New York City Bookstore Walk

Back in January I spent a week in New York City, during which I went to John Green's book signing. I went to a lot of bookstores as well, and I thought it would be a good idea to share what I did incase any one wants to do something similar while in New York. In total, I went to 7 bookshops, starting when the Strand opened at 9:30, finishing around lunch.

To start, take the 4, 5, 6, L, N, Q or R train to Union Square. The first store is about a 3 minute walk from the subway, walking along Broadway towards 13th Street. 

The Strand, 828 Broadway
While starting here will involve a little bit of backtracking later, this is the bookstore you would go to if you only had enough to time to visit one. From Monday to Saturday, the Strand is open 9:30am-10:30pm, Sundays 9:15am-6:15pm. The prices are good and the selection is massive, selling not only books but merchandise for book lovers as well. I spent one hour here but you could easily spend more. You can learn more at the official website, or read my earlier blogpost.

After leaving the Strand, turn left and walk for 6 minutes. 

The NYU Bookstore, 726 Broadway
While I didn't initially plan to go to this shop, after seeing it I couldn't resist going in. While selling NYU textbooks and merchandise, the store also sells 'normal' books. However, with all the bookstores I went to, this one was more for fun and less about purchasing anything. It's open Monday to Friday from 10-9 and 11-6 on the weekend. You can read more about the shop here.

After leaving the store, turn left and walk for a minute or two. 

Shakespeare & Co. Booksellers, 716 Broadway
This store has no relation to the Paris bookshop of the same name, but it's a cool shop none the less. Be sure to check out the basement which is full of play books. The store is open Monday to Saturday from 10-9:30 and Sundays from 11-8. You find find more information here.

After leaving the store, turn right. Walk past the Strand again and keep walking. It will take about 7 minutes. 

Forbidden Planet, 840 Broadway
Perfect for fans of comics, manga and graphic novels. The store also has merchandise, such as t-shirts, action figures and posters. It's open Sunday to Tuesday 10-10, Wednesday 9-12 and Thursday to Saturday 10-12. You can read more here.

Leaving the store, turn right and walk towards 14th street. Turn right onto Union Square East, and left onto E 17th Street. This will take about 5 minutes.

Barnes & Noble, 33 East 17th Street 
This is embarrassing, but I actually managed to miss the main location and go to a Barnes & Noble nearby that sells mainly textbooks. The main one claims to be the biggest bookstore in the world and is open every day from 10-10. It looks very impressive. You can read more here.

Leaving the store, walk along E 17th Street towards Union Square West. Turn right on Broadway, left onto E 18th Street, which will become W 18th Street. It will take approximately 5 minutes to reach the next store. 

Books of Wonder, 18 West 18th Street
Books of Wonder is a children's bookstore, and was actually the shop that inspired the bookstore in You've Got Mail. There is a little teashop attached to the shop and the store specializes in Wizard of Oz books. Even if you don't read junior fiction or YA, this could be the perfect store to get a gift for someone else. The store sells new books as well as used and rare, and has a great selection of signed books. It is open Monday to Saturday 10am to 7pm, and Sundays 11am to 6pm. You can read more here.

Leaving the shop, turn left and walk for about 15 minutes before turning right onto 10th Avenue. Walk for another 4 minutes until you reach 21st Street.

192 Books, 192 Tenth Avenue at 21st Street
This store is small but still manages to carry a wide range of books. The shop often presents art exhibitions and carries rare and out of print books. It is open everyday from 11am to 7pm. You can find more information here.

To get to the nearest subway, leave the store and walk towards W 22nd Street. Turn right onto W 23rd. The entrance is near the intersection of W 23rd and 8th Avenue, and you can take the C or E trains there. 

Review: The Miseducation of Cameron Post

Title: The Miseducation of Cameron Post
Author: Emily M. Danforth
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: February 7th, 2012
Genre: YA, Realistic Fiction

In 1989, twelve year old Cameron Post has just found out that both of her parents were killed in a car crash, and the first thing she feels is relief. Relief that they will never have to know that that day she had kissed a girl. But relief is soon replaced with guilt, and Cameron feels like her parents’ deaths were a sort of punishment for her actions. Cameron lives in Miles City, Montana, and vaguely knows what being a lesbian is and what it means for you when you live in a small religious town. After the accident, Cameron’s Aunt Ruth, who is devoutly Christian, comes to live with Cam and her grandmother. As Cameron becomes a teenager, she starts to live a double life. Under her aunt, she becomes a member of the local church’s youth group, while spending nights breaking into an old hospital, getting high and fantasising about other girls. Remarkably to Cam, she becomes best friend with Coley Taylor, half of the perfect couple. Coley is straight, but Cameron can’t help being attracted her. But just as Cameron feels like she could get away with anything, everything begins to fall apart when her family learns that she is a lesbian. Cameron is promptly sent to a special school called Promise, in hopes that she will be cured. As Cam’s days become full of people trying to figure out what happened to make her the way she is and how that can change, she tries to be proud of who she is, no matter what anyone else thinks.

