Thursday, February 28, 2013

Just Finished: S.E.C.R.E.T.

I need to start this review off by saying that S.E.C.R.E.T. by L. Marie Adeline (pseudonym for author Lisa Gabriele) is not like Fifty Shades of Grey. I'll get into why in a bit. What you need to know now is that this novel was entertaining and sexy and I enjoyed reading it. 

Here's the synopsis:
No judgments. No limits. No shame.
Cassie Robichaud’s life is filled with regret and loneliness after the death of her husband. She waits tables at the rundown Café Rose in New Orleans, and every night she heads home to her solitary one-bedroom apartment. But when she discovers a notebook left behind by a mysterious woman at the café, Cassie’s world is forever changed. The notebook’s stunningly explicit confessions shock and fascinate Cassie, and eventually lead her to S∙E∙C∙R∙E∙T, an underground society dedicated to helping women realize their wildest, most intimate sexual fantasies. Cassie soon immerses herself in an electrifying journey through a series of ten rapturous fantasies with gorgeous men who awaken and satisfy her like never before. As she is set free from her inhibitions, she discovers a new confidence that transforms her, giving her the courage to live passionately. Equal parts enticing, liberating and emotionally powerful, S∙E∙C∙R∙E∙T is a world where fantasy becomes reality.
As I mentioned, this is not just another Fifty Shades knock off. Why's that? There are a few important differences...
  • the writing won't make you cringe
  • the sex is actually quite normal (or vanilla if you want to call it that) - no whips or chains here - but that doesn't make it any less steamy       
  • the heroine is timid at first but is on a journey of self discovery, not aiming to be the plaything of a billionaire
  • there's no creepy, controlling, Room of Pain owning man who you're supposed to swoon over         
I did read Fifty Shades so I am doing an honest comparison here. That trilogy didn't do anything for me. Anna was just so irritating and I did not find Christian attractive. All that being said...I don't want to compare the two books. I'm not going to say if you liked Fifty you'll like this because I don't think that's fair to either story. I saw Chapters do that the weekend before this book was released on their Facebook page and I fear that the comparison will turn people off since so many people hated Fifty Shades. Of course, if you did enjoy the erotic elements definitely pick up this book.

S.E.C.R.E.T. is another story. Literally. I was talking to someone about this book and she made a good point about what makes this novel intriguing. You kind of want to be a part of this secret society. You want to know where you can sign up because who doesn't want to have some of their fantasies come true? Between wanting to know what the group's secret is and the (really irritating) cliffhanger, I'm looking forward to seeing what book two will bring.

Cassie was an interesting character. She doesn't think much of herself in the beginning. She's quite boring and keeps to herself instead of going out or flirting with her attractive and interested boss. Agreeing to the first step signifies the first change  in her. She realizes that she needs to change herself and she agrees to go on this seemingly crazy adventure.       

Overall, I was pleasantly surpised by S.E.C.R.E.T. and think many others would also find this to be an enjoyable read. There's a good storyline along with the erotic element. If you're looking for a good weekend read, I suggest picking this one up!

*A copy of this novel was provided by Random House of Canada in exchange for an honest review*                                           

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Just Finished: Twelve Months

Every once and awhile I need to remind myself to read outside my usual fare. I like reading the romance filled hilarity of chick lit or the emotional rides of women’s fiction and because I like that I tend to stick with it. I read to be entertained so I stay with what I know will work. Why am I mentioning this? Because I recently read Twelve Months by Steven Manchester and I enjoyed it, even though it wasn’t what I normally tend to pick up.

Here’s the synopsis:
Don DiMarco has a very good life – a family he loves, a comfortable lifestyle, passions and interests that keep him amused. He also thought he had time, but that turned out not to be the case. Faced with news that might have immediately felled most, Don now wonders if he has time enough. Time enough to show his wife the romance he didn’t always lavish on her. Time enough to live out his most ambitious fantasies. Time enough to close the circle on some of his most aching unresolved relationships. Summoning an inner strength he barely realized he possessed, Don sets off to prove that twelve months is time enough to live a life in full.
A glorious celebration of each and every moment that we’re given here on Earth, as well as the eternal bonds that we all share, TWELVE MONTHS is a stirring testament to the power of the human spirit.
Getting cancer is probably high up there on the list of nightmares for a lot of people. It’s not an easy topic to discuss or deal with and I’m sure it wasn’t the easiest thing to write about either. I admit that reading about Don’s journey was hard. I think Manchester did a good job of showing just how devastating cancer can be while also showing what can happen when you have the right attitude. Don is upset when he first learns of his diagnosis, as is his family. Who wouldn’t be? But slowly he understands that approaching the end of life with a positive outlook is the best possible way to go about things. It makes sense. Why be angry for your last few months of your life?

What I liked about this novel was that I felt like I was right beside Don during his whole ordeal. It was like I was just sitting on his shoulder, hanging out while he lived his last few months. This was a great feeling for the most part. Where I struggled with this all knowing feeling was when Manchester described some of the physical symptoms and side effects Don was having. I get that cancer isn’t pretty, I do. But there are only so many times one can read about a character having issues on the toilet. Cutting back on those scenes, and others like it, probably would have helped my enjoyment a little more. I wouldn’t want them out completely because it wouldn’t have been realistic, but a few less detailed scenes could have gone a long way with me.

The relationship between Don and Bella is darn near perfect. They are so ridiculously in love that I couldn’t imagine one without the other. You can really see that love in the excerpt I posted awhile back. I didn’t know how Bella would survive once Don passed. She was a strong woman, though, and a fabulous wife.

Twelve Months was an emotional but good novel. Steven Manchester wrote a story that was both devastating and uplifting at the same time. If stories like these are your usual favourites, definitely read this one. And, hey, even if it’s not, give it a try. I learned that branching out a little can lead to reading great books that make you look at life a little differently – and that’s definitely a good thing.

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

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Rereading Sarah Dessen: Just Listen

As you may know, I'm taking part in the I Eat Words Sarah Dessen Read/Reread Challenge this year. Check out this post that explains the details about the awesomeness that is this challenge. I've decided to do something a little different with my reviews for these books, just for fun. Also, my best friend Sandy will be sharing her thoughts along with me every month. Sandy is an aspiring author and we've been obsessed with Dessen for about as long as we've been BFFs (that would be almost 12 years, for you curious folk). Since she doesn't have her own blog, I thought it'd be great for her to join in on here. I hope you enjoy our thoughts!

