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Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Stefanie's March Recap


Hey everyone,

It's April! Annie's got me good with April Fools, sending out an email about them changing their mascot and making it more Millennial friendly, choosing a llama as their new mascot. I almost flipped out, until they emailed the next day saying it was April Fool's...shows you how I haven't been paying attention to the months or days so far. 

March was a slower month for reading, even with Spring Break. I hit another reading slump and nothing I started was working out for me (this even happened with movies and a couple TV shows I tried to watch), but the one thing I did end up reading was Annihilation. After watching the movie I thought maybe reading the book would make me less confused about the universe. I think after reading the book I'm even more confused. I thought about trying to read book 2, but I've accepted defeat. Science and me really were never friends. 

What I Read in March:

Reaper by Kyra Leigh
Adultolescence by Gabbi Hanna
Love, Life and the List by Kasie West
Swearing Is Good For You by Emma Bryne
Unearthed by Amie Kaufman and Meghan Spooner
Staying Stylish by Candace Cameron Bure
Milk and Homey by Ravi Kaur
Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World by Rachel Ignotofsky
New York by Megan Hess
Nothing But the Truth by Vicky Pattison
Simple Tips to Live Beautifully by Pippa O'Connor
Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer

Total: 12

Books of the Month:

 

Favorite Movies of March:

  

without meaning to, these all seem to have pink covers. I watched one, The Loved Ones, that I think might have been the most bizarre movie I have ever seen...if you are a horror fan I would recommend you check it out. I saw Sherlock Gnomes in theatre, which was interesting to say the least. 

According to my day planner I seemed to have done a lot. We had Spring Spirit Week the week before Spring Break. My personal favorite day is Throwback Day, where I went all out glitter and side ponytail, with a pineapple t-shirt dress. 

I went to an Escape Room with a group of friends and we were able to make it out with just a minute to spare (talk about it being like a movie, leaving it to the last minute..!). It was super fun and it ended with birthday cupcakes. 

Then Spring Break ended and it was back to work I went. I hope everyone had a great March. I know for me April will be filled with Peter Pan rehearsals and then we go to performance in May. 

Until my next review, 

Stefanie





Saturday, March 31, 2018

Sara's February/March 2018 Wrap Up







Hello Friends,

I will probably say this every month, but I am amazed at how quickly the months are flying by! Before we know it, summer will be here. We've been hit with a wicked cold snap here in the Peg, and I am SO over it. I hate the cold. I am ready to stop wearing my winter coat and a scarf, I am ready for short pants and my Birks. Oh well, maybe in another month, I will sitting here telling you how amazing the weather has been (fingers crossed).

I missed February's wrap up as things got away from me at the end of the month.  My sister had a beautiful baby girl named Milah on the 20th of February, and I am OBSESSED with her. She's a lovely little thing. Around the same time I was having a few minor health concerns (nothing crazy and I am fine), so a wrap up kind wasn't a huge priority. 


SO, what happened in February/March: 

Oh, well, for Lent (Which went from Feb 14-Mar 31), I gave up watching TV. I did this last year for Lent, however I allowed myself to watch TV on the weekends, which didn't exactly give me the discipline I was looking for.  This year, I could watch it socially- as in if I was invited by someone to watch. This meant, I didn't watch a huge amount of TV during the week (well any really). It was kind of fun, however, really difficult at times (particularly after a hard day at work). Lent is now over, and I would like to continue restricting my TV watching, I maybe keeping it only to weekends. We'll see.

However, even with all that extra time, I still don't feel like I got a lot of reading done these last two months.  But let's get to it.


The Books:

Total Books
15 
8/Feb & 7/Mar

Physical
8
4/Feb & 4/Mar

Audio
7
4/Feb & 3/Mar


Physical Books

Feb:
Here We Are Now by Jasmine Warga (3 1/2 Stars)
The Cruel Prince by Holly Black (4 Stars)
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (5 Stars)
Finding Winnie by Lindsay Mattick Illustrated by Sophie Blackall (5 Stars) 

Mar:
The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel (1 1/2 Stars)
Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur (1 Star)
The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner (4 Stars)
Dearest Ivie by JR Ward (4 Stars) 



Favourite




How did I not read this book before now? Completely worth the hype- 100% worth the hype. 


