Friday, February 20, 2015

Coffee Date

So Jamie at The Perpetual Page Turner had this post that I really liked titled If We Were Having Coffee..

She came up with the idea from Ashely at Your Super Awesome Life and I have to say that I really loved reading it.  I will be posting from time to time an if we were having coffee post just to let you all know what is going on in my life at the moment.

It's been over a year since I last did one of these and thought that it's been quite overdue. 

If we were having coffee...
I'd tell you that 2014 was full of ups and downs for me. We continued to try to conceive a baby and found out that IVF is our only option. IVF is incredibly expensive and we have been slowly saving. I am not going to lie, we are going to be shameless and fundraise. I don't know if this is considered tacky but if it gets me my dream then I'm willing to give it a go. We also had a few deaths in my husband's family. His younger cousin tragically died in August in a motorcycle accident. He was only 24 and it was quite a shock to all of us. Shortly after that, his grandfather went into the hospital and never made it home. To top this off, we found out my niece was not actually my brother's child. It is an extremely weird thing to be an aunt and then to not be an aunt. I have loved that little girl like you wouldn't believe since before she came into the world 2 years ago. There were a lot of legal things that went on and in the end my brother is now not involved with her. It was pretty unnerving but it's been since the end of September and slowly we are all healing. It's remarkable what people can go through and come out the other side. I keep thinking that while it doesn't make it easier in the moment, I know that I will be better for all of this. Don't get me wrong I'm not a very zen person and do my fair share of bitching and moaning but I am trying to learn how to enjoy the little moments a lot more. 

If we were having coffee... 
I'd tell you that my husband and I have been enjoying simple date nights again. What better way to enjoy each other's company than with a little Harry Potter movie marathon. For the last two weeks and into the next coming weeks, one weekend night is devoted to snuggling on the couch by the fire with some Kernels popcorn and watching one Harry Potter movie. I love introducing people to Hogwarts and I haven't seen the movies in ages. It's fun seeing the cast when they were so little. I mean look at Daniel Radcliffe now. It's also nice that we don't have to go out and spend a tonne of money to spend time together. 

If we were having coffee... 
I'd tell you that I have been struggling with friendships in my 30s. It's not that I don't have any friends or that I don't feel like I have enough. I would say that I have 3 main group of friends- my old high school girls, my husband's high school buddies (we went to the same high school but were in different groups) and my bookish peeps. When I was growing up I had a BFF. She was the bestest of friends and we spent so much time together. Probably too much time but at the time we didn't care. When I moved to Ottawa with only a year and half left of school left, we slowly drifted apart. This is one of the things I regret the most- losing touch with her- but it happens. Then I got a pretty close group of friends when I moved up here. As the years went on I found myself withdrawing at times because of my struggle with depression. And now that I am in the 30s everyone seems to have children which takes up a lot of time. That being said, I feel like I don't have a BFF, a good girlfriend that I can confide in. I feel like as you get older, friendships change and it's hard sometimes to come to terms with this. I find myself getting irrationally jealous of certain relationships that form around me. In turn, I feel insecure. As if there was something wrong with me for not being able to maintain something like this. Rationally I know that it doesn't mean my friends love me any less or that I'm any less valuable. It's just funny how these little nagging feelings can keep popping up. My bookish people, though many are much younger than me, are people that I truly enjoy spending time with. Having a shared passion for something can really bring people together. 

If we were having coffee... 
I'd tell you that I got a FitBit from my husband as a delayed Christmas gift. I am loving it. It's only been a week but it's definitely motivated me to get my ass outta the nice warm house and into some sub-arctic temperations. (Sidenote- WTF Mother Nature?!? What kind of sorcery is this -43 degree weather on a daily basis? My students need their outdoor recess so please figure out your shit. End rant.) I've been walking a lot more to try to get my goal of 10,000 steps each day. Last week I tipped the scales at 201 lbs. I HATE that I have let myself get to this weight and I want to do something about it. Since getting the FitBit I've lost 3 lbs so it's coming along slowly but surely. In high school was known as the skinny girl. I was 110 lbs (obviously not a healthy weight for a girl at 5'6) and so to me it's weird to be this big. I've never thought of myself as the big girl but it's getting to be that way. So,  I am making a change. If I know any of you and you have a FitBit let me know. I'd love to add you as a friend to help keep each other motivated. I need lots of prompting and support so I'm hoping this will keep me accountable. 

