The Hate U Give - Angie Thomas

This book first appeared on my radar after Jaime @ The Perpetual Page-Turner tweeted that she'd finished reading it and wanted to know if anyone else had because she was dying to talk about it.  I love books that make me instantly want to discuss them, so I searched it out on Edelweiss.  Plus, any book that Jaime enjoys is almost a definite win for me as well, so I went into this one with the highest of expectations.  The bookish hype is fully deserved for this book.

I was sucked in from page one and read this book in TWO DAYS.  TWO DAYS.  I have a full time job, an almost four year old and a big house that takes forever to clean.  Plus I'm kind of hooked on the new season of The Bachelor.  That doesn't leave a lot of time to read these days, but I shoved all of my other obligations aside one weekend and absolutely devoured this book.  Bathrooms can be cleaned later, right?

The characters were so strong in this book.  Starr's family was one of my favourite parts of this story.  Everyone was so real and genuine that I felt like I was sitting around their living room, living the story alongside these characters.  And the story, what a story.  It is especially fitting that I'm writing this review on the day that Trump is officially sworn in as the President, while the entire world holds its collective breath and waits to see what will happen next.  This story addresses racism and self-identity and fitting into a pre-determined place in society and socio-economic differences and what it means to assume things about others.  It's a total issue book, but it tackles all these issues in such a powerful way that I never felt that I was being preached to, the way other issue books have felt to me in the past.

In short, this is a book that captured my heart and wouldn't let go, long after I'd finished the last page.  I will definitely be buying a physical copy for my shelves, and it's a book that I will reread for sure.  If you're looking for a book that will change you for the better, add this one to your TBR.  If Trump does what he plans to do, we're going to need to continue to love one another and this book will teach the world how to love, one page at a time.

Note: A review copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  This did not affect my opinion of this book in any way.

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All the Short Ones Readathon

I love the idea of readathons, but it's hard for me to participate because, on average, I read about a book a week, not seven.  So when my friend Jessica @ Novel Cravings told me that she was holding a month long readathon, I was immediately intrigued.  Now this is the type of readathon that I can get behind -- a whole month to read books, and the focus is on short books!  Without any further ado, here's my TBR pile...

1. The Tiger Rising
2. Freak the Mighty
3. The Passion
4. Milk and Honey
5. For One More Day
6. Exit, Pursued by a Bear
7. A Little Something Different
8. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society
9. Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore
10. I Shall Be Near to You
11. Little Knife
12. Too Clever Fox
13. The Beedle & the Bard
14. Half-Blood

I doubt that I can read 14 books in a month, but we'll see.  If I can, it would be awesome, as all 14 would count towards my TBR challenge since I've had them on my TBR piles for a while.  Five of them are e-books, which would reduce my e-book TBR (one of my 2017 reading resolutions) and one of the books is on my 17 books to read in 2017 list.

If you're interesting in joining this readathon, head on over to Novel Cravings for more info!

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Mini Challenge #8 - On the Road

Last mini challenge of the Love-a-thon -- how fast did this weekend go by?  I have a hot cup of tea, Station Eleven and the couch calling my name, so this is going to be short-ish.

In my perfect road trip, Morgan Matson would have prepared all of the road trip mixes.  Amy & Roger's Epic Detour holds a special place in my heart, as it's the one book that I've read that perfectly, PERFECTLY pairs music and literature.  In fact, I bet someone has the soundtrack to that book on Spotify, which is the perfect excuse for a re-read.  *checks Spotify*  Yup, there totally is a playlist.  This is going on my summer TBR pile for sure.

So, Morgan's in the backset because we have an iPod with a long auxiliary cable so she doesn't need to be in the passenger seat.  In the passenger seat we have Macy from The Truth About Forever because she's serious and studious and would map-wield like nobody's business.  And because she started the book off quiet and serious, but learned how to open up and relax a little, which is what she's going to learn on our road trip as well.

And finally, the second body in the backseat is Dana from Fireworks because she needed to get out of town with someone who is not Olivia and I can be her ticket out.  You'll have to wait for my review in April to hear the rest, but Dana was the stand-out character in this book for me.

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Mini-Challenge #7 - Let Me Sing You a Love Song

Music and reading are my two biggest hobbies, and I have really struggled with this post.  I love so many books, and so many songs that pairing the two was almost impossible.  BUT, I think I've come up with a few good ones.

