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Friday, 10 June 2016

Review: I Was Here by Gayle Forman

Author: Gayle Forman
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Page Count:  270 pages, Hardcover
Date Published: January 27th 2015
Find it on Goodreads: I Was Here
Source: Borrowed Audiobook from Library

Cody and Meg were inseparable.
Two peas in a pod.
Until . . . they weren’t anymore.

When her best friend Meg drinks a bottle of industrial-strength cleaner alone in a motel room, Cody is understandably shocked and devastated. She and Meg shared everything—so how was there no warning? But when Cody travels to Meg’s college town to pack up the belongings left behind, she discovers that there’s a lot that Meg never told her. About her old roommates, the sort of people Cody never would have met in her dead-end small town in Washington. About Ben McAllister, the boy with a guitar and a sneer, who broke Meg’s heart. And about an encrypted computer file that Cody can’t open—until she does, and suddenly everything Cody thought she knew about her best friend’s death gets thrown into question.

I Was Here is Gayle Forman at her finest, a taut, emotional, and ultimately redemptive story about redefining the meaning of family and finding a way to move forward even in the face of unspeakable loss.I can't sugar coat this review with niceties and introductions or anything like that. I listened to this as an audiobook from my library and it was my companion to and from work, school, everywhere. It was the book that got me through the hour and a half bus journey to a friend's house and the book that got me through my lunch break on a particularly bad day at work. Gayle Forman is a very important writer to me and to many people. I was reluctant to read this book, though, because of a couple different reasons: a) Her last duology was so extremely important to me and I couldn't imagine anything else comparing to her <i>Just One Day</i> story. b) The last time I really read and committed myself to a book about mental illness and suicide, it wasn't good for my own personal mental health, so I was scared, so so scared, to read a book that addressed the same topic, in fear that something would be triggering or even just bothersome. But here's the thing: Gayle Forman did not romanticize mental illness. In fact, she subtly, so subtly, addressed the romanticization of mental illness and how completely and utterly messed up and manipulative that can be. The heroine of <i> I Was Here </i>, Cody, is an extremely interesting character who captivated me with her guilt and her fear of grief. She was a beautiful character and her growth throughout the story was utterly heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time. The romance in this book, to me, wasn't really that important in terms of the whole story -it was a fine addition, but it wasn't what I was focused on while reading. Instead, I was focused on Cody's grief, on her resolve to find out more about her best friend's death, and about her development as a person after such a tragedy. Gayle Forman wrote a book about suicide, but I didn't come out of it shaking and scared, like I did the last year when I read a book about mental illness. Gayle Forman is a beautiful writer and I am so grateful to be alive in the time when she is writing.

Happy reading

Thursday, 9 June 2016

I've Missed You

I haven't blogged in a long time. It's been months since the last time I posted anything on here, but in reality, it's been closer to a year since I've really committed myself to this website and worked on posts, truly caring about what I was producing. I was able to give myself excuses like, "you're finishing high school! You're moving to a new city! You have a new job! You're in your first year of university! You're tired! You have homework!" and so many others similar to those, but honestly? No matter how true those excuses may have been, the biggest reason I haven't worked on this blog in so long is because I'm scared. I'm scared to commit to it again. I'm scared to commit myself to this world of book publishing, of writing, of being a part of the world I so love. Because here's the thing: for so many years, I've told myself and many others that I want to be an editor or work in the publishing business or just work with books in some way or another, but then, as I started getting close to high school graduation, as I moved to Ottawa and started my English degree, as I started meeting new people, becoming immersed in the world of politics... I questioned that dream a lot. I am nineteen years old and I have no idea what I want to do with my life and that is perfectly okay. Everyone in my life has always told me that I don't have to know what I want to do with the rest of my life at such a young age... I've been raised to know that questioning my career and my future is so completely normal. I've been raised to know that I can change my mind... but the thing is, I hate that unknowing. I hate the questioning, the fear, the instability. I'm graduating a year earlier than I am technically supposed to because of the fast track program I did in high school, so I have one year less than my peers to figure out what to do with my degree. Yeah, that scares me, but you know what? Even if I did have that extra year, I can't imagine I'd be much more secure in my plans for the future. Also, I do still have that dream of working in the publishing world... I keep telling everyone that I don't know where I'll end up after I graduate from my undergrad, but I know I want to move to Toronto and try to get my career started. I know that and I'm scared of that and that's okay. Maybe I do want to be an editor or maybe I actually do want to be a lawyer (which has been another choice on my mind for years) or maybe I actually want to do something completely different. Whatever it is, I'm done with being so scared of committing to something that I completely abandon this blog that I so love and worked so hard on for so long. The fact that I blog about books does not mean that I have to have a career in publishing.... I feel like I need to repeat that mantra to myself over and over again until I truly believe it. What I do know is that I miss reading and I miss talking about the books I read and I miss this community of nerdy, amazing, bookish people. I've missed out on a year of amazing book talk because of my fears and I'm done with that. So here we go. Kristy, you'd better not bail in two days on this, because that's just unacceptable.

