Sunday, January 31, 2016

MY 2015 FAVOURITES! #2015FAVES #FANGIRLING

Happy Belated New Years everyone!!! 

I've been a bit of a lazy blogger, and have been putting off any kind of recap post out of sheer laziness...I did have a cold around New Years, so I can use that as an excuse, but really I was just super daunted by the sheer idea of a recap post, so I decided to just share my favourites from 2015 in a slightly simpler post where it's all together. I decided not to limit myself to books, so you're getting a nice diverse list of everything that I absolutely loved in 2015!

So, the first month of 2016 may already over, but here are my favourites from 2015! I'm thinking that maybe I'll start doing monthly recaps again after this. :P

Anywho...prepare for A LOT of fangirling! ;)

BOOKS

So many books to choose from! My year end total for my 2015 Goodreads challenge was 236 books. If you want to see them all you can view "My Year in Books - 2015" from Goodreads. I read a wide variety because I was taking Children's Publishing courses and really got into graphic novels and audiobooks this year. For the most part, I loved almost all of what I read, but I'm going to try to limit myself to 10 (I'm going to cheat and group some series together though :P) top favourites. These are in no particular order. :)

Okay, I'm really stretching it with this one...but please don't make pick just one Christina Lauren title! I have been a major fangirl of these two lovely authors since I first read Beautiful Bastard and I swear their books are all absolutely amazing! I desperately watch my ereader waiting for my pre-orders to download on their release days...I'm not even exaggerating. :P All three of their books that released in 2015 were AMAZING! I loved Finn, I loved Oliver, and I loved Niall! I also loved Harlow, Lola, and Ruby...but the men really stole my heart. ;)

2. Tales From the Shadowhunter Academy Series by Cassandra Clare (also by Maureen Johnson, Robin Wasserman, and Sarah Rees Brennan)
Since this series of novellas is going to be released later this year as a single volume, I think it counts as one book now. :P I still haven't gotten to The Bane Chronicles (I know...bad Cassandra Clare fan...bad!), but I decided to keep up with Tales From the Shadowhunter Academy Series through Overdrive. So I borrowed a combination of audiobooks and ebooks from the library, and I loved them all! I loved seeing Simon go through the academy and I really, really loved seeing everyone make guest appearances. Also, some of these audiobooks are fantastic! Sam Heughan (Jamie) from Outlander read one, Chris Wood (Kai) from The Vampire Diaries read one, and Brett Dalton (Agent Ward) from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. read one...and I was seriously in fangirl heaven! I'm hoping they release the audiobooks in one volume, too!!! I'll buy that for sure! If you're a Shadowhunter fan, I'd definitely recommend reading these novellas though. They were fantastic...they do end on a highly emotional note though, so heads up!

I'm a bigtime fantasy girl, but I haven't picked up many new fantasy series in the last while...probably because I got really bad at continuing series and still have to finish a few. But, I couldn't resist A Darker Shade of Magic, and I'm so glad that I read it. This story is absolutely fantastic! I loved the characters, the magic, and the world-building was absolutely superb...especially since there are multiple worlds in it! I'm so excited for the sequel, A Gathering of Shadows, and I recently listened to the audio of A Darker Shade of Magic and it was just as amazing as when I read it myself! Fantasy fans, especially those who love magic, I heartily recommend this one to you!

4. Saga Series by Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples
 As I mentioned, this year I got seriously into graphic novels! And if I had to pick a fave graphic novel series, it would definitely be Saga! I loved The Walking Dead, too, but I just loved the fantasy element of Saga! The art is beautiful, and the story is extremely captivating! I also am DESPERATE to know what happens next!

5. The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi (translators: Mattias Ripa, Blake Ferris, and Anjali Singh)
 Another graphic novel! Persepolis completely blew me away! I've been hearing things about it for years, so I decided to add it to my to-read list for graphic novels and I loved it! It was such a powerful story, and it left me with a lot to think about when it comes to war and understanding other cultures. I'd definitely recommend it to anyone who already loves graphic novels or who wants to try out some!

I can't remember what happened in 2014 to make me put off reading Visions, but eventually I just decided to wait until Deceptions was about to come out...so I read Visions right before my pre-order of Deceptions arrived and devoured them both in less than a week. My only regret is that now I have to wait to read book #4, Betrayals. Other than that, I absolutely loved both books...the ending of Deceptions wasn't one that I was super pleased with because my main man Gabriel needs to buck up, but other than that I was completely riveted by Liv's story and there was no way these two wouldn't make it on my best of 2015 list!

