Goodbye

I’m going to keep this short and sweet because I don’t want to bore you with a long winded goodbye. In the past few months I’ve let this blog slide for a number of reasons. Mainly, school. I no longer have the time to read as much as I used to, which means it’s been increasingly tough to keep this blog going. Nonetheless, I’ve had an incredible almost 5 (!!) years of blogging on YA Booklover Blog, and despite dropping off the map the last couple of months, I still value and appreciate all the experiences this blog has allowed me to have. Blogging has taught me so much, and to everyone who’s ever taken the time to comment on one of my posts or send me a tweet/email/etc. – THANK YOU. You brightened my day. Also a huge thank you to all the publishers and authors who were so kind and gave me endless opportunities. But now, it’s time for me to go. I’m starting university in the fall, and I’m ready for the change. I can promise I’ll still be reading all your blogs though!

I started this blog when I was 13, in Grade 8. Now I’m graduating highschool and turning 18 and it’s crazy to think of how much time has passed. I’m not shutting down this blog completely because I do have another full year of hosting, but as for me, this is pretty much the end. It makes me sad to write this, but I’ve been putting it off for so long and I’m happy to finally just say that my time is over. I’ve had an amazing experience, and one day in the future I hope I’ll find myself blogging again.

2015 Challenges Update

I’m notoriously bad at completing reading challenges. This year I only signed up for two, and I’m already majorly behind. Here are my (meagre) updates.

This challenge is hosted by Rather Be Reading and Reading Wishes.

I’m failing at this challenge – so far I’ve read 0 books with diverse characters. Bittersweet does feature a person of colour but since she’s the best friend and not the MC, I’m not counting it. I definitely need to step up my game here.

The Around the World reading challenge is hosted by All About Books.

I’ve done minimally better in this challenge, but still not great. All the books I’ve read so far have been set in America. Although, I’m currently reading Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto, which is set in 80s/90s Japan, so soon I’ll be able to add that to my map.

The books shown in my map are:

Yes, Please by Amy Poehler (Newton, MA. to Los Angeles, CA. to New York City, NY.)

Bittersweet by Sarah Ockler (Buffalo, NY.)

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith (Brooklyn, NY.)

So, that’s it for my very sad progress on my reading challenges. Hopefully I’ll be able to catch up soon. What challenges are you guys participating in? Having any luck? And any recs for me for my challenges? Happy reading!

Top Ten Books I Recently Added to my TBR

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As always, Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic: top ten books you recently added to your to-be-read list. For this I literally just went to Goodreads and found the last ten books I added to my tbr because I’ve actually been trying to clear out my tbr list, so I’m not sure what I’ve added to it…

Maggie Now & Joy in the Morning & Tomorrow Will be Better all by Betty Smith // I just finished reading A Tree Grows in Brooklyn for my writer’s craft class and I loved it so I’m hoping to read more Betty Smith.

Bossypants by Tina Fey // I’ve talked at length about my obsession with celebrity memoirs, and this is the next one I want to read.

In Some Other World, Maybe by Shari Goldhagen // I’m pretty excited to read this one, despite the relatively low average GR rating. I love books that span over decades and criss-cross characters and intertwine stories.

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli // This one’s not out yet but a lot of people have been talking about it, it has a really high average rating, and it sounds good. The end.

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven // See above, basically. (Except this one’s already out and I don’t know why I haven’t read it yet).

The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski // I feel like I don’t really need to explain this one.

We All Looked Up by Tommy Wallach // Another one with a bunch of different characters doing different things but being connected by a common element.

My Best Everything by Sarah Tomp // I’m not sure I’m gonna actually keep this one on my TBR list but it sounds interesting and different – moonshine different.

Let me know if you’ve read any of these and what you thought of them! And leave a link to your list, if you made one, I’d love to read it.

Review: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

brooklyncover
Review: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty SmithA Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
Published by Harper
on 1940
Pages: 496
Source: Bought
Goodreads
The beloved American classic about a young girl's coming-of-age at the turn of the century, Betty Smith's A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is a poignant and moving tale filled with compassion and cruelty, laughter and heartache, crowded with life and people and incident. The story of young, sensitive, and idealistic Francie Nolan and her bittersweet formative years in the slums of Williamsburg has enchanted and inspired millions of readers for more than sixty years. By turns overwhelming, sublime, heartbreaking, and uplifting, the daily experiences of the unforgettable Nolans are raw with honesty and tenderly threaded with family connectedness -- in a work of literary art that brilliantly captures a unique time and place as well as incredibly rich moments of universal experience. (Goodreads)

My Thoughts

It’s actually a wonder I finished this book, considering I was on a two-week trip this month and other than that, was busy watching every episode of The 100 (I caved, I did). But I did manage to finish it, and I’m so happy I did. I’ve never read a book for school before that I really enjoyed. I already owned A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and I chose to read it because 1) it was on the list of choices for my Writer’s Craft class, and 2) I wanted to clear it off my shelves. But now I know I’ll be keeping the book, because I loved it so much.

