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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

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Monday, April 16, 2012

Bye Bye Blogger

Today is a bit of a sad day for me, but keep in mind that change is good!  Chels and a Book has MOVED!  I am extremely excited to announce that I have spent the $25 necessary to move Chels and a Book to its own domain!  Also, I have taken a new and more simplistic approach to the style of the blog and have transferred over to Wordpress.  Although Wordpress does not have a follower button, I hope you will all still stop by or sign up for the email updates =).  Thank you all for the support!  Now, please come and visit me:


P.S. This is so exciting!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

In My Mailbox (7)

My apologies for being completely MIA the past two weeks!  Between work events, visiting friends and, well, work in general, life has gotten a bit busier.  However, fear not, the reading has continued, as has the unstoppable book buying (though it has subsided slightly).  I treated myself last weekend to two books I have been drooling over since the first mention of their existence, Michael Moore's new novel SACRE BLEU and the current teen craze GRAVE MERCY by R.L. LaFevers.


If you are a big Christopher Moore fan and will be picking this up in the next few weeks, you should join the online discussion with my book club at Gin & Rhetoric!  We start our discussion May 1st.

I also plan on getting the blog back up to date this week with reviews for THE FUTURE OF US, SOULLESS and CHELSEA CHELSEA BANG BANG!  I also finished the second book in THE TAKER Trilogy, THE RECKONING a few days ago.  For those of you who know the blog at all, you will know that I ADORE this series.  However, since the book won't be released for another few months, the review will have to wait.  But if you get the chance, PICK IT UP!

Hope everyone had fabulous book weeks!  In My Mailbox is hosted over at The Story Siren.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Books Before Blogging (Part 1)

Once upon a time, in a land before blogging, before Goodreads and before the creation of multiple book-related networking websites, there was word-of-mouth.  Still the most popular form of book recommendation, word-of-mouth has always been my favourite way of discussing books.  Also before blogging and Goodreads, I was still as obsessed with books as I am today -- only I didn't get to write long-winded reviews about everything I read.  SO!  I wanted to draw some attention to older books, but books that I still recommend to everyone and keep proudly on a special shelf in my room.  Here goes:

Perhaps one of my favourite books of all time, HEY NOSTRADAMUS was a Christmas gift one year.  I sat on my parents leather love seat and devoured it (oh, and bawled my eyes out).  Coupland wrote in a way I had never experienced before.  He was so raw and shamelessly oblivious to touchy subjects.  This story, loosely based on the Columbine shootings, centered around two teens who had secretly married so that their religious beliefs permitted a sexual relationship.  Tension arises when unexpected news is announced within the first few pages and the couple separates to go to their prospective classes.  Jason goes to class, while Cheryl makes her way to the cafeteria and is momentarily killed by a group of teen boys with guns.  The book is narrated by four characters, one chunk at a time.  Cheryl opens and narrates into death, while Jason picks up, years later -- a brutally scarred man. Jason's present-day girlfriend and his father also narrate in the second half of the book.  I cannot explain how powerful this novel is.  Like that one book you could never quite let go of, this novel changed the way I saw things.


On an entirely different note, one of my all-time favourite girly reads was Bridget Harrison's TABLOID LOVE.  I read this book the summer before moving to Ottawa to begin my undergrad in Journalism at Carleton (that didn't last long, but my love for this book sure did)!  An important note is that this is a MEMOIR!  Bridget Harrison is a real-life Carrie Bradshaw, sent from London, England to New York City to write for The New York Post.  Her other side is undoubtedly Bridget Jones.  In a new place, thousands of miles from her home and her fiance, Bridget proceeds to ROYALLY mess up her own life.  Though she makes mistakes in this novel, I felt for her -- and believe me, this is not a completely light read.  Harrison reported on the attack on the twin towers in 2001 and the passages from that time period are heart-wrenching.  She was even publicly called out for detailing the innermost secrets of her relationship with the main man of the book.  After the books publication, he expressed extreme sadness in her exposure of their relationship within the text.  Harrison responded with an article stating that although their moments were precious and personal, they were a large part of her life, which this book documents.  It was fascinating, hilarious and heart-breaking.  An absolutely wonderful story.



Another old favourite is Diane Schoemperlen's AT A LOSS FOR WORDS.  This book, written in the second person perspective, is the narrative of an older women, once abandoned by her lover in her early twenties and giving him a second shot multiple years down the road.  This novel is called a "post-romantic novel", which can pretty much tell you that it is not a heart-warming story -- however I could not put it down and loved the fresh take Schoemperlen took on her narrative.  This book also houses one of my all time favourite quotes -- EVER.




