Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Sarah Dessen Read/Reread Challenge 2013

Hosted by I Eat Words
It's no secret that Sarah Dessen is one of my all time favourite authors. When I heard about this read/reread challenge (from Emma at Hopeful Happiness - thanks lovely!) I knew I had to look into it. I Eat Words is doing a very simple challenge - we read (or reread) a Dessen book every month, starting in February. This year Dessen is publishing her eleventh novel, The Moon and More, and this is a great way to honour that awesomeness. Not only that, but all of her novels have new covers so it's an excuse for some to buy all the new covers! (No, that won't be me. Have to save my pennies and a lot of my older ones are actually signed by her! Squee!) I've been reading her books for the past eleven or twelve years but I've only read each novel once. So, here I am, signing up for this challenge so I can reread some of my favourite books.

Here's the order we're following:

February - Just Listen
March - This Lullaby
April - Dreamland
May - The Truth About Forever
July - That Summer
August - Along for the Ride
September -Someone like You
October - Keeping the Moon
November - What Happened to Goodbye
December - Lock and Key

Want to join in? Hop on over to I Eat Words' post and leave a comment. It's going to be fun!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Reading Bingo: Room

A few weeks ago I posted about the fun challenge Random House of Canada came up with for this year - reading bingo! (If you missed it, you can check out my post here) I'm going to try to fill in as many boxes as possible before the end of 2013 and I'm happy that I've already marked off one of the boxes this month - a book that is out of my comfort zone. Room by Emma Donoghue was definitely a book that I wouldn't normally pick up. I've heard fabulous things about it and know many people really enjoyed it but I just never planned on reading it because it wasn't something I was drawn to. So why did I read it? Because it was a book club pick. I'm interested to see what the other ladies have to say about it when we meet tonight because I certainly did not have a good time while reading it.

Here's the synopsis:
To five-year-old Jack, Room is the entire world. It is where he was born and grew up; it's where he lives with his Ma as they learn and read and eat and sleep and play. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits.
Room is home to Jack, but to Ma, it is the prison where Old Nick has held her captive for seven years. Through determination, ingenuity, and fierce motherly love, Ma has created a life for Jack. But she knows it's not enough...not for her or for him. She devises a bold escape plan, one that relies on her young son's bravery and a lot of luck. What she does not realize is just how unprepared she is for the plan to actually work.
Told entirely in the language of the energetic, pragmatic five-year-old Jack, ROOM is a celebration of resilience and the limitless bond between parent and child, a brilliantly executed novel about what it means to journey from one world to another.
I don't think I've ever been so disturbed by a novel before. I finished this book about ten days ago and I still shudder when I think about it. I suppose I can see why it is an award winning novel. It still has me thinking about it and I really felt like I was there with Ma and Jack. But that doesn't mean it was enjoyable for me. Others may like it but it was so not my thing.

I was pretty conflicted about writing a review about this book since I didn't like it. I think I wanted to put my thoughts out there in hopes that others might offer their thoughts in response. This subject matter was just so...horrifying, really. These things actually happen. There are predators out there like Old Nick. It was hard to separate that knowledge from the fiction I was reading and it was very uncomfortable for me.

I just have to bring up how it was written. The whole novel is told from the perspective of Jack. He's quite a bright little guy but reading the story in his words makes it clear how hard it could be to raise a child in such conditions. Ma (so weird that we don't actually know her name) was a real heroine. Thinking about what she had to go through to keep both of them alive and trying to stay with it enough for her son...unbelievable.

In a way I'm glad I got to read Room. I've been hearing about Emma Donoghue's novel for awhile now (it was a huge deal when it was published in 2010) so now I know what all the hype is about. Like I said, I'm sure others may like it and may be able to handle the disturbing plot. I just have no idea who I would be able to recommend it to. Has anyone else read this one? I'd love to know what you thought of this novel.

Here's hoping for a more cheerful pick for the next reading bingo book!

Happy reading :)

This will be filled in by the end of 2013!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

CLP Blog Tour: I Kill Me: Tales of a Jilted Hypochondriac

You know the books that you start reading and don't really knowing how you're going to feel about it? I Kill Me: Tales of A Jilted Hypochondriac by Tracy H. Tucker was one of those books for me. Good news though - I ended up really enjoying this one! It was so funny and I'm very happy I signed up for the CLP Blog Tour.

