Games & Music · Personal Thoughts

How the Arkells Changed My Life

I can count the bands I love on one hand. They’re not just bands I like, but bands that have had a serious impact on my life. Green Day has always been my group – the one whose music has meant the most to me and inspired me since I was ten years old. It’s been so long, I guess I forgot what it felt like to “love” a group like that. Then I got a chance to see Arkells at their homecoming concert in Hamilton.

“Take me to the bus stop Matty, drive me back to Hamilton…”
-Book Club

It was the first concert I’ve ever been to where I only knew a couple of songs, but still had a blast singing along. I fell in love that night – but not with a person. Arkells rekindled my love and appreciation for music. Their songs are so upbeat and happy, or emotionally charged. I can’t stand still. “Dirty Blonde” comes on, and I just need to dance.

“Give me your number, pick any colour, I can tell your fortune tonight.”
-Dirty Blonde

I guess that’s when I realized I wasn’t happy. In that moment, I fell in love with a sound harder than I’d fallen in love with the person I was dating. When I listen to their music, it makes me feel stronger – happier, sadder, giddier – than I felt when I was with the guy who was supposed to be “the one”.

In that moment, I decided I was tired of feeling numb. I realized I don’t need a person to make me feel – I can feel things on my own – with a book, with a game, with a band, with a song. And whether it was with another person, or by myself, I realized this is how I wanted to feel for the rest of my life.

The Arkells were the light in my life when I was numb and repressed by my selfish ex.

“I just want to love you, but it’s so hard.”
-Private School

They were there when he left me.

“When the rain starts comin’ down, a little rain ain’t bringin’ me down.”
-A Little Rain (A Song for Pete)

And they were there when I fell for someone who respected me, and who empowered me to be the person I wanted to be, for me. Not for him or for anyone else.

“It used to be just weekends, now I want you everyday.”
-My Heart’s Always Yours

The Arkells were my lifeline in a time when I needed something to shake me from my comfort zone, and tell me that there was something better out there for me. I just had to get out of my funk and find it.

And I can already feel the difference between going through the motions, and being just plain happy. I’m as happy as I was that night in Hamilton, and I feel happy every time I put High Noon on my record player.

I cannot wait to see the Arkells when they come to Toronto this month, because this time around it’ll mean so much more.

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Games & Music

Bon Jovi: This House is Not for Sale Tour

Bon Jovi w/ Cannons
When: April 11, 2017
Where: Air Canada Centre – Toronto, ON
Seats: Lower level, Row 25 – Rear

THE COMPANY

This was the first concert where Jacob accompanied me, and it was really exciting – mostly because I’m a pretty quiet person, but when it comes to concerts, I’m loud and I sing and dance the whole time. And it’s kind of scary to go to a show with someone who may or may not clap along or cheer at the end of a song. But we had a great time dancing together!

It was also particularly awesome because we got these tickets off of Groupon, so they were $20 each. So it was super last minute, but such a great night.

THE PERFORMANCE

I was kind of worried, because our discount tickets put us sort of behind the stage, but honestly the view was incredible. And when Bon Jovi hit the stage, everyone was on their feet, dancing and cheering the whole night. I was excited to hear a handful of my favourite songs (“Shot Through the Heart” – heyyyooo) but I didn’t realize how many other songs I recognized!

I think what I loved the most was that JBJ was really open to creating an experience for all types of fans. At one point, he began explaining the meaning behind the band’s newer songs and what they meant to them before beginning each one. Then he announced, “This is the last new one – the rest are hits from here on out.” When a band has so many hits, it must be hard to find a happy medium when touring a new album. But I think they did a great job at introducing This House is Not For Sale to an audience that was likely hoping for hits or their older tunes.

THE AUDIENCE

The audience at this show was incredible. Sitting at a “behind the stage” angle actually gave me a new appreciation for shows, because it allowed me to see the audience from the perspective of the band on stage. I’d look out and see the lights illuminating the faces in the crowd, and I could see how much fun they were having singing the lyrics along with the band. It was so cool. And of course, my favourite part of any show – when the audience pulls out their lights and makes the ACC look like the night sky – was just amplified because of all the excitement and my surprisingly amazing seats.

