Tag Archives: Sam

Unique Pages in My #BuJo

2017 was the year I decided I need to get my life organized. Every month from December 2016 I would set monthly goals, as well as a two page spread for year goals. It wasn’t until recently, however, that I began to get a little more inspired and adventurous in my journal. I have no real artistic talent, but I am learning to be okay with how I create pages and constantly learning in the process. Today I thought I’d share some of the pages in my bullet journal and a little explanation why these pages exist.

This page is a map I’ve been slowly creating regarding breweries that I’ve been visiting in 2018. My husband and I love craft beer and craft brewing, and we decided to see how many we could hit throughout the year. So far, we’ve hit four (though Rogue River we go over at least once every two weeks to pick up the latest brews). I tried to draw different objects that represent each brewery and where in Ontario the brewery resides. Again, I have child-like drawing skillz, and yet I have been having so much fun expanding this page. Come summer, I feel like it will be fuller!

This is my page of movies I’d like to check out throughout the year. The coloured in triangles are movies I’ve already watched and knocked out for the year. I haven’t decided what I am going to do with the blank space at the bottom, but I am sure I will come up with an idea. There’s a mix of 2018 films, as well as older titles I meant to check out forever ago. I feel like this will for sure be filled by the end of the year.

This is my March tracker page. I’ve never done a tracker before and since I don’t use a dot-matrix style journal, it was a little harder to create boxes for filling in. Also, I decided I’d be a bit more creative and make doodles instead. I am tracking painting my mum’s house (since we are doing it ourselves), decluttering, water intake (because I noticed during the winter that fell off the map), blogging/writing (which I am trying to get back into and be more consistent about) and exercise. When this photo was taken it was the beginning of the month. We shall see what the end of the month will look like!

The last page I am going to show you is my decluttering list. I made a page with every room I need to declutter in the house and I am checking off what rooms are successfully completed. Pretty self-explanatory.

And there you have it! Here’s just a few unique pages in my journal. They aren’t anything special but I really do find them super helpful just to think about different aspects of my life and goals I want to achieve. Perhaps I’ll do a check-in post and maybe share what kinds of writing tools I use while I make my pages. We shall see!



ARC Review – Chaotic Good by Whitney Gardner

Title: Chaotic Good

Author: Whitney Gardner

Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis: Cameron’s cosplay–dressing like a fictional character–is finally starting to earn her attention–attention she hopes to use to get into the CalTech costume department for college. But when she wins a major competition, she inadvertently sets off a firestorm of angry comments from male fans.

When Cameron’s family moves the summer before her senior year, she hopes to complete her costume portfolio in peace and quiet away from the abuse. Unfortunately, the only comic shop in town–her main destination for character reference–is staffed by a dudebro owner who challenges every woman who comes into the shop.

At her twin brother’s suggestion, Cameron borrows a set of his clothes and uses her costuming expertise to waltz into the shop as Boy Cameron, where she’s shocked at how easily she’s accepted into the nerd inner sanctum. Soon, Cameron finds herself drafted into a D&D campaign alongside the jerky shop-owner Brody, friendly (almost flirtatiously so) clerk Wyatt, handsome Lincoln, and her bro Cooper, dragged along for good measure.

But as her “secret identity” gets more and more entrenched, Cameron’s portfolio falls by the wayside–and her feelings for Lincoln threaten to make a complicated situation even more precarious. 

Huge thank you to Penguin Canada for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

Full disclosure: I am a D&D fan and a role-playing game fanatic. I live and breathe RPGs, so of course I was going to read a book about a girl who loves cosplay and geek culture.

Chaotic Good looks at Cameron, a cosplayer who gets into a bit of a nerd-fight when she cosplays Cloud from Final Fantasy VII and tells everyone she has never played the game, but loved his design. This starts flame wars and troll battles on her cosplay blog, and Cameron has to deal with the fallout. On top of all that, she is applying to a costuming department and has to create five original pieces of her own, and Cameron feels like this is impossible because she only knows how to craft characters she is familiar with.

What a mouthful! But seriously, this was a fun and easy read. It was a book I found myself relating to, especially in situations when Cameron would go to the comic book store and get told she was a “fake geek girl” (which honestly, whoever coined that needs to be slapped — hard). Whitney Gardner does an amazing job of showing and telling her readers about how toxic comic book and geek culture can be, or how it’s male dominance has always tried to keep women out. She also shows constructs for how we can change this perspective, which I thought was admirable.

