Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Book Review- Belly Laughs: The Naked Truth About Pregnancy and Childbirth by Jenny McCarthy

The only word I can really think of to describe this book is cute.  It's not so much an educational book on pregnancy as it is a book to tell you that you're not alone.  It was refreshingly (and humorously) honest, and totally bang on in a lot of areas.  I had many "YES!" moments when she'd describe a symptom or emotion that I'd been feeling, but wasn't sure was normal.

The writing isn't spectacular, but I don't think that's the point. It's written in a conversational way that makes you feel like you're chatting with a girl friend over drinks, and you almost forget that you're reading.

It's an easy, short read that can be finished in one quick sitting, and for any one who, like me, is waiting for the "magic" of pregnancy to kick in (you know, like those women who loooooved being pregnant...???) it's reassuring to see that you're not the only one struggling a little.  Even for someone with the money and time for personal trainers and stylists and gym memberships, pregnancy wasn't always the miracle happy time that we're often led to believe that it is.  If the weight gain and exhaustion and emotions and self consciousness get the better of even a former Playmate, there may be hope for me yet.

I really recommend this to all women who are expecting or who are TTC.  BUT.... be prepared. She's crass, super blunt and she doesn't hold back. This book certainly isn't for the more conservative crowd. She tells it like it is, and I enjoyed it thoroughly.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

My Christmas wish for everyone this year.....

Have yourself a merry little Christmas

Let your heart be light

Next year all our troubles will be out of sight.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Update: Getting back in the (new) swing

So, with the exception of yesterdays poll, it's been over a month since my last post and yet again there have been many changes.  I'm at place now where I feel like I can share what was troubling me so, but I won't bother with the long and drawn out details.  Just  a general gist and an update.

At the beginning of October, I found out that I was going to be laid-off.  After a long and drawn out couple of weeks, I learned that they planned to keep me until the end of they year, but then I would be jobless.  This news on its own would normally have been difficult enough to hear, but it was shared with me exactly 7 days after I found out that I was expecting our first baby.  7 days of sheer,  over-the-moon joy (and shock) were replaced by panic and the most severe depression I've ever fallen into.  Then to add to it, I got very sick.  Exhaustion and nausea day in and day out. 

I knew that the pregnancy and its required time off with many doctors visits, impending maternity leave (etc.) made me a less than attractive candidate for new work.  To add to that, I applied for several jobs everyday for a month and only got one interview out of the whole batch.  I was so terrified that I was bringing this baby into the world at a time where I wouldn't be able to provide for him or her in the way that I had always planned.  How would I buy the supplies we need, or pay the bills, or even afford to buy maternity clothes?  All these questions weighed heavy on me to the point where I was having difficulty with normal day-to-day tasks.

But, by mid-November, after over a month of living in a state of total anxiety, the words of my parents and friends started to sink in. I realized that, regardless of what my job situation was or how much I worried, this baby was still coming in June and I needed to pull myself together.  I have an awesome family, a great husband, and we'll make this work.  It will be a struggle and I'm still terrified (and stressed), but I've been able to find the joy in my pregnancy again, and have started to function at a somewhat normal level. 

So, with work winding down (although there's talks of more temporary work with the same company after the holidays) I'm just trying to get prepared for the year or so to come.  Trying to work out a budget, trying to figure out what my options are in terms of a job... all that jazz.  It's still a work in progress, but there's a small part of me that excited for the unknown. It's the first time in my life that I haven't had everything planned out, and it's refreshing on some level.

So that's it. I'm coming back.  Slowly but surely.  And for all my followers, don't worry. I don't plan to bore you with endless details about my pregnancy and baby.  I've started a new blog for the express purpose of journaling my pregnancy.... and I don't expect followers.  Online friends, please don't feel pressured. It's just way for me to keep track on what I'm thinking and feeling.  I'm also throwing the odd belly picture in too.

Hopefully I'll be back to update on some book reviews and on what's gone on over the last few months; including a whirlwind trip to the Bahamas that I need to document before I forget the details.

Oh! And Happy Christmas Week.  It's my favorite time of the year.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas Poll

I stole these questions from my friend Tameka.  I thought it might help to kick off Christmas week.

Whats Your Favorite Holiday Movie?

The Family Stone

Whats Your Favorite Christmas Color?

I love white. The snow, white lights... so pretty.

Do You Like To Stay in Your PJs Or Dress Up For Christmas?

I'm pretty casual on Christmas, but no PJs.  We do too much running around.

If You Could Only Buy One Person a Present This Year Who Would It Be?

My husband.  But it would kill me not to get something for my Mom.

Do You Open Your Presents Christmas Eve Or Christmas Morning?

Christmas morning.  My parents used to let us open one on Christmas Eve from time to time, but my husband is dead set against it.

Have You Ever Built a Ginger Bread House?

I want to say yes, but I'm not totally sure.  Probably.

What Do You Like To Do On Your Time off at Christmas?

Listen to Christmas music. Cook yummy food. Watch Christmas specials.  Read.
Any Christmas Wishes?

To find peace with all of the changes going on in our lives. 

Favorite Christmas Smell?

Turkey cooking at my Mom's.  It smells like home and happiness.

Favorite Christmas Meal Or Treat?

My Mom's mashed potatoes. They include cream cheese, cheddar cheese and sour cream, and are basically heaven (and a heart attack) on a plate.  Give me those and some plain turnip and I'm a happy girl.

Do you celebrate a holiday other than Christmas?

Nope- just Christmas.  Actually, I guess I technically celebrate Festivus (Seinfeld reference FTW- especially since I despise that show)

What are you doing for the holidays this year?

This week is full of festivities!  Tonight is a Christmas Social for a club my husband belongs to. I'm having Christmas lunch with some ladies tomorrow. Thursday is the annual Christmas dinner with my two besties.  Christmas Eve will be dinner with FIL's family.  Christmas Day is always a quiet Christmas morning with just us (Bub, myself and the dogs).  Christmas Day we will stop by to see MIL and then head to my Mom's for dinner.

What's your favorite holiday drink?

Cranberry and Gingerale
White Hot Chocolate

Candy cane or Gingerbread men?

Candy Cane- but only the fruity flavoured ones.

What's your favorite holiday/Christmas song?

The Christmas Song- Nat King Cole
Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas - Judy Garland
It's the most wonderful time of the year - Andy Williams

What's the weirdest gift you've ever received?

My husbands grandmother gave us a joint gift one year.  It was a pink plastic purse. For both of us.

Have you ever made a snowman?

Of course, although not in a long time. It's practically a required childhood activity around here.

