September: Currently Reading/TBR

Standard

Guys, I’m not dead, I swear.

Things have been kind of busy in my personal life (yes, I have one of those) and my job (I have one of those, too), so I haven’t been keeping up on my reading recently.

But I do have some great books sitting in my to-be-read pile right now, and I wanted to let you know that I’m coming back strong with a ton of reviews in a week or so, so here are the books you can expect reviews for on the blog soon!

Three Years with the RatThe Kite and the String: How to Write with Spontaneity and Control--and Live to Tell the TaleMark of the Plague (The Blackthorn Key, #2)Mosquitoland

I’m also headed to a pretty awesome bookish event this week, which I’ll be posting a recap for! Hang tight, and my page will be full of new content again!

Pokemon GO Book Tag

Standard

pokemon-go-book-tag

I saw the Pokemon GO Book Tag on Jesse’s blog, Books at Dawn, (although the creator of the tag is Aentee from Read at Midnight), and decided it was something I had to participate in!

You may have seen my post previously about how I didn’t want to get too sucked into this because I have a tendency to get very obsessed with things. Well, I think I’ve gotten sort of sucked into the Pokemon GO fad, although I’m keeping the balance between Pokemon GO and the rest of my life at a safe enough level for me, so that’s good.

But I thought this tag would be a fun way to mix two things I currently enjoy- books and Pokemon!

Rules:
NIL. Link back to Aentee’s blog is appreciated but optional. Feel free to use her graphics. Tag people, don’t tag people, whatever. Just have fun!

pokemon-tag-01starters

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (Harry Potter, #1)Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

Ah yes, the book that started it all. I tell everyone this story because I think it’s hilarious. I used to hate reading. When I was 9, I got these books for Christmas, and I was like, “ugh, books, really – thanks MOM”. And one day I was bored enough to pick this one up and start reading. And I legit did not put it down until it was finished. So. …Thanks mom.

pokemon-tag02pikachu

19841984 by George Orwell

Favourite book of all time. My favourite genre is definitely dystopian science fiction, and this book is the reason why. I was never into that kind of thing until I read this book, and my life changed. Do recommend to everyone!

pokemon-tag-03-zubat

The Fault in Our StarsThe Fault in Our Stars by John Green

I’m gonna say this one, because I used to love it and then the movie came out and WHAM it was everywhere and anytime I saw this shade of blue for the next few months, I wanted to run away. That being said, more recently, I’ve lost interest in even picking up a ton of YA novels because they’re just so over-hyped. It takes a lot for me to want to read a book everyone is raving about, because it brings me back to my experience with this one.

pokemon-tag-04-ditto

Love Letters to the DeadThe Perks of Being a WallflowerLove Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira reminded me of The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. Both about teens with some anxiety and depression issues that use writing letters as a way of coping with something traumatizing in their past. I loved both books, but Love Letters definitely made me think of Perks!

pokemon-tag-05-snorlax

The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle, #1)The Name of the Wind (Kingkiller Chronicles) by Patrick Rothfuss

This book is bigger than Game of Thrones, and I haven’t heard enough about it to make me want to start this mammoth. Although the few things I have heard were good, so I am kind of excited. I just don’t want to put myself through so many pages. So… many… pages.

pokemon-tag06-gengar

MiseryMisery by Stephen King

Probably one of my favourite horror books of all time. I love me some Stephen King, and this one really got into my head. Crazy fangirls, a tortured writer (no but literally, being tortured), and so many psychological twists. The end of this book still kind of haunts me.

pokemon-tag07-nidokingqueen

The Spectacular NowThe Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp

I don’t typically ship a lot of characters in books, but I one million percent ship Sutter and Aimee. Maybe it’s because I just finished reading this book, but honestly. They’re perfect together, they’re what each other needs, and they help each other be better people, oh my god.

pokemon-tag08-rapidash

Dark MatterDark Matter by Blake Crouch

This book was so incredibly fast-paced. Even the way it was written, it makes you fly through the story like you’re watching an action movie. It was so good, I couldn’t put it down, and the fact that everything moved so fast just made it that much more enjoyable. And every moment of this fast-paced book is still a quality moment for the plot.

pokemon-tag09-eevee

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Harry Potter, #8)Harry Potter

Although okay, that’s a bit of a lie. I hate spin-offs of everything. And I’m actually sick of all the Harry Potter spin-offs as well. But I read this one, so. I can’t say I’m totally against them. Because it’s Harry Potter – I mean – I will indulge in anything Potter. So. This is my cheat answer, because I legit hate spin-off stories.