To Auggie from Wonder...All of Me - John Legend
Wonder is all about appreciating inner beauty and looking past physical imperfections.  Even though this is a romantic song, the lyric "Love your curves and all your edges, all your perfect imperfections" always reminds me of this incredible book.

To Celeana from Throne of Glass...Unstoppable by Sia
This is my theme song these days.  Whenever I'm feeling a little low, I just crank this up and it gets rid of the blues instantly.  I love the growl in her voice, and the lyrics "I'm so powerful, I don't need batteries to play."

Rhysand from A Court of Mist and Fury...Quit Playing Games with My Heart by The Backstreet Boys
I wasn't the biggest fan of Rhysand in ACOTAR, but he stole my heart in the sequel.  And I'm not a bookish crush kind of girl.  Usually I answer those questions with "I don't have one."  But this worries me, because I wonder if he's going to be one of those love to hate and hate to love characters, and I'm going to end up despising him.  Maybe this song should be dedicated to Sarah J. Maas?

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Mini-Challange #6 - Valentine's Care Package

If I had the opportunity to send a Valentine's Care Package, I would send one to Hermione at Hogwarts.  Since we're both fellow bookworms, I'd include a couple of books that I'd read and loved, and just knew that she'd enjoy them too.  I'd include a cute little notebook and a pen, since she'll either be writing down her thoughts on the books or journalling a little.  There would also be some cute little magnetic bookmarks because there's NO WAY that Hermione would dog ear her books.  Nuh uh.

With all that reading and writing, I'd also include some earl grey tea and a cutesy bookish mug.  With all those and cold snowy nights at Hogwarts, Hermione must have curled up with a cup of tea on many occasions.  No good cup of tea is complete without nibble of some delectable dark chocolate.  I'd include a bar of dark chocolate that has a hint of strawberries, because my OTSP Secret Sister sent me this chocolate two rounds ago, and I can't stop buying it.  It is my new favourite thing ever.  I'd enclose a pack of thick, cozy reading socks since Hogwarts must be cold and drafty, and cuddly socks are the best for reading.

What would you send Hermione in a Valentine's Care Package?

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Mini Challenge #5 - X Meets Y

I'm not a huge movie/TV watcher.  There are not enough hours in the day to do all of the things that I love, and movies and TV often don't make the cut.

BUT, with that being said, my husband and I are Bachelor addicts and are currently hooked on finding out whether Nick ends up picking Corrinne.  Because, honestly, I think he just might.  I'm still rooting for Vanessa, because she's got a good head on her shoulders, and she's Canadian, but I also think that she's too good for him.

If you love the Bachelor too, and you haven't picked up Sally Thorne's The Hating Game -- YOU MUST.  This book has been all over the online book community, and the love and praise is well deserved.  It's smart and it's funny and it's pure chick lit perfection.  I love to hate the Bachelor (or hate to love depending on the day) and the love-hate dichotomy fits in well with this book.

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Mini Challenge #3 - Book Spine Poetry

Before I go to sleep, before I wake,
I shall be near to you.
The start of me and you,
The love that split the world,
The truth about forever,
Lips touch: the marriage plot.

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Mini Challenge #2 - Mix 'n' Match

Besides reading, yoga is my other main hobby.  I even started a feature last year, entitled Reading on My Mat to chronicle my yoga journey, and I'm planning to reignite that feature this year!  I entitled it reading on my mat because, when I would go to the studio to practice, I'd always sneak in a few more pages of my current read before the class started ... like this:

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Mini Challenge #1 - Mad Libs -- Fairytale Edition

Once upon a time, in a far away Canada, there lived a smart witch. She lived alone in a grocery store, where she had grown up with the deceased owner. She had beautiful toes, and she was known for her shiny red yoga mat, the only thing she had left of her parents.

Alas, the duchess of the country became jealous and wanted to own this yoga mat. So, she became a wanted person and had to flee into the forest to find a place to hide. After stretching around for hours, hungry and tired, she stumbled upon Vancouver. An old lady appeared, offering her shelter from the bitter cold.  She looked at the witch with zen and said: "I will protect you, but I need your help first. Years ago I lost something precious and I want it back. You need to climb into the sky and get my piano back. Here is a magical toast, throw it into the earth, sprinkle with water and it will sprout a beanstalk. You have seven days to return before the stalk withers." 

