7/27/17

The Best of Adam Sharp - Graeme Simsion

I read, and LOVED, The Rosie Project and The Rosie Effect in early 2015, so when I saw that Graeme Simsion was writing a new book, I knew that I had to get my hands on a copy.  I saw the book pop up on Netgalley, and requested a copy on a whim, feeling pretty confident that my request would be declined, so imagine my surprise when it was approved!  I immediately downloaded it and started reading.

I loved the book from page one, and knew that, although I was fortunate enough to receive an advanced copy for review, I just had to savour this one in printed format.  For one, it was a PDF, which means I have to read it on my iPad, rather than on my Kobo and it's a little harder on my eyes.  So I pre-ordered a copy from Chapters and dove into it as soon as it arrived.

Although I'm incredibly grateful that I had the opportunity to read it in advance, I'm SO GLAD that I waited and read the hard copy because I would have missed out on something truly, truly incredible.  THIS BOOK HAS A PLAYLIST.  It might be included in the ARC (I didn't go back to check), but it's at the back of the physical book.  It lists off all of the songs referenced in the story, and THERE'S A SPOTIFY LIST THAT GOES WITH THE STORY.  It was mind-blowing you guys.  MIND BLOWING.  I love music (love, love, LOVE) and I'm always a sucker for stories that have music interwoven (like Amy & Roger's Epic Detour or Just Listen).  For me, it's a fine balance between making music an integral part of the story, and just name dropping music and artists (like Love is a Mix Tape, which felt like the writer was just showing off his musical prowess).  This book did the music and story blend so well; on a scale of one to ten it was utter perfection.

This book isn't long, but it took me close to a month to finish because I'd read a few paragraphs, listen to a song, read the lyrics to the song, go back and reread the paragraphs, listen to the song again and just feel all the feels.  I knew some of the songs referenced in the book because my dad raised me on a steady diet of oldies, but loved discovering new songs and learning to love the songs even more.  Patti Smith's "Because The Night" is a new all-time favourite because of this book.  I knew the song before, but I truly love the song now.

Music aside, The Best of Adam Sharp is an untraditional love story.  It's the story of Adam, who lives with a bit of regret over the great love of his life, Angelina, and how they ended their relationship.  Life gives them a very strange type of second chance, and it gives them a chance to consider what could have been as well as the paths that their lives took because they went their separate ways.  In some ways, this book felt like a Taylor Jenkins Reid novel because he portrays these messy relationships in a way that makes them feel completely real.  We, as human beings, aren't perfect and our relationships and lives are fraught with moments of "what if?"  This book captures all of those moments, and then some.

If you've read the Rosie books, please know that this book is very different.  It's heartfelt and raw and delicious and wonderful and utter perfection, especially if you opt to listen to the playlist as you read the book.

Note: A review copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  This did not affect my opinion of this book in any way.

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7/12/17

A Blogging Identity Crisis

On April 15th, I started writing this post.  And by "writing," I mean that I wrote in a title for the post and hit save.  That's basically how I lock down my ideas, with the intention of coming back later to flesh out the idea.  This post has been simmering on the backburner of my mind for a while now, and I've opened the draft post a few times, but the words didn't come.  Until tonight.  Tonight I feel ready to share.

This November, I'll be celebrating six years of blogging.  SIX YEARS in this little corner of the internet.  It's still quite little after all these years, mainly because I have never really had enough time and energy to devote to networking.  I admire those bloggers that can pour so many hours into their blogs, and their devotion shows in reader engagement and content development.  I wish I could be like those bloggers and, to be honest, sometimes those feelings are what gets in the way of blogging. It's not a numbers game for me, but it's more a frustration over the quality of my content.  I shared a post a while back, sometime after Marko was born, where I reflected on the thought and care that I used to put into book reviews when I had the time and energy to write them.  As time has gone by, I've stopped writing reviews (except for review copies and if I have a burning need to say something) and have toyed with a number of bookish content ideas.  In all honesty, after so many years of writing about books, I think I'm just running out of bookish ideas.

Which leads me to the topic of this post -- my blogging identity crisis.  I've been wrestling with the idea of making this blog about more than books (and I even tried doing this last year, but didn't follow through).  I have other interests, and spend a lot of time watching videos or looking on Pinterest to support these hobbies (searching for bullet journal ideas on either one is a BLACK HOLE).  I've also discovered non BookTube channels lately, like Cheyenne (Studyrose on YouTube) who I discovered through her Plan With Me videos, but then got caught up in all of her other creative content.  I was watching a video the other day where she mentioned listening to inspirational podcasts, and I thought to myself, "Yes, I should find some of these podcasts to listen to on my commute."  And then I had a huge realization: I have been spending more time lately passively engaged with my hobbies instead of actively engaged with them.  I look for lettering inspiration and bullet journal layout ideas instead of picking up my pen and journalling.  I scroll through Goodreads to see what my friends are reading and watching TBR videos on BookTube instead of reading a couple of chapters of my current read.  I spend more time adding to my TBR pile than subtracting from it, or more time planning and deciding what to read than actually reading.

