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Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Summer.

Hey guys! So if you follow me on the social medias, you've probably noticed that I've been pretty quiet and well, there's a reason for that. I have been extremely sick with what I believe my doctor said is bronchitis and it's kind of taken over my life the past two weeks, which has not been fun. I've hardly done anything online other than check a couple of emails and watch Netflix in bed... Let's just say I decided one day it was a good idea to start watching Gossip Girl again... not sure where that came from, but hey, if it gets me through the day not so miserably, whatever works! Anyways, I'm finally starting to feel a bit better, so I thought I'd pop on the blog to say hi, as well as talk a bit about the summer! I know, I know, it's September 17th! Isn't the summer wrap-up post bit supposed to be done by now? WELL I am still not in school because currently in my lovely province of BC, the teacher federation and the liberal government have been disputing over a strike that has been going on since June... The public school system in BC already missed two weeks of school at the end of the year in June (don't even get me started) but now we're in our third week missing from the start of the school year. The beginning of my grad year has been delayed and I am soooo not rejoicing in the fact that there's extra vacation time. I'd really just prefer to be back in class, learning and preparing for universities and scholarships, but alas, I am here at home in the middle of the day on a Wednesday because the two sides to the dispute are so far apart, mediators don't even know what to do with them apparently. 

ANYWAYS, so enough about that, but I thought I'd give you a little insight into what's been going on with me lately! And below I just thought I'd list 5 things that I did this summer and some of the memories I made, because well, it was a good summer and I like to remember these kinds of things!


1. I got my license! In the province I live, when you turn 16 you're able to get your 'L' which means you can drive with a person over 25 and then a year later, you can get your 'N' which means you can drive on your own! AND I DID IT!!! And I mean, look at that awesome parking job ;)





2. I dyed my hair pink! I'd been wanting to do this for a long time and was a bit afraid, but my dad convinced me I should so I decided to take a risk and dyed the bottom half of my hair hot pink! It has now faded into a blonde, but I just loved it so much and am so happy I did it for the summer!



3. I went to Bard on the Beach with my mum, which was super fun! It's this Shakespeare company in Vancouver that performs amazing plays and my mum took me for my birthday! We saw The Tempest which was HILARIOUS and one of my favourite plays I've ever seen! 

4. I saw Ed Sheeran for the 3rd time in concert with one of my best friends, Janae and it was amazing! He was so good and energetic and it was a wonderful concert! Plus it was outside, so a perfect summer experience!

5. I got stuck in traffic for 4 hours! I know, you're probably like, why's that a good memory? But I was with afore mentioned best friend Janae on our way to Vancouver and there was a huge traffic jam, so a trip that should have taken us around an hour was quadrupled! But honestly, it was so much fun jamming out to music and having long discussions in the car with her that it's probably one of my all time favourite summer memories. When we finally made it to Vancouver, we had such a lovely time window shopping and had a delicious dinner and it was overall an incredible day! Definitely a highlight of the summer for me!



I just thought I'd do this quick little overview of the summer so that when I look back on the blog I can see some of the things I did and also just give anyone who wanted a little look into my life, if anyone actually wants that! I had a lovely summer filled with memories with my friends, my mum, my dad, and the rest of my family, but these are just five things that super crazy stand out for me! Now summer is almost technically over for the world, but for BC students, it has continued until now! Apparently they've come to a tentative agreement, so we might be back in school next week! I sure hope so, because frankly, I'm getting a bit bored... I miss school! But I've also done some cool things this September so I might do a little wrap up of that at the end of the month!

Anyways, what did you get up to this summer? Let me know in the comments, I'd love to know!

Happy reading!
~Kristy

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Authors I've Only Read Once But Need to Read More

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.This week's topic  is: Top Ten Authors I've Only Read One Book from but NEED to Read More!

1. A.S. King – I've only read Ask the Passengers from her but need to read more! I love the way she writes!

2. Benjamin Alire Sáenz – I read Aristotle and Dante and was blown away by the way Sáenz writes... I am in dire need of more of his works.

3. Ava Dellaira – I don't know if she's coming out with more books, but I desperately hope so. Poetic and poignant, Dellaira's words meant a great deal to me.

4. Ayn Rand – I read Anthem on a teacher recommendation this year and am so looking forward to reading more of Rand's work... Eye-opening stuff that is.