Here's the synopsis:
Christine Bacon has a fatal attraction. To all things fatal. A veteran hypochondriac, her near-death experiences are exacerbated when her husband proposes they have a menage a trois with Eleanor, his busty British massage therapist, to "shake things up." Christine reluctantly agrees (although she is more wholesome than threesome), never expecting just how much she'd be rattled. As her marriage to Richard, a/k/a "Dick," falls apart, so, too, does Christine, whose fear of her own demise causes her to research every freckle, blemish, cough, bump, lump, tingle and hiccup. She isn't a doctor, but she plays one on the internet.
There is solace for Christine: in raising daughters Lily and Carli, leaning on her friends, and wearing out the shower massager. In order to heal, she struggles to become her own person and to view her symptoms (and ex-husband) as less malignant, while searching for that special someone who will love her--despite her grave condition.
I think we've all read the novels where a woman has a two-timing and/or asshole husband. That's not new but Tucker managed to write something that provided a fresh twist on this common storyline. I liked that it was clear she was a mother first but that part of her life didn't take over the story. Her daughters were lovely (even though the eldest went through a bit of a rebellious phase but who can blame her?) and provided their share of humour as well. It also let us see another side of Christine than the hypochondriac divorcee.

I have to admit that the whole hypochondriac bit got a bit tiring after awhile. I understand that some people are really like that and I'm sure it can't be wasn't my favourite thing to read about. I feel like admitting this makes me seem like a horrible person...please still love me! :) There were times when it was written about in a light hearted way and other times when it was clear that this was a serious issue. I found myself wondering if she was actually going to end up getting some serious disease because she was always so worried. I'm really glad she finally met someone who truly listened to her and helped her through her issues.

It was great to read about Christine's journey and how she got through such a brutal life experience. I thought the ending was really well done. It could have been perfectly and tightly wrapped up but having things left a little loose worked with the story. What mattered was that Christine was finally OK again and not if she ended up with someone else in the end (and I'm not telling you if she did or not!).

I Kill Me: Tales of a Jilted Hypochondriac was an incredibly enjoyable read because of the humour. It's no wonder it was a semifinalist in the Humour Category for the Goodreads Choice Awards! If you're looking for a good and funny novel featuring an entertaining heroine, definitely pick up Tracy Tucker's novel.

Author Bio:
Tracy H. Tucker is first and foremost the mother of three of the best people on Earth. She has a Master's in Literacy from the University of Maine and has inspired the youth of America for seventeen years. She's an avid animal lover and would like to publicly thank her husband for putting up with the pet hair, the dogs in the bed, the things the cats hack up and the repeated requests for goats. It's a wonderful life.

Connect with Tracy!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Guest Post: Meredith Schorr

It's my second stop on the A State of Jane CLP Blog Tour. Thanks for stopping by! I reviewed the novel last week (check it out here if you missed it) and today's post was written by the lovely author, Meredith Schorr. I'm always interested in the process author's go through when they're writing so I asked Meredith how she figures out the characters in her novels. I hope you all enjoy this insight into the world of writing - I sure did!

Getting Inside My Character’s Heads
Thanks so much for having me on Books Etc., Kaley.  I follow your blog pretty often so it’s pretty cool to be a guest today!!
When I wrote my first novel, Just Friends with Benefits, it was fairly easy to get into the head of my main character, Stephanie Cohen.  That was because when I wrote Just Friends with Benefits, I sort of inserted myself into a fictional story about a woman named Stephanie.  I got Stephanie into more trouble than I’ve experienced personally and I like to think I’d be smart enough to avoid a few of the mistakes she made, however, when I wrote Stephanie’s reactions to things, I often asked myself, “Self – how would you react under these same circumstances?” and I went from there. 
For instance, Stephanie tended to overanalyze things Ad Nauseum, especially statements or small actions from men.  I had a tendency to do the same - before I evolved J.  Stephanie tended to drown her sorrows in drinks with friends, multiple rolls of sushi and a vigorous run on the treadmill.  I do the same.  If there was a full glass of water on the table, Stephanie would be the one to accidentally knock it over. That’s usually my role among my friends and family. This was not the case when I wrote about Jane Frank, the main character of my second novel, A State of Jane. Jane Frank and Meredith Schorr have very little in common personality-wise so it was not simply a matter of looking inside myself to see what I would say/do given a specific set of circumstances.  I basically had to become Jane while writing the novel.  And that is, in a nutshell, what I do while writing.  I don’t know how I do it – certainly not by hypnosis or any magic spell but it just happens.  When I write, I become my main character (assuming I am not already her)… Jane Frank is a Type A, list-making, neat-freak who, at least when introduced to the reader, truly believes that if you do everything “right”, things will work out just as you want them to.  Perhaps it is a result of her upbringing.  She grew up the youngest daughter of an upper middle class happily married couple.  She met her first boyfriend at 16 and stayed with him until she was 25.  She works as a paralegal but has a job in her daddy’s law firm waiting for her when she graduates law school.  And her older sister met the love of her life and is trying to start a family and follow in her mother’s footsteps.  This is how life is supposed to look to Jane and she sees no reason why anything should get in the way of that.  I knew all of this when I started A State of Jane and took it all into consideration when writing what decision, judgment call or choice Jane would make, how she would react to disappointment, how she might respond to her world crumbling around her.  I must confess it was kind of fun watching the world slam the door in Jane’s face for a little while.  It was also rewarding to see how she resolved her issues and, in doing so, became a better person.  As Jane grew up, I almost felt like I grew up a little too.  I guess that’s what happens when you become your main character!  Quite the incentive for the Happily Ever After ending J

