Thursday, December 30, 2010

Currently Reading: The Christmas Clock

Ah, the joys of the Christmas season. I love it. So much, in fact, that I am still reading Christmas stories. I wish I could prolong the holiday even more, but eventually, all the Christmasiness (yes, I'm making up words)
will be gone and I have to create it on my own. Right now, every thing is still in holiday mode since New Year's Eve is tomorrow (expect a resolutions type post soon!) and people are still visiting family and taking time off work. There are also lovely marathons happening on pretty much every specialty channel. I'm currently flipping between HGTV (Property Virgins) and Food Network (Challenges) while I'm writing this.

I just started reading The Christmas Clock by Kat Martin today and I absolutely love it. It was just released last October and I remember seeing it at work and wanting to read it. Unfortunately, I never got around to it. While I was working this year I happened upon it again and made a note so I would remember to check the library for it (side note: I finallllly got a library card!). Lucky for me, it was there!

I'm just over halfway through the novel, and like I said, I am in love with it - the story, the characters, the tone. It's a small book (eleven chapters, 145 pages, all packaged in a tiny hardcover) so if you're looking for a short novel to read next Christmas in between the five bazillion things you have to do, this is the one for you.

What I really love about this novel so far is that it has the true spirit of Christmas. Lottie Sparks is suffering from a form of Alzheimer's that is rapidly progressing and her biggest worry is that she will not be able to find a home for her eight year old grandson, Teddy, before she is no longer able to take care of him. She's slowly losing her memory, but every time she sees this old Victorian clock in a shop window she remembers her childhood. Teddy knows how much she loves the clock and desperately wants to buy it for her for Christmas.

The Teddy-Lottie storyline was the only one I knew about when I got into reading this, but there is actually a romantic story woven through as well. Sylvia Winters and Joe Dixon used to be in love and were engaged but all of a sudden, Sylvia up and left the small town and moved to the city. Now she's back in town and they are trying to figure out how to get used to seeing each other again. Both of them are in pain and it really gets to me the way things turned out with them. I desperately hope they can work things out.

I'll give you all an update when I finish the novel and let you know if it continued to be a fantastic book!

I hope you all had a magnificent Christmas (I sure did!) and have a Happy New Year as well! :)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

I Believe!

If you've been reading this blog, or if you know me really well, you know that I absolutely love Christmas. There are a couple of movies that I love to watch every year and I've already been able to watch some of them...Love Actually, The Holiday...and have yet to watch a few more...The Santa Clause, Rudolph, Miracle on 34th Street. Another Christmas movie I make a point of watching each year (and what might be my favourite one) is The Polar Express.

Last night I finally got to watch it, and convinced my best friend, her boyfriend, and her sister to watch it with me. We had our Christmas gift exchange and it just happened to coincide with one of the best Christmas movies ever, how could we not watch it? I was the only one who stayed awake for all of it, but that's besides the point :)

I think I tend to forget every year why I adore this movie. It's not really for the animation (though it is really spectacular). What I love is the way it takes me back to when I was a kid and still believed in Santa. Although some of the details are a little fuzzy now, I remember my sister and I picking out the cookies for Santa and making sure there was a carrot out for the reindeer. We didn't have a fireplace, and since Santa could only come in through a fireplace, we created one out of these awesome brick blocks that we had (anyone else remember those?) Every Christmas Eve we would hang our stockings on the blocks and in the morning we would rush into the living room and our stockings would be stuffed full and placed beside the "fireplace." Life was good.

These days, our stockings are still pretty stuffed (yes, my sister and I are totally spoiled by our mom and Grandma) and we actually have a real fireplace. The thing that's missing? That unwavering childhood belief in Santa Claus. And that, I think, is why I love to watch The Polar Express. For a couple of hours I'm able to sit back and watch as a little boy is able to go from doubting Santa's existence to believing in him for the rest of his life. It's kind of nice, and I almost wish that I could still believe myself. Does that make me a little crazy? Maybe. But I'm sure I'm not the only one who feels that way.
The last lines in the movie are simple and so very sweet.
"At one time most of my friends could hear the bell, but as years passed it fell silent for all of them. Even Sarah found one Christmas that she could no longer hear its sweet sound. Though I've grown old the bell still rings for me, as it does for all who truly believe."
If any of you haven't seen this movie yet, I highly recommend it. The book's been a classic for years, and I think that the movie has already established itself as a classic as well. The story is timeless and that is what makes it so great. I actually love it so much that I actually bought it today! :)

Well, that is it for me tonight. I've got a Christmas card to make! Also, some packing to do. But that is slightly less fun.