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COMPLETE SETLIST:

  1. This House is Not for Sale ♥
  2. Knockout
  3. You Give Love a Bad Name ♥
  4. Lost Highway
  5. Who Lot of Leavin’ ♥
  6. Roller Coaster ♥
  7. We Weren’t Born to Follow
  8. I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead
  9. We Got It Goin’ On ♥
  10. Who Says You Can’t Go Home ♥
  11. It’s My Life ♥
  12. We Don’t Run
  13. God Bless This Mess ♥
  14. Scars on This Guitar ♥
  15. New Year’s Day
  16. Lay Your Hands on Me ♥
  17. Born to Be My Baby
  18. Have a Nice Day ♥
  19. Bad Medicine ♥
  20. Keep the Faith

Encore:
21. Always ♥
22. Captain Crash & the Beauty Queen from Mars
23. Wanted Dead or Alive ♥
24. Livin’ on a Prayer ♥

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Games & Music

The Zolas @ The Opera House

The Zolas
When: March 16, 2017
Where: The Opera House – Toronto, ON
Seats: General Admission – Floor

THE COMPANY

This show was such a last minute thing. My friend Marco messaged and asked if I wanted to go with him to a concert. And I’m always up for a concert. Even if I don’t know the band – as was with this case – I know Marco and I have pretty similar taste in music, so I trust him. I listened to some Zolas before heading out, and already had a few favourite songs in mind as we headed to The Opera House.

THE PERFORMANCE

The show was fantastic! The audience was so hyped when The Zolas took the stage, and the band was able to keep the excitement rolling their entire set. There was a good mix of upbeat songs that I could bop along to, and some slower, more mellow tunes, which I always enjoy. And even during the slower songs, I was really enjoying watching the band rock out. There was never a dull moment.

I thought it was especially cool that during their last song, the lead singer came into the crowd and performed from the centre of the floor. Everyone circled around and shone their cell phone lights on him, lighting the venue. It was a really cool experience!

Side note: It’s been a month and I still frequently get “Ancient Mars” stuck in my head.

THE AUDIENCE

Shows are just significantly more enjoyable when they’re general admission shows, honestly. I don’t care if I don’t know the band – if I’m standing in a general admission area, I feel like I’m part of the crowd. Part of the show. Part of an experience. Not just watching – but a part. And that’s how I felt this entire show.

The Zolas really seemed to appreciate the fact that they filled The Opera House with so many enthusiastic fans, and you know what – they gained another one that night. I’d happily buy a ticket to see them in Toronto again.

COMPLETE SETLIST:

  1. In Heaven
  2. Molotov Girls ♥
  3. Get Dark ♥
  4. Fell In Love with New York ♥
  5. Ancient Mars ♥
  6. Cultured Man
  7. You’re Too Cool
  8. Freida on the Mountain ♥
  9. This Changes Everything
  10. Marlaina Kamikaze
  11. Cab Driver
  12. Strange Girl ♥
  13. CV Dazzle
  14. Swooner ♥

Encore:
15. Invisible ♥
16. Observatory
17. Escape Artist ♥

Games & Music

Simple Plan: Take One For the Team Tour

Simple Plan w/ Set It Off & Plain White Ts
When: March 14, 2017
Where: Air Canada Centre – Toronto, ON
Seats: Lower level, Row 4

THE COMPANY

This show was originally supposed to take place on Nov. 18th of 2016, but had to be pushed back. So I originally got the tickets because Nov. 18th is my bestie’s birthday, and Simple Plan is our thing.

But attending the concert a few months later was still super special. There’s no one I’d rather scream and dance with to songs like “I’d Do Anything” and “I’m Just a Kid”.

THE PERFORMANCE

First I have to talk about the openers. I’ve never heard of the band Set It Off before, but they were pretty entertaining. But when I saw that Plain White T’s would be there, the 14-year-old inside me wept. Their performance was so down to earth and honest. And of course, they ended with “Hey There, Delilah”, which was nothing short of nostalgic.

