Thursday, January 3, 2013

A New Beginning

“We walked at night towards a cafe blooming with Japanese lanterns and I followed your white shoes gleaming like radium in the damp darkness. Rising off the water, lights flickered an invitation far enough away to be interpreted as we liked; to shimmer glamorously behind the silhouette of retrospective good times when we still believed in summer hotels and the philosophies of popular songs.” 
-Zelda Fitzgerald


Hello all!

It's been such an incredibly long while since I've written anything on here- I've been mostly focused on my Tumblr and Pinterest page lately!

Wishing everyone a fantastic 2013- there's just so much things to look forward to- whether be travelling to a new place for the first time, visiting an familiar place that brings back wonderful memories, challenging yourself to be more bolder, to face your fears- everything is anew and that means the opportunity to do what you must and know that you can.

Happy 121st birthday, J.R.R. Tolkien. Your books have been my steadfast companion these past 14 years. Your contribution to the world of literature is priceless. Thank you.


And perhaps much too often for my own good. I think I end up forgetting to participate in life itself as a result.
Featuring one of my favorite books.
What books do you read to escape from reality?

I am very happy to announce that I have reached my 50 Book Pledge in 2012!! With the dawn of the new year, I am thrilled to take part of this exciting event once more.
Here is my list of books I have read in 2012:

1. A Complicated Kindness -Miriam Toews
2. The Hobbit - J.R.R. Tolkien
3. The Virgin Cure- Ami McKay (A Matchbook Book Club Pick)
4. Birdsong- Sebastian Faulks
5. The Plague- Albert Camus
6. Tinkers- Paul Harding
7. Tales of the Night- Peter H√łeg
8. The Reinvention of Love- Helen Humphreys ( A Matchbook Book Club Pick)
9. Moonwalking With Einstein- Joshua Foer
10. Arctic Chill- Arnaldur Indridason
11. Behind the Beautiful Forevers- Katherine Boo ( A Matchbook Book Club Pick)
12. The Distant Hours- Kate Morton
13. The Mistress of Nothing- Kate Pullinger (A Matchbook Book Club Pick)
14. The Little Stranger- Sarah Waters
15. The World We Found- Thrity Umrigar
16. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter- Seth Graham-Smith
17. A Short History of Nearly Everything- Bill Bryson
18. Rack, Ruin, and Murder- Ann Granger
19. The Lord of the Rings- J.R.R. Tolkien (Re-read)
20. The Two Towers- J.R.R. Tolkien (Re-read)
21. The Return of the Kings- J.R.R. Tolkien (Re-read)
22. One Hundred Years of Solitude- Gabriel Garcia Marquez
23. The Museum of Innocence- Orhan Pamuk
24. Imagine- Jonah Lehrer
25. The Language of Flowers- Vanessa Diffenbaugh ( A Matchbook Book Club Pick)
26. A Venetian Affair- Andrea de Robilant
27. Prague Fatale- Philip Kerr
28. The Unburied- Charles Palliser
29. I've Got Your Number- Sophie Kinsella
30. The Sense of an Ending- Julian Barnes
31. Paris Was Ours- Penelope Rowland
32. Gilead - Marilynne Robinson
33. The Song of Achilles- Madeline Miller ( A Matchbook Book Club Pick)
34. Above All Things- Tanis Rideout ( A Matchbook Book Club Pick)
35. Shadow of Night- Deborah Harkness
36. Charlotte Street- Danny Wallance
37. The Wave- Susan Casey
38. The Light Between Oceans- M.L. Stedman (A Matchbook Book Club Pick)
39. Peace- Richard Bausch
40. The Emperor of Paris- C.S. Richardson
41. Sputnik Sweetheart- Haruki Murakami
42. The Immoralist- Andre Gire
43. The Bedlam Detective- Stephen Gallagher
44. Sweet Tooth- Ian McEwan ( A Matchbook Book Club Pick)
45. Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore- Robin Sloane (A Matchbook Book Club Pick)
46. The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window and Disappeared- Jonas Jonasson
47. Fairy Tales From The Brothers Grimm- Philip Pullman
48. The Glass Palace-Amitav Ghosh
49. The Snow Child -Eowyn Ivey  ( A Matchbook Book Club Pick)
50. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time- Mark Haddon

So if you're stuck wondering what book you should read next, feel free to take a look at this list.