Have a very merry Christmas everyone, and listen for those bells!

Monday, December 20, 2010

My Love Affair with Ron Weasley

Ok, so it's more of an imaginary love affair. Particularly as Ron Weasley is a fictional character, but, there it is. I love Ron Weasley.

Technically, this is Rupert Grint, but I love him too!

Don't worry, I'm not (totally) crazy. I just think the red haired best friend of Harry Potter doesn't get enough loving. So, to start off my post about the latest Harry Potter movie, I would declare my love for one Ronald Weasley.

Now that that's out of the way...onto discussing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1. My sister and I went to watch the movie a few weeks ago now (on one of my many snow days) and I've been meaning to write about it for awhile but between snow days and working two jobs and it being, you know, Christmas, I've been busy!

I thought Deathly Hallows Part 1 was really well done and perfectly captured the dark atmosphere of the seventh story. The kids are growing up and facing things that no seventeen year old (magical or otherwise) should ever deal with. Anyone who has grown up with the story or is totally and completely obsessed with it will know what it was like to watch the intense scenes and get goosebumps. I remember tons of people (myself included) actually getting shivers from just the trailer! Rowling is a genius storyteller and I think the actors were able to perfectly capture what she was trying to describe in the novels. 

Emma Watson = amazing
One of my favourite scenes actually came at the very beginning of the movie. In the book, Hermione erases the memory of her parents to make sure they are not in any danger if they are ever interrogated by the dark wizards. This is just explained to Harry and Ron after the fact, but in the movie, they actually show her taking the memories from her mom and dad. I thought it was just so much more powerful to see this happening instead of just hearing about it later. My sister, on the other hand, didn't like it. But, this blog is about my thoughts, not hers! :)

Another scene that perfectly illustrates the fact that the characters (and actors) are growing up, is when Ron has to destroy the necklace. It is such an evil object that it manifests itself into everything that Ron is dreading, is jealous of, or is scared of. It was just an incredible amount of dark feelings (which we knew from the book) but Grint was able to really make us feel for him and then have us feeling happy/proud/impressed when he is able to finally destroy the Horcrux. It is a shining moment for Ron Weasley and I'm pleased with the way it was done in the movie. Is it any wonder I totally love this character?

It was sort of surprising (but it shouldn't have been) that some characters were barely in the movie. For example, Neville had a grand total of one scene and one line, and we only see Draco, Snape and Luna a couple of times. Part of that feeling probably came from the fact that I didn't know exactly where they were going to split the movie. My sister made a good point and said that they should have ended it as soon as they got to the Malfoy manor. I think that would have made a pretty powerful ending. The snatchers get Harry, Ron, and Hermione and then show up to the house with the grand gate in front of them, and then it ends. Intense, no?
Doesn't this give you chills?
I'm already looking forward to the next installment. I have a feeling I may lose it a few times and start crying when some very important characters die. I think that the final two films really gave the actors the chance to grow and tackle some very tough story lines. They have always been great, don't get me wrong, but since they've all spent so much time with these characters and have grown as actors, the performances were just that much more powerful.

I hope this post wasn't too rambling or off topic. Once I get started on Harry Potter, it's hard to stop! I also didn't want to give too much of the movie away. Besides, I'm not all about the typical "reviews." Hopefully I've convinced some of you non-Harry Potter people to at least watch the movies (how have you stayed away from something this amazing for so long?)

