Book Haul [19]

It's been a couple of months since I've had any new books to show you all!  I've been eagerly anticipating the release of Queen of Shadows (only a little over a month to go guys!!!!)  I did pick up a couple of e-books and I borrowed a few library books, so here are the recent additions to my TBR pile...

From the Library...

The Queen of the Tearling - Erika Johansen
I'm not 100% sure if this is a me book, but I wanted to read the first chapter to see if I like it enough to buy.

Unspoken - Sarah Rees Brennan
Lauren @ Lose Time Reading recently binge read this entire series, so I knew that I had to give it a try!

The War that Saved my Life - Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
Brie @ A Slice of Brie recently read and loved this one.  After I read her review, I immediately put it on hold at the library.  I'm excited and a little nervous -- it's been so long since I've read a middle grade novel!

From Kobo...

Black Iris - Leah Raeder
I have never bought a book this impulsively before.  Judith from Paperiot posted a quote from this book on Instagram, and I immediately added it to my Goodreads TBR.  Later in the day, I found myself thinking about the quote and the writing, and I downloaded a copy.  I've never paid $6.99 for an e-book before, but I have a feeling that I'm going to LOVE this one.  Plus, that COVER!  Sooooo beautiful!

The Kiss of Deception - Mary E. Pearson
Like The Queen of the Tearling, I'm not 100% sure that this is a me book, or if I'm just interested in reading it because everyone else is reading it.  (I'm getting better at being immune to bookish hype, but it still sucks me in now and then!)  It was on sale for $2.99, so it's okay if I don't enjoy it.

Have you read any of these books?  Anything that I should move to the top of my TBR pile?  Thanks for stopping by!

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On My Nightstand - July 29

Although I'm not really writing reviews these days, On My Nightstand is a bi-weekly feature that allows me to share what I'm currently reading, some thoughts on what I just finished reading and what's coming up next from my TBR pile!

On my nightstand:

Jessi @ Novel Heartbeat and I decided to read Graceling by Kristin Cashore.  She finished it, but I'm about 150 pages in.  It's good, and I intend to finish it, but I felt like reading something a bit more contemporary.  I read another contemporary (see next section) and am currently just over halfway through Jessi Kirby's Golden.

I'm almost finished Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult on audio.  There have been some slow moments, but on the whole it's the type of typical story that one can expect from Jodi.

Recently shelved as read:

Omigosh, I just finished Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe and OH MY GOD.  It was beautifully written and, although slow at some moments, it is a truly spectacular story.  I've heard bits of buzz around the blogosphere and it's won a ton of awards!  Highly, highly recommend this one.

Calling my name from the shelf:

I think I'd like to knock off a couple of e-books this week.  I have Cammie McGovern's A Step Toward Falling and Corey Ann Haydu's Rules for Stealing Stars for review.  I also recently picked up a few contemporary titles when Kobo had them on sale.

How about you?  What are you reading this week!  Let's chat in the comments below and thanks for stopping by!

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On TBRs (piles, shelves, jars, you name it!)

Today I want to talk about TBRs and how we organize them.  I feel like I have a million systems on the go and I often spend more time thinking about and planning my TBR than actually reading!  Please tell me that I'm not the only one with this problem!

TBR Pile...
I have a TBR pile on my bedside table, which is usually made up of books that I have recently acquired and/or my seasonal TBR pile.  I find that I usually read a book or two from that pile, and then stray back to my shelves for subsequent picks.

TBR Shelf...
I don't have a TBR shelf, although I did recently go through my books and create a series of posts listing out all the books that I hadn't read off my shelves, and then crunching the numbers to find out the grand total of unread books.  I have contemplated re-organizing my shelves into read and unread books, just so that I could have a better visual of my reading; however, it's difficult because my books and my husband's books are all mixed in together.  I have our books roughly sorted into genres (middle grade, YA, adult contemporary, adult horror, adult thriller, adult sci-fi - the last three shelves are all of his books) and then we have a few shelves filled with literature texts from our university days and a mix of other non-fiction books).  I feel like dedicating shelves to particular topics will be easier once we have a bigger home and I can sprinkle books and shelves throughout the house.  I don't know -- sometimes I love my shelves as they are, and other times I want to pull off all the books and start over.