pokemon-tag14-magikarp

The Serpent KingThe Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

I had no idea what I was getting into when I started reading this book, honestly. That’s why I’m picking it. I had no expectations going in, and by the time I was finished, it was one of my favourite books of all time. It was surprisingly awesome.

pokemon-tag12-legendary

A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, #1)A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin

This series is literally everywhere. But I’m two books in now, and can’t put it down. It may not be OVER-hyped, but it is definitely hyped, and I am very excited to continue!

pokemon-tag15mew-mewtwo

Ravenclaw Book Covers.pngI am a proud Ravenclaw, and we Ravenclaws love books. And what Ravenclaw can go without having a house-specific set of the Harry Potter books?! If I had a bunch of money to splurge on nothing productive at all, it would be these babies.

 

pokemon-tag10-egg

I’m actually not very knowledgeable when it comes to debut novels. Or I guess, I know what’s coming out, but I’m never actually excited about a debut. The only books I ever get truly excited about are ones where I’ve read the author’s work before and can’t wait to see what else they have coming. So I don’t even have an answer for this.

pokemon-tag11-lure-module

I have a few auto-buy authors, but the ones that jump to mind are Philip K. Dick, Neil Gaiman, Neil SmithDavid Levithan, and John Green (yes, even after The Fault in Our Stars, I will read anything that man writes). Some of my favourite books are authored by people I wouldn’t buy everything they write (J.K. Rowling, for one. If it’s not Harry Potter, I won’t read it).

pokemon-tag13-server-down

Again, I’m not one to get super excited for book releases. I have so many books to read that are “older”, I don’t really want to get too excited about things that add to my to-be-read list.

I Choose (to tag) You:

Christine | Nikki | Michele | WendyAnyone else!

The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp: Book Review

Standard

The Spectacular Now

Obtained: Borrowed
Pages: 294
Publish date: July 9, 2013
Rating: ★★★★★

This book kicked me right in the feels. It’s been a while since I’ve read a young adult book that I didn’t find totally over the top, with unrealistic characters. I’ve been putting down a lot of the YAs that I pick up recently, so when my sister pushed this book on me and said I had to read it, I was hesitant. But as you can see, the book got 5/5 stars from me, so you can already tell where I’m going with this review.

The Spectacular Now is about an eighteen-year-old boy, Sutter, who is the life of the party. He’s super fun, friends with everyone, and okay, maybe he’s not academically inclined, but he’s got more personality than anyone he knows. He adores his ultra-confident girlfriend, Cassidy, too. Then one day he meets Aimee – a total nerd who Sutter immediately sees is a push-over, and recognizes that Aimee’s push-over-ness is ruining her potential. Even though he loves drinking at 10AM, and she loves writing science fiction novels about horses abducting her and taking her to another planet, Sutter decides to take Aimee under his wing and help bring her out of her shell.

Favourite thing about the novel: the characters. There are so many typical high school moments in this book – prom, parties, girlfriends and ex-girlfriends, friends meeting friends, and everything in between – and not one of those moments results in the same typical teenage reaction you’d expect. There were a few moments I caught myself mid-eye-roll because I expected the typical teenage girl blow up, or the typical teenage boy fit of anger, at a situation, but Tharp did not write these reactions.

Every single character is real, multi-dimensional, and not just a plot point. They all have real motivations, real fears, real emotions. Which made my experience with the book that much more emotional. You want to hate a guy for stealing someone’s girlfriend, or hate a girl for breaking someone’s heart, but you can’t, because you see their side of the situation, and that creates more feels rather than uncomfortably forced conflict for the sake of story progression.

I could go on and on.

I also HEAVILY related to Aimee. As in, the minute I started reading about her, I could relate to everything she was going through and everything she did to cope, which made reading the book even more real for me.

If you’re looking for a good YA to pull you out of a reading slump, or to re-instate your love of young adult stories, I highly recommend this book. It’s incredible.

The Spectacular Now is available online at Chapters Indigo, Book Depository, and Kobo.

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch: Book Review

Standard

Dark Matter

Obtained: Penguin Random House Canada
Pages: 353
Publish date: July 26, 2016
Rating: ★★★★★

Are you a fan of action sci-fi? Because I most definitely am. And when I saw the title of this book, it drew me in, and then the summary, even more so. When I picked up Dark Matter and started to read, I wasn’t entirely sure what kind of story this would be, but once I started reading, I could not put it down.