 

Audio Books

Feb: 
Falling into Bed with a Duke by Lorraine Heath (3 1/2 Stars)
Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan (4 Stars)
Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari (4 1/2 Stars)
The Lucky Ones by Tiffany Reisz

Mar: 
Death and the Girl Next Door by Darynda Jones (4 Stars)
Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet (Reread)
I've Got This Round by Mamrie Hart (4 Stars)

**So my audio book count for this month is a lie- I really should add on four more books. I listen to books 4-8 of the Charley Davidson series by Darynda Jones (one of which I counted above). This was completely by accident. I wanted to listen to Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet because it's my favourite in the series and I wanted to relive it, and I kind of fell down a hole after that.**




Favourite 




This one is SUPER surprising! A friend and I went down to Fargo (the second closest American city, about four hours away), specifically to listen to this book. And we did it.  This books is hilarious! And so insightful. I loved that it was narrated by Ansari himself. 



2018 Goal check in: To see a full list of my 2018 goals, go here

Both February and March were great. I was successful with all of them. I read two 2018 releases each month (barely), I've read at least one adult novel per month, as for non-fiction, I am at 3 for the year (I made up for January's miss by consuming two in February). I have also knocked off  TWO books from my list of seven: The Hate U Give and The Queen of Attolia.  I think sometime in April I'll do a quarterly check in or something, and share my thoughts on some of the books. I am still failing on my audio book/physical book goal. Audio books are still a thing for me. My goals is to work on that for April. 

Anywho, that was a long winded wrap up. If you're still here- Thank you! 

Until next time, 

~Happy Reading Everyone.




Thursday, March 22, 2018

Stefanie's Thoughts: Love, Life and the List by Kasie West



Seventeen-year-old Abby Turner’s summer isn’t going the way she’d planned. She has a not-so-secret but definitely unrequited crush on her best friend, Cooper. She hasn’t been able to manage her mother’s growing issues with anxiety. And now she’s been rejected from an art show because her work “has no heart.” So when she gets another opportunity to show her paintings, Abby isn’t going to take any chances.

Which is where the list comes in.

Abby gives herself one month to do ten things, ranging from face a fear (#3) to learn a stranger’s story (#5) to fall in love (#8). She knows that if she can complete the list, she’ll become the kind of artist she’s always dreamed of being.

But as the deadline approaches, Abby realizes that getting through the list isn’t as straightforward as it seems... and that maybe—just maybe—she can’t change her art if she isn’t first willing to change herself.



Hey everyone,

Today I'm reviewing one of my favorite author's new book, Love, Life and the List by Kasie West. She has become an auto-buy author, and to me, she can honestly write nothing I don't like. If you are ever just looking for a fun, light-hearted book with substance then you pick up one of West's books. 

First, can we take a moment to admire that cover??

The story: this one hit right at home, because back in my teenage years (soo long ago ha) I had numerous unrequited crushes on friends (I mean, than again who didn't really during those awkward teenage years!) and it was tough. I mean I survived and all, but seriously, when are crushes ever easy...guess that's why they are called crushes.

Abby was a main character that I could totally relate too. She was full on sarcastic and I loved it; she felt so real and fleshed out. Her problems weren't just fluffy ones created to have drama in a plot, but actual issues I could see happening in real life. I think that's one of West's strengths; she always creates fleshed out, really vivid characters with actual problems you feel for, plus it's not even just the main character that is but all of them! (As I typed that, I'm not sure if I should have ended that with an exclamation point..)

I could also relate to Abby's mom with the anxiety piece. I don't have it as bad as her mom does, but I could totally see where at times her mom was coming from. I liked the inclusion of Abby's grandfather as a main character; typically I find when a grandparent is present they are either only there as a filler character, but Abby's grandfather was full of heart.

Love, Life and the List is filled with West's signature ability to write stories that end with a smile on your face, yet are filled with serious issues. Abby's father is away most of the time (I read somewhere that he was deployed, I must have missed that because I didn't pick up on that..) and they email as much as they can, but his absence is effecting (affecting, I seriously never know the answer to this...and I'm an ENGLISH MAJOR...after researching it, I'm pretty sure it's effect) Abby's home life.

