Monday, May 30, 2011

998, 999 ... 1,000!

My past two weekends have been extraordinarily busy.

A stag and doe, birthday party, engagement party, Baptism, 1st Communion, 50th anniversary party, and bridal shower. Plus my sister, soon-to-be brother-in-law, and nephew were in town for the week. That left few opportunities for me to just sit down and write, read, or wreck my journal.  I managed to squeeze in a bit of time for that kind of stuff, but mostly it was about a week and a half of being constantly on the move.

Needless to say, I'm really enjoying my first afternoon alone, in nearly 2 weeks, just sitting in the backyard with my laptop and a book.

But then, imagine my excitement when I logged in to Blogger and saw that over this past weekend my blog officially hit a milestone: 1,000 views!

Coincidentally, at the bridal shower on Sunday (the final hurrah in a 2 week long marathon of events), I brought home this book as a prize for winning one of those silly shower games:

Maybe to celebrate my 1,000+ views I'll bake something yummy.

If only I could share it with you for being so awesome and reading my musings on reading!

Thank you a thousand times!!!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Moving On...

"The chapter was closed. And a new one had begun."

Appropriate closing lines from a novel with a nice story, fairly interesting characters, and a little bit of action.

Just like the characters took the opportunity to move on with life in the novel 44 Charles Street, I will take this opportunity to move on as well.

Although Danielle Steel has sold millions upon millions of books, her storytelling always seems a little amateur to me. (Example: the leading male says the word "stink" as in "that stinks" more than once, and several mundane facts are repeated several times in the same or similar phrasing). So, I'm happy to be moving on to a new novel by an author I've never read but have heard great things about.

The Jefferson Key by Steve Berry is book 7 in a series about Cotton Malone, a one-time top operative with the US Justice Department.  Although I haven't read any of the other books in the series, I'm told that won't affect my enjoyment of the action packed adventures Berry writes for his Malone character.

A synopsis for the novel explains:

"Former Justice Department operative Cotton Malone has hunted priceless treasures and confronted ruthless adversaries around the world. Now, a grave threat to the very foundation of our country has summoned him home to America.

When a bold assasination attempt is made against U.S. president Danny Daniels in the heart of Manhattan, Malone risks his life to foil the killing —only to find himself at dangerous odds with the Commonwealth, a secret society of pirates first assembled during the American Revolution.

In their most perilous exploit yet, Malone and Cassiopeia Vitt race across the nation and take to the high seas. Along the way they break a secret cipher originally possessed by Thomas Jefferson, unravel a mystery concocted by Andrew Jackson, and unearth a centuries-old document forged by the Founding Fathers themselves —one squarely rooted within the United States Constitution and powerful enough to make the Commonwealth unstoppable."

Sounds a little DaVinci Code-esque, and I like it!

I love this super-dramatic book teaser.

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

BookExpo America

I love a good book event.

This morning, while catching up on some tweets, I stumbled across one from Jimmy Fallon: "I'm at Javits Center for BookExpo. I'm signing Thank You Notes book @ Booth 3620. Come say hi!"

I wish I could, Jimmy. I wish I could.

The fact that I have an unnatural crush on Jimmy Fallon aside, it would just be such a fun event to get to attend.  Taking place in NYC, however, it's not exactly something I can just drop in to in the middle of the week. The expo has hundreds of exhibitors, like authors and publishing companies, that you can visit, learn about, get autographs from, and more. Check out the list of exhibitors here.

I'm promoting this event to some degree, I guess, because BookExpo Canada, like so many other Canadian book events, has fallen through the cracks.  The event unravelled a few years ago when major Canadian publishers like Random House Canada pulled out to participate solely in BookExpo America which is billed as "North America's Book Exhibition."

Regardless, since it's BookExpo week and there is a spirit of celebrating books in the air, I wanted to share some of that excitement here, even if I can't attend in person.

I saw this commercial on TV the other day and instantly loved it. It celebrates everything I love about books!

(Please disregard the fact that it's advertising a product. I don't own a NOOK (I own a Sony Reader), and I am in no way trying to promote this particular eReader).

Friday, May 20, 2011

WTJ: Make a Paper Airplane

A note on the duality of airports.

In the past few years of my life I've become a bit of an unwilling expert on long distance relationships and inevitably the airport.