It’s hard to say exactly why I liked the book because truthfully, nothing much happens in the nearly 500 pages. It’s really just a recounting of Francie Nolan’s first 17 years. Yet it’s so much more – we’re taken back in time to the life of Francie’s grandparents, the meeting of her parents, the birth of her and her brother. We’re not confined to just the thoughts of Francie, but also those of her mother and brother and neighbours. I think the only reason it’s not boring is because of the scope of the novel. It spans over generations and offers a glimpse into the lives of almost everyone Francie meets. Everything happens, just as it says on the back cover, as things happen in real life: not in quick, short bursts, but in long drawn out periods, over months and years and even decades. Every part of Francie’s story is told fully, written with a quiet patience. Nothing is skimmed over or fast-tracked.

The writing is simple and presents the story as it is, no tricks. Yet there’s still so much subtlety in the way it’s written. Little details that can easily go unnoticed may be the most important part of a chapter. It’s the kind of book that needs all your attention, because you don’t want to miss anything.

Because I read this for school, I’ve had to do a lot of research on it. The story of Francie’s life so closely mirrors Smith’s life that it’s almost a memoir. I believe this is why Smith was able to write with such incredible detail and emotion. Others who’ve read it have commented on the outstanding minute details that are included, especially in regards to the setting: early 20th century Brooklyn. And it’s remarkable just how deeply Smith delves into the thoughts of other characters. Of course she could never have known what her mother or father or aunt was thinking when she was actually living this story as a young girl, but written from Francie’s perspective she’s able to give each character such a vibrant backstory and personality, not leaving a single detail untouched.

It’s definitely a heavier read, but I loved it nonetheless. Never did I feel bored or tired with the story, which was surprising since there was really nothing happening other than the passing of time. I’m so glad I chose to read this book and I absolutely recommend it, whether you’re looking to read a modern classic or just something with incredible substance.

4 birds

four-starsfour-starsfour-starsfour-stars

Pictures of Europe

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For the past two weeks I’ve been completely absent on the blog but this time it’s for a good reason. I took a trip with my mom to London, Paris, and Amsterdam… I didn’t do much (any) reading but I had a fantastic time and I thought I’d share a few pictures since I have no reviews to post right now. Anyway, this is totally un-book related but here you go – my first trip to Europe, in pictures.

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pretty gardens at Westminster

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classic Buckingham

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standing over the (dirty looking) Thames

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the view from (one side of) Versailles

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the prettiest view from our Paris hotel

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another gorgeous sight – at Sacre Coeur in Paris

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I amsterdam under threatening rain clouds

the coolest graffiti art in Amsterdam

the coolest graffiti art in Amsterdam

I have tons more – classic shots of the Eiffel Tower and me sitting in a giant wooden clog in Amsterdam – but these are just some of the ones I wanted to share. While I was in Paris I got the best email ever – I was accepted to the University of Toronto! So that’s been pretty exciting to think about and hopefully now that I’m done my university applications I’ll have more time to read and blog. I’m still reading A Tree Grows in Brooklyn for school but I’m actually LOVING it. I’m planning on writing a review for it which is pretty rare considering I often don’t review school books. I hope you guys had a fabulous March (so far – it’s not over yet) and are enjoying the beginnings of spring! It’s still cold here but the air is starting to get that spring feel and it’s staying light outside so late these days. Happy reading 🙂

My Current Playlist {4}

My Current Playlist {4}

This series was inspired by Annie’s Ultimate Playlist posts, which are just awesome. This is just a collection of a lot of the music I’ve been listening to lately, because even though I have a dreadful singing voice and basically no musical ability, I do love listening to music. You can see the previous playlists here: (x | x | x).

End of the Line by Traveling Wilburys on Grooveshark
1. end of the line by the traveling wilburys // this was the song they played during the credits on the very last episode of Parks & Rec, so every time I listen to it I want to cry, even though it’s actually a pretty happy song.

Wildflowers by Tom Petty on Grooveshark
2. wildflowers by tom petty // I stumbled upon this song which was also used in Parks & Rec, when Ann and Chris leave the show, and it’s just so calm and nice to listen to. I love Tom Petty <3

If It’s the Beaches by The Avett Brothers on Grooveshark
3. if it’s the beaches by the avett brothers // I haven’t listened to much by The Avett Brothers, but this song is right up my alley.

