Quote of the Day

“Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.”

― Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

Quote of the Day

“What really knocks me out is a book that, when you’re all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn’t happen much, though.”

― J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

Book Review: Grave Mercy (Robin LaFevers)

GraveMercy_final_hresAt the Ontario Bloggers Meet-Up, I ended up winning a raffle and chose this book from a large pile. I already had a swag bag to carry home (which was definitely double my body weight) and Grave Mercy looked huge, but I couldn’t resist! The cover was so attractive to me – a medieval-esque background with a girl in a red dress, not to mention the word “assassin” was like a magnet. And yes, I totally judge books by covers, but as it turned out picking this book was an excellent decision.

Summary: The story begins with 17-year old Ismae as she escapes from a horrible arranged marriage. She finds herself at the convent of St. Mortain (patron of Death) and seeks shelter amongst the sisters who still pray to the old Gods.  Ismae soon discovers that she has talents – incredible talents – that have been given to her by the God of Death and that her destiny is that of an assassin. She chooses this life, knowing that nothing good lies for her outside the convent’s walls, and trains to become a handmaiden to Death with the other girls.

Part of her new role is accepting the assignments given to her by the sisters. Ismae must orchestrate and act upon plans to destroy the lives of others as it is her duty. Hoping to prove herself worthy, Ismae accepts her most important assignment which takes her to the high court of Brittany. All the skills and etiquette she has learned from the convent must be applied perfectly if Ismae hopes to accomplish her task. But what the convent didn’t prepare her for was intrigue, treason, curiosity, and what to do when faced with something forbidden; love. Ismae is at a crossroad between doing her duty and doing what is right. It seems impossible, but how can she deliver Death to the one person she’s falling in love with? Continue reading

Quote of the Day

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

– Apple Inc.

2012 in Review – Part 2

Part One

Ah, where were we? So I met Emily Giffin; the perfect boost to my writer’s ego. As it turns out, meeting authors and being surrounded by bookworms is natural drug in a class of its own. It gives you such energy!

bmeetup2One of the coolest, and definitely top 5 moments of my year, was attending the Ontario Bloggers Meet-up in November, hosted by the Ontario Blog Squad. It was the first “blogging” event I had ever been to and I was incredibly excited. No, seriously, my excitement level was off the charts! I was about to meet all these amazing people who had become a part of my daily routine, who’s reviews I valued, and who’s friendships I valued even more. It honestly felt like one giant blind date! (except in this case, you know 100% that the other person has the exact same interests as you, haha)

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The event was held at the Watermark Irish Pub which from my intense investigation (…Google) looked super nice. I was able to get in touch with Kaley (see Part One) and met her in Toronto, along with Natalie from Browsing Bookshelves and Andrea from Cozy Up With A Good Read. It was really cold and rainy, but thankfully the rain had tapered off (lucky us!). The four of us walked down to the Watermark and as we stepped in we just knew it was the right place. There were people EVERYWHERE! We were welcomed by the lovely ladies of the Ontario Blog Squad who handed us our very own name tags and the biggest, heaviest, most wonderful swag bags ever! So basically, I had somehow wandered off into heaven…

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2012 in Review – Part 1

Blogging is tough.

I came to that realization somewhere between juggling research for my undergraduate thesis, a part-time job, tutoring, and basically life in general. Don’t get me wrong – I LOVE blogging! But I found myself resisting and putting off writing reviews as if I’d gotten some sort of “blogger’s block”. I guess sometimes other things dominate your life and so it felt easier to step back and go on a hiatus, rather than turning my hobby into obligation. Now that I’ve finally graduated (!!!), there’s a degree in my pocket, an endless amount of student loans, and a fresh start. It seems like the perfect time to do what I love again.

2012 has been an amazing year. In fact, “amazing” doesn’t even begin to define how incredibly blessed I have been with opportunities, adventures, and people. When I look back, I realize how much I’ve grown, but more importantly, how much I’ve let myself grow. My mantra last year was to reconsider every time I stopped myself from doing something spontaneous. We all do that sort of thing, don’t we? The idea of adventure comes along and instead of embracing it wholeheartedly, we shrink back with doubts and hesitation. But I really tried to change that habit and I can honestly say it has been one of the best choices I’ve made.

First of all, I can proudly say I stuck to my resolution of reading more. The 50 Book Pledge, an initiative by Harper Collins, was a big reason for this because it allowed me to realistically get back into reading for fun. I used to think I didn’t have time for it, but I found myself making time. I’d be reading on the bus, the train, in waiting rooms, in between classes, at work – it was crazy. For the past five years (and anyone who’s a student will agree) I’ve been suffocating under textbooks and articles. And while they’re kinda useful in their own right, they only let the practical, left-side of my brain get some breathing space. I wouldn’t take back any of the knowledge (useless and useful) that I’ve somehow managed to cram into my mind, but I can definitely say that reading fiction let me get in touch with my creative side again. And I started writing more because of it (which is always a plus).

