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Monday, 20 October 2014

Review: This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales

Author: Leila Sales
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Page Count:  279 pages, Ebook
Date Published: September 17th 2013
Find it on Goodreads: This Song Will Save Your Life
Source: Purchased ebook



Making friends has never been Elise Dembowski’s strong suit. All throughout her life, she’s been the butt of every joke and the outsider in every conversation. When a final attempt at popularity fails, Elise nearly gives up. Then she stumbles upon a warehouse party where she meets Vicky, a girl in a band who accepts her; Char, a cute, yet mysterious disc jockey; Pippa, a carefree spirit from England; and most importantly, a love for DJing.
Told in a refreshingly genuine and laugh-out-loud funny voice, THIS SONG WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE is an exuberant novel about identity, friendship, and the power of music to bring people together.





I was really not expecting to like this book as much as I did, nor did I think I would fly through it as quickly as I did. This book was not a light one, nor was it perfect, but it was a good read that made me think a lot and tugged at my heart strings. I will say, this is not the book for everyone. It's definitely one that has a writing style that's to some people's taste and not other's. The voice is younger, recognizable even, but the story is unique, or at least the concept is. I loved the huge focus on friendship this book had, as well as of course, music. It's hard for some books to truly capture the essence of what music means to a character and how that can relate to the reader, but this one did just that, and well. There was romance, but not a lot, and some really great parts about girls and friendship and popularity. This is an issue book, dealing with suicide and self-harm, so it might be hard for some to read, just to put that out there as a warning. Again, I really enjoyed this one and appreciated that it was a bit unique, a bit different. The characters were interesting and eclectic and they felt like real people, which is always an extreme positive for me when it comes to books. Definitely give this one a shot if you enjoy books that deal with tougher stuff as well as music!

Happy reading!
~Kristy


Sunday, 19 October 2014

The Most Crowded I've Seen A Bookstore

I went to an event yesterday in Burnaby, to see Veronica Roth and Tahereh Mafi speak. I didn't get books signed, so as I was waiting for some friends to finish work, I sat in the poetry section and read, and then felt the need to write and so I thought I'd share, as that's what this blog is for, right? Not sure if this is gonna make sense, but I thought I'd talk about how I felt today when a place I'd consider a safe space for myself was so crowded I could hardly breathe.

GET READY FOR TIME TRAVEL




I'm sitting in Chapters right now, the place busier than I have ever seen a bookstore, filled with young girls who just finished listening to Veronica Roth and Tahereh Mafi speak and now waiting to get their books signed. It's strange, being in my safe space with so many people my age, with the same likes as me, meeting one of my favourite authors and another I admire like crazy. I decided to not get my books signed today, as I wasn't too sure how I'd handle the huge crowd, so instead I stood in the back with my vertically challenged height of 5'2", listening to these two brilliant women speak about their work, about female characters, about Gilmore Girls. Turns out, escaping the crowd wasn't really an option unless I just didn't come. 

It's an intense feeling, being in a room filled with products of my passion of writing, the sound of the voices of two successful writers in my ears and hundreds of people all listening, all adoring, all hearts beating. The talk is finished now and people are still milling as I sit and wait for my friends. Squeals of joy and agreement about books can be heard and the term fangirl can hardly describe some of these people. I'm overwhelmed once again with that feeling that I am just one in a mass of collective love and interest in this art, yet with all of these people, I feel disconnected from the thing I love most: books, even when I am surrounded by them.  It saddens me, as I read the words of Plath and Dickinson and Emerson, that I don't feel like myself in the place I usually feel safest, a store that sells stories to read and to love. 

There are so. many. people. I need to remind myself it's normal for me to not do well in situations like this, to breathe, to breathe, to breathe. All of this energy in a store that is not normally so bustling with bodies is incredible, but I'll be honest, I feel intruded upon. There's not an aisle that doesn't have someone in it, or two, or five, and there's people sitting everywhere, blocking the shelves, blocking the books. I feel like I'm intruding upon their space as well, which takes away the joy that usually comes with visiting Chapters and instead replaces it with panic. 