Apart from being an expensive place, (where I'm from, anyway), it is primarily a confusing one.

The airport is a lot like a koala bear. It lures you in with its cute, cuddly exterior... but in the end it will not hesitate to rip your face off.

Okay, so airports are neither cute, cuddly, nor can they rip your face (or anything else) off, really. (I'm sure there are arguments against the latter, but I'm not hearing them at the moment).

My point is, (and I always have one), airports can always start off my weekends with arguably one of the happiest moments of a visit from the boyfriend, but they end my visit with undoubtedly the worst moment. The arrival gate is the cute, cuddly koala... The departure gate is that same koala but with the claws out and the teeth bared.

It's difficult to even look at an airplane, let alone an airPORT, without feeling the tightening in my chest that accompanies that feeling of not knowing what to feel...

So you can understand why this WTJ activity would be so difficult...

I'm sure another part of the problem is that I have almost no idea how to properly make a paper airplane, either...

As with any duality, I suppose I just have to take the good with the bad. I will continue to rejoice at the arrivals gate while I keep one slightly disapproving glare over my shoulder at the departures... Until of course, it's my turn to fly out town somewhere great. Then departures and I will be great friends.

And the duality deepens...

Monday, May 16, 2011

WTJ: Make a Funnel

One of the most refreshing things about Spring and the onset of Summer is getting to do things outside that you've had no choice but to do inside for the long Canadian winter.

An obvious example of this, and favourite of mine, is reading.

However, I'm quickly beginning to find a great enjoyment in blogging outside as well. It takes a little bit of practice looking at the highly reflective monitor of my laptop for a long period of time, but after a while I've stopped noticing the look of deep concentration on my face looking back at me and can focus simply on the words I'm typing.

I just feel like there's so much more to inspire me when I'm outside in the sun, with the birds singing, and the neighbours out mowing their lawns creating that Summer-specific smell of cut grass. The wind chimes clinking. The school bell from the neighbourhood elementary school ringing. The neighbours shouting obscenities at each other. There's no greater setting in which to do a little reading, a little writing, and a little Wreck This Journaling.

Yes, it's Springtime and I'm going to enjoy it, outside, with my books, my laptop, and a little funnel of WTJ water.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

I Want to Be a Producer!

I feel like I should mention that my other love is the theatre. If I were ever to write a list of my interests, reading and theatre would find themselves in the Top 2.

It's a love story with a murky beginning, theatre and I. Growing up in a smaller city far from any "professional" theatre I hadn't seen my first professional show until a few years ago in my earlier 20s. It was Phantom of the Opera (a great first for me) in The Princess of Wales Theatre in Toronto. For this reason, that theatre and that show will always be special to me.

But, my special bond with theatre (musical theatre, especially) started long before that. I would say that my first run-in with the theatre and its people was when I was only about 10 years old. A memo was sent to school asking for young people to come audition for The Sault Opera Society's "Hanzel and Gretel." To this day I don't know what possessed me to go home and demand my parents take to me the audition, but I'm glad I did.

I auditioned. It was a singing audition. And I apparently stunk. The musical director recommended to my father that should I hope to continue auditioning for shows I should get some vocal lessons. But, there was no time because the next audition was right around the corner. It was for "Annie," and it was being produced by The Musical Comedy Guild of Sault Ste Marie. I figured it was a sure bet what with all the little girls they'd need. I think this is the point where I learned that in life, if you really want something, you're going to have to work for it.

When I wasn't cast in that show either, I decided it was time to get myself some lessons. For the next 3 years I sang and I sang and I sang. By the time I reached grade 9 I was ready to audition again, so when that same Musical Comedy Guild (MCG) announced auditions for The Secret Garden, I was ready. I sang, I got a part, and I was hooked.

My life has been forever changed as a result of that show, that director (Clinton Walker), and that cast. I continued training vocally with a variety of instructors, and since then I have been in several ensembles in shows like Godspell and The Music Man. I've been invited to sing in revues and musical tributes. And I've been fortune enough to take the lead in several shows like White Christmas as Betty Haynes (my most recent leading role), Pirates of Penzance as Mabel (my most vocally challenging leading role), Bye Bye Birdie as Kim McAfee (my first leading role), and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum as Philia (my most fun leading role). All of which were produced by the same MCG that gave me my start 11 years ago in 2000.