7. Jesse's Girl (Hundred Oaks #6) by Miranda Kenneally
 It's safe to say that I've been a Miranda Kenneally fangirl for a while now, so I wasn't shocked at all when I started Jesse's Girl and was immediately hooked. The musical focus was a little different than the other books, but I really enjoyed it and I absolutely adored Maya and Jesse!

8. Confess by Colleen Hoover
 I am not even a little ashamed to admit that I am also a Colleen Hoover fangirl. While I loved November 9, her most recent release, Confess is still my top Colleen pick. O.M.G. did I ever love it (if you've read Confess and don't get that reference, you seriously need to reread it...like now). This one broke my heart, punched me in the feels, and then put me back together again and gave me all the feelings! Auburn and Owen were so FANTASTIC! I heart them, I heart them, I heart them! Yes, I love them so much, I heart them.

9. Paint My Body Red by Heidi R. Kling
I've loved Heidi since I first read Sea years ago, so I was extremely excited to read Paint My Body Red. And it was an absolutely AMAZING story! Paige was such a powerful character. I loved that the book covered difficult subjects, but never tried to sugarcoat them. Paint My Body Red doesn't ignore issues, it confronts them and shows how it can be difficult to overcome them, but that it's always worth it. If you're a contemporary fan and aren't afraid of books that cover issues (but don't worry, it does have a pretty happy ending!), I'd highly recommend adding PMBR to your to-read list!

10. The Road by Cormac McCarthy
*hums & sings* One of these things is not like the others, one of these things doesn't belong.*
Okay, so The Road is definitely not anything like the other books that were in my top picks this year. It's not something that I would typically read, but I picked it up after I went to an internship interview and one of the interviewers said it was her favourite book. I've thought about reading it before, but it wasn't until that recommendation that I took the plunge and borrowed it from the library. It absolutely left me stunned. I usually strongly dislike, I'd even go so far as to say hate, atypical dialogue in books. I'm not a fan of weird formatting, or lack of formatting, but in The Road it was PERFECT! The lack of proper punctuation and dialogue markers matched so perfectly with the story itself and how the world was completely in shambles that it actually amazed me. This story is dark, it's rather depressing, but it is so powerful. It left me feeling hopeful, and it moved me so much. I thought I would enjoy this one, but I was shocked by how much I loved it. That reminds me, I still need to get myself a copy of this one because I will definitely be rereading it in the future.

Phew! All that fangirling tuckered me out a bit! :P

MOVIES 

(c) Marvel Studios
 1. Ant-Man
I loved the Avengers: Age of Ultron, too...but I have to admit that I loved Ant-Man even more, which is kinda crazy because I'm a hardcore Captain America fan and Steve wasn't even in Ant-Man. I just loved how funny it was, and I really, really loved Paul Rudd as Scott! He was hilarious!

(c) Marvel Studios
2. The Avengers: Age of Ultron
 As I said, I loved this movie. Not quite as much as Ant-Man, but it was still fantastic, and I'm always happy to see my fave superheroes on screen. Like Cap...I'm always happy to see Cap. And Thor. And Iron Man. And The Hulk...although not Edward Norton as The Hulk. I didn't like that movie, but I have to admit that I actually did like the Eric Bana one. Okay...and Hawkeye. And Black Widow. I missed them all, so it was great to see them! This comment has gotten extremely random and disorderly, so I'm going to a stop now. :P To make a long, rambling comment short, I loved it and loved seeing all of my favourite superheroes back in action!

(c) Universal Pictures
3. Jurassic World
 Like a large portion of the world, I'm a ginormous Chris Pratt fan. I also love Jurassic Park, so Jurassic World was PERFECT! I really liked getting to go back to the world of Jurassic Park, and I loved all of the little nods and moments that referred back to the original movies. I think I'm going to have to do a marathon sometime soon with all of the Jurassic movies now. :P

(c) BBC Films
4. Testament of Youth
This movie was an absolutely stunning theatrical experience. Seriously, so much feeling! I originally was mostly excited to see this movie because it has Kit Harington in it, and I'm a bigtime Kit fangirl, but I also thought the story sounded heartbreakingly beautiful. I didn't know much about Vera Brittain before I saw Testament of Youth, but I've since read some of her poems, and she was an extremely talented woman and her poems are filled with so much emotion. Her story is so tragic, but I love that out of her heartbreak and loss, she chose to do something. She was such a powerful proponent of pacifism, and the film really captured her story well.