What is at the top of your list this Christmas? (or whichever holiday you celebrate!)

hmmm... clothes I think.  I'm down to 1 pair of jeans and 1 pair of yoga pants.  My next post will explain.

What is most important to you about the holidays?

The family time, with good food and traditions, is absolutely the best part about the holidays for me. I cherish it each and every year.

Friday, November 4, 2011


*Please understand in advance what a rambling mess this post is. It's simply word vomit in an attempt to make sense of what I'm feeling. Followers- please don't feel it necessary to waste your time reading this.  It's purely for my own benefit*

Life is hard. 

The 21 days since my last post (and even the week before that) have been filled with a lot of tears, a ton of stress, and almost overwhelming sadness, for reasons that I'm not quite ready to delve into in detail yet. I'll just say that the last month has been, without a doubt, the most trying, exhausting and plain awful month of my life.  I'm trying to count my blessings, I really am. I have my health, I have my amazing family, and they have their health (a fact that, I assure you, does not escape me.  I understand how lucky I am in that way). BUT there's something about the way that my brain is wired that make the bad overshadow the good, and in this case, I can't seem to shake the darkness.

In a family of people who suffer from depression, I've had my share of "funks".  I'm not a stranger to overwhelming feelings of sadness which, most of the time, don't seem to have a specific cause.  Each time is awful in it's own way, but each time I've been able to fight my way through it with a chin up and carry on type of attitude.  It's definitely not easy, but I get through it.  This is different.  This one is really bringing me down, and it has me in a hole so deep I can't seem to find my way out.  I struggle through each day on the verge of tears, just praying for it to end so I can go back to bed.  I wake-up through the night, totally distraught, and then have a very hard time falling asleep.  I don't want to see my family, I can hardly bring myself to talk to my friends, I'm living in a disaster zone, and I haven't had fresh air in days.  I just don't care.

I know that many people would be able to just power through the situation I'm in. I also know that many people are going through a lot of things that they would say are much worse than what I'm dealing with.  I don't doubt that at all. I understand that allowing myself to get this deep into a depression over this is a huge indicator of my weaknesses. I don't need to be told that.  I think that's the biggest part of my problem right now. I'm coming to terms with my failures and poor decisions and the fact that I'm not, nor will I be, the person that I thought I was or that I wanted to be.  Turns out, that's a pretty tough thing to do.

I'm lost right now... and I'm exhausted.  I'm not really sure what to do with myself.  I need to get it together, I just can't figure out how.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Lola and the Boy Next Door

Oh Stephanie.... how is it that you write such swoon-worthy boys?  Is the boy in your real life the inspiration behind these crush inducing characters?  If so, congrats to you.  Seriously.

On Thanksgiving Monday I was feeling a little under the weather. Summer paid a final visit to Southern Ontario and the weather was absolutely perfect but I was lacking in energy to get out and enjoy it, so I opened all the windows in the house, grabbed my dogs and settled in bed with Lola for the day.  It was just what I needed.

I really adored this book.  I'm trying to decide if I loved it more or less than Anna, and I can't honestly decide.  It's a total toss up.  I think a re-read of both is in order so I can put the debate to rest once and for all (read: have an excuse to give my husband when he sees me pick these back up). 

Stephanie writes imperfect characters perfectly.  I really think the reason I love her books so much is that they seem totally and completely possible.  Like she's simply re-telling a story from her teen years.  All the characters have flaws, some more than others, and all of them evolve through the story in a very real way.  Love isn't always easy, and it's not always obvious, and Lola really captures that.  The romance is just sweet enough, with a little heartache thrown in, and that is my favorite kind of love story.

Cricket is simply perfection.  I love his dedication and loyalty to his sister, and I especially love that he's been pining for Lola all this time.  Like seriously, I think that was my fantasy from pre-teen up.  Who doesn't want an attractive, intelligent boy making moves for them?  I certainly wouldn't have minded.  Heck, I still wouldn't mind, provided the age was adjusted a little.

I don't think there was a character in this book that I didn't love and the setting, which is somewhere I've always wanted to visit, just drew me right in. I loved Lola most because it really touched on a lot of things that I wanted as a teen, and a lot of things that were important to me.  I ate it up and it left me hungry for more.

5 stars for sure. If you haven't read this yet, go do it now.  If you haven't read Anna and the French Kiss... why are you reading my blog? KIDDING! Kinda  ;)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Sweetly by Jackson Pearce

I'll start my review by saying that I really, really loved Sisters Red, and I really adore Jackson Pearce. Her vlogs and Twitter feed never fail to entertain me and I think she's someone who would be pretty cool to hang out with IRL.* It kind of baffles me that we're the same age. I feel like, she's got three published books with two more on the way and I, well.... what have I done?

I was more than excited to meet her at DBF and happily came home with my signed copies of Sisters Red and Sweetly. I was finally able to tuck in to the latter recently, and I was more than excited given my past love of Sisters Red.

Sweetly was a modern retelling of Hansel and Gretel, a story that I honestly didn't know a ton about other than what I learned from the short version I had as a child. But I loved Jackson's spin on Little Red Riding Hood, so I was excited to dive into this story.

I have to admit that, with the exception of the beginning of the book, I didn't fully get the connection to Hansel and Gretel. It seemed to be a pretty big deviation from the original story, at least what I know of it. It was less a modern retelling, more a story inspired by a fairytale. That being said, I enjoyed it and it was a fun read with some very interesting characters, and I would recommend it to others for sure. I just didn’t love it the way I thought I would and admittedly, it’s quite possible that my expectations were way too high, and that some personal stuff going on in my life while I was reading this kept me from really enjoying it the way I could have otherwise. I just couldn’t quite give it 4 stars, but it was so, so, so close.

If there’s one thing Jackson can write, it’s an awesome bond between siblings. I loved Ansel and Gretchen’s relationship and how they relied on each other, and knew each other so intensely. Individually, Gretchen was a pretty interesting character too. Lots of scars from the past and yet still pretty badass. Her conflicting feelings about Sophia were my some of my favorite parts to read (next to the steamy little side romance that was a lot of fun too).

Not a real complaint, just an observation: I would really have loved to get a little more insight into what’s happening with Rosie, Scarlett and Silas. I know it would be sort of pointless, and wouldn’t have contributed anything meaningful to the plot, but I’m nostalgic like that.

In the end it was a good read that’s would be perfect for a little rainy afternoon escapism. I’m looking forward to Fathomless which is based on the original Little Mermaid story and is the final in the retelling series. If you like fantasy-type stories set in the “real-world”, I suggest you pick up both this and Sisters Red.

