Obsessed // 2017

Happy December! Originally, I was going to make this post an in-depth review of my favorite albums from this year, but then I started thinking about all of the other great media that gave me inspiration, motivation, and hope in a year that was far too full of dark moments. While it’s far too easy to dwell on those times that we felt defeated, I figured it would be fun to share all of the great pieces of art, moments of brightness, and other doses of positivity that were shared in 2017…in my opinion, that is. And because I feel the need to tell anyone who will listen why I love the things that I love, these categories seemed like a great way to round things up this year.

Album

I originally had about six albums chosen for this and I narrowed it down to two and I refuse to make any more cuts. I REFUSE!!! (But I’ll include honorable mentions because I’m weak: Reputation by Taylor Swift, Dua Lipa by Dua Lipa, About U by MUNA, and What If Nothing by Walk the Moon). I’m notoriously bad at picking favorites, but this was definitely the most difficult category for me to decide, so it’s gonna be a tie between *drum roll* Betty Who’s The Valley and SUPERFRUIT’s Future Friends. This year was clearly all about my obsession with synthpop. In fact, I didn’t realize I had a favorite genre until I was considering which of the albums from this year I loved the most. But as you can see, both of the masterpieces I chose as my top favorites are composed with similar styles. I’m obviously not a music expert so I don’t know all of the technical language to describe them. And yet, I can understand what I find so special about each of these works. These albums are both so fresh and vulnerable and bright and run the gamut when it comes to emotions. Falling in love? Check. Just ended a relationship? Check. Need to help your best friend get over a break up? Need an upbeat self love anthem you can sing in your mirror on your bad days? Need a romantic ballad you can sing in the shower even though you’ve never been in love before? These. Albums. Deliver. It. All. You’ll want to dance around to the catchy jams and text all your friends how much you love them and be proud of all that you’ve accomplished…and the epic vocals are just a plus.

Song

While I’m still not so patiently waiting for a new full length album from one of my pop queens, the single “Cut To the FeelingCarly Rae Jepsen released this year did not disappoint. I’d say it was just enough to hold me over for a little longer. (An emphasis on the little, I hope). I’m always a big fan of fun pop jams, but this year, I found myself craving the taste of lighthearted and feel-good songs more than ever…for obvious reasons. Truth is, I don’t think I’ve met a Carly Rae Jepsen song I didn’t like. I firmly believe she is far beyond her years when it comes to talent; her ability to put on an sonically cohesive and satisfying album that gives you tastes of 80s pop that can be blended into the pop we hear on the radio today feels effortless. And frankly, the rest of y’all have slept on her post “Call Me Maybe” career for far too long. I’m putting it out there now: let 2018 be the year the pop world fully appreciates the genius that Carly bae truly is.

Book

I have been talking about The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas to anyone who will listen all year. I even have a previous blog post completely dedicated to why I love this book, so I don’t need to go into detail here. But I will say that this book is not exclusively for folks who read young adult literature. I truly believe it’s required reading for anyone who enjoys a good story that leaves you thinking long after you read the last page. The story captures the narrative of the Black Lives Matter movement in such a moving first hand experience that I can’t imagine the reader not being affected by Angie Thomas’s words. Plus, it’s being made into a movie and the cast is bomb. So make sure to read the book before you head to the theater.

Network TV Show

I started watching The Bold Type against my usual reservations when it comes to brand new series. I usually wait a few season for the show to gain traction before I start watching, but I’m so glad I made an exception for this show. It airs on Freeform, which isn’t often the best selling point, but this show exceeds expectations in so many ways. The show centers around three 20-something women living in New York, working for a magazine themed around women’s empowerment. Plus their boss is an equally badass woman who gives them both guidance and freedom to explore the possibilities of their careers. I know this may sound like a cookie cutter example of a show that’s exploiting the current wave of feminism women are passionately getting involved in right now, and in all honesty, that might be their intention. I don’t blame them. My goal is not to figure out whether or not their intention to share these stories are playing off these cultural clues simply for success – that’s likely the goal of every entertainment outlet. But lucky for us, sometimes the result of this intention is a brilliant representation of thoughts, ideas, and movements that we’ve been lacking on our screens. I really think that’s where The Bold Type truly earns its success. I dare you to watch this show and not be inspired to take down the very next person who tries to steer you further from your goals.

