Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Blog Tour: All The Rage by Courtney Summers (Review & Author Q&A)

Hi all! Today I have an incredibly exciting post for you all. I was lucky enough to be a part of this wonderful blog tour for Courtney Summers' most recent release: All The Rage! I'm going to begin with a traditional Padfoot's Library review of the book and at the end, Courtney has very kindly answered some questions for me about the book which I think you will enjoy as well. I will also link the other bloggers participating in this blog tour at the end of the post so you can check out their posts and show them some love as well! Let's get started!

All the Rage by Courtney Summers

Publishing Date: April 14, 2015
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Pages: 336 pages
Young Adult Contemporary

The Premise: Romy Grey has been branded a liar after an encounter with Kellan Turner, the sheriff's son. He is not the golden boy everyone thinks he is, but unfortunately in a society where he is the sheriff's son, no one believes Romy. Romy is bullied relentlessly by friends and her community and is the target for the people she used to call friends. She finds solace in her job outside of town, Swan's, where she is able to not be the girl that everyone in her community believes she is. Romy has kept the encounter with Kellan hidden, until a girl that Romy and Kellan both know goes missing. Romy must decide whether she wants to fight so that no more girls can get hurt, or if she wishes to stay silent, as they try and find the missing girl. The premise by St. Martin's Press expresses that the book's central message is to tackle the topic of sexual violence and the question of: "in a culture that refuses to protect its young girls, how can they survive?"

My overall thoughts and review: THIS BOOK. THIS BOOK. I think the title is absolutely perfect for the text because I definitely felt all the rage all the way through the text and long after I finished reading it. This was my first time reading a book by Courtney Summers and I immediately wanted to run to the bookstore to pick up all of her other books. Her writing is so beautiful and her ability to capture this subject matter in a way that not only encourages the reader to not sit idly by, but fuels a fire in each of us. There are not enough YA books that tackle the subject matter of rape and rape culture and what Summers is portraying in her books really rings true. We live in a society where young girls and women are sometimes branded the liar in the cases of sexual violence, when instead they should be given help. Women and young girls who experience sexual violence should not be made to feel "less" - I was incredibly angry at the bullies in the text that abused Romy, but also, my heart constantly broke for her with every chapter because Romy felt like she had to deal with it alone. Summers brings up such an important point that individuals should not feel as if they have to deal with alone. It is how society has developed and this is definitely something that has to change.

Although, I was incredibly angry by the end of the book, I really loved it. I think the feeling of being angry and upset over the sexual violence that occurs is a good thing. If you aren't feeling All The Rage, well clearly, something is wrong. I like the Summers pushes the reader out of their comfort zone and encourages the reader to contemplate experiences. Summers also creates such multi-dimensional characters like Romy, and you just can't help but become incredibly emotionally invested in the character and their feelings and experiences. I know that the subject matter of the book may not be everyone's cup of tea, but I think if the topic does scare you, it is the only reason you need to try and read it. I think that there aren't enough YA books that tackle this subject and if so, they do so in a way that sugar-coats the subject. This book is incredibly raw and truthful and that is exactly what is needed in a story about sexual violence against women. I definitely had to put it down at moments because it is quite intense. It needs to be truthful because the book is tackling the subject of what happens when the victim is branded a liar, especially with the truth. There aren't a lot of YA books that stick with me long after finishing the book and this book is definitely one that I will be contemplating and sticking with me for quite some time. If you are looking for a YA book that pushes boundaries and tackles difficult subject matter, you should definitely add this new book by Courtney Summers to your reading list.

My rating of the book:  (5/5 stars) 

Now available for preorder at:
Chapters/Indigo and Book Depository (Free Worldwide Shipping)


And now.. 

Author Q&A with Courtney Summers
Photo from C.S. Website
How did you come up with the title of your book? 
For the longest time, All the Rage's working title was 'Grey' which I knew I wouldn't be keeping--but I was stuck on what it should be all while writing it. When the book sold, and we had to have a title in place for the announcement, it sort of hit me. It's a play on words like some of my other titles and it encompasses the story so well. 

What inspired you to write a book that tackles the issues of sexual violence and rape culture? 
I feel strongly about these issues. I think we live in a culture that often fails victims and survivors of sexual violence. There is so much victim-blaming. It's heartbreaking. It's infuriating. It needs to change. It was important for me to explore that.

I found it particularly interesting that you decided to split up the sections of the book into “before” and “after” - was this the original plan for the text? Or did you begin solely for Romy’s encounter with Kellan? 
All the Rage went through a lot of different incarnations and the opening changed a lot. Romy waking up on the road was a consistent starting point, but I thought it was more powerful when it included that glimpse into her past. Especially since it informs so much of her present.

What is one central message that you hope your readers walk away with when they finish the text? 
I think the ultimate takeaway of any work is up to the reader--but I do hope they'll think about the consequences of rape culture, especially if that's not something they've thought about before.