*Is that weird of me to say? I'm totally NOT a stalker. I promise.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

My fresh new kitchen

*disclaimer- all photos were taken with my phone... so they're not so great.  We'll have to deal.*

Lately, it feels like the walls of my house are closing in around me. After 3 years, it feels like none of the rooms are actually "done", with the exception of my office and the powder room on the main floor. I don't love any of the rooms and nothing is exactly as I want it. All re-decorating projects for the other rooms are started, but nothing had been completed.  I'm either waiting to find that perfect piece of furniture, or I've been putting off doing anything because, well.... I'm lazy. 

When we moved into our house 3 years ago, our kitchen cupboards were the originals (our house was 19 years old) and two drawers were missing from the bank.  We thought it would be easy to replace the drawers, but we were VERY wrong, and we didn't have the money (or desire) to replace all the cupboards.  We finally had someone come in and make custom drawers for us, that sat unpainted, for months. Finally, this past weekend I decided it was time to freshen them up. 

So began operation make my house lovable.

Bubba helped me take the doors off before he left on Saturday morning.  You can see in the below picture they they are cheap melamine, with the typical late eighties wooden handles.

As you can see, I'm not great at cupboard organization.

Luckily it was a super nice weekend weather wise, so I was able to setup my project in the backyard. With the heavenly help of my super handy Mom, I scrubbed each door with TSP, sanded it, scrubbed again, primed with super sticky primer and then painted.

(note: the above picture was taken approximately 2 minutes before Lola ran across the drying doors on that towel, towards the open sliding glass door to the house, with paint covered feet.  In reaction, I knocked over that table, including the full can of white primer.  Awesome)

It took us the better part of Saturday and Sunday, but by Monday morning they were dry and ready to be re-hung.  Bub tackled that, with the help of his Dad, while I was at work.  They also attached new hardware!

I came home to this:

I'm so happy with them.  They're not perfect, but if I had a proper before picture, you would understand how much better this looks.  It's just much cleaner.

So, what's left in the kitchen?  New table, new window coverings and a new dishwasher.  So, lots to do still, but this is definitely one big step closer to being happy with my house for the next couple of years.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons

*WARNING: While I promise not to spoil any of the major plot points, I can't talk about this book without some small spoilers*

I loved this book so much! It has been so long since I've read something that has affected me this deeply.  I experienced a huge range of emotions while making my way through this tale.   The story of Tatiana and Alexander is truly heartbreaking, wonderful, beautiful, sad and breathtaking.   I couldn't stop reading it, and yet I had to set it down because my heart couldn't take another page.  Incredible.

Their love grew organically enough to be 100% believable, and yet so intensely that you couldn't help but to be wrapped up in it.  Unlike a typical romance, this was not an overnight love... but it was overwhelming and passionate and the kind you can't live without.  I adored it.

Alexander was, simply, perfection.  From the moment we meet him standing across the street watching Tania eat her ice cream, to the very last pages of the book, I ate him up and fell a little in love with him myself.  Perfection.

I found Tatiana's character very difficult to peg.  In the opening pages of the story, I thought she was a young child.  Through her survival struggle in Leningrad, she seemed much older,  and then at the cabin by the river, she seemed like that child again.  It was really interesting how her circumstances changed her actions and reactions.  When she needed to grow up, she could, but she could still find that young girl when she needed to.

Beyond the epic love story though, there was the story of Leningrad and a story of war.  That, on its own, was heartbreaking to read about.  The detail made the story seem to so real that I found myself actually dreaming about some of the horrors faced by those trying to survive the war in Leningrad.  It had some of the same elements of one of my deepest fears- the end of the world. I know that sounds dramatic, but I'm terrified of that feeling of your whole world crashing down on you, and simply waiting to die in surroundings that were once familiar and full of life.  That's the ultimate in fear for me and they were living it in Leningrad.

In all, the writing is superb, the story is excellent, the characters are wonderful, and the love is heart wrenching. I loved this book and I can't wait to dive in to the next.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Nesties do Decatur

It's taken me a little while to be ready to write this. I was processing.  I think I'm ready now.

My weekend in Decatur was absolutely full of awesome.  Not only did I get to meet some amazing authors and sit in on some really great panels, but I also got to hang out, in person, with some of my favorite people and fellow book lovers.  I cannot tell you how amazing this was.  To be able to make reference to things like "DG",  or "Friday Confessions Post" and not have to explain myself, for a full 48 hours, was heaven.  These are my people.  I spend a good portion of my days with them, more so than with my non-nestie friends, so it was like coming home. To steal a quote from Julie (I think), it was like returning to "the mother ship". I loved every minute of chatting and laughing with them, and I can't wait to do it again.

While I know the other ladies have posted this picture on their blogs, and other nesites are probably getting sick of seeing it, I'm posting it... because, aside form the fact that I'm standing at a very weird angle and look...large, I love it.

Tameka, Jacki, Crystal (and me)
Julie, Jennie, Heather

I was, yet again, to chicken to ask for photos with any of the authors, but I did get to have a nice little chat with Libba Bray and she helped play a joke on my husband (who has a reputation with his reading and choice of television shows). Her panel with absolutely hilarious.  I would pay to have just 1/2 of her energy. Also, her "why I became a writer" story? So inspiring. 

She signed my copy of Beauty Queens "To B___, You're beautiful just the way you are.  Love Libba"  Hehe.

After Libba, we met with Lauren Myracle, who is pretty funny on her own as well.  But alas, no pictures. I did get a beautiful signed copy of Shine, which I can't wait to read.  It's also on my husband's TBR list.

Lunch on Sunday.... Crystal, myself, Tameka.

Jacki, Jennie, Julie

My highlight was the Jackson Pearce, Rachel Hawkins and Victoria Schwab panel on Sunday afternoon.  Everyone knows that I adored Sisters Red, and pretty much adore Jackson Pearce, whose blog/vlog and tweets I follow religiously.  Needless to say, I made of fool of myself fangirling over her any time we saw her over the weekend. 

Hex Hall and Demonglass are pretty books awesome too! I haven't read The Near Witch yet, but I purchased a copy to have signed and will read it soon!

Rachel writes the cutest messages in her books. 

My friends made sure to let Jackson know of my fangirl status, and then convinced her to take a picture with me outside at the end of the festival. Poor Jackson.

Lastly, we saw in on the Stephanie Perkins panel and OMG I love her.  She's seriously the most adorable thing I've ever seen.  Unfortunately, we missed out on snagging early copies of Lola and the Boy Next Door, but I had Anna and the French Kiss signed, and made a fool of myself by telling her that I'd loved it so much I hugged it when I was done. She's too sweet.  Finally, at the end of the weekend, I had the guts to ask for my own picture.

First of all, her sense of style is flawless. Secondly, she's super tiny and gorgeous, and makes me look like I'm having an allergic reaction to something.  But I love this picture anyway.