I need to remind myself that the fact that there are hundreds of people in a bookstore at once is brilliant because it means the love of literature is alive and that book sales continue and that people are reading even after they finished The Fault in Our Stars. I feel so lucky to live in a place where everyone is given the opportunity to read and to have such a huge selection of material, but it's also scary, seeing this type of space that is usually not so crowded, filled. 


I don't know if that made any sense, but it's what I wrote as I was sitting, trying to take in all of the energy around me in a store that is usually quite calm. Have you ever felt like your 'safe space' was being 'invaded' upon, even if it was a public place and it's not like it's yours to begin with? How do you handle that? Cause for me, curling up and hiding in the poetry section seemed to work. Bookstores, no matter which one, have always been a constant for me, somewhere I know I can slip inside if I'm feeling panicky or not well and all will be better. But yesterday was different and I was so conflicted as to how I felt, because on one hand, I was so excited to see so many people there, all with that same love of books, or at least of Divergent (and/or Shatter Me). But on the other hand, I felt suffocated, squished, trapped. Not a feeling one should have in a safe space. Maybe it's stupid of me to think all bookstores hold that security for me, but they do. A place filled with words and stories is where I feel most comfortable, but having that feeling taken away was strange and scary. If you've ever had an experience like that and would like to share, feel free so that I don't feel like an irrational idiot? Because don't get me wrong, I loved seeing so many people excited about books. 


Any thoughts on this? I'm trying to open this blog up a bit more to personal stuff, especially when it has to do with books and/or writing, so that's why I thought I'd talk about this today. Hopefully I'll be returning with normal, scheduled posts soon!

Happy reading!
~Kristy

Monday, 13 October 2014

Guest Post: Kirin Rise by Ed Cruz




An unlikely young female heroine takes on government corruption in martial arts master’s first book in a planned eight-part series
More than 30,000 Facebook fans await Ed Cruz’s ‘kickstarted’ novel this October
CHICAGO, Ill. – Changing the world for the better doesn’t always need to come in the form of a person with superpowers, but like in the new book Kirin Rise: The Cast of Shadows, through a young girl just brave enough to be who she truly is.
With the early backing of a Kickstarter campaign, more than 30,000 Facebook fans await the book’s arrival October 9. Ed Cruz weaves an inspirational adventure story of a heroic young woman with extraordinary martial arts skills who decides to stand up for humanity and take on government corruption and corporate greed in the year 2032.
The book follows underdog 19-year-old Kirin Rise who uses her Wing Chun Gung Fu to begin an unstoppable movement against the United Federation of Mixed Fighting, the organization that has overshadowed every major sport in the United States.
The story is fictional, but the skills and practices Kirin uses are real – and the only martial art created by a woman. Cruz is planning for The Cast of Shadows to be the first in an eight part series.
While Cruz found a thirst for martial arts, he explains how the lessons shared in the book will be the same for someone who’s spent their life mastering cooking, singing or any other passion.
“The overall message of the story is to embrace yourself. A simple unknown person can do great things; the key is being you,” Cruz said. “It would be great after people read the story they feel inspired by Kirin’s actions and often times we want to be just like our hero.”





Usually the first thing people ask me about the book is, “Who is the target audience?” “What genre does it fall under?” Immediately “young adult fiction” comes to mind, however when I sat down and began writing this book three years ago I was honestly targeting the entire world. And while it’s also easy to say it’s fiction, to me that’s the farthest thing from the truth.

I think in the beginning people aren’t quite sure how to approach the book. It’s coming from an unknown first time writer who is a Gung Fu teacher so it’s natural to assume it’s some kind of fighting book. For some this maybe interesting and for others they could care less. While, at first glance the book appears to be that, once you begin reading it you’ll come to understand it’s about life. That’s why I believe categorizing the book is to restricting. By the time you finish reading it I think it’ll change the way you see things and about yourself.

Kirin Rise The Cast of Shadows takes place in Chicago roughly 20 years from now. The book draws upon issues that we face upon society today. The story revolves around a 19 year old Korean girl who delivers a punch in an amateur fight knocking out a guy twice her size. She stuns everyone who saw the fight and now people are wondering how is this possible.