Let's start off with the synopsis for Just Listen:
Last year, Annabel was "the girl who has everything" — at least that's the part she played in the television commercial for Kopf's Department Store.
This year, she's the girl who has nothing: no best friend because mean-but-exciting Sophie dropped her, no peace at home since her older sister became anorexic, and no one to sit with at lunch. Until she meets Owen Armstrong.
Tall, dark, and music-obsessed, Owen is a reformed bad boy with a commitment to truth-telling. With Owen's help, maybe Annabel can face what happened the night she and Sophie stopped being friends.
Now for the different part...I'm going to do a sort of list/stats sheet before giving my thoughts on the book. My actual review won't be too long, unless I have something epic to discuss. Those who have read Dessen before will know why I'm highlighting certain things because there are some similarities in all of her books. As it's been awhile since I've read a lot of these, I'm sure I'll come up with a longer list by the time the year is over!

About the Story
Main  Character: Annabel Green
Age: 16
School Year or Summer?: School Year
Boy: Owen Armstrong
First description of boy: "...he was tall and muscular, with broad shoulders and thick biceps. And he always wore boots with thick rubber soles that made him seem even bigger, his steps heavier. His hair was dark and cut short, spiking up a bit at the top, and I've never once seen him without his iPod and earphones..."
Crushable?: Definitely. He's mysterious with a bit of a bad boy edge.
Big Secret?: Yes. We're not too sure what exactly happened between Annabel and Sophie.
Heavy Storyline?: Yes. Anorexia and sexual assault are both main topics of the novel.
Parents Together?: Yes.
Siblings: Two sisters, both older.
Cameos: At least one - Remy and Dex from This Lullaby show up at a concert Owen and Annabel attend.

About the Book
Released: April 2006
Epigraph?: Yes. "The best way out is always through." - Robert Frost
Format (of my copy): Paperback
Own?: Yes. (My second copy...first went missing when I loaned it to someone...stupid me.)
Signed?: No.
Read or Reread: Reread
Age when first read: 18 (probably...I would have read it as soon as it was released...unless I got it for my 19th birthday the next month).

My Thoughts
Oh, man. This book was a lot heavier than I remembered, which is surprising as I was an older teen when I read it for the first time. My stomach was all twisted in knots as I reread what happened to her and again when she was trying to decide if she should share her story with Owen, her family, and the police. She goes through something that no girl should have to deal with, simply because some guy was an asshole. I hate that she felt like she shouldn't or couldn't tell anyone about what happened. No girl or woman should ever have that feeling.
I think the last time I read it I probably thought of myself as one of her friends but this time around, since I'm almost a decade older than Annabel, I felt more like her big sister. Which was definitely not a bad thing. It sort of gave me a new perspective - both with Annabel's story and the stories of her sisters. I paid more attention to what Whitney and Kirsten were going through and how their lives impacted Annabel's.
I was worried about rereading these books and how I'd feel about the romance aspect of the story. As I mentioned, I'm quite a bit older than Annabel now and the relationship I'm in is vastly different than the crush she has on Owen. I don't know why I was worried. Dessen's main characters are always mature, down to earth, and...well, not annoying (you won't find any of them excited to see a sparkly immortal being watching them sleep in their bedrooms, that's for sure). Dessen's romances are almost never about trying to get the boy. Instead, the boy and girl are thrown together for some reason and feelings grow from there.
Now, I've just read over what Sandy has written and there is no way I can compete with her thoughts. They're awesome. I'll end my mini review here and let you read Sandy's opinion on Just Listen. Enjoy!

Sandy's Thoughts
I want to start off by saying that I love Sarah Dessen’s books. I started reading them in high school on recommendation from Kaley and at 25 I continue to wait anxiously for each new novel she writes. However, in the last ten years I have never reread a single one of them. When Kaley shared this challenge with me I was immediately on board.
Diving into Just Listen this month gave me a different kind of feeling while reading a Sarah Dessen book. Usually the characters and events are unknown to me and unfold gradually with each sentence and chapter. Having already read Just Listen when it first came out I remembered the storyline of Annabel’s assault and Owen coming to her aid, but I had forgotten about Whitney, Clarke, Rolly even Mallory. Reading about Annabel and her family a second time allowed me to focus on the intricate details that sometimes get lost in the rest of the drama. The first time I was interested in the relationship between Annabel and Owen. I have to say that Owen Armstrong is one of my favourite male characters in a Sarah Dessen book. She has a way of writing people that you want to meet. Even minor characters have such life and personality that draw you further into the world she is creating. Owen is a character that I can picture knowing in high school. He’s tall and threatening to see but in the end he is caring and compassionate enough to help a strange girl when she is down. He is the guy that every teenage girl (and every woman they become) wishes would have befriended her in high school because he pays attention, asks about feelings and doesn’t hold his thoughts to himself. All any woman wants is to be understood and accepted; Owen gives that to Annabel.
My focus this time shifted from that bond Owen creates between himself and Annabel and onto the bond within the Greene household. There is an inherent ebb and flow to any relationship that stretches over time. Everyone changes and the people around them, especially family, adapt to that change through acceptance or dismissal. Annabel errs on the side of dismissal when she feels change happening in the case of Clarke and Sophie. When a rift occurs she believes that is the end, there is no going back because change is an ending and not just a transition. Over time an ending is really just a beginning. By the end of the novel the Greene family has started a new beginning with each other.
The Greene’s adapt and change to support Annabel’s mother when her own mother dies then Whitney when her eating disorder is discovered and finally Annabel when she tells them about the assault. The year that passes in the pages of Just Listen sees a family in flux gathering around each member that needs help, love and above all support. Annabel realizes this when she tells the reader that she only has to ask to be brought back in to her family to be safe and immersed again. (Pg 353) I love the message that Sarah Dessen shares with us: family dynamics change but family itself is forever.
There is so much more going on in Just Listen than another teen love story. It is about connections between friends and family that are about honesty and acceptance. It is about being honest, above all, with yourself in order to control life around you. By the end of the book all of the characters have found a new kind of normal. Nothing is exactly the way it was but now everyone feels in control of the life they are living. The good and bad of life passes and the day to day is what we are left with.

Up next month...This Lullaby. My favourite!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Guest Post: Cari Kamm

Today I have the lovely Cari Kamm on the blog with a guest post to celebrate the release of her new novel, For Internal Use Only. I read her first novel, Fake Perfect Me, and really enjoyed it (you can check out the review here) so I'm excited to get the chance to read this one. Have fun with this guest post and stay tuned for my review of this novel!

Chick Lit is more than just a pretty face. This is why I don’t judge a book by its pink cover.  Chick Lit might be a quick read, light-hearted, and simply entertaining. But Chick Lit can spotlight characters with real issues that women face such as heartbreak, addiction, sibling & friend rivalry, negative body image & eating disorders, and even infidelity. In my latest novel, For Internal Use Only, the topic is the desire to find true love. In other words; living your fairy tale.

Life inspires me to create a character. This character leads me to produce the outline of the story I have in mind. Then over several months, I begin to realize where the characters are taking me. When a theme moves me, I sketch out an outline breaking down Act I, II & III and write up descriptions of the characters. Then, I just write. I don’t look back. I don’t reread. I would say it’s a crappy first draft and then I spend months on revising – editing – revising – editing.