Some other awesome things:

adorable bookstores
shoe tree art

Homemade Harry Potter cookies from Jacki. 
I was all "oh, they're so cute I can't even eat them." 
But then I did.  And they were awesome. (T, I stole your pics)

Such a great weekend! I'm lucky to have had the chance to go and spend some time with these awesome ladies, and I'm excited to see them all again soon.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

"That" Moment - Remembering September 11th

10 years ago today I was a regular grade 11 student, starting a regular morning, at my regular high school.  I'd made my home from home, probably kissed my boyfriend, laughed with friends at my locker, and worried about our plans for the weekend.  Shortly before 9 am, I was sitting in my first period class when the wall phone rang.  I remember Mrs. Waddell laughed at something one of us said as she walked to the phone and answered it.  After a few short seconds, her face fell, she grew pale, and she opened the door, wrapping the cord around the wall, walking into the hallway.  Moments after that, she returned to the class and said "a plane has hit the World Trade Center in New York City."  For many of us, this had little meaning.  For our teacher, her terror came from the fact that her husband was a commercial airline pilot and was flying to the US that day.  We, as students, didn't know what the WTC was, and we assumed that it was an awful accident until, a short-time later, the wall phone rang again and we were informed about the second plane and the second tower. 

We were quickly moved to our second period classroom where my English teacher, Mr. Welch, had set-up the television and had it tuned to CNN.  We, along with 2 other classes, jammed into our tiny portable, sat in silence, and watched the remainder of the mornings events unfold on live television.  I cannot explain to you the horror and confusion I felt when I watched those towers fall. I knew in that moment, that I was literally watching thousands of people die, and I had no idea why.

During the late lunch period the hallways were eerily quiet, and the line at the pay phones was huge.  I stood in that line and called my Mom at work.  I had to talk to someone because, in the halls of my high school, the whispered rumours and speculation were terrifying.  Would they attack the CN Tower? Of course they would! No, they have no cause to! They already have, it's burning now!  I'll never forget the relief I heard from my Mother when said "I am so happy to hear your voice".  The only thing I could say to her between my tears was, "what's going on"?  She had no answer.

The morning of September 11th is "that"" moment for me.  Prior to 9/11, my Mother's moment was the assassination of JFK.  She told me she could remember exactly where she was when she heard the news, and remembers in detail the reaction of her parents and grandparents.  She was 3.  For me, at 16 years old, the events of September 11th are both ingrained in my brain with crystal clarity, and pass in a blur of images and sound bites.  But I will always remember exactly where I was, who was with me and what I was doing when I first heard the news.

For days after we were glued to the television, trying to get answers to our whys.  In the weeks following the attacks, I did a lot of growing up, I did a lot of learning, and I did a lot of crying. I still have a hard time watching news reports of the attacks, and images from that day.  The shot, from the ground, of that first plane hitting the tower, reduces me to tears, without fail, every time I see it.

But what I remember today, 10 years after the attacks, is those who lost their lives and those who still suffer because of the attacks.  Whether they lost a loved one in one of the buildings or on one of the planes, whether the ran terrified away from the falling towers, or ran terrified IN to the burning ruins, or even into the cockpit of a plane piloted by terrorists with nothing but boiling water and butter knives.... so many people were directly affected that day, and today I will think about them and their bravery and sacrifice.  Mostly, I commend the American people as a whole for coming together to repair and heal.  Their strength as a country is proof that, although almost 3000 people died that day, the terrorists did not win.  The country was not broken.

I will never be able to wipe the images of that day from my mind.  I don't want to.  I will never forget.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Search by Nora Roberts

This was the "fluff" that I chose to read at the same time as Columbine, knowing I would need brain breaks. I got exactly what I was looking for out of this book... an escape.

The story was entertaining, with a good mystery and just enough suspense to keep the pages turning.  I actually found the dog-training information really interesting, and very enjoyable to read about.

I really liked Simon.  Contrary to typical male romance leads, he was extremely flawed, even to the very end of the story.  He was rude, blunt, and short-tempered... and then plants "the damn trees".  He was just pretty fantastic.  I know for a fact that I would have been drawn to him if he were real.  I find that Roberts tries to write different characters in each book, instead of the same person over and over, and I think that's why she is my go to for those quick, in-between reads.  They don't necessary fit the same predictable romance novel template.

While I've been struggling to find a female lead that I really connect with lately, I found one in Fee.  Her independence, her strength, her loves of dogs and simple things.... yep, that's totally me (or at least, who I would like to be).  She new how to handle Simon too, and that made me like her even more.

I couldn't get enough of the banter between the two leads.  I especially loved their "compromises" in the last half of the story.  And of course, there was one especially delicious scene (read: in the shower at Simon's) that was full of Nora's patented "spice".  Loved it.

Spoiler below

The end was a little unbelievable for me.  I had a hard time really buying that the FBI would have allowed Fiona to go out on her own with the dogs to track Eckle, and not have at least assigned her an agent or two.  That rubbed the wrong way, but it made for some suspenseful reading, that's for sure.  My only other complaint was that the book was too long.  The story could have been told in 100 pages less and probably improved my rating.

Aside from those things, The Search was an enjoyable read that fans of Nora Roberts will adore.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Columbine by Dave Cullen

I'm not really sure how to start this review. One, because I'm not quite finished processing the information yet, and two, because it feels somehow strange to say that I "loved" this book. The subject matter shouldn't really be loved, and I don't think that's the right word for it. So here's the best I can come up with... this book is excellent.

I was in the eighth grade when the shootings happened at Columbine, and I remember it like it was yesterday. I remember watching the terrifying news footage (especially of the boy, whom I now know was Patrick Ireland, being pulled from the library window), I remember watching a hysterical Rosie O'Donnell on her show the following day, and I remember most the crazy theories and rumors the media was feeding the public in the weeks following. It's because I remember those things most that this book really shook me. It was an intense and sad read, but it was, most importantly, incredibly eye-opening.

So many myths and so much misinformation circle around the events of that day, the killers, the motives, the investigation and even some of the survivors. It was really astounding to take all this new information in. It's difficult for me not to sit here and write in detail about each and every misconception... but that's not the point of this review. Cullen does a great job of opening your eyes, without shoving his agenda or bias down your throat. I truly felt I was reading an honest, well-researched and well written account, and I'm so glad I finally picked it up.

Fair warning.- it's not an easy read. I had to alternate between Columbine and a much lighter "fluff" read, and I even left it behind when I went on vacation for the simple fact that I couldn't handle it all at once. The story of Eric and Dylan's evolution, and the level of anger, hatred and planning really got to me. It was terrifying and so incredibly sad.