The Miseducation of Cameron Post is a coming of age story as well as a coming out story, following Cameron from the age of twelve to seventeen. I had never heard of this book when I saw it in the bestsellers section, and based on the cover I expected a book sort of like Dairy Queen; a light hearted look at the life of a farm girl. Of course, I soon read the synopsis and felt like I had to read this book, which was so different from what I imagined. After having read it, I thought that it was utterly amazing, and I haven’t felt this way about a book in a long time. It was completely consuming and practically impossible to put down. This book tackled some serious issues, some which are relevant to everyone, regardless of sexual orientation. This book would have been a lot harder to handle if it wasn’t for Cam’s humor and sarcasm, which never wavered even when things got bad. The majority of the book follows Cam’s life in Miles City, while the end focuses on her life at Promise. The characters were realistically flawed and many of them jumped off the page. I liked how Danforth showed the complexities of the characters and that people aren’t simply black or white. Based on other books I’ve read, I think it can be difficult for an author not to become preachy when writing a book like this. I think Danforth did an excellent job of not telling us how wrong what happened to Cam was but shows us instead. I hate feeling like I’m being lectured by a book (like I felt in Breaking Dawn about not having premarital sex) and Miseducation gets the message across without constantly having to spell it out. The prose was quite beautiful at times, in a way that takes a hold of you. I actually cannot think of any flaws in this book, although I suppose the length could mean that it might drag along for people who are not as interested in realistic fiction as I am. However, I would probably recommend this book to everyone. I love the writing, the characters, the themes, the story and even the ending (which I could see people finding unsatisfying.) I read this book two days ago, and I have no idea what I could read next that could compare. And that’s quite a compliment since I’m generally the type of reader who can quickly move onto the next book. The Miseducation of Cameron Post is a must-read coming of age novel that looks at the things that make us who we are and the things that were always a part of us.


“There’s nothing to know about a kiss like that before you do it. It was all action and reaction, the way her lips were salty and she tasted like root beer. The way I felt sort of dizzy the whole time. If it had been that one kiss, then it would have been jus the dare, and that would have been no different than anything we’d done before. But after that kiss, as we leaned against the crates, a yellow jacket swooping and arcing over some spilled pop, Irene kissed me again. And I hadn’t dared her to do it, but I was glad that she did.”

Review: The Fine Art of Truth or Dare

Title: The Fine Art of Truth or Dare
Author: Melissa Jensen
Publisher: Speak
Publication Date: February 16th, 2012
Genre: YA, Romance

Ella is practically invisible at her elite private school in Philadelphia. The only thing that stops her from going completely unnoticed by the school elites is the scar on her shoulder that earned her the nickname Freddie (as in Krueger.) With her best friends Frankie and Sadie, Ella spends her free time playing truth or dare and hanging out at a karaoke bar, even if she’ll never actually perform. While being a South Philly scholarship student is enough to stop Ella from fitting in at Willing, the fact that she’s in love with Edward Willing, a 19th century artist, doesn’t help things. However, in Alex Bainbridge Ella finds a crush that, while alive, is almost as unattainable as Edward. To Ella, Alex is practically perfect and how could she possibly deserve him? Will Alex be able to accept the dare to take a chance on Ella?

The Fine Art of Truth or Dare follows Italian South Philly girl, Ella, who attends a posh private school on scholarship. Ella is quite insecure and doesn’t fit in at Westing, which isn’t surprising since at night she talks to her dead artist crush. The Fine Art of Truth or Dare is one of those books that doesn’t benefit from the tagline, which compares it to Pretty in Pink and Anna and the French Kiss. I know a lot of people felt let down by that comparison, which didn’t exactly fit. This book was fun, although I have to admit I was a bit disappointed by the truth or dare part of the plot; there weren’t as many fun and exciting dares as I imagined there would be. It was still a fun read that’s full of art, truths, dares and typical high school stuff, from dances to crushes. I loved Ella’s friends, and liked Ella as a narrator but sometimes she could be much too whiny. I never completely fell in love with Ella and Alex, which is how this book differs from Anna and the French Kiss the most. I never felt the chemistry, and Alex was a bit too perfect. However, I saw the book as more about Ella being comfortable with herself enough to be with someone, rather than being solely about her relationship with Alex. Perhaps the reason I never loved the two of them together was that the writer skimmed over the first two weeks of their relationship. All that aside, I got caught up in this story. The writing was good, and I think the strongest part was Ella’s voice. As a narrator, she is witty and helped make this book enjoyable. While it wasn’t Anna and the French Kiss, this book was fun and I’d actually be very interested in picking up a sequel, if there ever was one. While I would recommend readers to ignore the tagline and come in free of expectations, this fun book about taking chances is worth checking out for fans of YA realistic fiction.


