Re-Read Challenge 2015

December 17, 2014 Challenges 1

Re-Read Challenge

I have been following So Obsessed With and Belle of the Literati for some time now and I love the challenge they’ve created for 2015. The point of this challenge is to “relive the magic of your favourite books. Return to your favourite stories, characters and worlds. Remember what it was like the first time around, and see just how fun it can be to re-read.”

I have enjoyed rereading favourite books my entire life, but that has fallen off the rails a bit since I started university four years ago. This year, I will be transitioning into the “real world” and while that’s going to be hectic, I hope that also means there will be time for revisiting childhood favourites as well as special books I enjoyed studying at school. I’m aiming for 12 books – one per month – but really, I’m fine with any number as long as I am ultimately doing more rereading. Here are a few of the books I hope to be revisiting this year:

  1. Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels
  2. Ida B by Katherine Hannigan
  3. The Wicked Years series by Gregory Maguire
  4. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
  5. The Books of Bayern series by Shannon Hale
  6. The Queen’s Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner
  7. Pat of Silver Bush series by L.M. Montgomery
  8. Protector of the Small series by Tamora Pierce
  9. Gallagher Girls series by Ally Carter
  10. Headhunter by Timothy Findley
  11. Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
  12. Zink by Cherie Bennett

A lot of this list is comprised of series, and I’m not sure I’ll get to all of them, but I would like to! If you’re interested in signing up – which I hope you are! – go check out the sign-up page on Hannah’s blog. Happy re-reading!


{Cover Reveal} Take Them By Storm by Marie Landry

November 11, 2014 Cover Reveal 0

I’m very excited to take part yet again in a cover reveal for one of my favourite Canadian and self-published authors, Marie Landry! Take Them by Storm is the third and final book in the Angel Island series (but it can be read as a standalone), and so now I’ll have helped reveal all of this series covers. Read on to view the wonderful cover, and see my 5 reasons why you should read this book or the entire series.


… 3 …

… 2 …

… 1! ..

cover for Take Them by Storm (Angel Island #3) by Marie Landry - features a girl in black lace stockings, purple converse shoes and dress sitting on old suitcases against a purple backdrop.

Take Them By Storm by Marie Landry
Series: Angel Island #3
Published by Self-Published on January 6, 2015
Genres: New Adult
Format: eBook
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This book is a standalone companion novel to Waiting for the Storm and After the Storm. The books do not need to be read together or in order, but please note that this synopsis contains mild spoilers for After the Storm.

Sadie Fitzgerald has always been different, and not just because she makes her own clothes and would rather stay home watching Doctor Who than party with kids her age. When it’s time to leave Angel Island for college, Sadie is eager to put her old life behind her. Small-minded people and rumors have plagued her for years, but with the love of her adoptive family, the O’Dells, Sadie has learned to embrace who she is. Now she’s not afraid to admit the rumors about her are true: she’s gay.

For the first time in her life, Sadie feels free to be herself. She dives into college life and begins volunteering at the local LGBT center, where she discovers her small-town upbringing left holes in her education about life outside Angel Island.

The world is a bigger and more accepting place than Sadie ever imagined. She’s finally found where she belongs, but with the reappearance of someone from her past, an unexpected new friendship, and a chance at love, Sadie soon realizes she still has a lot to learn about life, friendship, and love.

5 Reasons You Should Read Take Them by Storm & the Angel Island series

  1. Sadie is my all-time favourite character from the series and this is HER book. This girl is FIERCE and dances to the beat of her own drum, but she isn’t some manic pixie dream girl. She’s got a cool sense of style, stands up for her friends, and also identifies as a lesbian. I’m looking forward to seeing a relationship unfold for Sadie as Landry does romance so well (see point #5).
  2. Like books that will make you cry? I’ve cried reading every book in this series! Both happy and sad tears have been shed.
  3. Numerous swoon worthy book boyfriends. That are all respectful and caring. No asshats here! Or love triangles (not that I’m entirely against love triangles, but let’s admit, it can be a tad overdone).
  4. Each book features great depictions of family dynamics, and friendships – both the good and the bad. All different kinds of love are covered, and romantic love isn’t praised as the only kind of love or the most important.
  5. I used to say I’m not a fan of romance books and that I don’t read them, but Marie Landry’s books, and in particular, this series, have made me reevaluate my feelings against the genre. I’m a convert! So even if you don’t think you like contemporary romance, I still urge you to give these books a try!
Not convinced?

