Saturday, April 25, 2015

Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-Thon: Mega Post

It's that time of year again, friends! It's the Dewey's 24 hour read-a-thon! As usual, the read-a-thon starts at 8am for me so I probably won't start until at least 9am. It's a Saturday, people. I want to sleep in a little bit! Truth: I'm actually writing this little intro on Friday night so on Saturday I can just get started on the opening meme and get the party started. I hope you have a great day and keep checking back to see what goodies I've posted.

Kicking things off, as usual, is the opening meme!

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?
Today I'm reading from my little home in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada. For those who have zero idea where that is, it's about 20 minutes away from Niagara Falls. 

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?
Confession: I do not have a stack. I'm kind of winging it. I do have a vague idea that I might (finally, finally!) read Attachments by Rainbow Rowell. I'm starting the day reading Good to Myself which is by one of my favourite authors, Heather Wardell.

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to? 
I need to pop out later today and I will just happen to be by a Marble Slab and I just happen to have a fully stamped card so I think I might treat myself to some ice cream! I'll also be having popcorn. It's one of my favourite snacks and I usually end up having it during the readathon. That and hard cider (though I think tonight it'll be wine!). 

4) Tell us a little something about yourself! 
I'm a month and three days away from being 28. Last year I spent my birthday in Australia (where I finally learned to like wine even though I live in a major wine region) and this year I'll spend it in New York City (BEA!). I own the cutest little rabbit named Tonks (she'll be three this fall!). I have zero idea what I want to be when I grow up but I'm working on it. I'm ridiculously tall (6') and love it (except when I'm trying to find clothes that fit). I'm a huge tea fan and the people who work at David's Tea know me well.

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?
I've been participating in read-a-thons for a little while now and always have fun. I approach it with a totally open mind and just do what I can do. I know I always go to bed on Saturday with the idea that maybe, just maybe, I'll be able to get in an hour before the end of the read-a-thon but it never happens. And that's ok. Who wants to get up at 7am on a Sunday? I don't even want to get up at 7am on a workday! I'll read, I'll take part in challenges, I'll find new friends on Twitter, and I'll eat. It'll be great!

Mini-Challenge: Classic Words of Wisdom
Hosted by A Literary Odyssey

I knew as soon as I saw the challenge that I wanted the quote to be from the Anne of Green Gables series. I've been rereading them this year (best idea of 2015) and I'm remembering how lovely the series is. I chose this quote because I really adored Anne of the Island plus it's just so true. College or university doesn't teach you everything. It teaches you a lot, and not just the typical education, but you're always learning and finding life lessons. Learning doesn't stop after you graduate.
What are some of your favourite classic quotes?

Mini-Challenge: 4 Seasons, 4 Books
Hosted by Bart's Bookshelf

For this challenge we posted a picture (with the hashtag #minichallenge4S) that showed four books featuring covers or titles that represented each season.

I went a tad obvious for two, Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah and All the Summer Girls by Meg Donohue. The seasons are right in the title! But the covers are very much representative of their respective seasons. Redesigning Rose by Lydia Laceby is my spring choice (gardening plays a big role in the book) and One Tiny Lie by K.A. Tucker is my choice for fall (just look at those colours!).

I have just finished my first book, Good to Myself by Heather Wardell. I adore Heather as an author and a person so I must admit I was feeling a little guilty because I hadn't read one of her books in so long. This one didn't disappoint and I'm really happy it coincided with the readathon! It's been a slow reading day since I got started late and had to pop out earlier. I signed up for an art class at Michaels as you could get 50% off if you signed up today - I'm going to learn how to make a metal stamped bracelet! And because it was so close to Marble Slab I just had to get some ice cream. I had a fully stamped card though so my ice cream, birthday cake with Crunch and Skor, was free. Yay! How's your reading been going? I'm finding I'm not doing as many challenges this time around as none of them are really speaking to me. Have you been taking part in any challenges? Well, time to get back to it. I'm really not sure what book I'm going to read next. The past month or so has been picking a book and reading it instead of working off a monthly list, which is what I usually do. It's kind of nice! Hm, and I think it's time for another cup of tea...and figuring out what to do for supper. It's almost 5:00pm here! Happy reading, all!

Mid-Event Survey:
1. What are you reading right now?
Four Seconds to Lose by K.A. Tucker. I. Am. Hooked.

2. How many books have you read so far?
I've only finished one and I'm about halfway through this one.

3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon?
Like I said before, I have no plan! I have no idea what I'll read next. Or if I'll even start a third one.

4. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those?
One major one when I had to go out. But I saved myself some money on signing up for a jewelry making class that I'm excited about and I got some ice cream so it really wasn't a big deal!

5. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far?
I'm not doing as many mini-challenges as I thought I would. I find that if I'm not immediately able to answer or do the challenge creatively, I don't bother. I want to be reading right now (which is why the massive pile of dishes in my kitchen is still there...) and don't want to put a ton of effort into a challenge that won't pay out with a good reward.