I'm going to start actively engaging in my hobbies, instead of passively engaging with them.  I'm going to write more on here, write more in my bullet journal, reading more books and, most importantly, reconnecting with my yoga mat.  I've just done two days in a row and am feeling amazing.  I'd like to keep this up ... for once.  And I'm going to blog about whatever the heck I feel like blogging about.  I thought about making a plan for how to roll out new features and content but, you know what?  I barely have time to blog, so I'm just going to go with it and see where it leads me.  If you've stuck with me this long, please know that I am eternally grateful for you and the fact that you pop by every now and then to read these words.  Let's see where this leads, shall we?

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7/10/17

Marko Monday [23] -- Going to the Zoo!

Holy smokes -- it's been a long, long time since I posted one of these!  Now that I'm slowly putting a tentative toe back into the blogging pool, I want to focus on the posts that bring me joy, and this is definitely one of them.  So, you'll see a few more regular picture book reviews popping up here and there, as well as photos of my beautiful boy.

Most of Marko's books come from Value Village, or other used bookstores.  We scored this one from our local used bookstore (which also sells amazing organic loose tea) and it was an immediate hit.  It's written to the tune of "I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly," but features all of Marko's favourite jungle animals.  We read it again and again and again.  The brightly coloured pictures are paired perfectly with words that have the perfect read-aloud rhythm.

Tigers and snakes have been a household favourite since we watched the new Jungle Book a couple of months ago.  Although I struggle with the idea of supporting keeping animals in captivity, I finally decided that Marko would really gain a lot out of a trip to the zoo.  So we went, and he LOVED IT.  He got to touch a python, saw a real Shere Khan pacing back and forth waiting for meal time and saw a few of his other favourites up close.  My husband was absolutely blown away by seeing a real live giraffe (picture below).  On the way home, Marko said that his favourite part was the "cobra brastrictor" -- ha ha ha!



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6/30/17

June Wrap-up!

The year is already halfway gone.  I'm normally a glass full kind of gal, but with time I have to look at the year as halfway behind us already... SLOW DOWN TIME.

The Books

Books Read: 6 (Lord of Shadows, The Handmaid's Tale, The Best of Adam Sharp, Burn, Heir of Fire, The Girl at Midnight)
I really took my time with Lord of Shadows and loved every minute.  My review for Adam Sharp is forthcoming, and will explain why it also took me a long time to read, despite it being a short-ish book.  AND I FINALLY READ BURN. #lifegoal  Also, I read all five books on my spring TBR!!!!

Books Acquired: 5 (The Best of Adam Sharp, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, Once and for All, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, The Life Intended)
No regrets.  No regrets at all.

The Challenges

Prequel & Sequel Challenge: +16 (Lord of Shadows, Burn and Heir of Fire)
TBR Challenge: +2 (Burn and The Girl at Midnight)
Flights of Fantasy: +2 (Lord of Shadows and Heir of Fire)

The Blog

I'm sloooooowly getting back into the swing of blogging, and have my sights set on mid-July when my course is done and I'll have two glorious homework-free months!  I did a second round of the Mid Year Book Freak Out Tag and shared my summer TBR.  This week, I looked back at my reading resolutions and reading challenges to see where I was at.

 The Other Stuff

Summer has definitely arrived in British Columbia, and we celebrated Father's Day by purchasing our first "grown-up" BBQ (i.e. the first time that we haven't bought the cheapest one that we could find, knowing that we'd buy another in a year or two).  We have a natural gas hook-up on our deck, so it's also nice to BBQ without worrying that we'll run out of propane.  My husband LOVED making a BBQ feast for us for Father's Day, and we've also had some friends over to enjoy some yummy BBQ. This weekend, one of my best friends is coming to stay for the weekend and I'm already looking forward to more yummy BBQ as well as finding some Canada Day celebrations to enjoy.

Otherwise, it was a fairly quiet month.  I'm finishing up my course in mid-July, and already looking forward to some blissful time off.  We're Alberta-bound in August for some family time as well, and I can already see myself lounging on my mother-in-law's deck with a good book and a cup of tea.

How about you?  Anything exciting happen to you in June?  Let me know if you've read something amazing so far this year and which books are on your summer TBR!  Thank you for stopping by =)

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6/28/17

Reading Resolutions - Halfway Point

I like looking back at my resolutions halfway through the year to see where I'm at ... I'm doing well, but still a ways to go.  Let's break it down...