(c) Disney
5. Cinderella
Raise your hand if you're a super hardcore Disney fangirl! *JUMPS UP AND DOWN, FLAILING WITH BOTH HANDS UP* Yup, I'm a Disney fangirl, and I totally went to see Cinderella with my mom...and it was WONDERFUL! I also watched it again as soon as it appeared on Canadian Netflix and it was just as wondrously wonderful as it was in theatres. I loved Lily James as Ella...and I loved, loved, loved Richard Madden as Kit! Part of that love was because of my love for Robb Stark...but it was only a small portion. If you love Disney and haven't seen this movie yet, you really should watch it!

TV SHOWS

1. OUTLANDER!
 Outlander first came out in 2014...but I got even more super hooked on it in 2015! I'm still so smitten with this show, and the actors all blow me away! I've been slowly devouring the books, too, and am currently reading the fourth one, A Fiery Cross. Reading the books has been making me even more excited because now I'm looking forward to Sam Heughan (JAMIE), Caitriona Balfe (CLAIRE) and the other actors acting out the other books. It's like a vicious never-ending fangirl cycle that just keeps getting me more and more excited! Pssst....season 2 will be airing in a few months and I CANNOT WAIT!

2. Marvel's Agent Carter
 I LOVED AGENT CARTER! Season 2 just started and I'm freaking out! It was amazing to see Peggy kick butt in this series, and I have loved every single episode. The start of season 2 has been fantastic, too!!! I also just always love whenever I see Jarvis! He's so awesome!

3. Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 
 I've loved S.H.I.E.L.D. since it started, but I definitely got mega-hooked on it in 2015! I think it's because Marvel just had so much awesome stuff going on this year that I couldn't help but freak out! haha Also, this current season has been AMAZING! I'm desperately waiting for it to start back up!

4. Marvel's Jessica Jones & Marvel's Daredevil
 I actually didn't start watching Marvel's Daredevil until this past summer. I'm not sure what I was waiting for, but once I started it, I devoured it! It's fantastic, and I can't wait to see more! And Jessica Jones!! I LOVED JESSICA JONES! I didn't wait too long to start it after it was released, and I finished it in about a week. It was AMAZING, and I have to admit that Kilgrave is probably one of my absolute favourite villains who I love to hate...I already loved David Tennant after devouring Doctor Who a while back, but in Jessica Jones, he did an absolutely amazing job. He was so evil, but he also just had so much depth that it was hard not to actually sympathize with Kilgrave at times...if you're a Marvel/Superhero fan and haven't watched these two, you should add them to your watch list!

 5. Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Oh my goodness!!! I think I actually started watching Brooklyn Nine-Nine around my Christmas holidays in 2014. I remember watching it on Netflix and my dad walked in and started watching it with me. I've loved it ever since, and it's probably one of the main shows that I watch weekly and am almost always caught up on. It's hilarious, and the characters are AMAZING! If you haven't started it yet, I totally recommend it!

MUSIC

1. Ed Sheeran
 2015 was the year that I fell absolutely, completely in love with Ed Sheeran! I really loved Ed before, but this year, I FELL HARD! One of my best friends and I saw him in concert back in June and he was AMAZING!!! Seriously. I fangirl so hard over him. I'm kind of fangirling just typing this...okay, not kind of...I am. ;)

2.  Shawn Mendes
 I'd heard of Shawn before 2015, but this year I downloaded his album on iTunes and was immediately HOOKED! His voice is absolutely amazing, and he is such an absolutely adorable guy! I'm also so proud that he's Canadian. ;)

3. Nick Jonas
 Again...I'd heard of Nick before 2015 (who hadn't heard of the Jonas Brothers by this point?!), but this year I got his album on iTunes and I was an immediate fan!

4. Sheppard
 I first heard about Sheppard over the summer on some list that popped up on Facebook...no idea where it was from anymore, but once I heard "Geronimo," I was in love! They have such a fantastic sound, and I love their songs!

