The Tag Of Happiness

GUYS MY GRANDMOTHER IS REALLY AWESOME. SHE HAD THESE REALLY NICE COPIES OF ALL THESE CLASSICS AND I TOLD HER I’D BEEN WANTING TO READ SOME OF THEM SO SHE GAVE ME THE WHOLE SET TO KEEP AND THERE’S LIKE FORTY OF THEM AND THEY’RE BEAUTIFUL.

Ahem.

I’ve been nominated for a tag! Yay! Aimee from To The Barricade! nominated me for The Tag Of Happiness! Thank you Aimee!

That was a lot of exclamation marks.

I actually did this tag back in October, but that was a loooong time ago and I haven’t done a tag since then so I’m going to do it again, but with different answers. Because why not? You can find the first one here.

Basically I have to list things that make me happy. Whoop!

Books that make me happy:
•Happily Ever After by Kiera Cass, because it is absolutely beautiful. Also the entire Selection series.
•Green Valentine by Lili Wilkinson, because it was so lovely and I could not stop grinning.
•Sketchy Behaviour by Erynn Mangum, because it is so sarcastically hilarious.
•THE NEW BOOKS THAT MY GRANDMOTHER GAVE ME EVEN THOUGH I’VE ONLY ACTUALLY READ ONE OF THEM BECAUSE THEY ARE SIMPLY SO BEAUTIFUL TO LOOK AT.

Movies that make me happy: (I’m going to answer this purely with children’s movies because why not?)
•Matilda, because yes.
•The Peanuts Movie, because it was adorable.
•The Lego Movie, because it is so heartwarming and awesome.
•How To Train Your Dragon 1 & 2, because they’re so amazing and cute and beautiful.

Words that make me happy:
•Hemoglobin. Don’t ask. I don’t even know.
•Dodecahedron, because math.
•Extraordinary, because Blinky Bill.
•Arohanui, because Māori and love and my blog and yus.

Scents that make me happy:
•Strawberry
•Hot chocolate
•Indian food
•Subway (so basically I just like the smell of food)

Foods that make me happy:
•Fresh fruit, because om nom nom.
•Restaurant butter chicken, which I’ve been craving for weeks.
•Prawn crackers, because YES PLEASE.
•Cinnamon toast, because I don’t even like toast but this is delicious.

Songs that make me happy:
•Anything by Tenth Avenue North, because beautifulness and meanings and tears.
•Anything by Twenty One Pilots, because awesomeness.
•World In Union, because memories and friends and I don’t even care that it’s to do with rugby.
•Anything by Hawk Nelson and Josh Wilson and just ALL THE SONGS BY EVERYBODY BECAUSE I JUST LOVE MUSIC OKAY?

Random things that make me happy:
•New anything, because it’s exciting.
•Being organized and tidy, because I never am so it’s a miracle if I am.
•Calendars, because I have five.
•Playing flute, because what is that beautiful sound? Oh yes, it’s coming from my instrument that I am playing and it sounds lovely and I’m the one doing that.

Well that was random.

I’m pretty sure that most people have already done this, so I won’t be tagging anyone. BUT if you have not done it, then you are tagged! Let me know if you do do it. Or just comment with something that makes you happy and we can all be happy together because that’s beautiful.

Arohanui,
Tessa Ann

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Introducing The List

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Welcome to The List!

This is going to be a long winded explanation. You have been warned.

So at the start of the year, I was presented with the chance to set myself a book goal on Goodreads (I’m Tessa Ann if anyone wants book spam). I’d never set a book goal before, or kept track of how many books I’d read in a year, so I decided I may as well shoot for the stars and set it for 200. I mean, I honestly believe that I could do it. Just maybe not this year. I’ve started out strong, and I’m ahead by a few books, but looking at the busyness of the year ahead, I think it might have been a bit optimistic. So, I’ve decided to drop it to 150. Still somewhat optimistic, but I think I can do it. I’ll secretly have a goal of 200 in my mind, but I’m not going to stress about it.