Plus, it’s about Dungeons & Dragons! I love D&D, and I have so much fun playing it. I loved the artwork that was present, showing off how the campaign would be imagined. I also loved the characters, both in-game and in real life. I found them all to be flawed, but fun none-the-less. I really adored Cooper, as he made me laugh, and his storyline with Cameron’s is one I think many people may be able to relate to.

Anywho, Chaotic Good is a cheeky, sassy, fun read. It was a book I gobbled up because I am a sucker for books that look at gaming culture in any way, and this hit the sweet spot for me.

ARC Review – Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World by Ashley Herring Blake

Title: Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World

Author: Ashley Herring Blake

Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis: When a tornado rips through town, twelve-year-old Ivy Aberdeen’s house is destroyed and her family of five is displaced. Ivy feels invisible and ignored in the aftermath of the storm–and what’s worse, her notebook filled with secret drawings of girls holding hands has gone missing.

Mysteriously, Ivy’s drawings begin to reappear in her locker with notes from someone telling her to open up about her identity. Ivy thinks–and hopes–that this someone might be her classmate, another girl for whom Ivy has begun to develop a crush. Will Ivy find the strength and courage to follow her true feelings?

Huge thank you to Hachette Book Group Canada for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

When I learned about the existence of Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World, I was intrigued. Middle grade has always been fantastic at teaching diversity, particularly it’s shown vast growth on LGBTQIA+ subject matters. This novel focuses on a twelve-year-old girl whose family home is destroyed by a devastating tornado, and how she begins to find herself.

A lot of this book looks at Ivy’s notion of what it means to be a lesbian in a construct where children are constantly told that “girls like boys” and “boys like girls.” She wants to challenge this given she has strong feelings for her friend June, and the fact that she wants to be treated normally. What I loved about this story is that we feel for Ivy and we see her ups and downs in both her feelings and understanding of the world around her. She behaves like many kids do when they feel different — they try to combat the feelings themselves instead of reaching out, and that makes sense given she has to make herself vulnerable to people she might feel could harm her.

This novel is very raw and heartbreaking. It’s also super hopeful as well. Ivy’s family accepts her for who she is, which is kind of wonderful and it was great to see them being present in the story, which doesn’t happen enough in middle grade or YA. They love her, they try to understand what she is going through and the want to help her in any way they can. I loved that aspect in the story because we just don’t see enough of it anymore.

Having Ivy’s narrative being the core focus, she is a character I know many readers will love and relate with. Ivy’s letter to the world sort-to-speak is powerful, it’s passionate, and most of all, it’s authentic to her experience. We need more middle grade novels like this that can teach great lessons about hope, friendship, sexuality, and personal growth. I cannot wait to read more by Ashley Herring Blake, because she is a fantastic storyteller.

Book Chat: Finding Time to Read When You Are Prepping to Move

As you may have noticed, the posts on this blog have been a bit lax lately. This is mostly due to the fact that my husband and I are prepping to sell my mother’s house starting in April. We’re doing all the painting and repairs ourselves (with a few exceptions of course) and we are trying to make sure that everything is ready to rock and roll by the first week of April. It is a lot of work and I know it’s definitely cut into my reading time.

The majority of my books are packed and what I have done for the time being is I’ve made myself a bag of books. It’s a bag that sits in my room filled with titles that I am interested in reading. I’ve been trying to cut back checking out items from work because I have this fear that I am going to lose the items in the process of moving. I even made a page in my bullet journal to give you an idea of what I am hoping to read while I am going through this process.

So what I have done is I drew a bag in my journal and then listed every book that is in my bag. At the bottom I created a star rating key, and effectively my goal is to color in each section based on the star rating that I have given the novel. As you can see, I haven’t coloured much in yet, and if I am being honest, it’s because my reading has definitely slowed down since we got into hardcore preparation mode. I am hoping once we move to put the Shelf of Shame (aka TBR Shelf) back up to give you an idea of how much I purged book-wise. I have been having strong urges since going through my mother’s stuff and my own that massive downsizing needs to happen.

Mainly, I’ve been listening to audiobooks, particularly on my way to and from work. Right now I am listening to The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer, which is a YA classic. It has definitely been interesting so far. I’ve also just been trying to make an hour a day to read, and some days that has worked and some days it hasn’t. Part of it is when I sit down to read or game, my mind feels guilty and I feel like I should be working on packing up the house. I recognize though that taking breaks is important and I am going to keep at it.

