On Reading (and Reviewing!) Something a Little Different

I went a little crazy on Netgalley over the past few months, and downloaded some titles that are very different from what I usually read!  Here are some very quick reviews of those titles -- maybe you might share some of my diverse interests?

Why I Downloaded This Book: I went through a major job hunt / career change earlier this year, and have been helping my sister-in-law to do the same.  The world of job hunting is so digital these days, so you really have to make your resume stand out from the hundreds of others with similar skills.

What I Thought: It was interesting, and gave me some good ideas for my next job hunt!  Shortly after I started my new job, the marketing coordinator gave her notice and hiring commenced for her position.  While looking at some of the creative and visually attractive resumes that came into the office, I really understood the relevance of having a resume that stands out from the pile.  This book also talks a lot about cultivating your online presence, which I thought was relevant to blogging.  Often, I look at some blogs that have just had their online identity so together and seamless from the very beginning.  If I were to start my blog over again from the beginning, there are definitely a lot of things that I'd do differently from the beginning!  When I make my next career change, I will definitely consider picking up this book again!  The job market is continually changing in its expectations, and books like this one are an invaluable tool for navigating those fluxes.

Why I Downloaded This Book: I absolutely ADORE the story of Les Misérables!  I've seen the 1998 movie version, as well as the most recent version.  I've also seen the live play about 11 times so far, from a high school production to a small community theater to the full Broadway show.  I've also never read a Manga comic before, so I thought I'd give it a shot!

What I Thought: Flipping the pages backwards was harder than I had thought it would be.  Fortunately, because I was super familiar with the storyline, it was easy to see when I was going backwards instead of forwards.  The drawings were gorgeous, and I did enjoy the retelling of one of my favourite stories.

Why I Downloaded This Book: My aunt brought me a gorgeous bolt of cloth from China.  It's shimmery blue with butterflies all over it and it's a brocade-style fabric, nice and thick.  At first, I planned to make throw pillows out of the fabric, but it doesn't really fit my décor, and I didn't want to waste such beautiful fabric on pillows that I likely won't use.  Somewhere along the line, I decided that making it into a hobo-style purse would be a great idea -- and the hunt for instructions began...

What I Thought: At the very beginning of the book, the author shares some key information about bags, and the fact that all bags were based on a basic mathematical principle that covered the ratio of height to length and so on, plus some basic shapes that are used for all purses, and can be customized using the ratio.  I was excited, thinking that this book would teach me the foundations skills of bag making, which I could then customize to my specific project.  After the introduction, however, the remainder of the book was all patterns and directions for specific styles of bag (and I didn't like the one hobo bag in the collection) and they all seemed really complicated and hard to follow!  So, the hunt continues for my perfect bag pattern!

The above-noted books were all provided to me by the publisher, via Netgalley.  The fact that these books were for review has no bearing whatsoever on the contents of my review.

Read More


Life of a Blogger - 13 Years Ago...

My good friend, Jessi, over at Novel Heartbeat runs this awesome feature as a way for her followers to get to know her better!  Check out the list of upcoming topics here.

Today's topic is 13 years ago ... September 11, 2001.  It seems like a million years ago, but I was sitting in class in my second year of university, when a student burst into class announcing that a plane had just hit one of the towers.  Since this was before smart phones and easy access to the Internet at the tips of your fingertips, the only knowledge that we had of what was going on was from people who had been watching TV before they came to class or those that had been in the computer labs watching the footage.  Although I knew it was bad, I didn't grasp the full magnitude of the disaster until later that evening, when I was back home watching the news.

Nearly two years later, I worked at a summer camp in upstate New York and spent a few days in Manhattan before I flew home.  I visited Ground Zero and didn't really feel the overwhelming flood of emotion that I was expecting.  Strangely enough, what impacted me more was when we were walking down a pathway later and I realized that one of the photos in my guidebook had been taken from that spot.  I had an older Lonely Planet book that still included the World Trade Centre, and there was a photo showing the towers as part of the skyline.  When I looked at the photo in my book, and then up at the skyline where the towers were distinctly missing, THAT was the moment where the tragedy really hit home.  I remember my mom mentioning that people were probably walking through that park and saw the planes, and that's when it really felt real that this had happened, and so many, many innocent lives had been affected.