Looking back, this was a year of falling in love with male singers. I'm definitely not complaining. :P

RANDOM FAVOURITES

1. Tea! 
 I've been raving about tea for quite some time, so I doubt this is at all a surprise, but I couldn't do a wrap up post without mentioning tea. :P My favourites of 2015 were mostly black teas! Much like an addicted coffee-drinker, I need a boost of black tea energy in the morning. :P My favourites this past year were all black teas from Steeped Tea, and they were Maraschino Cherry, Tonia's Birthday Cake, After Eight, and Ginger Chai! Maraschino Cherry and Tonia's Birthday Cake are both super tasty! Maraschino Cherry is cherry-tastic, and Tonia's Birthday Cake is scrumptious and just like black forest cake in a cup! After Eight is chocolately and minty--yum! And Ginger Chai tastes like a cinnamon bun when you put in some cream and sugar....so good! My other longtime favourite is peppermint. Doesn't matter the brand, I'm always a mega fan of peppermint tea! :D

 2. Lush Products! 
2015 was definitely the year that my interest in Lush became a full-blown addiction. I'm a Lushie and I'm not ashamed to admit it. This year I went from strictly buying bubble bars and bath bombs (which I still love to bits!) to trying their shampoos, creams, face masks, and other products, and I definitely haven't been disappointed! One of the parts about moving across country that actually made me sad was that I was moving away from my favourite Lush store! I still miss that store! Shout out to the fabulous Whyte Ave Lush location! Seriously, if you're ever in Edmonton on Whyte Ave, stop at that Lush, it's my favourite location ever!

 3. Saje! 
In 2015, I was introduced to Saje. It's a fantastic Canadian company that focuses on health and wellness, and this year I got myself one of their fabulous nebulizers! I wasn't quite sure about it at first, but I really love their essential oil blends...well mostly I just love the minty ones! haha It's definitely an interesting store though, and if you're interested in health and wellness, it's really worth checking out. :) I believe they only have stores in Canada right now, but they do ship to the US and do International orders. :) With our low dollar right now, it's actually probably a pretty good time for non-Canadians to do some online shopping through Canadian stores. :P

4. Audiobooks!
2015 was the year that I got completely HOOKED on audiobooks! They're a nice change from reading physical copies, and some stories just get a whole new element added to them through audio! I have to admit that I really enjoy rereading a book as an audiobook though just because it provides such a different experience! I listened to quite a few audiobooks this year, but I definitely have some that I liked best. 

So, here's my long list of favourite audiobooks from 2015: An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir, the first three books in the Falling Kingdom series by Morgan Rhodes (I'm currently listening to book #4 and LOVING it!), The Conspiracy of Us by Maggie Hall (Team Jack ALL THE WAY! :D), The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen, The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater, The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, and I also listened to all of the Jim Dale audiobooks of the Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling!

5. Miss Vickie's Lime & Black Pepper Chips
I used to be ALL Sweet Chili & Sour Cream, but this year I got hooked on MV's Lime & Black Pepper! I could eat these chips every day and not get sick of them...okay, I might get physically sick, but I'd still want them. :P Normally I'm not actually a fan of pepper, but these chips are so delicious that I have to portion out how many I want to eat or that whole bag is gone...poof!
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Now that all of my 2015 favourites have been shared, I'll give you all a bit of a life recap I guess.

In 2015, I moved across Canada from my home province of Alberta to Toronto, Ontario. When I was just beginning my undergraduate degree, I realized that publishing was the field that I wanted to pursue a career in. So this past year, I moved to pursue that career because while Alberta has a few smaller publishers, it doesn't nearly as large of a publishing industry as Toronto does.

In August, my parents drove with me across Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and through Ontario so that I could move into my new apartment. Here are a few pictures from our drive:

Bye-bye house!
On the big screen at the Blue Jays game. :)

I was extremely glad that my parents and I got to spend some time together before they left, and I was so grateful that they we were willing to drive all the way with me, too. When we got settled in Toronto, we went to a Blue Jays game, and kind of just relaxed a bit after our super long drive.
 
I have to admit that I'm quite the homebody and I'm very close to my family, so it's been tough being so far away from them, but I chose to move to get experience in the industry and to challenge myself. Since then I've worked as a Publicity & Marketing Assistant for Thomas Allen & Son, and just began a new position in their company as Sales, Marketing, & Publicity Assistant. I still miss home and my family every day, but I'm glad for the chance to experience new things and to discover more about my favourite industry! And I definitely value those trips home as much as I possibly can, even if I just spend my time there relaxing with my family doing nothing. :)

Other than that big move, I've been working mostly, and reading as much as I can! :)

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So, that is my long, overdue wrap-up for 2015!!