TBR Jar...
If you follow me on Instagram, you'll know that I spent an incredibly long amount of time (i.e. Marko's entire two hour nap!) making a TBR jar.  Although I'm generally a mood reader, there are times where I just can't decide what to read next, and I thought that having a TBR jar might be kind of fun.  My husband uses one of his own, although he's pretty hard core about it.  He'll pick one book and read it cover to cover, regardless of whether or not he's enjoying it.  Seriously, the man does not DNF.  He's a machine.  I plan to keep picking books until something strikes a chord with me, or pick a few books and choose the one that I like best.

How to you plan or maintain your TBR or decide what to read next?  How did your come up with your system?  I feel like I need some help -- sometimes the overwhelming number of books that I want to read becomes too much, and then I don't read at all!  Let's chat in the comments below =)

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Ten Books that Celebrate Diversity

Top Ten Tuesday is, as always, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  Today's topic is books that celebrate diversity.  I love books that are different, that dare to be unique and don't just simply jump on the bandwagon of topics and themes that are trendy and popular at this given moment in time.  I'm always on the lookout for books that make me say "WOW!" because I've never read anything else like it before.  In no particular order, here goes...

1. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz
I've only just started reading this one, but I can already tell that it's unlike anything I've ever read before.  While it's a bit slow, the writing is beautiful and it features a friendship between two Mexican-American boys.  Stories of male friendships are hard to find, and when those boys are of a visible minority, the book is definitely unique.

2. Touching Spirit Bear by Ben Mikaelsen
Another book featuring a male narrator!  Cole has had a tough life, and has been in trouble with the law many times.  His anger takes him too far, and he beats a kid to the point where the other guy may be brain damaged for life.  Rather than facing jail time, he opts to try Circle Justice: a Native American system of justice that aims to provide healing and repentance by Cole going to live in the wilderness on a remote island.  It's a story unlike any other that I have ever encountered.

3. The Absolutely True Story of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
This book was tough to read at times due to the topics discussed, but I read it in one sitting.

4. Wonder by R.J. Palacio
I've talked about this book on the blog many, many, many times but, in all honesty, the world would just be a much better place if everyone would read this book.  Like, right now.  It features the story of a truly remarkable narrator, physically deformed from birth, as he tries to adjust to life in public school.  The story definitely teaches us about judging people based on how they look.

5. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
I didn't really understand autism until I read this book.  After I saw the world through Christopher's eyes, my life was never quite the same.

6. Luna by Julie Ann Peters
Like Wonder, I felt that this book changed the way I saw the world after I saw the world through a transgendered teen's eyes.

7. The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson
I loved that Elisa was an untypical female heroine, as she loved to eat and wasn't perfectly skinny.  I also loved the very subtle religious elements that were present in this story.

8. Eleven Minutes by Paulo Coelho
I absolutely adore Paulo Coelho's writing and this is one of my favourites.  The main character is a prostitute, who seeks to learn the difference between sex and love.

9. The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
I've talked about this book many, many times, but it is one of my all-time favourites.  It takes place in India, and features a cross-caste love story unlike any other love story that I've ever read.

10. A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
This book also takes place in India and I tried to find another book to include in this list in order to keep my selections diverse (ha ha!) but I couldn't not include this title.  It was a sweeping epic story and, as an added bonus, the author lives in Canada!

Thanks for stopping by to check out my list!  Please leave a link to your post, so that I can stop by, and let me know if you've read any of the books on my list.  Any others that you'd recommend?

