Monthly Archives: July 2013

You Know How I Do

Wow blog, I feel like I am so neglecting you! So I thought I’d do a ‘life’ post. As I predicted, summer is here and things are super busy. My reading has slowed down a little bit, but I’ve drastically reduced my TV and computer time in favor for helping my husband and spending time with him.

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In Japan the summer can get really hot and humid. A lot of people feel like they’re living in hell on earth, but for me it’s a million times better than the dry, freezing, poorly-heated-home winter. Also, Japan isn’t the only country in the world with hot summer, and this causes me endless hours of being annoyed with everyone and their bitching.

A few days ago I was finished with work, it was about 5:30pm, and I was sitting in the train station looking outside at the ocean… and I noticed that there WAS no ocean, just a giant white mist cloud. As I sat there the cloud grew… and grew… it was like something out of a freaking horror movie! The photo above shows the cloud getting bigger within a few seconds of each photo. Pretty freaky!

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In book news I’ve read 7 books so far this month, and I’m DYING waiting for Edelweiss to either approve/decline my requests for the new Harper titles. I also got this lovely swag and SIGNED BOOKS! My co-blogger Sam hooked me up with a signed copy of MONUMENT 14: SKY ON FIRE and I love love LOVED that book. My mom also finally gave up my signed won copy of HOW MY SUMMER WENT UP IN FLAMES and I can’t wait to dig into that. The pen shaped like a match cracks me up! I think I’ll stat using it at work and amuse my students with it.

Also don’t forget about Sam and my CONTEMPORARY SUMMER FLING that we’re hosting. This week we’re going to post about THE MOON AND MORE!

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Fierce Reads Canada

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On June 19th I had the opportunity to go to Fierce Reads, featuring Leigh Bardugo, Emmy Laybourne, Anna Banks, Gennifer Albin, and Jessica Brody. The event was held at Indigo Yorkdale and was the last stop on the tour. Needless to say, it was amazing to see all the teens who came out to the event, and while I should have been embarrassed being one of the older people at the event, I really wasn’t.

The first part of the event was the authors introducing their works, inspiration, publishing and processing. You could tell it was the last leg of the tour simply by seeing how wonderfully comfortable the women were with each other and just how they were able to poke at each other with such love. There were a lot of jokes related to Darkling swooning (So much Darkling love, yet no Mal love. I am sad.), how each of the women crafted their worlds and why mermen have ass-cracks. No really, that was an odd topic of conversation brought up by Anna Banks after answering my question about awkward or amazing moments when writing or completing a novel. In asking the question, I actually got some sexy swag. I was pretty surprised!

After the hour long Q and A we had the chance to get our books signed. I had a book from each author because I always feel awkward when at a group signing and you only have one book for one author, meanwhile the rest are there too. Emmy Laybourne in particular was wonderful to meet: she’s very whimsical, so kind, and I talked to her about writing children characters and she said she’d love to write a short story about Max from Monument 14 (who happens to be River and I’s favourite character!). Jessica Brody had so much charisma and energy, Anna Banks was very sweet and she explained how deep her research process is (which also lead to accidental ass-cracks). On the other end Leigh and Gennifer were so funny, and there was many instances of Doctor Who crack and learning about “what people do at the library,”to which Gennifer stated, “Yeah, looking at naughty stuff.”

Overall I had a wonderful time at Fierce Reads. I loved the positivity and strength that these authors wanted to instill in many of their readers, and I think they got that message across during the Q and A. I cannot wait for the next tour as I will definitely be making another appearance. I look forward to seeing all these lovely ladies projects as they release!

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Contemporary Summer Fling: This Song Will Save Your Life

Title: This Song Will Save Your Life
Author: Leila Sales
Rating: ★★★★★
Synopsis: 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.

Sam’s reviewHuge thank you to Netgalley and Macmillian’s Children’s publishing for providing me with an ARC.

Upon requesting This Song Will Save Your Life I had no idea what to expect from the novel. I knew it dealt with attempted suicide, but what I wasn’t expecting was the delicious poignant message that Sales presents within the text: finding your true love, your true calling, and never letting it go. This is a story about growth and finding self-acceptence, something I feel like most teens regardless of generation struggle with.

This novel was strange for me considering I’ve been out of high school over ten years and yet I felt like Sales wrote parts of my life in glorious techni-colour. I know what it was like being a girl who was teased, bullied, objectified, and I knew what it was like trying to commit the act and never following through on it. The truth is: I wanted tolive, and this novel even shows how badly Elise wants to live too. It’s hard to accept that people might not like you, it’s even harder to force yourself to be someone you aren’t, and most people never figure out how to truly be happy with themselves. Elise finds love for herself through music and DJing, I find my love through reading, teaching and writing. We all have things that give us the courage to keep going, even just for a little while longer.

