Blackberry Winter - Sarah Jio

Well, I'm off to a good start for 2013 by starting with an adult book (since, one of my bookish resolutions was to read more "big kid" books).  I first heard of this book when Jaime @ The Perpetual Page-Turner RAVED about it in her review, so I put it on hold at the library.  I haven't listened to an audio book in a long time, so I thought I'd give this one a shot on audio to help make my forty-five minute commute a little more tolerable (and distract me from the fact that I usually desperately have to pee by the time I get to work!)

It was such a refreshing change to dive back into adult literature, and this was the perfect book for that reintroduction.  Sarah Jio is a talented writer and I loved that the book flipped back and forth between two narrators.  (Interestingly enough, I'm now listening to another audio book with two narrators, and I have to admit that I prefer having two separate narrators as well, rather than one person narrating two different voices).  The storyline begins with a freak snowstorm in May in 1933, when Vera returns home from work to find that her little boy has gone missing.  The storyline then switches to Claire's perspective, 80 years later, when another freak snowstorm hits Seattle on the same date in May, prompting Claire's features editor at work to assign her a story to cover the coincidence between the two storms.  Claire, frustrated by the lack of anything remotely interesting about the story, begins investigating and learns about Daniel's mysterious and unsolved disappearance 80 years earlier.  And the story takes off, weaving back and forth between these two women's points of view, as they deal with their own demons and come to terms with their losses.

As I said earlier, Sarah Jio is a very talented writer and this book is perfectly paced.  It's part mystery, part historical fiction and part love story, but perfectly balanced into a really, really good read.  There were parts of it that were a little tough to handle (being that I was eight months pregnant while reading it), but I think that any story to do with children is going to tug at my heartstrings now.  I will definitely be reading more of Sarah's work, and thank you Jaime for introducing me to this book!
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I'm still here -- and no baby yet!

It's hard to believe that almost a month has gone by since my last post -- a busy month of getting the last few things ready for baby's arrival.  Due date is February 6th, which is only a week and a half away now!  It's hard to believe that my pregnancy is almost over (and part of me is going to miss this feeling of our little one kicking away inside), but a bigger part of me is just super excited to meet our new son or daughter.

In my bookish resolutions for 2013, I promised myself that I wasn't going to feel bad about the volume of posting, but I can't help but say that I'm sorry I haven't been more present in the last few weeks.  I have a massive stack of library books, as well as a bunch of really exciting reads that I got for Christmas this year, and fully intended to spend the month of January reading as much as possible ... because I just don't know how much reading time I'll have once the little one arrives.

But then pregnancy threw a little bit of a monkey-wrench into those great plans =P  I've been really lucky and haven't had too many "pregnancy symptoms" (i.e. no morning sickness, aching back, etc. etc.) but I have recently developed pregnancy-induced carpal tunnel syndrome.  Fortunately, this will go away after the baby arrives, but in the meantime I had to contend with several sleepless nights because I kept waking up with both hands numb and throbbing.  My massage therapist (who has been a GOD SEND throughout this entire experience) suggested wrist braces, which has helped me to be able to sleep through the night.  Butsince last week, the fingertips on my right hand have been completely numb.  It's weird because they don't hurt, but it's really awkward to type and I'm having a hard time holding up a book for too long, especially if it's a hardcover.

So, with great sadness, I had to return Days of Blood & Starlight to the library unread because I just couldn't hold the book up in order to read it.  I'm now working through some of the paperbacks that I have, but I'm not able to read for hours on end like I used to, and I'm definitely not going to be able to get through that big stack of library books before Baby arrives!  I have read a few of the books, and will try to post some reviews this week.

So, I'm just apologizing a tiny bit for being a little MIA lately, and I wanted to share what's been going on.  I hope that this doesn't come across as me whining or complaining, because I know many pregnant ladies who have had a much rougher pregnancy than I've had.  I've just been enjoying every moment, numb fingertips and all, as each day brings me a little closer to meeting the new little addition to our family.

Hope that you've all been well and enjoying January so far!
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A Contemporary Christmas Break - Mini-Reviews!