Check out my reviews of the previous two books (which can also be read as standalones) below by clicking on the covers.

 waiting for the storm   after the storm


About Marie Landry


Marie has always been a daydreamer; since early childhood she's had a passion for words and a desire to create imaginary worlds, so it only seemed natural for her to become a writer. She resides in Ontario, Canada, and most days you can find her writing, reading, blogging about writing and reading, listening to U2, watching copious amounts of TV on DVD, or having grand adventures with her nephews and niece. She's a hopeless romantic, an unapologetic eavesdropper (occupational hazard), an equally unapologetic squeeing fangirl, and a lover of swoonworthy book and TV characters.

Cover Reveal Organized by: YA Bound Book Tours


{Review} Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

November 5, 2014 Review 2 ★★★★★

{Review} Station Eleven by Emily St. John MandelStation Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
Published by HarperCollins on September 9, 2014
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Science Fiction
Pages: 352
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
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An audacious, darkly glittering novel about art, fame and ambition set in the eerie days of civilization's collapse, from the author of three highly acclaimed previous novels.

One snowy night a famous Hollywood actor slumps over and dies onstage during a production of King Lear. Hours later, the world as we know it begins to dissolve. Moving back and forth in time-from the actor's early days as a film star to fifteen years in the future, when a theatre troupe known as the Travelling Symphony roams the wasteland of what remains-this suspenseful, elegiac, spellbinding novel charts the strange twists of fate that connect five people: the actor, the man who tried to save him, the actor's first wife, his oldest friend, and a young actress with the Traveling Symphony, caught in the crosshairs of a dangerous self-proclaimed prophet. Sometimes terrifying, sometimes tender, Station Eleven tells a story about the relationships that sustain us, the ephemeral nature of fame and the beauty of the world as we know it.

I recently picked this up for an assignment on Canadian literature. I’d read numerous positive reviews – from JamieHannahKaren, and Blair – so I was really looking forward to this book. While literary science fiction is not a favorite genre of mine, the dazzling reviews were enough to sway me. Station Eleven is about a lethal flu epidemic that plagues our world and the ensuing aftermath. The narrative focuses on several characters each related, in some way, to a famous Hollywood actor who dies onstage during a production of “King Lear” in the opening pages. In an interview with the New York Times, Mandel said, “I wanted to write a love letter to the modern world, and a way to write about all these things we take for granted was to write about their absence.” I was pleasantly surprised by this insightful look into our world, our culture, and our humanity.

Part of what made this book so rich for me was how well Mandel developed a response to what exactly happens when 99% of the world’s population dies from an influenza epidemic. It’s about resilience, of the body, of the mind, and of the heart. I loved the multiple narratives in this book because it demonstrates so well how many different reactions are possible. A recurrent theme is that survival is not enough, and while Mandel writes characters who embody this concept, there are others who aren’t as mentally resilient.

These characters, though – they’re insanely realistic. I LOVE THEM. I ached for them. Their stories felt so tragic but so beautifully expressed. However, I don’t think there’s any way to explain these characters or their plots without ruining it all. Part of the enchantment of this book is the suspense: you don’t know how everything links together, and it seems to take forever to figure it out, but you do eventually.

The narrative has a wonderful sense of self-consciousness. You always have a sense of where you are currently in the timeline of the novel (which is long). I love this passage, which really exemplifies what I’m trying to describe:

“standing on a stool on his wondrously functional pre-Libya legs, the bullet that would sever his spinal cord still twenty-five years away but already approaching: a woman giving birth to a child who will someday pull the trigger on a gun, a designer sketching the weapon or its precursor, a dictator making a decision that will spark in the fullness of time into the conflagration that Frank will go overseas to cover for Reuters, the pieces of a pattern drifting closer together.”

We jump around from the moment the epidemic was unfolding and 20+ years after it happened, as well as a few memories from way before the epidemic. It really conveys a sense of shock when you go from completely normal – like our current world – to complete devastation and craziness. Super, super scary. I love when Mandel described the world 20+ years out, though, because it was so interesting to compare people who’s attitudes and experiences are so similar to mine, to a generation who grows up without any of the “modern conveniences” we are accustomed to (i.e. electricity, plumbing, gasoline, Internet).