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Just Finished: In Need of Therapy

I need to confess something. I did not, in fact, "just finish" Tracie Banister's fabulous novel In Need of Therapy. I read it at the end of November. Yikes! It happened to be in that bad time of finishing up school work, preparing for Christmas, and having a few other reviews on the go. Obviously I really need to start working on my bookish resolution of being more organized!

Here's the synopsis:
Lending a sympathetic ear and dispensing sage words of advice is all part of the job for psychologist Pilar Alvarez, and she’s everything a good therapist should be: warm, compassionate, supportive. She listens, she cares, and she has all the answers, but how’s the woman everyone turns to in their hour of need supposed to cope when her own life starts to fall apart?
While working hard to make a success of her recently-opened practice in trendy South Beach, Pilar must also find time to cater to the demands of her boisterous Cuban family, which includes younger sister Izzy, an unemployed, navel-pierced wild child who can't stay out of trouble, and their mother, a beauty queen turned drama queen who’s equally obsessed with her fading looks and getting Pilar married before it’s “too late.” Although she’d like to oblige her mother and make a permanent love connection, Pilar’s romantic prospects look grim. Her cheating ex, who swears that he’s reformed, is stalking her. A hunky, but strictly off-limits, patient with bad-boy appeal and intimacy issues is making passes. And the sexy shrink in the suite across the hall has a gold band on his left ring finger.
When a series of personal and professional disasters lead Pilar into the arms of one of her unsuitable suitors, she's left shaken, confused, and full of self-doubt. With time running out, she must make sense of her feelings and learn to trust herself again so that she can save her business, her family, and most importantly, her heart.
I had so much fun reading this novel! Pilar was such an interesting character to read about. Main characters who are psychologists are always interesting because, as we all know, no one is perfect and it's nice to read about how someone finally starts taking the advice they've been giving out. Does that make sense? Pilar, as a psychologist, helps her patients grow and work through their issues. I loved reading about how she finally took a good, hard look at her life and realized that she had some issues herself.

Pilar's family plays a fairly large part in this novel and they're...something else. Talk about a big and crazy family! I think I sometimes wished that there wasn't quite so much involving her family (especially when her mother was insistent that she was throwing away a good thing by breaking up with her seemingly perfect boyfriend - so frustrating!) because I wanted to get back to her career and romance issues.

Speaking of romance issues, I loved Ford. Just loved him. And his son? My goodness, he was so adorably awesome! I really enjoyed watching the romance begin between Pilar and Ford and wondered how Banister would have everything turn out. Would they get together? Was he actually still married? When are they going to smarten up and tell each other how they feel?!? There was enough happening to keep me guessing and I definitely appreciated that.

One final note - I loved Pilar's best friend Sara. She was just the kind of BFF a girl needs and I loved that we got to know just enough about her. Too often novels will focus too much on a secondary character and it takes away from the main story. I really liked how the ending featured her work and we got to know what happens to her in the end as well.

I would definitely recommend In Need of Therapy by Tracie Banister to my fellow chick lit fans. I have yet to read Tracie's first novel, Blame It on the Fame but it has moved up my to be read list after reading this novel!

Happy reading :)

*A copy of this novel was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review*

Friday, January 18, 2013

Guest Post: Melissa Brown

I'm happy to host another stop for the Bouquet Toss blog tour! Today author Melissa Brown stopped by with a guest post for all of you lovely readers. I was curious about her inspiration because of something I read on her website - that writing Bouquet Toss was very cathartic. In case you missed it, I reviewed this novel the other day. Make sure you check out the main tour page to see everyone else's thoughts!

The inspiration for Bouquet Toss stemmed from my own romantic life.  In my early twenties, all of my friends were getting married right out of college and I could barely find dates to their weddings.  I never caught the bouquet, but was a bridesmaid so many times that it gave me the premise for the book.  I was also lovesick and missing the boy who stole my heart in college.  Mayson's character is based on him and the prologue of the book is an actual diary entry written at at time when I was finding it hard to move on.  Daphne's cousin, Morgan, is based on my cousin Kelly.  And there's a character in the book who's based on my husband...but, I can't tell you who that is.  The actual story is complete fiction, but I did pull from my life quite a bit.

Author Bio:
Melissa Brown is a hopeless romantic living in the Chicago suburbs with her husband Chris and their two children.  Aside from writing, she enjoys reading and baking. She also has a slight obsession with actor Henry Cavill and the TV show New Girl.