I think this book needs more attention. I think that everyone involved deserves to have the true story told, and I think that one way we can prevent tragedies like this in the future, is so help people understand. As much as it can be understood.

I highly recommend this book... and I hope that Cullen has no cause to write a similar book in the future.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Chain Reaction by Simone Elkeles

Brain candy.... that's exactly how I would describe these books. Oh, and hot.  These books are definitely hot. Elkeles sure knows how to write a sexy lead and an exciting story that sucks you in for an evening of guilty pleasure. I greedily lapped it up in a sitting last night.

This story follows the youngest Fuentes brother as the family returns to Illinois. I had a little trouble buying the idea that Mrs. Fuentes would return to this city while her youngest was still so susceptible to the gang violence that plagued her husband and two eldest sons, but it was what it was and I moved past it.

I really liked Nikki and I loved her attitude, especially when Luis re-enters the picture for the first time.  The beginning of their relationship seemed a little rushed, but the passion of the whole thing made that easy to overlook as well. 

I loved reading about these two and how Luis fit in with his family that we've already read about.  I really enjoyed the sneak peak we got into Alex and Britney, and  Carlos and Kiara's lives.  It made me happy that while the older boys have "settled down", they still have that bad boy (super sexy) instinct and attitude that makes them so yummy to read about.

My favorite part of these books is the inevitable "we can't be together" fight that is always part of forbidden love stories.  Elkeles writes these so well.  I literally ache with the characters and feel the pain in the dialogue. 

So yeah, the writing and plot are a little cheesy and the end is a little rushed, but it didn't stop me from enjoying every page of this book.  A steamy romance, an exciting conflict and a little action = an awesome escapist read for a warm summer night. 

Monday, August 15, 2011

Forever (The Wolves of Mercy Falls, Book 3) by Maggie Stiefvater

So I finally sat down to finish this book over the weekend and boy did I love it.  I think it may have been my favorite of the three (although as me again when I re-read # 2 and that answer may change). 

The pace of this story was really interesting.  It was slow, although very engaging for most of the book, but then in the last 60 or so pages... BAM! Heart stopping action.  When I settled in the backyard yesterday to finish up, I tweeted the following:

"Just settling in to read the last pages of Forever.  I have a feeling it will be intense."

15 minutes later...

"Oh my gosh this book is so not good for my blood pressure."

A few minutes later....

"@mstiefvater -  you. are. amazing.

I guessed it was going to be intense and I was right.

I think Cole really stole the show with this installment.  You really get to know him as a character is his own right and learn that his strengths fill in the gaps that Sam's weaknesses leave, and vice versa.  And, he's a perfect compliment to Isabel who was another spotlight stealer.  I loved the chapters from their POVs.

The relationship between Sam and Grace changed a little for me this book.  They were both somehow more cautious with each other.  I think they really felt the fragility of their relationship and time together, and it showed in the way they interacted with each other.  It was no less intense, just different. I loved it.

Maggie's writing is truly knock-your-socks-off good.  There were so many lines in the book that I found myself saying "THAT'S how you describe that feeling out loud" having never been able to put it into words before reading Maggie's.  Her writing is just so beautiful and poetic.  In my opinion, she's one of the best writers inYA right now.

This is a 5 star read for sure.  A great ending to a really enjoyable and unique series.

While I'm sad that there will be no new stories of Mercy Falls to look forward to, I'm very excited to read some new material from Maggie, and really look forward to the release of Scorpio Races in the fall.  In the meantime, if you haven't read Shiver, Linger and Forever, go do it now! 

Friday, August 5, 2011

Tris and Izzie by Mette Ivie Harrison

First of all I have to say that the cover of this book is absolutely gorgeous. It's the type of book that I would buy just to display on my shelf. Unfortunately, that's about the only positive thing I have to say
 about it.

I tried... I really, really did... but this book was just not for me. Obviously, because I didn't finish it, I can't give a full and proper review, but I can, however, explain my reasons for not finishing it.

I read a lot of YA. In truth, the majority of what I read is probably YA, and I have a great appreciation for the talent of a lot of current YA authors. Their ability to write for those who are truly YA, while appealing to those of us who are not, speaks to their ability as writers. Unfortunately, Tris and Izzie did not have that same appeal. The writing was very choppy, with little flow, and the story felt like it was being made up as it went along. The characters and story-line were flat and a few of the plot points seemed to come out of nowhere. The writing seemed very amateur.... like the author was trying way too hard. It was as if I was a reading a 9th grade creative writing project, and in all honesty I didn't enjoy it at all.

Perhaps this was truly written with only a child reader in mind, and if that were the case I wouldn't discourage one of my nieces from picking it up, but I would not recommend this to a friend as a book with YA crossover appeal.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Going Dark

After sitting through my last statistics II lecture last night and coming up to my 2 final accounting lectures, it's heads down until the semester and exams are over in 2.5 weeks.  From here until Aug 5th, I'll be locked in my home office studying, with little time for much else (aside from, you know, my job). 

See you on the flip side. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

My first Lowry experience was when we read The Giver in sixth grade, and I adored it (it remains one of my all-time favorites and started my obsession with all things dystopian/utopian). Later that year, we had to choose an author we'd already read and do a report on another of their books. My aunt had just given me Number the Stars for Christmas when she'd heard how I'd loved The Giver, and so the choice was easy. I loved it then, and I loved just as much this time around.

This story takes a child's perspective on the war and the treatment of Jews. At the same time, there's no "talking down" to the intended audience. It's just a "real" portrayal of the events from a young girls point of view. Lowry nails her level of understanding and misunderstanding, never making her younger than she is or failing to give her credit for her level of maturity.

While much of the events of this book are tame in comparison to what came in later years of the war, I think it's an important story to tell. It's a story of how people risked their lives, even in the face of death, to do what they felt was right. Small or large, every action was a risky one and took courage. I think that's what Lowry conveys in this book. That no matter how insignificant you think your actions are, you can always work to change the things you think need changing.

The diversity of Lowry's work and her ability to write (well) about such a broad range of themese is really interesting to me, and I'd recommend her books to anyone.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Like losing an old friend (Harry Potter DH- Part 2)

*no spoilers*

Back in 1999 my Mum, ever eager to feed my reading habit, presented me with a book called Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.  At the time, I was really in to romance novels (unbeknownst to my Mother), and so the colorful, childish cover of this newest book didn't appeal much. But, while spending Christmas at my Dad's in Northern Ontario, I cracked open the book one night and began to read.  