The reason I share all of this with you is so you can really understand me when I say: "I want to be a producer!"

I was an audience member last night at another MCG production: The Producers. Auditions were a few months ago, and not knowing where life would be taking me in the next few months I opted not to audition... though I'm kicking myself for it now because there I sat last night (and for the past 4 months) in Sault Ste Marie (looks like life didn't take me far), watching a hilariously fun and spectacular version of the Mel Brooks' smash hit.

So many people who I would consider friends were singing and dancing and being so utterly hilarious that I still can't believe I missed out on the past few months of hard work, yes, but also I'm sure, absolute hilarity and good times.

The show was great. Certainly deserving of gigantic audiences, but tonight is its closing night. I would recommend that if you live in Sault Ste Marie or anywhere near here, get out to the Kiwanis Community Theatre Centre tonight for a definite good time! Tickets are available at the door and all tickets are $28 or less.

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Cool Down

It's recommended that when a runner finishes a run, he or she should cool down afterward.

You can sprint or run a marathon, but you should always walk it out when you cross the finish line.

44 Charles Street by Danielle Steel is my equivalent to cooling down or walking it out.

After a really intense week devouring The Hunger Games trilogy, I've had about as much literary high speed action, adventure, and excitement as I can handle... for now. So, after taking a look at my long list of books to read, I settled on the latest release from Danielle Steel.

I've only ever read one other Steel selection: Star. Although I certainly enjoyed it, Nora Roberts has always been my go-to for a dose of literary romance and frivolity. (I do mean this in the best way possible of course. I can get just as involved in a Roberts novel as I can in almost anything else... sometimes more so).

I chose the Steel novel for 2 reasons:

1. I know Steel can deliver exactly what I'm looking for... a chance to read as I'd watch TV, without needing to overly think or dwell too long on the issues.

2. The story overview reveals a story that's more than "just another love story," and a wide mix of characters from different places with different stories to uncover. (I remember mentioning once that this is usually a good tactic to get me hooked on a book).

Here's a sample from the book jacket:

"The plumbing was prone to leaks, the furniture rescued from garage sales. And every square inch was being devotedly restored to its original splendor—even as a relationship fell to pieces. Now Francesca Thayer, newly separated from her lawyer boyfriend Todd, is desperate. The owner of a struggling art gallery, and suddenly the sole mortgage payer on her Greenwich Village townhouse, Francesca does the math and then the unimaginable. She puts out an advertisement for boarders. Soon her house becomes a whole new world.

First comes Eileen, a fresh, pretty L.A. transplant, now a New York City schoolteacher. Then there’s Chris, a young father struggling with a troubled ex-wife and the challenge of parenting a seven-year-old son who visits every other weekend. The final tenant is Marya, a celebrated cookbook author hoping to start a new chapter in her life after the death of her husband. As Francesca’s art gallery begins to find its footing and Todd moves on to another woman, she discovers that her accidental tenants have become the most important people in her life.

...Over the course of one amazing, unforgettable, ultimately life-changing year, the house at 44 Charles Street fills with laughter, heartbreak, and, always, hope. In the hands of master storyteller Danielle Steel, it’s a place those who visit will never want to leave."

I think I'll be the judge of that... But, I am very excited to read it and tell you all about it soon.

Happy Reading!

Game Over

Wednesday I finished Mockingjay. Blogger has been down for a couple of days, but when I finished reading I immediately sat down to write about it... and I couldn’t. I just didn’t know how I felt about it.
Maybe I still don’t.
This is what I can say. As part of the trilogy it’s truly amazing. Thrilling, really. Exciting. Unexpected. Emotional.
But the problem with a good great trilogy is that three books later, once you’re hooked on the characters and the story and the relationships, it ends. And that’s all you get. Three books.
This is where the problem lies with me and Mockingjay. Although I don’t think it’s on exactly the same level as the other two, it is still fantastic in its own way... I’m just left feeling that sense of “emptiness” (for lack of a less dramatic word) that it’s over. I don’t need to rush out and get the next book because there isn’t one.
There also doesn’t need to be one.
Throughout the whole book Collins really gives incredible insight into the minds of people who struggle with coping after disaster strikes... and then strikes again, and again, and again. This book, more than the others, places a heavy focus on what’s happening inside our main character. Any confusion I had about character plans, motivations, and alliances were well warranted and simply mirrored the confusion of Katniss. And there is a lot of confusion. And mind games. And action. And confusion.  (I mentioned the confusion, right?)
Again, I won’t dwell long on the exact happenings so as not to spoil anything, but it was a satisfying read. Harder to get through than the others (though I still read it in about two and a half days, if you can consider that “hard to get through”), but a solid conclusion to a standout trilogy.
If you haven’t read it, please do. It’s incredibly worth it.
Get in the game!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Raising the Game

Words. I have to find words to describe Catching Fire.  It's more difficult than I can really explain to write a solid review to an amazing book without spoiling anything.