The first book that I will be reading this year will be:

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

Summary: Tudor England. Henry VIII is on the throne, but has no heir. Cardinal Wolsey is charged with securing his divorce. Into this atmosphere of distrust comes Thomas Cromwell - a man as ruthlessly ambitious in his wider politics as he is for himself. His reforming agenda is carried out in the grip of a self-interested parliament and a king who fluctuates between romantic passions and murderous rages.

Happy reading!

Monday, July 23, 2012

A Million Lights

When I had climbed the worn stone stairs and pushed open a heavy oaken door, my nostrils were assailed by the smell of old books, ancient leather, beeswax and candles. A long and handsome gallery was before me for the Library had originally been the Great Hall of the the Abbey. This floor was divided at intervals by bays projecting at right-angles form the walls and carrying bookshelves so that there was only a narrow way through its centre. The bays were big old oak constructions rising to a height several feet above a man's head. This part was the old chained library and many of the books were still fastened in that way.
-Charles Pulliser, The Unburied


Right now, light is streaming through my open windows and I can smell the summer air. 
I live for moments during twilight- I want to immerse myself in the soft glow and just stay there, suspended between this world and mine.

Having been busier than usual, summer seems to be going by awfully fast. However, I did get to do a bit of travelling- there was one place in particular I had to drop by and that was Ottawa: I had a date with Monsieur Van Gogh. 
My heart was stirred as I moved from one painting to another- his portrayal of floral and gardens are exquisite. He can paint something so ordinary as dandelions and portray them in an extraordinary light.
It was lovely visiting the National Gallery of Canada- stepping into the Van Gogh exhibition amidst hushed voices and the look of wonder on their faces is a welcoming sight. I always feel at peace when I'm at an art gallery- it's the same feeling as when I step inside a church.
Some of my favourite paintings were there, including:

File:VanGogh-View of Arles with Irises.jpg
View of Arles With Irises

File:Van Gogh - Blick auf Saites-Maries1.jpeg
View to Saites-Maries

Of course, I couldn't leave without getting a couple of books! From the gift boutique, I purchased:


Speaking of books, I recently joined Random House's Random Reader Challenge!
 I will be reading Touch  by Alexi Zentner.

Summary: Touch begins with Stephen, an Anglican priest, returning from Vancouver to the northern BC town of Sawgamet where he grew up, just in time for his mother’s death.
Sawgamet was founded by Stephen’s grandfather Jeannot, when he heard a voice in the woods calling his name and his dog, Flaireur, refused to take another step. Back then, as Stephen remembers it from the stories passed down to him, men were giants, or even gods, striving to tame the land. The world of Sawgamet was enchanted, alive with qallupilluit and ijirait, sea-witches and shape-shifters; Jeannot saw caribou covered with gold dust and found gold nuggets the size of boulders. Sometimes winter refused to end, and blizzards buried the whole town in snow for months at a time. Sawgamet was a place where Jeannot had to kill a man twice and then carry the bones around with him, bound in cloth, to make sure he stayed dead.

Years later, with his mother on her deathbed, Stephen tries to piece together the past from myths and stories and memories that he’s not sure he can trust. And not everything is magical: if life in Jeannot’s Sawgamet was richer and brighter than it seems for Stephen now, it was also harder and more brutal, with both fire and ice claiming too many lives before their time. Jeannot never knew his son, Pierre, Stephen’s father, who was himself maimed in a logging accident; Stephen’s childhood was marked by tragic loss, and a lasting pain he must now confront as he considers how to pass Jeannot’s stories on to his own daughters.

A chronicle of the birth of a town and the passing of a way of being in the world, Touch is unique, compelling and full of marvels. But this book captures the most personal moments in life as well as the most dramatic ones – Alexi Zentner conveys three generations of a family’s intimate emotional experience in language that pierces the heart. This beautiful and moving novel is a great story told by a natural storyteller, and to read Touch is to enter an enthralling world that you’ll never want to leave.

I also signed up for the Olympic Readathon, which goes from July 27th-August 12th. With the books I have yet to read, this will definitely help ease the process. My goal? To read 1400 pages! Fellow bookworms, accept the challenge and sign up!

From Books-To-Films:

For this post, I am delighted that there's now a trailer for Cheerful Weather For The Wedding which stars Felicity Jones and Downton Abbey's Elizabeth McGovern! Based on the 1932 classic by Julia Strachey, it's sure to delight fans of period drama. I also recommend reading the book beforehand.

Until next time!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

My 50 Book Pledge Update: Books 13-26

An ordinary man can... surround himself with two thousand books... and thenceforward have at least one place in the world in which it is possible to be happy. 
-Augustine Birrell


Hello everyone!