She followed the instructions given to her, and lo and behold, a beanstalk grew and grew and grew all the way up to the clouds. After an exhausting climb, she saw a huge townhouse. She walked to the door and knocked. A soft spoken voice said: 'Fee-fi-fo-fum, who dares to come and enter my house?" She was not afraid and said: "My name is Jamie and I've come to collect an item." 

The door made a tapping sound when it opened and revealed a large kitchen filled with golden marbles.  She stepped inside and walked towards the spiraling staircase, where a figure moved, cloaked in darkness.

"Who are you? Step in to the light, so I can see your face."
The beast growled angry. "Why did you come here? I just want to be left alone." Still, it moved and stood in front of Jamie. There were three horns on his head, and hair all over his face and his mouth was filled with large teeth. He wore fashionable clothing.

"What happened to you?" She reached out to touch one of the horns, but the beast flinched. "Many years ago I was cursed by a witch. I have one year left to walk so I can break the spell, but I'm not brave enough."

"If you give me the piano, I will help you."

In keeping its promise, the beast and Jamie worked for a few hours and that afternoon, the beast transformed into an ordinary older guy. "I can't wait to return to my job as office manager in the normal world. Can I come with you?" Together they climbed down the beanstalk, carrying the instrument for the old lady. The moment she saw the guy and her beloved instrument, she started to weep.

"My husband, you have returned!" They hugged and looked at Jamie.

"We have to tell you something," the old lady said. "You are our child. We were separated after the curse, but now we are reunited!" From that day, the three of them lived together in the forest, happily ever after.

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Love-a-Thon -- Introduction Post!

Hi Everyone!  I had such a fun time participating in the love-a-thon last year, and this event was at the top of the list of things that I wanted to do again this year.  This event represents everything that I love about the online bookish community =)  To kick off this weekend, here's my introductory post...

An Introduction to You and Your Blog

What’s your name? Where in the world are you blogging from?

My name is Melissa, and I'm blogging from the West Coast of Canada, just outside of Vancouver, British Columbia.

Tell us your history with reading. Were you always a reader? Were you a reluctant reader? Was there a book that convinced you to become a reader?

I've been a reader for as long as I can remember.  My mom used to take me to the library and I'd borrow a huge pile of Sweet Valley High, Babysitter's Club and Nancy Drew books, and then beg to go back to the library two days later because I'd read them all.

How did you get involved in the online book community?
I started my blog in 2011, after taking a course where I learned all about social media, blogs and online resources.  Nearly six years later, I'm still proud of my little corner of the internet.

How did you choose your primary platform (blog, Instagram, YouTube, etc)? How did you come up with your blog name?
We learned about Blogger and Wordpress as part of this course, and I just picked Blogger to start with.  I've always been a reader, but also a writer, hence Writer Grrl Reads.  The "Grrl" is a shoutout to my Women's Studies background (that's what I studied in university).  We learned about the Riot Grrl movement in one of the courses that I took, and I always loved the edginess of "Grrl."  Feminine, but with a little growl too.

What’s your favorite thing about the online book community?
The friendships that I've made along the way.  There are a few bloggers who were around when I first started, and we're even friends on Facebook (as close to "real life" as we can get!)  Two of the best bookish friendships are with Lauren @ Lose Time Reading (I met her through TBTB Secret Santa many years ago) and Jessica @ Novel Cravings (I met her last year through OTSP Secret Sister).  Both of these ladies are amazing, and we text constantly about books and real life things. 

What sort of posts can readers expect from you?
I don't review much these days, other than books that have been provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review, but I do provide updates on what I'm reading with my On My Nightstand posts.  This year, I've switched from monthly TBR posts to seasonal TBRs.  I've dabbled with a number of features over the years, but this year I'm planning to bring back Marko Mondays (where I share updates on my son and provide picture book reviews) as well as Reading on My Mat (a series of posts about my yoga journey).

What book genres do you talk about most?
I used to read primarily YA, but I got back into adult fiction last year and it's been great.  You'll still see a lot of YA on here, but I'm trying to branch out a bit.  Fantasy is another recent addition to my reading palate, and I'm trying to be a bit more adventurous with high fantasy.


Favorite food? Beverage?
I like all kinds of food, except Indian curry and liver and onions.  My favourite beverage is a cup of Earl Grey tea, with a tiny dab of honey and a splash of milk.