I've spent the past few days catching up on everyone's recap of 2012 / looking forward to 2013 posts, and steadily ignoring the pile of books that I still have to review.  Then, in a flash of inspiration, I remembered that  last year, I posted a series of mini-reviews for what I read over the Christmas holidays when I was in Alberta visiting my in-laws.  So, here's my contemporary Christmas break reading!

Sweethearts - Sara Zarr

There has been so much gushing love for Sara Zarr, especially in some of the end-of-year book surveys that I've been reading over the last month.  So I thought what-the-heck, and put a book on hold at the library to give her a shot.  And WOW.  If I learned one lesson from this experience, it's this: when you see multiple bloggers gushing about a particular writer, especially bloggers whose opinions you know and trust, RUN to the library/bookstore to see what the fuss is all about!

This story was just so charming and sweet that I gobbled it up in just over a day.  I loved the relationship between Jennifer and Cameron, who hadn't seen each other in years, and then fell back into each others' lives suddenly.  Their story was heartwarming, and just a little bit sad, and just perfect all over.  Sometimes a book tries too hard to be sentimental and lovey (and I'm a hopeless romantic, so I can handle some serious sappiness), but this book just walked the line between being realistic and over-the-top SO WELL.  I felt like these two weren't characters in a book, but rather were two real people that I came to know quite well over the course of the book.  This definitely will not be my last venture into the wonderful world of Sara Zarr -- I'm hooked.

My Life Next Door - Huntley Fitzpatrick

I've been excited for this one since I saw either Magan or Estelle @ Rather Be Reading tweeting about this one over the summer.  I put it on hold at the library and it FINALLY arrived in mid-December.  I dove into this one with SO MUCH excitement and anticipation and, while I enjoyed the majority of the book, there were a few things that fell flat for me.

First of all, the characters in this book are incredibly well-developed.  I loved the entire Garrett family SO MUCH and thought that Huntley did such a great job of bringing that crazy household to life.  The contrast between Jase's lively and busy household and Samantha's cold and quiet household was so well done and really added to the storyline.  It'll be hard for me to outline the things that I didn't like without being spoilery, so CONSIDER YOURSELF WARNED!  I felt that the friendship fallout between Samantha and Nan wasn't resolved and, although Tim kind of saved the day at the end, his storyline needed more closure, especially considering how messed up he was for most of the book.  And, finally, although I wanted a happily-ever-after between Jase and Samantha (because, really, who doesn't?), the whole reveal-of-the-big-secret and how their relationship surpassed that moment didn't quite sit with me perfectly.  I can't quite put my finger on exactly what it was that made it less-than-perfect, but it just seemed to resolve itself just a little too perfectly, considering what a momentous secret it was.  But, on the whole, My Life Next Door is a fantastic contemporary ride, and definitely deserves its spot on all of those best of 2012 lists and I, for one, am SUPER excited to see what Huntley has in store in her next book!  She's definitely a writer to watch.

Audrey, Wait! - Robin Benway

I first heard of this book when Jaime @ The Perpetual Page-Turner posted a review in November.  Jaime compared the book to the Jessica Darling series, and I was sold.  Then, after getting myself on a Christmas-y contemporary kick with the above-two books, I decided to give this one a shot.

I'd actually go one step farther and say that this book is Jessica Darling mixed with Amy & Roger's Epic Detour.  I loved Audrey's snark (which is totally Jessica Darling-esque -- some of things that she said/thought just made me laugh out loud!).  But the music aspect of the book is what totally won me over, which is why I would relate it to Amy & Roger's Epic Detour.  Oh, and Just Listen by Sarah Dessen too.  I absolutely LOVE books that have to do with music, whether it's friendships blossoming over a shared mixed tape, or a boy and a girl shyly sharing their favourite music with one another, and falling head over heels in love as they discover all that they have in common.  Music is such a personal thing, and the sharing of music with one another is, in my opinion, a way of very intimately sharing piece of your soul with another person.

But before I get too deep, let me just say that this book is a lot of fun.  Audrey goes on one incredibly wild ride after her ex-boyfriend writes a song about their break-up, a song that becomes #1 on the charts and changes her life unexpectedly.  (Think paparazzi, reporters wanting to hear her side of the story and other musicians wanting to date her so that she can "inspire" them).  The story is told in such a fun way that, although Audrey can be a little bit annoying at times, you totally cheer for her and want her to come out on top at the end.