Update and End of Event Thoughts:
Well, this year's read-a-thon has come to a close! (Well, technically it ended almost three hours ago but I was still curled up in's Sunday!) I only finished two books but I'm totally fine with that. I do have a bit of a guilty feeling as I needed to do approximately five million other things other than read yesterday but it was nice to be reading when I knew so many others were doing the same. I read until about 1:00AM, which is later than I usually stay up. I wanted to get my book done and I had gotten distracted by wine, popcorn, the boyfriend coming home and watching Breaking Bad, the rabbit, the rat in the backyard that I named Porridge...ahem. Anyway! I spent the last half hour or so petting my rabbit with one hand and holding my book and turning the pages with the other. Hey, when Tonks wants to snuggle, I'll pet her! All in all, it was a good day. Could I have read more? Sure! But I'm happy with what I read and I hope you are too. There's no pressure with this event, it's all for fun. And fun I had! See ya in October, read-a-thon friends!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Favourite Authors

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.

Trying to come up with ten favourite authors is quite the daunting task, let me tell you. I had to include two sub-categories because, let's face it, it's pretty much impossible to come up with just ten. My process was to list the ones that came to me right off the top of my head and then went through my five star rated books on Goodreads. I also kind of love that every single author, all thirteen of them, are women. Sure, I've read some amazing books by male authors but there aren't any that are on my autobuy list (though Kevin Kwan comes close...I cannot wait until China Rich Girlfriend is released). It's also no surprise that many of the authors on this list are ones that I've met. Though, on the flip side, there's one author who I used to list on my favourites but I no longer will since I saw her in person. (Any guesses?) I'm sure I'm missing a few but these authors are always recommended and dearly loved. Who are your favourite authors? Which ones are on your autobuy list?

My Favourite Ladies
Sarah Dessen
No one should be surprised that Dessen tops my list. She is an amazing writer, I've loved her since I was in my teens, and she's just an absolute sweetheart. I'm counting down the days until Saint Anything is released!! Definitely an autobuy author.

Rainbow Rowell
I've loved both Rowell's adult and young adult books, which is important, but I also found her to be amazing in person when I met her a few years ago.

Jennifer Weiner
I've been reading Weiner for years and have always found her books smart and engaging. Meeting her last year cemented my love for her because she is one amazing woman.

Heather Wardell
Heather was one of the first indie authors I read and now, many years later, I consider her a friend. (Hopefully that's not presumptuous...) Not only does she write amazing novels but she is also great at connecting with her readers.

Meredith Schorr
I've loved all of Meredith's books and she's another author who I like to consider a friend (she's offered to make sure I don't get lost in NYC when I'm there for BEA next month...that's a friend!) She also wins a ton of points for writing an awesome book about a chick lit blogger, appropriately called Blogger Girl, that is one of my all time favourites.

K.A. Tucker
Tucker's stories completely suck me in. They have interesting characters who you're immediately invested in. Plus, when I met her at a signing last year she saw my name and knew what my Twitter and Instagram was (it helps that my name is so unique!). She's definitely my favourite New Adult author.

Gayle Forman
I first read Just One Day and Just One Year and fell in love with Forman's writing. The love sort of lessened when I read If I Stay and Where She Went. I just didn't connect with that story. I decided to try her latest, I Was Here, and fell in love all over again. I also met her at the Toronto International Book Fair last year and she was really nice!

Catherine McKenzie
McKenzie is on my autobuy list as well. She's written so many amazing novels, though Arranged is by far my favourite. I haven't met her yet but I'd absolutely love to.

Beth Kendrick
I fell in love with Kendrick's books when I read Second Time Around and have thoroughly enjoyed all of the others of hers that I've read. Happily, I still have a few from her backlist still to read to tide me over until she releases a new one.

Stephanie Perkins
I freaking love Anna and the French Kiss, Lola and the Boy Next Door, and Isla and the Happily Ever After. Plus, the book of short holiday stories she edited, My True Love Gave to Me, was absolutely amazing (plus it featured authors like Rowell and Forman). I like that Perkins seems so real and awesome. I'm looking forward to seeing what she comes up with next.

Dearly Departed Authors
Lucy Maud Montgomery
I've been rereading the Anne of Green Gables series and I'm remembering how much I loved them when I was younger. The books and writing are just so delightful!

Jane Austen
I admit that it can sometimes be difficult to read Austen but her stories are intelligent and entertaining...she's a lot funnier than a lot of people give her credit for.

The Ultimate Queen of Authors
J.K. Rowling
Do I really need to explain this one? Harry Potter is my all time favourite and Rowling herself is one awesome lady.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Review: The Job

The Job is the third in the Fox and O'Hare series written by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg. I've enjoyed the series so far and this latest installment delivers more of what readers have come to expect from the books. It is a little darker than the previous books but, overall, it delivers an amusing mystery that's hard to put down.

