Sunday, 23 August 2015

Managing Stress and Anxiety: Books That Have Helped - Part 2

Hi All! So a while back I did a post about managing stress and anxiety and I shared some books with you that really helped me deal with my stress and anxiety. You can revisit that post here! I mention books that I still use daily there and even some colouring book recommendations!
I have since found some more books that have really helped me to manage stress and anxiety. I thought with school starting up again soon, that this would be a good time to share this with you all. School can be such a great time, but also an incredibly stress-inducing time.
I am lucky to have an office space at both my jobs, so I am able to bring books to read during my break. In addition to my books, I have a happiness kit/self-soothing kit. If you look on pinterest, there are tons of inspirational examples that you can follow. To give you an idea of mine, I have a stress-ball, some lavender hand lotion, some candy, a plush toy and more. I also make sure it all sits in a nice little bag.
The brings me to the point of this post and that is to share small "pocket-sized" books that can fit in your happiness kit or your daily bag that you can easily take out when you want some stress relief.
I want to be calm and I want to sleep by Harriet Griffey - are both good pocket-sized books that are so detailed and offer a lot of tips on how to be calm and how to sleep better. I particularly love that the I want to be calm book offers places where you can be calm in!
Two more recommendations for pocket-sized books that have really helped is The Little Book of Mindfulness and Everything is going to be OK. The LBOM is my favorite and I carry it in my purse with me all the time. It offers tips on how to reduce stress regardless of where you are. It introduces the reader to mindfulness and my favorite part is tips on mindful eating. Everything is going to be ok is something different and has really lovely images with quotes that instantly make you feel better when you aren't having the greatest day.

 I will have another post up in this series where I will feature my favorite adult colouring books which have really helped me with stress and anxiety! So be on the lookout for that.
I hope that this post has helped in some way. Please leave your own recommendations for books that have helped you manage stress and anxiety in the comments below. And please let me know if you check out any of the books I mentioned!
Be well! xxx

Saturday, 22 August 2015

The One Direction Book Tag!

Hi everyone! So I recently saw One Direction in concert and it might have been seriously the best moment of my life. It was so amazing and it just reaffirmed my love for them. Harry Styles is a total babe in real life. ;) Anyways, I had so much fun with the Taylor Swift book tag I did a while back that I found this one and I thought it was perfect!  Let's get started!
1. Steal My Girl
Everybody wanna steal my girl…
 …Find another one ’cause she belongs to me
(a book with a really good love triangle)
The Infernal Devices series by Cassandra Clare
Perfect love triangle! I don't think I can think of any series that does it quite like this one.  I was blown away with how Cassandra Clare executed it all!

2. Where Do Broken Hearts Go
Yeah, it took me some time but I figured out
 How to fix up a heart that I let down
(a character who proves himself/herself worthy)
Vicious by V.E. Schwab
Victor definitely proves himself worthy I think. This book definitely subverted my expectations and although all the characters are super messed up, you can't help but root for characters like Victor!
3. 18
I wanna love like you made me feel when we were 18
(cutest puppy love story)
Most Likely to Succeed by Jennifer Echols
I recently reviewed this here and it was seriously the cutest love story ever! I loved it so much.
4. Girl Almighty
Her light is as loud as as many ambulances
 As it takes to save a savior
(a strong female protagonist)
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
I am totally choosing Katniss for this! She is the strongest female protagonist and is an all around kick-ass character. She is so compassionate and brave!

