The Sunken Cathedral [Book Review]

Book Reviews

I make it a point to never write negative reviews on anything. This isn’t to say that I haven’t received books to review that I haven’t liked or even products that I didn’t enjoy. It doesn’t mean that I’m afraid to share a negative opinion on a book or product, it just means that there is enough negativity in the world and I would much rather write about something I love than something I hated. That being said, sometimes I love a story, but not so much how it’s been presented, and I think it’s okay to write about it.

From the Simon & Schuster Canada Website

From the Simon & Schuster Canada Website

The Sunken Cathedral is a story with so much going on that it seemed hard for me to keep up. I felt confused by the long footnotes, which I think would have worked better if they were worked into the story. Although the writing includes a smorgasboard of vivid descriptions, to me the writing felt pulsed, broken, as if a comma or dash was inserted between each wonderful exotic thought, emotion, and description.

BUT, THE STORY. OH the story! It is wonderful, intricate, and deeply moving.

“This is the only certainty. Here: your sensations; your body existing for its moment in time. Everything else is crap.”

Love Always, 

Vanessa Xo 

*Disclosure: I received a copy of The Sunken Cathedral from Simon & Schuster Canada in exchange for an honest review. The synopsis is from their website. Quote is from page 84 of the ARC.

Birthday Staycation [Recap]

Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal, Toronto Adventures

ZbWhJzpWeJsKkXU5D1ldET-tITLGIIKJzPbi5Ef0UyD8mZ9d1UcrxriYPeoiKRQUiz7Np2an29o7hcxpMbS1tqSZdEN3SWT3eP0894g9kqpxGLQ217gLrU-37-uwiDaYa-IlrdmNpLeuoUf7aJ4QbKI3MrghPE2FLiHv8WZ1AcIgY1DD02jl7W0iVSDPB1xgo7576OQA9a99iXbd7eF_N1FFvFSNOqvpOf

“There’s nothing like deep breaths after laughing that hard. Nothing in the world like a sore stomach for the right reasons.” ― Stephen Chbosky

When you spend your birthday in the city with your best friend/love of your life, exploring, laughing, eating, reading, and thinking about nothing other than the moment — your age doesn’t seem to matter. I thought that turning twenty-six would feel different, that being a little closer to thirty would make me feel old (yes, I’m crazy like that) but it doesn’t. It feels better than I thought it would, it feels like craving something for weeks and then finally getting to eat it, and it tastes just as awesome as you thought it would. That’s what twenty-six feels like to me.

So, the hotel was a little old, but we got a great deal on Expedia and it was in an amazing area — right across from Nathan Phillips Square and a stone’s throw away from all the great shops on Queen West. After a Friday spent going in and out of shops (my new favorite is Lavish and Squalor), tattoo parlours (just in case I felt brave), and eating fries from food trucks, we headed over to Bannock, an O&B restaurant. The food was delicious, well-priced, and the portions left us feeling full and satisfied. Overall, I had an amazing birthday, full of love and little surprises — I hope you had a great weekend too!

https://twitter.com/mypenmyvoice/status/584164119600824323

U2TMAuOgGrjiEnbgWi_GlA8CtWh6w-W6V1NQl3AV93GKJQnuJIOGSYwbw9zVXPSzkFESsQ03bil-FvFmC4NsYP6O6KXtP8akNd_TLM0jWx4vxqUXSeaWQUpRxdZc01At2TPOxRH2FB_iQ2vceLKZ2SnjAzB2_AT0PB7LR9U8ksRNYjN4FuyoK9HOgDAsYKAK2hLVoOyctzYe1aLSCozQAqsZnQie1nnFEm

Love Always,

Vanessa Xo

 

Signs and All the Jazz

Bursting the Bubble, Lifestyle/Personal

I believe in all kinds of magic, in dreams coming true, in luck, and hard work. BUT I’ve very rarely looked for or believed in signs. I’ve had trust my gut when making decisions but I’ve never sought out signs from the universe to lend some help. On Friday, for the first time in a very long time I felt as though the universe was trying to tell me something. On the way to and from work, a giant white plastic bag flew into my windshield, getting stuck momentarily before I regained sight of the road in front of me. Also on the way to work I nearly got hit by a transport truck who was making a left hand turn (thank goodness I sped up at the last moment).

MegubVRCm_DzO4seeqdCTm8KNjLZUyNdUXlbBXWSV6B6huIozOc0u-WDoKucvuY6YhIwrAGgh3iewefG_zxLenHUzhotL2nHVeykm48ihtgU87UsE3le3jhzAs2Hlp-uh-GUhdI4WTurzvG4MFYxlbcTRfs3oFWN_JFfWsJvPGlqOslrlxy9ey9xFfVLzBF9iMVUDqui30wgt7nywaVWZvqHpZg4vn0mLU

That was the moment I realized that life was trying to tell me something. It was literally trying to hit me in the face. Telling me to wake up and see the good in life. Telling me to stop letting nerves dictate my life and to go with the flow. Telling me to pay attention and make time for what I love to do. Telling me that life is so so short and it doesn’t make sense to spend a single moment dreading failure or even making plans.