I hope everyone had a wonderful long weekend! As previously mentioned, I have taken the 50 Book Pledge for 2012. Great news: I'm almost at #30! 
On the other hand, inform a fellow bookworm of this amount and he/she might resort to a bit of snickering- I know it's not a terribly huge number and others might have reached 80 or a gazillion by now- but an achievement is still an achievement, small as it might be.

As always, I'm sharing my thoughts of the books I have read so far:

13. The Mistress of Nothing by Kate Pullinger

Opening: "The truth is that, to her, I was not fully human."

Thoughts: I read this as a result of the book being the April selection for my book club. When it came to discussion, we all agreed it was a thoughtful and interesting read. Kate Pullinger takes us back to Victorian London, where due to tuberculosis, Lady Duff Gordon and her devoted maid Sally, sets sail for Egypt. The romantic image of travelling up the Nile stays rooted in the back of the reader's mind, where love, betrayal, and hope is as deep as the Egyptian night. It was interesting to discover that the story was based on true accounts: Lady Duff Gordon had in fact written a book based on her time in Egypt. This book is a great travel read.

14. The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters

Opening: "I first saw Hundreds Hall when I was ten years old. It was the summer after the war, and the Ayreses still had most of their money then, were still big people in the district."

Thoughts: I am a fan of Sarah Waters' works, having read The Night Watch and watched the series which the BBC had adapted ( if you haven't seen it, I definitely recommend it). The atmosphere of rural Warwickshire provided a Gothic mood to the story and the suspense throughout the novel gripped you until the very end. I enjoyed Waters' way of writing as it's vivid and even poetic at times. A wonderful story overall.

15. The World We Found by Thrity Umrigar

Opening: "The tooth broke three days after she received the awful news. There was no blood. No pain, even. For three days she believed that it was her heart that had broken into tiny fragments, but turned out it was another part of her body that decided to mourn the news."

Thoughts: It was my first time reading one of Umrigar's books and it won't certainly be my last! Umrigar took a fragile subject matter found within our lives and shed warmth to it through the characters' persona, wit, and humour. Reading about Laleh and Kavita, one almost feels as if they were old friends. I loved the way the characters would converse to one another throughout the book as it felt incredibly genuine and relatable at times. I laughed and got misty-eyed throughout-there were even moments where it left me wondering about the course of my own life. A fantastic read.

16. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith

Opening: "The boy had been crouched so long that his legs had fallen asleep beneath him- but he dared not move now. For here, in a small clearing in the frostbitten forest, were the creatures he had waited so long to see. The creatures he'd been sent to kill."

Thoughts: This was quite the jump from The World We Found! At first, I was hesitant, as this was the same author who massacred (yes, I know) Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice with his Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. However, Abraham Lincoln as a Vampire Hunter had a certain charm to it, along with the buzz it was getting for its film being released this summer, furthered my curiosity. It was a definite page-turner, captivating your imagination until the very end. There were moments where I would be reading in bed and I had to quickly look over my shoulder a couple of times. Grahame-Smith's ability to weave the historical with the fantastical is impressive, as I found myself finishing the book in two days, with little sleep.

17. A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson

Opening: "Welcome. And congratulations. I am delighted that you could make it. Getting here wasn't easy, I know. In fact, I suspect it was a little tougher than you realize."

Thoughts: This is a book of epic proportions (I know- I just had to throw that one in!) considering that Bryson is trying to fit millions of years of history into 560 pages. From the origins of the universe to Einstein, Bryson's writing is easy to follow through and deserves to be enjoyed by all. A perfect fireside or hammock read.

18. Rack, Ruin and Murder by Ann Granger

Opening: "Monty Bickerstaffe lurched along with his distinctive gait, his arms swinging by his sides. The movement endangered the bottle-shaped bulge in the sagging plastic carrier bag dangling from his right hand."

Thoughts: Rack, Ruin and Murder is the latest addition to the Campbell and Carter crime novels. When a dead body turns up in the residence of Monty Bickerstaffe, it unravels a mystery which touches all in the quiet village of Cotswold. It's up to Inspector Jess Campbell and Inspector Ian Carter to find the answers, and the truth  as it turns out, can be very surprising. This was my first time reading the Campbell and Carter novels, and I enjoyed it immensely. I love a good mystery, and Granger delivers. I look forward to reading her other novels.

19. Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James

Opening: "I scowl with frustration at myself in the mirror. Damn my hair—it just won’t behave, and damn Katherine Kavanagh for being ill and subjecting me to this ordeal. I should be studying for my final exams, which are next week, yet here I am trying to brush my hair into submission."

