Archive | February, 2016

Big Magic — Elizabeth Gilbert

29 Feb

bigmagicPublisher: Riverhead Books
Released: September 22nd, 2015
Genre: Non-fiction
Source: Paperback review copy from publisher

 

 

 

Readers of all ages and walks of life have drawn inspiration and empowerment from Elizabeth Gilbert’s books for years. Now this beloved author digs deep into her own generative process to share her wisdom and unique perspective about creativity. With profound empathy and radiant generosity, she offers potent insights into the mysterious nature of inspiration. She asks us to embrace our curiosity and let go of needless suffering. She shows us how to tackle what we most love, and how to face down what we most fear. She discusses the attitudes, approaches, and habits we need in order to live our most creative lives. Balancing between soulful spirituality and cheerful pragmatism, Gilbert encourages us to uncover the “strange jewels” that are hidden within each of us. Whether we are looking to write a book, make art, find new ways to address challenges in our work,  embark on a dream long deferred, or simply infuse our everyday lives with more mindfulness and passion, Big Magic cracks open a world of wonder and joy.

From Goodreads.

Okay, this book? It made me HAPPY. So, so happy. It was like reading a hug. The kind of hug that squeezes you tight and lets you know it is not only okay, but it’s amazing that you’re you. Really, that’s what this book was like for me.

Big Magic deals with getting over the fear of being creative. It’s about being creative to just BE CREATIVE. There are no steps laid out. No how-to sections. But everything Gilbert writes just breathed life through me.

While I was reading it, I circled my favourite passages and wrote notes in the margins. This was a HUGE thing for me, because I have not done this since I was in university. But I wanted to be able to flip through it when I was having moments of creative self doubt to feel that amazing hug again.

I love that it’s broken down in short chapters. This also encourages the coming back to and randomly reading a couple of pages. It also made it a quick, fun read. Important, yes, but also really enjoyable.

I think anyone who struggles with creativity (Do I deserve to take the time to be creative? Does my work have to be important? What if it sucks? What if people laugh? etc) should read this book. I think for a lot of us it could be a creative life saver.

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It Should Have Been a #GoodDay blog tour

25 Feb

goodday

 

Full disclosure time, folks: One of my other personalities — Savvy Fox — was the main developmental editor on It Should Have Been a #GoodDay and I also organized this blog tour. 😀

Since it would be kinda weird if I posted a review (although I LOVE LOVE LOVE this book and think you should all read it!) I did want to take part so Natalie agreed to do a Q&A.

Coffee or tea?

Tea, definitely. I can’t even stand the smell of coffee … though my chemical pick me up of choice is diet Coke.

Sweat pants or yoga pants?

Sweats, though yoga pants have a close second. Either really. So long as they’re stretchy.

Music while writing or silence?

Silence. I wish I could write with music, but it’s too distracting!

Do you have any writing rituals? (Certain pen, certain time, certain stack food, those kinds of thing?)

I write at my ‘Me Station’ – the desk where I do things that are only for me, not for the kids or the house or the husband… I love to snack on small bite things like M&Ms or crackers, though it’s not a necessity. Diet Coke is often present, and my desk lamp is on, even if it’s sunny or the overhead light is on as well. It’s like turning on the desk light turns on my focus on my keyboard.

What’s the last book that you read that completely blew you away?

Oh so hard. Probably either “I’ll Give you the Sun” or “Life After Life” Both were incredible, magical and untouchable. Books like that both inspire me to write more and remind me I’ll never write like that… a strange dichotomy of emotion.

Henry has some very specific things that he does to deal with stress and life in general. Do you have any coping mechanisms that you rely on when things get a bit harried?

All the bad stuff. I bite my nails, terribly and painfully! I eat to relieve stress. To cope, sometimes I’ll write To Do lists to itemize and solidify what is going on. I make sure to include items I’ve already done so I can check them off.

Not all of the characters in your books are nice. How hard is it to write unlikeable characters?

It’s not so hard to write unlikeable characters – what I find hard it to make sure they’r not pure awful. I tend to lean towards black and white, bad and good characters but a story is more interesting if everyone has shades of grey – some good and some bad all mixed together, or if their bad actions have good intentions. I find that challenging because it forces me to find a different perspective – what I would consider an unlikeable action or opinion may not come from ignorance or hate or meanness. I was heartsick when an editor called one of my favourite characters a ‘cad’. I saw him as a good guy locked in an impossible situation wherein he made a brave and selfless choice… he saw him as a manipulative cad, a coward who ran away… In the end I had to accept that each reader will go away with a different opinion of my characters and that’s what makes it interesting, but I had hurt feelings on behalf of my character, that someone didn’t LIKE him.

Thanks so much to Natalie for stopping by!