Friendships are a big thing in West's books as well; Abby has her core group of Cooper, Justin and Rachel. Rachel and Justin go away for the summer and that's where the real fun with Abby and Cooper start, as the two are left alone with each other. Cooper becomes a major part of Abby's list and the two's friendship evolves, with a new friendship, and new relationships to come into play.

The concept of the list was my favorite part: I myself have a 30 to do before 30 list, which I'm going to basically fail at as I only have (shockingly) two years left to get it done. I have accomplished some of it, but Abby's list was perfect to push her out of her comfort zone and have an epic summer vacation. I think reading this when it was still snowy here made me enjoy the summer atmosphere much more.

Overall I just loved this book. I started off reading it a bit slower than I normally do, but by page 50 I was completely addicted and devoured it within a couple days. It didn't even feel like a 300+ page book to me either, and I loved that.

Solid 5 out of 5 stars!!

I can't wait for her next book, which I think comes out next month..or May, but soon!!

Until my next review,

Stefanie

Monday, March 19, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: Sara's Spring TBR



Hello Friends,

I like to go in and out with my Top Ten Tuesday Participation, and it's been a good while since I've sat down to create this list, but I have been missing it. I am also a sucker for creating TBR lists, which is what's happening for this weeks prompt.

TTT is hosted by Jana over at That Artsy Reader Girl



Books On My Spring TBR


This is especially great, because I love SPRING. I love READING in spring and I feel like I just have so many reading plans. SO, let's do this.


1) The Thief  by JR Ward - This is book Sixteen of The Black Dagger Brotherhood series and I am complete trash for it. It releases April 10th, and I buy it on release day, and I read it that first week. The series isn't as good, but I'm invested. 



2) The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondi - It's spring, and it's time to start getting rid of the junk- and I have a lot. I got this book a couple years ago for my birthday, but I haven't read it yet. I would like to and see if it prompts me to let go of some stuff. 



3) The Kind of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner - This is the third installment in The Queen's Thief series, which I am hoping to finish this year. 









4) A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas - Are you surprised? I am pretty stoked for this one. It's gonna happen. May 1st, can't wait. 

5) Twelve Steps to Normal by Farrah Penn- I am SO excited for this lady. Farrah is an old school blogger (she was like an original I feel). I am so excited for her book and I can't wait to get my hands on it. 



 


6) Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell - I have heard many great things about it. I really enjoyed the one other book by her that I read last year (I Found You), so should be good. 



7) The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend - You may or may not know this, but I work part time at Chapters (the bookstore), and at around Christmas time, everyone was reading Morrigan Crow and raving about it. I want it in my life. 









8) Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel - This is the ONLY book on this list that I am not sure I will get to.  Emily is a Canadian author, and I know of one Can-Lit read-at-thon taking place in July, that I was thinking of saving this for, but I don't know that I will. We'll see. 





9) Unearthed by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner - I have this book. I am committed to reading it ASAP. 



10) Wire and Nerve Vol. 1 by Marissa Meyer - I flipped through this book at work a couple weeks ago and I actually really want it, and I want to read about Iko's adventures.  So it's gonna happen. 










That's my SPRING TBR for you, I hope you enjoy. Have you read any of the books on my list? Anything I absolutely need to read? which one should I start with first?


~Happy Reading Everyone

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Stefanie's Thoughts: Reaper by Kyra Leigh



Sixteen-year-old Rosie Wolf is sure when you die, you go straight to Paradise, until she wakes to discover she has died in an accident and that Paradise isn’t what she thought it would be.

Rosie Wolf was sure that when her dad died, he went to Paradise. After all, isn’t that where everyone went? But when Rosie wakes up in a strange hospital bed and finds out that she’s died in an accident, she learns things aren’t always what you think they will be.


Now her father feels further away than ever, and Rosie is left to deal with the Grim Reaper, who isn’t a man in a black cloak, but a beautiful woman with a bad attitude. The Grim Reaper tells Rosie that before she can move on to Paradise, she has to go back down to Earth and collect three souls. But Rosie quickly realizes it’s not so simple.

To complicate matters, Rosie meets Kyle, a boy who is different than anyone she’s ever known. He’s cute, smart, and funny. Rosie’s been warned to stay away from the living, but she doesn’t want to. What will happen if she doesn’t?



