Puddles on the stage #TPSLAM

Family Time, Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal, Restaurant Reviews, Toronto Adventures

Flowing water – a waterfall – I slip on the ever dripping words that spill from their mouths. 

Puddles on the stage. 

So many words spoken, ringing in my ears, bleeding to my heart. 

When I left my first poetry slam at The Drake Underground last night I could barely speak. When my cousin asked me what I thought about it, I couldn’t articulate all of the emotion that ran through me. There were so many delicious words swimming in my head… I thought it might explode.

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I wrote down snippets of the performances that really resonated with me. People, complete strangers who knew nothing about me were able to put my feelings into a three-minute rhyme… making me feel a little less alone. I was moved by a poem about anorexia “sick turned into success — girl you’re thin — badge of honour”. I was touched by a love/anti-love poem “no person’s destiny is addressed to us, even if they have our name on their lips”. I was left breathless by a poem about a girl with no legs and blown away by the passion behind a poem about the Kennedys.

I was so focused on each and every performance that sometimes I held my breath for the entire three minutes. Each poet made me feeling something. My heart pumped, my veins were on fire, electricity swam through my soul, from the top of my head to the piggies on my feet, I felt alive. I felt like I was part of something, this group of misfit toys hipsters — each one different, imperfect, speaking songs in perfect time. I understood them all and was frozen line by line.

IMG_0206This girl right here ^ invited me to a poetry slam a few months ago and I kept cancelling for one reason or another. I am so glad that I finally took the time to go with her and my mentor/friend, Casie. It was Casie’s first time at a poetry slam too and I’m happy that she loved it —  I have a feeling that this wasn’t a one time thing! Thanks for opening my eyes to something new, Amanda! For those of you who’ve never been, spoken word is moving and beautiful, I tip my hat to all of those who performed last night — much love and many snaps*

Talk soon,

Vanessa Xo

The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches [BOOK REVIEW]

Book Reviews

Around this time last year, I reviewed the fifth instalment of the Flavia de Luce mysteries (Speaking from Among the Bones). The ending of that novel was so gripping that I couldn’t wait for the sixth instalment to come out and it finally has!

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Alan Bradley is an honest-to-goodness genius when it comes to Flavia de Luce. She is one character I cannot get enough of — smart, brave, curious and always up to no good (and yet she has the best intentions at heart)! What I loved about this novel was how it stayed mostly at Buckshaw, how the characters came to Flavia instead of her peddling her way through the entire village. I loved how you got into the core of each of the de Luce’s, how you got to see a different side of them because you got to witness something that is so close to their hearts.

Bishop’s Lacey is never short of two things: mysteries to solve and pre-adolescent detectives to solve them. In this New York Times bestselling series of cozy mysteries, young chemist and aspiring detective Flavia de Luce once again brings her knowledge of poisons and her indefatigable spirit to solve the most dastardly crimes the English countryside has to offer, and in the process, she comes closer than ever to solving her life’s greatest mystery–her mother’s disappearance. . .

I admit *SPOILER* that I was truly disappointed when Flavia’s mother returned to Buckshaw in a coffin instead of walking on her own two feet. I was truly saddened for Flavia, I wanted her to meet her mother so desperately that I was brought to tears a few times while reading. But then… the mystery overtakes you and you nearly forget your sadness… because with Flavia, there is always a corpse nearby and a mystery to be solved! This mystery has to be my favourite by a long shot, it is so detailed, calculated, and intertwined that you have no idea where it’s going to take you next. You’re on the same page as Flavia the entire time. Each clue adds a little confusion and excitement, but not to worry, everything is always settled in the end. There are no loose ends, just new beginnings, and new tomorrows…

“What are we going to do, Dogger?”

It seemed a reasonable question. After all he had been through, surely Dogger knew something of hopeless situations.

“We shall wait upon tomorrow,” he said.

“But–what if tomorrow is worse than today?”

“Then we shall wait upon the day after tomorrow.”

“And so forth?” I asked.

“And so forth,” Dogger said.

It was comforting to have an answer, even one I didn’t understand. I must have looked skeptical.

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PLEASE TELL ME THERE IS GOING TO BE A BOOK #7?!

I’m not ready to say goodbye to this sleuth!

Talk soon,

Vanessa Xo

Disclosure: I chose The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches from a list of Random House Canada titles and received a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Quote: Page 273 of The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches

Synopsis: Random House of Canada

Photos: MY PEN, MY VOICE and living in the kingdom of too much 

Post edited by: Grammarly

What does VANESSA want and how is she going to get it?