Streaming TV Show

I don’t watch many streaming shows, mostly because there’s too many to choose from and I get overwhelmed very easily. But this year, I couldn’t help but drive right in to One Day at a Time as soon as it was released. I’m much more likely to gravitate toward half hour comedies, shows with diversity, and stories I can relate to. With this show, you’re guaranteed a stellar three for three. First of all, anything that highlights the brilliance of Rita Moreno is an automatic win for any living breathing human. The cast is then rounded out with a group of actors that beautifully and authentically bring the Alvarez family to life. Along with the laughs, the show delivers so many relatable storylines; they represent this family with genuine care and attention while also keeping it fun and entertaining. You can see the truth without getting wrapped up in painful drama. You instantly fall in love with this family, their traditions, their ambitions, and their complicated yet rewarding relationships to their own personal identities and to each other. Also, I am painfully and wholeheartedly the white Elena Alvarez.

Broadway

When I first heard about Come From Away, it was described to me as a 9/11 musical. Which, let’s be real, does not sound like a good idea at all. Sure, you can make successful musicals about sad things (see: literally all of my favorite musicals), but this was something I didn’t quite understand the intention behind. But when I learned that this wasn’t simply a musical about 9/11, but a musical that explores the days following the event from the perspective of a group of rerouted travels in Canada, my skepticism eased and I was a lot more open to the idea of seeing it. I knew it would still be an emotional ride, but as I already said, I sort of have a thing for musicals that make you feel and the feelings and cry all the tears. One of my favorite things about theater is that it’s both entertaining and evocative right in front of your eyes. You have an experience that is so immediate and so vicarious that it can be overwhelming in the best way possible. And this couldn’t hold truer with Come From Away. Not only is the story told beautifully through captivating songs, an incredibly talented ensemble, and even some laughs, but the message of the show is something we all need to hear, see, and believe, especially at this moment in time. It makes it even more powerful that the show is based on a true story. This production allows us to explore the ways we respond to tragedy, the power of selfless kindness, and the proof that at our very core, we’re capable of unconditional love and care for one another, family and strangers alike.

And because I love to hear from *~my fans~* here are some suggested fun favorites from 2017.

Favorite Meme – “First of all…” Some faves:

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Favorite Baby Animal GIF – I believe in you, little pup.

Favorite Internet doggies – Bagel and Chanel moved into the Gardens this year and I love them so much!!!!

Favorite Vacation – Not only was Disney incredible, but specifically, the Food & Wine Festival is what dreams are made of

Favorite Viral VideoThe only way to walk into a room

Let me know what some of your favorites were from this year! Thanks for reading, friends. See ya in 2018.

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Book Survey // 2016

I found this End of Year Book Survey from Jamie of Perpetual Page Turner and thought it was the perfect way to round up my 50 book challenge from this year! LET’S DO IT.

Check out my year in books on Goodreads!

 

READING STATS:

Number of books you read52

Number of re-reads1

Genre you read the most from: YA (obvs)

 

BEST IN BOOKS:

1. Best book you read?

The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

2. Book you were excited about & thought you were going to love more but didn’t?

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

I had been hearing a lot about this book, both from friends and online, and I was intrigued enough to give it a go despite the fact I don’t love the fantasy genre. While there were elements of this book I enjoyed, like Blue’s character and the backstories of the boys she becomes friends with, I tend to get lost in the details of fantasy stories. There is a lot of history to remember throughout the plot, and often times there are elements of mystery, which is difficult for me to process.

3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?

How To Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran

Seeing as this novel was on a number of feminist book lists, it had been on my radar for a while. It seemed like a decent plot – a girl who acts on her own agency to change the unfortunate lot she’d been handed in life – but I quickly realized that was a very loose summary. The failed construction of the main character is definitely intentional, but I was surprised by quickly the message of the book got lost in the plot.