 "Many times I've googled you, and I've found that, in addition to your usual self, you are also an evangelical pastor who writes hymns and other sacred songs, a bookseller specializing in fantasy fiction, a collector of Civil War firearms, the owner of an asphalt company, the owner of an antique store, the vice president of a communications corporation, a risk analysis consultant, a jazz saxophonist, a forensic accountant, a disc jockey, a filmmaker, a Web designer, an oncologist, a psychiatrist, a criminal lawyer, and a high school football coach.  You are also a street in Seattle, a road in Wyoming, a hiking trail in Oregon, a lake in New Mexico, and a mountain in Alaska.
Complex?
Indeed.
One in a million? 
I guess not."

BAM!  That is how I feel every time I read that quote, which remains post-noted in my edition of the book.  Such an interestingly written novel.  Short and bittersweet -- I loved this little book. (Oh, AND she's Canadian!)

There are many other books I wanted to include in this post, so for now, we will just call it part one.  Stay tuned!

Saturday, March 31, 2012

In My Mailbox (6)

I've had a small but perfect week in books!  After all the wonders that have been piling up beside my bed, a small week was much needed.  Having just finished a heavier horror novel, I am going as girly as it gets: SOPHIE KINSELLA!  Also, my friend Ikhlas and I met up quickly to do one more book exchange -- and a cookie one!  Being quite the talented baker, Ikhlas has me drooling over pictures of her decident baked goods on a regular basis.  Today, when handing me SHATTER ME, Ikhlas also handed me a batch of pink frosted sugar cookies.  They are already gone and they were amazing!  All in all, a wonderful book (and cookie) week for me!



Book review: The Strain

Ever since reading ROSEMARY'S BABY in a 17th floor hotel room in New York late at night while it poured outside, I have been leaning more and more into horror.  The eerie combination of the downpour mixed with the satanic references of the book had me glued to the page.  Since then, I have been on the hunt for something just as thrilling.  A recommendation from my fellow horror fan, Alexis, (and a fabulous deal at Chapters) put Del Toro and Hogan's THE STRAIN next on the list.

THE STRAIN features a multitude of characters dealing with the after effects of a mysterious murder scene.  When a Boeing 777 lands at JFK airport and stops dead on the tarmac, traffic control is in a frenzy.  Not only does the airplane seem to have no power, but all of the windows have been pulled down. Representatives from the CDC are sent in to investigate and our main character, Dr. Eph Goodweather is pulled from an evening with his beloved son to rush to the airport.  Eph is a part of the Canary project, a "rapid-response team that investigates biological threats".  What they find instantly instills terror into the team and the reader.

Just the image of the plane, blacked out from the inside but illuminated by large spotlights from the outside, was chilling.  I won't lie, this novel is about vampires -- but not the sparkly kind we are now used to.  These vampires are demonic beings and the product of a virus; the spread being referred to as "the strain".

The story is built mostly on suspense and has you ripping through pages to find out what happens, but I was occasionally caught on the many transfers of characters. So many people are involved in the investigation of "the strain" and even more are caught in the effects of it.  Although I felt that this separated me from Eph a bit (who was undoubtedly my favourite character and the reason I enjoyed the book), I understand the necessity of all the background information. 


Certain scenes had my skin crawling, but there is no doubt that this book is the beginning of a trilogy, meaning the end leaves you with a further injection of terror rather than answers.  Del Toro and Hogan had me envisioning dark hooded figures standing in my doorways at night.  Mission accomplished.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Book Review: This is a Love Story

Confession: When I was in high school, chicklit was my vice.  I just couldn't stop reading about these women whose lives seemed to fall apart just so that they could finally fall together.  I would dreamily read through each one, only to replace it with another.  I LOVED them.  Then, during my first year of university, I hit a wall.  I wanted to read something utterly different and I jumped from Sophie Kinsella to Douglas Coupland.  Whenever I would return to chicklit, I would giggle my way through the first few pages, only to be reminded that, ah, yes, this is going in the same direction it always does.

That was until debut author, Jessica Thompson's THIS IS A LOVE STORY.  Drawn in by the cover (which I assumed was made to look super cute in order to make fun of the whole concept), I took a copy home from work at the same time as one of my bosses.  We would reconvene every morning while I made my coffee and she toasted her bagel and discuss Nick and Sienna, two of the cutest but also most frustrating characters in my literary history.  Though I wouldn't classify it as chicklit exactly, and it definitely didn't follow the usual plotline, it brought out that part of me that loves watching good people finally get what they want.  Except, I wasn't sure if that would actually happen and this is what kept me reading.

Nick and Sienna fall in love at first sight, and their chance encounter on the morning train only explodes when they discover that they are working in the same office.  But, nothing is as simple as it seems.  Both convinced the other feels nothing, Nick and Sienna proceed to date all the wrong people, while simultaneously never being able to let one another go.  Their blossoming friendship fools no one but themselves.