Writing isn’t my job. It’s my daily habit. I begin first thing in the morning. I make coffee and hit the keys. Writing is my big morning stretch. I write from anywhere, anytime, and on anything. A notebook, a cocktail napkin, or even taking a photo of a person, place or thing that inspired me. I take a lot of photos to capture details that I want to write about later and add into a scene or character description. I love being surrounded by music, strangers, voices… simply just life. Throughout my own daily life, a moment may capture me and I think, “Wow... my character would eat that, do that, say that, adore that.”

I write a lot in New York City and also on my family’s ranch in West Virginia. Traveling pushes me as a writer in my descriptions. For example, in my first novel, Fake Perfect Me, the scenes in Italy where Isabella Reynolds is enjoying a creamy burratta in Rome... I wrote that scene while doing that exact thing. In my latest novel, For Internal Use Only, I was a passenger in a car on a major interstate in Atlanta writing a similar scene with my protagonist Chloe.

The plot, the characters, and the setting are all inspired from my daily life once I’ve created a character. I don’t go searching for inspiration, I prefer to bump into the unexpected beauty of life. Whether it is spotting a shadow, hearing a whistle, or walking through dog poop on the street because I was distracted with a scene idea (It’s happened!).

In November 2012, I participated in National Novel Writing Month and completed my third book. It’s my first romance novel! While traveling in Costa Rica last year, I had a dream, the theme for this new novel. I woke up at 5:00 a.m. and scribbled every memory of it that I could. I hope to release it later this year.

About the Author
Cari Kamm has worked in the beauty industry for over a decade, building brands, working behind the scenes, and even selling her own skin care line. She has a master’s in clinical nutrition from New York University. Kamm currently works in corporate social media management with clients in the beauty, fashion, and restaurant industries. Living in New York City with her mutt Schmutz, Kamm loves finding inspiration in the most unexpected places, being a novelist, and convincing her fiancé that ordering takeout and making dinner reservations are equal to cooking. More information can be found on her website, To check out the book trailer, click here:

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Mini Review: The Billionaire's Con

I loved Mackenzie Crowne’s short story That Dating Thing so when I found out she had another story published, The Billionaire’s Con, I jumped at the chance to read it.

Here’s what this short story is all about:
Determined to succeed, Chef Meggy Calhoun realizes her dream with the opening of Boston’s hottest new culinary experience. But will her secret connection to one of New England’s most powerful families poison her recipe for success, and leave her heart flambéed?
I thoroughly enjoyed this story. I loved that there was a great mix of intrigue and romance. As the reader, we’re not sure who to trust and we’re not sure what the motive is behind a lot of actions. Slowly the story is unraveled and we find out why everyone’s been deceitful.

Maggy was such a great character. She seems like the type of person that I could be friends with - smart, funny, down to earth. She also has some great friends of her own and it’d be fun to hang out with all of them.

At just over 100 pages, The Billionaire’s Con is pretty much the perfect length for a short story. There’s enough action to keep things interesting and there aren’t any lingering questions, which can sometimes happen with stories that are just too short.

If you’re looking for a quick, romantic read, I definitely recommend The Billionaire’s Con by Mackenzie Crowne.

*A copy of this story was provided by the publisher, Still Moments Publishing, in exchange for an honest review*

Monday, February 18, 2013

Reading Bingo: Winter Wonderland

I picked Winter Wonderland by Belinda Jones for a Reading Bingo square for a very particular reason: its cover. Isn't it lovely?? I won this one from the lovely ladies over at Chick Lit Central (thank you thank you thank you!) and I pretty much only entered because of the pretty cover. Of course, I was interested in the story as well! Happily, the inside of this novel matched the outside. I loved it!

Here’s the synopsis:

Imagine waking up in a snow globe...
That’s how travel journalist Krista feels when she arrives in magical Quebec to report on Canada's glittering Winter Carnival.
Over ten sub-zero days Krista's formerly frozen heart begins to melt as she discovers an enchanting world of ice palaces, husky dog-sledding and maple-syrup treats galore. And then she meets Jacques, a man as handsome and rugged as he is mysterious…
The two share a secret that could bond them forever, but can they find a way to break through the protective layers around their hearts to warm up this winter wonderland?
…let the snow-spangled adventure begin.

One of the other reasons I entered to win a copy of this book (other than the cover) was because it takes place at the Quebec winter carnival. Sometimes it seems like there aren’t any chick lit books set in Canada and I don’t think I've ever read one that takes place somewhere other than…well, Toronto, really. I loved reading about Krista experiencing some very Canadian activities. Some of the things she does had me smiling because they’re just so Canadian that I wouldn't think twice about the fact that someone wouldn't know about them. Some examples: ice skating (I doubt you’d find many adult Canadians who haven’t skated before), learning about Bonhomme (most elementary school kids in the country could tell you who that is), and eating poutine. That was probably the best out of everything she tried. I admit, poutine does sound a little weird – French fries smothered in gravy and cheese curds. But, boy oh boy, is it ever delicious. I was practically yelling at her to try it because I knew she would love it! (Spoiler: she does!)

This book had me laughing out loud right from the beginning. It was actually one of those books that I was almost afraid to read in public because I couldn't contain my giggles. I'm sure my fellow train passengers were wondering what on earth I found so hilarious. I started keeping track of the funny bits but there were just too many!

I'm also a fan of any novel featuring a travel writer. I'm not sure why but I am drawn to those characters and I love reading about them and their travels!

There were so many fabulous characters in this novel. I really liked Krista, of course, but there were some awesome secondary characters as well. Annique, the beautiful tour guide, seems lovely and provided a good girlfriend for Krista while she was in another country. Speaking of girlfriends, Krista's BFF Laurie will be the heroine in an upcoming book, The Traveling Tea Shop, and I'm looking forward to that! Jacques was a great romantic interest - a little mysterious and damaged, but a kind soul is evident. Even with all the characters (there are many more that I did not mention here), it was not confusing and the story flowed well.

I loved Winter Wonderland by Belinda Jones - so much so that I've managed to convince two others to pick this one up, too! This book was just so enjoyable and I can't recommend it enough. This is a particular must read for fellow Canadian chick lit lovers. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to plan my trip to the Winter Carnival for next year since 2013's carnival ended yesterday!

Happy reading :)

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Just Finished: Kismetology

I’m not sure what I expected when I picked up Kismetology by Jaimie Admans. I did know that I loved the cover, though. How cute is it? What I ended up getting, aside from the adorable cover, was a fun and amusing novel.