4. Book you “pushed” the most people to read?

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Not only did this book inspire me to pay more attention to the world around me and continue learning, but I wanted nothing more than to share this education with others. Anytime I find someone who is interested in identity politics, intersectionality, and other topics Gender Studies nerds love to geek out about, I tossed this book in their direction. Thankfully, I found that it was met with eager and open arms.

5. Best series you started?

Not Your Sidekick by C.B. Lee

I’m not a big of series because I have a problem with commitment, but to my benefit, I didn’t know this novel was set as the first in a series. But when I read the summary about a girl in high school who identifies as bisexual and gets an internship with her favorite superhero…how could I not read it?

6. Favorite new author you discovered?

Michael Barakiva

One Man Guy has been on my list for a while and I’m so happy I finally picked it up. Barakiva perfectly executes the Armenian culture, the vulnerability of first relationships, and duh, it’s LGBTQ. Can’t wait to read more from him 🙂

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan

This was one of the first books I read that got me interested in essay compilations. I liked the freedom of bouncing from one story to the next and learning about the author in the process.

8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

I think I tore through this book in 2 days.

9. Book you read that you are most likely to re-read next year?

Gena/Finn by Hannah Moskowitz and Kat Helgeson

10. Favorite cover of a book you read?

Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon

I’m going to be real with you – I always judge books by their covers. Listen, I read a lot on the subway, and I don’t want people looking at an ugly book and thinking I have poor taste. So when I first started seeing buzz for Nicola Yoon’s debut novel, I was in love. It’s so beautiful. It might be my favorite book cover of all time.

11. Most memorable character?

Sebby (Fans of the Impossible Life by Kate Scelsa)

Sebby! My beautifully sad and troubled baby! I was instantly drawn to Mira and Sebby’s relationship, and once I hit that first chapter from Sebby’s perspective, I was blown away. I wanted to know everything about him. I still do. Please, Kate Scelsa, can I have a book all about Sebby???

12. Most beautifully written book read?

The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

Let’s just say, if you think the covers of Nicola Yoon’s books are beautiful, wait until you read what’s inside. She is pure YA magic. I can’t tell you the amount of wrong trains I got on because I was too engrossed in the beauty of this book. Holy crap.

13. Most thought-provoking/ life-changing book?

Buffering by Hannah Hart

Phew. Okay. This book was way more intense than I had expected. There were hints of Hannah’s difficult past in her videos and other content, but this book dives way deeper. Hannah is so brave in her storytelling and my heart ached for her as I read it, but I finished the book feeling more motivated than ever. I don’t know Hannah personally, but the energy and positivity she puts out into the world is so inspiring, and even more so knowing what she went through to get there.

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2016 to finally read?

Not Otherwise Specified by Hannah Moskowitz

I actually can believe I waited until 2016 to read this book…because…remember what I said about judging books by their covers? That’s the main reason I held back from reading this book. But I finally got over it and bought a copy, and because it was so great, it made me loosen up just a little bit on prioritizing a book’s presentation.

15. Favorite passage/quote from a book you read?

“I made the choice to never again be quiet, to never again suck it up. I challenged him. And I will do it again. If that makes me uppity, so be it. At least people know I’m no longer a vessel that they can use to act out their racist feelings. They will know that I think I’m worth fighting for. They will know I have a fire burning inside me. They will know that I’m alive.” – Phoebe Robinson, You Can’t Touch My Hair

16.Shortest book you read? Longest book you read?

ShortestDear Diego by Elena Poniatowska

LongestLies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

17. Book that shocked you the most

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

This is my millionth Nicole Yoon reference and I don’t even care. There’s a major plot twist in this book and I think my jaw is still hanging on the floor somewhere…

18. OTP of the year

Nate/ET the Musical (Better Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle)

19. Favorite non-romantic relationship of the year

Kate and Mark (You Know Me Well by Nina LaCour & David Levithan)

What I love most about this book is the fact that the two main characters never fall in love. Kate is a lesbian and Mark is gay and they become best friends and each help the other with their respective crushes. Isn’t that the cutest thing you’ve ever heard?