5. Fool’s Gold
And, yeah, I let you use me from the day that we first met
 But I’m not done yet
 Falling for your fool’s gold
 And I knew that you turned it on for everyone you met
 But I don’t regret
 Falling for your fool’s gold
(a book you love but ended up hurting you… but you still love it)
Allegiant by Veronica Roth
I loved and hated this book all at once. It definitely hurt!! #stillnotoverit
6. Night Changes
Does it ever drive you crazy
 Just how fast the night changes?
 Everything that you’ve ever dreamed of
 Disappearing when you wake up
(best plot twist you weren’t expecting)
At The Water's Edge by Sara Gruen
My full review can be found here! I won't say much because I don't want to spoil it but I did not anticipate the novel going the way it did and it was such a great twist that helped build character!
7. No Control
I can’t contain this anymore
 I’m all yours, I got no control, no control
(a book where you can really feel the tension)
Hausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum
My full review can be found here! This book was so intense, it definitely was a rollercoaster ride!
8. Spaces
Spaces between us keep getting deeper
 It’s harder to reach ya even though I try
(a book where the love story takes a wrong turn…)
Like It Never Happened by Emily Adrian
My full review can be found here! I don't want to say too much without spoiling and I don't think this is only a love story because the book has a lot more than that. But there is a love story that definitely takes a wrong turn.
9. Stockholm Syndrome
Who’s this whisper telling me that I’m never gonna get away?
(a book that features Stockholm Syndrome)
Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
Ok to preface, I love this book series a lot, but come to think of it, it does feel a bit Stockholm Syndrome!

10. Clouds
I know you said that you don’t like it complicated
 That we should try to keep it simple
 But love is never ever simple
(a on-and-off/complicated relationship)
City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
Jace/Clary - Clace is definitely a complicated on-and-off relationship!
11. Change Your Ticket
So, you should probably stay here with me a couple more days
 Come on let me change your ticket home
(“long distance relationship”)
The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E.Smith
This was a hard one because I don't know many books that focus on long-distance relationships!
12. Illusion
Tell me you believe in love
 It’s not an illusion
(a book that made you believe in love)
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
How could I not pick this one? Mr. Darcy!!
13. Act My Age
I won’t act my age, no, I won’t act my age
 No, I’ll still feel the same around you
(a book character that does not act their age)
To All The Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han
A bit of an inverted question/answer. I selected this one because one of my favorite characters ever, Kitty, is seriously wise beyond her years! And at times, Lara Jean really doesn't act her age which can be frustrating!
14. Once in a Lifetime
Once in a lifetime
 you were mine
(the saddest breakup)
The Night We Said Yes by Lauren Gibaldi
My full review can be found here! It wasn't the saddest breakup story, but I really enjoyed how this book handled breakups! It was such a wonderful read!
This was such a fun tag to do! I am going to go ahead and tag my two best girlfriends who also love one direction: Nikki from NikkitheKnack and Michelle from Musings of a Writer.
If you also love one direction, please go ahead and do the tag as well and link it to me in the comments! Happy reading all :D


Hi everyone! I hope that you are all doing well. A bit of an update post from me today!
  • Bout of Books this time around did not work out again. I got caught up with work and research and I just was not able to read as much as I planned to. So for those of you who expected BoB update posts and the like, I'm so sorry! I'm really hoping that the next time around it will work out!
  • I used to get book reviews up the day of book release, but that has been a bit hard lately! I've been reading a bit slower recently and also, I want to make sure that I write the best review that I can and I really don't want to rush and write something only to get it up at a certain time. So book reviews will still remain the same, but they may not go up exactly on release date, but around the time frame (within two weeks before or after release date).
  • Book series like Top 5 Wednesday will start up again when school starts up for me. I can manage series a lot better when school gets around.
Lastly, I want to say that there will be all the same stuff that I've had before: book reviews, event recaps, book tags, etc. But I want to start incorporating more ~personal~ posts on the blog that surround my lifestyle a bit more.. so for example, music, movies, self-help stuff, health and fitness stuff. I hope that you will enjoy this new chapter addition of Padfoot's Library! Stick around because a TON of posts are headed your way soon ;)

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Upcoming Children's Books Releases | Batch Reviews

Hi everyone! I hope that you are all having a wonderful Tuesday. I decided to change things up for a moment and put together a "batch review" post - I was inspired by some youtube videos that followed this format. I thought it would be a great way to review a bunch of children's books all in one post! Here are some upcoming releases that you can look forward to:

Sonya's Chickens by Phoebe Wahl

Publishing Date: August 11, 2015
Publisher: Tundra
Pages: 32 pages

The Premise: "Sonya raises her three chickens from the time they are tiny chicks. She feeds them, shelters them and loves them. Everywhere Sonya goes, her chicks are peeping at her heels. Under her care, the chicks grow into hens and even give Sonya a wonderful gift: an egg! One night, Sonya hears noises coming from the chicken coop and discovers that one of her hens has disappeared. Where did the hen go? What happened to her? When Sonya discovers the answers, she learns some important truths about the interconnectedness of nature and the true joys and sorrows of caring for another creature" (Description from Chapters/Indigo website). 