“Ella. If you don’t learn to carpe the diem, you will be, while most certainly not Nobody, something less than a Somebody.”

In My Mailbox (31)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren, in which book bloggers post about the books they've bought, borrowed or received in the past week.

This week I bought more travel books, care of Costco. My Mom and I bought these travel sized copies of Frommer's London and Paris. We also bought our plane tickets from Paris to Toronto earlier in the week (and we've had our tickets to London for a while) so it looks like we are officially going. Huzzah. 

This week from my library I took out Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler, The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley and The Time Travellers (The Gideon Trilogy) by Linda Buckley-Archer. I love the cover for Twenty Boy Summer and I read the first few pages, which were quite good. The Mists of Avalon was recommended to me on my blog, although for the hundredth time I forgot who recommended it. While I was shelf-reading junior fiction at my library I found The Time Travellers, which looks pretty interesting to me. 

Feel free to post links to your own IMM in the comments! 

Blue Bicycle Books, Charleston South Carolina

Over March break I was lucky enough to stop into Blue Bicycle Books in Charleston. Located at 420 King Street, this book shop is one of those shops that is much bigger than it seems on the outside. With a bookshop cat and a wide selection, this shop is one of the most charming bookshops I've been to (and I've been to a fair few.)

For anyone who is visiting the area (or even Myrtle Beach, which is perhaps an hour from Charleston) I would say this shop is a must see for book lovers. You can see more pictures on my flickr

Review: Looking at the Moon

Title: Looking at the Moon (Guests of War #2)
Author: Kit Pearson
Publisher: Puffin Books
Publication Date: June 1st, 1991
Genre: Junior Fiction, Historical Fiction

It’s been three years since Norah and Gavin moved from England to Canada to live with the Ogilvie’s during the war. Now it’s 1943 and though things have turned around for the Allies, no one knows when the war is going to end. While there are a lot of bad things about leaving England, like missing her family, the best thing is being able to spend summers at the Ogilvie’s summerhouse in Muskoka. At thirteen, Norah seems to be stuck in-between: not quite a child or a teen-ager, and not quite a member of the Ogilvie’s family. All of her cousins seem to be obsessed with boys, but Norah can’t relate to them. That is, until she meets one of the Ogilvie cousins, Andrew. Andrew is nineteen and secretly doesn’t want to enlist in the war. As Norah spends the summer in love for the first time, she is troubled by the uncertainty of being a war guest. Will she spend next summer in Canada or home in England? Norah has changed so much in the last three years, will her family even recognise her when she comes home? No matter what, whenever Norah looks at the moon she will think of that summer and Andrew.

This is the second book in Kit Pearson’s Guests of War series. It has been three years since The Sky Is Falling, and a fair bit has changed. While Norah initially quarreled with Aunt Florence, they have found a way to get along. Although Norah at first ignored Gavin, she has done her best to look after him. However, in some ways Norah is still a child. She is instantly jealous of one of the cousins coming to join them at the cottage, and feels left out when everyone recalls old memories of him. While she reacts immaturely to Andrew’s presence, Norah soon comes to feel about Andrew in a way she’s never felt about another boy before. A good amount of the book focuses on Norah mooning over Andrew, who is 6 years her senior, so for that reason I preferred the first book. However, in this book we get to see more of other aspects of the war. Andrew is grappling with whether he should enlist in the war or not and we get to see more of the complexities of war. When Norah was ten, she saw war in black and white terms. Now she begins to see that things are more complicated. People who don’t enlist aren’t simply cowards and the German prisoners of war she sees look like ordinary people. The complications of being a guest of war are still there: what will happen when Norah and Gavin have to leave? For Gavin, Canada is his home. While I enjoyed this book more when I first read it when I was ten, I still thought it was a great book for younger readers who are interested in history. This well written coming of age story set during World War II made me very excited to continue with the series.


Week 39: A Time for Eggo Waffles

Blaaaaah. I greatly dislike mirror pictures. 
But, for the sake of memory, here you go. 

Taken a week ago at 38 weeks.


It's like everything wells up inside of me until I can't stand not to write it down.
I don't know why I put it off sometimes.
Maybe to feel this surge, this drive to type letters and numbers and punctuation marks.
To know there's nothing else I should be doing besides

Spring arrived this morning, with its snow-frosted mountains and budding trees and even a few daffodils.
Being so close to welcoming a child brings a spirit of living like I've never felt before.
Everything is slowed down.
Everything is on purpose--even the afternoons on my bed, reading and writing or staring out the window.
I've been having crazy dreams about being a bad mom.
Where I actually have twin boys instead of one girl and only one of the twins likes me and the other one is always lost somewhere.
Or where the doctor calls me up and says he thinks Addie should come this Friday. Yes, that should be a good day. Why don't we deliver on Friday? It's your dad's birthday and everything.
Or where the baby comes but she can talk right away which weirds me out but is actually sort of awesome, but she also throws up continually. Throwing up when she's not saying things like, "Mom, I think I'm ready for my nap," even though she's days old.

