curious about your proudest moments, too)? Well, let's see... I distinctly remember the day I surpassed 666 followers but since Google Reader died none of that seems to matter anymore. There have been so many highs and lows that it is hard to really pinpoint any specific memory. As with Shirley, I am proud to say I got into uni and successfully completed the first year of study. I'm now awaiting a second year transfer offer and the wait is excruciating, I seriously have no idea what I'll do if I don't get in to my first choice :S

Q: Do you have a life motto? I struggled to even come up with a motto for my blog, so in short, no I don't have a life motto but I guess I do like Hakuna Matata and No Excuses. Although, I could never bring myself to say #YOLO, I hate that one so much!

Q:  Who are your inspirations? This answer literally changes daily, so I will point you to my pinterest board of lovelies. At the moment, I am really loving Ellie Goulding, Rebel Wilson, Zooey Deschanel and Alexa Chung. I'm also inspired on a daily basis by those bloggers who manage to create original content on a daily basis and keep me coming back day after day!

Q: What 2014 books are you most looking forward to? While I haven't exactly been keeping up with the latest new releases, I am really keen for:

  • Lena Dunham's essay collection, Not That Kind of Girl
  • The fourth instalment in The Wolves of Mercy Falls series, Sinner
  • The next book in the Anna and the French Kiss series (despite having a corny title, these books are actually really good!)
  • I also really liked The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight and can’t wait for the companion novel due out in April.
Let me know if you'd also like to participate in 5x5 Q's!

my manuscript submission // have a read :D

While I haven't had much time to read YA over the past few months, I have been working away at a manuscript submission for my Creative Writing class. To tell you the truth, I often doubted why I opted for this elective in the first place but I've grown to love it and now want to actually make an effort to read all those classics I've added to my wish list over the years.

#creativewritingisHARD! I take my hat off to all those authors who manage to write page after page of their manuscript. Our piece needed to fit in the guidelines of 800-1200 words for the initial submission and then up to 2000 words for the final polished piece. I can not actually recall ever having completed a story so it was a struggle for me in the beginning but as the weeks pushed along, I found it easier to write and I'm really proud of this piece even though it is noticeably missing an ending. I'll tell you my thoughts on where it might go a little further down the page so as not to spoil the fantastical reading opportunity that awaits you.

In a few words, the story is about a girl who finds a wallet and then becomes the lead suspect. There is a focus on colour symbolism (orange haze of the photo, striking blue eyes of the boy in the store, etc.) and I think it really adds to the suspense.  It started out as a hypothetical writing activity for class and I just ran with it. I didn't exactly intend to build suspense but I'm really happy with how that has played out, I think it is the best feature of the story so far and I look forward to finishing it off at some point. 

I was walking through town when I found a wallet in the street. I had a moment of doubt where I questioned what I would do if there were any money inside. Oh well, I flipped open the brown leather case where there was nothing to be found. I checked all the pockets to make sure I hadn’t missing anything only to find an old looking photograph. I couldn’t help but stare at it for a few seconds feeling an eerie connection to the man in the photo. It was one of those old photographs from the 70s with the orange haze and the focus all wrong. The photographer had clearly taken the person in the photo by surprise, you could see the look of shock in his eyes.

The police station was only up the road, maybe they’d know what to do with it, or maybe they’d look at my funny and throw it straight in the trash. Either way, I crossed the street making my way into the heritage-listed building.
I could only describe the sergeant’s reaction as completely perplexed. He checked all the pockets even though I told him I’d been through them already before he became quite serious.
“Do you know this man?” he asked bluntly, holding up the photograph.
“No, I told you, I just found the wallet outside the bakery and thought someone might be able to claim it,” I replied, before asking, “Can I leave now?”
He explained that the man in the photo was reported missing earlier this morning under suspicious circumstances and I was now the lead suspect.
At work the next day, I tried to play it cool but every other customer seemed to know the case back to front like they’d had a chance to read the case files or something. Little did they know I had managed to take a peek at the missing persons report while the sergeant attended to a call. I only really had time to skim the notes before he came back in the room but I did manage to find out where the man in the photo was last seen. It was safe to say, I was itching to get off work and do a bit of investigating for myself. Surely, I wasn’t the only one to make the connection to the increase in crime reports over the past few months.
As the hours dragged on, I could feel myself becoming more and more caught up in the case as if I’d known the missing person. Who knows, maybe he’d been a regular at the bakery that would explain why he seemed so familiar to me. 
Right, that was it. I couldn’t wait any longer. I caught Stella with a load of dishes and casually asked her whether I could take the early break to which she replied with a mumbled yes. Before she had time to rethink her answer, I was out the door still wearing my apron. 
The address was a bit of a distance away but I didn’t mind the ride. It gave me a chance to think about what in the world I was going to say when I got there.