So those are the contemporary books that I read over the Christmas holidays.  It was relaxing to take a break from some of the heavier dystopians that have taken over my 2012 reading this year, and read some lighthearted and fun.
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Bookish Resolutions for 2013

Happy New Year Everyone!  I was originally going to do The Broke and the Bookish's Top Ten Tuesday post for this week, and post the top ten books that I plan to read in 2013, but ... well, now it's Wednesday and that didn't quite happen.  Plus, I spent so much time over the last couple of days reading through all of your bookish new year's resolution posts ... so I figured that I should do my own!  It's never to late to reflect on last year and plan for the coming year, right?

1. Read 50 books.
Last year, my goal was 75 books and I read 82 books.  This year, I'm setting my sights lower because I just don't know how much reading time I'll have with a new baby in the house, but also because I want to focus on enjoying the books that I read, rather than rushing through them to meet a number goal.

2. Read more books that I already own.
Since I'm going to be focusing on savouring the books, rather than rushing through them, I'd also like to not be rushed by those pesky library due dates.  So this year, I will take a small hiatus from my library and focus on reading some of the books that I already own, but just haven't found the time to read yet.  These include: Across the Universe, UnWholly (I may re-read Unwind first too, since I started this one a couple of months ago and found that I'd totally forgotten what happens in the first book), The Maze Runner, Ship Breaker, I Am Number Four, Half-Blood, Beautiful Disaster, Clockwork Prince, the rest of the Inkheart series, the rest of the Sea of Trolls series, Halo ... and the list goes on.  Plus, all of the wonderful books that I got for Christmas this year (see my first vlog here), or the amazing pile of books that Evie @ Bookish gave to me a year ago (see the full list here) that I STILL haven't found the time to read.

3. Read some more "big kid" books.
Following along with my previous resolution, I have SO many adult books collecting dust on my shelves, because I've been primarily reading YA this year.  Perhaps this also falls under the category of trying to read as many books as I can, rather than quality over quantity.  Books that I'd like to try this year include: Outlander, Game of Thrones, finishing Shantaram, finishing The Constant Princess and reading The Other Boleyn Girl, reading the sequel to Shadow of the Wind (I actually have two of his books, and I haven't read either one yet and I LOVED Shadow of the Wind), reading some more Stephen King (my hubby's favourite!), getting back into Margaret Atwood (I'd like to finally read Robber Bride, which has been on my TBR for years), The Name of the Rose and the Name of the Wind (two completely different books, but were both picked up over Easter at my favourite used bookstore -- heard amazing things about both!).

4. Be okay with how much (or how little) I post on the blog.
Now that I've been blogging for a steady year and a half (hard to imagine that it's been that long already!) I think that I've finally found my groove in terms of posting.  At first, I felt like once I decided to participate in a meme, that I had to join in every week.  This was a little stressful, and I found myself madly trying to write up my Top Ten Tuesday, or spending an entire day on the weekend scheduling my TGIF posts in advance.  Now that I've been doing this for a while, I've found a few favourite memes that I'll come back to, but I'm not worried if I miss a week or two of posting because I'm busy with other things.  Besides, some of those TTT posts can be HARD to write, and I'd rather just join in when the topic inspires me!  So it might be a little sporadic here and there, but I hope you'll bear with me while I learn to juggle reading, blogging and motherhood (and no, not in that order!)

5. Continue to enjoy the blogging community.
Not that I've ever NOT enjoyed this community, but this resolution is just to remind myself that, even if my blog posting slows down a little, that I can still interact with all of the wonderful friends that I've made through comments, Goodreads, Twitter, etc.  I love getting recommendations for amazing books and, although I'm going to try to stay in the loop with all of your amazing blogs, feel free to drop me a line (e-mail or Twitter or Goodreads) if you read something amazing!

Thanks for stopping by my blog and reading my resolutions.  If you've posted some bookish resolutions, or have any suggestions for me on how to meet my goals, please leave me a comment and I'll stop by and visit. And Happy New Year to everyone -- hope you read many, many wonderful books this year! xoxo
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