It Should Have Been a #GoodDay is out this Sunday, February 28th, and we holding an official launch party in Halifax!

 

City of the Lost — Kelley Armstrong

16 Feb

citylostPublisher: Random House Canada
Released: January 2nd, 2016
Genre: Mystery, thriller
Source: Hardcover review copy from publisher

 

 

 

Casey Duncan once killed a man and got away with it. But that’s not why she’s on the run. Her best friend’s ex has found Diana again, despite all Casey has done to protect her. And Diana has decided the only way she’ll ever be safe is if she finds the mythical town she’s heard of where people like her can go to hide. Turns out the town really exists, and will take Diana, but only if Casey, a talented young police detective, comes too.

Imagine a hidden town, isolated in the Yukon wilderness, where everyone is pretending to be someone they’re not. Even good people can get up to some very bad stuff. The laconic town sheriff dispenses his own frontier justice, but he’s more accustomed to sobering up drunks in the horse trough, than attempting to solve the series of brutal murders that has rocked the town. As much as he hates it, he needs Casey. As for Casey, coming to the far North may have started out as a sacrifice she was willing to make for her best friend. But maybe, just maybe, she needs Rockton as much as the town needs her.

From Goodreads.

OMG I JUST FOUND OUT THIS BOOK IS #1 IN A SERIES AND SQUEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So yeah, I loved this book. Hard. I love certain kinds of thrillers/mysteries and City of the Lost was right up my alley. The premise was way, way cool and the characters were interesting, believable and also surprising. This was another book that I devoured in a couple of days.

A city where everyone is hiding from something that happened in their life? Holy intrigue and sketchy characters! But none of them seemed over the top. And what a cool place for a whodoneit. There were some twists and turns that I really wasn’t expecting, like, AT ALL, and I always love when an author can fool me in unexpected ways.

As always, Armstrong’s writing was spot on and Casey’s voice was both tough and vulnerable at the same time. She’s dealt with a lot of shit in her life and while Rockton is a bit of a party for some, she continues to have to deal with shit. Some her own and some belonging to others. That’s what makes her such an interesting character. And as you can tell by my opening sentence, I’m super excited to get to delve deeper into her psyche and get to know her better in upcoming books.

Armstrong gives readers another thrilling, page-turning read. Fans of mysteries should eat this book up.

Gratitude — Oliver Sacks

9 Feb

gratitudePublisher: Knopf Canada
Released: November 24th 2015
Genre: non-fiction, essays, memoir
Source: Review copy from publisher

 

 

 

A deeply moving testimony and celebration of how to embrace life.

In January 2015, Oliver Sacks was diagnosed with a recurrence of cancer, and he shared this news in a New York Times essay that inspired readers all over the world: “I cannot pretend I am without fear. But my predominant feeling is one of gratitude…. Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure.”

Gratitude consists of four essays that originally appeared in The New York Times, accompanied by a foreword that describes the occasion of each chapter. The foreword is written by Billy Hayes, Oliver Sacks’s partner, and Kate Edgar, his long time collaborator.

From Goodreads.

This was a slim volume with so much depth and weight to it. It’s only sixty-four pages, but when I finished I felt like I was a better person for reading it.

Non-fiction memoir pieces always feel like an intimate read, but Gratitude had the added layer that it was written about Sacks dying and I read it after he was dead. That’s a bit of a loaded gun for a book, no matter the length. But the essays never felt like they were over the top or self-indulgence. They were simply a telling by a man who knew that pretty soon there would be no more tales for him, real or not.

Sacks approaches his illness and the fact that it has lessened his time on earth with such honesty that sometimes it made my breath catch. Death isn’t an easy subject for most of us, regardless of our age or health. But Sacks tackles it head on, and in such a way that I didn’t feel sorry for him. These essays definitely weren’t a pity-party.

The theme of gratitude that runs through all four essays wasn’t done in a way that hit me over the head. Gratitude was written about as a way you can chose to live your life, and that’s what Sacks did.

Despite the topic and the themes in Gratitude, this was a quiet read. As I’ve already said, nothing was over the top or grandiose about the writing style or the way that the themes were approached. And because of this, I know it’s a book that will stay with me for a long, long time.

 

Molly Miranda: Thick as Thieves cover reveal!!!!

6 Feb

OMG LOOK AT THIS FREAKING COVER!!!!!!

MM2-TAT-web copy

 

How completely awesome is it? And it’s going to look AMAZING next to the cover for book 1. I mean, seriously.

If you love funny, snarky, sometimes (okay A LOT of the time) awkward heroines who also kick ass, then you need to check out Molly Miranda: Thief for Hire. Then, when Thick as Thieves come out later this year (squeeeee!) you can get your grubbies on it, too.