Friday, October 21, 2016

Friday Loves: HAMILTON

I know I'm behind on this. HAMILTON is yesterday's news.

Blame my Canadian-ness. Or the fact that I don't make it to Broadway often... or like ever (*sobs*).

But I've been around, I've heard things. Yeah, I know stuff.

Like how popular HAMILTON is. I mean, you'd have to live under a rock not to know about it. I've listened to bits and pieces on YouTube. I saw the performance on the Tony's. But I finally have the entire soundtrack and I've now become another one on the long list of HAMILTON fans. I would LOVE to see this show. So bad. Unfortunately, I'm not planning any trips to NYC anytime soon, and HAMILTON probably won't be a touring musical to Canada for awhile. Here's hoping it comes here soon.

I guess it gives me a lot of time to learn all the lyrics, though. It's so much more fun watching a musical when you know all the words then when you're not even familiar with the songs (I'm looking at you, WICKED). So, I'm not throwing away my shot at learning every single word. (See what I did there?) And tonight I get to watch the PBS special!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Monday Reads: Two JAFF, a YA, and an NA

Have you ever loved an author... like everything they say on social media is hilarious, or you think if you knew them in real life you'd be besties, or maybe you saw them at a conference or signing and thought they were so interesting? And I mean this in a totally non-stalkerish/non-crazy way, I swear.

Anyway, so then you read one of their books thinking you'd LOVE it? Then you just... don't.

Total bummer. So yeah, that's how I kinda felt about FABLEHAVEN by Brandon Mull.

My daughter read and LOVED the FABLEHAVEN sereis like crazy, so she insisted on coming with me to 2015's WHEN WORDS COLLIDE because Brandon Mull would be there. I hadn't read anything by him, but we went to all his panels and he was such a dynamic speaker. Seriously. If you have a chance to hear him in public- GO! Anyway, I finally gave the first FABLEHAVEN book a try a couple of weeks ago and... I liked it. I did. But I wanted to love it so bad, like Harry Potter type love, and I just didn't. I've since started book two- so obviously I liked it enough to want to read on in the series. But it got me thinking about the book and why I didn't connect with it like I wanted to.

Honestly, I think the main thing is I'm not into "creature" kinds of books. I've read other fantasy-ish novels that have had a lot of magical creatures or magical items in them, and they're just not my kind of thing. I like magical people, not regular people who run into magical stuff. And FABLEHAVEN is all about a magical preserve. The other thing was it lacked the humor of Harry Potter. There was this one really funny part which I loved (the whole cow-milking scene), but I wanted more funny, especially since it's MG. Anyway, I did enjoy the book. I loved the difference between the brave but sometimes foolish Seth, and the more responsible Kendra who finds her courage in the end. The world-building too was stellar. Already with book 2, I've found the plot to be more fast-paced, which is a bonus. So we'll see how this one goes. I know with HP, I didn't really LOVE them until PRISONER OF AZKABAN, so I'm giving FABLEHAVEN a chance.

The next book I read was MR. DARCY BROKE MY HEART by Beth Patillo. I'm just going to say I gave the book 3 stars and leave it at that. I've read amazing JAFF books, and this one didn't measure up like I wanted it to.

Then I read MORE THAN MUSIC by Elizabeth Briggs. SWOON! This book was everything I wanted it to be. I wanted a sexy and fun romance, and this was it. I can't wait to read book 2 in the series.

Lastly, I read another JAFF book, LETTER FROM RAMSGATE by Suzan Lauder. I got this as an advanced copy and loved every minute of it. It felt like reading Jane Austen herself, as if I was reading one of her rewrites of PRIDE & PREJUDICE. The changes made in this book were so clever, and so well done, that I could really see it. Definitely one of the best P&P variations I've ever read.

What did you read this week?

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The Great Bookmark Saga of 2016

Who knew bookmarks could be such a pain?

Thus begins the Great Bookmark Saga of 2016. Also known as, A Disaster of Epic Proportions.

I wanted some bookmarks for SWAY. Samhain was kind enough to send me rack cards before SWAY came out and I have a few left, but they're out of date, plus I wanted something bookmark size. So I decided to design my own using Canva. I'd already designed something on Canva so obviously I was an expert and it seemed like a good idea.

It pretty much took me an entire day just to make my design. Once I did, it was pretty, I loved it, and I thought, all I have to do is upload it to Vistaprint and Bam! I've got bookmarks.


First, I'd heard that you can save money by uploading two designs on the rack card template and then you can cut them yourself and voila! Two for the price of one bookmarks. This did not work for me. So I tried to fit my design into Vistaprint's bookmark template. Also did not work. I redesigned my bookmarks on Canva multiple times in different sizes in an attempt to fit them into the template. NOPE. And keep in mind, this wasn't just a, click once to resize. Because I'm on basic Canva, I had to design over again FROM THE BEGINNING. EACH TIME.

After all this, I finally decided to use a different printing company. I uploaded my design and it was easy... TOO easy. But I ignored this and ordered a hundred bookmarks. At this point, it was like 2 am, but I could not fall asleep. I kept stressing about these bookmarks. What if I hadn't gotten the design within the bleed lines? What if words were cut off? What if they ended up blurry? Then I'd be wasting my money, PLUS a trip to the US where I had to pick them up (they don't ship to Canada). In order to get some sleep that night, I cancelled the order.

I just didn't feel good about ordering through this second printer, so I went back to Vistaprint and asked them to fit my design into their template. Waited a day. They couldn't do it.

Forget online printing companies, I would go local. So I went into Staples (a Canadian office supply store) and asked if they printed bookmarks and if they would print my design, how much, etc. They said yes- bring in the design on a USB. I did, the next day. The lady, the same one I'd already talked to, couldn't open the file. So she said for me to change the format and come back. So I did. AGAIN. I put my design into every format I could think of and went BACK into Staples. Same lady. Still couldn't open the file. She basically stared at me like I was some kind of idiot, but I'm sorry lady- those files opened on my computer at home! Anyway, suck-it Staples, I'll go somewhere else. After calling around and leaving multiple messages with small printing companies, I decided to try online again.

Can I make a side note here and say, if only Vistaprint had a bookmark template! They have rack card and business card templates, but with bookmarks, you have to upload your design. Otherwise, I would have redesigned right on Vistaprint. But I couldn't do that, so this time, I uploaded my design and asked them to recreate it for me. A day later, wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles... THEY DID! I had to make a minor change and wait another day, but finally, I had a working design that I could actually order on Vistaprint. So I did. They told me I would get them in a few weeks, in time for a book signing event I had planned for the beginning of October.

I waited. I checked the mail. I waited some more. I checked some more. NOTHING. Finally, a few days before my event (and here is where I screwed up... I should've done this a week earlier) I went into the tracking info on Vistaprint, which led me to UPS, which led me to this extensive list of all the places these bookmarks had travelled to. Apparently, they didn't have the right address, they contacted the receiver (me, and NO THEY DID NOT), got an address, delivered. They were rejected by the receiver (BECAUSE IT WASN'T ME), mailed them back to Ontario, went to three different cities in Ontario, and were currently in limbo when I checked. I called UPS.

Long story short, UPS doesn't deliver to PO boxes, and sent my bookmarks back to Vistaprint.

First of all, WHY DIDN'T UPS CALL/EMAIL ME??? I would've given them my street address. I have no clue WHO they kept contacting.

Second of all, if Vistaprint always uses UPS, and UPS never delivers to PO  boxes, WHY ARE YOU ALLOWED TO ENTER A PO BOX INTO THE ADDRESS LINE? When I called Vistaprint, they didn't even know UPS doesn't deliver to PO boxes!

What. The. Fudge.

Anyway (not really anyway, but I'm mostly over it, so anyway), Vistaprint said they would resend and I would get them October 6th... six days AFTER my bookstore event. Great. Thanks for that.

I didn't actually get them until today. If you want to see what they look like, and my reaction to opening them, you can go here.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Friday Loves: Gilmore Girls!

My sister often told me how much she loves Gilmore Girls, how she's watched the entire series at least ten times. Then there's the fans on Twitter, who tweet about it constantly, despite the fact the show ended years ago. Probably because of the revival coming up. Anyway, I finally decided to give it a try.

The first episode was good, but I wasn't immediately sold. It took me... a whole TWO episodes to get completely hooked. I don't know what it is about the show that hooked me so soon, but I'm guessing it's probably a mix of the witty and fast-paced dialogue, and the flawed yet likeable characters. At first I was awed by both Lorelei and Rory (please can I be them?!), but now that I've gotten to know them, they drive me cray-cray. Lorelei especially. She has these epic mom moments and I really envy her relationship with her daughter at times- it helps me be a bit more aware of my own relationships with my daughters (and son). Of course, Lorelei is also self-absorbed most of the time and there are so many moments when I'm mentally screaming at her to just shut up already. Rory I liked from the start, until the whole end of season four thing with Dean, and now I just want her to smarten up. But what makes the show great is despite these things, I still want them to get their happy endings, or happy for right now's. I want the same for Luke, Lane, Dean, Jess, Emily and Richard, even Kirk.
These characters are so compelling, it's hard not to be completely hooked on their lives and want to know what crazy thing they'll do next.

I'm in the middle of season five right now, so I still have a ways to go until the end. Hopefully I'll be done before the new episodes air next month. But for now, pardon my many Gilmore Girls tweets- this is all new to me and I'm loving it. I'm so glad I gave this show a shot.

What about you? Have you watched Gilmore Girls and did you like it?

Monday, October 3, 2016

Monday Reads: 4 YA

Soooo, I've felt lately like I've been in a bit of a book slump. Actually, I feel like I've been in a life slump, but that's a post for another day (or maybe just for inside my brain).

Here's what I've read lately:

The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi

This was one of those books that people LOVE but I just... didn't. It never captured me, I didn't feel like very much went actually happened, and I never connected to the characters. It did have a few really great moments though.

My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows

So I said book slump, but maybe not because THIS BOOK. It was HILARIOUS. Just so so so very well done. I loved it, I want it to be a movie, I want it to be real. Hey, if Reign is a show, they could make this a movie. Just saying. Seriously loved this book- one of my fave YA historicals ever.

A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir

This book was pretty great. A good sequel with a twist I thought I saw coming but it twisted in a different direction. I really enjoyed it, totally into this series, and I'm interested to see where Sabaa Tahir takes the next book (final book?).

Chasing Memories by Tia Silverthorne Bach

This book was a light paranormal read, a genre I feel I haven't read in awhile. There were some really fun moments, and it also had a twist I didn't see coming. It's the first of a series (or maybe trilogy?) so it ended on a cliffhanger which left me unsatisfied. I think I've lost patience for cliffhangers.

So maybe I haven't been in a book slump after all. Or it could be the fact that I started a book after Chasing Memories and couldn't get past page 50 (nope, couldn't do it) and now I'm reading something where I love the author but I haven't gotten into it yet. Please, I want to get into it so bad! Or maybe my life slump is bleeding over into my reading and tainting everything.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Monday Reads: A Hodgepodge

Alas, my reading has slowed down a bit lately. I have to keep telling myself it's not a race- I don't have a reading deadline (not counting library due dates). Sometimes I feel this insane urge to hurry and I don't know why.

Anyway, here's what I read:


 This was a Pride & Prejudice retelling which takes place in the South after WWII. There were so many things I loved about this book- the setting, Elizabeth's backstory, the twist on Colonel Fitzwilliam, the change around Bingley and Jane... Some of the characters were developed so fully that it really brought them to life, more than the original. My only pet peeve was that because of this- some of the other characters were kind of left in the dust. P&P has a huge cast so obviously you can't fully realize everyone, but I felt some were started and then left behind and I would've like a little more there. Otherwise, excellent read.

FLIRTING IN ITALIAN by Lauren Henderson

So, this is the kind of book where I'm dying to talk to somebody who has read it. I have a lot of opinions, most which I will bottle up until I can talk to someone about it (lol). There were some really fun things about this book, and I automatically love an Italian setting. However. My biggest pet peeve was that it ended on a cliffhanger- so obviously there are sequels, but this was a YA contemp romance and having no end to the plot really drove me bananas.


I loved like crazy Stacey Lee's first book UNDER A PAINTED SKY so naturally I picked up OtM. It didn't disappoint. Stacey Lee is easily one of my fave historical YA authors. She writes beautiful stories with the kind of characters you want to be besties with. OtM isn't only about Mercy's survival of the earthquake, but also about her journey to be seen and heard as a person, a woman, as being just as good as anyone else despite the way the world saw her. I have no gift for eloquent reviews, just read the book because it is excellent.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The Best Laid Plans

Sometimes I look ahead and wonder what in the heck I'm going to write next. 

And then there's the times where I look ahead with a plan in place. Usually this plan is, I will write this first, and then that next, and then go back and revise this, then revise that... you get the idea. At the beginning of the summer I had this plan in place. 

Well, summer is almost over and that plan basically blew up in my face.

I mean, I sorta set the fuse. For one, the manuscript I was supposed to write during the summer- well I only got about 10k written. Writing was lower on my priority list these past couple of months. Now that school is about to restart, I suddenly have multiple other projects I also want to work on, and I'm not sure what to do first. Finish the already started WIP? Write that novella I've been considering? Ignore both and write a new YA? 

I don't do well without a plan. I don't like chaos. I like to be in control. So I have to get my act in gear and just decide. Make a new list, set a new order, and then GO. Because I can't GO until the plan is in place. 

I just have to remember that even the best laid plans can fall apart. But when they do, I will start over, make a new list, set a new order, and then GO. Again. Because what else can you do?