Bullying is a tough subject to handle because it’s often done in such a way where it comes across as though everything changes perfectly or change is wrapped up in a nice neat bow — but not in this story. Using an online journal to harm others… it’s something I’ve had happen to me before, even to friends, and you never forget that type of hurt. You never forget that there are people out there who want to hurt you, who want you to suffer, and only question you have to ask yourself is: why? I think why all wonder what we could have done wrong to lose people or not have acceptance. The problem is, people are so quick to judge, something that kept me so engaged and connected to Elise on her journey.

Sales has a way of writing this beautifully raw, screwed up people, and she does it with such a tenderness. I loved Vicky, I adored Elise’s family, Char made me love and hate him at the same time — the emotional connection was there for me throughout the story. Elise’s world is one similar to one of my own in the past, a world I chose to forget about because it hurt too much to look back on. However, this story has so much inner strength and courage, that couldn’t stop turning the pages, because I wanted to see Elise grow stronger by second.

This Song Will Save Your Life is beautiful and real in every way. It’s a great contemporary read that definitely gives pause for reflection and self-identification. When this amazing book releases in September, I urge you all to give it a chance. Hopefully it will touch you the way it did me.

River’s review:  When I first saw the cover for this I thought it was going to be about clubbing and DJing and hip-hop and all the kind of stuff that I hated when I was in university. But it’s not, and I loved this book so fucking much.

See… I could totally relate to Elise. Growing up I was always the ‘weird quite kid who reads a lot’. I tried SO HARD to break out of that and all it ever got me was a floating position as a ‘girl that everyone knows’ but I never had a clique or even really a best friend until later in high school. I was picked on, bullied (mainly in middle school), dumped on… but I tried to overcome it. I dressed the best I could (since my mom refused to shell out $50 for a stupid Abercrombie & Fitch T-shirt and I had to settle for Target brands as well), but never really fit. It wasn’t until my junior year I made a connection with a group of ‘strange’ seniors and it was mainly because of music… and Star Wars. 

I wont get into the Star Wars aspect of it… but the music… that was huge for me. My family was really into country music and my sister liked anything that was popular, but I never liked any of it. And I knew that what I was familiar with was NOT. COOL. So anytime someone would ask me about music I would give vague answers. While reading this book I was so jealous of Elise because she had such a rich musical background. It wasn’t until met that group of kids that I was able to find music that I loved. And then my life spiraled into this craze of shows, mosh-pits, and loud music. I never did go to clubs or have any interactions with DJ’s –I was more into live stuff, but I could totally relate to that part of this story.

I WAS ASTOUNDED by the beautiful writing in this book. I couldn’t put the damn thing down and I was reading it on my stupid iPad and I HATE reading on that (most of the time) but I just had to keep going. The prose pulled me in and I was drinking it up. I also had this hardcore craving for all of the music that I used to listen to in the late 90’s/early 2000’s– music which I basically gave up for Japanese pop when I moved to Japan. Kicking myself I kept Thursday, Taking Back Sunday, Fall Out Boy and 30 Seconds to Mars playing the entire time I was reading this. Sure, it doesn’t match the music talked about in the book, but it matched my mood. And it’s what I needed. 

Another thing I really liked about this is how it touched on a lot of difficult subjects, but didn’t get too heavy handed or preachy with them. Suicide, online bulling (something that I also experienced later on in University), sex, drinking, broken homes… it was a big mix, but a good mix. And the friendships! They were just so wonderfully done. I also loved the ‘anti-romance’ in this. It was just perfect. 

Thank you to Edelweiss for providing me with this ARC!

SO! What do you think about this book??? Will you be picking it up in September? Have you already read it? If you’ve already read it let us know what you loved/ hated! And if you’ve reviewed it, please share your links in the comments!!!

Contemporary Summer Fling

So River and I kinda love contemporary YA. While we generally stick to our love of paranormal, there’s always that craving to find something sweet and fluffy. We’ve decided to host a summer long event related to reading some of our contemporary backlog. We also will be posting reviews (in particular, one for a book that isn’t out yet!). There’s so many great books out there and there’s always the problem of finding time for them.

So I’m going to sweeten this deal. The first week of August we will be opening a giveaway. One lucky read will have the chance to win any one of the eight books during our event that equal $20. So you can have the choice of 1 hardcover or 2 paperbacks! Giveaway is INTERNATIONAL as long as Book Depository ships to your country! 😀 (BP is awesome!)

Here’s the books we will be reading for the event:

In Honor
This Song Will Save Your Life
Going Vintage
Also Known As
The Distance Between Us
Smart Girls Get What They Want
The Trouble with Flirting
The Moon and More

Aren’t they lovely? I thought so. 🙂

We sincerely hope that you will all participate by leaving comments, your own reviews, anything really. Let us know what some of your favourite summer contemporary reads are! Next Thursday, expect to see a dual review of “This Song Will Save Your Life” aka amazing book that doesn’t come out until September.

Happy summer reading!

