Friday, 19 December 2014

Christmas Gift Guide 2014!

Hi everyone - I know that Christmas is next week, but if you are like me and a last minute shopper, you are still looking about for ideas. I thought I'd make a bookish Christmas Gift Guide post listing my favorite books/finds from this year. I hope that there is something here for everyone! ;)

If you are looking for something new and intriguing - I recommend checking out ANYTHING by Haruki Murakami - you will not be disappointed. I recently wrote a review about his latest novel The Strange Library, which you can read here! Some of my favorite titles are: Sputnik Sweetheart, Norwegian Wood and The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. 

If you are looking for a classic - here I would normally recommend my favorite book of all time - The Picture of Dorian Gray, but why not pick up something holiday related like A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens - it is a great holiday read and surely will get you right in the mood for the festive season. It is also something that I think everyone should have in their library. It is a staple book. 

If you are looking for a young-adult novel - definitely pick up Althea and Oliver by Cristina Moracho. I wrote a full review of it here. It is definitely my favorite from this year of all the young-adult that I read. It is an interesting, raw, compelling story that really pushes the boundaries of young adult. It started off similar, and contemporary like The Fault in Our Stars, but it definitely moves beyond that quite quickly. Please pick it up, read it and love it. 

If you are looking for a comic/graphic novel - I recommend Black Widow Vol 1. which I also reviewed here! It is by far my favorite graphic novel yet. The artwork is stunning and the storyline is super interesting. I really enjoyed it! And I think that this would be enjoyed even by those who aren't familiar with the marvel-verse. 

If you are looking for a bookish gift - I recommend a bookmark from the lovely shop craftedvan on etsy. They make the cutest magnet bookmarks ever! I own so many from them and they are wonderfully crafted and just stunning. They are also reasonably priced and will make any book lover incredibly happy. They also take custom orders if you can't find anything in the shop that you don't like! 

Well that's it from me this year! I hope that these suggestions are helpful! :D Happy Holidays all and happy reading! <3

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Bout of Books 12

Hi everyone. It is that time of year again - where Bout of Books is once again upon us. The last bout of books was definitely a bit of a fail for me in the summer. I was caught up with school and other things, but I will try to participate this January in bout of books. The first time I participated was in January and I actually ended up reading a lot - so I am going to try and do that again this year.

For those of you that don't know what Bout of Books is ->
The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, January 5th and runs through Sunday, January 11th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 12 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team
It is low-pressure and meant to encourage more reading, so definitely not something to stress about it but there is also fun activities that you can participate in and giveaways as well. I will try and do daily updates with Bout of Books. It starts right when school starts up again, so I will try my very best.

Will you be participating in Bout of Books 12? Let me know in the comments below! :D

Bout of Books

Sunday, 14 December 2014

What is Molly Peacock’s creative process?

Hi everyone! I hope that you are all doing well. I have a really special post for you all today, it is a kind of guest post written by the lovely author Molly Peacock. I wrote an in-depth review of her book Alphabetique which I will link you to here ! Today's topic will be "What is Molly Peacock's Creative Process?" 

Molly Peacock: Well, I have a lot of creative processes, because I practice several arts.  Poetry I write by hand in my bathrobe, usually on Saturday mornings.  Decades ago, when I was a teacher, I developed a habit of writing on my only free morning.  On Friday nights, I’d shop for groceries and vacuum, and tell my boyfriend he couldn’t stay overnight.  I had to have everything, even him, out of the way for the blank page on Saturday. During the weekI’d keep the poem in my handbag and work on it in spare moments during the week—at the dentist’s, in the school cafeteria, on the bus. 

But you can’t write a big nonfiction book this way.  Prose I write directly at a computer—sometimes using Dragon Dictate to save my shoulders and hands—and always in the morning.  I have to get to a desk first thing, when my energy is fresh.  I’ve got enough in me to get from 8 am till about noon or1pm with plenty of breaks for tea, yoga stretches, snacks, water, my husband, my cat, my balcony garden—but, if I can help it, NOT email.  (Or only in my breaks, if I have to.) By noon or 1pm, I’m wasted.  Time for lunch, a shower, the gym!  My desk?  It’s my grandmother’s dining room table.

But my process for Alphabetique spun off differently, and, really, it began in my childhood.
When I was four or five years old, my grandmother sent me a letter.  My mother read the letter to me, and at the end it said, “Please write back.”  I wanted to do that, but I didn’t know how to write.  My mother, who was busy reading a book, took a pad, wrote the alphabet on the top, and said to copy the letters that she dictated. And so I began, struggling with the D she pointed out for Dear. When I started Alphabetique, I wasn’t thinking about doing an abecedarium.  I had made up a character in a story-poem, and I called him C.  The minute I called him C, he began to have the characteristics of that letter.  He put his arm around his girlfriend. He was a harbor a ship could sail into. The letter literally determined his character. I was writing a biography at the time, The Paper Garden: Mrs. Delany Begins Her Life’s Work at 72.  Biographies require research and a commitment to what really happened, but I wanted to have a place for my imagination to roam, so one day I took a break and wrote S. The 18th-century English artist Hogarth thought that the S-curve was the most aesthetic shape an artist could draw. In fact, I wrote the story of S first as a free-verse poem, and published it that way. It was only as these pieces began to accumulate that I thought I could make them into stories and put them together.

For my in-depth review on Alphabetique, be sure to click here! :D 

Disclaimer: This option for a guest post was offered to me very kindly by Random House Canada and Molly Peacock. This does not affect my review in any way. All opinions are my own. 