20. Favorite book you read from an author you’ve read previously

You Know Me Well by Nina LaCour & David Levithan

Yall, I’m tellin ya, these two authors are perfect angels. Because of their abilities to do so in the past, I knew these two special cupcakes would give me the LGBTQ storyline I love the most – one that isn’t about coming out or the hardships of not being accepted. SWOON.

21. Best book you read that you read based SOLELY on a recommendation from somebody else/peer pressure:

Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read?

Sarah (Not If I See You First by Eric Lindstrom)

The main character’s best friend in this story is so sweet and caring. But she also calls people out on their bullshit. Definitely my kinda gal.

23. Best 2016 debut you read?

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

I LOVE HER A LOT, OKAY?

24. Best world-building/most vivid setting you read this year?

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

You wouldn’t think a book on a deserted island would have much to explore in terms of world-building and vivid scenes, but that’s the magic of Libba Bray.

25. Book that put a smile on your face/was the most FUN to read?

Hamilton: The Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter

26. Book that made you cry?

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

Well, I cry with almost every book I read. But this one stands out to me specifically because I remember having 5 pages left while I was riding home on the train and I needed to sit in the subway station and finish reading and finish crying before I could go home.

27. Hidden gem of the year?

Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed

This was my 49th book of the year and I was so focused on finishing my challenge that I simply picked it because it seemed quick and easy to read. Little did I know the heartbreaking story that was about to unfold. I don’t even remember how I was introduced to this book, but I’m so glad I picked it up.

28. Book that crushed your soul?

It Looks Like This by Rafi Mittlefehldt

While this debut was incredibly written, I remember closing this book and feeling angry and confused about why I’m still reading so many sad coming out stories. I know they are very real, but that’s what made this book so difficult to get through. I often look toward books for an escape, and considering I see/hear about this story enough in real life, Mike and Sean’s story was very difficult to get through for me.

29. Most unique book you read?

Gena/Finn by Hannah Moskowitz and Kat Helgeson

I love books about fandom life, and this is the first I’ve ever read that gives such a real look into how online friendships and relationships get built. These authors took the familiar format of online fandom communication and executed an incredibly genuine and provoking novel that I read in about 24 hours. As I already noted, I will definitely be re-reading it ASAP.

30. Book that made you the most mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

Mostly this book makes me mad because it is so brilliant and I’m angry I didn’t write it.

YOUR BLOGGING LIFE:

1. New favorite book blog you discovered?

LGBTQ Reads!

2. Favorite review that you wrote?

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

3. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog?

My NaNoWriMo experience

4. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?

Seeing Phoebe Robinson and Ilana Glazer at Housing Works the day You Can’t Touch My Hair was released

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5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life?

When Libba Bray responded to my blog post:

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6. Most popular post this year on your blog (whether it be by comments or views)?

Brand New Eyes

7. Post you wished got a little more love?

Rory’s Boyfriends (Are All Dumb) because let’s face it THEY ARE!!

8. Best bookish discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?

Bluestockings bookstore 🙂

9.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

I completed my goal of reading at least 50 books this year!

 

LOOKING AHEAD:

1. One book you didn’t get to read in 2016 but will be your number 1 priority in 2017?

I’m equally excited to read Jess, Chunk, and the Road Trip to Infinity by Kristin Elizabeth Clark and Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly

2. Book you are most anticipating for 2017 (non-debut)?

Adam Silvera’s History Is All You Left Me!!!!!!!

3. 2017 debut you are most anticipating?

Meg & Linus by Hannah Nowinski because fandom, drama club, and two nerdy queer high schoolers. Obviously.

4. Series ending/a sequel you are most anticipating in 2017?

I’m really looking forward to continuing with Jess and Abby’s story in Not Your Sidekick #2

5. One thing you hope to accomplish or do in your reading/blogging life in 2017?

Work toward another 50 books and possibly get a blog post published on a website.