Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Book Haul

Well, I know it's not Saturday or Sunday but I am breaking convention here and posting my book haul. I will be doing this in two parts so this is part one. I have tried vlogging again so please let me know what you think.  Part Deux will be up later in the week. 

Happy Reading! 


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Review: Landline by Rainbow Rowell

Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publishing Date: July 8th, 2014
Genre: Adult Contemporary
Pages: 310 pgs
ISBN: 9781250049377
Source: Borrowed from fellow blogger, Kim

Summary from Goodreads:
Georgie McCool knows her marriage is in trouble. That it’s been in trouble for a long time. She still loves her husband, Neal, and Neal still loves her, deeply — but that almost seems besides the point now.

Maybe that was always besides the point.

Two days before they’re supposed to visit Neal’s family in Omaha for Christmas, Georgie tells Neal that she can’t go. She’s a TV writer, and something’s come up on her show; she has to stay in Los Angeles. She knows that Neal will be upset with her — Neal is always a little upset with Georgie — but she doesn’t expect to him to pack up the kids and go home without her.

When her husband and the kids leave for the airport, Georgie wonders if she’s finally done it. If she’s ruined everything.

That night, Georgie discovers a way to communicate with Neal in the past. It’s not time travel, not exactly, but she feels like she’s been given an opportunity to fix her marriage before it starts . . .

Is that what she’s supposed to do?

Or would Georgie and Neal be better off if their marriage never happened?

My Review: 

I think that Rainbow Rowell is one of my new favourites. I have read all her novels and I have to say I have enjoyed them all. I'll admit to Fangirl not being my fave but the rest I have greatly enjoyed. This book is no exception.
First of all, how could you not like a book with a main character named Georgie McCool? This character is the epitome of independent woman. Her life is in a bit of a shamble when we first meet her. She is skipping out on her family's Christmas trip to Omaha in order to work. She works with her best friend, who just happens to be a guy who used to be someone she crushed on. For obvious reasons, this pisses off her husband Neal and he decides to take their children to Omaha anyhow. Georgie is by herself and this gives her time to evaluate her life. While all of this is going on she comes across a magical phone that allows her to speak to her husband in Omaha. Why is this magical you ask? Well she is speaking to Neal of the past, Neal from the 90s before they got married.
This book read really easily and I finished within 24 hours. This is the perfect beach read. You'll want to be reading this while sprawled out on a towel enjoying the sunshine. It's fun while still making you question a few things.
For example, are our lives predestined by fate? How much control do we have over where our lives take us? Also, how do our actions affect our future? The smallest thing can set in motion a whole set of events.
I also think that it makes you think about life/work balance. How much ambition is too much? I have to admit to being a pretty independent woman. I have been on my own since I was 17 and sometimes it's hard to accept help from others, even my husband. In this way, I could relate to Georgie. She is very independent and she likes to work hard. This has caused some rifts in her marriage and it's up to her to fix them.
While I really enjoyed this novel, it is pretty light. I would have liked to see a little bit more character development and a little more interaction between Georgie and Neal. I'd say that's a pretty small gripe and Rowell is on my auto-buy list. Go out and get this for your cottage days/beach days.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Life gets in the way.

Derek and I in Toronto
Well, it's been a long time since my last post. If I'm being honest, this year has been quite a fail in terms of the blog. It's not that I haven't been reading because I've been reading steadily. It's mostly because my life has been a bit of a shit show. I'm just now starting to pick some pieces back together.

Coral we made for the set.
About a year ago I posted about my struggles with fertility. Well, I'm still struggling with the same thing except it's been even more challenging. I was taking some hormones to help me out but as it turns out after quite a few months on them it turns out they weren't working. This devastated me. I have always grown up thinking I was going to have children. My jobs have been child-centric and I have never thought of a life without children. All that to say, I had a bit of a crisis of identity when I found out that not having children may be a life that I would lead. I have struggled with depression since my early 20s but I have been able to manage it without medication for quite some time now. This winter I had a very difficult time with my depression and a lot went to the wayside.

This is all sounding very grim but there is still some hope for my husband and I. We are at the IVF stage of the fertility process. This is quite expensive so we are taking some time to regroup and save up for the process. The Ontario government announced in April that it may fund one round of IVF but we are waiting to see what happens. We are trying to stay positive throughout this but at times it is difficult.

Baxter.   Showing off the costumes for the Little Mermaid
 I am starting to pull through the depression and that's why I decided to write this post. I will try my best to keep up with the reviews but at the same time this is a hobby for me. I will be posting when I am able to. I hope that you will continue to read my blog and enjoy it but just know that it may not be as frequent as other blogs are.
Spraying students with water guns.