Well that's it's for now. I hope it wasn't too depressing. I have to admit that this time of year has always been a difficult one. It's when I seem to get my blahs the most and I need to remember to stay positive. I'd love to hear from you so don't forget to comment. 

Happy Reading! 

Monday, February 9, 2015

ARC Review: Her by Harriet Lane

Publisher: Little Brown and Company
Publishing Date: January 6th, 2015
Genre: Adult, Suspense, Contemporary
Pages: 272 pgs
ISBN: 9780316369879
Source: received for an honest review

Summary from Goodreads:
You don't remember her--but she remembers you.
On the face of it, Emma and Nina have very little in common. Isolated and exhausted by early motherhood, Emma finds her confidence is fading fast. Nina--sophisticated, generous, effortlessly in control--seems to have all the answers.
It's easy to see why Emma is drawn to Nina. But what does Nina see in her?
A seemingly innocent friendship slowly develops into a dangerous game of cat and mouse as Nina eases her way into Emma's life. Soon, it becomes clear that Nina wants something from the unwitting Emma--something that might just destroy her.

My Review:

*** This book contains spoilers because I really don't know how to write this without truly discussing what happens ***

I am going to preface this review by saying that I very rarely give 1 star reviews. I usually try to keep an open mind about the book but I am finding it very difficult to do with this book. My friend Kim got me this book at BEA last June and the premise was intriguing. It is about a woman, Nina, who develops an unhealthy fascination with a young mother of two named Emma. It turns out that Nina knows Emma from a long time ago. Emma doesn't seem to recall Nina at all. 
Nina acts all creepazoid and starts doing some slightly inappropriate things like temporarily kidnap Emma's son in order to become to hero when she returns .
It is all kinds of bizarre and unsettling. 
Nina then goes on to befriend Emma in order to further try to fuck with her. Poor unsuspecting Emma is a mother of 2 who is exhausted and a little desperate for a new sparkling friend. This allows Nina to swoop in and cause drama. 
While all this is going on it is entertaining but you are left thinking- what horrible thing has Emma done to Nina to make Nina so nutso. What struck me as odd was that if Emma did something so bad then wouldn't she remember Nina? I mean I have people I haven't seen since high school and I still recognize them when I see them. It was just a little odd. 
It was entertaining to read and the book kept you reading because you wanted to find out what the catalyst in the relationship between the two was. Imagine my surprise when we find out the reason Nina hates Emma so much is so miniscule and ludicrous that it just didn't make any sense. To top it all off the book just ends in the middle of the climax. Psycho Nina decides to try to drown Emma's child. Like are you freaking kidding me? It ends with the insinuation that Emma's little boy is in the pool. Maybe dead? Maybe not? Did Nina do it? It just ends. I literally threw this book across the room. You can't end a book like this!! The whole thing just felt so odd and nothing is resolved. I say skip this book. It is not worth the $30 hardcover price that's for sure. 

Friday, February 6, 2015

Review: Dangerous Boys by Abigail Haas

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Chidrens Books
Publishing Date: August 14th, 2014
Genre: YA Contemporary/Mystery
Pages: 336 pgs
ISBN: 9781471119163
Source: Borrowed from the library

Summary from Goodreads:
It all comes down to this. Oliver, Ethan and I. Three teens venture into an abandoned lake house one night. Hours later, only two emerge from the burning wreckage. Chloe drags one Reznick brother to safety, unconscious and bleeding. The other is left to burn, dead in the fire. But which brother survives? And is his death a tragic accident? Desperate self-defense? Or murder...? Chloe is the only one with the answers. As the fire rages, and police and parents demand the truth, she struggles to piece the story together- a story of jealousy, twisted passion and the darkness that lurks behind even the most beautiful faces. 