While I have never read David Nicholls' ONE DAY, I have heard many wonderful things and based on the plot synopsis (and the movie trailer, sorry!), I can say that the concepts are similar though dealt with much differently.  THIS IS A LOVE STORY had some sad parts (one in particular) but I didn't bawl my eyes out -- which my friend Yaz did while reading ONE DAY.  This story is slightly fluffier, but what makes it so much fun to read is the characters.

Nick, to me, was a Ted Mosby.  Maybe I'm just watching too much How I Met Your Mother, but Nick is constantly battling between what he wants and what he thinks he needs, just like our favourite sitcom guy, Ted.  Sienna is that ridiculously sweet, "I want to help the world", driven but slightly naive young woman who knows what she needs but tries to deny herself what she wants.  What a perfectly confusing match!  THIS IS A LOVE STORY is the story of how sometimes, you just have to let go and run with life.  My favourite part of the whole book was the dialogue and all the witty British banter. This is the perfect read to get you into spring mode!  THIS IS A LOVE STORY will be in bookstores May 1st!

Also, check out this fabulous interview with Jessica Thompson here.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Book Review: The Small Hand

This month, I participated in my first ever Book Club read!  My friend Alexis runs a casual online book club called Gin & Rhetoric and after winning a copy of this months read, I was all excited to get involved.  Alexis shares my love for horror (and ultimately "The Creep Factor"), so my excitement was doubled when the book she chose was Susan Hill's THE SMALL HAND.  For those who don't recognize the name, Hill is the author of THE WOMAN IN BLACK which was recently made into a film with Daniel Radcliffe.  I saw the movie in theatres and though I did enjoy it, I thought that reading the book may have made it slightly scarier.  Reading THE SMALL HAND, I assumed, would be like getting the chance to scare myself even more than a movie could.  I was wrong.

THE SMALL HAND, is more of a novella than a full length novel.  At a mere 176 pages, I made the assumption that I could devour it in one sitting.  Not so much.  THE SMALL HAND centers around an antiquarian bookseller named Adam Snow who, after making a few wrong turns on his way home from a meeting with a client, finds himself on the property referred to as The White House.  Decrepit and abandoned, Adam feels a peculiar pull to the house.  As he begins to explore, he feels an innocent child hand slip into his own.  Rather than feel a chill and the rise of nerves, Adam feels oddly content holding this invisible but tangible hand.  While back at home, Adam is constantly thinking of the small hand: who did it belong to?  Was it a ghost?  Why was it gentle?  Was he being haunted?  Adam's search to both find the origin of the small hand and the reason of why it periodically materializes in his own leads him down an exploration of his own sanity and the sanity of his brother (a former mental patient).  

Though the story is meant to take place in the modern day, the dialogue and writing style had me picturing the nineteenth century.  Then emails would be discussed and my mental image of butler-style overcoats disappeared.  Adam felt completely flat to me and nothing about the small hand actually creeped me out.  Though the scenery was described with such delicate and beautiful details, I felt a constant urge to just flip to the end of all the eloquent descriptions and get to the horror!  I closed the covers of the book feeling a bit disappointed but more surprised that the same woman who created such a gruesome story as THE WOMAN IN BLACK had written this light-feeling ghost story.  Talking to Alexis after, we determined that our feelings about the book were mutual.  Unfortunately, as far as horror novels go, I will not be giving THE SMALL HAND a round of applause. 

Monday, March 26, 2012

Snow White and the Huntsman

 
I am officially drooling over this trailer.  Fairytales have never quite lost their appeal to me.  Being the first thing I read as a child, re-interpretations have always intrigued me -- and THIS is AWESOME!  The graphics, the cinematography, the set design, all absolutely stunning. Enjoy =).


Sunday, March 25, 2012

In My Mailbox (5) [Vlog]


Oh boy .. not the most lovely thumbnail.  But.. onward!

Wow -- I talk ridiculously fast here!  Truth be told, my audio has been super difficult for some reason and I recorded this a few times, only to have the audio still stink.  But, you'll get the general idea!

All the great books from my friend Ikhlas are mentioned on her blog: The Whimsical Whims of Ikhlas Hussain.

In case 10 minute videos will put you to sleep, here are the wonders once again!


Hope you all had a wonderful week in books!  Looking forward to seeing what everyone got in their mailbox this week!

In My Mailbox is hosted each Sunday by Kristi at The Story Siren.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Whitebrow

As I get older, I feel like I become even more proud to be Canadian.  I am proud of our land, our people and (being in the realm of the arts) our talent.  My interest in Canadian writing has peaked over the past year but also, I have tried to hone in a bit more on Canadian musical talent.  Luckily for me, one of my newest favourite talents is not only local, but a friend! 


Before moving to Montreal, I spent one year at Carleton University in the Journalism program -- and in residence.  Being in res is an experience in its own.  I met so many interesting people and in turn, learned a bit more about myself.  One person I saw a lot of, as he was in the same program as me and also on my floor, was Gabriel DeSantis.  Though you could sometimes hear his soft singing and guitar-strumming seeping through the walls, I had no idea how truly talented Gabe was.