These days I eat because I know I need the calories and so does the baby.
I eat mostly Eggos. With butter-flavored "syrup" and everything.
And they are so good every time.
Everything besides Eggos (and maybe tapioca pudding) is disenchanting.
I guess I still like apples and grapefruit too.
And water.
So much water.
With three ice cubes and in my big, white plastic cup.

I talk about how we thought Addie was coming two Fridays ago--because my amniotic fluid was low.
My backpack was packed with Nikes, socks, underwear, a short-sleeved shirt, a long-sleeved shirt, and Starbursts (the all-red pack), among other necessities like glasses and Altoids.
We thought we were ready to come home with a baby in the car seat.
And then everything was normal again.
No need to be induced.
Except everything wasn't normal because I wasn't actually holding my daughter and I had thought I would be. That day. I thought that March 9th would mark the beginning of the rest of my life.
But it didn't.
It was still just the two of us.

And you know what? I'm glad.
Because that wake-up call gave us a trial run. We chose to listen to Jackson 5 on the freeway, a decision I would gladly make again; it seemed to fit the mood. But we were so nervous and obnoxiously chatty but silent at the same time. And I felt like I had lost my mind because I couldn't remember normal things and my eyes looked frantic and I couldn't stop my legs from bouncing up and down.
So hopefully we're calmer when it really happens.
But maybe we won't be.
Because it's all so exciting and completely life-altering and
we have no idea how it's actually going to go down.
And so until Addie-girl comes and I get to put on her first satin headband (the ultrasound tech says Addie has hair!), I will continue breathing and learning and wondering. Because I think that's what the Lord had in mind for me all along.
Give Claire time to learn, then make her think everything's going to change, then bring her back to the basics of what's simple and beautiful and true in life.

Let her spirit prepare to be a mother so when the time comes, she'll know she's ready.

"There are only three things you need to let go of:
judging, controlling, and being right.
Release these three and you will have the whole mind and twinkly heart of a child."
--Hugh Prather

In My Mailbox (30)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren, in which book bloggers post about the books they've bought, borrowed or received in the past week.

I just got back from my march break trip to South Carolina and I brought back books! From a Barnes & Noble near Charleston I bought The Fine Art of Truth or Dare by Melissa Jensen which I read on my trip. It was good enough for me to risk reading it in the car (I get a little bit car sick.) Incendiary by Chris Cleave is by the writer of Little Bee, which was quite good. I found it for $5, and although I don't know what it's about I'm hoping I'll like it. As an aside, do they not have French paperbacks in the US? My copy of Little Bee is French style, which means it has flaps and sort of jaded sides. Incendiary is just a regular paperback. Anna and the French Kiss was in the French style and a few of my followers asked me if someone was wrong with their copies and it wasn't till later I realized they might be referring to the French style. Anyways, the last book I bought was The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth. I am extremely excited about this book, which I'd never heard of before I saw it in Barnes & Noble. 

I also bought this travel book from Barnes & Noble. They had fancier ones but I think this one is very cute. I have no idea when I'll be in the US again so I took advantage of the opportunity to go to bookstores we don't have at home. I also went to a Books A Million, which was allright. The one we went to had a lot of bibles and bible covers. More than I've ever seen, and I went to Catholic school. 

I went to two very cute bookstores in Savannah (The Book Lady and E. Shaver's) but didn't buy anything. I did buy some things from Charleston's Blue Bicycle Bookshop: a t-shirt and What The Dormouse Said: Lessons for Grown Ups from Children's Books. Soon I'll post pictures from all the different bookshops I went to.

So that's it for me, what was in your mailbox this past week? 

Review: The Marriage Plot

Title: The Marriage Plot
Author: Jeffrey Eugenides
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication Date: October 11th, 2011
Genre: Literary Fiction

The year is 1982 and Madeleine is about to graduate from Brown University with a degree in English Literature. Unfortunately, she’s just broken up with her boyfriend Leonard, and seems to be without a place to live once she leaves Brown. Graduation day is a crossroads for most seniors, and with the recession in full swing things are more difficult than usual. Her friend, Mitchell, is going to attempt to wait out the recession by going to Europe and then India. A Religion major, Mitchell is in love with Madeleine and believes that they will end up together. Madeleine wrote her thesis on the marriage plot in Eliot and Austen’s novels, in which the heroine has to choose between two suitors. Although the marriage plot is dead, the similarities between Madeleine’s life after college and the marriage plot are still clear. With divorce and the many changes in relationships in the last few hundred years, can there still be true romance?