My Review:

Well I LOVED Dangerous Girls and thought that it was a book that too many people didn't read. I may have pushed it on a couple people and I had high hopes for this book. I was sad that it wasn't being published in Canada but that was soon squashed because I found a copy at my local library. Yay libraries! 
I read this book fairly quickly like I did Dangerous Girls but it did not live up to my expectations. This book follows two brothers vying for the same girl. At the beginning of the novel there is a fire and only one brother survives so you spend the whole story trying to figure out which brother survived and what exactly is going on. 
The buildup of this novel was nothing like the first book. This was seemed a little lackluster and definitely not as intense. It's not that I wasn't interested in what was going to happen next because I kept reading and reading quickly but I wasn't on the edge of my seat. 
I do like Haas' writing because it flows so well and the characters are interesting. For this reason, while I was reading it I was interested. 
Now that a few weeks has passed since I've read this book it's difficult to remember much. It's just not a story that sticks out in my mind. I'd say it's fun to read while reading it but doesn't leave a lasting impression. It's worth checking out especially if you read Dangerous Girls but if you had to choose one go for Dangerous Girls. 

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Review: Forever, Interrupted by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Publisher:  Washington Square Press
Publishing Date: July 9th, 2013
Genre: Adult Contemporary
Pages: 352 pgs
ISBN: 9781476712826
Source: Bought at Chapters

Summary from Goodreads:
Elsie Porter is an average twentysomething and yet what happens to her is anything but ordinary. On a rainy New Year's Day, she heads out to pick up a pizza for one. She isn't expected to see anyone else in the shop, much less the adorable and charming Ben Ross. Their chemistry is instant and electric. Ben cannot even wait twenty-four hours before asking to see her again. Within weeks, the two are head over heels in love. By May, they've eloped.
Only nine days later, Ben is out riding his bike when he is hit by a truck and killed on impact. Elsie hears the sirens outside her apartment, but by the time she gets downstairs, he has already been whisked off to the emergency room. At the hospital, she must face Susan, the mother-in-law she has never met- and who doesn't even know Elsie exists.
Interweaving Elsie and Ben's charmed romance with Elsie and Susan's healing process, Forever, Interrupted will remind you that there's more than one way to find a happy ending. 

My Review:

I read After I Do by the same author, I knew that I had to read her backlist. Reid writes books that I feel that I can relate to as a 30 something and a married woman. Many of my book people are single twenty-somethings and don't read many books like this so I have to admit that after reading Forever, Interrupted I wanted to talk about it with someone. Unfortunately no one I know personally has read this wonderful story. The story is a bit of an emotional one (yes, there were tears), about a woman named Elsie who falls in love and gets married very quickly to Ben. They eloped and so his family knows nothing about her when he dies suddenly about a week into their marriage. The book is set in two different times- the time of romance and the grieving time. It goes back and forth between the two and it was kind of nice to see the progression of their relationship even though the book opens up with Ben's death. I almost feel like Elsie's character was like 2 different characters in one because inevitably with a huge loss there is change. I couldn't even fathom losing my husband and being widowed. I think this would be especially difficult without children in the picture. I would almost question if any of it had happened; like there was nothing there to prove it. Elsie doesn't even have a marriage certificate in this book. 
This book is so raw and no holds barred. Reid is not afraid to show loss in all its glory. It is not pretty and it is selfish and exclusive of the world around you. When you are dealing with loss you are introspective at the expense of everything else. Sometimes this makes you want to shake Elsie but when you put yourself in her mind space you can completely understand it and in that way it realistic. It's also slightly terrifying if you ask me. 
I also liked seeing Elsie's relationship with her mother-in-law. As you can imagine there is some tension there considering the MIL had no knowledge of Elsie. Their interactions are great to read and you can't help but cheer them on. You want them to become family. 
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. And by enjoy I mean that it made me hysterically cry and have a headache for much of the day. I say a day because that's how long it took me to read. One day going into the wee hours of the morning. I would say that I liked After I Do more than this one but this one is almost as great. Please go pick it up! 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

WoW: Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine and it is a weekly feature where bloggers share what they are excited to read next. 