Dark Matter sets the stage by showing you the lovely life of Jason. Married to a wonderful woman, teenage son, decent home, and their family dynamic is magically balanced. Wife, Daniela, always wanted to be a painter, and Jason himself was on his way to fame and fortune with his scientific research, but both chose this life over one of financial success. Until this night when we meet Jason – he leaves to grab a drink with a friend and is kidnapped by a man in a mask. “Are you happy?” he asks as he drugs Jason and takes him to a world far, far away from his own.

This book asks a lot of great philosophical questions: What is real? What is imagined? What is identity? What makes you, you? What is right or wrong when all of these other lines start to get blurred and you find yourself living your weirdest nightmares?

I loved this book. It was suspenseful, fast-paced, and had me questioning my existence – everything I truly appreciate when reading a good science fiction novel. It was so tense trying to follow Jason on his journey to figure out what had happened to him, and once we figured it out, it was a roller coaster ride to the finish.

If you’re the kind of person who’s so into Philip K. Dick novels (or the film adaptations), or truly loved the witty narration in The Martian, I think you’ll love this book.

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

On Obsession

Standard

Today I’m going to post something a little bit not-so-book related, but I’m going to tie it back to the art of writing, I swear.

With the recent release of Pokemon GO, I’ve spent a lot of time sitting and thinking about the way people can get so addicted to things. Because this game lends itself so much to the potential of addiction and obsession: you have to play it constantly, you collect things, it’s so conveniently on your phone, it’s got a social aspect and a community surrounding it.

A few years ago, I would have totally joined in and let myself get addicted to the game, but I’ve got this new life philosophy over the past couple of years, where I am very aware of how being so attached to something can be so debilitating to developing my personality.

I used to be addicted to musicals. That sounds so stupid, and it was. I was always at the theatre, I wanted to be the one people approached to ask what they should go see in Toronto. I wanted to be the very best, like no one ever was.

And this goes for all fandoms. I am a geek. I fangirl about many things, and there is a total appeal of being “the biggest fan” of something. Having all the merch, watching all the episodes, meeting all the cast members at conventions – doing it all to say that you have done it all and yes, this is proof that you are the biggest fan of something. Or the best at a game. Or even reading the most books.

I became aware of how damaging this lifestyle was to me and how it conflicted with how I wanted to live my life as a whole. It was a waste of money, time, and attention to put everything I had towards getting this make-believe title for one particular thing that apparently would define me. And I don’t want to be defined by one thing. I am not Doctor Who. I am not musicals. I am not books. I am not a Pokemon master. I am a full person with a number of likes and dislikes, and they all contribute to who I am and what I spend my time doing.

As someone who wanted to be a writer (see, told you I’d circle it back around), I couldn’t love one thing. Writers write about what they know and love, and how could I be a writer if I only knew about one thing? I needed to broaden my experiences, try new things, expand my horizons… experience life as a whole – not try to excel at one thing that ultimately means nothing.

This is just me. I’m sure there are lots of people out there who are totally committed to being the most well-read book blogger, or being the president of a fan club, or having the highest level of a rare Pokemon. It’s just not something I want to spend my time achieving.

I want a diverse set of experiences. Sometimes I have an addictive personality and I need to get that in check so I don’t fall down the rabbit hole, but it’s definitely worth the effort to make sure I get out and try new things, because it’s what ultimately makes me happy, keeps me grounded, and inspires me.

Event Recap: Simon & Schuster Blogger Meet-up, The Sequel

Standard

I was super excited to be invited to the Simon & Schuster Blogger Meet Up this past Saturday, for a few main reasons.

First, I love getting to talk books with fellow book bloggers and book nerds. Second, these events are sort of a safe way to get me to be social. Sometimes it’s hard for introverts to leave the house, and sometimes leaving the house is reward in itself, so these events allow me to do that. But mostly I was super excited for the authors who would be in attendance, because when I saw Kevin Sands (author of The Blackthorn Key) was going, I knew I had to be there.

There was a good number of bloggers in attendance, as we were introduced by Simon & Schuster friends, Jackie and Andie, to the authors of the day: Kevin Sands (The Blackthorn Key), Kevin Sylvester (MINRS), and Erin Bow (The Scorpion Rules). All of these wonderful young reader authors have one thing in common: they all have sequels to their popular books coming out this fall!

bookblogmeetup

(All of the authors are great, and especially getting to chat with each of them, I am definitely a fan of all three, but I am a totally biased and unabashed Kevin Sands/Blackthorn Key fangirl right now, so you’re going to have to continue to deal with that. New book this fall! I will be reading and reviewing it! So excited! Read the first book so you can join me in this excitement, won’t you??)