5. John Steinbeck – To say I need to read The Grapes of Wrath is an understatement. 

6. Markus Zusak – After reading The Book Thief I wanted to read everything Zusak had ever written right away, but for some reason didn't... It's still my goal though.

7. Andrea Cremer – I never finished the Nightshade series for some reason and have been meaning to do so for some time now.

8. Huntley Fitzpatrick – I loved My Life Next Door and haven't gotten to reading What I Thought Was True yet, but am dying to. And now I've just seen that there's gonna be a sequel to MLND!!!! AHHH!!!!

9. David Levithan – I'm kind of cheating on this one, because I've read books of his that he's written with other authors, but I've actually never read more than one book that he wrote on his own and I feel like I'm BETRAYING MYSELF because of how much I loved Every Day.

10. Ned Vizzini – Ned Vizzini wrote one of my favourite books of all time and I was planning on reading more of his work, but when I found out he passed away late last year, I was so distraught that I just couldn't pick up another one of his books except for the one that I've read countless times. But I'm working on it. Because I am determined to read everything he wrote. 


Those are my top ten for this week! Leave me a link to yours this week and I PROMISE I'LL CHECK IT OUT. PINKY PROMISE. I swear!

Happy reading!
~Kristy

Monday, 15 September 2014

Review: Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore

Author: Kristin Cashore
Publisher: Dial Books
Page Count:  563 pages, Paperback
Date Published: May 1st 2012
Find it on Goodreads: Bitterblue
Source: Purchased

Eight years have passed since the young Princess Bitterblue, and her country, were saved from the vicious King Leck. Now Bitterblue is the queen of Monsea, and her land is at peace.
But the influence of her father, a violent psychopath with mind-altering abilities, lives on. Her advisers, who have run the country on her behalf since Leck's death, believe in a forward-thinking plan: to pardon all of those who committed terrible acts during Leck's reign; and to forget every dark event that ever happened. Monsea's past has become shrouded in mystery, and it's only when Bitterblue begins sneaking out of her castle - curious, disguised and alone - to walk the streets of her own city, that she begins to realise the truth. Her kingdom has been under the thirty-five-year long spell of a madman, and now their only chance to move forward is to revisit the past.
Whatever that past holds.
Two thieves, who have sworn only to steal what has already been stolen, change her life forever. They hold a key to the truth of Leck's reign. And one of them, who possesses an unidentified Grace, may also hold a key to her heart . . .


Kristin Cashore is a powerhouse when it comes to writing intense, detailed fantastical stories with strong and dynamic characters that make one proud to be a woman. And that is exactly what Bitterblue did for me. Tying up Graceling, as well as Fire, Bitterblue  was the perfect conclusion to an epic series/companionship. 

 Kristin Cashore writes the types of books that I have always wanted to read. She doesn't conform to the stereotypical fantasy worlds where men rule all, women are weak, and everyone is white and heterosexual. NO. She writes about women who are strong but are still growing, women who are vulnerable and need to ask for help, women who take control of their own situations and don't allow their pasts to define them, WOMEN IN POLITICS WHO TOTALLY RULE AT IT. Cashore has POC protagonists, representation of the LGBTQ and disabled communities, people who struggle with their mental health, and she does not shy away from the subject of sex, contraception, babies (and the fact that not all women may want them). Bitterblue may not have been filled with as much action as Graceling or as much romance as Fire, but there was so much beautiful characterization, strong friendships, complicated relationships, parental issues, grief, and well... a freaking awesome librarian who is probably one of my all time favourite supporting characters. These books are ones that my bookish friends and I completely gush over anytime someone mentions anything about them and for good reason. The characters are ones that are easy to get attached to and the story is one that will keep you hooked from the moment you open the first page to the moment you close the last page. I regret not reading this series sooner and I urge everyone to read them as soon as possible.