Hi everyone, 

Today I'm going to be reviewing a book I discovered while browsing the shelves at my local library: Reaper by Kyra Leigh. I love everything about the Grim Reaper mythology, and this book will add to the non-overly saturated market. I think there has been only one other Reaper themed YA book I've read, which was years ago. 

The concept reminded me a bit of the TV show Dead Like Me, but a toned down version. If you haven't watched it, please do! I highly recommend it and I love it! It's very dry, dark humor. Going into Reaper, I wasn't sure I would be able to connect with the main character because she's only sixteen, but I was able to. I'm finding that as I get older certain young adult books just annoy me as I just find the MC complains too much or the pages are filled with teen angst, which to be honest, I thought this book would have. But, it didn't.

The first couple chapters introducing the After Life were my favorite part. Meeting the Grim Reaper, herself (yes, she's a woman!) was excellent. She's portrayed as pretty much a bad-ass and I loved that. Her fellow staff were fun to read about as well, Brandy was my favorite of them. 

This is where Rosie is told she'll have to collect three souls to move on, or be stuck in the After World forever. Rosie chooses to reap the three souls and hopefully move on. Each newly deceased gets a personal makeover to change their appearance, I really enjoyed this part of the world, as I saw it as completely starting fresh.  

The chapters altered between present time and then flashbacks into Rosie's past. I generally don't like this and find it confusing to follow, but I found this added a layer into Rosie's characterization. Reading about her friendship with her friend Carrie added depth to Rosie. One thing I noticed was Rosie tended to drink a lot of apple cider or had that made for her and I enjoyed knowing those little details about her past. 

I loved the ending. I actually starting tearing up when I reached the final page. I'm also finding I'm getting emotional faster than I used to in regards to fictional characters. 

My only negatives are that I felt this didn't add anything new to the Reaper mythology. This is a not- regularly used trope in young adult and I was really excited to be entering into a world that made me see it differently. A couple questions were left unanswered as well, and that never sits well with me.

Overall this is a quick paced, short novel I read in two evenings. I'll keep an eye out for any future novels by this author. I think I enjoyed this one more too because I have been reading a ton of chick-lit back to back and picking up something paranormal was a good switch. I'll probably go back to a chick-lit, as I went on a huge library spree and checked out fifteen books at once. 

I'm giving this a 3.5 stars out of 5.

Until my next review,

Stefanie


Monday, March 5, 2018

My Thoughts: The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw


Welcome to the cursed town of Sparrow…

Where, two centuries ago, three sisters were sentenced to death for witchery. Stones were tied to their ankles and they were drowned in the deep waters surrounding the town.

Now, for a brief time each summer, the sisters return, stealing the bodies of three weak-hearted girls so that they may seek their revenge, luring boys into the harbor and pulling them under.

Like many locals, seventeen-year-old Penny Talbot has accepted the fate of the town. But this year, on the eve of the sisters’ return, a boy named Bo Carter arrives; unaware of the danger he has just stumbled into.

Mistrust and lies spread quickly through the salty, rain-soaked streets. The townspeople turn against one another. Penny and Bo suspect each other of hiding secrets. And death comes swiftly to those who cannot resist the call of the sisters.

But only Penny sees what others cannot. And she will be forced to choose: save Bo, or save herself.


***Review Copy received from Simon and Schuster Canada for my honest review***


Hey Friends,

I was pretty excited to read  Shea Ernshaw's debut, The Wicked Deep, because my buddy, Stephanie (Ohana Reads) raved about his book. Like her obsession with this book is unreal, and I trust her taste, so I leapt at the chance to read it. I kind of went into the reading of this book blind, and to be honest, I was really expecting what I got from the story. I initially thought it was going to be a more historical fantasy novel, but it wasn't at all. It was more urban fantasy, and I really liked that. It's been a year and a day since I have read anything urban fantasy that I actually forgot what it was all about- anywho, that is neither here nor there.

The Wicked Deep starts off with the three Swan sisters and their death. It's pretty intense, these young women being killed. Pretty wicked. Jump ahead 200+ years and we get the legend/myth/truth, that the girls return every year to the town of Sparrow and possess three unassuming young women, and spend the next while exacting their revenge on the town. Heh. Within the modern day town of Sparrow, we have Penny. Penny has lived in Sparrow her whole life and is very aware of what the summer brings, she's kind of just accepted it, until Bo enters, and of course that changes everything.