Now, preforming under the name Whitebrow, Gabe is rising in the Toronto scene.  I attended his EP release a few months back and another show in the downtown Toronto core just last night and had to share some of his stuff with you all.  Whitebrow's music is categorized as mostly folk-blues, but his command of a multitude of genres is what makes him so compelling to listen to.  With both a guitar and a harmonica, Whitebrow performs original music as well as covers from Bon Iver to Sublime.  Not to mention his cover of Jackson Browne's These Days actually brought tears to my eyes last night!

Do me a favour and visit his Reverbnation page, watch some of his videos and check him out on CBC's music player.  Watching a fellow Canadian succeed is one thing, but knowing them personally adds a whole other aspect (speaking of Canadian, check out his song, Northern Lights for some patriotic lyrics).  His music is wonderful -- enjoy! 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Forsaken


During my time at Simon & Schuster Canada, I was given the opportunity to present a few titles at their sales conference.  As much as speaking in front of a large group of people is intimidating, speaking about something you love makes all the difference.  I have been checking Goodreads religiously for the release of the cover of debut author Lisa M. Stasse's THE FORSAKEN.  I had the ultimate privilege of presenting this book and I must say, not only is this cover absolutely stunning, the plot is by far one of the most intriguing ones I have ever read:

As an obedient orphan of the U.N.A. (the super-country that was once Mexico, the U.S., and Canada), Alenna learned at an early age to blend in and be quiet—having your parents taken by the police will do that to a girl. But Alenna can’t help but stand out when she fails a test that all sixteen-year-olds have to take: The test says she has a high capacity for brutal violence, and so she is sent to The Wheel, an island where all would-be criminals end up.

The life expectancy of prisoners on The Wheel is just two years, but with dirty, violent, and chaotic conditions, the time seems a lot longer as Alenna is forced to deal with civil wars for land ownership and machines that snatch kids out of their makeshift homes. Desperate, she and the other prisoners concoct a potentially fatal plan to flee the island. Survival may seem impossible, but Alenna is determined to achieve it anyway.
This whole concept blows my mind. THE HUNGER GAMES meets LORD OF THE FLIES type deal, this book has addictive writing and such creativity!  Though I only had the chance to read the beginning, I am positive that this book has the potential to be a major success for Stasse!  Strike your interest?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Book Review: The Hunger Games

Scene: 25 pages to the end of the novel with a huge twist thrown into the plot.  My read on the subway home turned my usual half hour ride into what felt like two minutes.  Scanning the pages as fast as I could, I stop focusing just long enough to run down the subway steps and onto the street.  I began my slightly uphill ten minute trek home, my nose still buried in the pages.  Yep, I was one of those.  Right after I read a particularly horrifying sentence, a drop of rain lands on my page.  Then another.  HOW IS THIS HAPPENING RIGHT NOW?!  I almost ran the rest of the way home, barely had my coat off and flopped on the couch to finish the book.

All that to say, this book is unputdownable!  Worth every tid bit of praise it has received over the past few years, THE HUNGER GAMES was one of those novels that sucks you out of your own world and drops you into another.  I felt like every time I closed the book, I was like Katniss going to sleep -- making myself vulnerable.  I HAD to keep reading -- all the time.  Collins not only met all of my expectations for this book, but she exceeded them in so many ways.  She created a cast of characters that felt so real to me, and a world that began as a blank slate in my mind, turned into an empire.  Panem put me completely off balance, contemplating just how terrorizing it would be to live in constant fear and knowledge that your life is temporary; not in the sense that you could get hit my a car tomorrow, but that the fate of you and those you love is entirely in the hands of a corrupt and insensitive force.

And Katniss!  This girl easily climbed her way up the Anne Shirley podium of wondrous leading ladies and is sitting among the top (sorry, Anne cannot be dethroned -- ever).  I loved her.  She was the epitome of perseverence for me and I couldn't put the book down because I had to know that she was okay -- this selfless, courageous and radiant young woman.  And Peeta!  Not your typical YA leading man, he was the steady heartbeat of the book.  Katniss was the calculating one, while Peeta ruled with emotion, in the best way possible.  Perhaps my favourite literary team as of yet!

I have tried to write this review a few times and have finally accepted that it is just going to come out sounding like a gush anyways.  No attempt at clever witicisms will make a difference.  I have been a total girl about this book and have been repeatedly watching the movie trailer too.  Not one for the cult classic books-to-movies, I have never seen the Harry Potter movies and stopped halfway through Twilight, but this is a whole new ballgame.  I cannot WAIT for this film!