Thoughts: Ah yes... the title speaks for itself. 
It all began when a friend and I heard about the buzz that this novel was gaining. At first, I didn't know that it belonged to the erotic genre, thinking it probably had to do with a story which talked about a Wall Street man in his early 30's whose incredible life garners a trilogy! Hence the tie (he probably wears a lot of suits, working in Wall Street and all), the mask (he must get invited to a lot of fancy parties), and the handcuffs (probably got thrown in jail as they uncover his horrible business undertakings). Silly me. 
Well as a bet, I decided to see how far I would go until I'd throw the book away. In the end, I won, as I did finish it, living to tell the tale. Why is it called Fifty Shades of Grey? What the reader eventually finds out is that "Grey" is actually Christian Grey, a man who likes to deliver, um....pain. Then there's Anastasia Steele, who falls for Grey, and from there, both set out to embark on... naughty things. Although I have read the first book, I will not be reading the other two- not my cup of tea.

20. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabrial Garcia Marquez

Opening: "Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendia was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice."

Thoughts: This highly acclaimed novel had been on my "To Read" list for many years, so I was determined to read it this year. Beautifully written, Marquez has a distinctive way of describing places and people in a way that leaves you haunted, long after you've shut the book. The story of the Buendia family is compelling and I liked Marquez's usage of different time frames to help captivate the plot. It was interesting to read about a world such as Macondo, the city of mirrors, where it seems to be both paradise lost and found. I highly recommended.

21. The Museum of Innocence by Orhan Pamuk

Opening: "It was the happiest moment of my life, though I didn't know it. Had I known, had I cherished this gift, would everything have turned out differently?"

Thoughts: Pamuk takes us to Istanbul during the 1970s where we discover a love story unfolding. What's memorable about this story is how the protagonist, Kemal Bey, guides us through his past by acknowledging certain pieces of objects from time to time, signifying the most treasured and unforgettable moments of his life. Wonderfully written, this Nobel Prize winner successfully captured regular moments found within our lives and elevated it to such great heights. The story moved me deeply from the very beginning with the line "It was the happiest moment of my life, though I didn't know it." Don't we all have a moment in our lives where we felt such a stirring? Such is life.

22. Imagine by Jonah Lehrer

Opening: "Bob Dylan looks bored. It's May of 1965 and he's slumped in a quilted armchair at the Savoy, a fancy London hotel. His Ray-Bans are pulled down low; his eyes stuck in a distant stare."

Thoughts: I really enjoyed this book- I couldn't even put it down at times. Lehrer's thoughts and the research he gathered on how creativity works were incredibly insightful and super interesting to read- from the surprising origin of 3M, to how daydreaming can be used as a productive tool, Imagine is filled with anecdotes that we can be applied to our own lives. A fantastic read.

23. The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

Opening: "For eight years I dreamed of fire. Trees ignited as I passed them; oceans burned. The sugary smoke settled in my hair as I slept, the scent like a cloud left on my pillow as I rose."

Thoughts: The Language of Flowers was the May selection for my book club. I'm glad we chose this book as it was such a unique read, where the book reflects on the meanings that each flower holds- made popular during the Victorian times. We are drawn into Victoria's world where she grew up living from foster home to foster home, having never been truly loved until Elizabeth takes her into her own home. It is within this setting that Victoria is first introduced to the language of flowers. We then see Elizabeth when she is eighteen and having captured the florist's eye for her extraordinary talents with flowers, she touches the lives of others through their meanings- including her own. It was surprising to find that flowers such as yellow roses meant jealousy or infidelity, or that peonies meant anger. A captivating read overall.

24. A Venetian Affair by Andrea di Robilant

Opening: "Some years ago, my father came home with a carton of old letters that time and humidity had compacted into wads of barely legible paper. He announced that he had found them in the attic of the old family palazzo on the Grand Canal, where he had lived  as a boy in the twenties."

Thoughts: I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. An elegantly written story about love during eighteenth century Venice, where Andrea Memmo, who is actually the ancestor of the author, embarks on an affair with Giustiniana Wynne, an Anglo-Venetian. The story is almost too grand to be true- it's as if the lost manuscript were written by the likes of Shakespeare himself. It's a real thrill to discover that such an event really did take place- be it a lifetime ago. A fascinating read.

25. Prague Fatale by Philip Kerr

Opening: "It was a fine warm day when, together with SS-Obergruppenfuhrer Reinhard Tristan Eugan Heydrich, the Reichsprotector of Bohemia and Moravia, I arrived back from Prague at Berlin's Anhalter Station. We were both wearing SD uniform but, unlike the General, I was a man with a spring in my step, a tune in my head, and a smile in my heart."

