Tuesday, 31 December 2013

The Ultimate Nerd List 2013

Seeing as it’s the end of the year, I thought I’d put together an Ultimate Nerd List, showing all of my favourite – and not so favourite – things for the whole year rather than just the month. And it was very hard to do, let me just say. 2013 has been a phenomenal year in terms of books, movies and music, so picking favourites felt almost like picking a favourite child. I’m therefore only going to rate the stuff I’ve bought, watched, read or listened to this year, not necessarily the stuff that was released this year. I hope you enjoy it, and feel free to share some of your own favourites in the comments below!


Number of books read this year: 42

Best Books of the Year: (I had to do categories…. There were so many good ones)

Book of the year: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
I cannot stress how much I loved this novel. It made me laugh, cry, smile, and - most importantly – it has stayed etched in my mind ever since I finished it. All good books should come back to haunt you long after the last page has been turned, and The Fault in Our Stars was no exception.

Fiction: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (my review)

Historical fiction: The Venetian Contract by Marina Fiorato (my review)

Series: The Divergent Trilogy by Veronica Roth (my review of Allegiant)

Sci-Fi: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

Other notable books:
The Lux Series by Jennifer L. Armentrout (my reviews)
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (my review)
A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin (my review)

Worst book of the year: Forgotten by Cat Patrick (my review)


Fangirl moment of the year:

My own biggest fangirl moment of the year (oh, and there have been so, so many) must have been when I was minding my own business on the internet, and I happened to stumble across a website announcing Nickelback’s tour to South Africa in December. Well, let’s just say that I almost got grounded because I freaked out so much and the neighbours might or might not have complained to the police because they thought our household was experiencing a break-in of sorts. (May I also just mention that I stayed up until midnight the night before ticket sales started in the hopes of being able to buy a ticket online at 00:01 – but sadly, the website kindly informed me that tickets only really went on sale at 09:00, so I’d wasted about four hours of my life for nothing.)

Facepalm moment of the year:

There are too many to name just one. Kim Kardashian named her child North West, Miley Cyrus practically flashed the audience at the VMA’s with her teeny-tiny super-tight short shorts (and then went naked for her Wrecking Ball video, and licked a hammer *super-facepalm*), Glee spiraled into a pit of super crazy in its latest season (seriously what is going on, I don’t even understand anymore – whenever the producers get bored they throw another marriage at you and guilt you into watching until the disastrous wedding), Justin Bieber prances around in his magical world with prostitutes… the list goes on. What is happening to this world?


Best album of the year: The Great Gatsby Soundtrack

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: even if – like me – you’re totally not into that whole synthesized, bass-y type of music, it is difficult to deny that the artistic value of this album is incredible. The way that each and every artist has managed to merge the world of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel with our own world, therefore helping the listener to relate with Fitzgerald’s world, makes the album – and the film – amazing. I love the soundtrack just as much as I love the film, and the novel – if not more – because of this. I highly recommend trying it out (there are so many different genres on this album – you’ll find at least one track that you like).

Best songs of the year: (I couldn’t pick just one, because my music taste changes by the season)

Somewhere in Neverland by All Time Low
If These Sheets Were the States by All Time Low
Here’s To Never Growing Up by Avril Lavigne
Let Me Go by Avril Lavigne feat. Chad Kroeger
Chloe by Emblem3
Rip Tide by Emblem3
Boulevard of Broken Dreams by Green Day
Roads Untravelled by Linkin Park
Classic by MKTO
We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together by Taylor Swift

Best lyrics of the year: (ditto)

“Pull me in just like a riptide. Go ahead and drown me in your sweet soul. My heart is like a split divide – half of it beats for me, while the other half beats for you.” – Emblem3, Rip Tide

“Bless me with a heart of gold, positivity and a story to be told. I tripped, fell down to the sky – here’s what it took for me to learn how to fly.” – Emblem3, Curious

“I feel like dancing tonight. I’m gonna party like it’s my civil right (everybody get kinda awesome). It doesn’t matter where, I don’t care if people stare. Cause I feel like dancing tonight.” – All Time Low, I Feel Like Dancin’ (my New Year’s Eve anthem…)

“If these sheets were the states and you were miles away, I’d fold them end over end to bring you closer to me. Cause I can’t sleep at all without you pressed up against me. I’ll settle for long distance calls – I’m lost in empty pillow talk again.” – All Time Low, If These Sheets Were The States

“Don’t you see the starlight, starlight? Don’t you dream impossible things?” – Taylor Swift, Starlight

Worst song of the year: We Can’t Stop by Miley Cyrus

The amount of times I’ve heard this song on the radio and had to refrain from hurling is… immeasurable. It is so incredibly overplayed, and all because it had a racy and inappropriate music video (that scarred both me and all of my friends for life, thank you very much) to get it popular. Think about it: the lyrics make no sense (and the amount of grammatical errors… Oh my word I nearly killed myself), the beat is okay, and Miley’s actual singing voice is mediocre. I can’t stand it.