Enjoy the last few shopping days before Christmas, and good luck to my fellow retail salespeople. We'll get through the madness. I hope to write another Christmassy post before the actual holiday creeps up on me (by the way, anyone else totally surprised that Christmas is NEXT WEEKEND? Eek!). Have a great week everyone! :)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Chick Lit Plus Reading Challenge!

I've just started a challenge! It sounds like it could be pretty fun, and will provide a bunch of posts for my blog.
The blog Chick Lit Plus has just started this new challenge for 2011. (The page with all the instructions is here as well as linked on the right of my blog, if you haven't seen it) The basic point is to read 12 chick lit books throughout 2011, two of which need to be debut authors (that might be harder to figure out!) I read a ton throughout the year anyways so that won't be a problem for me. What might be difficult is choosing which ones to review on here!
I think it'll be a lot of fun because I'll get to read about what others are reading and pick up some new books and authors. I think that's a great thing about the blogosphere, how you can see what others are doing and read what they think.
Speaking of reading about what others think, stay tuned in 2011 for my reviews on my chick lit reads. And, if any of you are chick lit fanatics, or are looking for something new to try, join the challenge yourself!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Silver white winters that melt into springs...

...these are a few of my favourite things!

I had a couple of snow days this week and I got to thinking about my favourite movies, books, and tv shows. Yeah, I had quite a bit of time on my hands :) But come on, look at this picture of where I work (well, one of my jobs...and by the way, they barely ever get snow!)

Good times, no?

Anyways, back to my lists. I have decided to include the top five from each of the categories. Hope it's not too boring for you, but I'm in the mood to talk all about myself! Some of these were chosen because they really are beyond amazing, but others I really like because they're comforting and familiar and never ever get sick of them. So don't judge too harshly!


1. Harry Potter series
2. Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series
3. This Lullaby or Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen (ok...I cheated a bit here, but I love all of hers, hard to choose just one!)
4. The Forgotten Garden - Kate Morton
5. Jessica Darling series - Megan McCafferty (Sloppy Firsts was the first...five in total)
What almost made it: Pride and Prejudice and Twilight Saga

TV Shows (fun fact, I own at least the first season of the top five)
1. Gilmore Girls
2. House
3. Bones
4. The O.C.
5. Glee
What almost made the list: Being Erica and Parenthood


1. Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
2. Princess Diaries
3. Bull Durham
4. Lucky Seven
5. Pride and Prejudice
What almost made it: Devil Wears Prada and 500 Days of Summer

Disney Characters (for something whimsical)
1. Cinderella (the story was like a lullaby for me when I was young!)
2. Winnie the Pooh
3. Ariel (The Little Mermaid for you non-Disney folk)
4. Princess Mia (from The Princess Diaries)
5. Belle (Beauty and the Beast)
What almost made it: Aurora (Sleeping Beauty)

Feel free to add your own favourites in the comments below! Can you think of any other lists I can add? You can also be curious and ask why I may have chosen a particular title or thing to put on my list :)

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells

My Christmas Tree for 2010!
'Tis the season for an abundance of Christmas loveliness.

One of the (many) things I love about this holiday is the number of books, tv specials, and movies that are available. It's amazing. Right now, for example, I am watching The Holiday, an excellent movie to start the Christmas season. I've had some crazy Decembers in the last five years, which meant that I never had much time to read a lot of Christmas-themed books before the actual holiday. Christmas movies, on the other hand, were one of the only things to help my roommates and I through finals. We had a tradition, the girls and I. Every year we would order the festive special from Swiss Chalet, make a gingerbread house, exchange our Secret Santa gifts, and watch Love Actually. Of course, sometimes we would drag this out over the few weeks of exams to make things more festive around the house. (In full disclosure, we kept our tree up one year until about March or April. Part was laziness, part was that it was amusing as hell). I really miss you girls!

I'm not sure when my mom and I became particularly obsessed with reading Christmas books but we most definitely are. Since I was away at school she would be the one to go to the library and borrow at least five Christmas books (again, in full disclosure, most of them romances) for the two of us to read. I haven't been able to get any yet this year (since I've just moved I haven't gotten around to checking out the library here. Shocking, I know) but my plan is to find some soon!