Thoughts: Prague Fatale is the latest addition of the Bernie Gunther crime series- and like Rack, Ruin and Murder, I happened to stumble across this read with a thrill that I had discovered another fantastic series which I would thoroughly enjoy. Kerr writes in a way that one could imagine the plot unfolding like a film noir. The combination of smoky dialogue with dark humour and wit found within the characters is delicious. Highly recommended for the reader that delights in a good mystery.

26. The Unburied by Charles Palliser

Opening: "Few books in recent times have created as much controversy as The Thurchester Mystery when it was published three years ago. I have sat many times in the houses of friends in the town and watched families, bitterly divided by conflicting theories, quarrel fiercely about it."

Thoughts: This is a book which is best accompanied with a hot cup of tea. It's an intelligent read, as Palliser delights us with a tale which includes a town ghost, to buried secrets found within the Cathedral Close of Thurchester. While I found the historical material to be very interesting, it does require a certain level of patience to absorb the amount found within this book, with the suspense building rather slowly. Regardless, I enjoyed every minute of reading The Unburied, with its description of ancient buildings, old manuscripts and books, as well as the intelligent conversation between the characters. I look forward to reading his other works.

Until next time!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The World We Found: Thoughts And Inspirations

"And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer." 
- F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Great Gatsby film poster. Love.

Yes, fellow Fitzgerald and Jazz Age enthusiasts: the trailer for Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby has arrived! The spectacle of taking in the costumes, the lines, and the sheer scale Luhrmann has unfolded for our beloved classic, promises incredible cinematography- I just can't get enough.

I always have a deep love for time periods before the 1960's, such as the Jazz Age and the wartime years- whether it's films, music, or the lifestyle, there's something grand about the way things were back then. I truly believe that my mother and my grandmother's generation were one of the greatest.
My heart soars for things like typewriters, gramophones, grand libraries and film noirs! I love listening to big bands like Glen Miller's - especially in the summertime!
If you say dance, I think: swing. If you say romance, I think: old-fashioned love.

Pure magic:

Whenever I'm out horseback riding, I imagine myself to look along the likes Mary Crawford in this picture- but in real life, it often turns out to be more like the Wild West (which I don't complain, I enjoy it as well). The Western style of riding is more predominant here, although I would definitely love to ride English style if the opportunity allows itself. No matter: out on the trail, I'm in my own state of bliss, and nothing can rob me of that feeling.

Must do more riding in my lifetime. From Downton Abbey


Come summertime, I have the urge to re-read this again:

And this: 

I also find myself yearning to walk in a vast field, or sit under a willow tree like I used to do at my grandmother's, while reading this book:

Whenever I fall under the weather or am really ill, I turn to Casablanca for comfort. When I'm well and it's a quiet Saturday evening, I turn to Casablanca for a pick-me-up. Heck, I turn to Casablanca for all kinds of reasons- what can I say, it's an absolute gem!

 I always imagined that if I were able to plan the perfect roadtrip, my transportation would look along like the lines of this: 
My perfect idea of a roadtrip.

And if I had my way of seeing films, I would make sure there would be more of these:

My kind of drive-in.

I'll never forget when I watched Roman Holiday for the first time. I was ten, and I thought Audrey Hepburn was the most wonderful actress I had ever laid eyes on and I wanted to be just like her.

Audrey Hepburn will always be my biggest influence.

Hope everyone is having a fantastic week!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

An Interview with Kim Izzo

"How I wish I lived in a Jane Austen novel!"
- Dodie Smith, I Capture the Castle

Recently, I had the wonderful opportunity to interview Kim Izzo, author of The Jane Austen Marriage Manual. Having been a long-time Jane Austen fan, it was thrilling to read a novel that gave her stories a modern touch. 

Kim Izzo, who lives in Toronto, has made many radio and television appearances including The Today Show, Canada AM and Oprah. Her opinions and advice have graced the pages in newspapers and magazines as The New York Times Sunday Style section, Vogue UK, InStyle, Glamour, and Marie Claire. The author is currently the deputy editor of Zoomer Magazine.

Enjoy my Q & A with Kim Izzo!

1. What made you decide to focus on a literary figure like Jane Austen? 

I always loved her books and the film adaptations. When I came up with the idea of what a modern woman without the ability to earn a decent living and keep a roof over her head would do, I thought of all of Austen's heroines who were in the same predicament. What they did, their only choice was to make a good marriage. So I thought it was the perfect combination if a modern woman tried to do the same.

