Single, Carefree, Mellow [Book Thoughts]

Book Reviews
From the HarperCollins Ca Website

From the HarperCollins Ca Website

I was sent a copy of Single, Carefree, Mellow from Kaitlyn at HarperCollins Canada the other day and knew I had to get started right away. The novel is a collection of short stories (I love short stories), which has gotten rave reviews from Lena Dunham, Jennifer Close, and Stephen McCauley. Kaiti’s press release describes Single, Carefree, Mellow perfectly: Infidelity is a theme woven all throughout the book as it explores all women in all walks of life and in all walks of love. I am less than a hundred pages in and have already laughed, cried, and whimpered.

Katherine Heiny writes honestly. Her words appear to be a conversation of thoughts that would flow in your head, seamlessly from one to another with no end in sight. She writes with confidence and conviction, which I find a necessity in short stories. She writes about relationships and love in the same way you would talk about it with your girlfriends. Her stories could be pulled out of any young woman’s diary. In honesty, I’ve had to remind myself several times that these are short stories and not personal essays (which I also love).

Life is full of good things—buttered toast, cold beer, compelling books, campfires, Christmas lights, expensive lipstick, the smell of Vanilla—and Sasha is by no means immune to them, but how many things are just flat-out interesting? How many things are so fascinating that you can’t stand not to do them? Not many, in Sasha’s opinion. (from page 15 of the ARC)

Katherine Heiny underlines in bold black permanent marker the fear, beauty, and excitement that all relationships are made of. Single, Carefree, Mellow would make the perfect Galentine’s gift for the lady in your life.

Love Always,

Vanessa Xo

* Disclosure: I was sent a copy of Single, Carefree, Mellow in exchange for an honest review.

That Time I Met David Nicholls [Event Recap]

Book Reviews, Just for Fun, Toronto Adventures

Once in a while HarperCollins Canada hosts an intimate gathering with their Facebook fans, one of their authors, and a spectacular interviewee. This event celebrated David Nicholls, author of One Day and Us (which just came out). From what the Facebook invite said, guests would get to listen in on an interview between the epic Laurie Grassi and David Nicholls, then get their book signed. My love for Us demanded that I attend.

On Sunday afternoon I headed down to the HarperCollins offices and was greeted with smiling faces, hot coffee, and yummy snacks. The interview got underway rather quickly, David Nicholls lit up the room with his warm English accent and humble disposition. With cues from Laurie Grassi, he spoke about wanting to write a novel about what happens next, what happens after the dating and the courting. Us is what happens after the I do’s.

He spoke about the theme of changing over time, about journeys and the way they effect you. He discussed the characters in the novel having reasons behind their actions — this is what the other readers and I found so loveable about them. Douglas, however maddening, always acts with reason. In response to Douglas’ annoying traits, Laurie Grassi brought up one of my favourite lines in the book: The fact was I loved my wife to a degree that I found impossible to express, and so rarely did (page 27 of the ARC). David Nicholls purposely chose Douglas’ point of view to tell the story because he has trouble expressing himself. That is what makes him so vulnerable and sometimes rather stupid.

Although I loved hearing about the inspiration behind the book, what I enjoyed most was the discussion on various writing tools. He spoke about how important structure was to writing Us, the short chapters and interweaving Connie and Douglas’ meeting with their trip around Europe 25 years into their marriage, had a purpose. The structure not only made it easier to write the book, but also made the reader want to just read one more chapter, one more chapter.

When asked about what makes him want to keep writing, he shifted in his chair, fixed his glasses and said, “I just really love it. When I was acting, what I really loved about it were the words on the page. It’s a great privilege to do it for a living. I just love it, plus I have a contract with my publisher…”

There’s something quite fascinating about listening to the author of a novel that you love discuss their own work. What struck me about David was how funny he is and how quirky his comments could be. He’s clearly very passionate about his work, and answered all questions with vigor and excitement. He was honestly humbled by the amount of people who turned up for the event and took his time signing books and chatting with each fan. While he signed my copy I asked him if he had any advice for an aspiring novelist. He paused for a moment, thought deeply, and replied:

If you’re going to write, you have to read, that’s where ideas come from. Then you need to show people your work, believe in yourself enough to show your family and friends. Oh and stay away from the Internet, it’s quite distracting.