I've missed you guys.

Happy reading!!!

Tuesday, 8 December 2015


A photo I took back in September of a view
that made me realise how beautiful this city is.
Looking back on the last draft I have saved for this blog, I see that it is about my last day working at the bookstore back in British Columbia. I had written a few paragraphs and stopped mid-sentence, apparently unable to complete my thoughts. Back in August, I had no idea what my next few months would be like... how could I have anticipated all of this? How could I have anticipated falling head-over-heels in love with this city, these people, this life? I was so upset about having to leave the bookstore, so nervous to move across the country on my own, to leave everything I have ever known.

The month of August was suddenly filled with saying goodbye to everyone and to everything; it was saying farewell to the places I have been familiar with for 18 years, seeing the Pacific Ocean and the mountains for the last time for a few months, hugging my friends and family tightly and realising just how much I love them. August was a month of goodbyes and then on the 29th, I boarded a plane and those goodbyes turned into hellos.

I've now been in Ottawa for just over three months and in a little over a week I'll be making my way back to BC for Christmas break. First semester has flown by... I feel like 'frosh' was just a few weeks ago, that I was just moving in and getting to know these people only a short while ago. In a way, I guess that is true. Three months is hardly any time and yet these three months have taught me so much. I have had experiences I could never have dreamed of thanks to my incredible job, experiences that I will never forget. I have met people that have become some of my best friends, people that I cannot imagine my life without anymore. I am struggling through school, pushing my way through the challenging classes, but loving it and realising just how much I adore English literature.

Over these past three months, I've hardly been reading for pleasure, as school, work, and socializing has taken priority. I've missed blogging so much, especially as of late, but I know that it'll go in a wave. I don't read enough anymore and I'm trying to change that, but it's so strange for me to think that these things I used to think identified me so much -reading and blogging- are things I hardly do anymore. I'm going to make an effort to read more over the Christmas break while at home and maybe blog a bit, but maybe not. I just needed to write, get my thoughts out, and say hello. Because I miss this.

Happy reading and happy holidays.
Much love,

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Lacking Creativity & Feeling Empty

Hi. Long time no chat, huh? God, I swear this is the 50th post I've started off similarly to that... But I've come to the realisation that I'm really the only one that probably has noticed. So, where've I been this time? At home. At work. Mostly in bed, to be honest, sleeping and not really wanting to get up. But let's start from the beginning, shall we? I'm not really sure where I want this post to go, but I'm just going to start writing and hope something comes out of it, because I haven't done this in such a long time.

I graduated from high school this past June and ever since then, I've felt... Really off. In the beginning of the summer, I was so relieved and so overjoyed that school was over and that I was having fun with my friends that I didn't really notice anything, but then the excitement started to die down. I was all of a sudden hit with the realisation that the absolute insane past few months were over, that my schedule was no longer completely jam packed with stuff to do, and that I had so much time on my hands. Which terrified me. Leading up to the end of the school year, I was busier than I could have ever expected. I was working part time at the bookstore (up until Mid-May, when my manager gave me some time off because of how busy school was getting,) taking university courses in the evenings four nights a week, interning at the school district office, finishing high school courses, as well as battling through the entire course of History 12 within a month online (it's a long story). So, yeah, the last few months before graduation were rough and that's basically why my last post on this blog was in the beginning of April. Reading was not on the top of my priority list, as essays, homework, studying, work, and other stuff like that had taken its place.