From that moment on, Harry Potter, his friends and the fantastical world that JKR created have been a very special part of my life.  For 12 of the 26 years of my life I've been anxiously awaiting the newest book or the next movie, and to this day, even though it's been 4 years since the last book was released, I spend a lot of time discussing all sides of the story with friends. I feel like I know these characters, liked I've lived in their world, and like I've grown up with them.  My attachment to this story goes beyond "my favorite books".  I can't explain it, but these characters, their world and its author are important to me.

So, when I woke up on Thursday morning, I felt more than a twinge of sadness knowing that, that night was the last ever time I would get to experience something Harry Potter for the first time. Does that make sense? Yes, I will always have the books to re-read and the movies to re-watch, and I love them all, but there's something special about the anticipation and experience of the first time.  Watching interviews with the cast and crew talking about their final shoots for the movie and seeing footage of their goodbyes on set just broke me down.  I was weepy all day. Literally.

With 2 packages of Kleenex in hand, my husband and I attended the midnight premiere one last time. Now that I've had some time to process, all I will say is this.  Perfection.  I could start dissecting every scene and comparing each to the book like many people seem to be doing, but I don't see the point personally.  The movies can never be what the books are, so I treat them as separate aspects of the Harry Potter experience and appreciate them for what they are on their own.  DH2 conveyed the conflict, emotion and intensity of the end of Harry's story perfectly, and I can't complain about a single part.  It gutted me emotionally and I cried for nearly two hours, but I loved every single second of it. 

So that's it. It's over. I have to admit that it feels like I've lost an old friend.  But I will continue to re-read this story until I'm old, grey and withered and have to have my grand-children read it to me.  It has taught me so many lessons and given me hours of escape to a world so rich with detail and emotion that I can't believe it came from one woman's mind. And so lastly, to her I say....

Thanks, Jo.  For all of it.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Lauren Oliver is one of those writers I would like to throw in the faces of all the YA nay-sayers. Some of the passages from Delirium literally gave me goose bumps and proved, beyond any doubt, that there are some brilliant people writing in this genre.

What's that you say? You need an example? Can do!

"I run for I don't know how long. Hours, maybe, or days. Alex told me to run. So I run. You have to understand. I am no one special. I am just a single girl. I am five feet two inches tall and I am in-between in every way. But I have a secret. You can build walls all the way to the sky and I will find a way to fly above them. You can try to pin me down with a hundred thousand arms, but I will find a way to resist. And there are many of us out there, more than you think. People who refuse to stop believing. People who refuse to come to earth. People who love in a world without walls, people who love into hate, into refusal, against hope, and without fear. I love you. Remember. They cannot take it."

And just one more...

"Somewhere deeper in the city a motor is running, a distant, earthy growl, like an animal panting. In a few hours the bright blush of morning will push through all that darkness, and shapes will reassert themselves, and people will wake up and yawn and brew coffee and get ready for work, everything the same as usual. Life will go on. Something aches at the very core of me, something ancient and deep and stronger than words: the filament that joins each of us to the root of existence, that ancient thing unfurling and resisting and grappling, desperately for a foothold, a way to stay here, breathe, keep going."

I mean, come ON people! That writing is perfection.

Delirium is just an awesome book! I enjoyed every single word, from page 1 to the end.

I tried to go in with a very open mind and few expectations (ignoring the comparisons to The Hunger Games that seem to run rampant) and I'm so glad I did. I was able live the story through fresh eyes, with no bias, and authentically experience Lena's journey and growth. And oh, but I how I adored that journey. To be truthful, I didn't like Lena in the beginning. I thought she was spineless and brainwashed. But as the story progressed I realized just how "real" the brainwashing was to her, how it was her norm, and I respected her for her growth. What I found interesting was that she never really stops believing that Love is a disease... she just sort of accepts that she has it and that it's worth having.

Alex was an interesting character to read. While I didn't fall for him myself, I loved the relationship and I loved that they fell for each other. I appreciated him for his flaws and for his honesty, but with himself and with Lena. The relationship felt real and in no way perfect.

The story itself is such an intriguing one. So many elements that will make for great reading in the coming novels. I think Oliver left us in place that will make for an incredibly exciting, and very different, book 2... and I can't wait!

Delirium was a really great book, and definitely one of the best of 2011. I can’t wait for Pandemonium.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Canada Day with The Tragically Hip!

The best way to spend Canada Day is with great friends, beer and The Tragically Hip.... and that's exactly what we did this year.

6 of us jumped in a borrowed van and headed to Toronto for the concert which also includes Buck 65, Hey Rosetta,  Broken Social Scene and Weezer.  We tail-gated in the parking lot for a while, drinking beer, playing Frisbee and chatting, and then headed in to the actual concert.

Lots to do and see, prizes to be won, games to be played., and Weezer put on a great show, but the highlight was definitely The Hip.  They are just unreal live.  This was my fourth or fifth time seeing them live and I swear they just get better.  Definitely my favorite band of.all.time.

Here's some pics from the day.

We sucked at Frisbee, but it was still fun.

Bubba (sporting 1 of 6 new pairs of sunglasses we came home with) and Blake.

We staked out a spot in the grass with our towels.... it was comfy enough that I had a nap between bands.



Love the random creeper looking over Bub's shoulder

The Hip!

If you don't know who The Tragically Hip are.... I feel sorry for you.  ;)  Check them out.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The List

So here it is... I'm already coming in to the home stretch of my summer semester.  Crazy, no?  It seriously feels like I just started, and yet it's quickly coming to an end... not that I'm complaining. In preparation for the end of semester I'm posting a list of things left to do over the next 4 weeks, aside from regular classes, purely for my own benefit.  It helps to get it down "on paper". 

Assignments and Tests
  • Stats II quiz # 1 - chapters 8 and 9 (linear programming and sensitivity analysis)- June 28
  • Practice questions for chapter 10 for tutor
  • Stats II quiz # 2 - chapter 10 (transportation-) - July 5
  • Practice questions for chapter 11 for tutor
  • Stats II quiz # 3 - chapter 11(integer linear programming) - July 12
  • Finish practice questions for chapter 12 for tutor
  • Practice questions for chapter 9 for tutor
  • Accounting Assignment - July 17
  • Accounting Mid-Term # 2 - July 17
  • Accounting Lab 7 - due July 29
  • Accounting Lab 8 - due July 29
  • Accounting Lab 9 - due July 29
  • Accounting Lab 10- due July 29
  • Accounting Lab 11 - due July 29
August Exams:
  • Stats II Final- Aug 2nd
  • Accounting Final- Aug 5th
And when all of that is behind me, I'll have four glorious school-free weeks (1 of which I've booked off of work as well) until fall semester begins and I'm back to three classes.  Better get to work.