Connect with Melissa:
Twitter: @LissaLou77

Thursday, January 17, 2013

CLP Blog Tour: A State of Jane

I was very excited to take part in the CLP Blog Tour for A State of Jane by Meredith Schorr. This novel was so much fun to read and it did not disappoint.

Here's the synopsis:
Jane Frank is ready to fall in love. It's been a year since her long term relationship ended and far too long since the last time she was kissed. With the LSAT coming up she needs to find a long term boyfriend (or husband) before acing law school and becoming a partner in her father's law firm. There's just one problem: All the guys in New York are flakes. They seemingly drop off the face of the earth with no warning and no explanation. Should she join her best friend Marissa in singlehood, making cupcakes and watching True Blood? Or should she follow her co-worker Andrew's advice and turn the game back on those who scorned her? As Jane attempts to juggle her own responsibilities and put up with the problems of everyone around her, she starts to realize the dating life isn't as easy as she originally thought.
Jane was a hilariously entertaining main character. I have to admit that it took me awhile to warm up to her simply because she was being a bit of a twit. But I really cared about her and desperately wanted things to work out for her. Then I realized that it was not the first time I had been conflicted about a heroine like this. A State of Jane has a very similar feel to the novels by Sophie Kinsella - there are well meaning (if irritating) characters, an entertaining storyline, and a lovely mix of romance and life issues. Becky Bloomwood, the main character in the Confessions of a Shopaholic series, drives me crazy but I keep reading the series because I care about her and want her to be happy. Long story short - if you're a fan of Kinsella's work, I highly recommend A State of Jane.

The only little problem I had with this novel was the ending. I finished this a little while ago and I'm still not entirely sure how things ended up. I liked that there was an epilogue but the letter from Jane didn't quite give me the closure and understanding that I needed.

I did, however, really like that Jane's life wasn't just about men and dating. Sure, the bulk of the novel focuses on her search for a non-flakey male in NYC but there's also a sub-plot of Jane studying for the LSAT and figuring out exactly what she wants in life. This is the mark of a good chick lit novel - when the heroine has more going on than romance.

Overall, A State of Jane by Meredith Schorr was an incredibly enjoyable novel. I think chick lit lovers of all kinds will also like this novel and I definitely recommend it. Now that I've enjoyed this book, I will be checking out her debut novel,  Just Friends with Benefits, a lot sooner than I thought I would! Make sure you check back in a couple of days when Meredith herself stops by with a guest post!

Happy reading :)

Monday, January 14, 2013

CLP Blog Tour: Bouquet Toss

Welcome to my stop on the CLP Blog Tour for Melissa Brown's novel Bouquet Toss. I'm happy to kick off the tour with my review of this sweet and sad novel.

Here's the synopsis:
Ever since Daphne Harper graduated from college, all of her friends have fallen in love, become engaged and walked down the aisle. Be it a blessing or a curse, Daphne (a hopeless romantic and perpetual single girl) catches the bouquet at every single wedding she attends.
Daphne’s love life is a mess. Her first love, Mayson, haunts her heart and keeps her from pursuing happiness with any man who comes along. As she struggles to move on from the one who got away, Daphne wonders if she will ever break her curse and find her happily ever after.
I found that this novel was a lot heavier than I was expecting and I think that might be what I struggled with when it came to reading it. Daphne has to deal with a lot (way more than anyone should have to) and at times I felt like there was just too much going on. I understand what Brown was going for and I enjoyed the story but I think the storyline needed to be tied together just a little bit tighter.

That sounds really negative, doesn't it? I really did enjoy reading this book. In fact, I read it in virtually one sitting on New Year's Day! Daphne had some hilarious dates (it's a little sad that those kind of men really are out there!)  and she has wonderful friends (even if I wanted them to be a little more three dimensional). Minor spoiler but not really - I'm so glad Daphne got a happy ending. I don't think I would have been able to handle it if she hadn't! She deserved happiness and I'm happy she found it.

Overall, I liked Bouquet Toss but I didn't love it. I think others would probably really enjoy it. Melissa Brown has written a sequel, Champagne Toast, that I will probably pick up one of these days simply because I'd like to see what happens with some of the characters. Make sure you keep checking the main tour page to see what others have to say about this novel. And stay tuned for a guest post from Melissa herself coming up later in the week.

Happy reading :)

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Post-Christmas Bookishness

I've been meaning to do a little recap kind of post about the holidays. It's been a work in progress but it's finally ready for all of you lovely readers!

Christmas started early when my boyfriend brought me home a surprise present: a bunny! I ended up writing a post all about Tonks the other day as this post was becoming an ode to the bunny. Check it out here if you missed it.

I had a fabulous time up at my mom's house. I took a vacation day for Christmas Eve so I could be up there for a longer chunk of time. Then, because of bad weather, I took another on the 27th so I ended up having lots of time with my mom and sister - which was just what I needed.