Suzanne Collins, THANK YOU!  Now, onto CATCHING FIRE!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

In My Mailbox (4)

So, normally I wouldn't write a post for just one book, but this week, I kind of have to.  During my shift at Indigo on Wednesday morning, a lady asked to speak with my manager.  On my way to the back, she called out, "It's Sue, from Scholastic!"  Since the past year of my life has been devoted to beginning my career in publishing, the chance to speak to anyone from a publishing house gets me way too excited.  After her talk with my awesome store manager, Lori, Sue came to the front desk and proceeded to break my weekly book buying ban by telling me all about Scholastic's newest YA release, ABOVE.  I walked out of work with this book in my purse for the following reasons:


1) Leah Bobet is CANADIAN!  What book loving Canadian would ever pass up the chance to support one of our own in a genre that we love... eh?
2) The CN Tower is featured on the absolutely gorgeous cover.
3) Though it is categorized as YA, Sue assured me that the literary tone of the book reads almost adult.  A "crossover" title like this has a widely scoped audience and will resonate with teens and adults alike.
4) It is blurbed by Emma Donoghue!
5) Sue's enthusiasm was undeniable.  I could not listen to that lady speak about this book with such passion and NOT pick up a copy.

Yes, covers and plot lines sell books, but if you really want to get excited about something, let a book lover tell you about it!

I also received a few fabulous ARC's this week (eeeek!) but I am going to save that for a vlog in a few weeks!  Hope you all had a fabulous book week!

(IMM is hosted by Kristi @ The Story Siren)

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Book Review: The Fault in Our Stars

(Note: V. emotional review!)

Like so many others, cancer has affected my life immensely.  Not that long ago, the numbers of those whose lives had been greatly altered by this disease were much lower -- but now, almost everyone has suffered from the many pains of cancer.  My father was diagnosed with leukemia six years ago and after cancer took his health and his adored job as a firefighter, it threatened to take his life.  He underwent a bone marrow transplant in late 2010.  My family held our breath for months, watching my dad suffer through one flu or infection after another.  His immune system was obliterated for the surgery and took nearly a year to stabilize.  Now, seventeen months later, my dad is finally getting his stride back.

This is a common story.  The story that is not commonly told, however, is the story of what happens to a person in the in-between.  The months my dad spent in the hospital and my mom spent living in a hotel down the street just to be close to him, were devastating.  I feel like I aged tremendously during this period of my life; absolutely terrified but being as much of an adult as I could so that my dad knew I could handle seeing his excessive weight-loss and the tubes that reached into his shirt and burrowed through his skin, into his heart.  There was so much about what happened to my dad emotionally during this time that I just didn't understand.  I reacted and responded, but I didn't understand.

John Green helped me understand.

This book was almost like a lifeline to me.  All the times I wondered why my dad wanted to be alone in his room or the times he said things that didn't make sense to me.  I feel like all of a sudden, I get it.  Green creates characters, more real than you can possibly imagine.  Hazel, regardless of her age, was so similar to my dad -- it shocked me, both in emotions and attitude.  Even her snarky remarks that made me laugh out loud made me think of my dad's funny sense of humour.  She is sick, and knows that her life is being stretched thin and doesn't want to cause anyone more pain then she has to.  Until she falls in love with Augustus Waters.

Augustus was one of the most enjoyable characters I have ever read.  I laughed more in this book than I did in books MEANT to be humour reads.  He was witty, honest and such a total nerd.  He was the perfect character.  Even Isaac, his best friend, was wonderfully written.  Isaac, oh my god, you broke my heart.  I can't tell you why.  Just read the book and you'll know.

I don't even want to tell you anything about the actual plot.  These characters had burrowed into my heart and unlike the tube's from my dad's chest, they will NOT be removed.  I do not re-read books often, but I will re-read this.  I will also make everyone I know who has ever had cancer affect their lives read this (...and everyone else too).  Hazel, Augustus and Isaac were literary heroes to me, just like my father is my real life hero.  Hazel's parents deserve an award too.  Regardless of the box or two of kleenex I went through, this book healed my heart a little.  It encapsulates and captivates.

John Green, thank you for helping me understand.  This book stole my heart and I haven't quite got it back.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

In My Mailbox (3) [Vlog]



Phew!  Hopefully that wasn't TOO much rambling.  But here are the promised links!

My friend Alexis' blog entitled Gin & Rhetoric can be found here and the Facebook page the book club is run from is here.  We have until March 20 to read THE SMALL HAND, so pick up a copy from the library or a bookstore near you and read along with us! 

For more information on the Love of Reading Foundation, click here.

Hope you all had fabulous book weeks!  Let me know what you got in your mailbox.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Judging a book by its cover..

For anyone who follows this blog on a regular basis, you will know that last year, I read (what became) one of my favourite books ever: Alma Katsu's THE TAKER.  Katsu absolutely captured me in so many ways and if you want a reminder or encouragement to read it, check out my original review here.  And while I'm at it, a few wonderful reviews have been posted since from great Canadian bloggers I follow: Andrea's review on Cozy Up With A Good Read and Ikhlas's review at The Whimsical Whims of Ikhlas Hussain.  I also branded it with my Staff Picks sticker (my very first pick -- woo!) at Indigo Spirit where I am working part-time.  Now.. onward.