Here’s the synopsis:
Finding the perfect man isn't easy. Especially when it's for your mother...
Mothers. Can't live with them, can't live without them, can't live three doors down the road without them interfering in every aspect of your life.
Mackenzie Atkinson's mother has meddled in her love life once too often and something has to be done. Mackenzie decides to turn the tables and find love for her lonely mother.
Her lonely and very fussy mother.
Surely finding an older gentleman looking for love won't be that hard, right?
If you've ever thought that boys grow up, here's the problem: They don't. Ever.And Mackenzie is about to learn that the hard way.
Faced with a useless boyfriend, dressed up dogs, men who wear welly boots on dates, men who shouldn't be allowed out in public, and men who make reptiles seem like attractive company - will she ever find the perfect man for her neurotic mother?
The thing I loved most about this book was that it was just such a unique idea. While it did remind me of the movie Because I Said So (instead of a mom (Diane Keaton) searching for a date for her daughter (Mandy Moore), this book had a daughter trying to find a man for her mother) I have never read or watched anything with this premise. I honestly couldn’t imagine trying to find a date for my own mom so it was quite hilarious to read about Mackenzie’s adventures.

I did find that the book sort of dragged a bit. There were just too many dates, too many fights, too much of the same thing over and over again. It was all very repetitive and didn’t drive the plot forward at all.

I also found that I needed more with Jenni because I didn’t realize she and Mackenzie were such close friends. I love where they ended up by the time the book finished but I was surprised because they didn’t seem that close. I think just a few more scenes with them (and not ones when they’re at work) to replace some of the date scenes would be a great addition.

I found Dan and Eleanor (aka Mum) quite unlikeable. They both berated and belittled Mackenzie in subtle ways. At the same time, I felt as though Mackenzie needed to grow a spine and stand up to the both of them. I couldn’t understand why she couldn’t just articulate how she felt to the two of them.

This seems like a pretty negative review, doesn’t it? I really did enjoy reading Kistmetology, honest! It had me giggling throughout. Take this line for example,
Mackenzie: “What’s wrong with her fridge?”
Dan: “It’s heating up.”
Mackenzie: “So, what, it’s got personality affective disorder? It thinks it’s a microwave?”
Overall, I had fun reading Kismetology by Jaimie Admans. I had a few issues with it but it was, for the most part, a very amusing read. I'll be on the lookout to see what she comes up with next!

Happy reading :)

*I received a copy of this novel from the author in exchange for an honest review*

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Guest Post: Heather Thurmeier

I am so happy to have author Heather Thurmeier on the blog today with a fabulous guest post. I reviewed her novel Stuck on You the other day, the review is here if you missed it, and I absolutely loved it. As I mentioned in my review, I enjoyed that it played on the popular reality TV show The Amazing Race. The first novel in this series, Falling for You, did a similar thing with the show The Bachelor. While I don't watch The Amazing Race, I really like the idea of it and thought it was fabulous that Heather had her fictional TV show feature geocaching. Don't know what that means? Don't worry - Heather explains in her post! Enjoy!


Geocaching (pronounced geo-cash-ing) is a giant, worldwide treasure hunt. Using a handheld GPS unit—or cell phone with app—you look for caches based on their longitude and latitude coordinates. The cache you’re looking for might be as tiny as an acorn (called a nano-cache) or as big as a 5-gallon pail. Inside each cache will be a logbook where you can record that you’ve been there and the date of your find. The larger caches often have other things inside them as well like toys for the kids to take, trackable items you can take and leave at another cache, and any number of other things. It’s great fun and very satisfying when you follow that little GPS arrow all the way to the cache and find it! And it’s always a surprise about what you’ll find inside. My kids love going ‘treasure hunting!’

In my novel, Stuck on You, the characters go on a reality TV show inspired by The Amazing Race. But I wanted to make it different in a few ways. So I kept my contestants local to the New York Hudson Valley area and I made them have to geocache to find prizes and accumulate points to eventually win the ultimate grand prize at the end of the show.  I had so much fun thinking of different places and ways I could hide these caches to make my contestants work to find them. And let me just say, they got into some pretty interesting—ahem—and steamy situations while searching for caches.
For the next quarter mile, they walked in silence following the arrow of the GPS. A few more minutes and they should reach the cache. Paige leaned in closer to the unit, watching the distance on the screen decreasing. Ten more feet.
The ground fell away beneath her and she was suddenly on her back, sliding down a very bumpy surface. After a short slide, she came to a stop, staring up at the canopy of trees.
Footsteps pounded down the slope after her then Miles was down on his knees in the dirt beside her.
Well hello there, Mr. Muscles. Let’s get dirty together.
The image of getting dirty in the forest with Miles was a little more sex kitten than her usual train of thought. Did I hit my head on the way down?
Or maybe it was the influence of the super hot, super built man hovering over her with concern in his eyes that caused the shift in her mental state.
“Are you okay?” Miles asked, touching the side of her face and turning her head first one direction and then the other. Her eyes never left his.
“I’m fine. Just dirty—muddy,” she clarified. Not that he could read her mind, but still. “I’ll get up now.”
“Let me help you,” he said, standing over her and wrapping his large hands around her upper arms, pulling her up to stand in front of him. His hands dropped to her waist and she found hers groping his chest again. Seemed she couldn’t keep her hands off of him. Not that the rest of her complained in the least.
“Thanks,” she whispered, looking up to meet his gaze. The mix of concern and... something else made her breath hitch in her throat. Damn.
“My pleasure.”
Her feet went out from under her again, but this time she didn’t slide down the slope. Possibly because she’d managed to drag Miles down to the ground with her. Perhaps his body weight pressing her into the soft dirt was enough to stop her from going anywhere.
Definitely every inch of his tall, muscular body against hers was enough to cause the lightheadedness she now felt.
Or possibly the lightheadedness could be from his leg pressing against the junction of her thighs. He’d managed to anchor them both to the ground as she straddled his leg. Yes, that could cause lightheadedness to hit full force.
As could the length of something else currently pressing into her.
Either he suddenly had less blood traveling to his brain or he’d managed to shove a tree branch in his pocket on the way down the hill. A very large tree branch.
Geocaching with Miles sounds pretty fun, doesn’t it? Now I can’t guarantee you’ll have the same results as Paige, but geocaching with your friends and family is always a good way to get outside and enjoy nature together!

Author Bio:
Heather Thurmeier is a lover of strawberry margaritas, a hater of spiders, and a reality TV junkie. Her passion is contemporary romance—writing stories filled with laugh out loud moments, uber-hunky heroes, sassy heroines, and always a happily ever after. Author of romantic comedies: Meadow Ridge Romance series, Bunny Hills and Bikinis, and the Reality TV Romance trilogy. You can find out more about Heather's books, news and giveaways by visiting her blog: 

Friday, February 15, 2013

Guest Post: Mari Mancusi

Welcome to my second stop on the CLP Blog Tour for Love At 11 by Mari Mancusi. Today I have a great guest post from the author herself. After taking a look at her other novels, I was really interested to know why she decided to write chick lit and how she found writing it after writing YA, paranormal, and so on. What follows is her thoughts on that. I hope you all enjoy it!