What do you set out to achieve when you write?  
I always want to tell the most honest story I can.

What upcoming projects do you have that readers can look forward to?
After All the Rage releases, I have a short story in Violent Ends, an anthology edited by Shaun Hutchinson. It centers around a school shooting. There are so many wonderful authors contributing and their stories are incredible, thoughtful, provoking, sensitive. I'm honoured to be part of it. It comes out in September of this year.

Lastly, I was reading your blog post titled “Writing for girls” and it surprised me to read that a person in publishing had issues with one of your texts indicating that there was already a book about a girl dealing with rape. You raise such an important point because yes, we do need more books like this. It is a topic of taboo that people are often afraid to approach and does not get enough exposure, especially in YA. It should not be limited to one or two books that have a girl dealing with rape, there shouldn’t be a number to it. This was starting out as a question, but it is coming out more as a solidarity statement. Thank you for writing for girls. Thank you for continuing to write books that deal with these experiences and I hope you never stop doing so.
Thank you so much! That means a lot to me. I think it's so important we advocate for girls, that we tell their stories and let them know their stories matter. I'm so glad and so grateful to know there are readers out there like you, who feel the same way.

Thank you for having me on your blog, Christine!

You can follow Courtney on twitter @courtney_s  and read more about her and her books on her website: http://courtneysummers.ca/!


Check out the other Book Bloggers participating in the ALL THE RAGE Book Tour:
March 28 - Lindsay @ Me On Books ; Nicole @ Nicole About Town
March 29 - MaryAnn @ Chapter by Chapter ; Siobhan @ Conversations of a Reading Addict
March 30 - Indigo @ Adventures in YA Fiction ; Liz @ Midnight Bloom Reads
March 31 -  Jenn @ Lost in a Great Book; Christine (ME!) @ Padfoot's Library
April 1 - Melissa @ YA Bookshelf ; Jessica @ Read My Breath Away
April 2 - Giselle @ BookNerd Canada ; Kristen @ My Bookish Fairytale

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

Thursday, 26 March 2015

A Book by An Author You've Never Read Before | 2015 Reading Challenge

Hi everyone! So I recently completed another challenge for you all and that is a book by an author you've never read before. I've been reading so much lately and seriously, I've been falling in love with a lot of new-to-me authors!

A Book by An Author You've Never Read Before goes to:
Finding Mr. Brightside by Jay Clark
Review: HERE!

Have you finished any challenges for the #2015ReadingChallenge? Let me know in the comments below! 

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Worst Series Enders | Top 5 Wednesday

So this week's topic is a bit of a controversial one. I don't usually like posting bad reviews or well saying bad things about books in general, so I am going to say now as a disclaimer before I begin, they are not the "worst" series enders, I just simply did not enjoy the ending of these particular series. I find it a common thread with trilogies. Where I absolutely love the first one, the second one it gets even better and then the third one, everything usually feels rushed and I am kind of left wanting more.

Anyways, here the choices for this week!

1. Requiem by Lauren Oliver
I had such high hopes for this one and I felt just really confused and distraught after finishing it. I did not feel it was a satisfying end to the series at all and I felt it was very unlike the characters to progress to this point. I was really sad because I LOVED delirium so much. 

2. The Death Cure by James Dashner 
Oh this book. What on earth happened in this book. I really did not enjoy this one and its a shame because the first book in the series was wonderful. I didn't like how the story progressed and I felt that the plot moved in a direction that was difficult to follow. 

3. Horde by Ann Aguirre 
This wasn't the worst series ender ever. I just felt it reached a point where I wasn't overly surprised by the turn of events and it fell flat with me. Overall, I liked this series, but this one was my least favorite of the three. 

4. Reached by Ally Condie
I loved the concept of this world that Ally Condie created but this final book of the series was my least favorite. I felt it did not stand up with the previous two and that similar to how Horde made me feel, it simply fell flat with me. It was predictable and I just knew where it was going before I reached the end. 

5. Allegiant by Veronica Roth
With a heavy heart, I am going to say Allegiant. I loved and hated this book all at once. I think my dislike comes from well the ending. I did not anticipate things to go in this matter. I don't think badly of Veronica Roth at all for choosing this route, in fact, I think it was and still is incredibly brave of her. I think my problems with this book mostly lie in the pacing of it. I felt things were either slow in some areas or moved way too quickly. All in all, it wasn't a bad book, but I much prefer the previous two in the series. 

I think by now you can see a common pattern: I much prefer books 1 & 2 in a series ;)

What books are your Worst Series Enders? Let me know in the comments below! 