In the meantime, however, I will watch a multitude of Christmas movies and tv shows. Like I said, I'm watching The Holiday right now. I just watched a movie on the W Network on Monday while I was holed up in a (very nice) hotel room. I'm not ashamed to say that watching that movie pretty much made my night! I love that there are so many different things to watch on tv, classics like Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, and Miracle on 34th Street, as well as newer movies like Santa Baby and Love Actually. Just like Christmas books, I like my holiday movies with a focus on romance. What can I say? I'm a girl and am a sucker for a (slightly cheesy) love story.

It's fun to watch some of the movies that focus on Santa and the North Pole. I think I like those ones because, for an hour or so, I can pretend that Santa still exists and can feel like I did when I was a kid. Ridiculous? Maybe. But I'm sure that was what they intended when they made some of these movies.

I think the thing I love about all the movies and books with a Christmas theme is that they remind me of what the holiday is really all about. It's not about buying a ton of gifts and spending lots of money, or having a massive wish list. It's about family, traditions, and spending time with the people you love. I think those ideas kind of get lost in the crowds, sometimes quite literally. I love getting gifts for people and finding the perfect gift for someone. What I hate is having to fight with all the crowds at the malls trying to get that perfect gift. But, sometimes it's worth it, when that person opens that gift and absolutely loves it. Right?

I don't think I'm the only one who is totally obsessed with Christmas and all the fun to be had around this holiday. Anyone want to weigh in on this? I'd love to hear other people's thoughts. :) It must get boring, reading about my ideas all the time!

I'm sure this won't be the last Christmas post I write this year, so stay tuned for more holiday goodness! Night!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Sharing the Love

Sorry for the delay in posts, but here's another novel sized one for your reading pleasure :)
I absolutely love being able to get someone hooked on one of my favourite authors or books. One of the two jobs I have is at a bookstore and this allows me to recommend what I like to customers, which is probably my favourite part of the job.
I've been recommending books to people for years. I worked at my town's public library all through high school and that led to me becoming the unofficial book loaner/recommender among my friends. It hasn't stopped, and I love it. I suppose it's not really surprising that this happened - since I was working with books all the time, I was always learning what was new and being exposed to books that my friends and I may never have found.
Just the other week I had a conversation with a friend about how we happened upon one of our favourite authors - Sarah Dessen. We've been reading her for the longest time and still get excited when she writes a new books (May 2011! Can't wait!) After thinking about it for awhile, my friend realized that I had just found one of her books (Someone Like You, I'm pretty sure) at the library one day and decided to give it a shot. Boy, am I happy I did. I now own all but three of her books (store discounts are a wonderful thing) and have lent them to several of my friends. Just this past summer I got a coworker hooked on them too, which was great. She devoured the six books I have in about two weeks. (We booksellers are speedy readers!) By the way, if you don't know who Sarah Dessen is, maybe you remember the movie Mandy Moore and Trent Ford starred in a few years back, How to Deal. That movie is actually based on both Someone Like You and That Summer, Dessen's first two novels. By the way, Sarah Dessen has her own blog, which is a great read, but maybe just for those who are totally obsessed with her books :)
The same friend who got hooked on Dessen with me was also the one who was refusing to read Twilight a few summers ago. Now, I am one of the first ones to say that it is not the best writing and yes, Edward is quite stalkerish and creepy, but...the story itself is pretty addictive. I must also point out that I read all the books before the first movie came out and made teenage girls crazy. Ok, crazier. I had had a lot of girls coming into the store telling me how great the series was, so as soon as I was done school for the summer I decided to check them out of the library (yes, I work in a bookstore but I still love my library). Twilight sat on the table for two weeks before I got around to reading it, and once I did, that was it. I read the next two in quick succession and only had to wait about a month for the fourth. Sometime during this summer, I brought up the series with my friend who immediately said that she really didn't think that she'd like them. Knowing her taste in books, I insisted that she would. Her cousin and other best friend had told her that she would like them, but since I was her own personal librarian, she trusted my judgement and gave them a try. Yes, she now loves them too.
My final sharing story involves another fantasy series, Percy Jackson. This was another case of having customers (young kids and parents alike) rave about the books. I started to really notice it right before the movie came out, so once again I vowed to read them as soon as school was finished. I borrowed them from a coworker and was instantly hooked. No matter that these books are really targeted to ten year old boys. I am a twenty three year old female and I absolutely love them. I encouraged parents to buy them for their kids and had in depth conversations with eight year olds about Percy's world. (Check them out if you've never heard of them.) I had talked about them so much at work with the other people who had read them, that one girl gave me the first three as a going away present. Which I immediately lent to my mom's boyfriend so he could read them too. He's a huge fan of Harry Potter so I knew he would love these too...score another point for me, because he did. I also lent them to my sister's boyfriend at the time because he was about to go away to school for classics. I knew he'd love them because of the Greek myths (which is one of the coolest parts to this series) and he liked them so much that we actually got all five for him for Christmas.
I think part of the reason I'm pretty good at my job (if I do say so myself) is that I love to talk about books and what I like and try and figure out what other people might like too. It's like a puzzle, as long as the customer wants to play along and isn't looking for a book for their grandmother but they have no idea what she reads. Argh. Sorry. Fellow booksellers will know that frustration well. Anyways, getting people hooked on books is a lot of fun for me and I'm glad that my friends give me the chance to do that. They let me ramble on about books and trust me to buy/find ones that they'll love. A big thank you to them. And a thank you to you, whoever is reading this and made it through the whole post!
That's all for now...check back soon for another post :)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Harry Potter Mania