Fiction actually embracing reality is when I believe you have something that everyone can relate to. I often use the phrase, it’s just a story, but the skill is real. Being a Gung Fu teacher, everything I wrote in the book is real. I teach the art of Wing Chun Gung Fu, the only martial art in the world that was created by a woman. I honestly believe it is the greatest martial art ever and that it’s brilliant. It’s direct, effective, and simple. No guy could come up with something like this because we’re too bull headed and driven by testosterone. The art is based off common sense, a universal principle that we seemed to have strayed from. The story constantly looks at the world we live in and challenges whether or not we use that principle.

Kirin Rise I believe is a fascinating character. I can’t take credit for her creation because I stole her personality directly from my cousin Audrey. Her little quirks and sayings are something you just don’t hear too often. The story I believe is set in a unique format. There is a main story that begins in 2032 and we see how Kirin deals with things after knocking out her opponent. After every main story, there are three short stories per chapter. These short stories take place in the past when Kirin was younger and from her perspective. This ties in with the main story and gives you more depth and understanding of how Kirin came to be. Finally, there’s another section called Sifu’s Journey. Sifu means “teacher” in Cantonese and this section follows Kirin’s mentor and guide in her life. His story takes place in the past as well and links with the main story. Throughout the book you’ll find little quotes at the end of most of the chapters. Here are just a couple of my favorites.

“The choices we make create our own balance.” - Sifu

“The world will move on without you, unless you give it a reason to stop.” - Sifu

In the end the story stresses how important it is to find out who you are. That balance is never achieved in all aspects of life until we answer that question for ourselves. I plan on releasing eight books to tell the entire story. I honestly believe if you give the book a chance and read just one chapter you’ll be hooked and will be asking for more. By the end of it I have no doubt you’ll be a fan of Kirin Rise.




Meet Ed Cruz


Ed Cruz was born in Manila, Philippines in September 1970. Due to political unrest, his family decided to move and head to the United States. At the age of 3, Chicago became his home. His fascination and love for the city has always remained as he received his B.A in finance at Loyola University Chicago.

His father exposed him to martial arts at a very young age and, since then, his life has constantly revolved around it. For the first 11 years, he trained in multiple martial arts, being exposed to many different styles and concepts. Eventually, he discovered one that captured his attention and was unique to anything else. Of the hundreds of martial arts that exist in the world, Wing Chun Gung Fu is the only art ever created by a woman. Its approach was direct, to the point and extremely effective. But finding the style was not enough, he also had to find a master. It wasn’t until 1995, when he met the Legendary Gung Fu Master Augustine Fong, that everything changed. Since that time, he has devoted all of his efforts toward mastering and teaching the art. He has written several nationally published articles over the last 10 years and has a large devoted following on the internet.

The story of his first novel, Kirin Rise: The Cast of Shadows, came about through his years of training. He believed that once you find something in your life that you dedicate yourself to and master, the world around you begins to change. The birth of the internet, the growth of mixed martial arts, and the everyday happenings of the world helped forge his story. It would take years of training and dissecting the art before he finally began to create the story. The phrase, “It’s just a story, but the skill is real,” is his unique approach of sharing the art with the entire world. His plan is to preserve and share the entire art through the Kirin Rise series.

Author Links below: 
Author WebsiteTwitter FacebookGoodreadsAmazonYouTubeVirtual Tour Page 


Happy reading!
~Kristy

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

If We Were Having Coffee

The other day, this post came into my email from one of my favourite blogs, which I guess was inspired by this post: If We Were Having Coffee. I loved the idea of just taking it back to the blogging where it's like we are simply speaking as friends in a coffee shop, so I thought I'd do a post of my own! I wish I could say I was drinking coffee at the moment, but I'm simply sipping water, but let's pretend, shall we?
~

If we were having coffee... I'd tell you how I had my first ever official interview last night (Tuesday) for a seasonal position at Coles, the book store! It was so different from what I expected and I'm not too sure how well I did, but honestly? It was super fun and the girls I did it with were really sweet and we got along great, so if anything, the experience was one that I'll remember for a long time!