Despite a shabby front, the place was actually well run. There were a few people down the back browsing the endless row of magazines. The guy at the counter had somewhat of an angry look on his face. I guess a few people had been in here with the same idea or at least that’s what I told myself as I approached with a couple of straightforward questions. He didn’t really give me much to go on other than a grunt of acknowledgment. I was about to turn around and walk right out of there in a huff when I caught sight of another employee stacking shelves.
“Pretty sure you’re not going to find anything around here,” he said nonchalantly.
I hadn’t realized he saw me looking in his direction until I turned around and caught sight of my reflection in the window. “Pretty sure I’m free to peruse a news agency at my own leisure” I quickly responded.
“Okay, Nancy Drew… feel free to peruse.” He responded with a side grin pasted on his face.
At this point, I had a moment of déjà vu as I noticed his striking blue eyes. They were of a particular shade of light blue that made me stop and stare for what felt like an eternity. I shook my head in an attempt to snap out of the daze before finally realizing they were uncannily similar to those of the man in the photo.


I wasn’t exactly looking forward to being interviewed again but the sergeant assured me it was just a formality. As I walked through the corridor, I couldn’t help but think of the criminals who had passed through these doors and the fact that I was now being treated with the same level of suspicion. The sergeant’s offsider startled me by immediately asking why I was snooping around the news agency yesterday afternoon. I wondered whether if they really did have surveillance on me as he snapped his fingers prompting a response. I looked across the table trying to think of a reasonable explanation as he slid the photo of Miles across the table. It was noticeably lacking in that iridescent blue eye colour I so vividly recalled before he focused my attention again.
“We have reason to believe you knew the victim in question, Miles Teller prior to his disappearance on October 12,” he said.
I shook my head in confusion as more photographs came at me. I leaned in closer realizing I was in the background of the first shot. I felt my breathing slow as I then spotted myself in the other candid photographs. 
I just wanted to get out of there as quickly as possible so I could forget all about this case. I was now incredibly glad I’d made the decision to rent the spare room out to Stella a few months back, I don’t think I’d be comfortable going back to an empty house now that I knew I had been followed for what looked like weeks and months. 


I entered the lift in a daze as a few people shuffled out. I moved closer to the handrail noticing a familiar face in the corner of the lift but I couldn’t exactly look head on without making it noticeably obvious so I began to ponder the events of the past few days. I worked on putting it all into a sensible narrative but simply found myself questioning my own actions. If I hadn’t picked up the wallet in the first place, I probably wouldn’t be in this situation at all. At that very second, the lights flickered and the familiar looking guy fell forward. Surely, I was having some sort of meltdown… standing right next to me was Miles Teller. I blinked again realizing that it was in fact the boy from the news agency, how could I have gotten those two so mixed up? I was in complete shock as the lift came to a sudden halt. I splayed out against the wall as the lights finally lit up again. He made a move to the front of the lift probably noticing the look of concern in my eyes. After two or three attempts, he resigned to the fact that we were stuck in here indefinitely. 
“Look, I think we got off on the wrong foot,” he said as he motioned for a handshake, “I’m Joey.”
To which I responded with a friendly grimace before he explained that he had also been called in for questioning. Apparently, he had been shown some pretty creepy shots of his activity around town too. I heard some grumblings from outside the lift door, maybe we wouldn’t be trapped in here for much longer. 
“What a coincidence, two of my lead suspects caught in the one lift,” I could hear the sergeant saying as the doors slightly jarred open.
So what do you think? Any tips on where I can take the story next? I see the story going to a fantasy type piece although it looks like a mystery fiction story at the moment. I think Joey might turn out to be a shapeshifter who is able to morph into the body of those he sees in photos and is exploring this ability after it recently became rather noticeable. Either way, I hope I do end up working on this story a little more. I think it has been the most creative piece of writing I have ever worked on and I'm really proud of it :)
Q: Have you ever attempted a short story piece? How did it turn out?

©2012 Design by Katelyn Brooke Designs