I thought it was fitting to do a post about the amazingness of Harry Potter since Part One of the Deathly Hallows movie was released at midnight today...yesterday? What is the right way to phrase that? Anyways, point is, Harry's back for the second last time.
I know everyone is obsessed with the movie right now, but I thought I would go back to the beginning. Way, way, way back to when I first discovered Harry and J.K. Rowling's magical world.
I would love to say that I stumbled upon it all on my own and told all my friends about it, but I really didn't. (Do you ever feel like that? Wish that you were the first one to discover something that ends up being incredibly, hugely popular?) I was just a bit over the target age group for Harry Potter so none of my friends had ever heard of it. I doubt any of my friends read nearly as much as me, so that's actually really not that surprising. My sister, on the other hand, was the perfect age for these books. (Which is funny now because there was such an uproar with the later books being too "dark" and "scary" for young kids.)
My mom's friend told her one day about this amazing series that she was reading to her two daughters and that my mom had to find them for us. So off we go to the library to find the first book in this apparently fantastic series, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (because we're in Canada and use the proper title for the first one, the way Rowling intended :) ) And, boy, were we hooked. At this point, the first three had already been published, so we were spoiled and were able to read them one right after another. We were also lucky because it was just before the series absolutely exploded and everyone and their brother was reading them.
My sister and I weren't the only ones in the house who read them either. My mom's boyfriend absolutely loved them too. In fact, the three of us were able to finish the last book in four days. Total. We each read the book in about eight hours. Obsessed much?
I can't believe that the series is finally, totally ending. Yes, I know the books are done, and have been for three and a half years, but these movies are the end for every Potter lover. We've been able to stretch out each book and movie for so long that it's really sad that it's finally going to end. I mean, is it any wonder that Daniel Radcliffe cried when filming wrapped? (though, as an update, they will be doing a re shoot for the epilogue scene over the holidays) It's been thirteen years since the Philosopher's Stone was published in the'll be hard for all fans to see the end of it.
I'm sorry if this is a bit rambling, but it's difficult to discuss all the facets of such an amazing series. (hmm, potential for more posts in the future?)
My main point is that I love Harry Potter and have since I started reading his very first adventure. I'm glad to have found it, and it's so great to share it with so many other people. I'm happy that it got so many kids (especially boys) to start reading and really fall in love with books. And, I'll be sad when it's all over. It was easy to push off this inevitable end with the last book, because we all knew that there would be more movies, but this is it. Come July it'll all be over. This has taken a bit of a depressing turn...but, here's a happy thought (at least for me!) I'm going to be saving my pennies and plan on flying to Disney World to visit the land of Harry Potter. Anything to stay connected with The Boy Who Lived.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Finding Something New

It's been awhile since I became obsessed with a new show. And by new, I mean one that's already been on the air and other people already love and I find on DVD. First it was Mad Men and then Glee and now, Being Erica. I just started watching Season One yesterday, and I've already watched seven episodes. Yep. I'm obsessed.