My overall thoughts and review: To begin with, I want to say that this is definitely one of the most beautiful children's books I've seen ever. The art is beautiful and it feels as if you are looking at beautiful paintings with every page. The story follows Sonya and how she raises the chickens and how under her care they grow. I think it is a wonderful story that focuses on how nature works and having understanding for the environment. It also has a great message with dealing and acceptance loss and how to ultimately care for other animals. I think it is a lovely read that all readers will enjoy! I can't wait to pick up more books by Wahl because not only is the story fantastic, the art is just over-the-moon wonderful.

My rating of the book:  (5/5 stars) 

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

Bug in a Vacuum by Melanie Watt

Publishing Date: August 25, 2015
Publisher: Tundra
Pages: 96 pages 

The Premise: "A bug flies through an open door into a house, through a bathroom, across a kitchen and bedroom and into a living room ... where its entire life changes with the switch of a button. Sucked into the void of a vacuum bag, this one little bug moves through denial, bargaining, anger, despair and eventually acceptance -- the five stages of grief -- as it comes to terms with its fate. Will there be a light at the end of the tunnel? Will there be dust bunnies in the void? A funny, suspenseful and poignant look at the travails of a bug trapped in a vacuum" (Description from Chapters/Indigo website). 

My overall thoughts and review: The gals from RHC recently pitched this as one of their pick's in a list of upcoming releases and I was instantly intrigued by it! The premise was awesome because it incorporates the five stages of grief. I thought it was a super creative way to incorporate that message for young readers. Alongside that, the art in this book is also fantastic. The illustrations were so detailed and it really felt like you were getting some pictures through the lens of the bug. I think this is a fantastic, funny and super adorable read for young readers and readers of all ages! :D Definitely one to check out because it is super enjoyable and you will find yourself gravitating towards it again and again. 

My rating of the book:  (5/5 stars) 

Now available for pre-order purchase at:
Chapters/Indigo and Book Depository (Free Worldwide Shipping)

When Santa Was A Baby by Linda Bailey and Geneviève Godbout

Publishing Date: October 13, 2015
Publisher: Tundra 
Pages: 32 pages

The Premise: "Santa's parents think their little one is absolutely wonderful, even though he has a booming voice instead of a baby's gurgle, loves to stand in front of the refrigerator, gives his birthday presents away, trains his hamsters to pull a matchbox sleigh ... and has an unusual interest in chimneys. The adorably funny portrait of an oddball kid who fulfills his destiny - and two very proud parents" (Description from Chapters/Indigo website). 

My overall thoughts and review: I loved this book so much. Think of it as an origin story for Santa. Which I think is definitely a nice perspective for young readers that is really unique. It follows Santa from when he was a baby and showcases how he loves to be in the cold, he gives away his presents and wanted a horse-like unicorn and more. All small hints that add up to the Santa that we know and love. I think this would be a wonderful early Christmas gift for young readers, so definitely get on pre-ordering it. I think this is a wonderful read for all seasons and perfect for readers of all ages because it focuses on literally when Santa was a baby and his growth as an individual. The artwork is also super beautiful and Godbout did a wonderful job with the illustrations! 

My rating of the book:  (5/5 stars) 

Now available for pre-order purchase at:
Chapters/Indigo and Book Depository (Free Worldwide Shipping)

Disclaimer: I received an advanced reader's copy of all three books via Netgalley from Random House Canada for consideration/review. All opinions are my own. 

Review: You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost): A Memoir by Felicia Day

You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost): A Memoir by Felicia Day 

Publishing Date: August 11, 2015
Publisher: Touchstone
Pages: 272 pages

The Premise: Felicia Day, the whedonite actress who is known mostly for her appearances in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Supernatural, Dr. Horrible's Sing-A-Long-Blog and as the producer of the web-series The Guild has written a book! In this memoir, Felicia goes through her childhood and upbringing, her rise in the online world and offers the reader a look inside her life. Felicia talks about embracing the "weird" in such a creative way!