Movie of the year: The Great Gatsby

Hello, it’s not like I talk about it all the time or anything. Or that I got it on DVD so that I can drive my family crazy by watching it over and over at home. Anyway, Baz Luhrmann has had another stroke of genius and pulled off an incredibly amazing film. I highly recommend it, and shun you if you have not seen it at least twice.

Thanks for reading! I hope you all have a fantastic 2014!

Saturday, 28 December 2013

Happy Holidays!

Am I that bad of a person that I have not even done a Christmas blog yet, and it’s already three days after Christmas?

I’m sorry.

So… Merry Christmas! I hope that you all had a really, really good holiday, and that at least some of you made use of my tips for Christmas socialisation. To my disappointment, I personally did not get to use any of them this year, as it turns out that my family actually reads my blog, so most of Christmas dinner consisted of horrified family members asking me if I honestly had any experience as a prostitute (seriously? This is me we’re talking about, here…) so luckily I got to dodge the dreaded question. I think everyone got the message… Oops.

Just a note on Christmas Spirit… I have to say that I totally believe in carols and watching endless re-runs of Christmas Friends episodes, and even the occasional Christmas movie. Okay… so maybe – just maybe – I spent the whole of Christmas Eve watching soppy Christmas movies that I’d recorded weeks before, like The Grinch and Elf and Four Christmases and Anything but Christmas - to name a few. And I am so utterly overloaded by the cheesiness of the magic of Christmas that I think I’m developing another kidney stone.

Anyway… This blog is also just to inform all of you that I am currently visiting family in George, so I cannot promise that your days will be filled with reading endless and useless posts from yours truly. I’ll try my best to post snippets of entertainment and the occasional review, but – once again – I make no promises. (My cousins don’t read, and apparently it’s “not sociable” to drive for thirteen hours in a car to visit people but then remain locked in a room on your own for the majority of the visit. Who knew?)

I hope everyone has a relaxing festive season. Stay safe! Don’t let your family eat your Christmas presents! Don’t adopt any stray elves! Don’t over-indulge in carols! Don’t gorge yourself on leftover Christmas cake!

Star Island by Carl Hiaasen

Date finished: 28 December 2013

Rating: 4*

While twenty-two-year-old pop star Cherry Pyre attempts to stage a comeback from her latest drug fuelled disaster, her “stunt double” Ann has the hardly glamorous job of throwing the paparazzi off the scent when the starlet causes a scene. But when Anne is kidnapped by an obsessed paparazzo because of her resemblance to the starlet, a fast, funny and furious race against time ensues to rescue Ann from a terrible fate.

Hiaasen provides a wonderfully witty and satirical approach to what turned into a truly hilarious and entertaining thriller. His insight into the typical “girl-gone-wild” celebrity lifestyle, and exaggeration of the drama and entertainment of working with celebrities never failed to amuse me and keep me hooked until the last page of the epilogue had been turned, and I was left with tears streaming from my eyes after laughing so hard. His talent at spinning a cleverly humorous yet interesting storyline was proved when the absolute climax of hilarity, absurdity and excitement was reached in the last chapter, which made the novel an utterly worthwhile read.

Star Island is a wonderful way to enter the world of crime writing. Its easy-to-follow storyline and tongue-in-cheek humor make it an overall addictive and amusing novel, and I recommend it to any other readers looking for a thrilling yet humorous read. 

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Pure by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Date finished: 21 December 2013

Rating: 5*

Series: Covenant, #2

As per usual, Jennifer L. Armentrout has totally outdone herself. I mean, with every YA series, I always expect the second book to be a bit mediocre because of the unwritten rule that the main couple always – ALWAYS – fights or breaks up in the second book (I think this is the second time I’ve mentioned that in a review this month), but even following this “rule”, Armentrout managed to get me to overlook it by filling the plotline with so, so much drama and commotion and action that I honestly don’t know what to do with myself now that it’s over.

To be perfectly honest, a few chapters into Pure, I was still fully expecting it to be a half-hearted “filler” book where Alex and Aiden get all of their fighting and hate out so that the rest of the series can be “happy-go-lucky”, and they can face bigger problems than their own relationship. I was so incredibly wrong. Just as I was beginning to get a bit annoyed with Armentrout, she starts chucking all these hot Appolyons, daimon half-blood attacks, deaths, council members, betrayals, friendships and scandals into the mix, making me so confused and excited at the same time. And before I know it the book is already over and the unspeakable has happened.

Everything about this series just entrances me and makes me physically desperate to carry on reading – the plot, the witty one-liners that I find myself highlighting so that I can use them in real life, the realistic characters (not to mention Armentrout’s incredible ability to create swoon-worthy boys) and the twisted society that is so much like our own in its sense of segregation and suppression… Armentrout really knows what she’s doing.