For me, this book ticked every box: while the pacing is slower, it’s elegant and unique, and the characters and plot are expressed beautifully. Mandel is a wonderful storyteller. Her writing demonstrates that she put a lot of thought into the story, and it is completely controlled. That is the mark of an extremely talented writer; she knows everything but isn’t overhanded by revealing it all at once. If you enjoy books with interesting characters and emotional narratives, this one’s for you.

Collected Quotations

“‘It’s like the corporate world’s full of ghosts. And actually, let me revise that, my parents are in academia so I’ve had front-row seats for that horror show, I know academia’s no different, so maybe a fairer way of putting this would be to say that adulthood’s full of ghosts. . . . I’m talking about these people who’ve ended up in one life instead of another and they are just so disappointed. Do you know what I mean? They’ve done what’s expected of them. They want to do something different but it’s impossible now, there’s a mortgage, kids, whatever, they’re trapped. Dan’s like that. . . . You probably encounter people like him all the time. High-functioning sleepwalkers, essentially.'”

“Hell is the absence of the people you long for.”

“Something I’ve been thinking about, which will sound harsh and I’m sorry: you said you’d always be my friend but you’re not, actually, are you? I’ve only realized that recently. You don’t have any interest in my life. This is going to seem bitter but I don’t mean it that way, V., I’m just stating a fact here: you’ll only ever call me if I call you first. Have you noticed that? If I call and leave a message you’ll call me back, but you will never call me first. And I think that’s kind of a horrible thing, V., when you’re supposed to be someone’s friend. I always come to you. You always say you’re my friend but you’ll never come to me and I think I have to stop listening to your words, V., and take stock instead in your actions. My friend C. thinks my expectations of friendship are too high but I don’t think he’s right.”

“Survival is insufficient.”

5 Stars


{Sunnydale Project Guest Post} “Are You Ready to Be Strong?” Buffy & Strength

October 31, 2014 Guest Post, Sunnydale Project 0

buffy strength
So here’s the part where you make a choice: What if you could have that power…now? In every generation, one slayer is born…because a bunch of men who died thousands of years ago made up that rule. They were powerful men. This woman is more powerful than all of them combined. So I say we change the rule. I say my power…should be our power. Tomorrow, Willow will use the essence of the scythe to change our destiny. From now on, every girl in the world who might be a slayer…will be a slayer. Every girl who could have the power…will have the power…can stand up, will stand up. …every one of us. Make your choice. Are you ready to be strong? (From Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 7 Episode 22 – Chosen)

Buffy the Vampire Slayer is my all-time favorite show. It ran from the time I was 11 to the time I was 17, so all of my most formative years were shaped by Buffy. Now, at 28, a re-watch (either a single episode or as a binge) can elicit a level of giddiness or soul crushing despair (uh, hi, The Body) like nothing else.

As all my teen years were shaped by the slayer, my adult life is also driven by her in a way that I would not have expected.

In Chosen, Buffy asks if we are ready to be strong. At this point I’m sobbing because the little girl that’s up to bat is getting her shot at being a slayer when I never will – but I’m ready. I’m ready to be strong. I AM strong, and I’m only getting stronger.

As a female athlete and weightlifter, I am not slight. I curve outward more than in. I am more solid than soft. People, or “society”, feel this is not how a woman should look, or how a woman should be. Our lady of slayage teaches us strength is necessary and that you can still be feminine while being strong.

Buffy, with her hairdos, accessories (oft misguided), and and cute outfits (for the time – a square toed boot is no one’s friend). Buffy, with her quick wit and sharp tongue. Buffy, who saved the world again and again while remaining a person and not just a killing machine. Buffy, who was, yes, MYSTICALLY strong, but never shied away from it.

So when I’m maybe not feeling so great about myself – like when all of my clothes stop fitting again – just like everyone sometimes doesn’t feel that great about themselves, I think about all the amazing things my body can do, and wearing jeans is not on that list.

 Meet Our Guest Poster!

Justine G. is the blogger behind Paperback Heart, where she has been blogging for almost two years and has accumulated a TBR that will take twice that long to read through. Outside of reading and blogging, she is working towards becoming a competitive Crossfit and weightlifting athlete and eats ice cream almost every day. Recently, she got to hold a baby tiger and it changed her life.
blog: paperback heart     twitter: @paperback_heart


Sunnydale Project Banner 2014
Want even MORE Buffy goodness? Then be sure to check out our co-host Teen Library Toolbox’s blog for their take on the show, and additional guest posts. You can also journey back through the archives of previous renditions of the Sunnydale Project! Also, we’d love to interact with you in the comments, or on Twitter - unlike vampires, we don’t bite.


