do you remember ?

Family Time, Lifestyle/Personal

photo 2Yesterday night I went to my brother’s high school graduation, which means that it’s been seven years since I graduated. Do you remember what it felt like to sit among all of your classmates and listen to esteemed facility yap and yap and yap about how the future is yours, about how proud they are of you, and most importantly about how much potential you have? In all honesty I thought watching my brother graduate would bring back such memories but it didn’t. It brought on anxiety and the inevitable revaluation of my life choices.

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There I was, so young and impressionable, not entirely sure where I was headed but completely sure that it would involve the written word. I have many things to be proud of, many words that I’m happy to share, and yet all I can think about are the opportunities I let slip away. The ones I was too afraid to take, the ones that could have made my life a little bit different.

But I digress, graduations aren’t about fear. Graduations are about courage. They’re about new beginnings and new chapters. The Valedictorian at my brother’s ceremony ended his speech with something along the lines of:

“Everything you’ve ever done, ever thought, ever experienced, and ever felt, has led up to this moment in your life… you define the next moment… make it count.”

All I can hope for is that my brother makes his decisions with care but without fear. I hope that his hard work and dedication will lead him to whatever he desires. I hope that he’ll forget about what he “should” do and that he’ll follow his heart. I hope that he makes every moment count. I hope that he won’t let opportunities slip by him because of his insecurities or fear of change. If I’m honest with myself, the kid is a million times braver than me and I couldn’t be more proud. I might be older than him but I do look up to him (and not just because he’s 19 feet taller than me). I hope that I can borrow a little bit of his courage and make the next moments in my life the very best ones…

419c6bb8911856ec5b02c6b9dd6f07bbTalk soon,

Vanessa Xo

 

“There was a spirit here…once it got into you it wouldn’t let you go…”

Book Reviews, Toronto Adventures

“…Swan River, could have been known for murder the way Chicago is known for pizza, Roswell for aliens,” (page 1).

On a depressingly gloomy Tuesday, I received a surprise ARC of Wild Girls by Mary Stewart Atwell. I read it in twenty-four hours! Not since The Hunger Games and Blood Red Road have I NOT been able to put down a book: not even to make a coffee or go to the bathroom. From the first sentence in the prologue, Wild Girls gripped me into a frenzy of flipping pages.

This novel oozes with mystery, murder, magic, and friendship. Meeting Kate, Willow, Mason, and Clancy is an enriching experience since they all have something different to offer the plot. Following Kate through her senior year at Swan River Academy with the consuming fear that she’ll turn into one of the monstrous wild girls that menace the community, throwing flame from their hands fuelled my need to read on.

Mary Stewart Atwell grabs onto the trials of the average teenage girl and places them in a backdrop full of dark magic and myths. The emotions, sentiments, and problems Kate faces are very real. We may not relate to the ravenous and blood-hungry wild girls, but we can relate very well to Kate, her teenage angst, her yearning to leave her small town, her struggle in discovering who her real friends are, her crushes, and her (sometimes) naive judgements of her family and friends.

When you (sadly) reach the end of Wild Girls you realize that it’s less about magic and more about the power of making choices. Every girl has a wild side within them; they have a dark side that they keep hidden. It’s the choices they make that can save them from that dark and dangerous side. Having drive, independence, and determination is wonderful. Having a fire within you is a good thing. How you use it determines who you are and what you will become.

“There was a part of me that wanted to misbehave, to make my own rules, and that part of me admired Willow’s confidence,” (page 47).

Love Always
Vanessa Xo
__
Synopsis (from the Random House of Canada Limited website)
A mix of Prep’s critique of boarding school culture and the suspenseful and high-stakes plot of The Secret History, this highly original debut is part coming-of-age story, part riveting supernatural tale about teenage girls learning their own strength.

Kate Riordan fears two things as she grows up in the small Appalachian town of Swan River: that she’ll be a frustrated townie forever, or that she’ll turn into one of the monstrous Wild Girls that menace the community, throwing flame from their hands. Struggling to better her chances of escaping, Kate attends the posh Swan River Academy and finds herself divided between two worlds: the simple town and its dark twin, a commune off Bloodwort Road, where hippie farming and occult practices led to a disastrous end; and the realm of privilege and achievement at the Academy. Explosive friendships with Mason, a boy from the wrong side of the river, and Willow, a wealthy and charismatic queen bee from school, are slowly pulling her apart. Kate must decide who she is and where she belongs before she wakes up with cinders at her fingertips.

"There was a spirit here…once it got into you it wouldn't let you go…"

Book Reviews, Toronto Adventures

“…Swan River, could have been known for murder the way Chicago is known for pizza, Roswell for aliens,” (page 1).