My pick this week is by an author that is on one of my auto-buy authors. I have not read everything by Kristin Hannah yet but what I have read has been fantastic. Here is a little more information on the book. 

Publisher: St. Martins Press
Publishing Date: February 4th, 2015
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Pages: 448 pgs

Summary from Goodreads:

In love we find out who we want to be.
In war we find out who we are.
FRANCE, 1939
In the quiet village of Carriveau, Vianne Mauriac says goodbye to her husband, Antoine, as he head for the Front. She doesn't believe that the Nazis will invade France... but invade they do, in droves of marching soldiers, in caravans of trucks and tanks, in planes that fill the skies and drop bombs upon the innocent. When France is overrun, Vianne is forced to take an enemy into her house, and suddenly her every move is watched; her life and her child's life is at constant risk. Without food or money or hope, as danger escalates around her, she must make one terrible choice after another.
Vianne's sister, Isabelle, is a rebellious eighteen-year-old girl, searching for purpose with all the reckless passion of youth. While thousands of Parisians march into the unknown terrors of war, she meets the compelling and mysterious Gaetan, a partisan who believes the French can fight the Nazis from within France, and she falls in love as only the young can... completely. When he betrays her, Isabelle races headlong into danger and joins the Resistance, never looking back or giving a thought to the real-- and deadly-- consequences.
With courage, grace and powerful insight, bestselling author Kristin Hannah takes her talented pen to the epic panorama of WWII and illuminates an intimate part of history seldom seen: the women's war. The Nightingale tells the stories of two sisters, separated by years and experience, by ideals, passion and circumstance, each embarking on her own dangerous path toward survival, love, and freedom in German-occupied, war-torn France-- a heartbreakingly beautiful novel that celebrates the resiliance of the human spirit and the durability of women. It is a novel for everyone, a novel for a lifetime. 

I am a sucker for WWII fiction so I think this is going to be awesome. What are you waiting on?

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Book Club Picks

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

This week we are discussing what books we would love to read for a book club. I am currently a part of 2 different books clubs and generally speaking I feel like the book blogging/booktube community is a one huge book club. One of my book clubs is an adult book club while the other focuses on YA. This week I have picked books that are not books that I have scheduled to read for my book clubs. These are ones that I'd love to read in the future and I think they'd make for really interesting conversations.

Without further ado here are my picks this week:

Red Rising by Pierce Brown- This book is about humans who are trying to colonize Mars. There is a caste system involved and it seems to have a lot of buzz on the internet. 

A Circle of Wives by Alice La Plante- A man shows up dead and during the investigation they discover he has multiple wives. I have to admit that I watch Sister Wives and this storyline appeals to me.

Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang- Everyone I know has read this and every one of them raves about this book. It tackles suicide and I feel like it is probably slightly heartbreaking. 

Say What you Will by Cammie McGovern- This book has a character with cerebral palsey and a character with OCD. You could discuss so much with these two topics alone. 

The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer- I saw the author speak at Inspire Book Fair in Toronto in November and the way she describes this book made me immediately want to read it. She is so well spoken that I can't see her books not being well written. 

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr- This book has a lot of things that could spark discussion. It is set in Paris and Germany during WWII. Need I say more. Not to mention so many people rave about this book.  

Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey- This book is about an elderly woman searching for her friend Elizabeth. It's a psychological thriller that makes you really think about memory and the role it plays in our lives. 

Love, Water, Memory by Jennie Shortridge- This is another book about memory loss but this time we are trying to piece together what happened to the main character. 

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta- If I'm being honest I don't know what this book is about but I have heard nothing but good things about it. 