1. Reduce my physical TBR to less than 100 books.
Although I didn't have a specific number at the beginning of the year, I guesstimated that I had approximately 130 unread books on my shelves.  Today, I have 122 books.  I have been reading most books from my shelves, but there were also a lot of new releases to buy this year (plus others that have wandered onto my shelves).  The remainder of the year doesn't have as many new releases, so this challenge still feels achievable.

2. Reduce my e-book TBR to less than 20 books.
I've been really good about not buying too many cheap e-books this year, and knocked off quite a few short reads in March, but I'm still sitting at 27 books.  I usually pack one book and my Kobo when we head to Alberta in the summer, so hopefully I'll gobble up a few e-books under the prairie skies.

3. Finish 10 series.
I've finished two of the 10 series that were on my original list, but I also binge read the entire Darker Shade of Magic trilogy, so I'm counting that one as well.  Still a ways to go on this challenge, but I'm hoping to focus on series over the summer.

4. Blog whenever hubby plays video games.
Well, hubby promptly stopped gaming after I posted my new year's resolutions!  There has been a LOT of hockey on this year, as my husband's beloved Oilers made the playoffs this year.  I've been popping in my earbuds and listening to Peaceful Piano on Spotify, and have been doing well at tuning out the hockey and getting some reading done.  I've also taken a couple of non-intentional breaks from blogging -- I think I was burning out a little with blogging.  I'm coming up on six years in November and, although I do still love my little corner of the internet, I've been having a blogging identity crisis.  Hopefully, I'll have a post soon detailing exactly what that is and what it entails, but I haven't quite decided just yet.

5. Participate in three online events.
This is a success already!  I participated in the Love-a-Thon, the All the Short Ones readathon and the third round of Tome Topple.  YAHOO!  In the remainder of the year, there will hopefully be a second round of Tome Topple and my favourite event of all, the Broke & Bookish Secret Santa.

Did you making reading resolutions and, if so, are you on track with your goals?  Let me know in the comments below, and thank you for stopping by =)

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6/26/17

Reading Challenges - Halfway Point

To start with, I set my Goodreads reading challenge at 50 books, despite the fact that I read 73 books last year.  So far, I've read 42 books.  I've enjoyed taking my time with a few chunky reads, and setting my target lower has really helped with that.  Plus, participating in the All the Short Ones Readathon in March helped to rack up the read books quickly, and then I slowed right down in April with Tome Topple.


My goal is 30 books, and I've read 15 books so far.  There have definitely been quite a few ARCs read this year, as well as some library books, but having my books out of storage has been great, and I've read a lot of books off my shelves so far too!

My goal for the Prequel & Sequel Challenge is Professional (76 to 100 points).  I thought I was super behind on this challenge, but I'm actually at 66 points already!  I've completed four series already, which I think is definitely helping.  If I manage to knock a couple more off my TBR pile, I'll complete this challenge with no issues.


My goal is 12 books and I've read 13 books so far!  I've been really, really enjoying the fantasy books that I've read this year, and am already looking forward to reading some more before the year is up.  CHALLENGE COMPLETED!

How about you?  How are you doing on your reading challenges so far this year?

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6/20/17

Summer TBR!

I also had one book from my spring list that I didn't get to (The Girl at Midnight) and I'm currently reading Burn, but will complete it soon.  Our summer weather has been all over the place (hot and sunny one day, cold and rainy the next) so my reading tastes are a bit all over the map.  Even if I don't read these precise books, my focus this summer will be on the books that I had originally planned to read this year, with a specific focus on series.

1. A Man Called Ove by Frederik Backman
Out of all of the books on my Kobo, this book has been calling to me lately.  It's on the list of 17 books that I had planned to read this year.

2. The Gammage Cup by Carol Kendall
I tried to read this a month or so ago, but put it aside.  I'm not 100% sure that I'll enjoy this, so I may end up DNFing it, but I have to give it a try this summer.

3. Opal by Jennifer L. Armentrout
This is the next in a series on my TBR, but I think it would be an easy, summery read.

4. Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts
I have a plan for reading this book in bite size chunks throughout July.  I'll write a full length post on this at some point, but this strategy has been working well for motivating me to read intimidating books lately.

5. ARCs
Another of my big (and lofty) summer goals is to catch up with my ARCs.  I have two books that I have read and not reviewed, one that I'm about to finish, and one long-expired ARC that I still haven't read.  I also have six fall e-galleys to read.  At the bare minimum, I would like to catch up with my ARCs, but it would also be lovely to read ahead.  I've got big dreams.

How about you?  What's on your summer TBR?  Let me know in the comments below =)

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