How about you?  Where were you 13 years ago when 9/11 happened?
Read More


Falling Into Place - Amy Zhang

Sometimes I go into a book with my expectations up high, which was the case with Falling into Place, after Jaime @ The Perpetual Page-Turner featured this book on her blog.  Unfortunately, Falling into Place didn't wow me quite as much as I had expected, but it is still a solid read.  Those darn expectations sometimes set me up for disappointment before I even start reading the first page.

The most impressive thing about Falling into Place is that it's written by a HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT.  Seriously, I was blown away when I realized that.  For her age, Amy Zhang is one heck of a good writer.  I can only imagine how her talent will grow as she ages and her world view expands.

There book opens with Liz's death, as she drives her car into a tree on purpose.  The remaining narrative shifts back and forth to various points in time leading up to her death.  In the opening sequence, Liz talks about Newton's laws, which are being covered in her physics class.  This theme is overused throughout the rest of the book, in my opinion, but this may also be because I never liked physics in school.  Every time the story would start weaving in physics analogies, I found myself skimming over that part and rolling my eyes.  I could have done without those bits.

I will give Amy props for creating a character that I didn't like, but also pitied throughout the book. This type of character development can't be easy to write, and it was one of the strongest characteristics in the book.

Although I can't say that I was blown away by Falling Into Place, I definitely enjoyed it.  I'm impressed with Amy's writing and I'm looking forward to seeing where her writing takes her as she grows up!

Note: I received an e-galley of this book from Edelweiss.  The fact that I received this book for review did not influence my opinion of this book in any way.
Read More


Life of a Blogger - Fitness

My good friend, Jessi, over at Novel Heartbeat runs this awesome feature as a way for her followers to get to know her better!  Check out the list of upcoming topics here.

Today's topic is fitness.  I feel like I have a love/hate relationship with fitness -- I'm not a fan of anything involving a ball or team sports of any kind, but I absolutely love physical fitness that I can do on my own. 

I know I said that I don't use the word "hate" too often -- but I HATED gym class when I was in school.  I hated being picked last, hated having to change back out of my gym strip and be sweaty for the rest of the day (ugh!), hated the fact that my head seems to have a magnet for balls of any kind (seriously -- volleyballs, basketballs, soccer balls ... you name it, I've been beaned in the head with it!)  I seriously counted down the days until I was finished with PE in Grade 10 and never had to take it again.

But then, in Grade 11, I started taking an aerobic kickboxing class with a friend of mine.  From there, I took an aerobics/dance fusion class (this was before Zumba was all the rage), then pilates.  I started going to the pool to swim laps, loving being alone with my thoughts while I leisurely swam the length of the pool (breast stroke -- I've never liked putting my face in the water, and can't swim in a straight line when I try to do any other stroke!)  When my husband and I started dating, he got me into weight training, which I don't do much anymore, mainly just because I don't have the time.

A few months before I got pregnant, I tagged along with my sister-in-law to a hot yoga class and absolutely LOVED it.  I went for about six months and then switched to prenatal yoga.  After Marko was born, I did "mommy and me" yoga and have now been doing power flow yoga for about nine months.  I absolutely love it and have now registered to do a month of unlimited yoga at a new studio that opened up a few blocks from my house!

While I was off on maternity leave, my other mommy friends and I would go for long walks while our babies slept in their strollers.  I still love going for long walks and we try to go walking every evening after work!  There's something refreshing about stretching your legs and getting some fresh air, especially after being cooped up at a desk all day.

How about you?  What's your fitness routine?  Leave me a comment below!
Read More


On Feeling Out of the Loop

Over the past couple of months, I've been feeling a bit out of the loop.  I'm not on Twitter very much, and haven't been chatting and networking with other bloggers as much as I used to.  Although I am still loving blogging and sharing my thoughts on here, I'm not taking that extra time to promote my blog, interact as much as I used to and just generally be more present in the world.

Sometimes, it makes me a little sad when I do pop onto Twitter and I feel like, if I'd been on earlier in the day, I could have participated in some of the fun conversations going on and it feels weird to comment on someone's tweet hours later.  Or I see all these great collaborations that other bloggers are doing, and I wish that I had the time to devote to really putting myself out there and making my blog all that it can be.

Sometimes I also feel glad that my blog has stayed as small as it is, and that I've had these past couple of months to retreat a little from the online community.  I see on other blogs or on Twitter that there's drama that's happened, but I've been so removed from social media that I hadn't heard and sometimes I never even found out what did happen.  Although it would be fun to have thousands of followers and be one of those big, super cool blogs that I follow and read on a regular basis, I'm still proud of the following that I do have -- and I love each and every one of you that reads the words that I share and takes the time to say hello in the comments.