The nice thing about being so busy was that I hardly had time to think. It was like I could almost turn off my brain emotionally and just think more about what I had to do for school, not how I was feeling or anything like that because basically, I had no time. It was so easy to just stop writing, reading, and doing the other things I loved that exercised my mind in an emotional sense, because it was one less thing to do and one less thing to worry about. I was able to kind of shut myself off and just focus on the stress of finishing off high school and everything else. Except, I've learned over the past few years that shutting myself off is not the best thing to do, because that just leads to breakdowns in the middle of the kitchen with my mum wondering what in the hell is going on. And yeah, there were a few of those. But overall, from about April to June, I was hardly thinking about anything substantial or creative and mainly focusing on the issues that had arisen with my university applications, my high school courses getting messed up, my university courses being completely impossible, and whether or not my hair was going to continue falling out in huge clumps. Fun.

But now, it's all over. Prom was amazing but is over, exams and final projects are long past finished, my yearbook is decorated with different colour paragraphs expressing memories and love, and I am now both waiting eagerly for and slightly dreading the 29th of August, the day I fly to Ottawa and move in to my university residence, start my new job, and wait for classes to start. And I'm terrified that my life will get super crazy busy again and I'll have wasted this summer being in a slump and then my creativity will just disappear completely. I'm starting to get a bit better at making myself read at night instead of watching another episode of Switched at Birth, as well as making collages and sketching instead of napping when I know I don't need to. I'm trying really hard to be creatively healthy, if that makes sense, because I know that once Ottawa comes around and I start up everything again, it's going to be really difficult maintaining a balance of work, school, reading, and art, as well as a social life.

So why am I telling you all this? Well, mainly because I needed to get it all out into words and vent a little, but also I needed to explain why I had such an extended absence. I also wanted to say that I'm not sure where this blog is going to end up. I don't want to give it up, but I know how difficult it was to keep it up during grade 12, so I can't imagine it is going to be any easier during university. But I'm going to try. So hello again, for now. I'm hoping I'll talk to you soon.

Happy reading,

Monday, 6 April 2015

Review: Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Author: Becky Albertalli
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Page Count:  320 pages, Hardcover
Date Published: April 7th 2015
Find it on Goodreads: Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda
Source: Borrowed an ARC from Raeleen (thank you!!)

Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.
With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.

It's been difficult for me to sum up my feelings for this book in words... but basically this GIF of a smiling Jeremy Renner probably gives you a good idea of my face after finishing it: 

I. loved. this. book. Here's why:

  • It kept me guessing about who Blue was. The entire time I was reading, my mind kept making scenarios up about the different possibilities of Blue's identity and how Simon would react. 
  • Simon wasn't a clich├ęd LGBTQ character that I've seen ten million times before! He was so much more than just the 'gay best friend' or the 'closeted tough-guy jock.' He had a legitimate personality that revolved around things OTHER than his sexuality.
  • The friendships were awesome and complex and relatable! This friend group had problems, but they talked them out instead of getting all dramatic about them! Platonic friendship representation is so great in YA and I wish there was more of it!
  • The book brought up really important societal issues about sexuality, gender, and race, like this quote (taken from goodreads) : 

"Why is straight the default? Everyone should have to declare one way or another, and it shouldn't be this big awkward thing whether you're straight, gay, bi, or whatever. I'm just saying.” 

  • SIMON. Probably one of my all time favourite YA characters, he was cynical, funny, a lover of Oreos and Harry Potter, and just all around incredible. I felt like I knew him, like we were friends, which is one of my favourite feelings when I'm reading a book.
  • It made me happy! While this book does bring up some super important ideas, it is also just plain sweet!

I have so much more to say about this book, but I might have to add onto this review later, because for now I'm tired and need to post this asap! Please, please pick this book up if you get the chance. It's cute, it's funny, and it's important. 

Happy reading!
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