My Year In Books | Wordy Wednesday

Last post of the year! 

Most people do a yearly wrap up post. I am one of those people, and that post will be next Monday. However, I decided to do a separate wrap up post about the books I’ve read this year. 

The elephant in the room is The List. At the end of January, I compiled a list of 100 books to read before you die, based on personal opinion and other similar lists. I aimed to read all of them this year, excluding the ones I’d already read (which was about 15 of them). 

However, I was not successful. At the end of the year, I’ve read a grand total of 43 of them (including the ones that I’d already read). So I’ve decided that this will be a long term project, something that I’ll finish within the next year or two.

Another goal within this was that I’d finish Les Miserables before the end of the year. This was one of the books on The List, but I knew that I wasn’t going to finish The List, so I just decided to try and read all of Les Miserables. That also failed. I’m currently at 24%, so I haven’t made it very far. But I tried. I’ll finish it next year. 

Now for the positives. My initial Goodreads goal was 200 books, but I lowered that to 150, as I figured out that I wouldn’t be able to achieve 200. As I’m writing this, my current total is 159, so I’ve surpassed my goal. Yay! Positivity! I’ve got three more books that I want to finish by the end of the year, so my total should end up being around 162, if I finish all three. Next year, my goal is going to be 175. A slight increase, but I think if I use my time well, I’ll definitely manage it. 

This was a great year for acquiring books. In 2015, I probably got about 15 books, maybe less, and I only actually bought one of them. This year, I acquired around 110 books. It’s amazing. What’s even more amazing is that I only paid for around 20 of them. 45 were the classics that my grandmother gave me, around 30 of them were birthday and Christmas presents, and of the ones I paid for, they were all cheap ish off Book Depository, or paid for with birthday money. All the others were ones that I paid for using vouchers that I acquired doing surveys online. It was amazing. I now have five bookcases in my room, and more than 500 books. 

This year has been the year of catching up to everyone else. I’ve read heaps of books that everyone else has already read. I’ve compiled a list of some of these books, in the order that I read them:

  • The Delirium series 
  • To Kill A Mockingbird 
  • The Great Gatsby 
  • Fahrenheit 451
  • A Wrinkle In Time 
  • Bridget Jones’s Diary
  • The Giver 
  • The Catcher In The Rye 
  • The Lunar Chronicles 
  • The Chronicles Of Narnia (I’d previously read 4.5 of them) 
  • Insurgent and Allegiant 
  • Lord Of The Flies 
  • The Raven Boys (just the first one) 
  • Treasure Island 
  • Watership Down 
  • A Series Of Unfortunate Events 
  • The Diary Of A Young Girl 
  • Harry Potter series 
  • Frankenstein 
  • The Kite Runner 
  • Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland 
  • The Hunger Games series 
  • Roald Dahl books 
  • The Little Prince 
  • The Hobbit (currently reading) 

Plus probably some more, but those are the main ones. 

It’s been an interesting year for me. There’s been some great ones – I gave approximately 46 5 star ratings and no 1 star ratings. There were a few books that I didn’t rate, but the average rating that I gave this year was 4.2 stars. If you would like to see more of my stats for the year, add me on Goodreads! 

So. What does 2017 hold? I’ve already told you that my goal is going to be 175, although I’ll secretly be aiming for 200. I’ve also decided to do a reading challenge, to keep my reading more consistent. My main issue this year was that I would get in slumps when reading long or boring books. So I’ll be doing the 52 in 52 challenge. This is one that I found on Goodreads. I was initially going to do the 2016 challenge, because the 2017 one wasn’t up yet. Now that it’s up, I’m thinking I’ll try and do both. The aim of the challenge is to read a book each week that fits specific requirements. It’ll help me to be consistent and get through my TBR. 

I’d also love to do a 24 in 48 readathon at some point (aiming to read for 24 hours over a 48 hour period). But we’ll see. 

So that’s been my year! It’s been a good year for reading, and hopefully next year will be as well. 

How was your year in books? What was your favourite book that you read? I’d love to hear about it. 

Next time we speak, it will be 2017!

Arohanui, 
Tessa Ann 

Book Review: Between The Lines & Off The Page | Wordy Wednesday

Whoop it’s a double book review to make up for missing last week’s one. 