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Review: The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook by Kate White

The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook - Wickedly Good Recipes And Other Acclaimed Pot Stirrers Edited by Kate White

Publishing Date: March 24, 2015
Publisher: Quirk Books
Pages: 176 pages
Food & Drink

The Premise: In Katie White's introduction to the book, she begins recounting a crime short story written by Roald Dahl in 1953 and how the act of cooking directly intertwines with the plot of the book. White believes that culinary plays a significant role in mystery plots and there are countless of examples where food is mixed with murder. White also believes that food isn't simply used as a weapon but can also be a defining aspect of certain characters. This cookbook is brought together specifically for mystery fans and it includes more than a hundred recipes from various mystery writers. The book is divided into 7 sections: Breakfast, Appetizers, Soups and Salads, Entrees, Side Dishes, Desserts and Cocktails - offering a little bit of everything to the mystery reader fan.

My overall thoughts and review: When I was first pitched this book, I was instantly intrigued because it was a wide range of options in a cookbook, specifically for mystery fans. I love mystery books and I don't review enough of them on the blog, but it is a genre that has always held a special place in my heart. Most of the TV shows that I watch are mystery/crime related. So anyways, this book instantly had me intrigued by that fact that it included recipes from mystery writers. What really drew me in was just the amount of awesome mystery writers included in this cookbook. To name a few: Lee Child, Mary Higgins Clark, Harlan Coben, Nelson DeMille, Gillian Flynn, Sue Grafton, Charline Harris, James Patterson, Louis Penny, Scott Turow and many more! There is A LOT! What I really enjoyed was just the beautiful photography incorporated in the book, how easy the recipes were to follow and simply, all the different sections. I find it really not worth it when a cookbook only focuses on appetizers for example. I love a book that has a bit of everything!

Some of my favorite recipes from the book include:

  • Detective Palace's Three-Egg Omelet by Ben H. Winters (I love this series - The Last Policeman Trilogy- you can find my specific reviews for the books if you hover over the titles: The Last Policeman and Countdown City. This was an incredibly easy recipe and really adds oomph and makes you feel like Hank Palace while eating it!)
  • Morning-After Hotcakes by Richard Castle (YES - THE Richard Castle from one of my favorite shows EVER: Castle! I was ecstatic when I saw this in the recipe book. It is such an easy recipe as well and I just loved how cute it was reading about the little synopsis of Castle and Beckett beforehand)
  • Beef Skillet Fiesta by Gillian Flynn (the author of the wonderful book Gone Girl - this recipe is great! If you aren't a fan of beef, just simply leave it out or add in a meat substitute) 
There are so many other recipes in the book that I've yet to explore but these three so far have been really great and overall, I think this is a wonderful book and a must-have for all mystery fans. It is also a must-have if you are looking for a staple cookbook in your kitchen that has a bit of everything, because it might just be the kicker for your introduction into the world of mystery! 


My rating of the book:  (5/5 stars) 

Now available for purchase at:

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

Review: Finding Mr. Brightside by Jay Clark

Finding Mr. Brightside by Jay Clark

Publishing Date: March 24, 2015
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company, LLC, Books for Young Readers
Pages: 288 pages
Young Adult Contemporary

The Premise: Abram and Juliette have lived down the street from each other their entire lives. They knew of each other but did not really know each other. Until one day, they become intertwined in a way that is completely unexpected: Juliette's mom and Abram's dad were having an affair and unfortunately, it ended in an accident that took both of their lives. A little while later, one night they happen to meet at a CVS. Although it is extremely awkward for the both of them considering their past, they decide to say hi to one another and from there, a real friendship is sparked.

My overall thoughts and review: I received this book as an ARC from Raincoast Books and on the back of the book, there was a blurb by Jerry Spinelli, who write Star Girl raving about the book. I LOVED Star Girl growing up, so of course, I am going to trust Spinelli with his review of the book. We meet Abram and Juliette years later on that night in the CVS and we learn about the past in fragments from the characters and other surrounding characters. It is quite an interesting idea and concept that a friendship and soon a relationship with form between the two considering the circumstances. I quite enjoyed seeing the growth in both characters and see them come out of their shells, so to speak. I found it super intriguing that the majority of the text takes place away from their environment that caused the uncomfortableness and awkwardness and that they were able to well "find each other" in the end. I really loved the character of Abram and I enjoyed reading from his perspective the most. My only critique for the book was that it was too short in my opinion and I definitely think that towards the end, the pacing moved quite quickly. Basically, I wanted more of Abram and Juliette, which isn't much of a critique haha! ;) I think if you are a fan of David Levithan or John Green, then this book is one you should definitely check out because you will enjoy it! :D

My rating of the book:  (4/5 stars) 

Now available for purchase at:

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

Saturday, 21 March 2015

A Memoir | 2015 Reading Challenge

Hi everyone! I recently finished one of the challenges for the Reading Challenge and it was a memoir. I don't read memoirs often and this one was incredibly special.

A Memoir goes to:
The Wild Oats Project: One Woman's Midlife Quest for Passion at Any Cost by Robin Rinaldi
Review: HERE! 