Following the introductions to these authors and their new sequels, the floor was open to the bloggers to ask their burning questions. Some of my favourite bits as a writer myself, were getting to learn about their individual writing styles, and all of the research that goes into just building a world – things that don’t even explicitly come up in the text, but are implied throughout the novel. And getting to hear about what makes each of these authors tick was so inspiring. Just listening to Kevin Sylvester talk about his passion for space, you could see just how exciting the topics they write about really are for them.

image1(My bookish swag of the day – quite excited to start reading All in Pieces by Suzanne Young)

After a discussion that quickly turned from books and writing onto the topics of wibbly wobbly, timey wimey-ness and favourite Firefly characters, we had a quick lunch, and then moved onto learning about some more great titles coming out this fall. Jackie and Andie had created a quiz and some fun bookish games so bloggers could win some of these upcoming titles, and before I knew it, the day was over.

I hope to be able to attend more events like this in the future – not knowing exactly what to expect, I was pretty quiet and ended up not saying much all day, but I absolutely loved getting to listen to the conversations taking place and I actually need to go back now and read MINRS and The Scorpion Rules so I can properly appreciate all three of these sequels.

Recent Reads: Mini-Reviews

Standard

I’ve been trying to read a lot of books that I already own, or ones that I have been wanting to read for a while, but I don’t want to sit here and write out a crazy long review for a book that’s been out for years and years. So here are my super mini reviews of books that I’ve recently finished!

This Is Where It Ends

This is Where It Ends – Marieke Nijkamp

Pages: 285
Rating: ★★★

The only one on this list that hasn’t been out for a number of years, but I still don’t really want to talk a whole lot about it. Really moving story about a high school shooting, written entirely in the time span of the shooting itself. The characters were actually diverse and real, which I loved, and the story was simply tragic. I was so heartbroken at the end. I recommend this YA read to anyone who is looking for something quick and easy to read, but still has depth and is worth your time.

A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, #1)A Game of Thrones – George R. R. Martin

Pages: 837
Rating: ★★★★★

I don’t think I need to talk much about this book. Everyone’s heard the hype. But let me just say. Since reading the book, I’ve watched the first episode of the show, and I’m actually way more excited to continue reading than I am to continue watching. Onto the second book right now, and I’m absolutely in love with the writing style, the characters, the way that Martin has built this entire world – it’s incredible and already one of my favourite series.

V for VendettaV for Vendetta – Alan Moore

Pages: 296
Rating: ★★★★

I think I’m one of the few people left who hasn’t actually seen the film. But this graphic novel was such a great read, I literally couldn’t put it down. Started and finished in a couple sittings in one day. Watchmen is one of my favourite reads, so I knew I’d love Moore’s other works, and V for Vendetta was no exception. I’m looking forward to watching the film now and seeing how much was changed, because this book is really politically and philosophically deep, and I don’t know how much of the dialogue can be successfully moved to the screen.

The Girls by Emma Cline: Book Review

Standard

The Girls

Obtained: Penguin Random House Canada
Pages: 368
Publish date: June 14, 2016
Rating: ★★★★

I was told that The Girls was comparative to The Virgin Suicides – a book that I admittedly haven’t read, but is on my shelf and I am very interested in, so that sparked my interest in Cline’s new novel. The summary of the plot was just so captivating that I knew I had to read this book.

The Girls is a reflective tale told in flashbacks by the protagonist, Evie, about her teenage summer in 1969 and how her infatuation with a girl named Suzanne got her tangled up in a hippie cult run by Russell – a man who all of the girls loved and whose life philosophies they worshipped. This group of young girls was all about sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll… and apparently some more violent actions that are hinted at throughout the novel as the reason why Suzanne ended up in prison and everything fell apart.

I knew I would love the story based on the summary, but I had no idea I would get so wrapped up in the book. It got to a point where I couldn’t put it down, and I needed to know what was going to happen. Even when Cline gives the reader large hints about what went down with this cult, to the point where by the end I knew what to expect, I still needed to see how it happened. And to me, that’s the mark of a good story – knowing how it will end but needing to know the how and why.