Thank you HarperCollins for hosting such a lovely event, I’ve never met an author in such an intimate and charming setting. Count me in for the next one!

– Vanessa

 

The Queen of Tearling [Book Review]

Book Reviews

IMG_0463 I read The Queen of Tearling almost by accident. I had asked Kaitlyn to send me over a few suggestions for my next read. Being the awesome person that she is, she sent over three books: two I had asked for and one that I did not. With the three books she sent a note, reminding me that there was “no pressure” to read The Queen of Tearling, but she hoped I would give it a chance. Neither of us are huge fans of Fantasy as a genre but she promised me that I would not regret picking up this book. I trust Kaiti immensely when it comes to book suggestions so right after I finished Darling, You Can’t Do Both and We Were Liars, I decided to pick it up. At age nineteen, Kelsea Glynn is coming out of hiding. Raised in secret by foster parents while her mother-the beautiful Queen Elyssa, as vain as she was stupid-mysteriously died after bankrupting the coffers and soul of her kingdom, The Tearling. For eighteen years, the Tearling has been ruled by Kelsea”s uncle the Regent, a puppet of The Red Queen, the sorceress-tyrant of neighboring Mortmesme. Today is Kelsea”s nineteenth birthday, and the tattered remnants of her mother”s guard-nine men, ten horses-have arrived at Kelsea’s cottage to bring this most un-Queenly young woman to reclaim her throne.

So, what can I say about The Queen of Tearling other than IT WAS AMAZING!!!!!!???? I have to admit that it was so much more than I thought it was going to be. I was pulled into a completely different world every single time I picked up the book and I didn’t want to put it down. What I found most interesting about this book was how imperfect Kelsea is. She’s simply plain and describes her rolls and pudginess as a fact rather than an embarrassment (for the most part). She knows that her job as Queen is more than just looking pretty, it’s building up her Kingdom, making it a better place to live for her subjects. It’s about protecting them while seated on her throne, as well as, on the battlefield. She has her wits about her and even though there’s some kind of magic helping her along, the reader knows how strong and powerful she really is. I found my heart racing throughout the novel and really enjoyed how powerful the simplicity of the writing was. I enjoyed reading about Kelsea’s guards, especially Mace and Pen. I loved the way Kelsea stood her ground with them and took her role as Queen seriously. I loved the bantering she did with Mace and Fetch. I hope to see more of them in the second book and look forward to seeing Kelsea grow as a woman and as a Queen. What I loved most of all about Kelsea was the way she took on her role as Queen without hesitation. How she genuinely wants to make her kingdom a better place in spite of all circumstances and bets against her.

“We don’t always choose, Majesty. We simply make the best choices we can once the deed is done.” (pg 352)

17415882Mystery, corruption, magic, love, regret, all combine in a whirlwind adventure that spans over 400 pages. It doesn’t end there, apparently this book is just the first in the trilogy AND Warner Brothers has already acquired the rights to the book! Emma Watson is set to star in the film AND she’s also executive-producing it with David Heyman. I cannot wait until the release of the second book and, obviously for the film to come out. The Queen of Tearling hit the shelves yesterday, get ready for your next obsession!

Talk soon,

Vanessa Xo

I heart bookish events @HarperCollinsCa

Book Reviews, Just for Fun, Toronto Adventures

Is there anything more magical than congregating with others that share my insane obsession for the written word and faraway worlds? I think not. So when I received an invitation to CELEBRATE THE HOLIDAY’S with HARPERCOLLINS, I rsvp’d with a heck yes!  You can read my full recap of the event on Chic Darling but I wanted to share some extra photos from the event, since it was insanely lovely.