Told you that this was going to be long winded.

While contemplating my reading goal, I was adding books to my TBR. I basically just found a website with lots of YA books, looked up the ones that sounded interesting, and added them to my TBR. There was a grand total of 30something. I then spent ages looking them up on our library website. They had seven of them. Seven. I nearly cried.

Upon realizing that my library was going to be useless in completing the challenge, and considering that I didn’t want to spend the entire year doing rereads, I decided to set myself a different kind of goal. On my bucket list, somewhere between “Dye my hair” and “See Les Miserables live”, is “Read all the books on a list of 100 books to read before you die”. I decided to combine my Goodreads goal and an item on my bucket list. So my new goal for the year is to read 150 books, including all (or as many as possible) from a list of 100 books to read before you die.

Optimistic, I know.

But then we arrive at another problem. There is not a single list that I like. Okay, that sounds like I’m close minded and not willing to read certain books, which is kind of true. Basically, there are certain books that I don’t particularly want to read. You know, like ones in certain genres because I know they’ll give me nightmares (heck, I had an awful nightmare the other night after reading a very mild part of To Kill A Mockingbird), or things like that. And then there’s The Hobbit and The Lord Of The Rings, which feature on every single list. I’m not even going to go into why I don’t want to read those. That’s an entirely different post.

So I decided to make my own list. I spent about three hours (that’s not an exaggeration) perusing lists and looking up books and compiling a list. My initial list was made up from this Goodreads list, using most of the first 100, and few after that. I then went through all the books and replaced some with others and did some more Googling and used my own personal favourites and basically just made a list.

You wanna see it? Of course you do. I’ve put the ones I’ve already read in bold. And it is, of course, in no particular order.

Pride & Prejudice
To Kill A Mockingbird
The Great Gatsby
1984
Catch-22
The Catcher In The Rye
Great Expectations
Gone With The Wind
Jane Eyre
Lord Of The Flies
Wuthering Heights
Animal Farm
Little Women (started previously)
Gulliver’s Travels
Anna Karenina
Ulysses
The Grapes Of Wrath
Charlotte’s Web
The Picture Of Dorian Gray
Heart Of Darkness
Crime And Punishment
Robinson Crusoe
The Wind In The Willows
The Little Prince
Rebecca
The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy
Tom Sawyer
Les Miserables
Middlemarch
A Tale Of Two Cities
Frankenstein
Atonement
Tess Of The D’Ubervilles
The Time Traveler’s Wife
Anne Of Green Gables
Persuasion
The Handmaid’s Tale
Of Mice And Men
A Wrinkle In Time
The Da Vinci Code
The Book Thief
Love In The Time Of Cholera
David Copperfield
The Secret Garden
Emma
The Secret History
A Little Princess
Charlie & The Chocolate Factory
Madame Bovary
Alice In Wonderland

Bridget Jones’s Diary
Oliver Twist
A Christmas Carol
Moby Dick
Odyssey/Illiad
Birdsong
Harry Potter
Sense & Sensibility
Watership Down
A Prayer For Owen Meany
The Chronicles Of Narnia
The Shadow Of The Wind
Vanity Fair
The Color Purple
The Kite Runner
The Five People You Meet In Heaven
The Woman In White
Corelli’s Mandolin
Far From The Madding Crowd
The Three Musketeers
A Town Like Alice
Fahrenheit 451
A Confederacy Of Dunces
A Fine Balance
Swallows And Amazons
Bleak House
The Scarlet Letter
Treasure Island
The Invisible Man
Notes From A Small Island
The Remains Of The Day
Black Beauty (started previously)
Hamlet
The Bell Jar
The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time
The Call Of The Wild
Breakfast At Tiffany’s
The Story Of My Life (Helen Keller)
Tender Is The Night
The Diary Of Anne Frank
Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret
Cold Comfort Farm
Mrs Dalloway
One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest
Sherlock Holmes
Peter Pan
Wonder
Life Of Pi
Beloved
The Alchemist

That is a long list. I tried to put it into multiple columns but it didn’t work. And this is a long post.