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Disney Princess Tag

I came across this tag on Quinn's Book Nook a long, long time ago and I thought it would be really fun to participate. Soudha from Of Stacks and Cups created this tag.
My Disney Princess Facts:
  1. It's a tie between Beauty and the Beast and The Little Mermaid when it comes to choosing my favourite Disney movie.  The Lion King is also near and dear to my heart, but there's no princess in that story, so I can't really count it for this tag (but I guess Nala would count?)
  2. I also love Tinkerbell, but Peter Pan is one of my least favourite Disney movies.
  3. My husband bought me Disney Scene It (the board game) and played it with me once.  He refuses to play it again because I kicked his butt so badly the first time.
1. Snow White – Name your favorite classic 
Definitely Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird.  I read it for English in Grade 10, and, although I would love to re-read it at some point, I'm also afraid that I won't love it as much the second time.
2. Cinderella – Name a book that kept you reading well past your bedtime
Embarrassingly, the Twilight series.  I couldn't put those books down, and stayed up until the wee hours of the morning trying to read just.one.more.chapter.
3. Aurora – Name your favorite classic romance
I'm going to go with a non-traditional romance, and say The Velveteen Rabbit.  The love that that little bunny has for the little boy is truly heartwarming.
4. Ariel – Name a book that’s about making sacrifices and fighting for your dreams
The Hunger Games trilogy -- Katniss puts herself through crazy situations because she dreams of a better world, especially for her sister.
5. Belle – Name a book with a smart and independent female character
This is pretty much the definition of Celeana and the Throne of Glass series
6. Jasmine – Name a book with a character who challenged the social conventions of his or her world
Alina from Leigh Bardugo's Grisha trilogy, and I LOVE her even more because of that fact!
7. Pocahontas – Name a book whose ending was a roller-coaster of emotions
Morgan Matson's Second Chance Summer -- I sobbed on my husband's shoulder for at least half an hour after I finished reading that one.
8. Mulan – Name a book with a kick-ass female character
I want to say Celeana again but, in the interest of coming up with someone else, I'm going to go with Karou from Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy.  She's got blue hair, need I say more?
9. Tiana – Name a book featuring a hardworking, self-made character
I haven't seen The Princess & the Frog (I know, scandalous!).  BUT, I feel like Karou from the Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy would fit this description pretty well.
10. Rapunzel – Name a book that features an artist
Bria from Wanderlove -- I loved how the author even included little sketches in the book!
11. Merida – Name a book that features a mother-daughter relationship
I'm going to go with my current audiobook read, Leaving Time, which is Jenna's story of her search for her mother, who disappeared when she was three.
12. Anna and Elsa – Name a book that features a great relationship between siblings 
Although it's probably not the most healthy of sisterly relationships, the one book that immediately jumped to mind is another Jodi Picoult novel, My Sister's Keeper.

Hope you enjoyed reading my answers, and thanks for stopping by!  If you've done this tag as well, feel free to leave a link in the comments below, as I'd love to read your answers as well.  And if you haven't done the tag yet, please join the fun!

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Reading On My Mat - My Yoga Journey

Last week, I shared a post outlining that things are going to be changing a bit on the blog, as I expand from just posting about reading and start talking about my other passions!

I've been itching to write about yoga for quite some time, and thought that I'd begin where it all began -- many, many years ago.

I took my first yoga class when I still lived in Victoria.  It was yoga/pilates fusion class and, while I enjoyed it, I remember feeling a bit frustrated when the instructor called out "Sun Salutation 1" and the entire class just started working through poses while I looked around the room, confused out of my mind.  If this was ever your experience in your first yoga class: don't give up.  You've just likely found the wrong class, taught by the wrong instructor and it can be SO MUCH BETTER.

Flash forward a few years later, when my sister-in-law dragged me along to a hot yoga studio.  I did a 30 day trial and liked it well enough, but heat is so not my thing.  I'm not the biggest fan of the summer weather, and sweating it out in a yoga studio that was hotter than the summer heat outdoors left me in the best shape that I'd been in a long time, but it was still not quite my thing.

Then, I got pregnant and couldn't continue with hot yoga because of the heat, but still wanted some way to stay active.  I took a prenatal yoga class and absolutely loved the instructor.  It was the first time that I felt that I really understood what yoga was meant to be.  It's a form of exercise, yes, but it's also about finding focus and peace in life.  During a very tumultous and emotional last few months of work before baby arrived, my weekly yoga class was one of the brightest moments in my week.  I felt like it kept me at peace and centred, as well as helping me with the journey of labour that still lay ahead.  After Marko was born, I signed up for a "mommy and baby" class, where I met some new mommy friends that I'm still close with today.