I hope at the end of the month to share if more of these quadrants have been coloured in or not. I’ll keep you updated. 🙂

Blog Tour – Children of Blood and Bone (Legacy of Orïsha #1) by Tomi Adeyemi (Review + Giveaway)

One of the joys of doing blog tours is that you get the opportunity to try out new reads that have been gaining a lot of buzz. When I first heard about Children of Blood and Bone, I was memorized by the idea of reading a West African fantasy novel. I’ve read Caribbean fantasy for school back when I was an English Major nearly ten years ago, but African fantasy truly is a new concept for me.

Children of Blood and Bone is a unique spin on parts of the fantasy genre. It offers insight and intrigue in a variety of ways, giving us some wonderfully fleshed out characters each with such passion and strength. If I have convincenced you to read this book by the end of this post, consider trying your luck at my giveaway, as Raincoast Canada (bless them!) have offered up a copy of the book to CANADIAN RESIDENTS ONLY. Children of Blood and Bone releases today, March 6th!

Title: Children of Blood and Bone (Legacy of Orïsha #1)

Author: Tomi Adeyemi

Rating: ★★★★ 1/2

Synopsis: Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zelie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls. 

But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were targeted and killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.

Now, Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good. 

Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers—and her growing feelings for the enemy.

Huge thank you to Raincoast for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

I confess: I haven’t been reading as much fantasy as I once was. Perhaps it’s because I’ve been finding I haven’t been drawn to their premises or the fact that there is just too much of the same out there, I was starting to worry I wasn’t going to find a new fantasy novel that would click with me. Then I read Children of Blood and Bone, a six hundred page beast, and recognized that there is still fantasy novels out there that I will devour quite easily.

This book is a page-turner. There’s a lot of excellent world building, which in most novels usually tends to meander, but Adeyemi does a great job of giving the reader as much information as necessary , without the story feeling bloated. I will admit, the perspectives in this novel blurred for me at first, and I had to double check which character I was reading at first. I found though as the novel got it’s footing, each character’s point of view started to feel much more distinctive. I really liked Amari sections, and I feel like despite her stubbornness, she truly grows a lot through the story. She is just such an unexpected young lady to be a princess, y’know? I also loved Zelie, and I think her strength and determination holds no bounds. She’s fierce, head-strong, and yet she gave me a sense of hope throughout the novel. She really grows, much like Amari, is such a natural way.

Speaking of the story, it’s wonderfully crafted. These characters are ones you want to root for, you want to see them succeed with every fiber of their being, and yet the violence they face is discouraging throughout. This book looks at race, it looks at displacement, it looks at power being in the wrong hands and how it can corrupt absolutely. There is moments that feel so desperate and uncomfortable, yet you also feel a bit of hope as well.

Children of Blood and Bone is one of those books that feels so familiar, but has enough differences that make it feel fresh and original. I loved the premise and I cannot wait to read more set in this world. I loved these characters and the way this world was crafted. Despite being a big, honking brick of a book, it really truly does fly quickly, and I think if you love fantasy that Children of Blood and Bone will have so much to offer readers. I truly didn’t want this book to end.


Want to win a copy of Children of Blood & Bone? Well Raincoast Canada is offering up a copy of the novel to Canadian Residents (sorry US readers!). Please fill out my Rafflecopter below and you will be notified if you are the lucky winner! 🙂


Once again I want to extend a heartfelt thanks to Raincoast Canada for allowing me this opportunity to share my thoughts on Children of Blood and Bone for this blog tour. While you are at it, consider checking out all the other tour stops for a chance to read some great reviews and perhaps win a copy of this amazing book. Children of Blood and Bone is out now!

Blog Tour – The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang

I love stories about gender. I think there are such a wide variety of stories that still need to be told, and I think Jen Wang’s The Prince and the Dressmaker fills a void. There a lot of deconstruction of gender, there’s cross dressing, romance, and Sebastian and Frances will easily win your heart over. I was so happy to be approached by First Second to talk about this title with all of you, from doing a review, to sharing my favourite panel from the graphic novel. I sincerely hope that many of you reading this blog post will check out this heartwarming book.

And while you’re at it, consider checking out the rest of the blog tour hot spots for more goodies related to The Prince and the Dressmaker!

Title: The Prince and the Dressmaker

Author: Jen Wang

Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis: Paris, at the dawn of the modern age:

Prince Sebastian is looking for a bride―or rather, his parents are looking for one for him. Sebastian is too busy hiding his secret life from everyone. At night he puts on daring dresses and takes Paris by storm as the fabulous Lady Crystallia―the hottest fashion icon in the world capital of fashion!