I’ve always loved the supernatural—even from a young age—so it’s probably not surprising that when I started writing, I found myself penning tales of the extraordinary. My very first published book, A Connecticut Fashionista in King Arthur’s Court, was a time travel about a 21st century fashion editor who ends up reliving Arthurian legend. Later I did the Blood Coven Vampire series, which is a Buffy’esque vampire tale—heavy on the parody of books like Twilight.

But no matter what the time period or the supernatural element, my voice has remained the same. First person, snarky narrator, very grounded in our world—even as she experiences some pretty fantastical things. In short—I have a chick lit voice and I’m not afraid to use it!

So with Love at 11, it wasn’t as much of a stretch as it might seem. Sure, I couldn’t bring on a vampire to bite the executive producer when she started to become a pain in the neck. But just like Kat in King Arthur’s Court, Maddy is also a bit of a fish out of water, struggling to find her place in a very foreign world. And let me tell you from experience, at times a TV newsroom isn’t much less barbaric than a medieval castle.

It was refreshing, in fact, to tell a real story. A story close to my heart. In fact, I was literally assigned the “Cosmetics that Kill” story Maddy is supposed to be working on throughout the novel at my own TV station in Boston. I remember being so freaking frustrated at the ridiculous sensationalism we were pumping out every day. I just wanted to do some real journalism for once. But since I couldn’t quit—instead I poured out that frustration into a book. It was therapeutic to say the least. And ended up being one of the books I’m most proud of writing.

So while I still do love delving into the supernatural and exploring things that go bump in the night—there’s just something about getting real. And I’d love to do it again someday!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

CLP Blog Tour: Love at 11

Thanks for checking out my stop on the CLP Blog Tour for Love At 11! I've now read three books with a television news producer as the heroine and Mari Mancusi's novel is by far my favourite.

Here's the synopsis:
When Maddy graduated from Columbia University, she was ready to change the world. She'd get a job at Newsline, meet a nice guy, and live happily ever after with a real designer handbag on her arm. Five years later, she's stuck producing puff pieces for the local News 9 San Diego--where "if it bleeds, it leads." She's still single, her family's falling apart, and so is her knock-off Kate Spade.
Even a promotion--complete with hot camera guy--can't seem to turn her luck around. After all, the promotion means working with the most narcissistic anchor on the planet and hot camera guy Jamie? Well, he'd be perfect...except for that pesky model/actress fiancee of his.
But just as Maddy's ready to give up on her dreams, a secret scoop from her favorite knock-off purse guy has her suddenly chasing a huge lead. And Jamie is right by her side--in all the right ways. Can she bag the bad guy in an exclusive expose, put her family back together again, and win Jamie's heart? Stay's the story of a lifetime.
Maddy was a really fun character. So much fun, in fact, that I wanted to be her friend. I would have gladly sat by her side as she drank her sorrows away...and I would probably swoon over Jamie with her, too! I thought she was very real and likeable. She has some crazy problems in this book - her parents are splitting up, she's thrown into the mom role for her wild child sister, is struggling with ethical issues at work, and has fallen for a guy who's engaged. As I'm writing this, I realize it sounds like there's too much going on but it really didn't read like that. Everything flowed well and there was just enough drama without it getting ridiculous. Even though I wasn't crazy about the ending (I guess I like perfectly wrapped up stories!), I understand that not everything can be perfect. And that's all I'm going to say about that :)

I mentioned that I have already read a couple of books featuring news producers. I enjoyed those ones but I really liked Love at 11. I've been trying to figure out what exactly made it better than the others (better meaning I enjoyed it more, not necessarily better written, etc.) and I think I've settled on the fact that Maddy was younger than the other two heroines. I'm in my mid-twenties, just like Maddy. She's trying to figure out where to go with her career, just like me (though, admittedly, I'm still trying to decide what I want my career to be!). The other women were older, and one had a family. Nothing against those kinds of stories, there are many books I love that feature mothers, but I like when I can really relate to the character and I had that with Maddy.

I don't want to say much else about this novel because I think part of its greatness comes from the twists and turns of the mystery and romance. Overall, Love at 11 was a fabulous read and Mari Mancusi gives readers a little bit of everything - action, intrigue, and romance. I definitely recommend this one! Stay tuned for a guest post from Mari herself coming up tomorrow!

Happy reading...and Happy Valentine's Day! :)

Check out this Valentine's Day Chick Lit Promotion!

Happy Valentine's Day! How are you celebrating? Romantic evening with your beau? Anti V-Day party with some girlfriends? In case you're curious, my evening won't be any more romantic than any other since 1. My boyfriend and I have never celebrated Valentine's Day...or our the almost eight years we've been together and 2. He won't even be home tonight! To me, this means I can watch a perfectly chick flicky movie without bothering him! Suggestions are welcome!

But this post isn't about me and my Valentine's Day plans. It's about the fabulous promotion a bunch of equally fabulous chick lit authors have come up with for this heart filled holiday. I can personally vouch for 7 of the 9 books being promoted - I enjoyed them all! These ladies are all amazing and I strongly encourage you to pick up these books before the prices go back up. Title link is for purchasing and I've included links to my reviews as well, in case you need further encouragement!

Without further ado, here are the details of this awesome deal:

Love is in the air . . . and it can be on your Kindle, too! Do you want to fall in love with a new book this Valentine's Day weekend? How about 9? Then don't miss this special promotion. For 4 days only (February 14th - February 17th), 9 popular Chick Lit authors will be lowering the prices on their favorite rom-coms to 99 cents on! At that price (A bottle of wine costs more!), why not sample them all? Some delicious literary treats await you, and unlike chocolates these goodies are calorie-free!

Guys, if your sweetie is a book-lover, you'll make her Valentine's Day by gifting her with one (or more) of our fun, romantic stories! 

Finding Lucas by Samantha Stroh Bailey   
In Need of Therapy by Tracie Banister   (review)
Rita Hayworth's Shoes by Francine LaSala
Breaking the Rules by Cat Lavoie   (review)
The Green Ticket by Samantha March   (review)
Unmasking Maya by Libby Mercer   (review)
A State of Jane by Meredith Schorr   (review)
True Love Way by Nancy Scrofano   (review)
Picture Perfect by Lucie Simone   (review)

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Just Finished: Stuck on You

A couple of months ago I reviewed Heather Thurmeier's novel Falling for You and I just loved it (review is here if you missed it). I was so happy when Heather contacted me to review the second novel in this series, Stuck on You - especially because I think I loved this one even more!