Crash Into Me by Dave Matthews Band on Grooveshark
4. crash into me by dave matthews band // the 90s vibes are flying around my room lately. Fun fact: this song made it onto the US Billboard chart the year I was born.

Where Does the Good Go by Tegan and Sara on Grooveshark
5. where does the good go by tegan and sara // another TV connection – this song was played a few times on Grey’s Anatomy, but most notably in the goodbye scene with Cristina and Mer when they dance it out. Also – Canadian singers! (I’m legally obligated as a Canadian to point out when any famous person is also Canadian)

Lost in the Light by Bahamas on Grooveshark
6. lost in the light by bahamas // my mom loved a song by Bahamas called “Can’t Take You With Me” so I searched them up and found that they have really great music. This is my favourite song from them. I’m also seeing them in Toronto in May at a music festival! Bonus: also a Canadian band (from Toronto, actually)

Uptown Funk by Bruno Mars on Grooveshark
7. uptown funk by bruno mars and mark ronson // I hate to say it, but this song is just so catchy.

Without You by Ingrid Michaelson on Grooveshark
8. without you by ingrid michaelson // another song from the Grey’s soundtrack – every time I listen to this song I think of Jackson and April so obviously it’s perfect.

Jessie’s Girl by Mary Lambert – www.musicasparabaixar.org on Grooveshark
9. jessie’s girl by mary lambert // I saw Jamie @ The Perpetual Page Turner talking about Mary Lambert and I remembered loving her in Same Love, so I checked her out and she has such a beautiful voice. I love the original version of this song but this is a really unique take on it.

Hand in My Pocket / I Feel the Earth Move (Glee Cast Version) by Glee Cast – www.musicasparabaixar.org on Grooveshark
10. hand in my pocket/i feel the earth move (mashup from Glee) // you know that I’m in a love-HATE relationship with Glee but this song just makes me wanna dance. I love Alanis and I really like how they mashed this up. It also helps that the proposal came right after this!!

I feel like this list could go on and on because I’ve been finding a lot of good music lately, but I’m gonna stop here for now. I’m also looking for new music recs so please let me know what you’ve been listening to recently!!

February 2015 Recap

coffee

coffee

Life

I can’t believe February is over. I know I say that every month but February is just so short it feels like it goes by in the blink of an eye. Once again I completely failed at reading – I didn’t read a single book. It sucks but, it is what it is.

This month has been incredibly cold where I live. 26 days this month have had extreme cold weather warnings, and it’s been the coldest February in ages. With the windchill, temperatures have been feeling as low as -46 C. It’s insane. I’ve obviously been spending a lot of time indoors but clearly not much of that time has been spent reading.

snowga

snow-yoga? snowga?

I’ve still been watching my never ending stream of TV shows. I watched the series finale of Parks and Recreation last week which was SO perfect but SO sad at the same time. There may have been tears involved. Also – did anyone watch the cast on Late Night With Seth Meyers? Because Aubrey Plaza making out with Jim O’Heir was the highlight of my month.

Blogging

Posts This Month: Book Blogger Love-a-Thon (Introduction | Book Spine Poetry), I’m Addicted to Celebrity Memoirs

Currently Reading: Bittersweet by Sarah Ockler, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith (for school)

That’s it for me this month – let me know how your February went! Hopefully it was warmer than mine 🙂

Book Blogger Love-a-Thon 2015: Book Spine Poetry

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The first mini challenge I’m doing is one I’ve wanted to do for so long: book spine poetry. I only did two because the lighting in my room was terrible and the picture are awful quality (these were taken on my phone), so bear with me.

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I’ll be there

you against me

along for the ride

across a star swept sea

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If I stay

out of my mind

imaginary girls

someone else’s life

I have to say this was actually really fun, despite the crappy picture quality. Let me know if you guys did this challenge, I’d love to see it!

2015 Book Blogger Love-A-Thon: Introduction

hosted by Alexa Loves Books

Because I’m always terrible at keeping up with things happening in the blogosphere, I totally did not know this was happening this weekend. I actually just got home from work and saw all of these posts and decided on a whim to participate, because I’ve been MIA lately and have been meaning to get back to it. So here it is, the intro questionnaire, kept short and sweet because I (once again) completely forgot about this until two minutes ago.

What’s your name? Chloe

Where in the world are you blogging from? Just outside of Toronto, Canada.