On a depressingly gloomy Tuesday, I received a surprise ARC of Wild Girls by Mary Stewart Atwell. I read it in twenty-four hours! Not since The Hunger Games and Blood Red Road have I NOT been able to put down a book: not even to make a coffee or go to the bathroom. From the first sentence in the prologue, Wild Girls gripped me into a frenzy of flipping pages.

This novel oozes with mystery, murder, magic, and friendship. Meeting Kate, Willow, Mason, and Clancy is an enriching experience since they all have something different to offer the plot. Following Kate through her senior year at Swan River Academy with the consuming fear that she’ll turn into one of the monstrous wild girls that menace the community, throwing flame from their hands fuelled my need to read on.

Mary Stewart Atwell grabs onto the trials of the average teenage girl and places them in a backdrop full of dark magic and myths. The emotions, sentiments, and problems Kate faces are very real. We may not relate to the ravenous and blood-hungry wild girls, but we can relate very well to Kate, her teenage angst, her yearning to leave her small town, her struggle in discovering who her real friends are, her crushes, and her (sometimes) naive judgements of her family and friends.

When you (sadly) reach the end of Wild Girls you realize that it’s less about magic and more about the power of making choices. Every girl has a wild side within them; they have a dark side that they keep hidden. It’s the choices they make that can save them from that dark and dangerous side. Having drive, independence, and determination is wonderful. Having a fire within you is a good thing. How you use it determines who you are and what you will become.

“There was a part of me that wanted to misbehave, to make my own rules, and that part of me admired Willow’s confidence,” (page 47).

Love Always
Vanessa Xo
__
Synopsis (from the Random House of Canada Limited website)
A mix of Prep’s critique of boarding school culture and the suspenseful and high-stakes plot of The Secret History, this highly original debut is part coming-of-age story, part riveting supernatural tale about teenage girls learning their own strength.

Kate Riordan fears two things as she grows up in the small Appalachian town of Swan River: that she’ll be a frustrated townie forever, or that she’ll turn into one of the monstrous Wild Girls that menace the community, throwing flame from their hands. Struggling to better her chances of escaping, Kate attends the posh Swan River Academy and finds herself divided between two worlds: the simple town and its dark twin, a commune off Bloodwort Road, where hippie farming and occult practices led to a disastrous end; and the realm of privilege and achievement at the Academy. Explosive friendships with Mason, a boy from the wrong side of the river, and Willow, a wealthy and charismatic queen bee from school, are slowly pulling her apart. Kate must decide who she is and where she belongs before she wakes up with cinders at her fingertips.

Best Medicine

Family Time, Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal

“If laughter is the best medicine, then this weekend cured me of all that ailed me.”

This weekend I hosted my sister’s bachelorette party and I have to admit that I had an amazing time! It’s not very often that you get 20 women in a room and they ALL get along!

Friday night mission to Wal-Mart - time to prep!

Making cakes after a long day of work!

Limo full of ladies!
Thanks Diamond LIMOS!

The beautiful bride-to-be ready for some belly dancinnnn!

All the ladies upon arriving at FLIRTY GIRL FITNESS...

... I wasn't included in that last picture.

After our hour of belly dancing!
Good times ladies 😉

After dancing it was time for pizza, drinks, games, and CAKE!!
I helped make them!

A few drinks and a game of Kings later - Vanessa is ready for sleep.

As you can probably tell, I spent the entire weekend at my sister’s house and I can’t explain how surreal it was. On Friday we went to Wal-Mart and did all of the prep work for the next day. While icing the penis cakes, I found myself thinking “Wow, I’m icing cakes for my sister’s bachelorette… in her house!”

And then this happened…

It was really amazing to hang out with my sister all weekend but now that the bachelorette is over, I realize that she is getting married in only two weeks and six days! WHERE DID THIS YEAR GO?! I could’ve sworn that I was just helping Richard pull off the-best-proposal-ever and now it’s almost time for me to write my wedding speech, help my sister move out of my parent’s house, and watch her walk down the aisle.

WTF! Time, can you please slow down a little?

I think I should stop this post now, before the waterworks begin. But first I’d like to thank all of the ladies who attended the bachelorette for making it an amazing experience! I cannot put into words how much you all made me laugh and how great it was to spend the weekend with all of you! Thank you for being there for my sister and for being good sports when the dance instructor said we were AMAZING and HOT – even though we knew she was lying ;). And thanks for teaching me how to play KINGS, you all have great singing voices :P. With all that said, I’m sure Jessica appreciates it even more so than I do – so thanks!

And Jess, thanks for trusting me to plan such an epic party! I love you and we will have more sister-bonding-sleepover weekends soon!

Hope you all had a great weekend and a happy Monday!

Love Always
Vanessa Xo