Bursting the Bubble, Lifestyle/Personal

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A year ago today I wrote about hope, rash actions, and going with the flow (who lives in hope, dies in despair!). It’s funny how an entire year can go by and I feel exactly the same. I’m doing the same things, living the same life, and still hoping for something, something I can’t quite grasp. A lot has changed around me: weddings, engagements, babies, new jobs, new homes, but I’m still… standing still in my apron and track pants. So what now? What does VANESSA want and how is she going to get it (I love third person narration)…

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… all I want to do is make you proud (mom, dad, grade 8 and 12 English teachers). To live up to whatever it is you thought I was going to become. My dad told me that I want it too much, that I work too hard, and I get in my own way. These visions of perfection, these timelines, these damn dreams that I have are too specific, too demanding. They don’t allow me to see what else is out there — and that’s just sad. They add more pressure and confusion and less FOCUS to my life. I would give ANYTHING to have my career started by my 25th birthday (APRIL 4, 2014 – gifts in the form of books or pretty dresses are appreciated :P) but I said the same thing last year and it hasn’t quite worked out. Instead of having that date set-in-stone, I’ll let it fluctuate (before would be awesome but I’ll take a little after too). The key to getting what I want is to keep my mind open and my fear at bay.

If you hear of any jobs in book and/or magazine publishing (or anything you think might tickle my fancy) let me know!

I’d reward you handsomely with an Internet High-FIVE or a real-life hug!

Talk soon,

Vanessa Xo 

Photo Credit: Pinterest and Pinterest (duh!)

2014: this is my year

Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal, Uncategorized

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I love the beginning of a new year because it drips with possibilities and hope. Just think, you have 365 blank pages to write on. A new year is a new story, a new chapter, and you can make it whatever you want it to be. As part of my resolutions I promised myself I would read different things! So for day one of 2014 I read through the January edition of FLARE Magazine (confession: I’ve never read an entire magazine). My favorite article was their interview with Zoe Saldana. She’s an actress I’ve always liked but the beautifully written article made me respect her. I respect her attitude when it comes to women working hard, staying motivated, and standing up for what they believe in. I admire her honesty when she says that she can’t stand whiny women who complain about everything. How she cannot deal with lazy unmotivated women – it’s one thing to be scared and timid, it’s another thing to be LAZY. I vow to not be one of those women this year, not because Zoe said so but because my mom taught me better. I vow to be stronger, to work harder, and to sit back and learn from my vulnerabilities.

“I am tough, but I’m also a very vulnerable person. I trust everyone. For many year I thought, I need to stop being this way, but no, I just need to learn from it.” — Zoe Saldana FLARE Magazine

Hello 2014, you’re mine and I love you already.

Talk soon,

Vanessa Xo

Photo Cred: Pinterest 

“Who dares wins” – Second Influencer Session with @CasieStewart

Bursting the Bubble, Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal, Toronto Adventures

On Sunday I went to the Art Gallery of Ontario with Casie Stewart (blogger, mentor, influencer). It felt great to be downtown on my own again but I still felt a littler nervous meeting up with Casie! Thankfully we started off the morning with a mimosa – where I shook it out and relaxed. Seriously, I had to shake out my nerves. I’m such a tense and anxious person, I need to let loose and STOP WORRYING. THIS IS ME, AND I’M AWESOME, LIKE IT OR LEAVE IT. In that state-of-mind I walked around from room to room of the art gallery with Casie by my side. We talked about a lot of things, she showed me some of her favourite artwork, and she told me a few of her stories.

Mostly we talked about this:

Photo from Casie Stewart

Photo from Casie Stewart

About me getting out of my comfort zone and trying new things. About me getting out of my current work situation and finding something that will give me the skills I need to succeed in the field I want to get into (publishing). Casie gave me loads of excellent advice but what hit me hardest was when she politely called me out on my crap. I haven’t been looking for jobs in the right places because I’m comfortable where I am and I am scared of change. BOOM! I said it. Now I need to change it. Easy-peasy.

Another thing that I really need to work on is discovering what I LOVE. I walked through the room filled with self-portraits (the original selfie) and wondered what my self-portrait would look like and how I really see myself. I wondered a lot about what I love, what inspires me, and I realized that I don’t know. But I am going to find out.

I’ve got a brand new notebook and I’m making the right lists, looking for the right jobs, and exploring the city as often as I can.

Next I’d like to check out the aquarium and head to The R.O.M, then maybe I’ll explore the local art gallery (McMichael).

Come with?

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 *

So, a man walked into a pizza place with a book under his arm…

Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal

So, a man walks into my pizza place with a book under his arm and my boss smiles.

“You don’t see many people walking around with books these days, it’s nice to see. Me and Vanessa here, we love books,” my boss states with a smile. Then pointing at me he says, “She’s going to be a publisher someday”. I know that he meant a Writer but he said it with such conviction that I actually believed him. For a split second I believed him. That split second repeated in intervals throughout the rest of my night, like an amazing case of the hiccups. I believed that one day I would publish books — that I would be a published writer. I could see it, I could feel it, I could taste it, because he could too.

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One belief can turn into another, one positive comment can spark a movement, one smile can change a life, and it happens when you least expect it. When you least expect it, you believe in yourself once again.

You feel awake and alive… and it feels great.

___

Love Always

Vanessa Xo 

Newspaper Clippings

Bursting the Bubble, Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal

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I’ve never been a huge fan of newspapers, all of that depressing news, stained fingertips, and sad columns weren’t really my thing. That is until my boss started cutting out articles that he thought I’d enjoy. Since then I’ve not only been reading skimming through the paper every single day at work but I’ve been collecting articles that mean something to me: articles that inspire me. So far I have two clippings saved, the first one about the all of the Canadian authors who made The Booker List this year. My favourite part of that one is a quote by Ruth Ozeki (author of A Tale for the Time Being):

“But honestly…it’s hard to say where a book really comes from, but it happens…Canada has always been a great place for literature…It’s strong and growing stronger and there will always be reading and there will always be great writers.” 