Friday, 12 December 2014

Review: Rethinking Normal - A Memoir in Transition by Katie Rain Hill

Rethinking Normal - A Memoir in Transition by Katie Rain Hill

Publishing Date: September 2014
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Canada 
Pages: 272 pages

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

The Premise: This book is young adult contemporary memoir written by Katie Rain Hill. In this novel, Katie shares her process with learning that she is transgender and catalogues the narrative from childhood to where she is today, a college student. The book not only tackles the challenges she faced when trying to be "normal" at school, but also at home and finally, the challenges she faced because of how her story circulated online. The story is also intertwined with that of another transgendered teen, Arin Andrews - who also wrote his own memoir (a review for that is to come). 

My overall thoughts and review: To begin with, let me just say, I want to commend and applaud Katie's bravery and honesty in this novel. It must have taken a lot to sit down and write out some passages, especially those that were particularly painful.. I had some experience writing a novel last month in a memoir-esque style, and it definitely is not something that is enjoyable. I really enjoyed this book and it definitely informed me a lot more about transgender and the overall process of it. It shocked me to read some of the responses Katie received growing up, not only from fellow classmates but the administration. The scenes about how the school she went to reacted to her coming back to school were just flat out insane. I just can't believe a school administration would behave in that way, and it was so lovely to read about how Katie and her mom tackled that situation. 

At the heart of this novel, it is mostly a story about how Katie wants to be "normal" especially when her situation can make it difficult to experience. Interwoven within the narrative is Katie's relationship with her mother (which was incredibly sweet) and also her relationship with Arin Andrews, another transgendered teen. I really enjoyed how honest Katie was with all relationships that she mentioned. It was a breath of fresh air, reading those passages. I also really enjoyed reading her honesty about the media and just how pressured she felt, especially when it came to Arin and certain expectations she had to live up to. 

Now, you are probably wondering why I gave the book a 3/5 stars, and that isn't anything against the story itself, because I really enjoyed it. It definitely built my understanding of transgender notions. It was mainly the writing and pacing for me, which led me to my rating. It felt in the beginning like it was going in chronological order, but there was some time jumps, which I felt could've been smoother when transitioning from story to story and the pacing of it all. I enjoyed that for mostly every section there were photos included. However, the writing of it.. at times, it was confusing and not really well developed and at times, I really felt Katie's voice coming across, and other times I didn't.. I think that is because, the novel is quite short, in my opinion for a memoir, and Katie could've definitely expanded on many other things, if the space was allocated to her (I guess that means, another book is in order? ;)) All in all, I really enjoyed it. So well done, Katie! 

My rating of the book:  (3/5 stars) 

Now available for purchase at:

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by Simon and Schuster Canada for consideration/review. All opinions are my own. 

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Review: Hugs and Misses: 30 Postcards of Awkward Romances by Wilhelm Staehle

Hugs and Misses: 30 Postcards of Awkward Romances by Wilhelm Staehle

Publishing Date: December 3, 2014
Publisher: Quirk Books
Pages: 30 postcards 

This isn't a book? Nope, it is a booklet of 30 postcards by Wilhelm Staehle. I think that is what I love most about Quirk Books, the fact that you get so much variety and you get books that are sometimes not really books at all. When I was offered the chance to review this, I immediately jumped at the chance after browsing Staehle's website for a while. If you haven't checked out his site yet, I recommend going to check it out here! There is a bunch of more humorous silhouettes on the site. This booklet of postcards is essentially, 30 postcards that were selected based on his humorous silhouettes on the theme of awkward romances. There are a bunch of hilarious ones included and if you want to get a sense of his style, the website has a good amount of his work on there with different themes as well. 

So besides actually using them as postcards and mailing them out to friends, what else can you do? The funny thing is, I love them too much that I am going to be quite selfish and not want to actually mail them out. They come on pretty good quality paper, so I'm thinking that you can use them as ~prints~ and actually frame them for your house. There's a bunch that I plan to put up on my walls. 

Ultimately, I think this makes a nice little edition for the holidays. Whether you will use it as it is, postcards to mail out, or as art prints.. I think it would be a great stocking stuffer for book lovers this holiday season. 

Have you checked out some of Wilhelm Staehle's work? If you have, let me know in the comments below what you thought of it! 

Now available for purchase at: 

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me from Quirk Books for consideration/review. All opinions are my own. 

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Review: The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami; Translated by Ted Goossen

The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami; Translated by Ted Goossen

Publishing Date: December 2, 2014
Publisher: Penguin Random House Canada
Pages: 96 pages

The Premise: Without giving away the plot and details, it is a small novel from the internationally acclaimed famous author, Haruki Murakami, about a boy and a very strange library. The book is a paperback novel and composed with illustrations on almost every page. The story follows this boy who has an interest in the library and one night, he ventures further into the library and discovers some fantastical, yet unsettling secrets. 

My overall thoughts and review: If you are a fan of Haruki  Murakami, you will not be disappointed. It is very Murakami-esque in the sense that it is unsettling and there is a shifting of reality and imagination in the narrative. It is best to go into this without knowing anything. My professor at university is actually the translator of the text and when I brought the book in to show him (and ask him to sign), he mentioned that although it ~looks~ childlike, with the illustrations, it is actually a really sad and deep book (spoilers btw! When I was reading this, I kept hearing what my prof was saying, so in a way, I was prepared for the outcome of the novel). All in all, I LOVED it. It was super intriguing and dark and the diagrams/illustrations made it even more interesting. Even if you are not familiar with Haruki Murakami, I think this would be a good introductory novel to dive into his works. 

My rating of the book:  (5/5 stars) 

Now available for purchase at: 

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me from Random House Canada for consideration/review. All opinions are my own.