Have you finished any challenges for the #2015ReadingChallenge? Let me know in the comments below! 

Friday, 20 March 2015

A Book with a One-Word Title | 2015 Reading Challenge

So for today's challenge that I recently completed - it is a book with a one-word title. This one was difficult to choose because I've read a few books with one-word titles that I've loved recently. I will include my other choices at the bottom of the post so you can check them out as well! ;) 

A Book with a One-Word Title goes to:
Hausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum
Review: HERE!

My other choices would've been Mosquitoland by David Arnold (Full review here) and Remember by Eileen Cook (Full review here). 

Have you finished any challenges for the #2015ReadingChallenge? Let me know in the comments below! 

Thursday, 19 March 2015

A Nonfiction Book | 2015 Reading Challenge

For today's challenge - I recently finished a non-fiction book. It was hard to decide what book to pick for this one but I decided on a Health and Well-Being book I read recently and loved.


A Nonfiction Book goes to:
The Brain's Way of Healing - Remarkable Discoveries And Recoveries From The Frontiers Of Neuroplasticity by Norman Doidge, M.D
Review: here!

Have you finished any challenges for the #2015ReadingChallenge? If so, let me know in the comments below!

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Bookish Habits | Top 5 Wednesday

1. When it comes to hardbacks, I always read the book WITHOUT the dust jacket cover.

2. I really don't like to borrow books from people. I do occasionally, but ultimately, I would rather buy the book itself or borrow from the library. I always have this fear that if I borrow a book from a friend, something might happen that would cause the book to be damaged. It is completely irrational, but yeah.

3. If I loved a book that I bought on my e-reader, I will buy a physical copy for my shelves.

4. I personally prefer paperbacks over hardbacks.

5. I sometimes read more than one book at once. I really dislike doing this because I forget what I read before and it can get confusing, but I am finding that with receiving arcs, sometimes I end up prioritizing my reading based on release date. I am going to try avoiding this once because it is a bookish habit I really would like to change. I much prefer, reading one book at a time.

Well that is all for my Top 5 Wednesday for this week. Let me know in the comments below what are some of your bookish habits! 

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Review: Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives by Gretchen Rubin

Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives by Gretchen Rubin

Publishing Date: March 17, 2015
Publisher: Doubleday Canada
Pages: 320 pages
Health & Well-Being

The Premise: From the New York Times Bestselling book, The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin has a new self-help book, titled Better Than Before. This new text from Rubin tackles the idea that in order to make changes in our everyday lives, we must begin at our habits. Rubin states earlier on that habits matter so much because "with habits, we conserve our self-control. It takes self-control to establish good habits. But once the habit is in place, we can effortlessly do the things we want to do" (5). Rubin begins the text exploring the pillars of habits and how there are different solutions for different people. There are the four tendencies which she goes through and in determining your tendency first, you can determine how to begin working with your habits.

My overall thoughts and review: I'm a big fan of self-help books. I grew up reading a bunch of them and now, it has been a while since I've read one that I enjoyed like this one from Gretchen Rubin. What Rubin encourages is not drastic changes, but rather, a solution that is in a way, catered for you. Everyone will have a different solution and the key is in finding, what kind of person you are first. I learned early on in the text that as much as I would like to be an Upholder, I am ultimately more of an Obliger. Rubin does not say that you should all strive to be a certain type of tendency, but rather organizes the book that finds solutions and tips for the type of tendency that you are, to help you work towards a better you.

I particularly really enjoyed the Pillars of Habits section because Rubin gets into how monitoring works - such as monitoring your diet and exercise and I really connected with this part particularly, because I've tried to monitor my diet and exercise, and I have yet to find a solution that I really enjoy. I think what I took most from this book was not having to find one singular solution that I might like and I learned that, that was perhaps the problem to begin with. Finding an immediate solution. There is no magic formula for all and I learned with this text is that, small changes can be made over a length of time, as opposed to a giant drastic change all together: "First things first--but we must all decide what comes first, for us" (73).

I really enjoyed this text for many reasons. Firstly, Rubin's writing was incredibly accessible and I just loved how easy it was to dive into each section with ease. I particularly liked her section on page 42 where she describes the various different habits of different authors (ex. Murakami and running!). But mostly, what I enjoyed was that, she does not simply offer alternatives to habits you already have, but how to look at the habits you currently have in a different light. It is a very "not-one-solution for all" kind of book and the book encourages you to do additional homework on the outside. Once you finish Rubin's text, you take what she has given you and you will integrate them into your life accordingly, based on what suits you best and it encourages a lot of self-reflection. I really loved this book and I think if you are a fan of her previous book, The Happiness Project, this is definitely one to add to the collection because it will definitely help you be happier too in your everyday life, starting with your habits!