Life is life and I have the capacity to handle anything that comes my way. I have a dream big enough to give me courage, a brain smart enough to give me strength, and a heart full enough to not only guide me, but to ensure that I have just the right amount of love and laughter in my life.

I’ll take that as a really great sign…

Love Always,

Vanessa Xo

Girls’ Night Done Right

Lifestyle/Personal

A bouquet of bright yellow flowers with a hand written card attached, a long drive on a warm nearly-Spring evening to visit a friend, two hours of girl-talk and all-you-can-eat-sushi, countless laughs, and a screening of (the incredibly boring and weird) Fifty Shades of Grey is sometimes all a girl really needs. The last few weeks have been mentally draining and I can’t see the next few weeks getting any better. Life is busy and the older I get the less time I seem to have for impromptu girls’ nights, long text messages, or even phone calls. I always promise myself that I am going to be a better friend, a more thoughtful friend, and MAKE the time to show my girls how much they mean to me. And I will.

https://twitter.com/mypenmyvoice/status/578700981145321473

It’s crazy to think that we now spend our time together talking about houses and weddings and children and Home Sense. It’s wonderful to think that after all this time, after all of the stupid things we got into when we were “cool teenagers” that we’re still close, still friends, and still there for one another. I always tell people that I don’t have a lot of friends because I’ve never needed them. I have a handful of the best friends a girl could ask for…

“There is nothing I would not do for those who are really my friends. I have no notion of loving people by halves, it is not my nature.” Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey

Love Always,

Vanessa Xo

Birds Fly

Lifestyle/Personal

image

A great friend sent me that quote last night after I regailed her with my most recent insecurities and fears. I told her how my anxiety has been giving me loads of nausea and mental blocks. How it’s been poking away at my confidence and turning it to some variation of mushy fear. After I read that quote and she gave me the ever so subtle reminder that MISTAKES ARE OKAY, ALL THAT MATTERS IS THAT YOU LEARN AND TRY, I felt my confidence boost.

As I watch the birds fly strong and proud in their V formation, I’ll remember that I is smart, I is strong, I can do anything.

Sending sunshine and confidence to you on this rainy morning!

Love Always,
Vanessa Xo

*Posted from my Moto X

 

Realizations – Revelations – Growth

Lifestyle/Personal
From Pinterest

From Pinterest

The slogan for this season of Girls is nowhere to grow but up and my heart is beating in tandem with its sentiment. It’s time. My dreams don’t have to die in order for me to grow up, but they need a red marker and a heavy edit (and that’s okay). Although I’ve never been one to give up on my dreams or tell others to, I’ve realized something insanely beautiful: the moment I began making decisions based on things that were actually happening in my life (and not what I hoped would happen), my world began to change. Once I decided that it’s OKAY to not work in publishing or live downtown, my life chose a different course, one that excites me, one that I’m happy about. Writing will always be waiting for me, this blog will always be mine, but maybe, just maybe they aren’t meant to be on the top of my priority list. Maybe my heart and my head are finally ready for something new to take top-shelf.

I feel like my head is on straight since I turned twenty. All those years of questioning myself, doubting myself, and being afraid have suddenly morphed into something more welcoming. Understanding is it? I’m not sure but I am seeing my priorities clearly and they’re lined up in a way that suits my life, my goals, and my relationship not the way that society or tradition dictates.

Mid-twenties have never felt so good.

 

Love Always,

Vanessa Xo

Hausfrau [Book Review]

Book Reviews

fAm8H7vsKlYU4sNTMyMseV8kc5_FFp4mvwQKhb2bQkdFoAmjWXQi8LphN0EL19mTcWwshG0Y9GnbglWn4zy4qLWraCwaPgBWP55LsJiI57DsLus3sXpan57P_JnoqbiHmi3xqNjPweTsUhNnCebrNO-2PUvHt9jYHOex5BdFf3Xafkcv_Gw6FmjOulRghHv5a2eeuyhjfZbvd1hhIwWCNzmIu69PHP68a0

In exchange for an honest review, Random House of Canada sent me a copy of the gorgeous book, Hausfrau. After reading The Girl on the Train and Still Alice, I was hoping to get my hands on a warmer, sweeter, and less heart-wrenching novel. Fortunately or unfortunately, I can’t quite decide, Hausfrau did not give me anything less than a heart-wrenching experience. In fact, it left me broken.