Sebastian’s secret weapon (and best friend) is the brilliant dressmaker Frances―one of only two people who know the truth: sometimes this boy wears dresses. But Frances dreams of greatness, and being someone’s secret weapon means being a secret. Forever. How long can Frances defer her dreams to protect a friend? Jen Wang weaves an exuberantly romantic tale of identity, young love, art, and family. A fairy tale for any age, The Prince and the Dressmaker will steal your heart.

Huge thank you to First Second for this ARC!

This graphic novel is important and wonderful. It offers an amazing discussion regarding gender identity, labels, and what it means to stand up and be who you are. It’s heartwarming, fun, but it is also very dark and emotional.

The story follows two characters: Prince Sebastian, a young prince whose parents want him to get married to a princess, and Frances who dreams of making beautiful gowns and one day having a fashion show. Their lives collide when Prince Sebastian sees one of Frances’ designs and hires her on to be his dressmaker. Frances and Sebastian form a beautiful friendship, and it’s one that is memorable as it is sweet. Frances accepts Sebastian for who he is, and in turns tries to help him gain the courage to tell his parents that he enjoys wearing dresses.

There is so much beauty in Jen Wang’s artwork and storytelling. Her characters are expressive, gentle, and have such strong desires to be loved and accepted by others. Sebastian and Frances are characters that are easy to love, you want them to succeed and be loved, and you want them to see worth in themselves. They get such fantastic growth throughout the story, and I found myself getting emotional during certain parts given their was such shocking moments.

The Prince and the Dressmaker is a wonderful graphic novel full of heart. It’s a read where you’ll cheer the characters on, fall completely in love with them, pick them up when they fail, and give them all the encouragement to keep going. This is one beautiful story that deserves to be read, and reread. I can only hope more people love and give this book a chance, because it will warm your heart and shatter it at the same time.


Part of this blog tour required participants to choose a favourite panel in The Prince and the Dressmaker. One aspect I love about this graphic novel is the transformation of Sebastian’s family after they learn his secret. This panel shows his father embracing his inner sexy at Frances’ fashion show. It’s a wonderful scene because it shows the change of heart that Sebastian’s family goes through, and their desire (in their own way) to support the person he wishes to become.

Jen Wang is a cartoonist and illustrator currently living in Los Angeles. Her works have appeared in the Adventure Time comics and LA Magazine. She recently illustrated Tom Angleberger’s Fake Mustache.  Her graphic novels Koko Be Good and In Real Life (with author Cory Doctorow) were published by First Second. jenwang.net

Book Chat: KonMaring My TBR Shelves & Letting Go of Books

This was a long time coming, but I have reached the stage where I am frustrated by the amount of books I own. As my husband and I prepare to move and paint the house we are currently living in, we have been going through all of our stuff and trying to figure out what is staying and what is going. It’s been taxing, emotionally draining, but it needs to be done.

Going through my books has been an eye-opening experience. I am starting to see how much my reading tastes have changed and more over, how I have less of a desire to keep most of the books I own anymore. The reality I am facing is that I don’t do a lot of rereading, and I tend to simply keep books that have left an emotional impression on me or something I know I want to loan to friends. I used to be a huge fantasy reader, and as I’ve aged, I’ve become more of a contemporary reader now. I still love fantasy and I still read it, but it used to be 80% of what I would read for the longest time.

I used to feel this need to keep every book I received over the years, only to realize that it wasn’t viable. Space for books is always at capacity and sometimes finding space for more book shelves isn’t exactly an option. It also doesn’t help that my husband is as much a book hoarder as I am.

Story of our lives.

Frankly, I am realizing I have less desire to own books unless I like them. I’d rather get a book from the library I work at and if I truly love it after reading it, then at least I can go and buy a copy after the fact. The more I work for the library system I am in, the more I realize how much stuff we have and how accessible a lot of the stuff I want to read is. So I’ve been going through books I “kinda want to read” (the ones that still make me curious) and seeing if my work has them. If we do, I put it on my “For Later Shelf” and get rid of the physical copy, and if we don’t, I keep it in case that inkling is there.

Supporting the library has become more important to me as I’ve gotten older because circulation numbers matter and taking stuff out from the local library and showing the demand means a better chance for a budget increase, and frankly it just means that the books I am borrowing are “vacationing” at my house and are not staying with me indefinitely. When I teach books that way, I have less of a desire to hoard them and more of a desire to have less, which is my ultimate goal here.

Having a lot of stuff has become an exhausting thing. I want to just keep having less if I can keep at it. Once we move, I am going to take a picture of my Shelf of Shame for you all again to give you an idea of how much was purged/read. I’m excited to see if I’ll have actual space on shelves that will be less for TBR and more for other things. We shall see!