My overall thoughts and review: I find it extremely hard to write a thorough review for a book I really loved. Let's add this one to that list. I tweeted Felicia recently when I finished reading this book saying that I've never felt more "at home" with a book and then she favorited the tweet, and then I went on to fangirl like a crazy woman for a few moments. That was a tangent, but it leads into what Felicia tackles in her book: the Internet. How crazy it can be obviously. But also, how it has changed and expanded and how different it was when she first started. I was pretty late to the internet world in the grand scheme of things, so hearing about it from Felicia's point of view was just fascinating! I loved hearing about her getting her computer and getting hooked on her first computer game. It was relatable and I felt like she just got me you know? It is a weird thing to say, but I felt like ok.. "Felicia Day gets it. It isn't that weird" when it came to her discussing loving gaming and going online.

I know Felicia mostly from her appearances in things like Buffy and Dr. Horrible, and I wasn't really familiar with her web-series until I read the book. It was nice to learn about the process that brought her to creating the web-series and furthermore how she changed as a person with that progress. Felicia starts the book by giving us a good look into her childhood which I really related to. (Felicia, if you are reading this, thank you for adding in all the photoshop gold and including the old photos of your drawings. They made my heart happy) The entire book was just so enjoyable. I ended up reading it and then reading it again out loud to my boyfriend and we were both dying of laughter. I felt so inspired during and after reading the book because she encourages you to be weird, be brave and embrace things that are sometimes scary. Yes sometimes things have an downside (the #GamerGate stuff was down right terrifying), but Felicia demonstrates that it is a risk that one must take and seeing where it has brought her today is all kinds of inspiring. I think if you are a Felicia Day fan in general, you will love this right off the bat. If you aren't familiar with Felicia Day, I still think you will love this book right off the bat. It is down to earth, hilarious and just brilliant!

This was hands-down one of my most favorite reads from this year and for those of you that don't know, Felicia Day is actually coming to Toronto this Thursday, August 13, 2015 for a signing - you can find out more details about it here! Please let me know in the comments below or tweet at me @padfootslibrary if you are going to the signing! I hope to see you there! :D

I will end this review with this wonderful video from Felicia that she posted recently titled "Embrace your weird" - If that doesn't convince you to get the book, I don't know what will! ;)

My rating of the book:  (5/5 stars) 

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

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

Review: The Good Little Book by Kyo Maclear and Marion Arbona

The Good Little Book by Kyo Maclear and Illustrated by Marion Arbona

Publishing Date: August 11, 2015
Publisher: Tundra Books
Pages: 40 pages
Children's Books

The Premise: From the author of Virginia Wolf and Spork, comes a brand new beautifully illustrated picture book. The picture book follows a young boy who was sent to the library for a time-out and he picks up the good little book. Picking it up with only expectations to pass time, he ends up enticed by the book and spends the entire afternoon reading it. The book begins to mean a lot to the boy until one day it is lost. Is he able to find it again? What happens now?

My overall thoughts and review: To begin with, I'm a big fan of Maclear's other books and when I heard there was a new one coming about a book, I was incredibly excited. I've started to review picture books more often on my blog because they are just wonderful. The art in this book is stunning and the story is just so beautiful. It has a wonderful message about reading and there is so much detail in the art that you take your time with each page. I think that this a great read for children but mainly a great read for those of all-ages. It is a story about falling in love with the act of reading and finding that one special book. I really enjoyed it and I would highly recommend you check it out!

My rating of the book:   (5/5 stars) 

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

Disclaimer: I received an advanced reader's copy of this book via Netgalley from Random House Canada for consideration/review. All opinions are my own. 