I recently read The Virgin Suicides and liked the writing enough to be interested in Jeffrey Eugenides newest book, The Marriage Plot. In a way, this book is relevant to my life at present since I just graduated from university (although no one would call my life a marriage plot.) This book ended up being less like The Virgin Suicides and more like The Art of Fielding. The story follows three college graduates, Madeline, Mitchell and Leonard, who majored in English, Religion and Science, respectively. Just twenty-two, they try to figure out how they want their lives to turn out and who they want to be. Mitchell is delving into religion, while Madeleine is devoted to Leonard, who was recently hospitalized for Manic Depression. In my review for The Virgin Suicides, I mentioned how the reader knows so little about all the characters. While this is still feel the same, in a way we get to see more of the what’s at the heart of the joint male narrators than we do from Madeleine in The Marriage Plot. I suppose you could say she was a superficial character, although we do know a lot about her. I never really saw the complexity that Mitchell claims to see. The character I related to most was Mitchell, who repeats Salinger’s Franny’s prayer to himself as a mantra. After graduation, Mitchell and his roommate leave the US for Europe, and travel for months before heading to India. I found Mitchell’s self-discovery as he travelled the most interesting. While Eugenides wrote well from the perspective of Leonard, I felt like his one section dragged on. I was never charmed by Leonard, as Madeleine is, so perhaps that’s why I didn’t enjoy the chapter from his point of view. The premise, centring around the marriage plot, was interesting and I was happy with how it was carried out. The plot was a bit slow moving, especially during flashbacks. I had heard that the ending was a big disappointment, and I spent the whole time dreading what would happen when I got to the final pages. I was surprised to find that I liked the ending and how it related to the themes of the book. The Marriage Plot is thoughtful without being difficult or too pretentious. While it was different from The Virgin Suicides in many ways, both books share Eugenides’ artful prose.


“In Madeleine's face was a stupidity Mitchell had never seen before. It was the stupidity of all normal people. It was the stupidity of the fortunate and the beautiful, of everybody who got what they wanted in life and so remained unremarkable.”

Review: Saving June

Title: Saving June
Author: Hannah Harrington
Publisher: Harlequin
Publication Date: May 1st, 2011
Genre: YA, Realistic Fiction

Just as May was coming to an end, seemingly perfect June Scott killed herself by taking her mother’s sleeping pills. Her younger sister, Harper, is devastated by her sister’s death and left with so many questions. Her newly divorced parents want to split up June’s ashes, and Harper can’t help but feel uncomfortable with the idea. June dreamt of going to California, and Harper feels that she should at least be able to go there in one way. Her best friend Laney is ready to go with Harper, but the only problem is they don’t have a car. Jake Tolan, a boy June used to tutor, volunteers to go with them from Michigan and California. As the three teens deal with their grief as they go on an unpredictable road trip, are they trying to save June or save themselves?

After I read the synopsis of Saving June, I felt like the plot was very familiar to me. I eventually remembered that when I was in high school I actually wanted to write a novel that was very similar to this one. It was eerily similar, with music playing a big part, a road trip to scatter ashes, and the girl who died also killed herself and was one of the character’s sister. Of course, I can’t actually write so it didn’t go very far. You might assume that that means I think the plotline of Saving June is unoriginal, but I actually really enjoyed the story, which was considerably better than my novel ever could be.

I loved the role music played in this book and how songs are shown as things that describe how the characters feel when they can’t put it into words. Sometimes writers like to make up songs and bands that appear in their books, but I loved that the book references real songs and bands, and that playlists are included in the afterward. There is also some music I really like referenced by characters, like The Beatles, Regina Spektor, The Magnetic Fields and Sufjan Stevens. I loved how real the characters felt. Harper has never felt like she could compare to June, and even in death she still feels like she’s always being measured up to her. Laney might appear to be the typical spoilt rich girl, but her parents don’t care about her like Harper’s do. Jake is passionate about music but too afraid to take a chance at writing his own song. No one has ever believed in him, and he’s started to feel the same way. The characters felt very true and I loved watching them journey through the States as they tackle their grief and their personal issues. The plot was well paced and I enjoyed the story. Mixing the tragedy of June’s death and the adventure of a road trip worked well, helping the book be a good balance between the fun moments and the grief. Having the bulk of the book take place during a road trip could make it dull, but Saving June managed to never be that. I was really happy with the ending and its message about grief and taking the risk of getting close to someone again. All in all, I had a great deal of difficulty putting Saving June down until I reached the last page. There wasn’t much I didn’t like about this book. I suppose it was a bit predictable, but sometimes there’s nothing wrong with that. The dialogue was similar to how my friends and I talked in high school (saying ‘like’ a lot, using the word ‘macking,’ and other phrases.) I’m not sure if high schoolers still talk this way, but I could see it becoming dated in a few years. At the same time, the dialogue was very realistic. Saving June is about the different journeys we make in our life, from the literal to the figurative, and how they can change us.