My rating of the book:  (5/5 stars) 

Now available for purchase at:

You can follow Gretchen on twitter @gretchenrubin and read more about here on her website! (There are a ton of links for downloadable content for habits which I definitely recommend checking out here!)
 

I also wanted to quickly share that Canadian Living is hosting an event with Gretchen Rubin on April 9th in Toronto! :D It will be an evening with Gretchen Rubin where you get the chance to meet Gretchen and receive a signed copy of her book. There is the cost of admission, but I believe the swag bag will make up for that of course! I will be in attendance, so if you are thinking of going, definitely let me know in the comments below. For more details - you can head over to the event page: here

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

Review: The Wild Oats Project: One Woman's Midlife Quest for Passion at Any Cost by Robin Rinaldi

The Wild Oats Project: One Woman's Midlife Quest for Passion at Any Cost by Robin Rinaldi

Publishing Date: March 17, 2015
Publisher: Doubleday Canada
Pages: 287 pages
Personal Memoir

The Premise: This story is a personal memoir of Robin Rinaldi, a magazine journalist. She was married to Scott, for over eighteen years. Scott has always been hesitant with the idea of having children but Robin was hoping that he would warm up to the idea eventually. One day, when Scott announces that he is going to get a vasectomy, something in Robin snaps. Not wanting to go to her grave with only a few lovers and no children, she decides on a new project - The Wild Oats project. She would have an open-marriage with Scott, where she would remain monogamous during the weekends but during the week, she would live alone in an apartment and seduce the men (and women) that she wanted to. Robin was looking for "passion" and she decides that in order to find this, she would have to go outside her marriage. The reader follows Robin along this journey as she explores new experiences. Robin says early on in her text that: "This chronicle of that journey can be read as either a manifesto of freedom or a cautionary tale. For me, it's a little of both. I'll  try to tell it as straight as I can and let you decide for yourself" (7).

My overall thoughts and review: When I was at the RHC Blogger preview and the gals were pitching this book to me, I knew instantly that I was going to add it to my must-read list. This book sounded just so intriguing. Immediately going into the text with the premise, I had this thought in the back of my head that there was not a way that this text was going to end on a happy note, but as I closed the book, I realized that it wasn't the point of the text. What Robin does in the 287 pages is recount a fragment of her life and she is incredibly brave in doing so. Robin does not hold back and she goes into a lot of detail of her experiences. It was never ~raw~ and ~gritty~ which can happen with books that describe sexual encounters, but what Robin does is write in such a way that is one: tastefully done and two: allows the reader to experience her experiences as well. I empathized a lot with Robin in her decision for going on this journey and in the end, I was not disappointed with the outcome, but rather, I was happy for Robin as if I was just having a coffee date with her, hearing her recount this story. My apologies for spoilers, but in the end, Robin ends up with one of the men she meets during this project and I learned that her ex-husband, Scott, actually encouraged her to write this which is incredibly humbling of him and quite what I expected after having read about him from Robin's point of view.

Although, I am only twenty-four, Robin gave me a lot to think about and I am glad to have read this book. She encourages a lot of self-reflection with this text and in thinking about yourself and your relationships separately - where you think about who you are as you, and not so much, who you are in a relationship. I think that this book should be on everyone's to-read list, regardless of what age you are, because what Robin ultimately does with this text is encourage the reader to embrace all experiences. Robin encourages you to step out of your comfort zone, be brave and sometimes take risks when things are not simply feeling right and honestly, I think that is an incredibly powerful message that she transcends in her book. If you haven't already added this book to your wishlist or to-read list, now is the time. You will not regret it.

My rating of the book:  (5/5 stars) 

Now available for purchase at:
Chapters/Indigo and Book Depository (Free International Shipping)


You can follow Robin on twitter @Robin_Rinaldi and read more about her over on her website here



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

Review: Hausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum

Hausfrau - A Novel by Jill Alexander Essbaum

Publishing Date: March 17, 2015
Publisher: Random House
Pages: 320 pages
Contemporary Women Literary Fiction

The Premise: "Anna was a good wife, mostly" (3). The novel begins with this statement which immediately draws the reader in. Despite the pretty cover, I knew that going into this book I would be in for quite a few surprises. The novel follows Anna Benz, who is an American currently living in Switzerland with her husband, Bruno and their three young children. Sounds about perfect right? Unfortunately that is not the case. Anna is quite unhappy inside and she finds it difficulty to place where her "discontent" is coming from, and she tries to indulge in other experiences that might help with her situation. She attends German language classes and visits a therapist weekly and then begins to enter in a series of affairs. Like most stories that follow this storyline, things do escalate and the reader follows along to see if Anna can resolve everything or will everything come tumbling down for her.