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Author: Lauren Oliver

Getting in touch with your favourite authors is hard to do, especially if they’re well-known and have an enthusiastically large fan base. Luckily, sometimes your favourite authors turn out to be as much in love with you as you are with them. They reach out to their readers constantly, through print and social media, and it makes you feel all sorts of happy :).

I adore many, many authors. I would love to be able to get in touch with everyone but some are more interactive than others (but they’re all still awesome!). And thanks to the power of Twitter, plus her lovely personality, I have been lucky enough to interact with Lauren Oliver, author of bestselling books like Before I Fall and the Delirium series.

Lauren and I have exchanged tweets over the past year, especially when she does one of her live Twitter chat sessions (#OliverChat). I end up sending her an onslaught of questions, mostly about the woes of writing, but she always replies back with great answers (my mini interview is included below). So, if you haven’t heard of her or read any of her wonderful books, drop those Turkish Delights and please leave Narnia immediately!

Lauren Oliver

Name: Lauren Oliver

Background Info:

Born in New York; has a sister

Graduated from University of Chicago (Literature and Philosophy), and from NYU with a MFA in Creative Writing

Both her parents are literature professors (she describes her home as one filled with towers of books – I think that would be my dream)

Worked at Penguin Books before taking up writing full-time

Currently lives in NYC with her fiance

Age: early 30s

Published Works: Before I Fall (currently optioned for a movie), Delirium (book 1; also optioned for a movie), Pandemonium (book 2), Requiem (book 3), Liesl and Po, The Spindlers, and Delirium mini stories.

Interests: reading, cooking, traveling, dancing, running, and making up weird songs (Lauren, it is my dying wish that you post a song – just kidding about the dying part – but please)

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Book Review: Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (Stieg Larsson)

Sometimes as a reader, you curse yourself for not reading a certain book sooner, when everyone was telling you to. Why did you put it off until now, especially when all signs pointed towards its amazingness? When such a thing happens, it’s not a huge catastrophe, but you’ve certainly prolonged being indulged in a masterpiece. And that was precisely the case with me and Stieg Larsson’s Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.

Some books waltz into our lives, with great depth and dimensions, so much so that the characters find a happy place in the backseat of our memories. They become faded images of people we used to know. Yet there is another category of books altogether. This one is unique. It contains those books that surprise you, unexpectedly capturing your attention, your time, your nights. The characters in these books formulate before your eyes, within an arm’s reach, and stamp themselves all over your memory. You can’t forget these characters as easily, they don’t fade into the background. Instead, they and the stories they bring to you, stay fresh and vivid – it’s a weird, enchanting magic they have. Everyone has their own unique list of books that stick out in their thoughts. Mine would include the Harry Potter collection (first and foremost), along with Anne of Green Gables and many more. Larsson’s novel ended up having the same magic I had been warned about, and it is one book I will remember for a long while.

Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is set in Sweden starring Mikael Blomkvist, the editor of a financial magazine called Millennium. He is found guilty of libel for an article he published exposing a shady financier and while awaiting his sentence, Mikael is presented with an interesting proposition (enticed to be exact). Wealthy owner of Vagner Corp, Erik Vagner, hires Mikael out to his family’s hometown in countryside to investigate the cold-case murder of his teenage niece, Harriet. The cover story though, is that Mikael is writing a family history of the Vagners as Erik wants every single person involved to be thoroughly researched. Of course, with the investigation comes years of history, and thus Mikael decides to hire an assistant. Into the story comes Lisbeth Salander. (here comes the excitement!)

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Book Review: Song of Achilles (Madeline Miller)

Summary: In the age of heroes, we find our own hero, Patroclus, as an awkward and weak prince who has never gained the approval of his father. As a result of certain events, he is exiled to Phthia to be raised under the wing of King Peleus and his remarkable, demi-god son Achilles. The two boys are complete opposites, yet eventually bond and develop a strong friendship. As years go by, they grow even closer and spend countless hours together, training in war and medicine. Their loyalty and closeness is despised by Achilles’ mother, the goddess Thetis, yet the relationship prevails. Soon, there is word that the beautiful Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped by a  prince from Troy and as the men of Greece are bound by oath to protect, they must leave for war in her name. Achilles joins the warriors, and as his loyal companion, so does Patroclus. The journey to Troy and the battles that await, will test their friendship and love, as the Fates begin to unravel obstacles that lie in their paths. With bravery and sacrifice, the two boys from Phthia slowly carve their names into legend.

Favourite Quote: I stared at him, straight as a spear stabbing the sky. I could not find the words that would reach him. Perhaps there were none. The gray sand, the gray sky, and my mouth, parched and bare.

Review: I loved this book, finished it within a day! Winner of the Orange Prize 2012 and NY Times Bestseller, The Song of Achilles is beautifully written and transports you into a world that is both incredibly powerful and real. The story of Achilles (minus the Brad Pitt-Hollywood glam) is a truly captivating tale of romance, friendship, loyalty, and brotherhood. And Miller’s novel gives you a deep and enriched view of  events from the eyes of Patroclus – which is totally unique because she writes a story honoring Achilles without even using him as the voice! I loved getting to know things from Patroclus’ side and it was remarkable how everything fit into place from start to finish.

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