Then Simple Plan took the stage, and I got very excited. We had great seats, and Simple Plan never disappoints! Personally, I’m a bigger fan of their first couple of albums, so when they launched into upbeat angsty teen songs like “Jump” or “Shut Up”, I couldn’t NOT sing along. But even the songs I wasn’t as familiar with, I could still rock out to. They played quite a few slower tunes, but some of the best SP songs are better listened to acoustically (lookin’ at you, “Welcome to My Life” and “Perfect”), so I had no problem swaying with bestie and feeling the feels. It was a great night.

THE AUDIENCE

The thing I love about Simple Plan is that their audience is so diverse, especially with regards to age. There were young girls there rocking Take One for the Team t-shirts. There were men and women in their 20s who clearly grew up with this band and wanted to show their support. And there were husbands and wives in their later years who came out to enjoy the show. I just love how a band can appeal to such a wide fanbase.

Also, I don’t know if this was because the show got postponed, or because there were hazardous road conditions due to a snow storm, but the show just didn’t sell out. The people who were there were having a great time, but it was hard not to notice that half the floor looked empty, and lots of the seats, too. Honestly, I feel like it would have been better to have the show in a slightly more intimate venue, because to me, that’s what their music is anyway – something personal. Their lyrics aren’t just lyrics I sing and dance to – they’re lyrics I relate to, and feel.

COMPLETE SETLIST:

  1. Opinion Overload
  2. Jet Lag
  3. Jump (with excerpts of “I’ve Got a Feeling” by the Black Eyed Peas)
  4. I’d Do Anything ♥
  5. Boom
  6. Welcome to My Life ♥
  7. Addicted ♥
  8. Your Love is a Lie
  9. Perfectly Perfect
  10. I Don’t Wanna Go to Bed
  11. Uptown Funk/Can’t Feel My Face (Mark Ronson/The Weeknd covers)
  12. Can’t Keep My Hands Off You ♥
  13. Summer Paradise ♥
  14. Farewell
  15. Crazy
  16. I’m Just a Kid ♥

Encore:
17. Shut Up ♥
18. Perfect World
19. This Song Saved My Life
20. Perfect ♥

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Daily Life · Games & Music

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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Daily Life · Games & Music

Red Hot Chili Peppers: The Getaway Tour

I’ve got quite the list of 2017 concerts building up, so I’ve decided I’m going to write about them! And to me, concerts are about three things, so I’m going to focus on each of these aspects in my reviews: who I went with and the time we had, the band’s performance, and the feel of the audience.

Red Hot Chili Peppers – The Getaway Tour
When: February 4, 2017
Where: Air Canada Centre – Toronto, ON
Seats: Balcony level, Row 13

The Company

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So I went to see the Chili Peppers with my dad. He’s a huge fan, and after struggling to get my hand on a pair of tickets in the presale, I knew he would probably appreciate them the most. And he did. We had a great time together! Even though we way up in the balcony of the Air Canada Centre, we had a great view of the stage and rocked out to the awesome show.

The Performance

Jack Irons and Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue were the opening acts for the Chili Peppers. Irons captivated the entire audience with his insane drum skills, and my dad and I left the show saying we wanted to buy a Trombone Shorty album – what a band! They had everyone on their feet dancing before the main act even came on.

But everyone was there for the Chili Peppers, and let me tell you, I don’t think anyone left disappointed. They were SO energetic and threw themselves into every song. There were moments between songs where the band just jammed for a bit, creating more of a build up than a lull, as they left the audience hanging on to hear the next hit. I was just incredibly happy to hear “By the Way” and “Snow”, and okay, I have had “Go Robot” stuck in my head since that night.

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And the show itself was so visually impressive. Even when they started playing a new song I didn’t know as well, the gorgeous light show that changed with every new tune was mesmerizing. The hanging lights did a wave and would dance over the audience in various colours and movements. I couldn’t look away.