What were your favourite from 2015?
Do we share any? :)

And did you have any big changes happen in 2015? I'd love to hear about them!

I'm also always happy to have recommendations for new things! So please, feel free to share your faves! :D

4 comments:

  1. Ambur, I had so many thoughts while reading this - mainly I was just thinking about how reading about all your favourites in detail here made it feel like I was just having a catch-up session with you. I mean, I think I knew most of these favs already that you had shared with me, but not all.

    Like I didn't know you had read The Road this year! I'm so glad you gave it a shot even if it didn't seem like it was going to be your kind of book with the writing. It is absolutely one of my favourite books too, though it made me cry so much. Have you seen the movie? They did a good job with it, I thought.

    Also, you've inspired me... to get into graphic novels! I decided to request the first volume of Saga from the library. I just know I'm going to love it as much as you do. And then I will likely get hooked on graphic novels too :D

    It's so inspiring to me that you relocated your life, moved away from your family all alone, to pursue your publishing dreams. I know how hard it must be for you, but I'm encouraged that you have such a great support system to draw on. Any plans to go home for the Easter holiday or something?

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    1. Yay! I tried to write it in a way where it was pretty conversational on my part, so that's what I war going for. :D I'm glad that it felt like a catch-up session! Ya, I've raved about quite a few of these already, but not all!

      I did! I'd been wanting to read it for a while, but I was so glad that I read it. It was AMAZING!!! :D It's okay, I cried like a baby while reading it, too. It's such an emotional story. I think I may have seen bits and pieces, but I don't think I've actually seen the whole thing. I'll have to get my hands on a copy from the library and watch it. :)

      YAY!!!!! :D You picked an AWESOME one to start with! I'm a bigtime SAGA fangirl now, and I'm desperate for the next volume. :P haha I'm sure you will! Once you start finding ones you like, it's really hard to stop reading them. :D

      Thanks, Eilidh! It's definitely been tough being away from home, but I've been on Skype with my family a few times in the last little bit for both of my parents' birthdays (Jan. 31 and Feb. 10) so that was really nice. :) No solid plans yet! I was considering going home for a week around my birthday, but end of April and early May are kind a busy time for publishing since we'll be gearing up to start looking at the Fall 2016 season. I might have to look and see if I can get away for Easter though. :)

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    2. Hurray for catch-up sessions :) I hope you get to visit home sometime in the spring or maybe your parents could come out to visit you! I wanted to ask you, are there any other graphic novels that you would recommend?

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    3. Catch-up sessions are the best! :D I hope so, too. I'd be happy with either, but I definitely would prefer to go home since I can see my doggies that way, too. :) haha

      Yes!!!! I have a ridiculous amount of recent favourites! :D
      - Locke & Key Series by Joe Hill & Gabriel Rodriguez --- this one's a horror series, so it is a little graphic, but it's so good! The story is really well done, and I really felt for it.
      - Nimona by Noelle Stevenson --- such an interesting story and very anti-hero!
      - Artemis Fowl Graphic Novels by Eoin Colfer & Andrew Donkin, Giovanni Rigano, & Paolo Lamanna --- I've been recently rereading this series as Graphic Novels and they're really well done!
      - Anya's Ghost by Vera Brosgol --- super interesting!!!
      - The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi (Translators: Mattias Ripa, Blake Ferris, & Anjali Singh) --- this one's actually assigned a lot in University now. I never read it, but I was so glad that I picked it up! It's really well done and provides a wonderful look into other cultures & on feminism & revolution.
      - Preacher Series by Garth Ennis, Steve Dillon, & John McCrea --- a super, duper vulgar series, but I have to admit that I loved it. :P
      - Walking Dead Series by Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, Stefano Gaudiano, & Cliff Rathburn -- again, it's Walking Dead, so it's a bit graphic at times, but the story is remarkable! I got super hooked! I'm not sure how you feel about zombies though.

      I also really enjoyed the Manga versions of Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare & HyeKyung Baek, and the manga retellings of Emma, & Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen! I don't read a lot of manga, but it was really interesting to see all of these stories told in a different medium. I'd definitely recommend trying it out. :)

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