Delilah is a bit of a loner who prefers spending her time in the school library with her head in a book—one book in particular. Between the Lines may be a fairy tale, but it feels real. Prince Oliver is brave, adventurous, and loving. He really speaks to Delilah.

And then one day Oliver actually speaks to her. Turns out, Oliver is more than a one-dimensional storybook prince. He’s a restless teen who feels trapped by his literary existence and hates that his entire life is predetermined. He’s sure there’s more for him out there in the real world, and Delilah might just be his key to freedom.

A romantic and charming story, this companion novel to Off the Page will make every reader believe in the fantastical power of fairy tales.

I’m sure you’ve all heard of Jodi Picoult, but it is much less likely that you’ve heard of Samantha van Leer. Samantha is actually Jodi’s daughter, and she is the one who conceived the idea, which is pretty awesome. 

I’ve only included the blurb for Between The Lines, because including the one for Off The Page would spoil some things. Also it calls BTL (I’m going to use abbreviations from now on) a companion novel to OTP (heh OTP what a great abbreviation), which to me implies that you don’t have to read BTL first. I disagree personally. There’s too much explained in BTL for OTP to make sense on its own. 

So my review. 

The general concept was very unique and interesting. The idea of book characters being alive was something that I hadn’t read before, and it was definitely interesting to see how someone chose to use it. At times, I didn’t quite understand the how the whole scenario was working, which made me feel as though it wasn’t quite right or something. I don’t know. Maybe it’s just me. But it was still a fascinating concept, despite my reservations. 

For Between The Lines, I enjoyed it. Like I said, the general concept wasn’t something that I’d read before, making it new and refreshing. I enjoyed the alternating perspectives. There were a few aspects that I didn’t enjoy, but overall, my reaction to this book was positive. And I love that it contained illustrations. It made me feel closer to the story. 

The book that I really want to talk about is Off The Page. For the first half of the book, I wasn’t enjoying it very much. It was basically exactly the same as the first one, with some variation to keep things semi interesting. But the newness and the novelty of the idea had worn off for me, so I didn’t enjoy it fully. 

But. About halfway through, something completely unexpected and tragic happened. You know how much I love happy endings, so normally I’d despise this kind of thing. But the story needed it. It changed the tone from lighthearted to serious, and suddenly there were morals and lessons and tough decisions and heaps of character growth. The direction changed, and, in my opinion, it worked. 

I don’t think I’ve ever read a book that’s done such a 180 in my mind. This one went from bleh to wow in the space of a page or two. I was not expecting it in the slightest, which was another plus. I’m generally quite good at predicting events, but this one had not crossed my mind in any way, shape, or form. 

So that was good. 

Overall, I enjoyed both of these books, but for different reasons. I liked the lighthearted nature and creativity of the first one, but it was the twist away from this that meant I liked the second one. Of the two, the second was my favourite. I gave them both four stars. 

I like it when books surprise me. It makes me feel like it was worth reading them.

Arohanui, 
Tessa Ann 

Long QT Syndrome: Potentially Ruining My Life More Than I Thought It Would | Motley Monday

This is going to be very random, because someone (ie me) forgot to write a post. Not going to school/youth group/GB makes life confusing. I never know what day of the week it is anymore. 

For those of you who don’t know, I have a heart condition called Long QT Syndrome. You can read about that here

So in that post, I talked about the ways in which my heart condition affects my life, and back then, it didn’t really affect it. I took my pills, avoided loud alarms, and generally didn’t do anything too risky. And that was fine. 

Things have changed. 

When I first found out about my LQTS, I was given some information about it. One thing that it said was that there were certain careers that were not suitable for people with LQTS, like the police force and the army. That was absolutely fine with me, because I have no interest in any careers like that. 

But who’d’ve thought that working at McDonald’s could potentially be one of those careers? 

For the last few weeks, I’ve been scouring the internet in search of a job, to help pay for university so that my student loans won’t be as high. I’ve applied for one, but it’s only a few hours a week during the school term, and I don’t think I’m fully qualified, so I needed to keep looking. But my options were very limited. Eventually, I gave up and decided to give McDonald’s a go. I have nothing against people working there, but I hadn’t applied earlier because I thought I wouldn’t have the stamina to work in that kind of environment. 