The Audience

Like I said earlier: I had a hard time getting my hand on tickets in presale because they were selling like CRAZY. So you can imagine that everyone in the room was extremely stoked to be at the show. And they were. I have been at shows at the ACC where people in the balcony level stay seated and bop along to the band, and that upsets me because I enjoy dancing at shows. As soon as the Chili Peppers got on stage, everyone in the venue got to their feet and showed their enthusiasm.

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And it was great to hear the first few notes of “Give It Away”, or “Otherside”, and have the band almost get drowned out by the crowd of fans screaming the lyrics along. That’s probably my favourite moment at a show, and it happened a few times at this one.

It was probably one of my top 10 concerts, and if they ever come back, I wouldn’t hesitate for a second to get more tickets.

Complete setlist:

  1. Intro Jam
  2. Around the World
  3. Otherside ♥
  4. Snow (Hey Oh) ♥
  5. Dark Necessities ♥
  6. The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie ♥
  7. Right on Time
  8. Go Robot ♥
  9. Emit Remmus
  10. Sick Love
  11. I Like Dirt
  12. Higher Ground (Stevie Wonder cover)
  13. The Getaway
  14. Soul to Squeeze ♥
  15. By the Way ♥

Encore
16. Rock and Roll (Led Zeppelin – tease)
17. Goodbye Angels
18. Give It Away ♥

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Games & Music

Portal 2: Game Review

portal2cover

Publish date: April 19, 2011
Rating: ★★★★★

Let me be frank with you guys. Portal 2 is the first video game I’ve played from beginning to end. I’ve seen some gameplay before, and I knew I liked the post-apocalyptic storyline, so I figured I’d give it a go. I finished it maybe a couple of months ago, and I’m already itching to play it again.

Portal 2, for those who aren’t already familiar with the series, is a puzzle game. You’re a test subject in a scientific lab setting who has to perform tests using portal guns that allow you enter one portal and come out of another on the other side of the room. You’ve got a friendly robot, Wheatley, who’s trying to help you escape, and returning enemies from the first Portal, who will make you chuckle uneasily.

It’s a great game for beginner gamers like myself, who are still getting used to the controls, because there are no do-or-die moments. You have time to contemplate puzzles and get used to “thinking in portals”. Sometimes the puzzles can be frustrating, but once you get used to what you can do with a couple of portal guns, it gets fairly straightforward.

The storyline and characters are what makes this one of my favourite pieces of media. The test centre has been out of use for, who knows how long, and you’ve been under for quite some time, making everything just a little bit eerie. The characterization and dialogue we get from both Wheatley and GLaDOS is unsettling, satirical, and pretty hilarious; I found myself laughing out loud through most of the cut scenes.

The fun addition to the game in Portal 2 is that it includes a co-op campaign – although I haven’t played through that one yet.

If you’re a fan of sci-fi, satire, puzzles, and portals, I highly suggest you play Portal 2. I loved every minute of it.

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Games & Music

Additions to My Game Library

Since the last time I wrote about video games, I’ve purchased a few more for my shelf and actually finished a couple of them! I’ll post some full reviews soon, but here are the games that I’ve added to my library.

Image result for guitar hero live

I’ve been a fan of the Guitar Hero series since I had Guitar Hero 1-3 on my PS2. It was a staple in my high school gaming experience. Well, I decided to put some of my Christmas money towards adding the party edition of Guitar Hero Live to my library. And I love it. I like the real people in the play-through, making me feel way more epic than just pressing buttons in my bedroom. I also love the idea of TV mode, where you can play whatever songs come up on  various channels – keeping the game interesting far after you complete all the setlists.

Image result for rayman legends

Rayman was another huge one in my childhood – played this one on my N64. So I was really excited to pick up a copy of Rayman Legends. I’ve played a couple of levels so far, and am definitely way more interested in the regular platforming levels as opposed to the auto-scrolling levels. It’s given me a reason to put this game down for now, but I will for sure come back to it!