I omitted some books purely because of length, because I feel like I need to make this somewhat achievable. Harry Potter is only on there because I feel like I’d be shot if it wasn’t. I’ve actually only read the first three (and they weren’t even that fantastic in my opinion), but I’m highlighting it anyway. Same with The Chronicles Of Narnia – I’ve only read the first five, although I intend to read them all by the end of this year. I also have to admit that I hadn’t even heard of half of these. It’s a pretty random mishmash. It’s kind of just my TBR for the year. Ish.

But this is The List! Although, I am definitely open to suggestions. Are there books on here that I definitely shouldn’t read? Any books that I missed? Any comments on any of the books?

The List is going to replace Flashback Friday for the year, and it will be either once a month or once every couple of weeks. It’ll be an update on how I’m going, what I’ve thought so far, and any changes that I make.

And just an extra little idea of mine – would anyone be interested in doing this with me? Not necessarily the whole list, but maybe doing half and seeing how they go or something. Any takers? We could make this an actual big deal thing if enough people wanted to get involved. I don’t know. Just a thought. Let me know if you’re keen, and we’ll figure something out.

I promise I will never do a post as long as this one ever again.

Arohanui,
Tessa Ann

Book Review: Green Valentine | Wordy Wednesday

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Today, I shall be reviewing Green Valentine by Lili Wilkinson, which I read a couple of weeks ago.

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When Astrid and Hiro meet they give each other superhero names. She’s Lobster Girl and he’s Shopping Trolley Boy. Not an auspicious beginning. But it gets better. Then it gets worse. Much worse. Classic romantic comedy: girl-meets-boy, love blossoms, and is derailed. Incredibly engaging, upbeat, funny and smart.

Astrid Katy Smythe is beautiful, smart and popular. She’s a straight-A student and a committed environmental activist. She’s basically perfect.

Hiro is the opposite of perfect. He’s slouchy, rude and resentful. Despite his brains, he doesn’t see the point of school.

But when Astrid meets Hiro at the shopping centre where he’s wrangling shopping trolleys, he doesn’t recognise her because she’s in disguise – as a lobster. And she doesn’t set him straight.

Astrid wants to change the world, Hiro wants to survive it. But ultimately both believe that the world needs to be saved from itself. Can they find enough in common to right all the wrongs between them?

A romantic comedy about life and love and trying to make the planet a better place, with a little heartbreak, and a whole lot of hilarity.

THIS ONE WAS SO CUTE.

I was kind of scared to read it, because it sounded adorable, but I knew that it would probably just be really awful and I’d hate it.

I WAS SO WRONG.

JUST READ WHAT I SENT TO RACHEL, OKAY?

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It’s not letting me make the pictures bigger. Dumb technology.

Alright. I don’t even know where to begin.

It’s set in Australia, which is awesome. There’s so few books set in NZ (meaning zilch that are actually decent), so I instead get excited for Australian books, because, despite all the rivalry, they’re really like our big brother or something, so I’m happy for them.

If I’m this excited for Australian books, I can’t imagine how excited I’d be if there was a decent book set in NZ.

It was also about gardening. GARDENING, PEOPLES. A ROMANCE ABOUT GARDENING. I DON’T EVEN GARDEN BUT THIS WAS SO ADORABLE.

And it had bad guys and an evil plotish and stuff that was revealed partway through and there was secrecy and it was emotional and beautiful and IT HAD A HAPPY ENDING AND YOU KNOW HOW MUCH I LOVE THOSE.

It was just adorable.

As for the no swearing thing (which was mentioned in my message to Rachel) there did end up being some, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as most other books so YAY.

Gaaahhhh I just loved it to pieces.

I’ve come to the conclusion that for me to give a book five stars, it has to meet both of the following criteria:
1. I have to really really love it (duh)
2. It has to make me yell

And, well, since I had caps lock on for a large portion of this post, you can probably guess what the rating is going to be.