What's Christmas without gingerbread? Or a feathery hedgehog in a tree?
Christmas was full of family, friends, and lots of food. I got to see my two best friends the weekend before the big day and that was great. I don't get to see them nearly enough now that I'm living almost three hours away. Presents were exchanged, tasty food was eaten, and good times were had by all.

Left: Candid shot of Sandy and I opening gifts
Right: Posed shot of Marisa, Natasha, and I
I don't often get actual books for Christmas anymore. I think it's probably because I, you know, read a lot and I have such a backlog of books that people may not know what I have. Instead, I got a few bookish accessories and things that will help my blogging organizational skills.

The ereader cover was won in a Christmas blog hop held by Still Moments Publishing in early December. The author let the winner choose a colour so I just had to go with purple! It showed up just after Christmas so it was a lovely late gift. I saw Judging a Book by Its Lover at Chapters awhile ago and found myself laughing while flipping through it. It was a really nice surprise to get this for Christmas. And I must note that my sister and the staff at the store she went to searched high and low for it and finally came up with the copy. Thanks little sis :) The book journal was another nice surprise and I can't wait to fill it up with all the books I read! The calendar was a gift from one of my best friend's. It is definitely needed to keep track of what posts I have to have up when!

I also got a couple of bookstore gift cards and I think I've decided I'm holding onto them for the May/June publishing many good books coming out then! I also got the entire set of Harry Potter movies, season one of Once Upon a Time, and seasons one and two of Downton Abbey. We'll see how productive I am in 2013... :)

Finally, I will share with you an epic book that my sister bought when we walked to the mall on Boxing Day. I wish I owned it as well but my wallet forbade me from buying it. Someday...

Such an awesome book.
I hope I haven't bored you all with my babbling about Christmas and how awesome it was. I also hope that you all had an equally wonderful holiday. Did you get any great books or bookish things for the holidays?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Guest Post: Samaire Provost

Thanks for visiting my stop on the Mad World: Epidemic tour hosted by CLP Blog Tours! I hope you all enjoy this great guest post from author Samaire Provost. Make sure you check out the main tour page to see reviews of this novel to see if it might be something you'd like to pick up. Thanks to Samaire for writing this post for all of you lovely readers!

Hello everyone! My name is Samaire Provost, and I am the author of Mad World: EPIDEMIC and Mad World: SANCTUARY. I really enjoyed writing these books for a number of reasons. First of all, I wanted to write a plausible modern day adventure centering on what would happen if the real world were infused with the paranormal. I wanted it to be logical and scientific, and it needed to make perfect sense.

Second, I wanted to write about normal teenagers thrust into this paranormal situation, in a world that was slowly becoming more and more difficult to survive in. What would they do? How would they survive? Would the crisis make them stronger or would they fall apart?

Third, I wanted to write about strong female characters who are heroes. Heroes who are real. Heroes who are imperfect reflections of YOU.

My favorite books to read are YA paranormal thrillers, so that’s my favorite kind of story to write. I strive to write books that make you stay up past midnight to finish.  Books so exciting you take them into the bathroom with you because you want to keep reading.  Books that make you want to stay in and read all day.  Books that are “unputdownable.” Books that scare you, thrill you, and make you feel good inside when your hero conquers the bad guys and triumphs!

Like the character Risa, I have a name that is difficult to tell how to pronounce. My first name is Samaire, and it is old Irish Gaelic for “Rising Sun.” It’s pronounced with an Irish brogue: “sah-m’air-ah” and rhymes with Sahara. My last name is Provost, but it is French and the last two letters are silent, so you say “provo,” as in Provo, Utah. And if you’re wondering about Risa’s name, it’s pronounced with a long “I” and a hard “s” and rhymes with the name Liza.

I find ideas for stories everywhere. I will see something happen when I’m out and about in the village and it will make me think, and then I’ll see something else and I’ll put the two together and - bang! -there’s an idea for a story. Or sometimes I will be surfing the ‘net and I’ll come across an article about something weird scientists are actually doing and it’ll give me the idea for a story. That’s what happened with the Mad World series.

I find inspiration to write when I am reading. I’m sure many of you have had that moment when you’re reading a book and it’s good but you are sure you could do better. I began experiencing that feeling at an early age. The books I read were mostly science fiction but I also read the entire Black Stallion series by Walter Farley and loved them. With those books I didn’t get the “I know I can write this better” feeling. I got the “boy these stories are awesome; I want to write adventures like these too!

Books can really inspire you. We are seeing a huge surge in fan fic, writers so inspired by a story that they want to add to it, and write more adventures set in those worlds.