Once Marko started solid foods, I decided that it was time for me to have a couple of hours to myself each week, so I signed up for a Power Flow yoga class at my local rec centre.  The class was much harder than I had expected, but the instructor was INCREDIBLE and I learned so much from her.  I stayed in that class for a year, until the schedule changed and it didn't fit with my schedule anymore.

Then, I discovered the studio that I am still part of today.  It was a five minute walk from my house (although they just moved into a new studio that is about a five minute drive away).  I've tried a variety of classes at this studio, and each one of them has resonated with me in a different way.  I'll share a post on each of these classes, and styles of yoga, in the weeks and months to come, since there's so much that I could say about each one.

One thing has stayed consistent for me over the past two years, and that's the fact that I have started each class with reading on my mat.  As I look around the room, most of my fellow yoga practitioners are either stretching or laying on their backs in shavasana; however, I've always spent the few minutes waiting for class to start reading a few more pages of my current read.  It's about finding your zen and being present, which is exactly what reading does for me.  And so, dear friends, this is just the first of many posts that I will share with you all, about reading on my mat and where it has taken me from there.

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On My Nightstand - July 10

Although I'm not really writing reviews these days, On My Nightstand is a bi-weekly feature that allows me to share what I'm currently reading, some thoughts on what I just finished reading and what's coming up next from my TBR pile.

Another crazy week in my world, and almost forgot that I had this post drafted for Wednesday!

On my nightstand:

Jessi @ Novel Heartbeat and I are reading Graceling by Kristin Cashore.  After a few summery contemporaries, I'm craving some fantasy again.  I'm only a couple of chapters in so far, and it's a bit slow and info-dumpy, but I'm intrigued by the premise.

I also just started Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult on audio.  I'm only a couple of chapters in, but it's pretty good so far.  It has multiple narrators, which I love.

Recently shelved as read:

Last week, I finished Sarah Dessen's Saint Anything and absolutely loved it!  It's been a few years since I enjoyed one of Sarah's novels, and I'd forgotten how much her books personify summer.  This book was just as good as all of her previous novels, full of powerful moments and beautiful storytelling.  Then, I picked up The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord which I absolutely LOVED.  I adored Open Road Summer when I read it last year, but I think that I love this one even more.  The characters, the story, the friendship -- it's just so amazing!

Calling my name from the shelf:

Depending on how I like Graceling, I might continue on with the series right away.  Otherwise, I think I might pick up the second book in the Lux series by Jennifer L. Armentrout.  I read the first one a couple of weeks ago, and the book's been calling my name for the last little while.

How about you?  What are you reading this week!  Let's chat in the comments below and thanks for stopping by!

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On Being You

I randomly decided to PVR a movie called Moms' Night Out and watched it with my hubby last night.  What I thought would actually be a fun chick flick actually turned into a movie that left me thinking long after the credits had finished rolling, and has inspired me to make some changes here on the blog.

Towards the end of the movie, one of the characters says that she tries so hard, and it's just not enough.  Another character asks her, "Not enough for who?" and the message is that you are enough by just being yourself.  (Side note: I'm horrible at remembering movie dialogue, so this is probably not 100% accurate).  The point of this exchange was to remember that it's not always about proving your worth to others, but it's about just being content with who you are, and that that's enough.

I've been struggling with coming up with creative content on the blog, especially when it comes to discussion posts.  I've shared a lot of discussion posts over the past year or two, and am running out of topics.  I have a few ideas in draft form, but have been hesitant to post too many of them, because then I wonder what I'm going to do when all those drafts are used up.  What will I write about then?