My overall thoughts and review: When I was looking for some reviews on this book, a few statements about this book being called the Modern Day Anna Karenina leaped out at me. I love that book so much and I really enjoy modern-day retellings. I knew that going into this book, I would be in for surprises, I just didn't anticipate how much in detail things would go. The author paints for us the full picture and in between all the scenes, there are scenes with Anna and her therapist which really shape things into perspective. I was also intrigued by the way the narrative jumped from the present time to previous events. Although, it was clear from the start how it would end, the book still kept me on the edge of my seat with each decision Anna made. Because I'm studying the unconscious in my work, when Anna and her therapist were discussing dreams particularly interesting - it definitely reminded me of Sigmund Freud's Essay Civilization and Its Discontents, in terms of how her therapist was telling her that: "It's quite common for the subconscious to create intentional scenarios that force you to face something you've been ignoring. Your dream might get louder and more violent. You may become forgetful or accident-prone. Psyche will do anything to get your attention. She will sabotage your consciousness if she must" (201) - this speaks exactly to Anna's situation. Her feelings of discontent in her life and marriage are starting to escalate and therefore, it is coming through in her actions and she can no longer keep her discontent confined to her internal life. Bottom line - I LOVED this book. The story was interesting, Essbaum's writing was just phenomenal and her craftsmanship of piecing together the narrative was done masterfully. I think if you are a fan of Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl or Paula Hawkin's The Girl on the Train (you can read my full review here), this is definitely the book you should pick up next.

My rating of the book:  (5/5 stars) 

Now available for purchase at:
Chapters/Indigo and Book Depository (Free International Shipping)


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

Monday, 16 March 2015

A Book From An Author You Love That You Haven't Read Yet | 2015 Reading Challenge

Hi everyone! I keep forgetting to update you all on this one, so you can expect a few posts for this challenge in the next week or so. For today's is a book from an author you love that you haven't read yet. This is one that I haven't read yet, simply because it was only released about two weeks ago! I love this author so much and if you haven't already guessed who it is, it is Kazuo Ishiguro, who I had the pleasure of meeting recently! (You can read the event recap here!)


A Book From An Author You Love That You Haven't Read Yet goes to:
The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro
Review: HERE!

Have you finished any challenges for the #2015ReadingChallenge yet? Let me know in the comments below!  

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Kazuo Ishiguro Reception

Bookseller and Blogger Reception at the Consort Bar at the King Edward Hotel

Happy Sunday everyone! Today was an incredibly special day for me. For those of you that are new to the blog, I am a graduate student with a big interest in Japanese literature. One of my favorite authors EVER is Kazuo Ishiguro, author of Never Let Me Go and my personal favorite, The Remains of the Day. I was incredibly lucky today because the lovely ladies over at Random House Canada - invited me to attend a blogger and bookseller reception for Kazuo Ishiguro. I think I actually cried a little when I got the email from over-the-moon excitement. 


The event was held at the lovely King Edward Hotel (I've stayed there before and if you have a chance, GO! It is an exquisite hotel). I was incredibly nervous to begin with because I'm quite starstruck by Ishiguro and I was worried about how I might ramble on and on. Ishiguro has been a huge inspiration in my work and he continues to be daily. I am absolutely always in awe of every single one of his books when I close them and I feel as if I am entering a new world each time I pick up one of his books. I was there with a few other book bloggers (Lynne at Words of Mystery, Karen at One More Page, Shilpa at Sukasa Reads and Lauren at Bookish Things) and while we were waiting to speak to Ishiguro, we were introduced to his lovely wife, Lorna. Lorna was an absolute sweetheart and took the time to speak to all of us individually and she even had some stories to share about visiting Toronto a few years back for the release of Never Let Me Go and her interactions with the actresses and actors from that film! She also asked us what we thought of some recent reads which was awesome.


When it finally came time to meet Ishiguro, all of us bloggers were able to say a few bits in our group which was nice. I could not stop grinning and internally screaming as I was standing next to him! Finally came time to sign the books, and although the event coordinators very kindly gifted us some copies of his new book and the latest editions of The Remains of the Day, I ended up bringing my entire Ishiguro collection. I didn't want to hold up the line, so I only got the main ones signed. While he was signing, I was able to sing my praises for his latest book, The Buried Giant and I think I might have said it was such an honour to meet him two or three times (woops.. but hey, it really was!) - and we ended up talking about the latest Penguin Drop Caps collection.



He was incredibly charming and just so nice to speak to! It was an absolute dream to meet him today. I am now very much looking forward to his talk at the Toronto Public Library Event on Tuesday to hear him speak more in depth about The Buried Giant. All in all, I can't think of any other way to describe this Sunday spent meeting one of my favorite authors EVER,  as simply PERFECT. It was great catching up with my fellow book bloggers and simply chatting with the best bookish people around. 