5 stars: OH MY GOODNESS YES YES YES ALL THE YESES LOVE LOVE LOVE

This was adorable. More books like it, please.

Arohanui,
Tessa Ann

Things I Don’t Like About Dystopians | Motley Monday

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A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that I was going to post about dystopians and the things I thought were unnecessary in them, before I realized that I was completely wrong about what a dystopian was. You can read about that here.

I’ve decided to go ahead with the post anyway, and instead talk about the things that I generally don’t like about dystopians.

Two things that I feel we need to clarify before we begin:

1. Dystopia is, by definition, “society characterized by human misery, as squalor, oppression, disease, and overcrowding.” Therefore, a dystopian novel is about and set in a messed up society like this.

2. I have not read truckloads of dystopians, but the ones I have read are: Divergent, Noughts & Crosses series, Uglies series, Matched trilogy, Red Queen, The Selection series, The Jewel, and Delirium series. I’m basing this entire post off these books, and I’ll reference back to this list.

In general, I claim to dislike dystopians. However, I’ve given 80% (ish) of the books on that list at least four stars, and the rest were mostly three stars. The Selection is my new favourite series. So why do I claim to dislike dystopians?

Because without fail, every single one of them has elements that I dislike. I try to push those aside when reading, and figure out if I enjoy the rest of the story when rating. That was confusing. Reading my review of Red Queen might make things a bit clearer.

What I’m trying to say is that I don’t like a lot of things that dystopians contain, but I try to ignore it and focus on everything else.

Maybe I should just start the list.

So. This is what I don’t like about dystopians.

1. The violence
I don’t like blood. I don’t like death. I don’t like brutal fighting. I don’t like pages and pages of people killing each other. I like happy endings and flowers and rainbows and unicorns. But dystopians have a lot of violence. People die. I don’t like that. Sure, it makes me feel things and makes me yell and cry and all the emotions, but I’d rather they were just positive emotions. Violence and death and all that featured in all of the books on the list.

2. Evil people and betrayal
There’s always got to be a good guy who turns out to be bad. This is on my mind because I watched Frozen literally two hours ago, but oh well. Sometimes I see it coming, and sometimes I don’t. I can’t decide which I prefer. When I see it coming, I have a sense of dread the whole way through, which makes the book less enjoyable. When I don’t, I have hopes and dreams for a happy ending, and then they get crushed and shattered and part of me dies inside. It’s a lose-lose situation. I just like to see the good in people, and I’d prefer it if my faith in humanity and good people wasn’t crushed every time someone betrays someone else. This is in about half of the books on the list, from what I remember, but the specific example that jumps to mind is Red Queen. Although I saw that one coming.

3. Doomed love
This isn’t specifically a dystopian thing, nor is it required to make a book dystopian. However, it seems to be in an awful lot of them. Doomed love is the worst. I hate it. Love is so beautiful, but putting it into a situation like this is just awful and it kills me. The love could be doomed because of prejudice and discrimination (Noughts & Crosses is the prime example of this one), or, like most of the others, because of rules and laws that prevent it. That accounts for all the rest, except for Divergent and the Uglies series (although that kind of has a form of doomed love in it). I like my happy endings an awful lot, and when you present me with a relationship that is doomed from the start, I’m going to be awfully mad. Even if they end up together in the end. It’s too stressful and painful. Although it does make the ending that bit sweeter, so it’s not always bad. Maybe.

4. Corrupt governments
This one just scares me. When I read a book with a corrupt government, I become terrified, because it often has a semi logical reason behind the corruption. For someone who knows politics, the history probably isn’t all that logical or plausible, but when an author presents me with this awful government and a back story about how it became that way, I’m going to get scared. It makes me terrified that the same thing is going to happen in real life, and then I freak out. Although I freak out about a lot of things. But if there’s a seemingly plausible explanation behind it, things won’t go well in my head. This one is again in all of them.