Here's the synopsis:
Charming con man Nicolas Fox and dedicated FBI agent Kate O'Hare secretly take down world’s most-wanted and untouchable felons, next job Violante, the brutal leader of a global drug-smuggling empire. The FBI doesn’t know what he looks like, where he is, or how to find him, but Nick knows his tastes in gourmet chocolate.
From Nashville to Lisbon back alleys, from Istanbul rooftops to Thames, they chase clues to lookalike thefts. Pitted against a psychopathic bodyguard Reyna holding Kate hostage and a Portuguese enforcer getting advice from an ancestor's pickled head, they again call driver Willie for ship, actor Boyd for one-eyed Captain Bridger, special effects carpenter Tom, her father Jake - retired Special Forces, and his talent - machete-wielding Somali pirate Billy Dee. This could be their biggest job - if they survive. 
The bad guy in this book is a seriously violent individual - who has even scarier folks working for him. Because of this, there's a heightened sense of danger throughout this book. It's still fairly lighthearted and there are many amusing moments, but the potential for disaster and harm was always present for me. 

The puzzle that starts O'Hare and Fox off on this adventure was interesting. I definitely didn't see it coming and I enjoyed how it all came together at the end. Vague, isn't it? It can be hard to review a mystery novel...every clue is so important to the overall story!

Like the previous novels, Fox and O'Hare need to hire a bunch of individuals to pull off their con. This adds a bit of diversity and even more humour to the overall story. 

Overall, The Job is exactly what you'd expect from a humorous mystery series. You don't have to read the previous two books in the series but I do think I liked those ones better. Will I read the next one Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg write? Probably. This a fun series and I'll likely keep reading until I get bored!

*A copy of this novel was provided by Random House of Canada in exchange for review consideration. All opinions are honest and my own.*

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Review: The King's Curse

The King's Curse is Philippa Gregory's latest novel and the last in The Cousins' War series. And, if you can believe it, it is also the first book of hers I've ever read. I'm really interested in Tudor history but I just never found the time to pick up one of her novels before last fall.

Here's the synopsis:
Regarded as yet another threat to the volatile King Henry VII’s claim to the throne, Margaret Pole, cousin to Elizabeth of York (known as the White Princess) and daughter of George, Duke of Clarence, is married off to a steady and kind Lancaster supporter—Sir Richard Pole. For his loyalty, Sir Richard is entrusted with the governorship of Wales, but Margaret’s contented daily life is changed forever with the arrival of Arthur, the young Prince of Wales, and his beautiful bride, Katherine of Aragon. Margaret soon becomes a trusted advisor and friend to the honeymooning couple, hiding her own royal connections in service to the Tudors.
After the sudden death of Prince Arthur, Katherine leaves for London a widow, and fulfills her deathbed promise to her husband by marrying his brother, Henry VIII. Margaret’s world is turned upside down by the surprising summons to court, where she becomes the chief lady-in-waiting to Queen Katherine. But this charmed life of the wealthiest and “holiest” woman in England lasts only until the rise of Anne Boleyn, and the dramatic deterioration of the Tudor court. Margaret has to choose whether her allegiance is to the increasingly tyrannical king, or to her beloved queen; to the religion she loves or the theology which serves the new masters. Caught between the old world and the new, Margaret Pole has to find her own way as she carries the knowledge of an old curse on all the Tudors. 
This is a looong book, around 600 pages, which is both good and bad. It's good because Margaret's entire story could be told in detail. However, there were some parts where there wasn't anything significant happening and the story really dragged. I found myself flipping past those pages, wanting to get to the next interesting event.

I was really shocked about the ending. I shouldn't have been had I known or researched the particulars of this time period. I understand why it had to end like that but it was abrupt (and sort of weird) especially when you consider that The King's Curse is the final book in The Cousins' War series. I suppose I just expected things to either be wrapped up more than they were or for it to continue on until King Henry's reign was over.

Quick observation: I was super happy to have the family tree for this book. I also appreciated that Gregory continually updated it after members of the family died, were married, or had children.

I'm sure at some point I'll pick up another Gregory novel. Like I said, I enjoy the history of Tudor England. However...I'm unfortunately aware of some of the criticism surrounding her novels and her research. I went back and forth a bazillion times on whether I should include this in my review or not because I don't want to unnecessarily prejudice someone else, especially when I don't have specific references, but it's something that's bugged me and kept me from reading Gregory until now. I have no problem with some creative license when it comes to historical fiction because, well, it's in the name of the genre, isn't it? Historical fiction. But I still expect truth to be under entertaining dialogue and way the story is told. It bothers me when I can't be sure what I'm reading actually happened. Does anyone else feel this way about her novels? Or can provide some excellent interview or evidence that I shouldn't be so hard on her?

Long, rambling review short, I don't know if The King's Curse was the right Philippa Gregory novel for me to start with. I didn't find Margaret's story particularly riveting and I was more interested in other characters' stories. I think the best course of action for me is to find myself some excellent research books on Tudor England, arm myself with the actual facts, and then dive back into the historical fiction, particularly Gregory's. I think I may enjoy the embellishments more if I have all of the background information. If you've been reading The Cousins' War from the start, I'd say give this one a read. I think you'll appreciate seeing how Gregory ends the series.

*An advanced copy of this novel was provided by the publisher, Simon and Schuster Canada, in exchange for review consideration. All opinions are honest and my own.*