One of the really great things about this show is not the story (but that's awesome) or the characters (fantastic) but that it's Canadian. That's right. We can create great TV shows! :) It's so cool to see Canadian things on TV, like the Macs on the corner, or Erica carrying an LCBO bag, or her and her friends attending U of T. I never got into Degrassi (either the old school reruns or the New Generation) and there haven't really been any other Canadian television shows that seemed interesting to me. The main reason I never picked up Being Erica when it started is that I was in school and just didn't have the time to watch something new, but boy am I glad that I'm watching it now.

For anyone who doesn't know what this show is about, here's a bit of background info:

Erica is a 32 year old woman, living in Toronto, single, and recently fired. Obviously, she's not very happy with her life. Then she meets Dr. Tom, a therapist of sorts. He's able to send her back in time to redo certain parts of her life.

I know that sounds kinda trippy, but it's done in such a way that it seems totally normal. It's also hilarious to see her back in when she goes back to high school in 1992 (they mention the Blue Jays winning the World Series, totally cool) or when she's in college a few years later and recites "Hit Me Baby One More Time" in her poetry class (her prof loved it).

Anyways, I just needed to share my new love with the online world. Trust me, it's a great show and well worth a blog post or two :)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Just Finished: "Safe Haven"

I just finished reading Safe Haven the other night. Safe Haven is Nicholas Sparks' newest book (released in hardcover on September 14th of this year). I've been reading Sparks for the last nine years or so and have found that I like each new book a little bit more than the older ones. This one, in a way, was no different. Like usual, it was amazingly well written but because of that, I found myself getting very immersed in the story. Let me back up and give you a quick synopsis...

The book follows Katie, a newcomer to a small town in North Carolina (which isn't surprising since pretty much all of Sparks books take place in North Carolina). You realize almost right away that she's hiding a deep, dark secret. She meets a single dad with two young children and starts to develop feelings for him, but the three of them are just getting over the death of Carly, wife and mother.

It was because of Katie's secret that I was getting pretty stressed out near the end of the book. Bits and pieces are revealed along the way and I found myself feeling like I was really there and living this life and dealing with this secret along with Katie. This is a testament to how great the writing is in Sparks' books - I always feel as though I'm right there with the characters.
I don't want to give anything away (read it yourself!) but I would definitely recommend it for anyone who loves a good story, particularly women.

I found that this novel, along with his last two (The Lucky One and The Last Song) had fairly evil (for lack of a better word) characters. It started in The Last Song with Marcus (another absolutely amazing book. Don't let a hatred of Miley Cyrus get in the way of reading this one. I, just so you know, have no problem with her. I actually quite like her :) ) and then in The Lucky One with Keith. It's just interesting to note how these characters are coming about in Sparks' books now. Is it intentional? Is he trying to get away from such "soft" and sad books like A Walk to Remember or The Notebook? I suppose he probably has some idea, but it's interesting to think about.

Well, I think I've gone on enough about Nicholas Sparks for the moment. It'll be a little while before I read another of his (I find I need to take breaks between his novels) but I'll be back to talk about the next book I start reading.
Until next time! :)

Monday, November 8, 2010

New Beginnings

Hey all...
I've been meaning to start a blog like this for ages and I'm so happy that I just went and did it. Now there are no excuses! I don't know how often I'll update but, it's a start.
This blog will be all about the books I'm reading or want to read. It'll also have lots of other extra stuff - movies, news, life.
I don't have much else to add right now, but at least I've started this blog. And that was my goal.