Confessions of a High School Disaster by Emma Chastain: Book Review

Confessions of a High School Disaster: Chloe Snow's Diary

Obtained: Simon & Schuster Canada, ARC
Pages: 352
Publish date: March 7, 2017
Rating: ★★★★

SUMMARY

Chloe Snow is just starting her freshman year of high school, and is still a kissing virgin. On top of joining extracurriculars, dealing with her drifting bestie, and the fact that her mom has gone to Mexico for 4 months to “work”, Chloe has a list of boys she’d like to kiss and has made it her personal mission to do so by New Year’s Eve. Because she gets so caught up with the idea of getting kissed, Chloe starts to lose sight of the other things that are going on around her.

WHAT I LIKED

Confession of a High School Disaster was one of the best young readers books I’ve read in a while on the topic of high school dating. The plot originally sounded fairly typical, but what I loved about this book was the fact that it’s so accurate. Chloe is fourteen. When a girl is just becoming a teenager, she is naive and selfish. And the way Chastain wrote from Chloe’s perspective was perfect – everything was about Chloe getting her kiss, or winning the guy, or getting a part in the school musical, that she just didn’t see anything else that was happening in her life.

I also loved the characters. There are only a handful of books where I finish and actually get sad because I feel like I can’t hang out with my friends anymore – the characters are so relatable and real to me. I feel that connection with Confessions. Not so much towards Chloe, honestly, but Tristan was my favourite, and I really loved Chloe’s dad. (I guess I relate more to the adults now, don’t I?)

AND WHAT I DIDN’T

There honestly wasn’t anything that really turned me off about this book. If there was one criticism, I’d say I felt like the antagonists could have been more dynamic, but again, the book was written from the perspective of a girl who would have thought these people to be evil, and not given them a second thought. Girls like Sienna and Bernadette do get their moments to flourish subtextually, but I wish I’d gotten to know them a little better.

RECOMMEND IF…

  • You like stories about growing up.
  • You want an easy, fun read that is also captivating.
  • You enjoy teen books about romance where the characters aren’t ridiculously mature for their age. (Pet peeve of mine – I hate when 14-year-olds talk like they’re 25).

Confessions of a High School Disaster is available online at Chapters Indigo, Book Depository, and Kobo.

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Split

We were perfect,
But we weren’t.

We didn’t want the same things,
But I wanted you.

I loved you far more than you could reciprocate,
But I loved you.

Our lives weren’t even entangled,
But you were my life.

We were happy,
But we weren’t.

An Open Letter to My Future Partner

Dear Future Life Partner,

I have a lot of love to give. So you’d better be ready to accept it all.

I’ve been neglected and ignored. I hope you have the bravery and strength to take on a relationship. Because I don’t do anything half-assed.

If I’m with you, it’s because you’re the one I want to spend my life with. I don’t like wasting my time.

I don’t expect you to take care of me. I can take care of me; I just want someone who will support me in my choices, and who I can support, too.

I want to spend my life travelling and going on adventures. Even low-key adventures. We can adventure to a new restaurant, or try a new activity. But I want to experience life, and I want my experiences – whatever they are – to be with you.

I want to come home from work and surprise you by saying I’ll cook dinner. I want us to have tickle fights on the couch that end in me smothering you with kisses.

I will make you a priority, and I hope you do the same. You don’t have to perform any grand gestures, but if I can see that sparkle in your eye when you look at me, that’ll speak volumes.

I get hurt. I care too much. I have faith in people I shouldn’t. I know this. But you are the last person I want to misplace my trust. I will always have faith that you will be there for me. Please don’t let me regret trusting you.

Future Life Partner, I can’t wait to meet you. I don’t expect a lot – but I think I deserve someone who loves me back the way I love them.

I have a lot of love to give, so you’d better be ready to accept it all.

Michelle Muses: February 2017

I was VERY busy this month, and I finally get to share with you all the awesome stuff I’ve been doing!

Red Hot Chili Peppers: Near the beginning of the month, I took my dad to see the Chili Peppers as part of his Christmas gift – and it was such a great show! To read more about the concert and the setlist, click the link.

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Arkells & Frank Turner: Again, I’ve already written about this concert, so if you’d like the whole post, click the link!  But honestly, I think Arkells & Frank Turner was probably in my Top 5 concerts of all time. It was so much fun and I can’t stop listening to them now.