Here's the synopsis:
If being forced to team up with reality TV’s favorite bad girl wasn’t enough, falling for her brother might just make this reality show a real nightmare.
Paige Anderson agrees to be on a new reality show called Treasure Trekkers, a show where contestants use handheld GPS units to find hidden caches filled with prizes, with her good friend Cassidy. But when Cassidy is unable to compete, Chip Cormack, the show’s producer, steps in with a last-minute replacement to be Paige’s partner—Zoe Oliver, reality TV’s favorite bad girl.
Jack Miles (aka Miles) is a mountain climber with the body to prove it. Miles convinced his climbing partner Ben to come on the show with him for one reason—to prove to Ben that they can still hike together, regardless of the fact that Ben lost his foot in a tragic accident. Miles isn’t about to let anything get in his way of winning—not even beautiful Paige.
But when Miles and Paige are thrown into an alliance with their teammates, working closely together leads to more than just good strategy. Can Paige steal Miles’ heart while surviving Zoe long enough to win the game?
This was such a fun premise. I love the reality show focus in this series and I would definitely watch Treasure Trekkers. I was familiar with geocaching before reading this book so I was immediately interested in how the show would play out. Of course, the show isn't the main part of the story, it is a romance novel after all!

And what a romance it was! I loved Paige and Miles and was totally rooting for them through the entire book. Even though Paige was a bit of a twit when she was following Zoe's instructions to wear stilettos while competing (OK, a major twit...what was she thinking? Ack!), you could still tell that she was a really likeable girl. I knew the two of them would eventually get together but that didn't make the build up any less fun to read.

You know when you meet a character in the first and/or second book of a series and you just really dislike her? And worry because the following book will feature said character? I felt like this about Zoe. She is...well, she's a bitch. At least, she starts out that way. We met her in Falling for You when she was competing in The One (a Bachelor-esque show) with Paige and Cassidy and then she pops up again in Stuck on You. I really disliked her. I grumbled and cursed and then...she started to grow on me. Let me tell you I was quite surprised! Heather wrote Zoe in such a way that, as I told her, made it OK for the reader to like her. You honestly go into this book disliking her and if the subtle changes in Zoe hadn't been written well, I would not have been OK with how things ended with her and where they'll go in the third book. Let me compare it to another well known chick lit character - Darcy from Emily Giffin's Something Borrowed and Something Blue. Raise your hand if you disliked Darcy in SOBO. Me too! Were you worried when you realized book two was all about her? Yep, I was too. Did it surprise you when you actually quite liked her by the end of the second book? You guessed it, I was too. Heather has also hinted at a secret in Zoe's past that may explain why she is the way she is and I can't wait to find out exactly what that is. Wow. I just realized this was a very long description of my dislike turning to like of Zoe. Obviously I'm looking forward to book three!

Overall, Stuck on You by Heather Thurmeier was a great read. It was sweet, fun, and a little sexy. I definitely encourage chick lit and romance fans to give this one a read. Especially if you enjoy reality shows as well! I will now wait (im)patiently for book three, Lost Without You, to be released...come on July!

Happy reading :)

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

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Favourite Romances

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.

It's almost Valentine's Day so of course we're all thinking of our favourite romances! Even after thinking hard about this, I've only been able to come up with eight. I just know as I read some posts today I'll think of others I should have included! What are your favourite romances in books?

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

Elizabeth and Darcy - Pride and Prejudice
No brainer. Their relationship is rocky to start out with but ends up as a romance that still makes us swoon 200 years later.

Jessica Darling and Marcus Flutie - Jessica Darling Series (Sloppy Firsts, etc.)
Jessica is a good girl. She gets good grades, runs track, and is your average teen. Once her BFF moves away, things start to shift and then she meets Marcus. He's not a bad boy, necessarily, but he's definitely misguided. We see their relationship change and evolve over five books and I just love it.

Hermione and Ron - Harry Potter
Who else was happy when these two finally came to their senses and realized they liked each other?

Allie and Noah - The Notebook
Such a sweet romance. I don't think I need to elaborate on this one, do I?

Anne Shirley and Gilbert Blythe - Anne of Green Gables series
This is another romance that didn't start off all that well. He calls her Carrot Top, for crying out loud...and we all know how sensitive she was about her red hair! I haven't read these books for ages but I remember loving that these two got together in the end.

Anne Blythe and Jack - Arranged
Not to be confused with the above Anne! I picked these two because Anne and Jack got together in such an odd way and I really liked their romance. Ups and downs and all!

Remy and Dexter/Auden and Eli - This Lullaby/Along for the Ride
I couldn't pick just one Sarah Dessen couple! I'm sure by the end of this year I'll be able to pick one (since I'm doing a read/reread challenge) but for now, I love them both. They're some of the older teens in Dessen's books so that might be why I relate to them. I really just love pretty much all of Dessen's couples. Love them.

Roxy and Ollie - Breaking the Rules
I'm a sucker for the boy-and-girl-are-friends-and-then-realize-they-might-like-each-other storylines and Cat Lavoie's debut novel has one of my favourites.

So...who am I missing? Let me know!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Blog Tour: Retrieved + a Giveaway!

Last fall I took part in the ABG Reads blog tour for the novel Released by Amber Polo. I was a little unsure about what I would think of it but, as you can see from my review, I ended up really enjoying it! When Colette asked me if I wanted to take part in the tour for the second book in The Shapeshifters' Library series, I immediately said yes. I was happy that I enjoyed Retrieved just as much as the first book!

Here's the synopsis:
Dog-shifters once again face the book-burning werewolves of Shipsfeather in this charming second installment of The Shapeshifters’ Library series.
Godiva Anglesey, Chocolate Labrador, and the ruggedly handsome English Mastiff Cynerik are forced to team up against power-hungry werewolves when Cynerik discovers an ancient Ohio mound that may hold answers to their shifter history. Knowing the mound’s secrets could benefit the dog-shifters in the ongoing contest for power, ambitious werewolf pack Alpha Sybilla challenges timid Godiva to a battle for the territory. Already faced with a malicious book-worm infestation and a censorship threat to ban all anthropomorphic books in her library, Godiva, who has no interest in battling anyone, must turn from running her small town library to train for a challenge she believes she has no chance of winning. Just when things couldn’t get any worse, Godiva’s mother announces that family tradition dictates that Godiva must be married by Summer Solstice… to a Druid. Godiva doesn’t even know any Druids.
Godiva wants to run her library, retrieve books for library patrons, and keep people happy. She’s no hero. She doesn’t have what it takes to face down werewolves or save the world. Cynerik, however, believes differently. Together they must defeat the werewolves, save the town and its library, protect the most important archeological discovery in dog-shifter history… and, just maybe, find love along the way.
I really didn't like Godiva very much in Released so I was worried that I may not enjoy Retrieved simply because of that fact. Luckily, I grew to like Godiva and wanted things to work out for her. I couldn't wait for her to wake up and realize that Griswald, the man she had an enormous crush on, was completely useless and she could do so much better.