There have been many positives this year too. I had a wonderful, grade 1 class, and helped put on our school musical of The Little Mermaid. I also spent some quality time with my husband on a little weekend trip in Toronto where we enjoyed some good eats and visited the aquarium. I've been to see Lady Antebellum, Tim Hicks and Sam Hunt and had beach days. Derek and I also adopted a very cute little puppy. So we are now parents to a very cute black lab/spaniel mix named Baxter. Another big help has been my friends. The blogging community is amazing and I am so glad that I have met some great ladies. We have had some laughter, minor debates about music and books and above all supported each other. Thank you for being there Ciara, Katie, Emilie, Katherine, Kim, Jess and Kathy.  I hope everyone is enjoying a lovely summer and thanks again for following.
Egg Drop, Beach Day with Ciara, Lady Antebellum

I wish you all happy reading!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Blog Tour- Q & A with Caroline Pignat

As part of my blog tour I was lucky enough to interview Caroline Pignat about her book Unspeakable. My review was posted this morning and I quite enjoyed the novel.

Caroline is an Ottawa-based author and has written some award winning stories.

Here is my Q & A with her.

A Little Bookish (ALB): What kind of research did you do for this novel?
Caroline Pignat (CP):
I spent several months researching the Empress of Ireland. Before writing this story, I knew nothing about the ship or the people involved. I read survivor accounts from newspapers articles (why Wyatt Steele’s character is in the story) and crew interviews, I also read non-fiction sources such as The Forgotten Empress by David Zeni and Fourteen Minutes by James Croall, and had the amazing opportunity of researching at the Archives at the Museum of History where I reviewed some fascinating artifacts -- such as a journal recovered in the wreckage. That was where I got the idea for Jim’s story to be through journal entries.
Another fascinating source was the diary of Titanic survivor Violet Jessop, a woman who served as a stewardess. That was a huge part of Ellie's experiences.
ALB: What did you find the most interesting thing while writing this book?
CP: The fact that such a huge event in Canadian history was seemingly lost really intrigued me and as I learned more about the ship, the sinking, and the stories of the people aboard, the more excited I became about sharing it.
ALB: What are some of your favorite novels? 
CP: I love any novel that draws me in and makes me forget to analyze it as I read. That’s the sign of a great writer, in my opinion. I loved The Book Thief, The Fault in our Stars, The Book of Negroes. Overall, I really enjoy character driven historical fiction, particularly Philippa Gregory and Diana Gabaldon.
ALB: What is your greatest piece if advice for future writers? 
CP: Trust your voice. You have something to say that no one else can say. No one has written the story only YOU can write.... and if you don’t write it, no one will. So keep at it. Keep learning the craft. And keep writing.
ALB: What are a few of your bookish pet peeves? 
CP: Ha! Great question. Where do I begin?! :) 
I only use Moleskine notebooks for journaling. And those plain black spiral ones for brainstorming. (Reading makes me write.)
I jot in novel margins -- but can’t read a book where someone else has scribbled or highlighted. Even in university, I paid full price to have a clean copy. 
I never write in red pen -- it feels angry... and screams: wrong!
I highlight in bright yellow as I read/research because I can’t remember anything. And bright yellow makes me happy. :) 
And I am very particular about my shelves. I have one of those IKEA cube type shelves FULL of books. Each square cubby has a particular reason -- usually related to the book I’m writing, the books I’ve read and can’t part with, the books I’ve bought and need to read, and the books I use for research. When my husband *thoughtfully* reorganized my books by height -- I freaked...... Don't. Touch. The books.

Thank you so much for stopping by my blog today! Happy Reading!

Blog Tour & Book Review: Unspeakable by Caroline Pignat

Today I am part of the blog tour for Unspeakable by Caroline Pignat. I was fortunate enough to dine with Caroline in March for our Ottawa Blogger Meetup. While there, she spoke with us about her upcoming book Unspeakable. It is an historical fiction novel about a shipwreck of the Empress of Ireland. This shipwreck actually happened after the Titanic and had many more casualties. It is one of the worst Canadian Maritime disasters in history but it often gets overlooked. 

It was amazing to hear about all the research and details that went into this book. Without further ado, my book review.

Publisher: Razorbill Canada
Publishing Date:  May 6th, 2014
Genre: YA, Historical Fiction
Pages: 288 pgs
ISBN: 9780143187554
Source: Copy given to me by publisher for an honest review

Summary from Goodreads:
On her first voyage as a stewardess aboard the Empress of Ireland, Ellie is drawn to the solitary fire stoker who stands by the ship’s rail late at night, often writing in a journal.

Jim. Ellie finds it hard to think of his name now. After their wonderful time in Quebec City, that awful night happened. The screams, the bodies, the frigid waters … she tries hard to tell herself that he survived, but it’s hard to believe when so many didn’t. So when Wyatt Steele, journalist at The New York Times asks her for her story, Ellie refuses. But when he shows her Jim’s journal, she jumps at the chance to be able to read it herself, to find some trace of the man she had fallen in love with, or perhaps a clue to what happened to him. There’s only one catch: she will have to tell her story to Steele and he’ll “pay” her by giving her the journal, one page at a time.

My Review: 

The story is told in the narrative of Ellie, who is a stewardess on the boat. It goes back and forth between present day and the past (pre-boat disaster). In present day, Ellie is recounting her experience to Steele, a journalist. She is trying to find more information about the man she fell in love with. 

I have to say that I quite enjoyed this story. I was a history minor and I really like reading historical fiction. I had never heard of this shipwreck so it's always nice learning something new. I also quite enjoy reading about Canada. It's fun to read about places you have been to. Some of the story takes place in Quebec City which is where I honeymooned. It's great being able to perfectly picture where the characters are walking around and exploring. 