Anna Benz, an American in her late thirties, lives with her Swiss husband, Bruno—a banker—and their three young children in a postcard-perfect suburb of Zürich. Though she leads a comfortable, well-appointed life, Anna is falling apart inside. Adrift and increasingly unable to connect with the emotionally unavailable Bruno or even with her own thoughts and feelings, Anna tries to rouse herself with new experiences: German language classes, Jungian analysis, and a series of sexual affairs she enters with an ease that surprises even her… When she wants to end them, she finds it’s difficult. Tensions escalate, and her lies start to spin out of control. Having crossed a moral threshold, Anna will discover where a woman goes when there is no going back.

Jill Alexander Essbaum is an incredibly gifted writer, weaving emotions, time, sex, love, and characters into one another seamlessly. Hausfrau is a haunting novel that is expertly paced. It commands the reader’s attention and allows them inside the emotional turmoil that Anna lives through each and every single day. Essbaum writes in such a way that you cannot help but feel everything all at once. You want to understand Anna, you want to help her, to fix her. Mostly you want her to end her affairs, you want to her wake up and get her to simply enjoy the life she leads. You want her to take control of her life before it is too late. You want her lies to disappear because eventually you actually feel sorry for Anna, you want her to redeem herself so much that you actually think she might. The trouble is that Hausfrau has no intent of wrapping Anna’s story in a pretty pink bow, but I’ll let you find that out for yourself.

“…analysis isn’t pliers, and truth is not teeth: you can’t pull it out by force. A mouth stays closes as long as it wants to. Truth is told when it tells itself.”
Jill Alexander Essbaum, Hausfrau

Love Always,

Vanessa Xo

Hausfrau comes out March 17th, 2015!

When Yesterday Disappears

Book Reviews, Lifestyle/Personal

…My yesterdays are disappearing, and my tomorrows are uncertain, so what do I live for? I live for each day. I live in the moment…
Lisa Genova, Still Alice

I recently finished reading Still Alice by Lisa Genova, and while I gave the novel five stars I must admit that it left me feeling uneasy. I have very forgetful days, I am not good with remembering names or recalling memories on the drop of a dime. Sometimes I even forget what I’ve written in blog posts or key moments in stories I’ve written. I’ve spent days looking at my Timehop app while thinking I tweeted that? I wrote that? I do not remember taking that photo. I’m sure this is normal, we all forget things and with our dependence on technology, it’s no wonder we can’t retain information in the same way that we (or I ) used to.

I’ve mentioned numerous times that I write to forget. I write to let moments slip away, bad and good. I let the words, memories, dreams, and fears pour onto the page without giving them a second thought, and rarely looking back on them. Maybe I’ve been doing it all wrong. Maybe I should be writing to help me remember how I’ve felt, what I’ve done, who I’ve hurt, who I’ve been hurt by. Life goes by too quickly for everything to leave a mark but that doesn’t mean that I should brush them off or forget purposely.

What if my tomorrows were distinctly numbered or I couldn’t control the loss of my memories? Yesterday is gone but not forgotten. Today is being lived, honored, and recorded the best way I know how. Tomorrow is an unknown constant that I’ve taken for granted. It’s time to remember yesterday and take back tomorrow, and what better time to start than a new month?

882ca07c1ab687bcd2b52593b07cfd0c

Love Always,
Vanessa Xo

Weekend Warm-Up

Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal

I spent my weekend babysitting my niece, hanging out with Alex, eating hearty food, reading The Girl on the Train (which was insane and intense), and driving to the city to visit my bf’s cousin. I avoided writing, blogging, and social media more than I normally do and allowed myself to refuel. That’s what weekends are for though, right? Reading, resting, and recharging. I feel ready to take on the last bit of February, work towards my writing goals, and perhaps take a much-needed risk or two…

-5

“I have to be alone very often. I’d be quite happy if I spent from Saturday night until Monday morning alone (or with Alex) in my apartment. That’s how I refuel.” ― Audrey Hepburn

Love Always,

Vanessa Xo

When Petals Fall

Lifestyle/Personal

From Flowers For website

Can you recall the exact moment you saw a flower petal fall? I do. I was sitting at the dining room table, writing away as the sun spilled onto my page. I heard it before I saw it, a tiny crack that demanded my peripheries to pay attention. It fell with a slow determined grace, as if it chose that moment to fall. By the time I turned my head, it was already bathing beautifully in the sunlight. As I looked at it I was thankful for the gentle reminder that there is a certain elegance to falling (or failing). For it creates vast opportunities for growth, change, and thoughts anew.

“What is so marvelous about living today is that it is possible to extend, like a flower, spreading petals in all directions.”
Carolyn Kizer

Love Always,

Vanessa Xo