Dad’s Birthday: Normally, my family isn’t too big on birthdays. We’ll go for lunch or give a small gift, but it’s more just about appreciating the person and letting them have a nice day. So this year for my dad we took it up a *little* bit. Me, Luke, my sister, my aunts, and my dad’s best friend all joined him for dinner and dancing. It was a lot of fun and I think we’re going to do something similar for my sister’s birthday coming up – because it was our kind of low-key fun.

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Valentine’s Day: My first Valentine’s Day with Luke was perfect. I’d rather celebrate an anniversary than a random day, but I’m still into all that cutesy shit. So what better way to spend Valentine’s than watching Netflix, eating KFC, and exchanging small, romantic gifts. (He got me candy and a stuffed dog). That is the ideal V-Day for me. And I can’t wait for our super romantic anniversary date night next month!

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Drinks with Frances: Me and one of my good friends, Frances, went for a girls’ night a couple weeks ago, and it was so much fun. We had drinks and caught up, and did a bit of planning for our 2017 vacation! I’ve never really been anywhere awesome (Chicago is very similar to Toronto. Florida was pretty cool – but never anywhere foreign, or outside of a city, or brand new). So we discussed some of the things we’re going to do in Iceland when we go later this year! That was fun.

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TO Light Fest: The Distillery District is currently filled with a bunch of beautiful glowing art installments, and I went with my sister and bestie. Click on the link to read more about the Toronto Light Fest!

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Long weekend: In Canada, we celebrate Family Day, so we get a long weekend in the usually dark months between Christmas and Easter. But this long weekend, the temperatures were in the mid-teens (Celcius) and it was BEAUTIFUL. I got to go for my first run of the year, and me and my friend Jacob took advantage of the sun and spent some time outside. It was really relaxing and gave me the peek at spring I needed to get through the rest of winter.

Pho with Sam: This past weekend, my friend Sam and I went to his favourite Pho place in the city, and that was delicious (because pho is literally my favourite food of all time). We hung around for a bit, ran some fun errands (which will be revealed on Saturday), and then went to Lush and I bought some amazing bubble bars that are my new favourite thing.

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Paint Nite: And last night, I went to Paint Nite with Luke. We’ve done a Paint Nite before as per my suggestion, and he actually really wanted to come back and do another one. So finally we were able to come back for round two! It’s always a lot of fun to have a drink, relax, and create something. Also, Luke ended up winning a contest for a free Paint Nite ticket, so we’re definitely going again!

February was a lot of fun, and March looks like it’s going to have even more lined up – concerts, birthdays, anniversaries – the excitement continues!

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Running by Cara Hoffman: Book Review

Running

Obtained: Simon & Schuster Canada, ARC
Pages: 288
Publish date: February 21, 2017
Rating: ★★★★

Summary

Running brings together an ensemble of outsiders who get by as “runners”—hustlers who sell tourists on low-end accommodations for a small commission and a place to stay.

Bridey Sullivan, a young American woman who has fled a peculiar and traumatic upbringing in Washington State, takes up with a queer British couple, the poet Milo Rollack and Eton drop-out Jasper Lethe. Slipping in and out of homelessness, addiction, and under-the-table jobs, they create their own kind of family as they struggle to survive.

Goodreads

What I Liked

If you know me, you know that I read the summary of this book and jumped at the chance to read it. A cast of anti-hero characters in 1980s Athens? This book had me at ‘hello’! The story was so well-crafted and the poetic writing brought me directly into the setting. And honestly, I feel like the realism of the characters and the setting were my favourite things about reading this book.

As I began reading, I found it sort of hard to get into the book (because of my own reading slump, not because the writing was bad in any way), but once I started reading the dialogue written in Milo’s accent, or got a description of where the characters were, I got pulled right in. I think I read most of this book in one sitting – it was just very captivating.

And What I Didn’t

Like I said earlier, it took me a little bit of time to get into the book, so once I was finally drawn in, it took me some time to catch up. Otherwise, I didn’t really have anything I didn’t like about this book!

Recommend if…

  • You read the summary and went “this sounds right up my alley!”;
  • You enjoyed books like Trainspotting;
  • You want to read about anti-heroes and LGBT characters living in a place that isn’t North America (for once) (what, who said that).

Running is available online at Chapters Indigo, Book Depository, and Kobo.