5. Rebels
Ahhh, the rebels. I do not like them. They seem to think that violence is the only way to get what they want. They’re probably right, actually, but I still don’t like them. They threaten my beloved main characters and their families and friends. It never ends well when there are rebels around. At least one cherished character dies each time. Doesn’t matter what book, but if there’s rebels, there’s gonna be death, and if there’s death, there’s gonna be tears from me. There are rebels (or something similar with a different name) in the Noughts & Crosses series, the Uglies series, the Matched trilogy, Red Queen, The Selection series, the Delirium series, and possibly The Jewel.

Quick note here: I can barely remember The Jewel at all. It’s probably the least memorable book that I read all year last year, even though it was very thought provoking and terrible (in the good way, if that makes any sense). I have no idea why this is, but I struggle to remember a thing about it, so I’m probably not being entirely accurate about it. Do read it though. It was good. I just can’t really remember it.

6. The darkness
All of the dystopians have this heavy, bleak, dark feeling about them. I know it’s characteristic for the genre, because when you consider that type of society, it is pretty bleak and dark. But I don’t like it. It’s depressing and makes me feel all gloomy. I like happy things, like lighthearted, sappy romances that make me melt into a little happy puddle when everything turns out perfectly. I’m a sap, I know. But I’d rather read about things that make me happy than things that make me gloomy. Like I said before, this was in all of them, although definitely more prominent in some than in others.

7. Outsiders
A lot of dystopians tend to have people that live outside of society, for whatever reason. I don’t like reading about them because it’s depressing. In many cases, they aren’t considered good enough to live in the messed up society that’s in the book. Not good enough for a society that’s a horrible mess. Imagine that. Either that, or they’ve made the choice to live outside it, because they don’t agree with it. In these cases, they nearly always end up getting caught by the government. It just makes me so sad. From what I can remember, there are outsiders in Divergent (I’m meaning the factionless), the Uglies, the Matched trilogy, and the Delirium series. Although there’s probably aspects of them in others too.

There you have it. A list of seven reasons why I don’t much like dystopians. And yet I can’t stop reading them and I’ve given a few five stars. There’s something strange about that.

Arohanui,
Tessa Ann

Book Review: A Little Something Different | Wordy Wednesday

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Today’s review shall be brief because I have technology issues that are driving me crazy, and I won’t manage a whole post without screaming.

I’m reviewing A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall, which I read a week ago.

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The distinctive new crowdsourced publishing imprint Swoon Reads proudly presents its first published novel—an irresistibly sweet romance between two college students told from 14 different viewpoints.

The creative writing teacher, the delivery guy, the local Starbucks baristas, his best friend, her roommate, and the squirrel in the park all have one thing in common—they believe that Gabe and Lea should get together. Lea and Gabe are in the same creative writing class. They get the same pop culture references, order the same Chinese food, and hang out in the same places. Unfortunately, Lea is reserved, Gabe has issues, and despite their initial mutual crush, it looks like they are never going to work things out.

But somehow even when nothing is going on, something is happening between them, and everyone can see it. Their creative writing teacher pushes them together. The baristas at Starbucks watch their relationship like a TV show. Their bus driver tells his wife about them. The waitress at the diner automatically seats them together. Even the squirrel who lives on the college green believes in their relationship.

Surely Gabe and Lea will figure out that they are meant to be together…

I have no idea where I came across this one. Probably Goodreads. But I had it on my TBR, and the library had it when I needed something to read, so I read it.

And really enjoyed it.

The whole way through, there was a voice inside my head saying, “Why are you enjoying this?” It just seemed like I shouldn’t be enjoying it. Like it was too cheesy or not well written or something. But I did enjoy it. It was just so darn cute.

I mean, sure, I had definite problems with it. I didn’t like one or two of the perspectives, and there were other aspects of it that I just didn’t like. However, it was still extremely enjoyable, and I’m so glad I read it. My favourite perspectives were the bench, who had so much sass and personality, and the squirrel, who was just really cute and fun.

4 stars: I enjoyed it and would definitely recommend it, but I didn’t absolutely love it.