I sent in my application and messaged my brother to let him know, since he worked there last year. He replied by telling me that it probably wasn’t a good idea for me to work there, because of my heart. 

Say what?! 

I asked him what he meant. Apparently there are loud alarms (one of the things that I’m supposed to avoid) going off almost constantly. Meaning that I probably shouldn’t work there. 

After talking to a cardiologist, we came to the conclusion that there’s no actual answer as to whether or not I would be able to work there safely. I’ve decided to go ahead with it anyway, and take the risk. But it’s not quite that simple. It’s possible that I could be denied a job because of the risk involved. I don’t know how likely this is, but it’s a possibility. 

Basically what I’m trying to say with this post is that despite my original perception, LQTS has turned out to be more of a nuisance than I thought. I never would’ve guessed that it could prevent me from finding a job. 

I’ll keep you posted on the job situation. Who knows, maybe they won’t even contact me about it. But we’ll just have to wait and see what happens. 

Before I wrap this up, I have one request. If you are considered to be a healthy person, with no serious medical issues, please take a moment to be grateful for that. I’m grateful that I have access to medication that makes the LQTS less of an issue, but I miss the days when I didn’t know about it and didn’t have to worry. Please be grateful for your blessings, especially when it comes to good health, because it’s only then that you realize just how blessed you are. 

That turned into a bit of a sermon. Whoopsies. 

Arohanui,
Tessa Ann 

New Perspective | Motley Monday

I was going to write about my trip to Australia, but I’m really not feeling it today, so I’m going to write about something else instead. If you’re interested, I may still do a post about it in the future. 

So on Saturday, I posted a brief little extra post, which kind of explained how I was feeling about life at the time – manly a bit sad and nostalgic. 

Since then, I’ve still been feeling a bit like that, but something significant has changed. 

I’ve applied for university. 

I’ve selected my course, chosen my papers for next year (some of which I’m really excited about), and sent in my application. From my little knowledge of the university systems, both here and in America, I’m pretty sure that the one over here is a bit different. Except for a few specific courses, which have limited places, you’re almost guaranteed to get accepted if you have University Entrance, which isn’t too hard to get, so I’m not at all nervous about whether or not I’ll get in. 

Instead, my sadness has turned into a bit of excitement. The future that I’d planned for years is becoming a reality. I’m applying to university. I’m looking for a job. I’m growing up. And this time, I’m excited. My papers sound pretty interesting (especially the Creative Writing and Greek History ones that I chose as electives), and in four short years, I’ll be a qualified teacher, like I’ve dreamed of being since I was 13. It’s insane. And now that it’s becoming my reality, I’m excited. 

I have expectations for the future, and I know that they probably won’t always be met. But there is so much potential for amazing things to happen in my life. 

I’m excited. I’m sad to be moving on, but I know that the future I’m stepping into holds promise and potential. Let’s do this.

Arohanui, 
Tessa Ann 

It Is Over

It is over. 

On Tuesday last week, I attended my last ever Girls’ Brigade breakup as a Girls’ Brigader. Most people finish when they are 17, but since I was on new medication for my heart in 2014, I didn’t go that year, meaning that I finished this year instead of last year. I’ll be going back next year as a leader, but my twelve years of being a Girls’ Brigader are finished. 

It is over. 

On Thursday last week, I put on my school uniform for the last time – the same one that I’ve worn for the last seven years. I went to school and sat my last exam. As I packed up and left, that was it. Seven years at that school – and thirteen years of schooling all together – were finished. I never have to go back again. 

It is over. 

Last night was the youth group ball, the same one that I’ve attended every year for the last six years. In the same hall at the same church, with some of the same people but lots of new ones. I remember my first ball, knowing nobody and feeling so awkward and alone. Five years later, and I’m surrounded by friends, but it’s for the last time as a youth member. I’d love to be a leader one day, but that was my last youth group ball. The very last youth group event that I will ever attend as a youth member. 

It is over. 

Those three things have been some of the most significant parts of my life for years. And in the space of a week and a half, they have all finished for me. Last GB breakup. Last time going to school. Last youth event. All over, just like that. At the start of the year, I knew that this year was going to be the one where they all ended for me, but I didn’t consider how quickly that would actually come. And now, they are over. 

Cherish all that you have and do, my friends. Don’t let them slip away. 

Arohanui, 
Tessa Ann