2. What books or authors have motivated you as a writer?

Austen of course! I love the writing of Edith Wharton, The Custom of the Country in particular. F. Scott Fitzgerald and John O'Hara also inspires me.

3. Kate Shaw confronts many difficulties throughout the novel, whether it is a financial or emotional crisis, at a time when the economic recession was in full swing. What compelled you to write about this time period?

 I wanted to explore the themes and situations I spoke about in Question 1: the modern woman as an Austen character and the recession forced many thousands of people into dire financial need, where finding another good job wasn't a guarantee. This left fewer choices and marrying for money was one I wanted to explore.

4. If you were able to have Jane Austen over for dinner, what would you like to ask her? 

 Did she really know a Mr. Darcy? And where can I find him! No, seriously, I would ask her what her writing process was like.

5. What do you hope readers will take away from this book? 

 That as women, we can survive anything that gets thrown at us and find happiness within ourselves.

For more information about the author and her novel:

Follow Kim Izzo on Twitter

Like her Facebook Page

Take a look at her website

Thanks again to Kim Izzo for this interview and to The Savvy Reader (of HarperCollins Canada) for hosting The Jane Austen Marriage Manual blog tour!

You can buy The Jane Austen Marriage Manual online or at your local bookshop near you. Make sure to put this novel as your top five on your Summer Reading List!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Review: The Jane Austen Marriage Manual by Kim Izzo

Know your own happiness. Want for nothing but patience- or give it a more fascinating name: call it Hope.
-Jane Austen

It is a truth universally acknowledged that the words of Jane Austen shall prevail over time. 
It has been over two hundred years since her first book Sense and Sensibility was published. Her popularity has now grown to heights that Jane herself would probably have never imagined, with numerous adaptations ranging from films to comic books. Janeites (devotees of Jane Austen) can go as far as purchasing their very own plush doll of the author! 
More importantly, her ability to capture her characters as real people who struggle through relatable circumstances, give us strength to know that we are not alone in the search to find our own happiness.

Enter The Jane Austen Marriage Manual  by Kim Izzo. Kate Shaw, an acting beauty editor of a fashion magazine, finds her self in a dire situation during the economic recession, as she struggles to juggle her own  financial and emotional crisis with that of her family's. When she is given an opportunity to investigate whether it is possible to follow the footsteps of Austen's protagonists and marry well in this day and age, she takes it.

The assignment turns personal as she resolves to find a wealthy husband whom she can find comfort and security not only for herself, but also for her family. From West Palm Beach, to St. Moritz, to London, she mingles within the high class social scene and soon sets her sights on Scott Madewell, a charming older man who has the wealthy means that Kate is looking for.
Little does she know that along the way, she meets Griffith Saunderson, who works at an estate that is straight out an Austen novel. Now, Kate is caught between the classic case of choosing between money or love: will it be Scott or will it be Griffith?

Being a fan of Jane Austen, I thoroughly enjoyed the fact that Kim Izzo adds a modern twist on Jane's rules. Kate Shaw's wit and intellect makes her a likeable character, alongside other wonderful secondary characters like Emma and Fawn. The decisions she makes are often questionable at times, but due to her current situation, it is realistic enough to understand why.
Engaging and funny, The Jane Austen Marriage Manual  is an essential read for modern day Janeites everywhere. I couldn't put it down at times- it was especially dangerous when I took it on the train with me during my morning commute- I actually missed my stop a couple of times!

After reading The Jane Austen Marriage Manual,  I look forward to reading her other books as well as her future works.

Many thanks to The Savvy Reader for hosting The Jane Austen Marriage Manual blog tour!

The Jane Austen Marriage Manual will be released on May 8th, 2012.
HarperCollins Canada

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

"Let's Go On An Adventure"- And Other Thoughts and Inspirations

“We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.” 
– Jawaharial Nehru 

Recently I've come upon some interesting and inspirational things which I want to share with everyone- so happy reading!

I love this.


The Mussenden Temple located near Castlerock in Northern Ireland, is on my "Places To Visit In My Lifetime" list- it truly is the most romantic library I've come across so far.
What's even more amazing is the inscription written around the building:

 "Tis pleasant, safely to behold from shore/ The rolling ship, and hear the tempest roar." 

 My desire to visit this place is incredibly huge- gahh!

Florence Welch (of Florence + The Machine) performing at Chanel's Spring/Summer 2012 show.
Who's looking at the models when Florence is standing there in full splendour?