Welcome Sam!!!

Big news guys! My very good friend Sam is joining me here at ‘River the 積ん読’! We randomly had the idea just the other day and I thought I should give her a proper welcome. Sam reads A LOT (she’s up to 125 books this year!!!). We often share book recommendations with each other (and a bunch of our friends) and she even introduced me to Netgalley! Not ALL of our reviews line up (she sometimes hates things that I love, and vice-versa) but we do love A LOT of the same stuff… so I think that her reviews will give this place a really fun twist.

Anyway~ say hello, read a bit about her, and get ready for her reviews!!!

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Hello! My name is Sam and I’ll be co-blogging with River! We’ve been friends for… a very long time and she has helped me get into a lot of books I likely wouldn’t have read otherwise. Currently I am an ESL teacher by night and the Operations Manager of RPGamer.com by day, wherein I deal with feature content, reviews and overseeing daily content related to RPGs. Outside of my love of video games I am an avid reader (though that may be an understatement), and a lover of Japanese fiction, YA, middle grade, science fiction and fantasy. Honestly though, I’ll read anything as long as it tickles my fancy.

My goals on the blog are to help River with reviews, as well as sharing my experiences at literary events within Toronto, Canada. Expect to see some fun stuff, and I may even throw in a fun giveaway every so often because I like to share!

Some of my favourite books are: Jellicoe Road (Melina Marchetta, although anything by her really), Coin Locker Babies (Ryu Murakami), Hard-boiled Wonderland at the End of the World (Haruki Murakami), anything by Terry Pratchett, Speak (Laurie Halse Anderson), The Dresden Files (Jim Butcher), Anna and the French Kiss (Stephanie Perkins), This Lullaby (Sarah Dessen), Sisters in Sanity (Gayle Forman), Mistborn (Brandon Sanderson), Lisel & Po (Lauren Oliver), Lips Touch: Three Times (Laini Taylor), and This Song Will Save Your Life (Lisa Sales), Newsflesh Trilogy (Mira Grant) and many more!

Favourite Authors: Ryu Murakami, Haruki Murakami, Sarah Dessen, Terry Pratchett, Brandon Sanderson, Jim Butcher, Melina Marchetta, John Green, Gayle Forman, Lauren Oliver, Banana Yoshimoto, Natsuo Kirino, Mira Grant/Seanan McGuire, Tamora Pierce, Laurie Halse Anderson, the list goes on forever.

I hope you enjoy some of the great content River and I have in store for the blog! Feel free to follow me on twitter @merrygodown.

June – Fifteen

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1. Blue Hearts of Mars — Nicole Grotepas — (DNF) – arc
2. Tumble & Fall — Alexandra Coutts — ★★★★ – arc
3. Fangirl — Rainbow Rowell — ★★★★★ – arc
4. Parasite — Mira Grant — ★★★★ – arc
5. Dangerous Girls — Abigail Haas — ★★★★★ – arc
6. Opal — Jennifer L. Armentrout — ★★★
7. The Sight Seer — Melissa Giorgio — ★★★★★
8. Also Known As — Robin Benway — ★★★★★
9. Unbreakable — Elizabeth Norris — ★★★★
10. Going Vintage — Lindsey Leavitt — ★★★
11. This Song Will Save Your Life — Leila Sales — ★★★★★
12. Undone — Elizabeth Norris — ★★★★★
13. Jake and the Other Girl — Emmy Laybourne — ★★★★★
14. The Coldest Girl in Coldtown — Holly Black — ★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★ – arc
15. Ten Tiny Breaths — K. A. Tucker — ★★ – arc

Well damn! 15… though I DNF’ed one and two were novellas… so I guess 12 full novels but still. I read about 25% of BLUE HEARTS OF MARS before skimming through the rest of it and DNF’ing it. I felt bad because it was an ARC AND I really did want to read it… but I wasted two days getting to that 25% and I just wasn’t going to waste the month on a book that I didn’t want to read.

Thankfully the slow start to the month was MORE THAN made up for with EIGHT 5-star reads. I really thought that AKA was going to be my top read but then COLDEST GIRL IN COLDTOWN went and blew my fucking mind! It’s officially my 2nd favorite book of the year (CLOCKWORK PRINCESS being the 1st). DANGEROUS GIRLS was also amazing (and I reviewed it here!)

I ended up buying 12 new books but NONE of them were full price so yay for me STILL sticking with my ‘only buy Kindle edeals’ rule. I got 13 ARC’s this month which is a lot better than it seems… hahaha. I did read quite a few of them this month too, so I’m very pleased with that.

Going into July I already know that I’m going to read less… my husband is going to be staying home on a few of my days off which is nice, but it’s going to mean less reading, lol. I also have a bunch of things to do to help him get ready for his trip to China next month and other various things that he needs my help with… hopefully I wont get TOO far behind…

Looking forward to seeing what good books this next month will bring!