In a flash of inspiration, I realized that I think I'm tired of my blog being only about reading.  Sure, the title of my blog is Writer Grrl Reads, so my blog has always been about reading.  But the first part of the blog title, Writer Grrl, has always been a description of myself, a writer with a bit of spunk, a bit of a feminist spark, a bit girly, a bit grrrrrrrrrrrly!  And, although I'm a reader, I'm also MORE than just a reader.  I'm a mom, a wife, a (semi) regular yoga practitioner, an administrative goddess, an organizational wizard, a bit of a packrat and a continual optimist.  And I want to share ALL OF THAT on my blog because it's my space.  Hopefully, this may also make my blog interesting to those of you who like to do more than just read, because we all have interests that lie outside of reading.  Maybe we share some of those interests?  I hope we do, because I'm happy that you've found my blog, and I'm looking forward to sharing more diverse posts with you.

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June Wrap-Up!

Summer has only just begun and it's insanely hot in my part of the world!  We're already up over 30 degrees (Celsius) for all of this week, and there's nothing but sunshine and incredible heat forecasted for the next two weeks.  Although I do enjoy being able to spend time outside with Marko, I'm not a fan of crazy heat.  I'd prefer low 20s with a breeze.  I'm sure that I'm going to blink and this whole summer will be behind us though, so I'm going to just enjoy each day as it comes.

The Books

Books Read: 9 (Home Front, A Court of Thorns and Roses, Forever Interrupted and Obsidian)
Of these books, three were books off my shelves (although recently acquired) and one was an audio book from the library.

Books Acquired: None!
I have acquired a total of 23 books so far this year, and have already read 10 of them, plus I've read half of two more (a bind-up and my current read, Saint Anything).  I'm not planning to acquire any more books over the summer (although who knows!) and will be saving my pennies for A Queen of Shadows in September.

The Challenges

Prequel & Sequel Challenge: None, but I started two more series!
Flights of Fantasy: 1 more books read (A Court of Thorns and Roses) for a total of 8 books so far!
TBR Challenge: I read books off my shelves this month, but all were recently acquired, so I'm holding strong at 13 books so far this year.

The Blog

Last month, I decided to finally figure out how many TBR books I own.  The first three posts included standalones that I need to readseries I need to finish and series I need to start, and this month I shared two posts about my read books (series and standalones).  Then I crunched the numbers to find out how many read and unread books were on my shelves.  You can click on the link to see the full post, but the short version is that I own 336 books, 200 of which are read!  I was actually surprised to find out that I have 136 unread books on my shelves -- I honestly thought that the number would be much, much higher.

Putting those posts together burned me out a bit, and the rest of the month was pretty quiet here on the blog.  I shared two more On My Nightstand posts, and my top ten books on my summer TBR pile.

The Other Stuff

Honestly, June was just a month of awful car problems.  I drove to work one day and my car's engine shut off, almost like it had stalled, but without the lurch forward that usually accompanies a stall. I couldn't get it started again for a few minutes, until it finally did start and I drove the rest of the way with no issues.  Then, it happened again a few days later.  I took my car into the shop three times, and they couldn't figure out what was wrong with it.  Then, my husband was out in the car and it fully died on him and he had to have it towed in.  Finally, they replaced some kind of sensor, which fixed the problem.  Then a week later, it died again (on my poor husband again!) and had to be towed into the shop!  This time, it was the fuel pump, which wasn't a cheap repair.

I also got pulled over for the very first time and was given a ticket by the rudest police officer I have ever had the displeasure of meeting.  Then, the next day, I witnessed a car accident that happened right in front of me when I was waiting at a red light.  And the following day, I was rear-ended!  I wanted to wrap myself in bubble wrap and refuse to leave the house.

Work is insanely busy at the moment and will be for the coming weeks.  Our marketing coordinator resigned and, while the company takes the time to find a replacement, all of the marketing tasks are my responsibility.  I have a couple of co-workers that will be helping me out, but it's going to be a lot more work on my plate over the next few weeks.  At least I can bank my overtime and turn it into a few well-deserved days off with my hubby and my little boy towards the end of August.

What's happened in your life this past month?  Do you hate car trouble as much as I do?  Have you read anything interesting lately?  Let's chat in the comments below, and thanks for stopping by!

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