“He took his pain and turned it into something beautiful. Into something that people connect to. And that's what good music does. It speaks to you. It changes you.”

37 Weeks and Counting

via pinterest

The window sits wide open and the calls of two or three birds drift in with the breeze.
I lie here on my bed again, propped against pillows, an empty plate and a filled water bottle for company.
Partial bed rest, the doctor says.
I say, Gladly.
This evening my thoughts drift to my unborn daughter, just like most other moments in my days as of late.
What will I teach her?
How will I sit back and let her learn by herself?
What if sometimes she doesn't like me?
Kaylie drove me to the doctor today because the construction men were blocking my driveway again.
We talked of breast pumps and bottles
and how you can't really know anything until you're thrown into the middle of it.
These are the talks that help.
Not because they give definitive answers (because they don't),
but because they remind me to keep a wide mind.

Sometimes a wide mind feels out of control.

I can't control when my water breaks, if we let it get that far.
I can't control how often my bladder feels ready to burst open.
I can't control the sunshine or the rain or the inevitable spring snowstorm.

But I can control what I choose to say about these things,
how I choose to react.

I can choose.

I can choose to keep my hospital bag packed, though it means I'm without a backpack for school.
I can choose to pop a Lean Cuisine in the microwave or to make a plateful of crepes.
I can choose to ask for help when I need it.

Addie-girl, I can hardly stand my anticipation.
But over the weekend, your dad taught me that I can't sit around waiting.
I have to keep living.
And when you decide to come, I'll keep my mind wide in hopes of somehow inspiring you.
We'll learn together, day by day, and develop a bond that's only ours.
I'll sing you silly songs just to see your gummy smile.
I'll rock and sway a comfort rhythm, even when someone else is holding you.
I'm going to be your mom and you my daughter.
I've never seen your face, but I know you already.
Weird how that works, isn't it?

Hope you're having fun kicking back in there.
I'm just out here, trying my best to learn patience and keep living.

See you soon.

Note: This weekend marked 37 weeks along. Full term. 

Review: The Penderwicks

Title: The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits and A Very Interesting Boy (The Penderwicks #1)
Author: Jeanne Birdsall
Publisher: Yearling
Publication Date: August 15th, 2004
Genre: Junior Fiction, Adventure, Realistic Fiction

One summer the Penderwick family decides to rent a cottage on the estate of Arundel. Mr Penderwick, his four daughters and their dog Hound all pile into the family car to travel to their temporary home. The eldest Penderwick, Rosalind, is twelve years old and the practical one in the family. Skye is eleven and is brilliant at math but has a short temper. Jane is ten and has the wildest imagination, which she puts to use in the books she writes. Batty is only four, and never goes anywhere with out the butterfly wings she wears. Mrs. Tifton is the owner of Arundel, and is also the most unpleasant person the children have ever encountered. But her son, Jeffrey, becomes fast friends with the girls and even becomes an honorary Penderwick. As the girls and their new friend spend the end of summer having fun, they just can’t manage to stay out of trouble.

A lot of times on the Internet you’ll see people saying how a TV show made their childhood or how your childhood was horrible if you’ve never heard of this movie. For me, my childhood was amazing not because of any of those things, but because my friends and I could make anything into something magical. I think that the The Penderwicks captured childhood beautifully. It was a very realistic portrayal of what it means to be a kid. Like The Invention of Hugo Cabret, it read like fantasy even though it wasn’t. It also felt like a classic even though it was written in 2004. The sisters’ ages range from four to twelve, which I really liked. It was nice to have such a broad perspective. The book is told in the third person, but the point of view alters between the four girls. I enjoyed the lively Penderwick sisters, from shy Batty to lovesick Rosalind. All of the girls were delightful and charming. The girls find themselves on little adventures throughout the book, while dealing with Jeffrey’s overbearing mother. It was so much fun and I’d recommend it for all ages. Overall, this was a great little book that reminds you that adventure can happen anywhere.


“‘Good-bye, dearest Jeffrey and Churchie and summer and magic and adventure and all that’s wonderful in life,” said Jane.”

Review: Where She Went

Title: Where She Went (If I Stay #2)
Author: Gayle Foreman
Publisher: Dutton
Publication Date: November 4th, 2012
Genre: YA, Contemporary

If you haven't yet read If I Stay, this review will contain some spoilers.