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Toronto Light Festival 2017

img_4608This long weekend, I headed downtown Toronto with my best friend and my sister to see the first Toronto Light Festival at the Distillery District to enjoy some beautiful art installments.

We got there at the perfect time, because the sun was just starting to go down. So we took a walk around and got a look at what the festival had to offer, while the sun was still up, and then stopped to grab a hot chocolate (which was actually delicious and totally worth the sort-of-ridiculous Distillery District pricing).  img_4599By the time we headed back to where we’d started our round, the sun had fully set and we were ready to see the art installments the way they were meant to be seen.

In hindsight, it probably wasn’t too smart to go on a weekend – the amount of people trying to file through the streets of the Distillery District was crazy. It was similar to the crowds at the Christmas Market in December. But people lined up decently to see the light pieces and it wasn’t as claustrophobic as I initially thought it would be.

img_4601The light installments themselves were incredible. They were beautiful and inspired art pieces, and I took my time enjoying them.
A couple of my favourites were the clearly ironic neon sign stating that “Nothing is so important that it needs to be made in six foot neon” (six-foot, no?), and the gorgeous angel pieces (pictured at the bottom of this post).

It was really just nice to walk around outside in the unseasonable warmth with a couple of my favourite people, enjoying the weather and taking in some of the inspiring art and culture in our city.

The TO Light Festival runs until March 12, so check it out if you have the chance!

Have you visited the TO Light Festival? What was your favourite installment?

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February Beauty Boxes: ipsy and Topbox

I got both of my beauty box subscriptions this week, and I am LOVING both of them. So let’s dive in and take a look at the products for my February Topxbox and ipsy glam bag!

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Topbox

This month’s Topbox featured a couple of lip products, and those are the ones I use most often, so that was nice. I’m looking forward to trying the Mettrum Originals Hemp Lip Balm, and I’ve already fallen in love with the Too Faced MELTED Liquified Long Wear Lipstick. I’m pretty picky with my shades of lipstick, and this one is perfect.

I’m also pretty excited to try out the Bella Aura Skincare Daily Repair Moisturizer, because I received a Bella Aura product in a previous bag, and quite liked it. And I’ve never used a product like the St. Tropica Hot Oil Treatment Botanically Infused Coconut Oil before, so one day when I’m feeling particularly experimental, I’ll give it a go.

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ipsy

I love the way ipsy gets subscribers of their glam bag to review each item. It honestly makes the experience a lot better, because now that I’ve reviewed a few things, they give me more of what I actually like. So this month is my 4th bag, and I’m really happy with everything inside.

The NYX Professional Makeup Butter Lipstick (Ripe Berry) is such a smooth lipstick – although I wish I’d gotten the brighter shade of red. I’ll still wear this one because it’s a quality lipstick (NYX is my fave). I also use mascara on a daily basis and the Bellapierre Cosmetics Volumelash Waterproof Mascara I got this month is awesome!

I’m not a huge nail polish person, but I do enjoy painting my toes every once in a while, so the Trust Fund Beauty Nail Polish ($12 Latte) will come in handy when the snow melts and it’s sandal season again! And I’m also not huge into creams, but I do use facial scrub and eye cream, so I’m actually quite grateful to get the Organic Pharmacy Lip & Eye Cream and Promise Organic Nourishing Coconut Milk Daily Facial Scrub.

I’ve only had these bags for a couple days, and I’m already so excited to play around with these new products! Are you a fellow ipster? Subscribe to another beauty box? What are some of your favourite products you’ve received?

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February: Currently Reading

Guys, I am actually so excited to share with you the books I’m reading right now. Obviously not all of them at once, but I have quite the TBR pile building up, and for the first time in a long time, I’m not intimidated by the number of books sitting on my shelf (or on my “to-buy-ASAP” list). I’m actually so excited to read everything!

So here are books you can expect me to post reviews for in the next couple of months:

Running  Optimists Die First  Confessions of a High School Disaster: Chloe Snow's Diary  The Fall of Lisa Bellow: A Novel

The Gauntlet  When Dimple Met Rishi   One Day We'll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter   Goodbye Days

  1. Running – Cara Hoffman
  2. Optimists Die First – Susin Nielsen
  3. Confessions of a High School Disaster – Emma Chastain
  4. The Fall of Lisa Bellow – Susan Perabo
  5. The Gauntlet – Karuna Riazi
  6. When Dimple Met Rishi – Sandhya Menon
  7. One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter – Scaachi Koul
  8. Goodbye Days – Jeff Zentner

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Arkells Hamilton Homecoming w/ Frank Turner

I feel so lucky to have been able to be a part of the Arkells homecoming show in Hamilton, but this concert was just as much about Frank Turner for me as it was the Arkells. So I’m going to talk about both acts equally, and hopefully I don’t ramble.