Monday, 10 August 2015

Review: What You Left Behind by Jessica Verdi

What You Left Behind by Jessica Verdi

Publishing Date: July 23, 2015
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Pages: 368 pages
YA Contemporary

The Premise: The story follows Ryden Brooks who finds himself caring for an infant daughter as a single father, starting his senior year and preparing to earn a soccer scholarship. Ryden blames himself because if he didn't get Meg pregnant, she wouldn't have had to stop her chemo treatments, and she would've been alive. He feels like he is failing at fatherhood, that is until he meets Joni. Joni makes him feel like his old self again and is fun and energetic. The only thing is, Joni doesn't know about Meg or Hope. When Ryden tries to get his life on track, his past comes back when he starts to find journals left behind for him. Will he be able to pull everything together for Hope and for himself when memories of Meg still anchor him?

My overall thoughts and review: I love a good YA contemporary read and when I heard about this premise, I was instantly intrigued. Usually YA stories that follow the TFiOS structure follows the process/narrative of the person that is sick. Verdi has chosen to take a different route and follow Ryden's POV which really fascinated me because it offers the reader a look into what happens to those that remain after a significant loss and more importantly, it is told from Ryden's POV which I find there is not a lot of male POV's in YA, so it was a nice change! Ryden was such a frustrating character to read from at times. I felt that I was drawn more to the Ryden in Meg's journals and memories as opposed to the current Ryden who drove me a little insane throughout the book. He was quite blase about things and it was hard to read from the perspective of a character you wanted to just smack at times. :P I'm glad that he does come full circle though and that he is able to grieve Meg in a proper way and put his life and priorities together. I was quite apprehensive about another love story being interwoven with the narrative, because I felt like in the beginning of the novel, the reader was only getting a picture of Ryden's relationship with Meg and to throw another blooming relationship into the mix made it quite confusing at times. I would've much preferred to see less of Joni (I really liked her, but it just didn't jive with me). I will say I really enjoyed reading the scenes with Alan and learning more about him and seeing how Ryden's relationship with him changed as well. Overall, it was a good YA contemporary read, told from a male perspective about the issues of relationships, death and loss, and the difficulties of senior year. I really liked Verdi's writing and I hope to read more of her work in the near future :)

My rating of the book:  (3.5/5 stars) 

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

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

Review: Most Likely to Succeed by Jennifer Echols

Most Likely to Succeed by Lauren Echols 
(Book #3 in The Superlatives Trilogy)

Publishing Date: August 4, 2015
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pages: 352 pages
YA Contemporary

The Premise: In the final book of the Superlatives Trilogy, the reader follows Vice-President of the student council Kaye who has everything in order in her life. Her boyfriend, Aidan, who is the President of the student council has their entire future planned out: getting into Columbia and getting good banking jobs. Then there is Sawyer, who everyone has dubbed as the school "bad-boy" and he gets to know Kaye (who is a cheerleader) because he is the school mascot. They both are from opposite ends of the spectrum but they cross paths because there was an hidden vote for the school Superlatives: Perfect Couple That Never Was.

My overall thoughts and review: I did not read the first two books in this series, so this will not be a spoilery review in any way. But I also wanted to give a heads-up that the way Echols has formatted the series, you don't need to read the entire series. She follows the format similar to Stephanie Perkin's Anna and The French Kiss series, where all the books occupy the same world but follow different protagonists per book. I was instantly intrigued by this book because it was titled The Superlatives trilogy. I don't know if some of you had that superlatives list in your highschool year book, but mine definitely did and yes, it was cringe-worthy, but it's tradition! I found that tackling something like that, and how it is a big deal to some students is a really "real" thing. Echols paints a very realistic picture of that: How in a way, it does not matter in the grand scheme of things, but in the moment, in the final years of highschool, that stuff definitely matters. I believe the first two books in the series tackles other superlatives which I can't wait to run out and get to read!

I simply ADORED this book. I did not know what to anticipate going into it, but I just loved Kaye and Sawyer so much. They were instantly likeable characters. I loved seeing their friendship and relationship unfold in such an organic way. I also really liked the focus on family ideals and friendships because some contemporary YA books focus so heavily on the romance part, they forget the other parts as well. My favorite chapters were when Kaye's family visited the restaurant and the banter between her father and Kaye, or even when she was freaking out over an essay for class on Dostoevsky! I loved this book so much and I was quite sad when it came to the end of the book. I loved Kaye and Sawyer and they were just the cutest to read about. I would highly recommend this for those that are YA contemporary lovers, but also those that just want to read something super cute and swoon-worthy. There are a few remaining good weekends left of the summer and this book is PERFECT as a beach read! ;)