Happy reading!
~Kristy



Friday, 12 September 2014

Spotlight: Looking for Jack Kerouac by Barbara Shoup




Author Barbara Shoup’s newest young adult novel, “Looking for Jack Kerouac” (August 12, Lacewing Books), whisked her away on a fascinating journey where legends came to life more than 1,000 miles away from her hometown.
With the help of a grant from the Indiana Arts Commission, Shoup embarked on a road trip that took her from central Indiana to St. Petersburg, Fla., the same adventure taken by the characters in her latest book. In “Looking for Jack Kerouac,” Paul Carpetti picks up a copy of “On the Road” by legendary beat novelist Jack Kerouac during a class trip in New York City. The book has a dramatic impact on Paul, changing his whole outlook on life. But when he returns home from the city, his world crumbles. It’s 1964, and Paul is dealing with the death of his mother. He needs to get away.
Paul hops in a car with his friend, Duke, and doesn’t look back. The two land in Florida where Paul finds Kerouac, who turns out to be nothing like the author he idolized. But, in the end, the writer helps Paul in his journey to self-discovery in an unexpected way.
“Looking for Jack Kerouac” is a coming-of-age tale with heart. Relying on notes she jotted down on
her way to Florida’s Gulf Coast, as well as extensive research on Kerouac’s life, Shoup writes with
intensity, passion and poignant reflection.

Where did the idea for “Looking for Jack Kerouac” come from?

        A friend and fellow writer told me about his idea for a screenplay called “Looking for Jack
Kerouac” with similar story line. I thought it sounded like a terrific idea for a young adult novel and
said, joking, “If you ever decide you don’t want to do the screenplay, could I have the idea?” A few
years later, he said, “Remember that Kerouac idea? I’m not going to do it, so you can have it if you
want it.” “Cool,” I said. “Thanks!” But it was just an idea and I had a hard time finding a way to make it my own.

        Then, sadly, one of my sisters died of brain cancer. Not long after her death, an image of her
behind the counter of a diner floated into my mind’s eye. There was Ginny! One of the most painful
things about my sister’s illness and death was watching her two teenage sons go through it and, after I
found Ginny (and the idea that I could, in a way, bring my sister back to life through her), it occurred to me that Paul might have had the same experience as my oldest nephew. At which point the book
became about a whole lot more than a road trip for me. It was a way of processing my own grief about my sister and trying to better understand what losing their mother had been like for her boys.

What are the differences between the real Jack Kerouac and the man portrayed in your book?

         My personal understanding of the real Jack Kerouac came from reading everything he’d
written, as well as reading biographies and memoirs by those who knew him, which revealed a
complexity that humanized the icon he’s become. He was brilliant, driven, ambitious in his work. He
was arrogant, difficult, reckless, rebellious; generous, tender, sad, kind, wrecked. He was drop-dead
handsome; he was shy with women. He was free-wheeling and adventurous; he spent most of his life
off the road living with his mother, who did factory work to support him. He was obsessed with
baseball and, to his death, played a baseball card game he invented when he was a boy. He admired the tenets of Buddhism and worked to synthesize him with his Catholic beliefs, but by the end of his life he’d reverted to Catholic beliefs so conservative that some called them medieval. He craved and hated the fame that came his way. He died of alcoholism at the age of 47, while sharing a small, cramped house with his mother in St. Petersburg, Florida.

         I tried to make my fictional Kerouac as close as I could to what I understood the real to have
been. It was important to me that readers see him not as the icon, but as a man whose life had not
turned out happily, but whose generosity in acknowledging a sadness surrounding an early loss in his
own life could make a real difference to a young man trying to find his path. I also wanted to paint a
realistic picture about the writing life and what the price of fame can be.

How did you immerse yourself into the life of Jack Kerouac?

        I did a lot of research on Jack Kerouac, his circle of friends, New York in the ‘50s, and the ‘50s,
generally. I listened to music Kerouac listened to. Also, thanks to a grant, I took Paul and Duke’s road trip from Indiana to St. Petersburg, Fla., noting interesting details along the way and jotting down ideas for the story that popped up because of what I saw. Once in St. Petersburg, I found the house where Kerouac had lived with his mother and explored parts of the city where I knew he’d hung out, and I began to see him there.

        I also read widely about 1964, which was a pivotal year for numerous issues, including the
immediate aftermath of the Kennedy assassination, civil rights and the war in Vietnam.

What was it like seeing Jack Kerouac’s home in person?

        It made me sad and brought a visceral understanding of how small and shabby Kerouac’s life
ultimately became. But it also brought the thrill I always feel when I have the good fortune to be able to step into the world I’m writing about. He lived there. He stood where I stood, walked up the path to the front door, opened it, went in. There was the window of his front bedroom, through which the sound of his typewriter could be heard on warm evenings. His cats had skulked in shrubbery beneath it. The huge tree in the narrow dividing strip between the sidewalk and front yard must have been a sapling then.