As I was interning with Simon & Schuster when the new cover was being contemplated, I can say that I have been waiting patiently for its debut so that I can post about it here.  I loved THE TAKER's original cover -- the eerie castle in the distance and the creepy but royal look it possessed.  However, a new edition will be coming out at the end of March with a completely different twist on it.  To me, this cover is absolutely stunning but slightly reminiscent of a YA cover.  I have a feeling this will be more eye-catching on a shelf and hopefully it will draw in the audience that THE TAKER rightly deserves, however, I also fear that teens will pick it up when it might not exactly be an appropriate teen read.


 What are your thoughts on both of these, extremely different but equally lovely covers?  Oh, and if you haven't read this book yet -- PLEASE DO!  Click on either image to be directed to the Chapters Indigo website for purchase details.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Street Etiquette -- NOT A Love Story


 When I lived in Montreal, I encountered my first subway system.  Getting used to the chaos that surrounds this form of transportation was difficult.  For the fun of it, I wrote a post on my then blog, Bright Lights Big City entitled "Street Etiquette" where I used a few of my own stories to construct a list of rules for subway/ bus/ sidewalk travelers.  Three years later, I am still wondering how this code of conduct does not exist.  Or it does, but is rarely ever abided by or enforced.

Scene: 8:35am Wednesday morning.  I am on my way to a job interview, dressed in my absolute best and feeling a healthy combination of excitement and terror.  I have finally gotten used to being uncomfortably pressed against at least four other people during my ride from Keele Station to Yonge & Bloor.  I have learned not to wear my heals on the train, as I am sure I have punctured enough toes (from abrupt stops followed by staggering attempts to remain standing) to last me a lifetime.  I have learned to hold my lunch bag low, so to not upset the people who are pressed up against my endless supply of lunch-filled tupperware.  I have managed to become comfortable enough standing so close to a seated person that I am almost in their lap, just to make room.  Apparently, these unfortunate learned lessons have not reached the entirety of the general population.  Halfway between stops, an extremely tall and decently built older gentleman stands up from his seat and begins pushing himself through the crowds of people gripping the poles for dear life as to not go tumbling when the car rolls to a stop.  He grips a cane with determined strength and proceeds to body check a good ten people (including yours truly) on his way to the door.  When a frustrated man yells "HEY!", after being pushed into another lady, the man responds with a "HEY!".  The younger guy instantly sprouts fire out of his ears, "You just pushed me!"  What followed made my faith in humanity momentarily wobble.  The large man stood taller than before, towering over the younger man and yelled, "I'M ON A CANE, F**KFACE!"  Pretty sure I wanted to reach over and cover the ears of all the children riding with their parents on their way to school, and to smack the tall man upside the head.  I was appalled.  And so, I am here once again to revise and re-title one of my favourite former posts.

THE SUBWAY/ STREETCAR/ TRAIN ETIQUETTE RULES

1. When the subway arrives, let the people who are getting OFF go first.  Unless of course, you want to be trampled à la Lion King stampede.  Just be patient.  Wait!  I promise, the train will not magically disappear if you are NOT the first one on.  Now, carry on.

2.  Let the people who were waiting before you get on first.  I know you are in a rush but buddy, you live in Toronto.  Everyone is in a rush.  Wait your turn.  Thank you.

3.  If you have a seat, look up occasionally to ensure that you are not making a 90-year-old lady attempt to keep her balance while you pretend life beyond your 24 Hour newspaper does not exist.  Be courteous and let the lady sit.  Seriously.  One of my major pet peeves.

4.  Watch your language.  I feel like this should just exist in all public places -- especially when you are surrounded by children.  It slips out once in a while, I understand that, it happens to the best of us.  But don't get on the bus and start yelling about your intimate life with your four other friends, or having a fight with your ex on your cellphone repeatedly calling someone a "whore".  You won't want your kids hearing this, so take other people's children into consideration as well.  Also, I really don't want to hear about your sexcapades while I am reading a deliciously good thriller on the bus.

5.  Don't put your purse on the seat beside you when there is an onstream of people filling into the car.  Honestly, your purse should fit on your lap.  If I had more guts, I would sit right on someone's lap and say "I know your purse is big but if I can fit here, I'm sure it can too."  But I don't, so instead, I will vent here.

I'm sure there is more I would love to add later but for now, this works.  Anything that drives you crazy?  
 