Three years have passed since the day of the fatal car crash that took Mia’s family from her. Adam and Mia are both successful musicians, but their lives are completely separate from one another. Adam hasn’t seen Mia since she left Oregon to attend Julliard, and he is now the famous lead singer of his band Shooting Star. He is also half of a celebrity couple, and that means he can’t seem to go anywhere without catching the interest of the paparazzi. When Adam has twenty-four hours to spend by himself in New York City, he finds himself going to a concert Mia is performing in. A prodigy on the cello, Mia graduated from Julliard in three years and is now going to tour through Japan. When they meet up after the performance, Mia takes Adam on a late night tour through New York City before they both leave the next day. Is there too much time and pain between them, or could there be a reprise in store for Adam and Mia?

After finishing Where She Went, I feel like I have a heart of stone. Was I the only one that didn’t find this book half as emotional as If I Stay? Told from the point of view of Adam, this book takes place after the events of If I Stay, when Mia and Adam are both successful twenty-one year olds. Although it has a different narrator, Where She Went is told in a similar structure as If I Stay. The central plot line takes place in a one-day period, while flashbacks are shown throughout. This didn’t work quite as well as it did in If I Stay, since there wasn’t as much tension. Despite this, it still managed to flow well and not drag on too much, which you might expect since not a lot happens. This book was mainly character driven and focused a lot on grief and Adam and Mia’s relationship. While I loved both of their characters in If I Stay, it was sad to see the bitter and unhappy person Adam has become. While I still liked Mia, I couldn’t get past what she did to Adam. I understood why she broke up him, but I just hated how she did it. All the same, it was great to see that Mia was able to move on, although of course she never forgot her family. I will say that Mia and Adam seemed much older than twenty-one, both in their success and the way they acted. I might just be saying that because I’m twenty-one, though. There were two things that this book should have had more of: Kim and music. Neither were mentioned as much in this book as they were in the first, although I did enjoy the reference to the song “Chicago” by Sufjan Stevens. While it didn’t match If I Stay (and how could it, really?) I liked the premise and Mia’s tour of New York. This book addresses Adam’s promise to Mia and the repercussions of that. The writing was just as good as in If I Stay, and fans will definitely want to check out this sequel about grief and picking up the pieces after a tragedy.


“You were so busy trying to be my savior that you left me all alone.”

Review: Sloppy Firsts

Title: Sloppy Firsts (Jessica Darling #1)
Author: Megan McCafferty
Publisher: Three Rivers Press
Publication Date: January 1st, 2002
Genre: YA, Realistic Fiction

Jessica Darling, who is anything but darling, is forced to face her sophomore year of high school without the company of her best (and only) friend, Hope. Jessica’s New Jersey high school is full of people she can’t stand, including her so-called ‘friends,’ the Clueless Crew. Her parents don’t understand her in the slightest and are caught up in her older sister’s upcoming wedding. Her father is obsessed with pushing her to become a better runner and enjoys replaying videotapes of all the races she’s lost. High school is hard to face without a good friend beside you, but Jessica manages by keeping touch with Hope through e-mails, phone calls and letters. But soon Jessica finds herself wrapped up in things she can’t even tell Hope about. Hope hates the drug scene that ended her brother’s life, so how can Jessica tell her she’s befriended Marcus Flutie, who stands for everything Hope despises? High school is painful without a best friend, especially when everyone seems to be fake. As Jessica writes about her life and fantasises about being stuck in a small space with a certain upperclassman, everything that’s happened to her just feels like one big sloppy first.

This book would be easy to pass off as silly 'chick lit', but that doesn’t quite fit Sloppy Firsts. What we have here is an intelligent, if not slightly neurotic, main character, who finds herself without any real friends midway through her sophomore year. Jessica Darling is full of angst and sarcasm, and she was certainly a realistic character. Sometimes if I find myself tongue tied before I write a review, I’ll browse through what others have written to help get my thoughts in order. Reading some negative reviews, I saw Jessica described as self-involved and conceited. And both of those things are true, but I loved her all the same. I suppose it comes down to what kind of characters you enjoy reading about. I would always take a flawed person like Jessica over a Mary Sue any day, which makes Sloppy Firsts my kind of book. I loved Jess’ wit and humour, especially when she was sent to guidance for writing ‘Life Sucks, Then You Die’ on her binder, only to convince the counsellor that this was the name of a very hip new band. The guidance counsellor, not wanting to seem out of the loop, goes on to pretend that she loves this band as well. I think the author took a chance by creating a character that, while charming in a certain way, has so many flaws. While not everyone likes this sort of character, luckily I do. Full of humour and drama, what I loved most about this book is its honesty. I read a fair bit of YA, and few of these books really feel similar to my teenage days (which was not that long ago, for the record.) I was in high school a few years after Jess, when there were more cell phones and less boy bands. However, Sloppy Firsts seemed to capture so many things that were familiar to me. In the grand scheme of things, Jess doesn’t have that many problems. While a lot of things in her life do suck, they’re not the end of the world and I’m sure she’ll have forgotten about a lot of these things by the last book in the series. But of course they’re a big deal to her now, and I was definitely the same way when I was sixteen. While some of the secondary characters could be written off as stereotypes, I liked how they showed how so many people in Jess’ school (including herself) are pretending to be someone else. I also liked seeing how Jess (and myself as well) didn’t notice things about people at first and wrote them off as being a certain way. While Hope is Jessica’s best friend, we get to see very little of her throughout the book, because, as Jess explains from the start, their friendship means too much to be aptly described or broken down. The novel is told through Jess’ journal entries, with her letters to Hope shown as introductions to sections. This book reminded me of Angus, Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging, mainly due to the honesty, humour, the main character, the drama and the boys. It also felt similar to Bridget Jones’ Diary. I will probably be reading the next in the series when I go on vacation in a few weeks, since it looks like this series is perfect if you’re looking for a funny and realistic book to read while relaxing. Like any book, not everyone will enjoy it. It dragged on a little bit in the middle and I could see people claiming that none of the characters were likable (although I didn’t feel that way.) I’m looking forward to finding out what else is in store for Jessica Darling, and am grateful for the blogger who recommended this frank and humorous book to me.