Arkells with Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls
When: February 10, 2017
Where: FirstOntario Centre – Hamilton, ON
Seats: General Admission – Floor

THE COMPANY

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My boyfriend’s friend actually said he was looking for someone to go with him to this concert, and I jumped at the opportunity. I was checking out the tickets online for a while but knew no one would want to go with me, so I’d kind of accepted that. But getting to see Frank Turner in person? Heck yes! We’re both concert lovers, so it was awesome to share the experience with someone who fully appreciated it – and we ended up having a blast!

 

THE PERFORMANCE

img_4427This show was nothing short of ‘wow’.

Frank Turner & the Sleeping Souls were incredible, as I’d expected. Turner is a fantastic performer who was able to draw in the whole crowd – even people who probably had never heard of him and were only there for the Arkells. He got everyone singing along to almost every song, and I have had “Photosynthesis” stuck in my head for days (“I won’t sit down, and I won’t shut up – and most of all I will not grow up!”). Of course, when he played “Four Simple Words”, I lost my flippin’ mind, and everyone was bopping along like crazy. Frank Turner was everything I hoped he would be, and more.

img_4451By the time the Arkells came on stage I was so hyped. I’m not super familiar with their music, but I know more songs than I thought I did! They were incredible, and you could tell the band was pumped to be back home, because they put every ounce of energy they had into every song. I was just really happy that they played all of my favourite songs. I got to bop to “11:11” and sway along to “My Heart’s Always Yours”, and dance like no one was watching during “Dirty Blonde”. Then they pulled everyone closer to the stage as they finished up the set with “Leather Jacket”. It’s been three days since the show, and I’m still on a concert high because it was so much freakin’ fun.

THE AUDIENCE

The crowd was definitely a huge part as to why this concert was incredible. It was the Arkells homecoming show. Everyone was so excited! The entire venue was PACKED full of people. I look at the photos and just can’t believe there were that many people behind where we stood.

Photo from @arkellsmusic Twitter

Photo from @arkellsmusic Twitter: HAMILTON. Couldn’t have dreamt this up better. Thank you for giving us the best damn view in the world.

Also, I’ve never had floor seats to a show like that before – in such a large venue. I’ve been to general admission venues before, but nothing like this. Standing on the floor vs. standing in the seats are definitely two different concert experiences, and I totally prefer the former. You just get pulled into the music, and you’re dancing with hundreds of other people, sharing this show together. It’s impossible not to get completely immersed in the moment – which I was.

And I needed to be immersed. I needed a night to forget the bad and celebrate the good and have a shit ton of fun with a cool human. It was just the right music at the right time in my life. I would see them again in a heartbeat.

COMPLETE SETLIST:

Frank Turner & the Sleeping Souls:

  1. I Still Believe ♥
  2. The Next Storm
  3. Photosynthesis ♥
  4. The Way I Tend to Be ♥
  5. Dan’s Song
  6. The Sand in the Gears
  7. Recovery ♥
  8. Get Better
  9. Four Simple Words ♥

Arkells:

  1. A Little Rain (A Song for Pete) ♥
  2. Michigan Left
  3. Come to Light ♥
  4. Ballad of Hugo Chavez
  5. Hung Up
  6. Passenger Seat
  7. Never Thought That This Would Happen ♥
  8. 11:11 ♥
  9. And Then Some ♥
  10. Oh, the Boss is Coming!
  11. Pullin’ Punches ♥
  12. (Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher (Jackie Wilson cover, with Frank Turner)
  13. I Want You Back (Jackson 5 cover, with Frank Turner) ♥
  14. My Girl (The Temptations cover, with Frank Turner)
  15. Drake’s Dad
  16. Agent Zero ♥
  17. Kiss Cam ♥
  18. Savannah
  19. My Heart’s Always Yours ♥
  20. Book Club ♥
  21. On Paper
  22. Dirty Blonde ♥
  23. Private School (with Frank Turner & the Sleeping Souls) ♥

Encore
24. Whistleblower
25. Cynical Bastards ♥
26. Leather Jacket ♥

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