Image result for stick of truth

STICK. OF. TRUTH. I am such a fan of South Park, and had really no idea what I was getting into with this game. I wasn’t sure what to expect. And honestly, that’s the best way to go in. I finished it within a couple of days – and I mean finished as in, I collected everything and didn’t just rush through. I’ll write a more complete review later, but this game was AWESOME. I’m definitely going to replay it sometime soon, and if you’re a fan of South Park, I recommend you give it a go.

Image result for rocksmith 2014

I’d never heard of Rocksmith before my boyfriend mentioned it, but I’m so glad he did. I took guitar lessons through high school but haven’t really tried to progress since then, and have been losing my ability to play. Kind of stuck at the “simple chords” level. I’ve played this game a couple days in a row, and it’s incredible. You plug in an electric guitar and it teaches you how to play. There are technique lessons, games to strengthen your skills, lessons how to play specific songs, leveling up as you get better and leveling down if you’re having troubles – it’s so helpful and has turned teaching myself how to play into less of a chore! I love it.

Have you played any of these? What are some of your favourite games that I should add to my library?

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Games & Music

My First Gaming System & Favourite Games So Far

When I revamped my blog recently, I included a tagline in my banner: Books, Games, Style, etc. That’s because around the same time as my new blog, I purchased my first gaming system since my family owned an N64 when I was six. I finally have a system of my own: an Xbox One. And I am SO excited to be able to explore the world of gaming.

As a girl I’ve sort of shied away from video games growing up, because I had a lot of guy friends who told me I sucked. But if you take out the intimidation of gaming online, I actually have a lot of fun gaming. I loved my N64 as a kid, and I’ve fallen quite hard for my Xbox in the past month.

So here is my first gaming post!

Favourite Xbox Games So Far

Image result for portal 2

Portal 2 is a game I’ve watched quite a bit of online, but never actually got to play. I started and finished Portal 2 in a weekend. I could play this game again and again. It’s a great beginner game for people like me who are still getting used to the controls, because there are never any do-or-die moments like in a shooter. You can take your time solving the puzzles. I also really loved listening to the dialogue. The story and the writing in this game are unbelievably entertaining. I already want to play it again.

Image result for fallout 4

I’ve just started Fallout 4 and I already love everything about it. I love the story (I’m already extremely emotionally invested in my fake family). I love the detail that I could put into making my character. I love the post-apocalyptic theme (like, I love apocalyptic sci-fi anyway, but this game does it really well). I love that I can collect so much stuff and never know what I’ll need these items for. I’m just so excited to see where this game goes.

Image result for halo

Halo is the only Xbox game I’ve played before owning the system. I spent quite a bit of time at my high school boyfriend’s house playing Halo with him and his friends. Despite the fact I always got made fun of, I actually really loved the game. And now that I get to play it no pressure, you can imagine that the Master Chief Collection was the first game purchase I made (Halo 1-4). I’m making my way through the campaign, and am having a lot of fun with it. I’m finally used to the controls and my aim is getting pretty darn good, if I do say so myself. I love sci-fi games, and this one has the nostalgia factor, so I’m playing my way through this series quite happily, too.

My Game Library

Here are some games I bought but haven’t started playing yet.

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I’ll write more fully-developed game reviews (similar to my book reviews) once I start finishing things. But until then, I’ll continue to share with you guys the games I’m enjoying the most, and which ones I’m looking forward to trying.

Does anyone have any recommendations based on the sorts of games I’m playing right now? What are some of your favourite games (Xbox, or otherwise)? What games should I add to my library ASAP?

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Books & Writing · Games & Music

Nintendo Book Tag

So I was scrolling through the blogosphere and found this tag on Zezee with Books‘s blog who got it from the YouTube channel, Sam’s Nonsense. As someone who grew up on Nintendo systems, I was so excited to do a mash-up post of two of my favourite things! So here we go!

NES (Nintendo Entertainment System): A classic you want to read.

Lolita

I was supposed to read Lolita for my American Lit class in university (whoops), but since then I’ve regretted not actually getting to it. That’s probably the next classic I’m going to force myself to read.

SNES (Super Nintendo): A sequel you liked more than the first (can be a second book in a series).

Mark of the Plague (The Blackthorn Key, #2)