7/31/17

Reading Round-up - July

A little part of me misses writing reviews, but not the full length kind.  So I thought I'd try something new and recap a little of what I read this month!


Blue is the Warmest Color by Julie Maroh
I've struggled with graphic novels over the past couple of years, and I think I've finally decided that the genre just isn't for me.  Although I have read a couple of exceptional graphic novels (Blankets and The Sculptor), on the whole I end up underwhelmed with most of the ones that I've picked up.

The Secret History of Us by Jessi Kirby
This was an eARC, so watch for my review tomorrow!

Broken Hearts, Fences and Other Things to Mend by Katie Finn
I wanted to love this one.  I wanted to have more Morgan Matson to read while I wait (not so) patiently for her next book.  But I was disappointed with this one, and it was just okay.  Not worth continuing with the series.


The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
I love, love, loved, LOVED this one.  Super sweet middle grade book, told through the eyes of a gorilla.  It reminded me a little of Ishmael, full of profound truths and fascinating observations.  A little gem of a book for sure.

Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas
I decided earlier this year to re-read the Throne of Glass series in preparation for FINALLY reading Empire of Storms, and I'm glad I did.  I'm re-reading it all on audio, and I've been enjoying it.

The Gammage Cup
I haven't DNFed a book since January, but I just couldn't get into this one.  I even switched it up and tried in on audio, thinking I could quickly get through five hours on audio, but nope. 


Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts
I FINALLY READ SHANTARAM YOU GUYS.  If you've been following my blog for a while, you know that I picked this book up when I was pregnant (circa November 2012), but ended up putting it down when I developed pregnancy-induced carpal tunnel and the book was too heavy to hold.  I've wanted to pick it up since then, but it's also hella intimidating.  Not to mention the fact that anyone who saw it on my shelves raved about it, so the hype was a real thing.  But I LOVED IT.  And I'm so, so, so glad that I finally read it.  I laughed, I cried and I devoured the book in less than a month.  So worth it, and I'll be recommending this to others for sure.

They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera
Another eARC (summer books are READ!) and I'll have a review up for this one on its release date in early September!
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7/27/17

The Best of Adam Sharp - Graeme Simsion

I read, and LOVED, The Rosie Project and The Rosie Effect in early 2015, so when I saw that Graeme Simsion was writing a new book, I knew that I had to get my hands on a copy.  I saw the book pop up on Netgalley, and requested a copy on a whim, feeling pretty confident that my request would be declined, so imagine my surprise when it was approved!  I immediately downloaded it and started reading.

I loved the book from page one, and knew that, although I was fortunate enough to receive an advanced copy for review, I just had to savour this one in printed format.  For one, it was a PDF, which means I have to read it on my iPad, rather than on my Kobo and it's a little harder on my eyes.  So I pre-ordered a copy from Chapters and dove into it as soon as it arrived.

Although I'm incredibly grateful that I had the opportunity to read it in advance, I'm SO GLAD that I waited and read the hard copy because I would have missed out on something truly, truly incredible.  THIS BOOK HAS A PLAYLIST.  It might be included in the ARC (I didn't go back to check), but it's at the back of the physical book.  It lists off all of the songs referenced in the story, and THERE'S A SPOTIFY LIST THAT GOES WITH THE STORY.  It was mind-blowing you guys.  MIND BLOWING.  I love music (love, love, LOVE) and I'm always a sucker for stories that have music interwoven (like Amy & Roger's Epic Detour or Just Listen).  For me, it's a fine balance between making music an integral part of the story, and just name dropping music and artists (like Love is a Mix Tape, which felt like the writer was just showing off his musical prowess).  This book did the music and story blend so well; on a scale of one to ten it was utter perfection.

This book isn't long, but it took me close to a month to finish because I'd read a few paragraphs, listen to a song, read the lyrics to the song, go back and reread the paragraphs, listen to the song again and just feel all the feels.  I knew some of the songs referenced in the book because my dad raised me on a steady diet of oldies, but loved discovering new songs and learning to love the songs even more.  Patti Smith's "Because The Night" is a new all-time favourite because of this book.  I knew the song before, but I truly love the song now.

Music aside, The Best of Adam Sharp is an untraditional love story.  It's the story of Adam, who lives with a bit of regret over the great love of his life, Angelina, and how they ended their relationship.  Life gives them a very strange type of second chance, and it gives them a chance to consider what could have been as well as the paths that their lives took because they went their separate ways.  In some ways, this book felt like a Taylor Jenkins Reid novel because he portrays these messy relationships in a way that makes them feel completely real.  We, as human beings, aren't perfect and our relationships and lives are fraught with moments of "what if?"  This book captures all of those moments, and then some.