One of the things that's really jumped out at me in the past couple of weeks, is the fact that I haven't added very many books to my TBR list this year.  In fact, I checked Goodreads and I added SIX.  SIX BOOKS all year so far.  Of course, that's not to say that I didn't read some books that weren't even on my TBR list.  (Have you ever done that?  Went to add a book to your "currently reading" shelf, only to realize it wasn't on your TBR list yet? I've done that quite a few times).  I digress.  But SIX BOOKS.  That's it.  I'm still keeping up with my Bloglovin' subscriptions but, to be perfectly honest, I don't read many book reviews anymore.  Sometimes I'll glance over the review, or just look at the rating but I prefer to read discussion posts or other fun, creative posts.  Usually, I can tell which books are super-hyped by bloggers that I trust, and I did pick up Open Road Summer and Shadow of Bone this summer specifically because of book hype.  So, I'm not immune to the bookish hype out there, but I just feel like I've been devoting less energy towards researching future books to read and more energy on actually reading books.  This summer I've read a TON, including some chunky reads and large chunks of series!  I read the first two books in George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series, am about to tackle Diana Gabaldon's Outlander and have gobbled up the first six books in J.R. Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood series.

I didn't intend for this post to be so long, but thanks for reading!  How about you?  Do you feel like taking a step back from social media and the community as a whole is a good idea or not?  Any ideas for me on how to jump back into the scene?  I feel a little shy since I've been away for so long.  Leave me a comment below -- and thanks for stopping by!

Read More


Series Spotlight - September

Welcome to the September edition of the Series Spotlight!  This is a monthly feature where we'll highlight some of our anticipated series books that are releasing this month, as well as which series are on our TBR piles for this month!

New Releases ...

Sarah J. Maas' Heir of Fire (release date: September 2)

Again, I'm choosing a book in a series that I haven't even started yet, but I WILL READ THRONE OF GLASS.  SOON, I promise!

From My TBR Pile ...

I was going to confess that I didn't read any series books at all this summer, but that's actually not true.  I started both the Song of Ice & Fire series and the Black Dagger Brotherhood and have fallen into both series head first.  SO, while I'm proud of myself for continuing on with both series, I also haven't read many of the series books that I had planned to read ... oops!  SO, this month I'm only setting a goal of one book this month.  Dreams of Gods & Monsters was my summer series book, but I think it's a better fall book so I held off on reading until I can curl up on the couch with a fuzzy blanket and mug of tea and immerse myself back in this world.

Brie @ A Slice of Brie (who I actually met in REAL LIFE last month!) and I are going to read Outlander.  This book has been on my TBR list for SO LONG that even my MOM has already read it. I was originally scared of reading this book because there is so much hype, and with the TV show now out, it seems like everyone's talking about it.  Hannah @ So Obsessed With recently posted a really realistic look at the sometimes-ugly side of this series, which I think has given me a bit of perspective.  I'm still hopeful that I'll love this series, but it's nice to have a bit of trepidation going into a series, rather than setting myself up for a big let down if I'm the only person on earth to not fall head over heels for this series.

What about you?  What's on your TBR pile this month?  Let me know in the comments below!

Read More


Prequel & Sequel Challenge - August Wrap-Up

Hey guys!  Holy moly -- I can't believe that summer is almost over!  We've had a few spells of insanely hot weather this summer, so personally I'm looking forward to fall and some cooler weather.

This summer I took a bit of a series hiatus and read some great standalones.  I also fell headfirst into the Black Dagger Brotherhood and gobbled up six books in a row!  I haven't read many paranormal books in quite a while, so I'm thoroughly enjoying the series!  I also read the first two books in the Song of Ice & Fire series, both on audio and in print.  I was apprehensive about bouncing back and forth between mediums, but it actually worked out well and helped me to get through these chunky books a bit faster.  The narrator has this awesome British accent and Marko really likes listening to him talk, which has made our commuting a bit smoother when he just chills in the backseat, eating his snack and enjoying the story.

How about you?  Did you read many series books this summer or take a break like I did?  Did you read anything sensational?  Let me know in the comments below!

Link up your reviews below -- remember to include the number of points earned for each book!

Read More

Flexible Template by ScreenWritersArena

Custom Design by Lea Christine Designs