Friday, February 24, 2012

Good Book Overload


 I have felt like a bit of a literary deadbeat the past two weeks!  But the truth is -- I have been reading like a maniac, just ... not the same book.  I seem to be having "Book ADD" right now.  Each time I turn around, a new and fabulous looking book has arrived into work, or goes on sale at Chapters Indigo, or I have won it somewhere.  I can't keep track and I want to read them all!  My goal to stop buying new books and read all the old ones I have hoarded, has slowly slipped out of reach.  I pick up a book, read the first 50 pages and then grab another and do the same.  I have read the beginning of far too many novels in the past two weeks and have finally settled down to two.  Except for the two orders I placed recently that will most likely both arrive next week.  Oh ...no.  New goal: finish these two books and happily read the new ones that come in then!  Problem: THE CATASTROPHIC HISTORY OF YOU AND ME just came out... and DELIRIUM is now in paperback... and Anne Rice just wrote a new book...

Anyone feeling this kind of dilemma?  Ok -- it is written out and now I will stick to it!  Here is the potential reading list for the next month and a bit:

FEBRUARY: 
Finish recommendation from friend Alexis at Gin & Rhetoric, THE STRAIN (love me some horror lately!) and THE GILLY SALT SISTERS which is turning out to be completely different than I originally expected.


 MARCH: 
Read THE HUNGER GAMES before the movie comes out because I think I truly am the last person to read this book.  Next, THE SMALL HAND for Alexis' Book Club on the Gin & Rhetoric Facebook page!  I have never participated in a Book Club read and actually very excited!  Then will probably read SOULLESS and CHANGELESS, which I have been gushing over since I came across the series on Goodreads.  It comes highly recommended from friends and bloggers, so here we go!  Then I will most likely start my adventure into the world of the BEAUTIFUL CREATURES -- another series I missed the bandwagon with!  Or I might buy DELIRIUM or THE CATASTROPHIC HISTORY OF YOU AND ME.  Because I just can't help myself..

 

What are your reading plans?!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Book Lover's Ball Recap

Ahh *happy sigh*.  The Book Lover's Ball.  I don't even know where to start with how fabulous the whole evening was.  Being a volunteer was an eye-opening experience for me.  This was the first "event" I have seen be built from the ground up and brought to life in a matter of hours.  The night before, myself, my new friend Nabila and a few other ladies met up at the Fairmont Royal York to help put together the gift bags for the guests.  Six HUNDRED gift bags.  Three hours later, we headed home, having accomplished this:


The next morning, we were all back for 8:45am to start setting up.  Though the Royal York is beautiful already, the events team, Hala Events, turned it into the most glamourous venue I have seen in ages!  Tables, a stage, a red carpet, everything -- felt a little like I was prepping for the Grammys.  I almost melted when I was given the task of placing the authors books on their tables.  Putting Ami McKay, Lawrence Hill and Margaret Atwood's books on tables, knowing in a few mere hours, the people I have thought of as celebrities my whole life will be sitting right here, made me giddy like a child. 



When the event actually started, I helped check in the guests right at the foot of the red carpet.  Everyone looked absolutely fabulous from authors to publishing personnel to sponsors to TV personalities.  As dinner neared, I snuck into the silent auction room where I could mingle with other volunteers stationed there and catch sight of the authors as they slowly made their way to dinner.  I stood across a table from Jeanne Beker, slipped past Kevin O'Leary while he took a picture with a fan and even shook the hand and spoke with one of my literary favourites, Lawrence Hill and his lovely wife Miranda (highlight of my evening). 



One of the major attractions of the night was the Sweet Fix table.  A television show similar to Cake Boss actually made a cake out of books from authors in attendance.  My pictures won't do it justice but seriously -- this cake was AMAZING.  Camera people taped us almost all day, prepping and moving things around, and I am embarassed to say that I was caught yawning with one of the men pointing the camera directly at me.  Dear Sweet Fix people: please cut that.  I have no idea where to find where the show will air but once I do, I will post it here!  (See the picture at the bottom -- the small book pile is a real example of the books, the larger one is the cake!)



And that was my Book Lover's Ball experience!  One word: fabulous.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Book Buying Addict

Confession:  I just spent over an hour going through all of my books.  I tallied up the books I own compared to the books I've read and the numbers are NOT pretty.  I am clearly a book buying addict.

I have realized recently that there will never be enough time in my life for me to read every book I want to.  It is simply impossible.  Tons of new, wonderful sounding books come out every day!  But, I keep buying them in hopes that at some point, I will be able to take 45 on vacation and get through them all (...okay, maybe not 45).  So, I'm curious -- is this something we should start a help group for or something?  Let's see how many of you are addicts, just like me!



Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Little Love

Yes, it's Valentines Day; a day full of both those who want everything to be romantic, those who want down with love, and those who are indifferent.  Though I'm sure I have been a bit of all three at some point in my life, I think I have finally decided what today is for me.  It is a day to relish in all the love around you -- your friends, a significant other, family, even yourself.  You love someone, and someone loves you. 

I hope you all told someone you love them today! 