One of the biggest things I found I had to overcome to write was confidence - or the lack thereof. It is said that “the greatest cause of failure is the fear of failure,” and I have found this to be so true. The story Mad World: EPIDEMIC was so wonderful in my head, that I was afraid to try and get it down on paper imperfectly.

But no first draft is ever the way you want it. You have to go back and forth, and hopefully several people will read the manuscript - fresh eyes to share your vision and fresh voices to tell you where it is good and where it needs work. Every writer goes through this; you have to understand this. So, it is a process. But that process cannot begin unless and until you first put pen to paper and write the first draft. Remember: anything can be fixed. But you must get it out of your head and onto the computer or nothing will happen.

My advice to aspiring writers is: 
Write. Pay no attention to your fears of any shortcomings. Write. Write some more. Finish.

Connect with Samaire:

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish Resolutions for 2013

Top Ten Tuesday is weekly meme created by the lovely folks at The Broke and the Bookish. They created it because they're "particularly fond of lists" and since I also enjoy lists, I've decided to participate in this fun feature.

How's everyone's year going so far? Now that we're a week in, it's time to reflect on goals. This week's list features my top ten bookish goals. Some have to do with blogging, some with reading in general. What are your goals? Any tips to help me with mine?

Don't forget to check out their blog for a full list of everyone participating in this week's list!

1. Read more of what I want.
I'm not going to worry about what I "should" be reading and read whatever I want. I won't say yes to every review request or blog tour. I won't be bothered by any judgement on my reading tastes. I like chick lit (and I don't mind calling it that) and that's that! :)

2. Be more organized.
I have so many tours I'm involved in and review requests still outstanding. I'm terrible at keeping track of things so some things had suffered - particularly what I've been reading (or not reading) for the other blog I write for (Novel Escapes). I have a pretty calendar from Christmas that should help. And a book journal. And I think I might bust out an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of NetGalley requests and blog tours and books I have on my kobo.

3. Stop letting NetGalley books expire.
See #2. This happened way too often in 2012. So frustrating!

4. Give YA a shot.
I admit, I judge YA a bit. Just a bit. I know those books aren't just for teens. Really. I do. But I seem to skip over those books in lists and other blogger's reviews. Which is a bit ridiculous as there are SO many YA bloggers out there. Including a lot of those who usually take part in TTT. I also know this sort of contradicts #1. Sue me. :) Fellow bloggers...if I should read ONE YA book before the end of 2013, what should it be?

5. Read The Night Circus. 
I'm fairly certain this was a goal last year. This is the most elusive book ever. AND I OWN IT. Yeesh.

6. Be more interactive on other people's blogs - comment, share, retweet.
I want more love on my blog so I'm going to give more out.

7. Read more Canadian books.
This is another sort of judging type thing. Again, I know that Canadian books aren't bad. Truly. But I need to read some of the iconic Canadian novels. Not sure what those are yet but research will occur soon!

8. Read at least 100 books.
I read 105 last year (some were novellas and short stories but there were also a few huge ones - 500+ pages - in there too) and I'd really like to do the same this year.

9. Always make sure I'm enjoying blogging
The minute that I'm feeling overwhelmed or that I should be doing this or that I'm going to force myself to take a little break. Fun is the name of the game!

And the big one...

10. Get a job in publishing! 
My internship at Random House Canada starts next Tuesday. Here's hoping that they (or another house) want to hire me at the end of the twelve weeks!!!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Reading Bingo

While scrolling through my Facebook feed this week, I came across a completely fun and awesome reading activity for the new year.

Reading bingo!

Retreat by Random House posted a board that will help you branch out a bit and have (even more) fun while reading. I couldn't help but share this fun idea with all of you. Do you think you'll play along? Check out their post to print out the board.

Thanks for the awesome idea Random House Canada!
I've already started thinking of books that will help me fill the board:

A book that's been on your shelf for more than 5 years
Mansfield Park - Jane Austen or the Narnia series
A book by a Canadian author
Hidden - Catherine McKenzie (released in June!)
A book you (should have) read in high school
Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte (I'm surprised that I haven't read this one yet!)
A young adult novel
The Moon and More - Sarah Dessen (pretty much the only YA author I read...released in May!)
A book written by a celebrity
Life - Keith Richards (I recently read Mick Jagger so I want to see what Keith thought about things)
A book "everyone" but you has read
The Night Circus - Erin Morgenstern (it's been on my shelf for ages and I haven't read it. Shame!)

Do you have any other recommendations for me?

Happy reading...and bingo playing! :)

Friday, January 4, 2013

Introducing Tonks the Bunny!

If you follow me on Twitter you will know that I got a fabulous Christmas present this year. The holiday started early when my boyfriend brought me this bundle of adorableness:

This, my friends, is Tonks the bunny. I've been completely obsessed with it ever since he brought it home for me. In fact, I'm watching it run around like a spaz right now as I write this. Definitely the best Christmas present ever.