The second article is one that I found on Saturday while having brunch at The Soho House in Toronto. It’s a wonderful piece about a couple renewing their vows after 70 years of marriage. This article paints a beautiful picture about love, about soul-mates, about understanding and accepting the person you’re with. It literally warmed the cockles of my heart, their kind of love is one worth reading about.

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Okay, so this collection of clippings is rather small but I’ve decided to keep them and to tack them to my wall. I will continue to collect inspiring stories and keep them where I can see them. Who knows what kind of REAL, wonderful, and enlightening stories I’ll find? Who knew that REAL stories could be just as exciting as the fictional novels that I read? Not me.

___

Love Always

Vanessa Xo 

Lost Girl at Heart — #Travel #Life #Leap

Book Reviews, Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal

Thanks to Not A Model’s review of The Lost Girls, I decided to pick up a copy. I’m only a hundred or so pages in (I’m trying to enjoy this book rather than swallow it whole), I have already learned a few important things. For starters I need to write better — their descriptions are beautifully written and vivid, without being pretentious. Secondly, I need to take more chances and make a few changes, but changes that are RIGHT FOR ME, right now. I don’t think I could drop my life and travel for a year through South American countries (like The Lost Girls) but my need for travel is still burning strong. I feel like I’m in the same little lost boat as the girls who penned this book — trying to figure out the next step of my life and what I want from it. I’m a little lost and my need to compare and contrast my life with other is hindering my vision. My future is clouded by other people’s decisions, commitments, and destinies. I need to paddle my way through all of their decisions and figure out exactly what I want, for now, and later. Then I need to take a leap of faith (whenever that ‘then’ may be).

‘There’s a Buddhist saying that goes “Leap, and the net will appear.” I didn’t understand what the restlessness was that was driving me, but I was compelled to take the leap. I could only have faith that there would be a net to catch me if I fell.’ 

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___

Love Always

Vanessa Xo

Creeps [Book Review]

Book Reviews, Lifestyle/Personal

When a copy of Creeps by Darren Hynes showed up in my mailbox I was ecstatic! I love YA novels, particularly ones that are REAL or depict high school in a true light. Creeps is The Perks of Being a Wallflower meets The Fault in Our Stars meets Invisible — three books that I love dearly, so you can only imagine how I feel about this one.

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Fifteen-year-old Wayne Pumphrey wishes he were courageous enough to actually send the heartfelt letters he writes to friends and family. He also wishes his father would drive on the right side of the street, his mother would stop packing her suitcase to leave, and his sister would stop listening to Nickelback. But most of all, he wishes that Pete “The Meat” would let him walk to school in peace. After all, how many times can one person eat yellow snow?

Then one morning, while facing Pete and his posse, Wayne is rescued by Marjorie, the girl with a dead father and a mother who might as well be. Together, the two of them escape Pete’s relentless bullying by rehearsing for the school play, and an unlikely friendship is formed. As they grow ever closer to one another, they begin to dream of escape from their small town and restricted lives. But Pete now has plans for both of them—and after a moment of sudden violence, nothing will ever be the same again for Wayne, Marjorie, or Pete himself.

Creeps is a tough book to read, in that it hurts you your heart. For a fifteen-year-old kid to feel so helpless and so alone, to be picked on to the point insanity, whose only comfort is writing un-sent letters, your heart bleeds for this child. The language, scenes, and bullying leave very little room for imagination. They are what they are and there’s no sugar-coating it. Some kids go through hell in high school and this novel is a testament to that. It’s an eye-opener for anyone who doesn’t believe that there are real bullies out there. Bullying seems to be worse now than when I was in high school. It’s harder to ft in, it’s harder to stand out, it’s harder to be accepted.

…I’ll take the job anyway because it’s good to have somewhere to go and something to do and someone other than the wall to look at and say stuff to.” (Page 59)

Wayne, is a character I won’t soon forget, he is everything I was in high school. The kind of kid who likes the quiet, who writes instead of speaks, who knows that the day will come when he or she has to get LOUD, has to stand up for his or herself. His words and his letters will stick with me for a long time. His fears and his insecurities are things that I would never wish upon anyone. He is a great character that can teach readers many things. He can teach you by showing you. He shows you that we all have problems, even if we try to keep them inside. He shows you what it is to be brave in ‘silly’ little ways. He shows you that you’re not as alone as you think you are. He shows you how big of a difference one person can make.

…he wonders how it could be that yesterday he felt so young but now feels like a man and it occurs to him that something begins at the same time something ends, so he’ll always be in motion, moving towards and away from things.” (Page 180)

With his raw and sincere writing style, Darren Hynes has crafted a book that should be on the TO READ list of every ninth-grader.

Creeps will have you turning pages, shedding tears, and hoping for the best possible ending, because Wayne deserves it.

___

Love Always

Vanessa Xo