If you haven't already, be sure to check out his latest book The Buried Giant - you can read my full review for it here! Many thanks to the ladies at Random House for a lovely afternoon and be sure to watch this space for my recap of the Toronto Public Library event this Tuesday. The event is currently sold out, but they will have rush tickets and you can find all the details over here! :D 

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Books That Made You Think | Top 5 Wednesday

Hi everyone. I hope that you are all doing well. Today's topic is Top 5 Books that Made You Think! I was quite intrigued by this topic, so it was a little hard for me to decide which ones to pick, but let's get started! :D

1. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
How could I not pick this one? I remember reading this for the first time in third year and I was incredibly moved by it. It got me thinking about our internal life as opposed to our external life and that is something that has kind of stuck with me ever since. Woolf is an incredibly important figure in my research and she continues to inspire me daily. 

2. Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami
One of the first books I've ever read by Murakami and it remains one of my favorites until this day. I just love the boundaries that Murakami pushes in our everyday lives and how it encourages the reader to think outside the box. As I'm typing this, I am incredibly tempted to reread it! 

3. The Island of Doctor Moreau by H.G. Wells
I read this book not too long ago and it has seriously stuck with me. This book is so eerie, uncomfortable, uncanny.. you name it. The idea of it just really intrigues me and bothers me all at the same time. I loved it and it really pushed me to think about how deformations and anomalies are treated in society. 

4. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
This one had to be included on the list! It is one of my earlier reads and it has stuck with me ever since. It definitely encouraged my thinking about relationships: love and family in a different way.

5. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
Last but not least, my favorite book of all time. I read this every year and it still intrigues me. It has really encouraged me to think a lot about aesthetics and the idea of self. It has always influenced my work and it continues to do so. I love this book so much and it truly is the best! 

Well that is it from me today. I hope that you enjoyed this post. If you wrote one for the top 5 books that made you think, please link to yours below in the comments because I would love to check it out! :D 

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Review: The Brain's Way of Healing - Remarkable Discoveries And Recoveries From The Frontiers Of Neuroplasticity by Norman Doidge

The Brain's Way of Healing - Remarkable Discoveries And Recoveries From The Frontiers Of Neuroplasticity by Norman Doidge, M.D. 

Publishing Date: January 27, 2015
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Pages: 432 pages
Health and Well-Being

The Premise: Norman Doidge is the author of the famous New York Times Best Seller Book The Brain That Changes Itself and this new book, tackles the notions that certain damage done to the brain through disease or injury causes certain mental abilities to be lost and instead puts forth natural and noninvasive procedures that demonstrate that the brain can heal through other various avenues such as forms of energy (light, sound, vibration, movement). Doidge draws on cases specifically from real life examples to give examples of specific times that natural healing occurred within the brain. Some chapters of the text include how Neuroplastic healing works in general, brain healing with light, how sound can help the brain and more.

My overall thoughts and review: For my own research as a graduate student, I've become increasingly interested in science regarding the brain in general. My research is mainly in the unconscious and examining brains, but this is a branch I've always wanted to explore further. The difficulty of branching out into a field you aren't familiar with is where to start and most of all, finding a book that is accessible in a language that a common reader can understand. I've seen this book pop up on the chapters website and every time I visited the book store, I saw it on display. I was given the opportunity to review this and I jumped at it because of all the hype surrounding it. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the writing was accessible and the subject matter was not difficult for me to understand. I read a bit of Oliver Sacks in my undergraduate years and Doidge's writing reminds me of his (he even mentions Oliver Sacks in the book, which I was pleasantly surprised about). I found that the way the text was organized with the cases and the "treatment" was split up nicely and from there it branched off into other chapters that were closely related.

Because I work with visual art and visualization can affect our unconscious, the chapter about how visualization decreases brain pain was particularly interesting to me. How visual imagery actually went on to help. Doidge address skeptic's concerns and how could it be seen as a placebo effect but what I really like about Doidge is that he doesn't just ignore it - he acknowledges and shows cases of studies of success. He is not guaranteeing success for everyone that attempts these natural and noninvasive procedures, but he is showing cases of success and hopefully that will encourage individuals to think differently when it comes to brain healing.

This was my first time reading a book like this and it has definitely encouraged me to pick up Doidge's other book to read more. Doidge is an incredibly clear writer when it comes to speaking about neuroplasticity and I think that it is a good introductory text for those interested in this field. Even if you aren't interested in this field, I didn't know I was until the end of the book, so it may work out that way for you as well. If you've ever been a little curious about the brain's way of healing, I definitely recommend you check this book out!

My rating of the book:  (5/5 stars) 

Now available for purchase at:
Chapters/Indigo


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

Review: The Alex Crow by Andrew Smith

The Alex Crow by Andrew Smith

Publishing Date: March 10, 2015
Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
Pages: 336
Young Adult Contemporary

The Premise: This story follows a young boy named Ariel, who is the sole survivor of a small village. He moves to America and joins the Burgess, his new adoptive family which includes his new brother Max. The story follows Ariel and Max as the spend the summer at a camp. Intertwined in the story is the story of a schizophrenic bomber, diaries of a failed Arctic expedition, and well the title character, Alex, the crow.