And I certainly don't have any intention of spoiling a thing. This is probably because I know how absolutely spellbound I was with every twist and turn, and I want the same for every person who has never read the book.

I really had no idea what direction this novel would take, and although I could not have predicted many of the turns, I was hardly disappointed by any of them.  Looks like Catching Fire dodged the sophomore slump I was so worried about a few days ago. Actually, it did more than dodge it; it obliterated it. Catching Fire has truly raised the game in terms of creating a story that can rival the one preceding it in the trilogy.

I really can't write much more. I've been reading from the moment I woke up at 8 until now, 11:30. The book is finished, and I must now rush to get ready so I can go out and buy the 3rd and final book: Mockingjay.  Because anytime I read a book and literally get a chill up my spine with the last words, I can't just turn off and go about my day. I have to find out what happens next. How does it all end?

Monday, May 9, 2011

WTJ: Journal Golf

The antithesis to the "Cheers" theme song is that sometimes you want to go where no one knows your name; or in my case, where only 1 person knows your name (but really well).

So, that's exactly what the boyfriend and I had in mind when we packed it up and spent the weekend in farm country, just the two of us.

We did some reading, practiced our golf swings, sat in the sun, strolled through town, ate watermelon, drank wine (for me) and beer (for him), and just luxuriated in the peacefulness that is the Ontario countryside (random cow mooing and sheep bleeting included).

Needless to say, when I woke up this morning in my own bed, 600 kilometres away from there and him (long distance relationships are the worst), with an afternoon of supply teaching looming over my head, I immediately closed my eyes and longed for the weekend that seemed to pass by in blink.

Needing to rekindle a little bit of that blissful magic I turned to WTJ to see what it could offer, and staring me in the face was "Journal Golf."

It may not be real golf in the scenic countryside with my man alongside me perfecting my swing, but it could do for now.

 Although, around here, as in the "Cheers" song, everybody knows my name. And after my front yard journal golfing experience, everybody also probably thinks I'm crazy.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Game On!

There are some books you have to find time to read during the day.  Books you must squeeze in to a busy schedule.  Then there are those books that become your day.  Books that somehow wipe your schedule clean and nothing seems to matter except losing yourself in the story.

Meet The Hunger Games.

The last few days I was pulled into this book and was absolutely mesmerized.  It is brilliant, absorbing, and exciting.  Everything you need from a book when the summer season is upon us and nothing seems more appealing than the outdoors, some sunshine, a story to get lost in.

There isn't even too much more I can say except a big thank you to all who recommended it.  I've already started the second in the trilogy, Catching Fire, and although I hope it doesn't suffer the same sophomore slump of other famous series seconds, (Twilight's New Moon and Potter's Chamber of Secrets, for example), I'm pretty confident the first novel sets such a strong stage that the whole trilogy will be simply riveting.

I'll keep you posted.

Happy Reading!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Let the Games Begin

Any time a book is referred to you by a collection of 5th grade boys, 6th grade girls, 10th grade boys, 20-somethings, high school teachers planning to add it to the syllabus, and even a handful of celebrities like Naya Rivera, you can't ignore the fact that you clearly must read it.

That is exactly what has happened with The Hunger Games.

Add to the fact that a film adaptation is in the works, and I simply had to bump it to the top of my ever-growing pile before Hollywood spoils it with too much hype.

Described to me as a Twilight meets The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo kind of read, The Hunger Games is the first in a 3-part series of books about some kind of post-apocalyptic world and the dangerous adventures and cruel politics of that time.

Here is the publisher's description:
"In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlaying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one girl and one boy between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district in the Games. But Katniss has also resolved to outwit the creators of the games. To do that she will have to be the last person standing at the end of the deadly ordeal, and that will take every ounce of strength and cunning she has."