I’m done. Technology is driving me crazy. Hopefully I’ll have it figured out by the next post, or there’ll be screaming.

So. Yes. Good book. Read it if you like romance.

Arohanui,
Tessa Ann

The Tall One And The Small One | Motley Monday

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Today, you shall be introduced to two people who have very large roles in my life. My brothers.

The first is The Tall One. He is two and a half years older than me, and has the personality that is almost completely opposite mine. We haven’t really gotten along well for years. Sure, he’s not the worst brother in the world, and I love him, but we just clash a lot. He’s always been the big, bossy older brother who doesn’t like his little sister much.

The second is The Small One. He is nearly three years younger than me, and significantly taller than me (and nearly taller than The Tall One). However, I still think of him as being a little chubby cheeked, curly haired toddler, so he is The Small One. I’ve always gotten along better with him than with The Tall One, despite our very first interaction (which may have possibly involved me dropping him when he was hours old). We share more similar interests, and I’ve always felt closer to him, despite him frequently getting on my nerves.

So why am I suddenly talking to you about my brothers?

Because on Friday, The Tall One is getting on a plane and flying to Sydney and not coming back for a year.

I can’t put into words how I feel about this, because I really don’t know how I feel.

I’d been wanting this for years. I couldn’t wait until the day when he left, because to me, it meant years of teasing and arguments and anger and tears would be over, or at least not as terrible as they had been.

But lately, he’s been around less, since he’s been working and I don’t see him at school anymore, and all that stuff that comes with growing up. And being around less has made him nicer. Kind of. We’ve been able to actually have quite a few civilized and decent conversations in that last few months without either of us yelling or getting mad or being rude.

And so now I don’t know how I feel.

He’s always seemed a bit two-faced to me. There’s the perfect person that the world sees, and the horrible, evil older brother that only comes out when it’s just us. In the last few months, though, the horrible brother hasn’t shown his face as much, and I’ve begun to see the person that everyone else sees.

While thinking about all of this the other day, I realized something. I’m going to miss him.

I never thought I’d say that. And yet, it’s still not quite true.

I’m not going to miss my brother. I’m going to miss the person that I’ve only just begun to get to know; the person that everyone else has always seen.

I can only hope that he’s going to miss me too.

Arohanui,
Tessa Ann

Cinderella | Song Of The Week

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Alrighty. This week’s song will probably make you cry, and if it doesn’t, you are probably heartless.

My friend introduced me to this song while I was visiting her in Australia a couple of years ago, and then she told me the story behind it and I started bawling.

So the singer, Steven Curtis Chapman, had three kids, a girl and two boys, before he and his wife adopted three little girls from China. He wrote this song about his daughters, because, one night while working, he pushed aside his daughters’ requests to dance, choosing to focus on his work instead. He later realized that this was the wrong choice, when he considered that his oldest daughter had just gotten engaged and wasn’t his little girl anymore. So he wrote this song about dancing with Cinderella, because he knew that someday soon, the clock would strike midnight and she’d be gone.

Pretty sweet, right?

But then, a few months (I think?) later, his younger son was driving into the driveway, when he accidentally ran over the youngest of the adopted girls,  who’d run out to meet him. She was killed, not long after her fifth birthday, and on the day that they were planning on celebrating the other son’s graduation and the daughter’s engagement.

Think about that when you listen to it. You shall cry like I did.

BUT IT GETS WORSE. I’m sharing it this week because I was reading a book on Wednesday, I think (I’ve read so many books lately that the days have started to blur), and one of the main characters chose not to dance with his nine year old daughter when she asked him to. Not long after, she was killed in a car accident, and they played this song at her funeral. CUE THE TEARS. SERIOUSLY. I cried so hard. I won’t tell you what the book is, because spoilers, but oh man I cried.

Anyways. Be prepared to cry your heart out. Cinderella by Steven Curtis Chapman.

Also I love the music video. It’s gorgeous.

LET ME KNOW IF YOU CRIED AND WE CAN CRY TOGETHER.

Arohanui,
Tessa Ann