{Sunnydale Project Guest Post} Teen Girls, Fandoms & Buffy

October 30, 2014 Guest Post, Sunnydale Project 0

Teen Girls Fandoms and Buffy

I came of age in the era of the WB and its weeknight lineup of teen-friendly television—Dawson’s Creek and its hyper-intellectual high schoolers, Charmed and its supernatural sisters, and my personal favorite, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. A show based on a campy bomb of a teen movie, even at thirteen I knew that liking Buffy would seem kind of silly and immature. When my brother caught me watching the second part of the premiere, he looked at me incredulously. “You’re watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer?” he asked.

“Yeah, well, it’s not so bad,” I said, wishing I’d heard his footsteps in time to change the channel to something less cheesy and girly.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer is not cheesy and girly, despite how its name sounds. It’s a smart, witty show about life and death and love and sacrifice. But it’s a culturally accepted form of snobbery to dismiss things that teen girls like as ‘cheesy and girly,’ to claim that a TV show cannot be about a blonde hero named Buffy and her magical friends and enemies and still be meaningful. YA readers and writers see this kind of snobbery all the time. Major media outlets consistently tell readers that they should be embarrassed to read about the teen experience, that the only serious or worthwhile stories are those about middle-aged white men and their angst over affairs with younger women. That life can’t be quirky or hopeful or romantic or youthful.

Those naysayers are missing out and, sometimes, they come around. When I was in middle school, few media outlets were calling Joss Whedon a master storyteller and studios weren’t exactly putting major money behind Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Flash forward about fifteen years, and Whedon is at the helm of the successful Avengers universe. The Avengers is the third highest grossing film of all time (behind Avatar and Titanic, another ‘silly teen girl movie’) and viewers show no signs of being tired of this Marvel universe.

Now when I talk with people about Joss Whedon, I feel like a bit of a hipster: “Oh, yeah, Joss Whedon? I’ve liked him since 1997.” Somehow it’s okay to like Whedon’s work now that it’s about superheroes but it wasn’t okay back in 1997, when his protagonist was a hero named Buffy.

It’s easy to use Twilight as shorthand for schlocky and screaming girls at a One Direction concert as shorthand for embarrassing. It’s easy to look down on anything that teen girls get wildly passionate about, because after all, what do teen girls know about art and life and literature? But teen girls get it right as often as any other group. Even if One Direction won’t last, teen girls were the ones originally screaming at Beatles concerts and going to James Dean movies. Why are we so dismissive of the things they love when they have just as much, if not more, buying power than any other group?

Because when teens are fans of something, they’re true fans. They don’t just enjoy a song or a book or a movie or TV show—they love it, they know every part of it, they cry over it and re-blog gifs about it and write fanfic about it. They commit to it entirely. They’re passionate. And we shouldn’t mistake passion for immaturity or silliness. They can stand outside in line for the midnight showing of Mockingjay and cry/cheer when certain not-to-be-spoiled events happen, and that is just as valid as any middle-aged fan who cheers or cries when his hometown baseball time wins the World Series. Age or gender doesn’t make your passions valid.

I can’t say I’m still a rapid fan of Dawson’s Creek or the Backstreet Boys, but I will defend the greatness of Buffy the Vampire Slayer as fiercely as I did when I was a teen. And even if I’m no longer in their realm, I will go to the mats defending teen girls’ right to be fans of whatever they choose.

 Meet Our Guest Poster!

Annie CardiAnnie Cardi holds an MFA in creative writing from Emerson College and a BA from the University of Virginia. Her short stories have appeared in the Georgetown Review, Vestal Review, Juked, and other publications. In 2011, PEN New England selected her as a winner of the Susan P. Bloom Children’s Book Discovery Award for the manuscript that would become her debut young adult novel, The Chance You Won’t Return. Annie lives near Boston with her husband and a portrait of a sea captain. You can find her sharing funny gifs and pictures of corgis on her: BlogFacebookTwitter, and Tumblr.

Sunnydale Project Banner 2014
Want even MORE Buffy goodness? Then be sure to check out our co-host Teen Library Toolbox’s blog for their take on the show, and additional guest posts. You can also journey back through the archives of previous renditions of the Sunnydale Project! Also, we’d love to interact with you in the comments, or on Twitter - unlike vampires, we don’t bite.