And while I'm here, I wanted to write a little quote that made me smile last night.  This one's for the girls:

A few more glasses of wine and a night of playful banter passed in what felt like seconds [...] We talked about the pressures of the job hunt, the rat race, the career world.  We talked about the pros and cons of settling down young.  We even talked about pensions and mortgages, for God's sake (even though pensions and mortgages seemed a very long way off yet).  The early twenties female mind is a confusing and panicked place, I can tell you that, but I think we all walked away feeling like a few things had been picked apart, analysed and put back in a better order than they had been before.
- Jessica Thompson, THIS IS A LOVE STORY

Monday, February 13, 2012

Book Review: The Space Between

Before you even open them, some books just scream your name -- the cover is beautiful, the synopsis is captivating and the feel of them in your hands is perfection.  This is how I felt about THE SPACE BETWEEN.  I had read a fantastic review of the book by Maja from The Nocturnal Library and had to read it right away.

THE SPACE BETWEEN centers around Daphne, the daughter of Lucifer and Lilith.  She resides in Hell, where everything is made of chrome and steel and the center of it is a giant furnace that burns away anything that does not belong in hell.  When Daphne's one true friend, her brother Obie, runs away to earth to be with a human woman, Daphne is sent by her mother to bring him home.  Demons who choose to walk the earth run the risk of being killed by Azrael, the Angel of Death and his tormenting "sidekick" Dark Dreadful.  When Daphne finally finds herself on Earth for the first time, she knows exactly where to start searching for Obie: find a boy named Truman.

When his mother died, Truman's life spiraled into a dark abyss.  After too much torment, Truman attempted to take his own life, but was only briefly brought to hell, where he met a girl with long black hair and perfect pale skin.  When Truman wakes up in a hospital bed, he meets Obie, a kind doctor who tends to his wounds and befriends him.  Almost every night, Truman dreams of a dark voice, taunting him about his suicide attempt, but then he sees the dark haired girl.

THE SPACE BETWEEN was one of the most creative books I have ever read.  Yovanoff did a wonderful job of illustrating hell and of creating a character who knows compassion, but has never felt love.  My favourite part of the book was definitely the descriptions of hell and the traditional biblical figures that exist in it.  I also really enjoyed Truman's character -- a dark, hurt and broken boy who just cannot lift himself off his knees.  Daphne and Truman's blossoming affections for each other are unlike other YA romances, as Truman is extremely damaged and Daphne is a creature of the underworld, presumably incapable of feeling tenderness and love for a human being.  Yovanoff handled their romance with a delicate touch, but it also made it difficult as a reader to throw yourself into their relationship.  It was just so unique.

There was quite a bit of "searching" in the book, and because of Daphne's lack of feeling for certain things, brutal scenes were swept over as she was unable to react to them the way Truman did.  The end of the novel was action packed and my mouth fell open a few times, but I wish this could have happened a bit more during the novel.  All in all, I enjoyed THE SPACE BETWEEN and would recommend it for fans of demon books where even angels have darker sides.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

In My Mailbox (2)

Phew!  This has been one of the busiest weeks of my life!  For anyone who has talked to me, read the blog or any of my tweets, you will know that this week was The Book Lover's Ball!  I will post a recap of the event this week (sneak preview: I met one of my favourite literary people)! And to make up for my crazy week, I am spending the day watching movies and reading on the couch in my robe and fuzzy slippers.  Oh. Yeah.


This was also a great week in books for me!  I got a copy of Julianna Baggott's PURE, which I can't wait to read but am waiting for the right mood to strike.  I have heard wonderful things about the novel and have read a previous book by Baggott (which I really enjoyed) but at the moment, I am not really in the mood for dark and depressing.  Maybe later on in the week?

I also got BEAUTIFUL CREATURES and BLOOD RIGHTS.  I had ordered them a few weeks ago and was super excited when they arrived on Friday.  I am late getting on the BEAUTIFUL CREATURES train but better late than never!

Also, I met up with my friend Amy yesterday and since we are both huge book hoarders, we picked out a few on our shelves that we were willing to separate with and swapped.  She gave me Mindy Kaling's book IS EVERYONE HANGING OUT WITHOUT ME? which I was drooling over when it first came out.  If you haven't noticed, I am a huge fan of celebrity essay/bio/memoirs.  This is definitely something I will get to this week!  She also lent me her copy of DAMNED by Chuck Palahniuk.  I have heard amazing things about Chuck's books, but have never picked one up for myself.  His reputation as an extremely dark humor writer has me hoping I will be as drawn to his books as I am to Douglas Coupland.  You either love Coupland, or you can't stand him.  I am on the LOVE side of things.  Hopefully the same thing will happen with Chuck!

And that's it for me!  Stay tuned for upcoming posts -- review of THE SPACE BETWEEN and a recap of The Book Lover's Ball!