The best part of the night was spending it with my best friend. It was her first book event and I am so thrilled that she loved it too. It was great to have her there, she made me feel at ease when trying to network, something that I’m not always good at. I do enjoy meeting new people (like Rachel from thespoonfulofhoney.com), chatting about their careers and my own, as well as, our dreams and aspirations. I always find these chats inspirational and motivating — if she can do that, than I can do it too! My best friend is highly motivating, she’s always asking me what I want, what my passions are, and where I see myself. She’s always pushing me to try new things, to get out of my own way, and to get over the senseless rut I’m in.

stuck-in-a-rut-2

Talk soon,

Vanessa Xo

How to Fall in Love [Book Review]

Book Reviews

052961-FC222HarperCollins sent me a beautiful ARC of How to Fall in Love by Cecelia Ahern — the woman who wrote P.S. I Love You at the age of twenty-one! How to Fall in Love is a novel about Christine Rose and two extremely unlikely moments coincidences that happen to her. Two coincidences that not only affect her life but mean life or death to two other people. When Christine convinces Adam Basil NOT to jump off of the Ha’penny Bridge in Dublin she does do by striking a deal with him. She has two weeks, two very short weeks to make Adam fall in love with life, to show him that life is worth living.

Well, that is one heck of a deal that will leave you breathless the entire time you read this novel. Its written expertly, with a dry sense of humour and beauty all rolled into one. Its one of those books that will have you ignoring your phone, your family, and your boyfriend, until the words of the final paragraph dissolve on your tongue and melt into your heart. I cried, I laughed, and I was sincerely overwhelmed by all of the pain this novel discusses, all of the fears, and the problems. I felt annoyed by Christine’s constant use of How-To books to help fix Adam and yet I couldn’t help but love her for trying. She is one of the most interesting characters I have ever met and her love for life and hope is comforting. If there is one thing this novel will give you, its comfort. It’s comfort in knowing that if you let them, there is always someone willing to listen.

“Soon it won’t be so difficult…that feeling of fear will be replaced by euphoria. Your worst times will soon become your happiest because you will be overcoming huge challenges.”

Talk soon,

Vanessa Xo

* Quote from page 10 of the ARC *

The Rosie Project [Book Review]

Book Reviews

I knew I had to get my hands on a copy of The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion after discussing it with the wonderful Marketing Assistants at HarperCollins Canada. They spoke very highly of this book and I could tell by their smiles that they were genuinely in love with it. I purchased it the following day and finished within twenty-four hours. Think of the best Chick-Lit you’ve ever read being told by Dr.Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory and you get The Rosie Project. 

A first-date dud, socially awkward and overly fond of quick-dry clothes, genetics professor Don Tillman has given up on love, until a chance encounter gives him an idea.

He will design a questionnaire—a sixteen-page, scientifically researched questionnaire—to uncover the perfect partner. She will most definitely not be a barmaid, a smoker, a drinker or a late-arriver. Rosie is all these things. She is also fiery and intelligent, strangely beguiling, and looking for her biological father a search that a DNA expert might just be able to help her with.

The Rosie Project is a romantic comedy like no other. It is arrestingly endearing and entirely unconventional, and it will make you want to drink cocktails.

I related to Don Tillman on an intense level — his OCD, his social awkwardness, his constant scheduling was too real for words. His “Wife Project” became so much more than he thought it would. At the age of forty Don changes on an immense level, he relaxes, he erases the whiteboard, and he learns how to take a chance every once in a while. All of this because of Rosie — the one woman who likes him for who he is, the very same woman who would never in a million years pass his “Wife Project” questionnaire, ends up saving his life.

Just be open to something different. Let me show you my world for a couple of days. Starting with breakfast.”  (Page 223)

I was truly touched by this wonderfully quirky, well-written novel. I completely understand all of the hype that has surrounded it for the past little while. What’s more is that it’s not the type of novel that you can read and simply forget, it gets inside your bones. I smiled, I cried, and allowed myself to get completely lost in Don’s Life Project. I love the idea that you can change at anytime, that all it takes is for one person to show you what you’ve been missing to truly be happy. I love the notion that you CAN have the best of both worlds — being yourself and trying something new.

I told myself that the changes it (The Rosie Project) had produced were worthwhile, even if tonight I failed to achieve the final objective.” (Page 292)

Have you read it yet?? What did you think?!

Love Always

Vanessa Xo