I wasn't going to do a whole post on Tonks but I started doing a Christmas/goals for 2013 kind of post and it turned into an ode to the bunny. So, I decided to bore you all with some pictures and info about my new friend :)

For those of you wondering why on earth I named the bun's named after a Harry Potter character. Tonks is the one who can change her appearance and marries Lupin. She's also a pretty kick ass character and something about the name Tonks just works for a crazy bunny!

The bunny's namesake
We're also still not too sure if the bun is a boy or a girl. Apparently the pet store didn't know and it's still getting used to us so I haven't wanted to pick it up and flip it over to check! I had to name it after a literary character (duh) and since I didn't know if it was a male or female, I didn't really want to name it Willoughby and potentially confuse it :)

Speaking of it getting used to us, it took awhile but it's finally letting me pet it without freaking out. It loves exploring the living room now, which is good. I was wondering what it would think about our house after getting used to playing in my mom's living room for a few days! It was fun to bring Tonks home with me for Christmas and I think my family really enjoyed having it there! My sister got a new camera as an early gift so she went to work taking tons of pictures of it while I was visiting. 

Isn't it just the cutest freaking thing?

This is my first real pet...ever. I've had two fish (RIP Angus and Gryffin) but that's it. So...if any of you lovely readers have any tips on bunny ownership, please pass them along!

Thank you for indulging me in my bunny obsessed post. Stay tuned for an actual recap type of post in the next couple of days!

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to carry on watching Tonks do laps around the living room. Crazy animal. :)

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Perpetual Page Turner End of Year Book Survey

best books read in 2012
Third Annual End of Year Book Survey from Perpetual Page Turner!
I'm finally posting my End of Year Book Survey! I meant to get this all finished and ready to go before 2013.  Between finishing up online courses, Christmas, getting a new bunny, and other life stuff, I'm just finally finishing this! Of course, as I type this intro paragraph it's New Year's Eve. Something tells me I won't be finishing this until 2013! (Note: it's now 2013...woo!) Anyway, I hope you all enjoy this!

Best In Books 2012
1. Best Book You Read In 2012?

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn't?
The Wedding Beat - Devan Sipher
J'Adore New York - Isabelle Lafleche
Both these books were enjoyable but I thought I would LOVE them both and I only just liked them.

3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2012?
Gold - Chris Cleave. I wasn't expecting such awesomeness.

4. Book you recommended to people most in 2012?
Arranged - Catherine McKenzie

5. Best series you discovered in 2012?
The Hunger Games. I know, I know. Well behind the times.

6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2012?
Cat Lavoie

7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?
Released - Amber Polo. It was a little more sci fi/fantasy than I'm used to but I couldn't put it down.

8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2012?
The Hunger Games series. Stayed up well past my bedtime to finish Catching Fire on a work night. I was so tired the next day but it was worth it.

9. Book You Read In 2012 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year
There's a possibility that I might reread The Hunger Games series before the next movie is released.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2012?


11. Most memorable character in 2012? 
Katniss - The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins
Kate - Blank Slate Kate - Heather Wardell
Kirby - Where We Belong - Emily Giffin
Note: I didn't want to pick just one and it just so happened that three of the most memorable had names that start with K!

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2012?
I Couldn't Love You More - Jillian Medoff

13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2012? 
Planning to Live - Heather Wardell

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2012 to finally read?
The Hunger Games series.

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2012? 
Something funny - Forgotten - Catherine McKenzie
"I had the sudden urge to whisper the incantation Harry Potter uses to make people appear on the Marauder's Map. It left my lips almost unconsciously as I tapped the map with the tip of my pen. But of course, because I am a lawyer and not a wizard, nothing happened."

Something sweet - Little Women - Louisa May Alcott
"The old gentleman took Jo, with a whispered, 'You must be my girl now,' and a glance at the empty corner by the fire, that made Jo whisper back, 'I'll try to fill her place, sir."

16. Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2012?
Mick Jagger - Philip Norman (640 pages)
I read quite a few short stories so I'll go with one of the ones I read recently (and really enjoyed!) Chocolate Kisses - Darlene Fredette (55 pages)

17. Book That Had A Scene In It That Had You Reeling And Dying To Talk To Somebody About It? (a WTF moment, an epic revelation, a steamy kiss, etc. etc.) Be careful of spoilers!

18. Favorite Relationship From A Book You Read In 2012 (be it romantic, friendship, etc).
I loved Emma's best friend Stephanie in Forgotten and would love if Catherine McKenzie wrote a book that featured Stephanie.
As for romantic relationship, I think it's a tie between One Pink Line and All At Sea - both novels had crazy circumstances that I loved reading about.

19. Favorite Book You Read in 2012 From An Author You Read Previously
All at Sea and Blank Slate Kate and Planning to Live - Heather Wardell. Or Where We Belong by Emily Giffin. Or Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness.