My rating of the book:  (4/5 stars) 

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

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

Joining ARC August

Hi everyone! So a very quick post for you all today. But I'm joining the bandwagon a little late for ARC AUGUST! Octavia and Shelly over at Read. Sleep. Repeat started ARC August and it isn't too late to sign up over at the sign-up post here

Banner from Read.Sleep.Repeat.
This is a fantastic way to get my TBR pile together and just get some much-needed reading done! I have so many arcs I've started that I really need to finish. Here are some of the ARCs I hope to get to for the rest of August: 

I will have weekly update posts going up. I'm still late so there will only be three, but you can expect them for the next 3 Mondays :D 

Are you going to participate in ARC AUGUST? Have you been participating? Let me know in the comments below!

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Bout of Books 14

Hi everyone! So it is that time again.. Bout of Books time! :D The last time I did it, unfortunately it just went badly towards the end and I simply did not have time to read at all with school. This time around, I am hoping to achieve a lot more! It is before school starts up again and there are a ton of books that I hope to read before school.

For those of you that don't know what Bout of Books is, here is the description from their blog:

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, August 17th and runs through Sunday, August 23rd in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 14 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team 

You can sign up here! This round is taking place from August 17th to August 23rd! :D Please let me know in the comments below if you are signing up for this round! :D I will have my tbr and goals post up in a week or so before the read-a-thon begins!

Bout of Books

Blog Tour: Villa America by Liza Klaussmann - Review, Author Q&A and GIVEAWAY!

Hi all! I am so incredibly excited to announce that I am partaking in the Villa America Blog Tour - you can check out the first two stops so far in the tour at: A Good Book and A Cup of Tea and Reederreads. I will start off with my review of the book in standard PL's form and the author Q&A will be at the bottom. Stay tuned for the end of the blog post where there will be an opportunity for you to win the book! ;)

Villa America by Liza Klaussmann

Publishing Date: August 4, 2015
Publisher: Doubleday Canada
Pages: 432 pages
Historical Literary Fiction

The Premise: In this spellbinding and enchanting novel, comes a reimagining of Sara and Gerald Murphy who built Villa America, a paradise for artists and writers (such as F.Scott Fitzgerald, Pablo Picasso, Ernest Hemingway and more) to come together for parties, debates on ideas and dinners. However, things take a turn when Owen Chambers, an aviator arrives at their doorstep. He finds himself drawn to the world of the Murphy's and the artists in a way similar to Nick Carraway in Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby. His presence affects the Murphy's in such an extraordinary way that ultimately shakes what they know and leaves things completely changed.

My overall thoughts and review: When I first read the premise of this book, I was instantly intrigued and excited because it was going to feature the Lost Generation. I did some research in my masters and the past few years in general on some of these individuals. Particularly, Fitzgerald, Hemingway and Stein. I just love them all so much. I was incredibly excited because the book was going to feature them, but not as the main protagonists. I have a problem with reading historical fiction that offers to reimagine an author that I have studied because once I've read the primary material, it is hard for me to situate myself into the author's depiction of that author. Villa America instead offers a reimagining of the real life Sara and Gerald Murphy, individuals I did not know much about until I read this book. The artists and writers of the Lost Generation were featured in the book but they were not the sole focus and I think that is one of the many reasons why I enjoyed Villa America so much. What Klaussmann does is offer the reader a different lens and gives them the "inside look" as opposed to the "from the outside looking in" perspective. For example, I didn't feel like she gave a different version of Fitzgerald compared to the Fitzgerald I know from his stories and my research about it, because she was so meticulous in accurately portraying him (and other writers and painters) but mainly because Sara, Gerald and Owen were the main focus. All the depictions of the various authors and painters were really well done and it was fun to see the name of someone I've studied every now and then (totally geeked out)! 