Learning the history of these particular shapeshifters and werewolves was, once again, quite interesting (even if the St. Lawrence River was spelled incorrectly...). Once Cynerik found the mound, I was just as anxious as he to find out what was inside and what it meant. I especially liked the storytelling part of the Challenge and thought it further showed how different the shapeshifters and werewolves can be.

Once again, Amber Polo delivered an entertaining read. Retrieved was enjoyable and I think anyone who likes a bit of fantasy should give this one a shot. I'm interested to see what else can happen in the third instalment (no title or date yet).

One final thing: don't forget to enter the giveaway! Click here for the link: a Rafflecopter giveaway. You can win a Shapeshifter Public Library canvas book bag, a print copy of "Retrieved," dog biscuits, and a tuft of genuine wolf fur. This giveaway is tour wide and is open only to US/Canada residents. 

Where to find Amber:

Friday, February 8, 2013

Author Interview: Rachel Schurig

It's my final stop on the CLP Blog Tour for In Search of a Love Story by Rachel Schurig. I've already reviewed the novel (loved it!) and Rachel has given us a great guest post on why she loves writing chick lit. Today I give you an interview with Rachel herself! I hope you like it!

Favourite movie?
Probably the Emma Thompson/Kate Winslet version of Sense and Sensibility. I think I've seen that movie a hundred times.

Favourite author/book?
Jane Austen is definitely my favorite author. I like just about all of her novels, but would have to choose Pride and Prejudice as my favorite. I want to find my own Mr. Darcy!

Favourite (or dream) travel destination?
There are so many places I still want to see! My favorite place that I've been able to visit already is probably Edinburgh, Scotland. It’s so beautiful there!

Favourite indulgence (food to eat, store to shop in, etc.)?
A nice big bowl of pasta and a glass of wine. And a piece of chocolate for dessert!

How did you come up with the idea for In Search of a Love Story?
I'm a big fan of all things romance—movies, books, you name it. I wanted to write a story about a girl who learns about love from all of the romance stuff I like so much.

What do you like about writing a series?
I feel like you really get a chance to get to know your characters over a series. I love returning to the same world I've created to see where else I can take it.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Read as much as you can. Write as much as you can. Practice, practice, practice. Lots of people want to write but the only way to make it happen is to sit down and do it. I promise you won’t regret it!

Are you an outliner or a write by the seat of your pants author?
I do some of both. I make a general outline then sit down and see where the story and the characters want to go.

Have you always wanted to be a writer?
Yes I have. I went through a long stretch where I stopped writing because I didn't think I could ever make it. I'm so glad I gave myself a chance!

What is your favourite and least favourite thing about being an author?
My favorite thing is getting lost in the story. Sometimes when I'm writing I completely forget where I am and what I'm doing. I love that feeling of being completely immersed in the book. I also LOVE talking to readers. Nothing makes me happier! My least favorite thing is the polishing process. Doing those nitpicky edits and working on the book’s synopsis drives me crazy!

Thanks so much for having me!

Connect with Rachel!
Visit Rachel at

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Guest Post: Rachel Schurig

Earlier this week I reviewed the fabulous novel In Search of a Love Story by Rachel Schurig for a CLP Blog Tour. (Missed my review? You can check it out here.) I am happy to announce that Rachel is here today with a great guest post! When looking into what else Rachel had written I realized I wanted to know: Why chick lit? What makes this her favourite genre to read and write? I hope you all enjoy this post. I definitely did!

Ever since I first read Bridget Jones’ Diary I've been pretty much addicted to chick lit. I will seriously read just about any chick lit novel I can get my hands on. I'm a serious reader who loves collecting books to re-read over and over again. My home office has four bookcases with one whole bookcase is dedicated to chick lit. Some of my favorite authors and favorite books are chick lit. I think it was a pretty natural transition for me to start writing in the genre as well.

So, what is chick lit, anyhow? I can’t tell you how often I'm asked that question by people unfamiliar with the genre. If you ask five authors that same question, chances are you’ll get five different answers. I keep it simple when describing chick lit. In my mind, chick lit is any novel with a strong female protagonist, a strong romantic element, and a humorous and/or light feel. The biggest difference, in my humble opinion, between chick lit and straight romance is that chick lit focuses primarily on the protagonist and her journey whereas a romance novel focuses more on the romance element. A chick lit book is more likely to deal with issues relating to the main character’s career, her family, and her relationships. I think there’s a misconception that all chick lit is completely fluffy and candy-coated with an overabundance of stilettos and shopping. While I like shoes and shopping as much as the next person, I think there’s definitely room in chick lit to deal with more serious subjects.

Marian Keyes, author of such chick lit classics as Watermelon and This Charming Man, is one of my favorite authors, and she definitely doesn't stick to the light and fluffy. She tackles issues like domestic violence, drug addiction, alcoholism, cheating, and infertility. Emily Giffin (Something Borrowed, Where We Belong) has written about infidelity and teenage pregnancy. Harriet Evans (Happily Ever After, I Remember You), has addressed such complicated issues as alcoholism and abortion. But each of these authors, and many others like them, somehow manage to write about these issues in a way that is both humorous and fun. To me, that is the mark of a good chick lit read.

I remember reading Bridget Jones’s Diary the first time and thinking, this is how my friends talk. Helen Fielding gave Bridget such a strong voice; she felt like a girl I knew, a girl I would want to hang out with. She felt like me. I think that’s what brings me back to the genre again and again; the relate-ability. Chick lit is generally told with a very strong narrative voice. A good author can bring you right into the protagonist’s head. You know how she feels about her life, about her friends, about her romantic experiences. Before long, she starts to feel like a friend.

That’s what I always try to accomplish in my books. I look to create a mix of light-heartedness, humor, and struggle to succeed for the main character. In my new book, In Search of a Love Story, Emily Donovan is searching for love with the help of her friends. She’s also struggling to find success in her career, deal with the lingering effects of the loss of her mother, and, perhaps most importantly, find her own voice. My hope is that I've created a character that people can relate to, and a story that’s enjoyable to read. Because really, isn't that what chick lit is all about?

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish Memories

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 our lists are all about the ten best bookish memories we have. I haven't ordered mine in any particular way but they are listed in the order I thought of them. I was excited about this week's list. I sat down to start it, only managed to come up with five, and then gave up. Then, this morning (Tuesday), I started really thinking about some bookish memories on my commute and decided to give it another shot. When there's a previous post that relates to the memory, I've linked the title. Enjoy!