If we were having coffee... I'd mention how I was almost finished reading The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan and how it was exactly the book I needed to read at this point in my life, especially the title essay. I am so saddened by the fact that Marina is no longer here, but also so grateful that we are able to read her works. I find her stories and essays to be so profoundly moving and so aware of humanity... I'm blown away by her talent. And then I'd ask you to tell me all about what you're reading now?

If we were having coffee... I would say how I am really into non-fiction books at the moment. I also started Lena Dunham's recently released Not That Kind Of Girl and am in love with it so far. Reading it is like reading my thoughts or the thoughts of an older version of myself in a few years, which is strange, but also comforting. I never expected to enjoy books of essays and short stories as much as I am currently! Do you read much non-fiction?

If we were having coffee... I would ramble on about how overwhelmed I'm feeling lately and how much that scares me. I have the SAT coming up this Saturday (that's one of the reasons the blog's on mini-hiatus atm), I'm doing five courses this semester, I'm continuing to worry and think about university and where I want to go, as well as scholarships and all of the essays that come with both those and uni applications and all of the time that I had but wasted in the past. I'm terrified that I'm going to crash soon, so I'm reminding myself that breaks are okay and that I'm young, I have time, I'm only 17.

If we were having coffee... I'd mention on that note the realisations I've been coming to lately about time and age and how it feels like everything is catching up to me so quickly now; that everything is too late, that I don't have the years left to be that 'impressive young kid that did this awesome thing'. I've been realising that I need to take things as they come and at my own pace. I'm not a child prodigy on broadway at age 7 and I accepted that a long time ago.  Now I need to accept the fact that I won't have my first book published before I'm 18 and. that's. okay. My future is filled with time to do the things I dream of, or so those who are older than me say, and yes I am worried and yes I am scared, but I am not at my expiry date quite yet. *knocks on wood*

If we were having coffee... I'd say how I'm having lots of cliché teenage worries about friendships and relationships and 'are these people really my friends?' which seems petty and useless in my head, but still hurts in my heart. I'd ask you if you're able to reason with yourself and let yourself feel the things you're feeling without over-analyzing things too often? I find it difficult to let myself be saddened about something such as losing a friendship, because there's so much more to think about, but I'm working on accepting and legitimizing my feelings and not bottling everything up until I explode.

If we were having coffee...  I'd tell you how worried I am that I'm kidding myself into thinking that I'll make it in the publishing industry and how I wonder some days if I should stick with a safer, more reliable job, instead of going for my dreams, because what if I fail? I'm terrified that my writing won't be good enough to ever get published, that no person will ever want to read my stories, and that I'll end up working a job that makes me miserable. I know that I need to go for my dreams and work as hard as I can to make it, but it's so hard not to think terrible things that are discouraging and disheartening.

If we were having coffee... I'd thank you for listening and ask about your life, ask how you are. I'd tell you I've missed our little chats and catch ups and that I have so much more to say, so we'll have to do this again sometime. I'd clink our glasses together and give you a hug for letting me vent and worry and ramble to you.


How are you doing? What do you think of this type of post? I personally liked this, because there's so much I'd love to write about on here, but I don't want to ramble in so many posts about all my worries for the future, so a good little summary here works well. ;)


Happy reading!
~Kristy

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

It's That Time of Year Again...

School is back, homework is assigned, and exams are dreaded. Ah, yes it is that time of year where the blog is going to be slightly slower and more sporadic than usual and here I am with my annual apology. I'll keep it brief this time: I'm currently working on 5 classes for this semester and with that comes little time to read and blog, but I'm trying. I won't say I'm going to be incredibly successful in my endeavours, but I'm trying. I love this blog and all of the homework in the world won't make me stop blogging.. I just might take some breaks as I get back into the groove of things. As you may or may not know, I'm in my final year of high school this year, so with that comes the enormous stressor of applying for universities and scholarships, which mean a lot of essays! So I'll be reading a lot of required reading books in the next little bit for some pretty school scholarships... Maybe I'll talk about those sometimes on here, who knows!? I'll be around, y'all just will have to be patient as I try and navigate through my course load and designate time for my reading!

Love and Happy reading!
~Kristy
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