One of my favorite things was seeing Sara and Gerald's relationship unfold from the beginning, especially the letters. Not only did their relationship flourish through the letters, but also their characters. I felt I really got more of a "true voice" through the letters which I really appreciated. Letters play a significant role in the text and they were definitely my favorite part of the text. I don't want to say anything that will spoil the text but what emerges is a narrative that I truly did not anticipate or expect. I was expecting much more about the Lost Generation, and I was genuinely pleased that they were a part of the narrative, but not the main subject. I think that fans of the Lost Generation will enjoy this book because it touches on themes of identity (!!!!!), loss and death, war, and family, while showcasing the artists and writers that you know and love. This was my first time reading something from Klaussmann and I'm extremely eager to head out the door and pick up a copy of Tigers in Red Weather next. I think if you enjoyed Tender is the Night by Fitzgerald, this is definitely one you should read. Also, to compare it to a more contemporary read, it reminded me of Paula Mclain's The Paris Wife, so I think if you were a fan of that text, you will definitely enjoy this one! 

My rating of the book:  (5/5 stars) 

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

Author Question and Answer

1) Since the book is based on the real-life F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender is The Night, can one assume that the book is your favourite by Fitzgerald? If not, which one is? 
I wouldn’t say that Villa America is based on Tender Is the Night -- but definitely the Murphys play a large role in the life of both novels. But yes, Tender Is the Night is my favorite of Fiztgerald’s books. The absolute tragic romance of that story has always attracted me and the writing is just so beautiful and so heartbreaking.Also, Fitzgerald intended Tender Is the Night to be his great American novel and when it flopped  he was heartbroken and baffled. He struggled with the text for the rest of his life, ultimately reordering it and coming up with a completely different structure, which he endeavored to get Scribner’s to reissue, to no avail, at least not during his lifetime. So I think that as I writer myself I empathize with that struggle, with that experience of the novel never being finished, never being good enough.  

2) Do you see connections between the Owen you portrayed in the book to Fitzgerald’s Nick Carraway from The Great Gatsby
You know, I’d never thought about it before. But I suppose they both start out as observers and end up as actors in these dramas. But while Nick isn’t perhaps as wealthy as some of the other figures in The Great Gatsby, he is Daisy’s cousin and therefor of the same ilk, whereas Owen is really and truly an outsider. 
On the other hand, I think a case be made for the idea of corruption of these “honest straightforward fellows,” who by the end up in a philosophical grey area.

3) Although the majority of the book occupies the beautiful setting of Villa America, it is very much tinged with the war front and the social and political problems of that time period. What is the one central message from this blending of boundaries (home front + war front) that you hope your readers walk away with when they finish the book? 
Both of my novels -- Villa America and Tigers in Red Weather -- look at the post-war periods and the effect that that has on sexual mores. War is a great shifter and just where everything will end up when it’s over is always fascinating to me. As opposed to Tigers, I think Villa America looks more at the effect that war had on shifting ideas of masculinity. In many ways, the  incredible destruction wrought by WWI unleashed this carpe diem hedonism, which allowed certain sexual practices that before had been more carefully conducted to then be more openly enjoyed. Still, there were huge swaths of people who still felt that they had to hide their sexual identity despite all the goings-on around them (they were illegal, after all), particular gay men who were considered in some circles more distasteful than gay women.
So I think the idea of war and home front is less of “boundary” and more of a cultural ecosystem,  -- each one particular to its time -- and the one I’m looking at in Villa America has to do with a world that on the surface looks full of liberated indulgence (stemming from mass death), while underneath runs a hot  a seam of Victorianism.

4) What do you set out to achieve when you write? 
There is a laundry list, depending on what I’m working on, but I think Hemingway may have summed up it best (or at least the most economically, as was his wont) when he said “All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write truest sentence you know.” I just want to write some that feels true.

5) And lastly, because I’ve been incredibly curious about this.. Who is your favourite artist from The Lost Generation? Oh, you know, I don’t really have one. I think they worked so well as a gang -- that’s the appeal this crazy group of frenemies fighting and drinking talking and working alongside each other. It’s the group dynamic -- they alchemy the make together -- that is is so sexy.  Having said that, I really discovered the lovely personalities of John Dos Passos and Archie MacLeish while researching the novel, two figures -- and tow great writers -- that I hadn’t really known that much about prior to writing the book. 