Well, I think that was a very calm and collected, spoiler-free review that I have now posted on Goodreads, but no Jennifer L. Armentrout review of mine would be complete without a snarky comment, fangirl session, or slight spoiler, am I right?

I just want to point out that I am so confused right now because usually - no, ALWAYS - I know exactly whose side I'm on in terms of who the girl should pick like in Twilight I was so Team Edward and in The Hunger Games I was 10000000% Team Peeta but to be honest now I don't know about Team Aiden or Team Seth because I just can't choose they're both so nice to her and I know she should end up with Aiden because forbidden love and Romeo and Juliet and whatever else Shakespeare decided would make a good plot line for every single book, movie and play ever but Aiden told her he didn't love her even though I know he does and he made her so heartbroken so he really doesn't deserve her but on the other hand he's so nice and he took her to the zoo and he knows her backwards and that thing at the end ERMAGHERD he really does love her but he let her escape with Seth and she's the second Appolyon so she kind of has to be with Seth but then also that creepy Oracle told her that she must choose the path that isn't fate or else she must face the consequences but either way she faces consequences oh my gosh.

Sorry. That was almost - ALMOST - a civilised and useful review. Maybe next time I'll get it right.

Friday, 20 December 2013

How To Survive Christmas Socialisation

So… I hear Christmas is coming up (how did that happen?), which generally means I have to crawl out of my nest of blankets, pillows and internet to socialize with my beloved family.

Obviously about 90% of the human population has to endure this as well – you know, the dreaded “family gathering” where we can all “share festive cheer” and “bond” – and with that comes the awkward conversation with people you’ve been avoiding all year, where they try to make it seem like they’ve been genuinely interested in your life this whole time.

I don’t know if adults have a rulebook or something that states they have to ask the same question every single year, but the amount of time’s I’ve heard, “So what are you going to do in the future?” or other variations of the same question (“What do you want to be when you grow up?” ”What are you going to study at Uni?” etc. etc.) has actually given me severe anger and anxiety problems, and maybe even a tiny bit of brain damage.

And let’s be honest here, on Christmas, the last thing you feel like doing is talking to a long lost uncle or aunt about “the importance of your future,” right?

So, in the spirit of Christmas, I thought I’d share a few… festive answers to the dreaded question, that are sure to make Christmas a heck of a lot more entertaining. For you, at least.

Q: So what are your plans for the future?

A1: Marry rich. (It’s a classic. Never fails to bring on a lecture from Dad or a sputtering from an uncle. But don’t forget to add exactly WHO you will marry – rock stars always earn at least a spit-take – as well as details of your wedding and how many kids you’ll have.)

A2: Become a stripper/prostitute/belly dancer/sex-ed teacher because I’ve already had a lot of experience at a young age.

A3: I’m planning on becoming a unicorn.

A4: Oh, as of tomorrow at 7:02p.m. I don’t have a future.

A5: I’m joining the Night Circus.

A6: What dead body? Who said anything about a dead body?

A7: I’m auditioning for Keeping Up With the Kardashians, Jersey Shore, and various other reality TV shows where I’ll make more money than you’ll ever have in 10 of your lifetimes combined.

A8: Well, my letter from Hogwarts hasn’t arrived yet, so I think I’ll just continue to wait until it does. I mean it must’ve gotten lost in the mail, right? RIGHT?

A9: I’m generally just going to avoid doing whatever you did to land you a wife and five dysfunctional children. Hey, is that one of them drowning over there? *point and run away*

A10: Well I’m going to finish school then go and enroll in any university that’s crazy enough to accept me, finish a minimal degree that’ll land me a mediocre job in some firm in this very town, marry a man/woman who only wants me for money and will divorce me when he/she realizes I don’t have it, probably get stuck with whatever children we manage to have, become an alcoholic, become obese from fast-food abuse, and then die at the age of 55 from heart failure. Then I’ll come back as a vampire/ghost and haunt you for the rest of your measly life. Oh wow, is that turkey?

A11: End this conversation. Oh hey, [insert name of another family member here]! *walk away*

A12: My imaginary friend and I are going to enroll in that university in the clouds so that we can become gods and take over the earth. So you’d better be nice to me.

And remember to always keep a straight face while answering. Otherwise they might think that you’re joking.

WARNING: If any family members experience pressure, tightness or pain in their chest or arms that spreads to the neck, jaw or back; a feeling of fullness, nausea, indigestion, heartburn or abdominal pain; sweating or a cold sweat; shortness of breath; feelings of anxiety or an impending sense of doom; lightheadedness or dizziness, it means that they are experiencing “ohmygoshmyson/daughter/niece/nephew/grandchildisgoingtobecomeafailureandhavetoliveoffofmefortherestoftheirlivesthisissoterribleI’dratherdie,” also more commonly known as a heart attack. Please escort them to a hospital a.s.a.p. for medical assistance, or – if you are trained in first aid – administer CPR.