The Returned by Jason Mott- This is a book that is about people who come back from the dead. Not zombies but they come back as they were before they died. I am pretty sure this was made into a TV show which I have not seen. Interesting premise.

Well these are my picks and I'm looking forward to seeing what you have all picked out. 

Happy Reading! 

Monday, January 26, 2015

Review: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Publisher: Broadway Books
Publishing Date: January 1st, 2011
Genre: Adult, Sci-Fi, Dystopian, YA Crossover appeal
Pages: 372 pgs
ISBN: 0307887448
Source: bought at Chapters

Summary from Goodreads
It's the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place.
Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets.
And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune- and remarkable power- to whoever can unlock them.
For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday's riddles are based in the pop culture he loved- that of the late twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday's icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes's oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS rig.
And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle.
Suddenly the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt- among them certain powerful players who are willing to commit very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. But to do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life- and love- in the real world he's always been so desperate to escape.
A world at stake.
A quest for the ultimate prize.
Are you ready? 

My Review:

This was my first book of the year and it set the bar high for 2015.  I absolutely adored this book. It is set in the future where everyone seems to be plugged into a virtual reality world called OASIS. Other than needing to eat, drink, sleep and go to the washroom some people spend all their time in the game world. When the creator of the world dies he leaves a large fortune to whomever can win a huge digital scavenger hunt. These hunts involve knowing quite a bit of 80s trivia and pop culture. I had heard a lot about this book online and everyone who has read it seems to love but I went into this book slightly hesitant. I am not a big video gamer and the idea of spending all your time plugged into virtual reality freaks me out. The enthusiasm for this book from its readers is what drew me in. 
First of all, let's talk about Wade. He is the main character of this book and he is essentially a poor orphan boy. He "lives" with his aunt in a modern trailer park. By live I mean that he spends as little time as humanly possible there because she is not exactly warm and fuzzy. His end goal is to win the contest and help move up in the world. This means that he spends quite a bit of time online but his problem is that this online world requires a decent amount of money. You can't help but really fall for Wade. He is a loner and has to overcome a lot of adversity. As you read, you are standing on the sidelines cheering him on. I also really enjoyed seeing how his relationships developed and grew with his online buddies. This is pretty close to home because I have made a lot of friends this way. There are people that you meet through book blogging that do not live close by and that doesn't make a difference at all. You are able to form relationships based on your shared common passion for reading. Well take that idea and translate it to Wade and his shared common passion for all things Halliday, 1980s and gaming. 
The author highlights the problem of the growing gap between the rich and the poor. This future is not one that is highly improbable. I feel like it's not unrealistic to think that in several years from now there will be people that are unable to overcome their poverty because the rich hold all the power. In this novel things are extrapolated slightly and those with the most money essentially manipulate things in order to get what they want. That being said, it was nice to see that even those with the most money and power aren't able to just waltz in and take what they want in the game. They need the skill and smarts to do so as well. That's why Wade is such a lovable character. 
Being someone who was born in the 1980s (yes- I am old!), I loved all the 80s references in this book. It was nostalgic and I found myself smiling during most of it. Overall, this book is very well crafted and it's also one that you won't be able to set down. It didn't take me long to plow through this because I wanted to know what was going on. You are able to try to figure out these puzzles right along with Wade if you're familiar with 80s pop culture. 
I have to say that I am hopeful that this is not the way our society is going. I do not want to be one of those people who live in an artificial gaming world. It would be a shame to not go outside and enjoy the little things in life. The fresh air on your face, the sound wind blowing through the leaves on trees, the personal connections. One of my favourite things to do is people watch and that would be a much more boring thing to do if everyone is jacked into the web. No more spying on what people are reading. No more smiles as you pass by a stranger. While the internet has brought me some of my dearest friends- Ottawa bloggettes I'm looking at you!- I'd still miss being unplugged. A balance is definitely needed. 
If you haven't read this book please go out and pick it up! It is currently on my favourites list. 5 out of 5.