Saturday, 30 April 2016

"Spark Joy" by Marie Kondo | Book Review

Spark Joy by Marie Kondo
Publishing Date: January 5, 2016
Pages: 291
Publisher: Ten Speed Press
Links: Goodreads | Indigo | Book Depository | Amazon | Kobo

Spark Joy is the companion to Marie Kondo's The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. In this illustrated guide, Kondo explains her KonMari method in-depth to prepare you for clearing your life of all the "stuff" that doesn't add joy to your life.

The ultimate goal of the KonMari method is for you to find the things that spark joy in your life. All else can be discarded, with a few exceptions, such as essential tools and utensils.

Kondo encourages you to touch and hold every item as you're tidying, in order to feel that spark, or lack thereof, that it emits. She believes that if you pay close attention to an object and the way you react to or feel about it, you'll know whether it sparks joy in your life.

She also stresses the difference between tidying and cleaning, and this is something major that anyone interested in tidying needs to pay attention to. Moving things around and wiping the bookshelf they were on is not tidying - it's cleaning. Tidying is when you actually clear your space of things you no longer need or want.

The KonMari method is very much a way of life, and not one I can see myself completely dedicating myself to. There are, however, some great tips on tidying, regardless of whether or not you intend to immerse yourself in this way of life.

The most valuable section for me personally was the one where we learn that the order in which you tidy items is of the utmost importance. Like most people, I've always tidied by area, but this is inefficient because things in a certain category pop up in other places and when that happens, I'm practically back at square one. It makes so much sense when the information is presented, but it's something I'm not sure would have occurred to me on my own.

Spark Joy is a great book for you if you're ready to revolutionize the way you tidy. If you're not at that stage yet, there are definitely still some great tips to learn from this book.

*This book was sent to me by Penguin Random House Canada in exchange for an honest review.

"Taking Leaps and Finding Ghosts" by Janet DeLee | Book Review

Taking Leaps and Finding Ghosts by Janet DeLee
Publishing Date: May 1, 2015
Pages: 253
Publisher: CreateSpace
Links: Goodreads Book Depository | Amazon

At the age of fifty eight, Ginny Lawther decides that she can still take a leap of faith in order to accomplish a dream. She just needs some support from others doing the same. Ginny starts the Ideal Life Club and meets three other people who need support following their dreams...and one who needs help with a ghost problem. They have their action plans in place, but will they be able to achieve their dreams with all the ghosts that keep popping up?

This book is absolutely delightful. It's a funny, hopeful story that makes you want to get up and take your own leap of faith and follow that dream that's been niggling at your mind.

The characters are so very different from one another and yet they come together to support each other and make sure each of them knows they can take steps to achieve their dreams. I felt like I was there in the Ideal Life Group with them, and am actually currently coming up with some steps I can take to put one of my own ideas into motion.

I really identified with the characters' desires to follow their dreams and admired their bravery and determination to take a leap of faith in order to do so. I especially related to Hilda and Jerry, who wanted to make crafts and be a musician for a living, respectively. They wanted to do something creative for a living but struggled to figure out precisely how to do that. In this day and age, it seems like almost everyone wants to do exactly that, and you have to have something really unique in order to be successful. And they certainly have that!

I love the way the characters' stories interweave, and in many ways, they show us how interconnected our lives are on this little planet of ours. The ghostly apparitions really brought everything and everyone together to get to the bottom of some mysterious happenings, and I love that the group could come together in such a way to try and help each other.

My one complaint in all this is that there are quite a few grammatical errors, but if you're not as particular about grammar as I am, then this really isn't an issue.

If you're looking for a little push to follow a dream, or if you're just looking for a sweet, optimistic read, this is the book for you.

*This book was sent to me by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

"Eligible" by Curtis Sittenfeld | Book Review

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld
Publishing Date: April 19, 2016
Pages: 656
Publisher: Random House Large Print
Links: Goodreads | Indigo | Book DepositoryAmazon | Kobo

Even if you've never read Pride and Prejudice (like me, I say ashamedly), you probably know the story: girl's family is pressuring her to marry, girl meets guy, girl thinks guy is a snob, girl and guy fall in love. This is of course an oversimplified summary of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy's beautifully complicated relationship, which is retold in Eligible.

This is the story of Liz Bennet set in our modern era. Liz lives in New York City and writes feminist articles for a women's magazine, but heads home to Cincinnati after her dad has a heart attack. She quickly learns that her family needs her more than even she could have guessed. And along the way, she meets a tall, dark stranger...whom she finds repulsive.

Almost everything in this story has been adapted to modern times. Curtis Sittenfeld addresses a lot of the issues we deal with in modern-day life, including racism, trans- and homophobia, fat shaming, classism, and pressure to marry. Since the Bennets (particularly Mrs. Bennet) consider themselves part of the upper class, we see a lot of the wealthy and their prejudice toward minorities. Some of the aforementioned issues are much more prevalent in today's society, while others have been around for centuries and show just how little we've changed in some ways.

With regards to marriage, many of us are still under a lot of pressure from our parents to get married, although not quite as early on in our lives. Rather than the young age of 20 that she was in the original story, Liz is 38 in this retelling, while her older sister Jane is nearly 40. There's still a lot of pressure to marry, it's just that in modern times, you have longer before your parents start losing hope.

This story is very much written in the style of the original in terms of having old-timey words and cadence, yet it still feels like a modern style because of the story. It's a really cool juxtaposition!

I love the ways in which the author changed the sisters' relationships. The way Liz and Darcy's relationship gets started, for example, is perfectly adapted to how we do things now. I can absolutely see that whole scenario playing out in real life. And Jane and Chip Bingley's storyline - another fantastically strange relationship I can picture.