20. Best Book You Read That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else
The Tall Book - Arianne Cohen. There were a lot of books that I heard about because of other people's reviews and whatnot but I'm picking this one because it has an amusing story. For those of you who are reading this and don't know me, I'm 6' tall. A couple of years ago, a guy on my boyfriend's baseball team told me about this book and I only just got around to reading it this year. I loved it. I learned so many tall facts and it was so much fun! You can read my review of the book here.

Book Blogging/Reading Life in 2012
1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2012? 
Browsing Bookshelves. There's also the added bonus that I got to meet Natalie in person this year, too!

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2012? 
My ridiculously long post about the Hunger Games series.

3. Best discussion you had on your blog?
Hm. I don't tend to have a lot of discussions on the blog. I think that's because people won't remember where they commented and won't get notifications of replies. I have had some awesome conversations on Twitter - the weekly chick lit chat is almost always amusing and I had a great convo with an author and ended up helping her with her current work in progress.

4. Most thought-provoking review or discussion you read on somebody else’s blog?
Oh boy. Tough one. I can't think of any non-reviews that I've read...even though I'm sure there are plenty.

5. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?
I think this one will have to go to the Ontario Blog Squad Meet-Up. I got to meet so many awesome bloggers and authors. Coming in at a close second is the Emily Giffin signing I went to in August.

6. Best moment of book blogging in 2012?
I think it might have been when I got emails from Random House and Simon and Schuster asking if I wanted to be added to their blogger lists (um..yes, please!).

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?
Most views: my review of I Couldn't Love You More by Jillian Medoff. Such a fabulous book.
Most comments: my introduction post for Armchair BEA. That was a lot of fun!

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?
Sometimes I wish my whole blog got some more lovin', but I guess I'd have to say...perhaps my giveaways. I did my first ones this year and I guess I expected more people to enter! Ah well. :)

9. Best bookish discover (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?
The BookFiend shop on Etsy. I love her stuff. I have two necklaces and a bumper sticker and have gifted a necklace, two bookmarks, and a magnet. I also desperately want one of her leather quote wrap bracelets.

10.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?
I decided to do the HarperCollins Canada 50 Book Pledge. We kept track of our progress and shared it on twitter with the hashtag #50bookpledge. I just tallied up my books today and I read 105! Whee!
I also took part in the Chick Lit Plus Challenge as well. This meant I was reading at least one chick lit book a month - heaven. :)

Looking Ahead…
1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2012 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2013?
The Night Circus. I know, I know.

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2013?
The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen. Oh, man, I can't wait.

3. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging In 2013?
Read more of what I want (I have an overflowing bookshelf that's just begging me to read the books on there). Try to get some more followers. Comment more on other people's blogs.
And a big one - get a job in publishing. I'm actually on my way to doing that as I'm starting as a publicity intern at Random House Canada on the 14th! So exciting.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: I Resolve to Read...

Top Ten Tuesday is weekly meme created by the lovely folks at The Broke and the Bookish. They created it because they're "particularly fond of lists" and since I also enjoy lists, I've decided to participate in this fun feature.

This week I have a list of ten books I resolve to read in 2013. Some are books that are being released this year, others are ones that I've been meaning to read for forever and just haven't gotten around to it yet. After compiling my list, I realized that I actually own quite a few of the books on this list so it should be easy to read them all!

Don't forget to check out their blog for a full list of everyone participating in this week's list!

The Night Circus - Erin Morgenstern
I'm fairly certain I had this book on my list of books to read for 2012. I have it on my bookshelf yet it eludes me!

Mansfield Park and/or Northanger Abbey - Jane Austen
The only Austen novels I have yet to read. 

I have heard SO many good things about this book and can't wait to finally start it.

Life- Keith Richards
I just recently read Mick Jagger and I'm interested to read about Keith's thoughts.

The Moon and More - Sarah Dessen
So so so excited for this one. (Release date: June 4)

The Next Best Thing - Jennifer Weiner
Can you believe I have not read this one yet? It's another book that's sitting on my shelf waiting for me.

Sarah's Key - Tatiana de Rosnay
Another one I've heard good things about but just haven't gotten around to reading it yet.

Hidden - Catherine McKenzie
This is another novel that will be published this year. I loved McKenzie's other novels and can't wait for this one. (Release date: June 25...but I'm not sure if that's just Canada or if it'll be out simultaneously in the US)

Finding Lucas - Samantha Stroh Bailey
I've had many amusing Twitter conversations with Samantha so I figure it's high time to read her novel. I've heard lots of good stuff about it!

Austenland - Shannon Hale
This one's been out for ages (it was published in May 2008) but I haven't read it. I plan to read this one and Midnight in Austenland and then watch the TV show!