Favorite colour?

Favorite things to do apart from reading?
I've recently started bullet journaling, but I do that while listening to an audio book, so does that count?  Ha ha ha.  Ditto with adult colouring books.  I'm slowing getting back into doing yoga more regularly, and my husband and I are currently watching The Bachelor (Corinne is CRAZY!)  And, of course, spending time with my four year old son, Marko, who is the light of my life.

Favorite tv shows?
At the moment, The Bachelor.  We're also slowly working our way through Star Trek: Voyager.  The other series that we have on the go are Mr. D, Friday Night Lights, Curb Your Enthusiasm and Being Erica.  I'm also counting down 'til the next season of Game of Thrones.  Oh, and my husband makes me watch The Walking Dead with him, although I hide under the blankets for most of it, so I'm not sure that it counts.

Favorite movies?
At the moment, I pretty much watch Disney Pixar movies, but I won't list those =)  Most of my favourite movies include one of my three celebrity crushes: Leonardo DiCaprio, Ryan Gosling or Tobey Maguire.  And She's All That, which is pretty much my favourite movie EVER.

Favorite musical artists?
Again, SO MANY...  The 1990s were my decade, and I still love Savage Garden, Christina Aguilera, Will Smith and Alanis Morrisette.  New favourites include Florence + the Machine, Sia, Lady Gaga, Blue Rodeo, Snow Patrol, City and Colour, Kings of Leon, and many more that I can't think of right now.  I love listening to my favourites and discovering new ones.

Favorite places to shop?
Ummm... the bookstore?  Or a bookstore with a tea shop?  Which I just happen to have found in my new neighbourhood -- pretty much retail perfection.

Favorite childhood books?
Hands down, Michael Ende's The Neverending Story.  It's a book that I'm dying to revisit one of these days.

Favorite books read in the last five years?
Oh my gosh, these are impossible questions!  Anything by Sarah J. Maas, Marissa Meyer, Leigh Bardugo, Morgan Matson, Emery Lord, Katie Cotugno or Sarah Dessen.  Love that this is a split between fantasy and contemporary.

Favorite genres?
A year ago, I would have said contemporary, hands down, but I've been drifting into fantasy more and more and I have to say that I am liking it!

Book Talk

Underrated book, series or author you love?
I read Rachel Del's How To Be Someone Else last fall and it was such a cute contemporary, but with some series heart.  Rachel is also just a super sweet person in general, and a mama to a little boy who is close to Marko's age, so I love following her on Instagram too.

A book you want to see made into a film or tv show?
I'm hopelessly behind with seeing adaptations, but I did recently finish reading A Darker Shade of Magic, and I thought that the scene at the end would be spectacular on screen.  Not to mention seeing all the different Londons come to life.

Book boyfriend/girlfriend? Book BFF? Book family?
I'm not really a book boyfriend kind of girl, but then I read A Court of Mist and Fury.  And, well, you all know how that goes.  For best friends, I loved the friendship in The Start of You and Me by Emery Lord.  And book family would go to Starr's family in The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas.

Books you want to read in 2017?
I have a whole list of 17 books that I'm aiming to tackle this year!  But two books that I absolutely want to read are Empire of Storms (I know, I know) and Burn (because I said I would read it last year, but didn't).

This was super fun, and I'm already looking forward to bouncing around the internet and meeting new people!  Let the Love-a-thon begin!

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The Princess Saves Herself in this One - Amanda Lovelace

I have a degree in English, and I've read a lot of poetry for school.  But it's been a long, long time since I've picked up any poetry and, in all honesty, I haven't read any since I graduated from university.  I purchased a copy of Milk & Honey last year, and have been itching to read it, but the title of this one caught my eye on Netgalley, so I thought I'd give it a shot.

I've seen some criticism for this book that it's not "real poetry."  Honestly, is there such a thing?  I used to write poetry as a teenager and, looking back, I could say that it's all rubbish, but the truth is that it was what I was feeling at the time and it's full of emotion.

In my opinion, there is no wrong way to write poetry.  Amanda's collection of grows as she does, into the princess who saves herself.  It's raw, it's honest and it's pretty freakin' good.  There are some highlight-able, sticky note-able moments in this book, and it's one that I definitely plan to pick up for myself.

Note: A review copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  This did not affect my opinion of this book in any way.

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