        Visiting the setting of a work in progress always generates new ideas for plot and scene—not
necessarily only at the moment you’re there. They enter the mix in your mind, waiting to pop up when you need them. I take a lot of photos, which I use to refresh my memory about small details. These, too, suggest new possibilities. Writing the scene near the end of the book, in which Paul goes to Jack’s house alone, at night, grew from seeing the house, the window from which Paul could hear Jack typing.

What is your favorite Jack Kerouac book?

        “Visions of Gerard,” a fictional meditation on the loss of Kerouac’s saintly older brother, whose
death from rheumatic fever at the age of nine profoundly affected the way Kerouac saw the world and
was the cornerstone of his work, in which he so often struggled to find balance between exultation and sorrow. The book triggered my fictional Kerouac’s response when Paul tells him about his mother’s death: “And you will never get over [the loss of your mother]. It’s not meant for us to get over that kind of sadness.” It unlocked a door inside Paul that gave him entry into the next part of his life, in which the grief could find a proportionate place to settle inside him. As I wrote the scene, I felt the grief I felt about my sister’s death settle inside me.

“Looking for Jack Kerouac” is set in 1964. In what ways will modern young adults relate to the
characters in your book?

         1964 was a turbulent year in which Americans dealt with grief and confusion in the aftermath of
the Kennedy assassination that happened late 1963, increasing racial conflict, and the escalation of the war in Vietnam. It was the year that “ordinary” kids began to question the moral stance of our country on these and other issues that would play out for the rest of their lives. Kids today are not only living the consequences of those times but questioning current political decisions that have created a new kind of segregation in our communities and involved us in wars that many consider senseless and immoral.
Human nature doesn’t change, really. Reading about the past helps people of all ages understand this,
while at the same time encouraging them to consider ways they can make their own small worlds a
little better.

Even though “Looking for Jack Kerouac” is billed as a young adult novel, it seems like adults
would also enjoy this book – and you’ve won awards in the past for writing crossover stories.
Was that your intention?

       2014 is the 50th anniversary of the high school class of 1964. All over the country, Baby
Boomers will be gathering at class reunions, talking about what it was like when they were young,
wondering how in the world they got from 18 to 68. Looking for Jack Kerouac is not only a book that
introduces an exciting era of change to young people, but vividly brings it back to those who lived and remembered it. Adults of all ages who appreciate a good coming of age story will also enjoy the novel.

How do hope the stories you write help young adults as they struggle to understand themselves
and the world they live in?

        Many years ago, I visited a high school class that had read my book, Stranded in Harmony. A
lively discussion ensued about the fact that the main character had had sexual relations with his
girlfriend, who he feared might be pregnant. Some students appreciated the honesty with which I
approached this part of adolescent life. Others felt that fictional teen characters shouldn’t have sex
because this implied that having sex before marriage was acceptable. A few were okay with the sexual relationship, but felt that the main character’s girlfriend should have been pregnant as punishment for the immoral act. Near the end of class, a girl in the back of the room raised her hand. “I’m pregnant,” she said. “This book helped me understand the way my boyfriend acted when I told him.” The bell rang. She was gone. It totally blew me away! It’s what we hope for, writing novels for people of any age—that it makes a difference to them, somehow.
You studied education at Indiana University and now you’re the head of the Indiana Writers
Center. Tell us more about the role that teaching plays in your life.
       I’ve been teaching writing, one way or another, for more than 40 years. I taught creative writing
to high school students for 20 years, which I loved, and I continue to visit high school classes to talk
about writing and the writing life. As the executive director of the Indiana Writers Center, I teach
people of all ages – from kindergarteners to people in their 90s. Writing and teaching are inseparable to me.
       Everyone’s life is a story and writing that story is a great gift to yourself and others – whether
you do it through fiction or simply writing down what you remember for family and friends. Working
with the Indiana Writers Center has made me fully understand the truth and power in my belief that
everyone has a story worth telling.

You’ve interviewed nearly 50 novelists and short story writers about the creative process for
your books, “Novel Ideas” and “Story Matters.” What was the most important lesson you
learned from them?