How did you get into book blogging in the first place? When I was thirteen I discovered a few book blogs online, and I decided to create my own blog. I had no clue there were so many other book bloggers, and it seemed like a new book blog popped up every day, so I was in good company.

How did you come up with your blog name? Sheer stupidity. I thought I would just give it some sort of temporary name and then I never changed it and now here I am, 4.5 years later, constantly mad that I was so uncreative.

What genre do you read and review the most on your blog? Contemporary YA.

What other types of posts do you do on your blog, apart from reviews? Random discussion posts, Top Ten Tuesdays, music posts, and occasionally movie reviews.

Best blogging experience so far? I think my best blogging experience was in my first year or two of blogging, when I had so much time to read and review and I was so committed to it. I still enjoy reading and blogging now, but not nearly to the extent that I did back then.

Favourite thing about the blogging community? The ability to connect with people halfway across the world through books.

Name the 5 books you’re most excited for this 2015! All the Bright Places, Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda, In Some Other World Maybe, We All Looked Up, and Please Remain Calm.

What’s an underrated book or series that you think everyone should read? Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper.

Which book boy or girl would be your book BFF? Anna Oliphant from Anna and the French Kiss.

Apart from reading, what are your other hobbies or interests? Writing, watching TV & movies (especially documentaries), outdoor activities when I can motivate myself to do them.

Apart from book shopping, what else do you like shopping for? I’m actually trying to shop a lot less. I have too much stuff. But when I do splurge, I like shopping for clothes and random things from Etsy.

At a party, the DJ suddenly changes the song – and it’s your song. What song would be playing? I’d probably bring the party to a grinding halt with something depressing like April Come She Will by Simon & Garfunkel. If I were feeling more upbeat, Come on Eileen by Dexy’s Midnight Runners.

Pick out either a book you want turned into a film/TV show, or a film/TV show you want turned into a book. I would love to read a teenage/new adult version of Friends. I’m also just getting into That Seventies Show and I think it would make a hilarious book series.

That’s it for me, I hope that was semi-interesting. Now I’m gonna go get caught up on all that’s been happening around here the past few weeks. Look for more love-a-thon posts soon!

It’s Official – I’m Addicted to (Celebrity) Memoirs

I don’t know exactly when or how this happened, but sometime in 2014 I started actively searching out memoirs and collections of personal essays, specifically from celebrities. Actually, it would be a lie to say I don’t know when it started – it all began with Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? Following that, I moved on to Lena Dunham’s Not That Kind of Girl, and most recently, Amy Poehler’s Yes, Please. Next up I’m looking forward to Tina Fey’s Bossy Pants. 

Now I’m in this weird half-slump where I don’t want to read any books except for celebrity memoirs. I think it’s because I watch these people on TV and I get their references, and by reading their books I feel like I’m being pulled into their secret little Hollywood circles. When Amy Poehler mentioned Aubrey Plaza in her book I was genuinely excited. When Mindy Kaling talked about the set of The Office I felt like she got me. It’s terrible – I’m no longer getting excited by fictional characters and made-up worlds, but famous people devoting a sentence or two to something or someone I’m obsessed with.

However, I don’t think this is all bad. I would argue that these books have taught me a lot. Some of them good things, some of them bad.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me taught me that Mindy Kaling is very real and also very lazy, no matter how many glamorous party pictures she Instagrams. Proof:

 “There is no sunrise so beautiful that it is worth waking me up to see it.”

I can confirm that this is, in fact, true. I got up before 5:00 AM one time to watch the sunrise and yes, it was beautiful, but waking up that early makes me feel sick and cold and I was grumpy the rest of the day. Watching the sunrise is great if it’s spontaneous and you’re walking back from some fabulous all night party in an up-and-coming neighbourhood of NYC, but forcing yourself to wake up at an ungodly hour to watch a big ball of fire move around in the sky is just not worth it. Mindy Kaling knows that. Mindy Kaling is also hilarious in a is she trying to be funny or is she serious right now kind of way. Another title she considered for her book was, “There Has Ceased to Be a Difference Between My Awake Clothes and My Asleep Clothes”. If that doesn’t resonate with you on a deeply personal level then I am sorry, but we have nothing in common.

Mindy is also similar to the characters she plays on TV, especially Kelly Kapoor, not because she’s dumb or obsessed with herself, but because she speaks about other celebrities like she has never met any of them and is just another teenage girl writing fanfiction. She offers up some hilarious celebrity commentary, such as:

“All women love Colin Firth: Mr. Darcy, Mark Darcy, George VI—at this point he could play the Craigslist Killer and people would be like, ‘Oh my God, the Craigslist Killer has the most boyish smile!”