Thank you so much, Liza for answering these questions! :) 


Ok everyone - so Penguin Random House has kindly offered to an additional copy of the book for giveaway. You will have to follow the Rafflecopter prompt below, but ultimately, you have to simply follow the blog (through one of the many outlets: Google friend connector, Google+, Bloglovin' or Email) and leave a comment on the blog post telling me why you want to read the book! The giveaway will be open for one week (It will close on August 12th) and the giveaway will be for CANADIAN READERS ONLY. 
Disclaimer: An advanced reader's copy of this book was sent to me by Penguin Random House Canada for review for the blog tour. The blog tour also included the opportunity to interview the author. All opinions about the book are my own. The giveaway copy of the book will be kindly sent from Penguin Random House Canada directly to the winner. 

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Review: Hear the Wind Sing and Pinball, 1973 - Two Novels by Haruki Murakami

Hear the Wind Sing and Pinball, 1973 - Two Novels by Haruki Murakami; Translated by Ted Goossen

Publishing Date: August 4, 2015
Publisher: Doubleday Canada
Pages: 256 pages
Literary Fiction

The Premise: From the literary genius, Haruki Murakami, comes his first two written works, newly translated and put together in a combined novel: Hear the Wing Sing and Pinball, 1973. The first story, Wind, follows an unnamed narrator and his interactions with his friend, Rat and the second story, Pinball, follows Rat. Both stories deal with themes of obsession, loneliness and also what I would like to categorize as human longing. These two novels are also prequels to A Wild Sheep Chase - which is considered by some literary critics, can be seen all together as the "Rat Trilogy."

My overall thoughts and review: This is the second time I've read something written by Murakami and translated by Goossen (you can read my full review for The Strange Library here!) and I have to say once again, to begin with, that Gossen did a wonderful job translating the stories. I really felt that he accurately conveyed what Murakami wrote and it just carried the "essence" of Murakami throughout the text. When I first was reading Murakami, I searched EVERYWHERE for these early novels and was quite puzzled at the fact that they were not available in North America. So when I heard that they were releasing together and translated by a professor that I've had the pleasure of working with, I was over the moon excited.

My favorite part of the entire book has got to be the introduction. In the introduction, Murakami offers the reader an insider look on what inspired Murakami to write. My favorite passage was definitely when he was at a baseball game and realized "I think I can write a novel" - this line was so profound and definitely stuck with me throughout the entire text. The way he described realizing wanting to write as a "sensation" definitely resonated with me. Murakami also goes on to speak about his writing process and it was so intriguing about writing first in English and then "translating" into Japanese (xv). I have been working a little bit on translation studies and language from a previous class I took last semester and this introduction has definitely struck a chord with me because it offers so much insight into the translation process.

Anyways, I am getting sidetracked and not offering my thoughts fully on the two stories. I have loved Murakami for a very long time and I think it can be said that he is easily my favorite contemporary writer. Seeing the "beginnings" of his writing style develop in these two early novels was definitely something I enjoyed and something off-putting at the same time. Not in a bad way of course, but it allowed me to see fully how his style has developed over time. It also made me extremely appreciative of where his writing style has come to now. I really enjoyed that Murakami used an unnamed narrator and it was so easy to "slip" into the mind of the protagonist and follow along. I also really enjoyed how mysterious the character Rat was at some moments, and how other moments, he was like an open book. I mentioned in the premise that he touches on themes of obsession, loneliness and my personal favorite: human longing. For human longing, I really enjoyed how he touched on how desire was intertwined with loneliness and sometimes it is just simply "longing" for that sake and not necessarily a particular individual. He also touches on themes of change/changing and how it moves quite rapidly with time and I think that is fitting for the book because the two novels offer an insider look on how Murakami's writing has changed over time, but has also remained the same in many ways over time. This was a wonderful read and I simply LOVED it! I can't wait to read the next book - A Wild Sheep Chase (again) now with some additional context on the Rat character. I think this will definitely be a treat for fans of Murakami. And for those that are not familiar with him, this is definitely the place to start.

My rating of the book:  (5/5 stars) 

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

Disclaimer: An advanced reader's copy of this book was sent to me by Penguin Random House Canada for consideration/review. All opinions are my own.