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Ideal Man by Julie Garwood

I was lucky enough to receive an advance galley of Julie Garwood's next book and anxiously dove right in.
This story had all the typical Julie Garwood romantic suspense elements... perfect man of the law and strong sassy and successful woman. As much as I know that her books repeat that pattern, I still love them for the quick escapist reads.

The good:

Max was certainly a "entertaining" *wink, wink* character to read about. I was hooked on him from the first conversation he had with Ellie at the hospital.

The romance was a good one. The connection between Max and Ellie was intense and immediate, and I bought it right away. Julie Garwood sure knows how to make me blush!

The not-so-good:

The end. Everything thing felt rushed; two story lines tied up within pages of each other, one of which that had been ongoing for 11 years? I just didn't buy it. Everything (the romantic elements and the suspense) was just too.... easy.  The book was just suddenly over.

I didn't buy the family either. It was as if she was really close to them, but yet knew nothing about them. I came away confused about Ellie's relationship with her parents. It didn't seem genuine at all. I suppose this comes from her separation from them, but it was just awkward.

Those things aside, it was still a fun, guilty pleasure read and I really enjoyed it. It had a cute romance and some good suspense and it was certainly entertaining. I would recommend it to Julie Garwood fans, or fans of romantic suspense in general.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Face the Fire (Three Sisters Island Trilogy # 3) by Nora Roberts

Face the Fire was a great conclusion to what has been a highly entertaining series. The story, the setting, the characters... I loved every piece of these books.

Mia is a really intriguing character. I love how Roberts was able to portray her as an infallibly strong and confident character in the first two books, and then realistically show the reader her weaknesses when it came time to tell her story. It made her seem more real, and yet never weak. Plus, the fact that she, a) owns a bookstore, b) lives on a quaint little island, c) has a house and gardens over looking the sea, and d) has an incredible shoe selection means that I basically want to be her. It's like my dream life.

Sam was just delicious. His desire for Mia and the way that he knew her, even after all that time, was just about the sexiest thing I've ever read about. Their connection was palpable.

One of my favorite parts about this series, was how Roberts wrote the relationship between the characters that were not involved romantically. I loved the scenes between Mia and Mac, or Nell and Sam. It was a great way to drive the group bond home.

Face the Fire definitely had a much stronger paranormal feel than the first two books. Where they dealt with evil in human form, this took more imagination. It was certainly creepy and may have caused one small nightmare during my read through.

I wish that there was a way for me to peek into the future of these characters just to see how it all turns our for them. I really enjoyed this series and look forward to another NR book soon.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Demonglass by Rachel Hawkins

While I didn't like Demonglass quite as much as I liked Hex Hall, it was still a really enjoyable read packed with that snarky Rachel Hawkins wit that I love so much. It's definitely got a few laugh out loud one-liners, and I appreciate that in a book.

I still loved the characters. Jenna is probably my favorite. I love her on her own, and I love the relationship between her and Sophie.

My complaint and lower rating are due to the "cliffhanger" ending. I'm a true believer that there is a difference between a cliffhanger and just picking a particularly suspenseful part of a book and stopping. In this case, I felt like the end was contrived to create a cliffhanger that wasn't really necessary or natural. The plot had really just begun to pick up and it was over. It just didn't feel right to me for some reason.


This installment takes us out of Hex Hall and deeper into the world of the Council. It was interesting to get to know Sophie's Dad whom I was determined not to like, but who eventually won me over. His revelation about still being in love with Sophie's Mom really got it me.

I have to say that I still love Archer. His appearance in the alley and at the party were my favorite parts of the book. But I do have to admit that I really love Cal too. He obviously harbours a lot of feelings for Sophie and I want to see him get what he wants... but I'm torn. It will be interesting to see where it goes.

I'm anxious to see how the story develops around Sophie's Mom and if/how they can work together. I have a feeling that what Sophie is about to learn with tick her off, but will make for an interesting third book.

In the end, another enjoyable read from Rachel Hawkins. I'm very anxious for the next book.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


Sometimes, I need a little nudge in the right direction.  Last night while sitting in my Stats II class, I was getting more and more overwhelmed at the amount of information that seemed to be going right over my head.  I kept thinking that I'd never be able to catch on, and was beginning to panic about my mid-term next weekend.  I kept thinking, well there goes my rock solid GPA.  But then, at the end of class, my professor handed out our first assignments and I was shocked to see that I'd pulled off a 93%! I practically skipped out of the classroom.  They assignment wasn't worth much (6% of our mark I think), but it was enough to let me know that if I work really hard, I can get through this.

Then, this morning, my accounting professor posted the grades for our mid-term from this past weekend and I got....100 freaking percent! WHOA?!?!?!?!?! It was the last kick in the butt to let me know that I need to hit the books hard over the next 10ish days and get my arse ready for that mid-term next weekend to keep my marks where they are.  I can do it, I just have to find the discipline somewhere.  We shall see.

Monday, June 6, 2011

It's The Little Things

The further I get into my studies, the more I realize how much the little things in life really matter.  As badly as I wanted to return to school, and as badly as I want to finish and do well, returning to school full-time and keeping my full-time job means that I have very little time (or money) for anything else.  While I've made a promise to attempt to complain about it less, it doesn't stop me from noticing.

For the first two three years of our marriage, Bub and I had it made.  Both working Monday to Friday with few obligations, we were able to spend a lot of time together, take a lot of weekends away, talk long walks and eat dinner together every evening, go to the gym together every morning and spend a lot of time with friends and family.  As we approach our fifth anniversary, things couldn't be more different.  Bub is now on shift work with a constantly changing schedule, keeping him at work late into the night and on weekends. As for me, I'm constantly running between the office, class, the library for tutoring, and home to get caught up on assignments, studying or reading.  I usually have some appointment or another and there's a never ending list of errands to run.  Meals have become rushed, the house is neglected, the dogs don't get walked (they get loved, just not walked) and neither of us has set foot in the gym in well over a year.  And suddenly I'm dealing with very ticked off family and friends who don't like the fact that they rarely see us anymore (awesome... like it isn't hard enough to balance my time without being made to feel guilty about it).

Now I get that this probably sounds like it's one big complaint.... but I promise that's not my intention.  It's a simple statement of fact about the state of our lives at the moment.  I only bring it up because the the change in our schedules and in our lifestyle has really made me appreciate the little things in life that tend to bring me peace that are often taken for granted. 