         One of my favorite quotes about writing comes from Iris Murdoch’s “The Black Prince”: “I
live, I live with a continuous sense of failure. I am always defeated, always. Every book is the wreck of a perfect idea. The years pass and one has only one life. If one has a thing to do one must do it and keep on and on and on trying to do it better.” I know. It sounds so…negative. But the first time I read it I was so relieved because it made me realize that I was not alone in the way I felt about my work. There is joy in the process, of course. But it is also a huge and often daunting emotional challenge to write well. Interviewing all those authors whose work I admired made me feel part of a community of serious writers who try and fail and try again (and again) to say something real about what it’s like to be human.




To say Barbara Shoup is passionate about writing would be an understatement. The award-winning author has been recognized with multiple honors for her work, and in August, she will release her eighth novel “Looking for Jack Kerouac” with Lacewing Books, the young adult imprint of Engine Books.  Shoup graduated from Indiana University in Bloomington with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and master’s degree in secondary education. She taught creative writing to high school students for more than twenty years.
Shoup’s short fiction, poetry, essays and interviews have appeared in numerous small
magazines, as well as in The Writer and The New York Times travel section. Her young
adult novels, “Wish You Were Here” and “Stranded in Harmony” were selected as
American Library Association Best Books for Young Adults. “Vermeer’s Daughter”
was a School Library Journal Best Adult Book for Young Adults.
Shoup is the recipient of numerous grants from the Indiana Arts Council, two creative
renewal grants from the Arts Council of Indianapolis, the 2006 PEN Phyllis Reynolds
Naylor Working Writer Fellowship and the 2012 Eugene and Marilyn Glick Regional
Indiana Author Award.
Shoup has lived in Indiana all her life. She is married with two daughters and two grandchildren.



Monday, 8 September 2014

Review: Silver Shadows by Richelle Mead

Author: Richelle Mead
Publisher: Razorbill
Page Count:  416 pages, Hardcover
Date Published: July 29th 2014
Find it on Goodreads: Silver Shadows
Source: Purchased

Sydney Sage is an Alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of humans and vampires. They protect vampire secrets—and human lives.
In The Fiery Heart, Sydney risked everything to follow her gut, walking a dangerous line to keep her feelings hidden from the Alchemists.
Now in the aftermath of an event that ripped their world apart, Sydney and Adrian struggle to pick up the pieces and find their way back to each other. But first, they have to survive.
For Sydney, trapped and surrounded by adversaries, life becomes a daily struggle to hold on to her identity and the memories of those she loves. Meanwhile, Adrian clings to hope in the face of those who tell him Sydney is a lost cause, but the battle proves daunting as old demons and new temptations begin to seize hold of him. . . .
Their worst fears now a chilling reality, Sydney and Adrian face their darkest hour in this heart-pounding fifth installment in the New York Times bestselling Bloodlines series, where all bets are off.


I am a complete sucker (excuse the pun) for the Vampire Academy/Bloodlines world. They're fun, intense, romantic, and just plain a good read that will keep you up late into the night. As this is the fifth novel in the Bloodlines series, I will warn anyone who hasn't read the previous books that there will probably be a few spoilers for those books but I'll refrain from talking about the BIG CRAZY THING that happened in this one other than just my reaction! For anyone who is going to stop reading here because spoilers, I'll just say this: I think that this was by far the best instalment in this series so far. It was fast-paced, swoony-romantic, and had me reading way past my non-existent bedtime.

I was both impressed and horrified by Mead's no-holding-back on the Alchemist's 'techniques' in their re-education centre. It was definitely reminiscent of devices used in the past on people who are gay to try and 'flush it out of their system' per say. I wanted to throw my arms around Sydney and tear her away from this terrible place. Adrian of course was interesting in this book as he spiralled a bit, leaving me shaking my head but still loving him nonetheless. But then.. then there was the BIG THING that happened somewhat at the end which I've seen done in one or two other YA's recently that just made my eyes go like this: 


While a bit surprising, it also made a lot of sense and I didn't mind it all too much, though some of the extravagance seemed a bit out of character to me. ANYWAY, if you haven't read this one, GO DO IT NOW! If you're like me, you won't regret diving back into the world of the Dhampir and Moroi and Alchemists one bit! It's fun, somewhat of an escape, and perfect for one of those bad days where only well-loved characters can cheer you up. 



Happy reading!
~Kristy



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