“You can only be in a bad mood for so long before you have to face up to the fact that it isn't a bad mood at all; it's just your sucky personality.”

Review: The Baggage Handler

Title: The Baggage Handler
Author: Colin Browne
Publisher: Kindle Edition
Publication Date: January 11th, 2012
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary

Martin is the writer of a successful column called The Shallow Review of Books. Instead of actually reading the books, he gives people what they want to hear: which celebrity is reading what. At work, Martin is known as the baggage handler; someone people go to when they want to share their problems and emotional baggage. Being the resident agony aunt has helped Martin realize that baggage is something he doesn’t need. Like his reviews, Martin’s life is shallow. When a new co-worker from Poland catches Martin’s eye, he finds himself wanting to make the effort to get to know her. Unfortunately, his attempts to get to know Kassia always seem to end in disaster. Does the shallow reviewer have what it takes to let someone get to know him on a deeper level?

Great for fans of the male equivalent to ‘chick lit,’ or writers like Jonathan Tropper, Nick Hornby and Matthew Norman. This book follows Londoner Martin, who writes very superficial reviews of books. Martin’s book reviews are a reflection of what his life is like: although he helps people with their problems, he does what he can so he doesn’t have any of his own. Who needs heartbreak and emotional baggage? Once Martin meets Kasia, it looks like he is the once who is in need of advice. This humorous depiction of romance from the male perspective was honest and quite fun to read. Martin has only been in love once but things didn’t end well. Now, he doesn’t like to get too invested in people to prevent himself from getting hurt. While sometimes watching him make a mess of things was frustrating, he was loveable overall. Some of the secondary characters were quite funny and there was, of course, Kasia, Martin’s love interest. In most books and movies, I feel like the main character falls in love too quickly. While this happened with The Baggage Handler, I still liked their relationship (when Martin wasn’t making a mess of things) and could see why he liked her. While these was lots of humour and this book was easy to enjoy, the pacing felt a bit off midway through and I wish there had been more subplots, instead of so much focus on Martin winning over Kasia. All in all, this was a fun book with a very satisfying ending. Thanks to the author for giving me an e-galley to review.


In My Mailbox (29)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren, in which book bloggers post about the books they've bought, borrowed or received in the past week.

This week I bought these three lovely books for $2.50. Freedom by Jonathan Franzen, Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer and White Teeth by Zadie Smith. I know practically nothing about Freedom except that it is supposedly very good. I took Eating Animals out from the library a while back but never got around to reading it. I suppose a lot of what he talks about won't apply to me since I'm Canadian, not American. Next month marks 5 years since I stopped eating meat so I'm quite interested to read what Jonathan Safran Foer has to say (I should point out that I eat fish and seafood though.) I haven't yet read any of Zadie Smith's books, although I own On Beauty. Not sure which one to start first. Pandemonium came out Tuesday here, I believe, but I lucked out and somehow managed to get a copy on Sunday. For some reason a bookstore near me had copies out early. You can read the review here

Next week I won't be posting an In My Mailbox, since I'll be gone for March Break with my family. I'll probably make up for it the next week, though. I always go overboard on vacation.

That's it for me- feel free to post links to your IMM in the comments! 

Mabel's Fables, Toronto

Mabel's Fables is a children's book store in Toronto and is probably my favourite bookshop in the GTA. Located in Mount Pleasant, Mabel's sells books for children of all ages, as well as books for teens and even popular books for adults. The displays are always brilliant, the staff is knowledgable and friendly and there's a bookstore cat! You can see the feline Mabel in the window.

If I were to describe this shop in a word it would probably be cosy. Opened in 1988, Mabel's Fable's will surely be around for years to come. You can visit the shop's official site here