And, most importantly, Mindy understands one very true fact of life:

“Everyone has a moment when they discover they love Amy Poehler.”

Okay, so moving on to the next memoir, which happens to be a much more controversial one. Lena Dunham’s book Not That Kind of Girl has received praise and also some very serious criticism, including accusations that she sexually abused her younger sister. To be honest, when I read the passage in question (which I won’t post here but is very easy to find if you are in tune with Google) it didn’t strike me as Dunham doing something wrong. It was a bit weird, but my mind never considered that it was actual abuse. After trying my best to understand both sides, I’m still not sure what to think. It’s a messy issue that has a lot of very opinionated people arguing for what they think is right. The fact that Dunham’s sister came out and said she thinks the whole thing is ridiculous makes me more inclined to say some of the accusations are going a bit overboard – but I still won’t say anything with 100% certainty.

I’ve found that in general my opinion of Lena Dunham is shifting. At one point I adored her. I still think her show offers some insightful and funny observations on the modern day young adult, and I can’t help but think this is so relatable in a weird, I never thought I would relate to this kind of way when I’m watching Girls. Yet I also recognize that Girls paints a picture of a very privileged group of people and lacks any sort of racial diversity. Not only that, but both Hannah Horvath (Lena’s character) and Lena Dunham herself are very self-absorbed individuals.

Reading Not That Kind of Girl taught me that someone can be a very good writer, and have some interesting stories to tell, while still being completely self-involved and lacking the ability to look outside themselves and observe the world around them. It took me a while after reading Dunham’s book to realize these things, because immediately after finishing the book, before reading any other online commentary, I felt like Lena Dunham was full of wisdom and funny advice. Now I see that her essays weren’t just personal essays, they were It’s All About Me essays. The part in her book where she takes up numerous pages to list her food diary? That was pretty self-absorbed.

This is not to say that I no longer like Lena Dunham. I think she still makes some very good points in her book, like my favourite quote from it:

“I can never be who I was. I can simply watch her with sympathy, understanding, and some measure of awe. There she goes, backpack on, headed for the subway or the airport. She did her best with her eyeliner. She learned a new word she wants to try out on you. She is ambling along. She is looking for it.”

Lena Dunham has good qualities. She also has bad ones. Reading her book and watching her show made me see her good qualities, but looking back on them and thinking about them critically, illuminated her bad ones. I no longer idolize Lena Dunham, but I am glad I read her book, if only to learn a bit about her past and also be able to form my own opinion on the surrounding controversy.

Okay, so lastly. Amy Poehler’s Yes, Please. I just finished this one a couple days ago so it’s all still very fresh in my mind, and I can say quite simply that this is my favourite celebrity memoir I’ve read so far. I had my moment of falling in love with Amy, just like Mindy said I would. In this book Amy tells stories about herself, ranging from her life as a child in suburbia to her time on Saturday Night Live and Parks and Recreation. While these essays were technically about herself, Poehler did what Dunham did not – she offered actual wisdom (some from herself, some from the Dalai Lama), she gave praise to others, and she graciously thanked those that have gotten her to where she is today.

I knew that I liked Amy Poehler, and I knew that she was funny, but her book shows a totally different side of her. From Yes, Please I learned that being kind is important but that doesn’t mean you have to be a push-over. I learned that it is never too late to apologize as long as you do it sincerely and humbly. I learned that you get to choose what your currency is in life, and laughter can completely change your perspective on a situation.

Amy writes very simply and without flash, but that doesn’t mean her book lacks wit or humour. It is actually full of hidden gems such as:

“Dancing is the great equalizer. It gets people out of their heads and into their bodies. I think if you can dance and be free and not embarrassed you can rule the world.”

and

“That is the motto women should constantly repeat over and over again. Good for her! Not for me.”

My favourite part of Yes, Please is when Amy talks about each of her cast-mates on Parks and Recreation. It made me feel much closer to a show that I love. Reading this book also got me interested in Saturday Night Live, and I’ve started to discover some of the funniest skits and digital shorts (but that’s a post for another day).

So, yeah. Celebrity memoirs are the new black. I know there are only three on this list, but I guarantee you by the end of the year there will be quite a few more. I guess my point is that I never saw myself as someone who would read (and enjoy) books like these, but I’ve learned that this is one of my favourite genres. I enjoy celebrity memoirs and I am not ashamed. If you’ve made it to the end of this post, then congrats. So tell me – have you read any of these? Do you have any other recommendations for me? What’s your favourite SNL skit? And are you friends with Amy Poehler? Because if you are it would rock if you could send her this link. Thanks!

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