My overall thoughts and review: So when I heard that Andrew Smith was coming out with a new book, I was seriously over the moon excited. I loved Winger and I just find his books, in general, captivate me completely. They tackle real life in such a way that is raw and well, weird. This story was no different. It took me a few chapters to get used to the pacing and the shifting of narratives, but after that it really picked up. The scenes that follow the boys at camp are told from Ariel's perspective and he tells it in a way as if he is telling the story to Max - I really enjoyed it. Smith is known for getting to really difficult subject matter in a way that kind of surprises you and you don't expect it. He kind of braces you with funny and weird scenes  (the boys talking about different ways to say masturbation for example) and then immediately shifts to scenes that really made me uncomfortable. I am not saying that is a bad thing because this is something that needs to happen more often in literature - he is not afraid to show the reader uncomfortable subject matter and that only made me really feel for Ariel and his experiences as the sole survivor of his village even more. Smith is incredibly brave in tackling such difficult subject matter but he does it in a way that really resonates with the reader in the long run. All in all, I really enjoyed this read and by the end of it, I was quite fond of Ariel, Max and Cobie. The stories of the crow, Alex were quite interesting to add into it as well. If you are a fan of Andrew Smith, this is definitely something you should check out because as always, he does not disappoint.

My rating of the book:  (4/5 stars) 

Now available for purchase at:
Chapters/Indigo


Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by Penguin Canada (Penguin Young Readers Group is an imprint of Penguin Group) for consideration/review. All opinions are my own. 

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Review: Remember by Eileen Cook

Remember by Eileen Cook

Publishing Date: February 24, 2015
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pages: 320 pages
Young Adult Contemporary Fiction

The Premise: The story follows Harper who is the daughter of the man who runs the company Neurotech. Neurotech is known primarily for their medicine Memtex, which is designed to wipe away sad memories, or to soften them so the person taking the medication won't feel as sad with those memories. Harper is used to the attention being the daughter of the man who runs this company and with her, she has her bestfriend Win and her boyfriend Josh. Everything seems to be going just perfectly in her life until one day, Harper suffers a loss she can't quite recover from. She decides that in order to cope with her loss, she wishes to go ahead and get the Memtex treatment despite her father forbidding her. The treatment does work, but soon after she experiences strange symptoms and illusions and she begins questioning her memory.

My overall thoughts and review: I am currently incredibly fascinated by the unconscious in my own research, so any book that tackles the notion of memories, dreams, the unconscious really intrigue me. When I first began this book, I really thought of one of my favorite films: The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (if you haven't seen it - what are you waiting for?) - a medication to wipe away sad memories sounds just like that film. Harper is a great protagonist to read from because she is strong-willed, intelligent and curious. I really enjoyed the dynamic between her and her bestfriend, Win. The overall pacing of the story was good until the last few chapters which I felt were a bit rushed and I wish everything didn't wrap up so quickly. All in all, I really enjoyed it. It was an interesting spin on YA contemporary fiction in general, because I felt it had a very dystopic feel to it and also a bit of sci-fi, with the medicine component. The love story or well, triangle in this case, was also interesting too. I definitely would recommend checking out this book if you are a fan of Lauren Oliver's Delirium series because I can definitely see some connections between this book and that series. This is my first read from Eileen Cook and I look forward to picking up some of her other works in the near future.

You can check out Eileen Cook's website here!

My rating of the book:  (4/5 stars) 

Now available for purchase at:
Chapters/Indigo

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

Books You'd Save in a Fire | Top 5 Wednesday

Hi everyone! I know last month I wasn't really on track with the TOP 5 WEDNESDAY series, but I really want to get back into the swing of things. So starting off the month of March in the first week, we have the topic of the TOP 5 books I'd save in a fire! Here we go!

1. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
It is my favorite book, so how could I not save it? I have a lot of copies because I collect different editions of the book, so the hard part will be selecting which one to take with me. 

2. Harry Potter & The Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
I know that it wouldn't be possible to save all the books from the HP series, so I will save my favorite one of the series. The one that really inspired the name of my blog and that features me favorite character! 

3. Sputnik Sweetheart by Haruki Murakami
It is so hard to choose a favorite amongst Murakami's wonderful selection, but this would be the one to save in a fire. This story is just beautiful. I love it so much!

4. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
It was also hard to choose a favorite amongst the Ishiguro selection but this was the first book by him that I read and the book that really resonated with me. I adore this book! 

5. To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
I couldn't forget one of my favorite authors ever. Again, it was so hard choosing but I am going to go with this one. This is the one that inspired me to write about her for my MA and this is the book that I can read over and over again and just get something new every time out of it. 

Well that is my selection for this week's topic. Let me know in the comments or link me to your post/video of your Top 5 picks for books you'd save in a fire!