I miss sitting out in the backyard, sharing a few beers and talking about everything or nothing until the it was too dark to see each other.  Now, we finish a quick meal and I head upstairs to my home office to work on some school related thing or another while Bub cleans-up.  I miss hopping in the car on Friday nights and heading to the cottage (we haven't been once yet this year, and likely won't get there until July).  Now, Bub heads off to work on Saturday mornings and I close myself in my office for the day.  I miss the impromptu solo drives I used to take in the country, windows rolled down, music turned up, where the drive home from my nephews baseball games, which should take about 15 minutes, took 2 hours for all the detours.  Now it seems when I leave one place, it's always a race to get to the next.  I miss having time to get my waxing done.  It seems now I have to plan it and book it weeks in advance to make sure I can fit it into my schedule.  I miss having a clean house and laundry.  This is probably the thing that bothers me the most.

I like to be busy, I really do, and honestly, I'm truly very thankful that I was able to return to school when so many people wouldn't be able to. To be idle for any long period of time makes me crazy....but I won't say that I don't often think about how nice it was to have the evenings and weekends to myself to do things that made me happy, just because.  I miss the simple things. I miss tea and toast on my back deck early on a Saturday morning before anyone else is awake.  I miss waking up every now and then with absolutely nothing on the agenda, knowing that they day is my own to do whatever I want.  Not having to check the clock every 5.  Like my buddy Charlie Sheen I now operate on one speed, and one speed only...GO!

I know I chose to enter this race, and I'm happy to be doing it... but I can't wait to hit the finish line so I might have just a little more time for the simple things again.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Divergent by Veronica Roth

What a great book! Divergent is one of those great first novels that really keeps you guessing and on the edge of your seat right to the end... and desperate for the next in the series.

My love of dystopian books is no secret, and this one didn't disappoint at all. I found the story to be unique, engaging, definitely exciting, and I can't wait to continue with the series (why oh WHY did I read this so early... now I have to wait a year for the next one). I thought the story was really able to set itself apart from other dystopian tales making its characters and setting stand out. I found the world Roth created to be totally unique and yet almost believable with references to real world landmarks from Chicago. I loved how she mixed those into to remind the reader of where they were.

I have to say that I would totally be Dauntless if I lived in this dystopian Chicago. Jumping off of buildings, epic games of nighttime capture the flag? YES PLEASE! I'd love to be thrown into the fear simulations as well. I think it would be interesting to know what my greatest fears are and then to learn how to face them.

The characters in this book we absolutely fantastic. Tris was pretty kick-ass, but I love that she had a vulnerable side to go along with her toughness. I loved the hate characters like Eric and Peter and was really conflicted about Al. And Four.... mmmm, yes please again!. He is such an awesome character with a lot of depth and texture. Loved him.

I really appreciate authors who aren't afraid to "go there" with their characters and with their story lines. Those who don't necessarily tie everything up in a bow by the end...and Veronica Roth definitely one of those authors. She took some risks and threw some curve balls and they totally worked. The book wouldn't have been the same without them.

What I found most interesting as I read through this was that the plot didn't really "go" anywhere for the first 375 pages of the book, and yet I couldn't tear myself away from it. I was so engaged with the story and the characters that the "where is this going" question didn't really come-up. But then BAM.... the excitement tripled and I read the last pages in one super fast gulp. I love that I have very little idea of what will happen in the next installments and that the reader is left to speculate.

In-all, one of my favorite reads of 2011 so far.

Friday, May 27, 2011

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

I decided to finally read The Forest of Hands and Teeth when I found a PB copy at my favorite used book store. I had heard very mixed reviews about it so I was apprehensive, but I wanted to read something different, something out of my comfort zone, and boy did I get that with this book.
The premise of this book really freaked me out. Not that I'm a stranger to post-apocalyptic tales (although this was my first zombie apocalypse story), but The Forest of Hands and Teeth is written in a way that really got to me. Not in a bump in the night kind of way, not in a "oh my god the zombies are going to eat my brains" kind of way, but in a "what would you do if the world as you knew it ended and you were one of what could be the last 6 people on earth". Does that make sense? I think it was the fact that they really didn't know what was out there that freaked me out. It's the same reason that the idea of space (as in outer-space) scares me to this day... the major unknown factor is super creepy and it's makes me very uncomfortable. Ryan skillfully crafted a story about desperate isolation in a giant and strange world. Creepy.

There's definitely a lot of excitement in this book. Although it starts out slow, the adventure begins rather suddenly and is spread through the rest of the story. It's not exactly "scary" but man, the unconsecrated are gross. There's no cheese factor to these zombies.... they are just plain nasty, and the world Ryan creates where life is constantly surrounded by death is just a little terrifying.

Along with the adventure and suspense comes a lot of really intense writing about personal emotion, life, love, sacrifice and really, the reason for existence. It's a very interesting combination of themes and somewhat surprising in a YA novel.

When I finished last night my husband asked me if I had enjoyed the book. My response, after thinking for a few moments was, "yes! definitely. But I never want to read it again and I won't read the next books". It's one of those stories that I'm glad I read, but it just made me too uncomfortable to want to revisit.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Dystopian Tour 2011- Veronica Roth and Lauren Oliver Signing

Last night I got the extremely rare opportunity to attend a book signing at my local Chapters with YA authors Lauren Oliver (author of Before I Fall and Delirium) and Veronica Roth (author of Divergent).  To say that I was excited would be a gross understatement. First, a dystopian tour?  Yes please! Can't get enough! Second, we get very few authors in my little hometown and even in Toronto, the list of author signings that I actually care about is rather small.  So, when my fellow book nerd and friend Jessica sent me a tweet with the signing details, I was pumped.

It was very cool to listen to the author's talk about inspiration, influences, and the business.  I found out some cool tidbits like, did you know that Lauren wrote Before I Fall on her Blackberry?  Yeah.  Seriously.  She wrote it on the NYC subway while commuting between her full-time job, part-time job and full-time grad school and emailed it to herself each night.  Now that's dedication to your craft. 

I had some questions I was burning to ask (like if and how they've had to deal with YA nay-sayers and why they think YA lit has exploded the way it has, especially with adults) but I was too chicken.  I was also completely awkward when I went up to have my books signed.  I didn't have the nerve to ask for a picture and, although I wanted to say something incredibly intelligent and witty, I couldn't think of a single thing to say beyond "hi" and "thanks".  It was pathetic actually.  Lauren did tease my husband a little about being dragged along to a book signing, but other than giggling at that and giving the standard greetings... I said nothin'.  Totally forgettable. *sigh*  I'm such a loser.

In the end, I got three beautiful new signed hardcover books that I can't wait to read, and got to meet two very cool YA authors.  All in all, a great night for a book nerd! 

Delirium and Before I Fall signed by Lauren Oliver

Divergent signed by Veronica Roth

I also got a swag bag filled with Delirium and Divergent related trinkets and other assorted junk. I LOVE free stuff!