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

Sarah Dessen has been my favourite author for years. I’ve been reading her novels for probably…twelve years now. I first discovered her books when I was working at my public library (more on that later). I was shelf reading (aka making sure the books were in the right order on the shelves) and I came across Someone Like You (with the old school cover no less). I thought it looked good, took it home, and fell in love. I immediately told one of my best friends about it, she read it, and just like that, we were hooked. Fast forward to just over a year ago when we found out Dessen was going to be in Toronto. I entered some contest hosted by Penguin Canada and then promptly forgot about it. Until I got an email two days before the event telling me that I was one of the winners and I would get to go to a special meet and greet before the talk and signing. AND I could bring a friend! After I stopped hyperventilating, I called my friend and she had pretty much the same response. There were about fifteen winners and their friends in the room and we all got to chat with Sarah prior to the signing. I didn’t think I could love her any more but that event clinched it. She is so down to earth and just fabulous. We got to have our books signed before everyone else and have a little one on one time with Sarah. Unbelievable. My friend and I were definitely some of the oldest people there by almost a decade (most girls were 14-16 and we were 24 at the time) but we so didn’t care. We got to meet our favourite author and it was amazing.

Emily Giffin is another of my favourite authors and when she was promoting her latest novel Where We Belong last year she had a tour stop in Toronto. Naturally, I decided I needed to go. First I planned to go with a coworker but things changed and she had guests that night (it was unfortunately the Thursday before the last long weekend of summer). Then, I was going to go with the owner of the other blog I write for (Novel Escapes, in case you didn’t know) but a family thing came up and she wasn’t able to go. THEN I was going to go with another blogger but her hubby got last minute Blue Jays tickets and she had to stay home with their son. So. There I was. Alone and on my way to the city (you didn’t really think I’d skip it, did you?). And you know what? It was great. In fact, when Emily asked if I was there with anyone and I told her that I got bailed on three separate times, she made sure I got a t-shirt. Pretty sweet, eh? I’m sure I babbled like an idiot when I was chatting with her because I was just in awe. Even with that, and the fact that the picture of us came out blurry, I still had a fabulous time and I’m so glad I decided to go.

Late last summer/early fall, I heard about the event Random House of Canada and Chatelaine magazine were holding. It was all about the upcoming fall books and was to be a night of fun and bookish awesomeness. I met up with a fellow blogger (the third one from the above story!) and we headed to the event together. It was so great to meet a blogger in person and we had a great time at the event! There was delicious food and a fab swag bag. I also finally got to meet Lindsey who looks after sending books to bloggers for review at Random House. It was an excellent night all around.

Getting an internship at Random House of Canada
Just over a year ago I came across a publishing certificate that was offered by a university in Toronto. I was interested because I was currently unhappy at my job and wanted to figure out a way to work with books that wasn’t in retail or a library. Cue my surgery last January and I had to put the idea on the back burner for a bit. Once I moved and got settled in my new job, I started taking courses online last fall. Through this course, we get emails telling us about internship opportunities. I wasn’t going to apply for any originally but I decided it was now or never and applied to a couple. Fast forward a few weeks and I was hired as one of two publicity interns at Random House. Holy crap. I’m just in week four now and I still pinch myself every once and awhile. I can’t believe I’m actually here! Of course, I have no idea what this will lead to and I’m trying not to stress about that (though my boyfriend and close friends will tell you that I’m not succeeding at that). For now, I’m enjoying the ride.

Talk about a bunch of book lovers in one place! In November the ladies of the Ontario Blog Squad organized the second annual meet-up in Toronto. I really wanted to meet some of these bloggers in person so I got my ticket and waited (im)patiently for the day of the event to arrive. Due to last minute Facebook communication, I met with another blogger from the city I live in and we traveled by train together into the city where we met up with even more people before heading to the event. This event was just so much fun and it was amazing to have that many book lovers all together (there were about 70 of us, I think). There were authors, people from publishing houses, prizes, and one huge bag of books to take home. I can’t wait for this year’s event!

The public library in my hometown

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t have a library card. My mom is a huge reader and always encouraged my sister and I to read (which she probably regretted when we would read instead of cleaning our rooms…). I can remember going down to the library in my hometown when I was younger and getting to pick out whatever books I wanted. I loved wandering in and out of the stacks and picking out books that I liked. I can recall when I got old enough to move to the next level up…and the one after that…and the one after that…until I was finally looking in the adult fiction section. By that time, I was working at the library and stayed working there for the entire four years I was in high school. I think this was probably the best first job anyone could ask for. OK, any book worm could ask for! :) Our library used to be a post office and I think it’s just a beautiful building. It now has a snazzy new addition so it’s much different and bigger than when I worked there. Even though I’ve been accumulating various library cards (I have four in total from the different places I’ve lived…), I have yet to find a library that I like better than the one I grew up in.

When I decided to start this blog just over two years ago I had no idea what it would turn into. I just wanted a way to talk about books some more. Since I started Books Etc. I’ve met some amazing people – both in person and online. The book blogging community is fabulous and I’m so glad I’m a part of it. Writing this blog is also what prompted me to finally start thinking about working in the book world and I don’t think I would have started the publishing courses without it.

The same day I found out I won the Sarah Dessen contest, my grandmother surprised my sister and I with an unbelievable trip. She was sending us on a four day cruise to the Bahamas and then onto Universal for three days (it’s amazing I didn’t completely lose my mind with excitement that night). The reason for this completely out of the blue and extremely generous trip? My sister had been thinking for awhile that she wanted to work on a cruise ship but had never been on one and we’re both obsessed with Harry Potter. And who cares about a reason, anyway? I have the world’s best grandma and got to go on a fabulous vacation. We only had the afternoon the first day we were at Universal so we showed incredible restraint and didn’t go to Harry Potter world until the next morning. That didn’t stop the stupid grins and squealing when we saw the castle as we walked into the park, though! Since we were staying on the park grounds we got early access into the HP part of the park so we, like many others, made a beeline for it the next morning. We were in total awe of the awesomeness that was the park. We did each of the roller coasters, ate at the Three Broomsticks, shopped at some of the stores, and tried Butterbeer (delish!). Sometimes I still can’t believe we were actually there!

Working at a bookstore

The first store I worked in!
OK, those of you who really know me are probably thinking, “WTF? I thought she hated her life when she was working at Coles?” That is true. It was not my dream job by any means and it was essentially a job I had out of necessity. I worked there the summer after my first year of university, all through second and third years of university and year of post grad (let me tell you, finals + working in retail in December = a whole new version of hell), and after I graduated up until I got my first “real” job. Just over three years if you add it all up (and if I did my math correctly) and a total of three stores in three very different malls and cities. Retail was not my dream. But talking about books all day? Awesome. The thing I miss most about working at Coles is recommending books to people and hearing them talk about their favourite books. But the thing I miss the most? Some of the people I worked with. I made so many friends while working there and there are three of them that are incredibly close and I couldn’t imagine my life without them. What can I say? Book people like book people! :)

So, if you can count, you’ll realize there are only nine things on this list. I’m sure there’s a tenth but my mind is hiding it from me at this moment in time. I think I’ve had a pretty great bookish life so far. Here’s to even more bookish awesomeness in the future!