Cline’s characterization of Evie, Suzanne, Russell, and all of the supporting characters in this novel was so stunningly realistic, I felt as though I could imagine each of them as gorgeous, yet flawed individuals in my head. Which was made easier since each character actually had their own voice in the dialogue – a recent pet peeve of mine is when all of the characters sound the same, but Cline ensures that you can almost hear Evie’s mother scolding her in your ear.

The entire novel goes so psychologically in depth with each girl and how they grow up into the women they are, it’s hard not to get drawn into the romanticized version of Russell’s ranch.

Cline’s debut novel is really something incredible, and if you’re in a reading slump, or looking for something new to dig into, I really recommend you check this out.

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

I Surrendered to the Hype: Game of Thrones

Standard

I feel like this is going to be a new series on my blog – me talking about how I finally gave into the thing that everyone was talking about. Because that seems to be a pattern with me; I’ll fight the hype for so long… probably way too long, and then finally give in, and end up LOVING a book or TV series.

I did this with Firefly, Doctor Who, Breaking Bad – refusing to get involved with the fandom to any degree. And not because they were popular, but because I couldn’t justify spending the time it would take to catch up. Yet in every case, I’ve taken the time and absolutely fallen in love with the series. And this is the case with books, too. Lots of lots of books fall into this category.

But I’ll talk a little bit about the book that I’ve most recently given into, Game of Thrones.

A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, #1)

When the show started, I watched the first few episodes with a friend and wasn’t too interested. I also tried reading the first book, but gave up after the prologue. But the more it became a huge deal to pop culture, the more I realized I should probably see what the big deal was about. I very recently decided that if I’m going to do this, I’m going to do it right.

I’ll read a book or two and then watch a season or two of the show, rinse repeat. As long as I read them first. Because I’m that person.

Reading the book this time around has been a lot more successful for me. My problem before was that there were so many characters, but okay, I’m an internet-person. I know who certain characters are just from scrolling through Twitter. Now that the show is so popular, I can imagine these characters as I’m reading – and that’s been a huge help for keeping track of everyone.

And okay, I kind of expected to be forcing myself through this series. “I’m not a fantasy person”, “the writing style is pretty dense”, “I’m only doing this because I want to understand stuff when my friends talk about the show”. Excuses I’ve fallen back on before.

But holy crap I love this book. I read 50-60 pages in one sitting and can’t wait until I have time to pick it up again. Instead of being overwhelmed by how long the book is, I’m actually super happy every time I see how many pages are left, because it means I have that much more time to still be reading. And then there’s more books.

It’s basically a matter of time before I start buying all the merch and crying over the theme song.

Event Recap: Kathryn Hunter on A Midsummer Night’s Dream @ TIFF

Standard

Last night, I was fortunate enough to attend another fabulous #BooksonFilm event at TIFF. William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream introduced the All the World’s a Screen: Shakespeare on Film summer series.

I was really excited for this one, because as many of you may know, I am a huge fan of Shakespeare. I voluntarily took a handful of Shakespeare-based courses in university – one of them specifically rooted in studying adaptations of his work – so being able to watch a film adaptation of one of my favourite plays that I’d never seen before was quite interesting.

Not only that, but actress Kathryn Hunter (who plays Puck in the Julie Taymor adaptation that was screened) introduced the film and then stuck around after to discuss acting techniques and the Bard.

3189d591327bc392c9c4a3a2a94e1c1f

The film itself was incredible. It was a taping of a live performance, but it was also so much more than that. The theatrics involved were quite spectacular; it’s definitely something that I would have loved to see on stage. It was dark and eerie, but didn’t lose the play’s original comedy elements.

Following the screening, Kathryn Hunter – Julie Taymor’s Puck – spoke with Eleanor Wachtel about her performance in the film (which was utterly perfect) and what it’s like to take on roles in Shakespeare pieces.

Hunter told stories about how she creates characters by drawing them out, and really wanted her Puck to fly – a suggestion to which Taymor was hesitant, but accepting. She also spoke about how she originally wanted to play the character of Bottom because of the wonderful writing, but enjoyed playing Puck, and creating that image of the shape-shifting trickster.

dba0ffac138889ea5d6b3ce58b480ad5

I’m so glad I got to take part in this magical evening, and I’m really looking forward to hopefully seeing some of the films in the rest of TIFF’s Shakespearean summer series!

TIFF’s All the World’s a Screen: Shakespeare on Film runs from June 9th to July 3rd with some of the most iconic Shakespearean film adaptations, such as West Side Story, various versions of Hamlet, and Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet.