Be omnivorous, don't just read one kind of book, read everything. - Richard Wagamese

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Review: Unwind by Neal Schusterman

Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Released: 2007
Pages: 335
Source: Personal Copy

Unwinding is a result of a second Civil War that was fought between Pro Life and Pro Choice advocates. The new laws protect children until they are thirteen years old. If a parent didn’t want to keep the child, they were free to leave them on a doorstep. If they were seen leaving the child, the child became their responsibility and they could no longer walk away. Once the child was theres, they had to keep the child until they were thirteen. Once a child turned thirteen, parents could choose to “unwind” their children. This consisted to having all the parts of the child harvested to “live on” in someone else. Unwinding was a compromise between the two parties.

In Unwind, we have Connor, the “troubled” teen, Risa, an orphan and Lev, a tithe. They are all about to go to the harvest camp. Connor’s parents have signed the papers, and they don’t know, he knows. Risa is told she is to become unwound because of budget cuts and Lev has always known he would become unwound, because he would be a tithe. He’s accepted his faith, and although he’s scared, he doesn’t feel like he has a choice. The three of them end up on the run, trying to escape. Lev is really confused, and doesn’t want to be kidnapped by Connor and Risa. He’s a tithe, people have always made him proud to be in his shoes.

Unwind is a very interesting book that I didn’t really know about when I started reading it. I went in not knowing much about it, and I was really hooked. It’s very fast paced, action packed, different and disturbing. The story is told from three perspectives. The plot became very real to me, the world building was fantastic. There’s one section that gave me chills. I highly recommend this one. I haven’t been into young adult for a while, but this one was so original and interesting. I believe there are 4 books in the series, and I will be reading the others.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Review: Blackberry Winter by Sarah Jio

Publisher: Plume
Released: 2012
Pages: 290
Source: Personal Copy

May 2011- Claire is a reporter working for a Seattle Newspaper. She’s asked to cover the “blackberry winter” snowstorm and compare it to a twin snowstorm that took place in 1933. As Claire begins to research the 1933 snowstorm, she discovers that a little boy went missing during the storm. Claire is clearly broken, she suffered a loss, and her marriage is barely hanging on. She hasn’t felt motivated in awhile, but she throws herself into this story. Her husband is the managing editor of the newspaper, his family are the owners. They work together but barely speak to each other. She has no idea what to do about her marriage but she uses the story to distract herself.

May 1933- Vera Ray is a single mother trying to provide for her three year old son. Vera is forced to leave her son home alone during the night to go to work. If she doesn’t go, her job will be gone and she’s on the verge of being evicted from their apartment. A freak May Snowstorm erupts and when Vera returns home, she can’t find her son. His teddy bear is left in the snow, the police think he ran away and will come back. She’s desperate to find her son.

Blackberry Winter intricately weaves two story lines, keeping the reader captivated. Both Claire and Vera are well developed characters. The pacing of the novel was well done, leaving the reader intrigued by both story lines. As a reader, if I’m more caught up with one story line, I tend to want to skip the story line that i’m not as interested in. This book had me enjoying both, equally.

This was my second Sarah Jio book that I read, and I really want to continue reading her books. She blends the past with the present, beautifully. Her writing is great. I really have a hard time putting her books down.

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Wednesday, November 16, 2016

November TBR List

These three books are on my immediate tbr list. I started Unwind by Neal Shusterman yesterday and these other two will be on my radar next. I can't believe I still haven't read Go Set A Watchman. The Witches of New York is high on my tbr because I loved Ami McKay's previous books. Have you read any of these? I haven't read much YA fiction lately, I don't really know what new releases I should pick up. I'm really excited to start reviewing some of these books again. I really struggled with a reading slump this year.


The Second Civil War was fought over reproductive rights. The chilling resolution: Life is inviolable from the moment of conception until age thirteen. Between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, however, parents can have their child "unwound," whereby all of the child's organs are transplanted into different donors, so life doesn't technically end. Connor is too difficult for his parents to control. Risa, a ward of the state, is not enough to be kept alive. And Lev is a tithe, a child conceived and raised to be unwound. Together, they may have a chance to escape and to survive.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Review: The Violets of March by Sarah Jio

Publisher: Plume
Released: 2011
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5/5
Fun fact: I opened Blackberry Winter by Sarah Jio on my ereader and somehow the ebook was skipped all the way to the back and when I sat down to read, I had no idea I was reading a preview for The Violets of March. When I finished the preview, figured out what happened, I immediately when to Kobo to purchase the ebook. I had to continue the story. I was hooked. I needed more.

The story opens with Emily in the process of ending her marriage after learning that her husband has left her for another woman. Readers immediately feel for Emily and we start the journey with her to rebuild her life. Emily is an uninspired, bestselling author living off royalty checks. As much as she wants to write, nothing good is put to paper. Her best friend, Annabelle convinces her to get away, and Emily decides to visit her Aunt Bee who she use to visit as a child during the summer. Emily returns to Bainbridge Island after many years away. The close relationship with her aunt is very apparent and  admirable. When Emily discovers a red velvet diary, she’s not sure if she should tell Bee. She’s not sure who wrote the contents, but it’s dated 1943. This diary leads Emily on a wild goose chase, and her own family history is dug up. Family secrets are not always welcomed by everyone once they are uncovered.

I truly enjoyed Emily as a character. She’s stuck, her husband has left and her career doesn’t seem to be moving forward. How can you miss a man who left you for another woman? Emily does, and it’s hard to move on. Bee is a fabulous older lady, and her storyline is great. This is a story about forgiveness. Love doesn’t always conquer all. We are humans, we are faulty, we can be stubborn. Secrets do surface and family secrets can be hurtful. The dual storyline kept me glued to the pages. I highly recommend this one. Now, on to Blackberry Winter by Sarah Jio...

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Parenting Pressure

Do you have friends or family that have children the same age as yours? Do you ever feel pressured by your parenting peers? Parenting is hard, and when you start to feel pressured by others it adds to the stress. Lately, I've been feeling the pressure from family about Caleb's toilet training. I feel like he's being compared to others his age, and I really started to let it bother me. Overall, he does well with toilet training but he's not fully trained yet. He doesn't tell me when he has to go. When I starting realizing that I was really letting other people bother me, I decided I needed to take a step back and look at myself. Every child is different, and every situation is different. I work full time, and I'm not with Caleb all day. He doesn't really understand that a Pull Up is not a diaper. At home, I keep him in underwear and it works alot better. At daycare, it's different. Toilet training will come, and I need to let him figure it out. I will continue to encourage him, and work on the process, I don't think he fully understands the signs of when he needs to go. It will come.

I don't want to raise my son by comparing him to others. He has his own strengths and weaknesses (sleep) and I need to start being more confident in my parenting style. Yes, we still co sleep. Caleb doesn't sleep a full night. He wakes up EVERY SINGLE night, and one day he will sleep through the night. Until then, we have to do what is best for our family. When someone asks me "Does he sleep in his own bed yet?" I need to remember that they're not the one waking up with him all night, and not the one who has to go to work in the morning. No, he doesn't sleep in his own room, and that's fine. That question has to stop bothering me.

I do really well with not letting others bother me, but sometimes it does. In this case, I realized I was letting it get to me, I talked to my husband and we agreed that we need to focus on our situation and not be bothered by others. My husband is my biggest supporter and he encourages me when I need it. I'm going to stumble, and I'm going to feel frustrated but I always need to put my family first.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Reading Wrap Up: October

October was an okay reading month for me. I was very into personal finance books, and I read both The Recovering Spender and Debt Free Forever and thought they were both good. I do enjoy Gail Vaz Oxlade, she's very in your face and knowledgeable.  I find alot of these books start to sound repetitive, I'm not sure if I'll be picking any personal finance books up in November. I've been itching to get back into reading and I think the warmer weather will really help. 

Books Read

November I'm hoping to have some book reviews, some personal finance posts and more lifestyle/parenting posts. The personal finance posts have  alot of traffic, so I know people are enjoying them and hopefully are motivated by these posts. I've never been in a bad financial state but I think it's great to learn how to be better about finances. It's something that really interests me. 

My favorite book read in October was Wenjack. I think it's a powerful read, and I encourage everyone to pick this novella up.

I'm currently reading another Joseph Boyden book:

Before internationally acclaimed author Joseph Boyden penned his bestselling novel Three Day Road and his Scotiabank Giller Prize–winning novel, Through Black Spruce, he published a powerful collection of thirteen stories about modern Aboriginal life that made readers and reviewers take notice. These stories of love, loss, rage and resilience match virtuosic style with clever wit to turn stereotypes on their head and reveal the traditions and grace of our First Peoples. Readers come to know a butterfly-costumed boy fascinated by the world of professional wrestling, a young woman who falls in love with a wolf, to the leader of an all-girl Native punk band and Painted Tongue, the unforgettable character from Through Black Spruce.Though each story is told in a different and distinct voice, they are all united by their captivating vitality, nuanced perceptions and vigorous prose.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Book Thoughts: Wenjack by Joseph Boyden

Book Description

An Ojibwe boy runs away from a North Ontario Indian School, not realizing just how far away home is. Along the way he's followed by Manitous, spirits of the forest who comment on his plight, cajoling, taunting, and ultimately offering him a type of comfort on his difficult journey back to the place he was so brutally removed from.
Written by Scotiabank Giller Prize winning author Joseph Boyden and beautifully illustrated by acclaimed artist Ken Monkman, Wenjack is a powerful and poignant look into the world of a residential school runaway trying to find his way home."

Book Thoughts:

Wenjack by Joseph Boyden is a book that I cannot properly review. This is an amazing novella that is important literature that needs to be read. So many Canadians are not aware that residential schools existed for us, and they have no idea how atrocious they were. We need to change our history books because this needs to be taught in schools. Joseph Boyden is an amazing author. He really is, and I plan to read all his books. Wenjack is essential reading, please pick it up. This book is short and will leaving you deep in thought. It's important for our residential school survivors that we learn what they went through. The last residential school closed in 1996, it was an attempt to "kill the Indian out of the child." Many of these federally run schools had their own graveyards.

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