I'd go so far as to say that most of the Bennets are unlikable in this story because of their, well, pride and prejudice, and yet I'm compelled by their stories. Eligible is definitely a book I'm going to pass along to friends and family who love Pride and Prejudice.

If you're in the mood for a fun, long read, then cozy up with your favourite drink and enjoy this modern retelling of a wonderful classic.

*This book was sent to me by Penguin Random House Canada in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, 25 April 2016

I'm participating in Bout of Books 16!

Hi everyone! Since I love Bout of Books so much, I'm participating once again. I love how supportive everyone is of each other and how low-pressure the read-a-thon is. All you have to do is set your intentions to read, and do your best! Plus, there are always fun challenges and discussions to take part in. Here's the official blurb:

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, May 9th and runs through Sunday, May 15th 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 16 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books Blog. - From the Bout of Books team

Let me know in the comments if you'll be participating! :)

Bout of Books

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

"Waiting On" Wednesday: Devil and the Bluebird

 "'Waiting On' Wednesday" is a great way to get excited about upcoming releases - you get to share which not-yet-released publications you can't wait to read!

This week, I'm waiting on:

Devil and the Bluebird
By Jennifer Mason-Black

Publication Date: May 17

I think most people who know me, know I love books, movies, TV shows, anything that involves the supernatural. This YA book involves a devil-at-the-crossroads, magic, and a search to save someone the main character, Blue, loves.

From Goodreads:

“Devil-at-the-crossroads” folklore finds its way to YA via this moody, magical tale

Blue Riley has wrestled with her own demons ever since the loss of her mother to cancer. But when she encounters a beautiful devil at her town crossroads, it’s her runaway sister’s soul she fights to save. The devil steals Blue’s voice—inherited from her musically gifted mother—in exchange for a single shot at finding Cass.

Armed with her mother’s guitar, a knapsack of cherished mementos, and a pair of magical boots, Blue journeys west in search of her sister. When the devil changes the terms of their deal, Blue must reevaluate her understanding of good and evil and open herself to finding family in unexpected places.

In Devil and the Bluebird, Jennifer Mason-Black delivers a heart-wrenching depiction of loss and hope.

What are you waiting on this week?

Monday, 18 April 2016

"Still Mine" by Amy Stuart | Book Review

Still Mine by Amy Stuart
Publishing Date: March 1, 2016
Pages: 320
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Links: Goodreads | Indigo | Book Depository | Kobo

Clare is on the run. She's running from her abusive ex, leaving her old life behind, when she's hired by a mysterious stranger named Malcolm to investigate a missing person. When Clare arrives in Blackmore asking about Shayna, the locals become suspicious of her. Will she be able to find the missing woman and also escape her ex?

I want to start off by saying, Clare is such a great character. We get to know pieces of her background story throughout the novel - she's dealt with abuse in the past and has been lucky enough and resourceful enough to get herself out of that situation. Now, as she learns more and more about Shayna and the people she surrounded herself with, Clare is so determined to find out where the missing woman is. As she gets closer to Shayna's friends and family over the course of one week, Clare suspects that several people know more than they're letting on. Even when Malcolm is ready to give up on Shayna's case and move on, Clare persists, wanting to know exactly what happened to her. She trusts her instincts and they're usually right.

I love books about small towns because you tend to get an in-depth look at what happens when a small group of people are in such close proximity for most of their lives. Not only is Blackmore a small town, it's also a mining town. This affects the town dynamics, especially in a place like Blackmore where there's been a mine disaster. That kind of tragedy can either bring a small town together or tear it apart. Still Mine definitely addresses these small town issues in a big way - and adds a whole lot of drama and suspense.

The story takes place over the course of one week and, as you can imagine, there's a lot of info to be learned in such a short amount of time. All the new information that came up kept me intrigued throughout, and built so much tension. The end was particularly well-written, with all that tension coming to a head and the story coming full circle.

Still Mine is a tense, intriguing story led by a determined woman learning about someone's past while trying to escape her own.

*This book was sent to me by Simon & Schuster Canada in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

"Waiting On" Wednesday: Wonder Women

"'Waiting on' Wednesday" is a great way to get excited about upcoming releases - you get to share which not-yet-released publications you can't wait to read!

This week, I'm waiting on:

Wonder Women: 25 Innovators, Inventors, and Trailblazers Who Changed History
Written by Sam Maggs & Illustrated by Sophia Foster-Dimino

Publication Date: October 4

Last year, Sam Maggs wrote a little book called The Fangirl's Guide to the Galaxy, which I absolutely LOVED. I was even lucky enough to attend her book launch, which you can read all about here! She has such a distinct voice in her writing, and her passion for supporting women - whether nerdy or historical...or both! - is very clear. I think it's so important to promote my fellow women and make it known what they have done or are doing.

From Goodreads:

Ever heard of Allied spy Noor Inayat Khan, a Muslim woman whom the Nazis considered “highly dangerous”? Or German painter and entomologist Maria Sibylla Merian, who planned and embarked on the world’s first scientific expedition? How about Huang Daopo, the inventor who fled an abusive child marriage only to revolutionize textile production in China?

Women have always been able to change the world, even when they didn’t get the credit. In Wonder Women, author Sam Maggs introduces you to pioneering female scientists, engineers, mathematicians, adventurers, and inventors—each profile a study in passion, smarts, and stickto-itiveness, complete with portraits by Google doodler Sophia Foster-Dimino, an extensive
bibliography, and a guide to present-day women-centric STEM organizations.

What are you waiting on this week?