If you've read the Rosie books, please know that this book is very different.  It's heartfelt and raw and delicious and wonderful and utter perfection, especially if you opt to listen to the playlist as you read the book.

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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7/12/17

A Blogging Identity Crisis

On April 15th, I started writing this post.  And by "writing," I mean that I wrote in a title for the post and hit save.  That's basically how I lock down my ideas, with the intention of coming back later to flesh out the idea.  This post has been simmering on the backburner of my mind for a while now, and I've opened the draft post a few times, but the words didn't come.  Until tonight.  Tonight I feel ready to share.

This November, I'll be celebrating six years of blogging.  SIX YEARS in this little corner of the internet.  It's still quite little after all these years, mainly because I have never really had enough time and energy to devote to networking.  I admire those bloggers that can pour so many hours into their blogs, and their devotion shows in reader engagement and content development.  I wish I could be like those bloggers and, to be honest, sometimes those feelings are what gets in the way of blogging. It's not a numbers game for me, but it's more a frustration over the quality of my content.  I shared a post a while back, sometime after Marko was born, where I reflected on the thought and care that I used to put into book reviews when I had the time and energy to write them.  As time has gone by, I've stopped writing reviews (except for review copies and if I have a burning need to say something) and have toyed with a number of bookish content ideas.  In all honesty, after so many years of writing about books, I think I'm just running out of bookish ideas.

Which leads me to the topic of this post -- my blogging identity crisis.  I've been wrestling with the idea of making this blog about more than books (and I even tried doing this last year, but didn't follow through).  I have other interests, and spend a lot of time watching videos or looking on Pinterest to support these hobbies (searching for bullet journal ideas on either one is a BLACK HOLE).  I've also discovered non BookTube channels lately, like Cheyenne (Studyrose on YouTube) who I discovered through her Plan With Me videos, but then got caught up in all of her other creative content.  I was watching a video the other day where she mentioned listening to inspirational podcasts, and I thought to myself, "Yes, I should find some of these podcasts to listen to on my commute."  And then I had a huge realization: I have been spending more time lately passively engaged with my hobbies instead of actively engaged with them.  I look for lettering inspiration and bullet journal layout ideas instead of picking up my pen and journalling.  I scroll through Goodreads to see what my friends are reading and watching TBR videos on BookTube instead of reading a couple of chapters of my current read.  I spend more time adding to my TBR pile than subtracting from it, or more time planning and deciding what to read than actually reading.

I'm going to start actively engaging in my hobbies, instead of passively engaging with them.  I'm going to write more on here, write more in my bullet journal, reading more books and, most importantly, reconnecting with my yoga mat.  I've just done two days in a row and am feeling amazing.  I'd like to keep this up ... for once.  And I'm going to blog about whatever the heck I feel like blogging about.  I thought about making a plan for how to roll out new features and content but, you know what?  I barely have time to blog, so I'm just going to go with it and see where it leads me.  If you've stuck with me this long, please know that I am eternally grateful for you and the fact that you pop by every now and then to read these words.  Let's see where this leads, shall we?

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7/10/17

Marko Monday [23] -- Going to the Zoo!

Holy smokes -- it's been a long, long time since I posted one of these!  Now that I'm slowly putting a tentative toe back into the blogging pool, I want to focus on the posts that bring me joy, and this is definitely one of them.  So, you'll see a few more regular picture book reviews popping up here and there, as well as photos of my beautiful boy.

Most of Marko's books come from Value Village, or other used bookstores.  We scored this one from our local used bookstore (which also sells amazing organic loose tea) and it was an immediate hit.  It's written to the tune of "I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly," but features all of Marko's favourite jungle animals.  We read it again and again and again.  The brightly coloured pictures are paired perfectly with words that have the perfect read-aloud rhythm.

Tigers and snakes have been a household favourite since we watched the new Jungle Book a couple of months ago.  Although I struggle with the idea of supporting keeping animals in captivity, I finally decided that Marko would really gain a lot out of a trip to the zoo.  So we went, and he LOVED IT.  He got to touch a python, saw a real Shere Khan pacing back and forth waiting for meal time and saw a few of his other favourites up close.  My husband was absolutely blown away by seeing a real live giraffe (picture below).  On the way home, Marko said that his favourite part was the "cobra brastrictor" -- ha ha ha!



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