The Florence +The Machine Limited Edition vinyls- photos taken by Karl Lagerfeld.

Never Let Me Go is one of my favorite songs from Florence. There's something about singing about the ocean which pulls at my heart strings.

Literary quotes which pulls at my heartstrings:

"How can I be reasonable? To me our love was everything and you were my whole life."
-W. Somerset Maughan, The Painted Veil

This book is a favourite. I have read this book at least three times and every time I am moved by Walter's love for Kitty and felt heart-wrenched when Kitty's infidelity was revealed! This incident released an unbearable effect on Walter, which is felt throughout the entire story. Each time I read this book, I can't help wondering about all of the what-ifs.
The title instantly pulls your attention- it was actually inspired by Shelley's sonnet: "Lift not the painted veil which those who live call life."

Things To Look Forward To:

I've been anticipating this book for a very long time- I've been a fan of C.S. Richardson's since stumbling upon "The End of the Alphabet". When I found out he was writing another book and it was called "The Emperor of Paris", I was highly intrigued. Now the cover's unveiled and a summary is out:

The Emperor of Paris

Like his father before him, Octavio runs the Notre-Dame bakery, and knows the secret recipe for the perfect Parisian baguette. But, also like his father, Octavio has never mastered the art of reading and his only knowledge of the world beyond the bakery door comes from his own imagination. Just a few streets away, Isabeau works out of sight in the basement of the Louvre, trying to forget her disfigured beauty by losing herself in the paintings she restores and the stories she reads. The two might never have met, but for a curious chain of coincidences involving a mysterious traveller, an impoverished painter, a jaded bookseller, and a book of fairytales, lost and found . .  (from Goodreads)
I can't wait to get a hands on a copy!

Anna Karenina (directed by Joe Wright) 
Love his films and am interested to see his adaptation of this classic. Matthew Macfadyen and Keira Knightley will be reunited once more, alongside actors as Jude Law, Aaron Johnson, Kelly Macdonald and Michelle Dockery!

Speaking of Michelle Dockery (as a big fan of Downton Abbey, I'm really enjoying most of what the actors do outside of the show):

BBC is planning to do an adaptation of William Boyd's "Restless" which Michelle is set to star in, alongside Hayley Atwell- very much looking forward to it. Oh BBC, you never fail to deliver excellent quality drama.

Have a fantastic week everyone!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

My 50 Book Pledge: Books 1-12, A Review

Books to the ceiling,
Books to the sky,
My pile of books is a mile high.
How I love them! How I need them!
I'll have a long beard by the time I read them. 
-Arnold Lobels

Hello everyone!

This January, I signed up for HarperCollins Canada's 50 Book Pledge- a pledge to read fifty books this year. Being the bookworm that I am, I took the challenge- only time will tell if I even go beyond it!

For now, I would like to share with you my thoughts of the reads I have read so far.

1. A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews

Opening: "I live with my father, Ray Nickel, in that low brick bungalow out on highway number twelve. Blue shutters, brown door, one shattered window. Nothing great. The furniture keeps disappearing, though. That keeps things interesting."

Thoughts: This book was recommended to me by someone whom I previously worked with- he told me that I might enjoy this, and I took his word for it. I've never read any of Miriam Toews' works but now was the time to do so. I found myself enjoying it immensely  It was terribly witty and bold- by the end of the novel, I wanted to be friends with Nomi and bike off into the sunset towards New York City.

2. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

Opening: "In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort."

Thoughts: I will never forget the day I came across this book. I was twelve years old when I was taking part of the Summer Reading Club at the local library and for every book that you read, you were eligible to win a prize. Just my luck, I happened to win that time and I had the option to choose a jewellery making kit or a book. The kit did sound pretty enticing, but then The Hobbit caught my eye.
"What's a Hobbit?" I thought to myself.
Curiosity got the better of me, and as soon as my hands touched that book, I knew there was no looking back.
It has been a while since I've last read it- about a few years or so. Now the opportunity arose to refresh my memory and walk down the path with Bilbo once more. It is a classic to be treasured and I cannot wait for the film to arrive later in the year!

3. The Virgin Cure by Ami Mckay

Opening: "I am Moth, a girl from the lowest part of Chrystie Street, born to a slum-house mystic and the man who broke her heart."

Thoughts: This was a Matchbook Book Club's book pick for the month of January of this year. It was a fascinating read of Manhattan in the late nineteenth century, especially when it came to dealing with the subject of  the "virgin cure", where the belief that by if a diseased man deflowers a woman, it would bring about a cure. We follow Moth's struggles and triumphs through a storytelling that immerses the reader deep into her world, and continues to do so until the end.

4. Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks

Opening: "The boulevard du Cange was a broad, quiet street that marked the eastern flank of the city of Amiens. The wagons that rolled in from Lille and Arras to the north drove directly into the tanneries and mills of the Saint Leu quarter without needing to use this rutted, leafy road."

Thoughts: Beautifully written, where the story haunts you long after you've closed the book.  Faulks portrays the horrors of war to such a way that it cannot be easily cast aside and the love Stephen has for Isabelle can be seen as beautiful. I highly recommend checking out BBC's recent version of Birdsong, which stars Eddie Redmayne and Clemence Poesy.

5. The Plague by Albert Camus

Opening: "The unusual events described in this chronicle occurred in 194- at Oran. Everyone agreed that considering their somewhat extraordinary character, they were out of place there."

Thoughts: Camus pulls you into this isolated and dark world where the human condition is hanging on a piece of thread, when a plague strikes the town of Oran. What strikes me the most was how Camus was able to intimately portray the multi-layered emotions found in every person when facing an unbearable outcome to which there is nothing but uncertainty and death knocking at one's door. The author has wrote many other wonderful titles, but this is certainly one of those novels you must read in your lifetime.

6. Tinkers by Paul Harding

Opening: "George Washington Crosby began to hallucinate eight days before he died. From the rented hospital bed, placed in the middle of his own living room, he saw insects running in and out of imaginary cracks in the ceiling plaster."

Thoughts: Tinkers is a book which needs to be read by many. The story is incredibly moving, where it opens up the life of a dying man through rich details and an almost poetic narrative. I particularly loved the part where the author talks about clockwork mechanics- I've always been fascinated by clocks and the hidden secrets they contained behind its shell. 

7. Tales of the Night by Peter Hoeg

Opening: "On March 18, 1929, a young Dane, David Rehn, was in attendance when the railway line from Cabinda, near the mouth of the Congo, to Kantanga in Central Africa was dedicated to integrity."

Thoughts: I love Hoeg's writing. The way he unravels a story is much like watching an old film noir: slowly but surely with sincerity and grace.

8. The Reinvention of Love by Helen Humphreys

Opening: "It seems that I am to die again."

Thoughts: This book was a Matchbook Book Club's February pick. A wonderful story which took place during Victor Hugo's Paris. It was interesting to hear from Charles Sainte-Beuve point of view when it came to his love for Adele and the eventual downfall of the friendship between Hugo and himself as time went on.

10.  Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer

Opening: "Dom DeLuise, celebrity fat man (and five of clubs), has been implicated in the following unseemly acts in my mind's eye: He has hocked a fat globule of spittle (nine of clubs) on Albert Einstein's thick white mane (three of diamonds) and delivered a devastating karate kick (five of spades) to the groin of Pope Benedict XVI (six of diamonds)."

Thoughts: This was a very interesting read! This book had been my constant companion during all those  mornings when I could sneak in a time before work to stop by the cafe and read a chapter or two. It changed the way I look at memory. What a ride it was to read about the author's transformation from a journalist who has the occasional forgetful ways which we all have been victims of, to becoming U.S. Memory Champion. The fact that anyone can get to that point, is what makes it all the more fascinating.

11. Arctic Chill by Arnaldur Indridason

Opening: "They were able to guess his age, but had more trouble determining which part of the world he came from."

Thoughts: I've always been a fan of Scandinavian literature, but more recently, I became more fascinated with their take on Mystery and Horror. Arctic Chill sinks you in an icy world where a case of murder leaves much to the imagination. Nothing is for certain and where the answers lie, it cannot be easily found. A great night cap read.

Our March 2012 book club pick! Theme: Touching Ground (in light of our non-fiction picks).  Title: Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo
12. Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo

Opening: "Midnight was closing in, the one-legged woman was grievously burned, and the Mumbai police were coming for Abdul and his father."

Thoughts: This book is our Matchbook Book Club's March pick.
 By the time I finished reading this book, it was hard to imagine that everything the author wrote was not fictitious. It was a complete eye-opener to see what life is like in the slums of Mumbai and to see such contrast between these people and those who are mere steps away from the airport, and the well-off individuals living in the city. Death and suffering are facets of life which the individuals within the book are all too familiar with. I applaud Katherine Boo for being able to venture to such depths in order to capture their stories, for it is of incredible important that these stories are told.

And my current read?

I will continue to post up my reads for my 50 Book Pledge from time to time, so make sure to check back!

Take care!


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