I would have LOVED this book ten years ago. Like completely obsessed. Let me explain.

There is something about Ernshaw's way of story telling that is completely engrossing  I am not a fast reader, I am actually quite a slow reader. However, I read this book in two sittings (which is pretty extraordinary for me). This book made me feel completely nostalgic for the YA of my youth - to me, it was very reminiscent of The Stranger by Caroline B. Cooney (whoa, am I ever aging myself), which came out in the early nineties. The Stranger was this dark gothic story, that had an edge of romance, but was completely surrounded by mystery and a "what the heck is going on." That is exactly what The Wicked Deep is.  I really appreciated that.  A lot.

The characters are pretty interesting, Penny was kind of hard for me to like, I found her to be a bit rigid and stand-offish, I think this was probably because she was fairly practical, and she carried a lot of responsibility. Her mum was around but not present, and her father disappeared some years before. I liked Bo, he was an interesting addition to the story. I enjoyed his influence on Penny. Their relationship was fun to see blossom. The Wicked Deep isn't a complicated story (this is not a bad thing).  There were a few "plot twists," and "Whaaaaa?!?" moments, but, for the most part, I saw them coming. Which is why I probably didn't love this book as much as others. For me, it was a bit predictable. In saying that, I don't think everyone will feel this way, and I know a few people who will love this, and I am excited for them to read this.

Overall, I enjoyed this, and appreciated how it felt like old school YA. I feel like I will be recommending this to a lot of the youth who come into the bookstore looking for something fun to read. I actually can't wait for that. 

~Happy Reading Everyone



Thursday, March 1, 2018

Stefanie's January/ February Recap


Hello everyone, 

Now that the Olympics are over I feel like I can come out of my sports obsession and back into the real world. I LOVE LOVE LOVE the Olympics and watching all the different snowboarding events was my favorite thing! Go Canada and their 29 medals. Tessa and Scott's gold medal was the best thing I have seen in a long time!

I feel like these two months have gone by with a blur; I always feel a little off when February ends with the month being so short. I also feel like I didn't read that much these past two months, and when I did get into a book it consumed me, but at times I was without a book and didn't read for a week. I'm not sure if that's due to the terrible weather giving me a terrible mood or what it was. 

Here's what I read in January:

The Regulars by Georgina Clark
50 Ways to Yay by Alexi Panos
Read Bottom Up by Neel Shah
We Could Be Beautiful by Swan Huntley
Judgement Detox by Gabby Bernstein
Abby in Wonderland by Sarah Mlywoski
Flower Moon by Gina Linko
Single State of Mind by Andi Dorfman
Nightmare Escape by Greg Grunberg
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa

Total: 10

January's Books of the Month:

 

February's Reads:

                                              Always a Bridesmaid For Hire by Jen Glantz
Not Now, Not Ever by Lily Anderson
Wanderful by Andrea Lester Eaton
My Friend Fear by Meera Lee Patel
The Self Love Experiment by Shannon Kaiser
Love the One You're With by Emily Giffin
You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero
Losing It by Emma Rathbone
Single Girl Problems by Andrea Bain
Power of Attention by Sarah McLean

Total: 10

February's Book of the Month: 

  

I've gotten back into endlessly binge watching every movie that comes up on Movie Central and then a couple co-workers and I swapped movie recommendations with them and got a couple solid ones.

  

I can't wait to see Peter Rabbit and Game Night in theaters, hopefully I'll get around to seeing both. I feel like I haven't seen a movie in theaters for a while, but then a I remembered I saw Paddington 2 a couple weeks ago.

The only other thing that happened to me was that I got my Mental Health First Aid certificate. I was able to attend the program through work, and I'm so happy I took that course. I learned so much through it and it's something that I've been interested in for a while. Also it helps when your vice principal tells you what a great course it is and that you should do it. 

And that's it. Hope everyone else had a great couple months!

Until my next review,

Stefanie






"So, please, oh please, we beg, we pray, go throw your TV set away, and in its place you can install, a lovely bookcase on the wall."
— Roald Dahl