I'm already a few chapters in and find it very tough to put down. But, the sun is shining today, so my back deck and lounge chair are calling my name. I'm sure to finish this one much more quickly than The Lost Girls.

Happy Reading!

Lost and Found

"The only leaps of faith you"ll ever regret are the ones you don't take."

I know, I know. This post is a long time coming. It's been well over a month since I started reading The Lost Girls by Jennifer Baggett, Amanda Pressner, and Holly Corbett. I'd be willing to attribute the lengthy reading time to a few different things:

1. The incredible amount of quotable quotes, like the one above, would pull me away from the book long enough to write them down and then get distracted by something else.

2. The 538 page total makes it no short read... Although that's not a good excuse since I have been known to devour certain other 500+ page books in mere days (re: anything from the Harry Potter, Twilight, or Vampire Academy series)

3. The abundance of other things going on in my life in the past month have left little down time for reading. There have been several out of town guests, my own travels, several busy teaching days, and quite the unfair amount of what I consider great television (American Idol, Glee, The Voice, musical Grey's Anatomy, a Royal Wedding... you can see the trend in my TV taste, I'm sure) to keep me from tuning out the world to read.

and 4. Possibly one of the biggest factors would be simply the content of the book itself. When the "Lost Girls" were travelling the globe and telling about the sights and situations and people, I was devouring the book page by page taking it all in. I find it very exciting to read about the extraordinary things travellers can do when they're not afraid to stray from the beaten path. However, the novel was about much more than just travelling. It's not called the LOST Girls for nothing... All three of the girls had their own personal journeys to undertake. They had to grow and figure life out; they had to find out what they wanted, and inevitably what they didn't want. It was during these moments that I devoured the book word by word. The simple truth being that I can relate to the whole 20-something struggle to "figure it all out." To be found instead of lost. It was because of this connection I felt to the girls and their lives that it took me a little longer to read. I would read in very small doses, really contemplating their insights and seeing if they related at all to how I felt/feel.

It sounds a little heavy, I suppose. But in the end, I'm pretty happy with the book. It was an exciting, thought-provoking, and at times humourous travel memoir with a very realistic ending. Though it never really did end as the Lost Girls are still figuring life out a day at a time, just like me.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

WTJ: Tear Out...Crumple.

Welcome to the new and improved "Turning the Page." Well, actually, the only thing that's improved is the look. I just felt it was time for a cleaner and less cheesy design. Hopefully you like it and find it easier to read.
However, between the design update and creating nearly 200 invitations for my sister's wedding, I am fresh out of creativity and could only muster enough creative energy to do this:

Sidenote: I still can't believe I just ripped out a page from a book.......

Monday, May 2, 2011


This is not a political blog. Nor am I the kind of person who is especially well versed in politics, so this post isn't a forum for me to voice my opinions on today's Canadian Federal Election.

Very simply, I'm writing to remind my Canadian readers to get out and vote.

It's a topic that is a bit of a departure from my usual subject matter on the connections between life and books, but it's a very important message to be shared.

In a time where social media is so prevalent I have been bombarded with opinions, complaints, and critiques about the government and the election.  It's wonderful to live in a time where we can be so free to express these views in such an easily accessed public way, but voter turn-out is always shockingly low. Keep voicing your opinions, but also exercise your right to vote.

Confused? Click here to check out this site for everything you need to know about the candidates, leaders, parties, platforms, and news surrounding this election campaign.

Canadians, get out and vote today!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

WTJ: Document Your Dinner

A few weeks ago I wrote about shaping up for summer with some solid workouts. Well, I'm still working on that. And after seeing how absolutely stunning Catherine the Duchess of Cambridge looked Friday at the Royal Wedding I have been newly inspired to keep working at it. I've got some weddings coming up myself this summer, and it'd be great if I could look half as good in a dress as she did.

However, I have a weakness. A big one. Food. I'm really not that willing to give up too many of the foods I love. Ice cream. Chips. Breads... Try as I might, they always find their ways into my mouth and inevitably my stomach.

Take this for example. It might be some of the best pizza in existence. And I say this knowing I have a few international readers.

A few inches off my waist just might not be worth giving up this kind of saucy and cheesy and greasy gloriousness.