I also really liked Ellie. She was down on her luck and while she didn't exactly welcome her new role on the Empress, she did what she could with it. She is tenacious and she goes for what she wants. All this in a time when women were not exactly equal. She is not afraid of a little hard work if she really wants something. I also like that the story is not solely focused on tragedy. It is about rebuilding after horrible tragedy. She has an inner strength that many would not possess. 

The secondary characters are also interesting. While we don't get to see much of Aunt Geraldine, what we do know about her is great. She is a woman living on her own in a man's world. I can see how some wouldn't like her but I did. She did what she thought she had to make it. I think that Ellie gets a lot of her qualities from her aunt. 

Overall, this book was well written and fun to read. I would definitely recommend picking it up. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

ARC Review: To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publishing Date: April 15th, 2014
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Pages:  368 pgs
ISBN:  9781442426702
Source: Given to me for an honest review by publishers

Summary from Goodreads:
Lara Jean's love life goes from imaginary to out of control in this heartfelt novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Summer I Turned Pretty series.

What if all the crushes you ever had found out how you felt about them — all at once?

Lara Jean Song keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. They aren't love letters that anyone else wrote for her; these are ones she's written. One for every boy she's ever loved— five in all.

When she writes, she pours out her heart and soul and says all the things she would never say in real life, because her letters are for her eyes only. Until the day her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly, Lara Jean's love life goes from imaginary to out of control.

My Review: 

Oh Jenny Han, you've done it again. You've teased me with an awesome premise, you've lured me with a great cover and ultimately you have confirmed why you are on my autobuy list.
To All the Boys I've Loved Before is about the Song sisters. Lara Jean writes love letters to all the boys that she falls in love with. These are meant to be cathartic, a way to purge herself of her feelings that she doesn't think will be returned. They are never meant to be seen by anyone. They are just for her. 

Somehow, one day, her letters seem to be make their way to into the hands of those they are addressed to. This just causes a lot of shenanigans especially since one of them is addressed to her sister's ex boyfriend. 

I have to say that I really enjoyed the writing in this book. It is light and fun but it doesn't mean that it is simple. It was exactly what I have come to love about Han's writing. I really fell in love with the Song family too. Each of the characters is fun, and entertaining and I loved watching how each of the Song girls grows into their own.
Overall I would suggest this for a nice day out on the patio with a daquari or perhaps maybe an iced tea. I would suggest picking this one up as soon as you can. 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

ARC Review: Panic by Lauren Oliver

Publisher: Harper Collins
Publishing Date: March 4th, 2014
Genre: YA
Pages: 408 pgs
ISBN: 9780062014559
Source: Received for honest review from publisher via Edelweiss

Summary from Goodreads:
Panic began as so many things do in Carp, a dead-end town of 12,000 people in the middle of nowhere: because it was summer, and there was nothing else to do.

Heather never thought she would compete in Panic, a legendary game played by graduating seniors, where the stakes are high and the payoff is even higher. She’d never thought of herself as fearless, the kind of person who would fight to stand out. But when she finds something, and someone, to fight for, she will discover that she is braver than she ever thought.

Dodge has never been afraid of Panic. His secret will fuel him, and get him all the way through the game, he’s sure of it. But what he doesn't know is that he’s not the only one with a secret. Everyone has something to play for.

For Heather and Dodge, the game will bring new alliances, unexpected revelations, and the possibility of first love for each of them—and the knowledge that sometimes the very things we fear are those we need the most.

My Review: 

Panic is about a group of teens involved in a game to win a large sum of money. In order to win said money they must compete in several tasks that are increasingly more insane. Each round is like an elimination round that the last one standing wins.
The main character Heather had no plans to enter this dangerous game but on a whim, after her boyfriend breaks up with her, decides to enter. She then joins forces with her best friend and Dodge, a boy with his own reasons for joining the game.
As the story progresses and the stunts the graduates are encouraged to do for money quickly escalates in danger and ridiculousness, it becomes apparent that each player in the Panic game is in it for good reasons. Many are in less than ideal housing and familial situations. Others are in it for revenge. I enjoyed reading about the background stories of the characters.

While I found the story entertaining and the characters memorable, I have to admit that some of the story drove me crazy. Some of it had me thinking: Really?!? The stunts that are pulled are actually insane. Some people are seriously injured and other even end up dead. Even if I was in the worst financial situation I don't think I'd be able to last til the end. I would more than likely give up because it is just too insane.

I also wondered why the police weren't more a presence. I hate to be condescending but I'm fairly certain that most police forces are more cunning than a group of teens. I just found it some of it a bit too difficult to believe.

That being said, I did enjoy the story and gobbled it up. Oliver's writing style is one that I enjoy. The words just flow from the page, to the imagination seamlessly. Also, let's talk about cover appeal. This is gorgeous. The typeset is the same as the Delirium series and the picture is great. I love the hair and the black background. I would buy this book on the cover alone.

In summary, while I had some issues with this book, I think that it is one that is worth reading. Oliver isn't this popular for no reason.