2017 – The Half-Time Post

This year has been crazy fast, right?  I swear I was just planning my March reads and BAM I am now getting requests for July.  Requests are great, don’t get me wrong about that, but it feels like I am SO far behind.  I have been better with my reading schedule but reviewing has taken a turn for the worst.   Last night ad today I wrote out what books I need to read, review or both…from requests I have missed in the past.  I feel a bit better now that it is written out and there is a plan in place.  Tomorrow will be reviewing day so I have to make sure I have little distractions around me.  I wrote a poetry collection for a contest and when I went to submit I realized I read the deadline incorrect.  So now, I am trying to turn to plan b and submit to literary journals.   I am trying to see the positive in everything and make goals that are reachable but there are moments I really just want to scream “timeout”.

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Image: Historical Heart

Dating is one of those moments.  Back in 2009-11, my dating life was getting so comical I decided to anonymously blog about it.  Then I met someone serious and it lasted eighth months which was really good for me.  I had met another guy before him but we never could get our schedules to mesh so we stayed friends.  Three weeks after the break up, I was flirting with this new guy.  On Remembrance Day we finally went out on our first date as it was the only day we both had off at the same time. Our second date would not be until New Years, and a year and a bit later when my Bibi passed away we became serious.  And, then it was…he’s the person who I was with when Bibi passed away so he must be the one (he wasn’t at all, as you have probably read in my post).  Things weren’t the greatest but I see it all as a learning experience and growing.  To see it any other way would pull me into a space that would just be unhealthy.  Anyway, so I blogged to keep myself sane with humour otherwise I would be in dating depression.

I find the most depressing thing about dating is the lack of romance – at least in my dating world.  When my exes did anything romantic, I almost passed out from surprise.  Often times, I made the romantic gestures.  I love classic movies mostly because I love the romance – the manners and banter make me melt.  There is no “what kinky position do you most enjoy?” as a greeting.  Sigh, though I suppose it does weed “those” ones out. I used to doubt some of the episodes of Sex and the City and Girls, but when you start meeting guys you suddenly think those shows are tame.  It’s gotten to the point where normal is the “must-have” quality.  Tall, dark and handsome is just too risky without normal.

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Image: VirginiaMemory

After my last break up…I decided to try online dating (because who am I kidding that I will actually go to a bar or club) and I lasted 3 weeks.  The “what do you wear to bed”, “how about you come back to my place” or “insert something perverted and possibly offensive here”.   DELETE PROFILE.  Then last month I was starting to get happy about where I am in my life so thought WTF?  I actually met a decent guy who flirted but nothing sexual and we talked about what we wanted from life.  Everything was good but then came the possible meet-up and we had opposite schedules…reminding me of my ex so it was kind of like maybe this is a sign.  But he was really sweet, normal…and his mom lived in Scotland.  So I left my account up and see what would happen next.

Last week I met a guy I would normally strike out right away as his opener was “wanna make out?”  I usually press delete but instead wrote “sure, sounds fun”.  And we went off on a fun conversation with banter mixed in with getting to know stuff.  Things progress in that we text when we can, but with no pressure.  As I am bad at texting, or looking at my phone, I was proud of my contribution.  Then comes the possible meet up and our days seem to work out but then it went Kur-plat! When I meet up with a stranger, I like to know full name and where we will be going.  If you are a girl, you will know that this information needs to go to one of your besties who you text at least twice.  I may have watched waaaaaay too many true crime programs.  He says of course he will give me that and more information, but it sounded like it wasn’t okay.

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Image: Google Images

Then I don’t hear from him for a few hours. He totally could have had a car accident, passed out asleep, fainted…had amnesia? Turns out…it was a turn off.  Asking what his last name felt like an interrogation to him, and the seriousness of my safety was also off-putting.  It was so quick this change…like when you discover your date voted for Trump.  Normally, I would be like, whatever, you are weird and I am glad to discover that now rather than when you are dumping my body.  Since we weren’t going to meet anyway, why not learn more about what the eff this guy is thinking and call him on it.  What came next was pretty interesting…he was analyzer like I am and he has this need to come off like a great guy.  I won’t go into what he said as that might identify him somehow and we know how “personal” his last name is so I don’t want to get out some how with my magical way of interrogation.  I wonder if he would write me a reference letter stating that I can interrogate a fella with just two questions! In all honesty, I was a bit hurt and confused by all this which is why I felt compelled to actually interrogate him about his actions.  This is how I get in bizarre situations that make it blog-worthy, haha.  All the stuff we talked about – a lot of it personal (ie: about our life, etc) – was okay but taking a timeout for reality and safety was a no-no.  I think I should retire from dating as I don’t get it.  Maybe I am old-fashion and normal and that doesn’t exist anymore.  At least I got to confront him rather than worry about what I might have done wrong.   I not have regrets of coulda-waoulda-shoulda when it came to my actions.  Now to sleep to get my mind into reviews as I may be the crazy old book lady that only has her reviews and writing to keep her company 😉

Good Omen and Spring Cleaning

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After hours in Good Omen

For a few years I have been wanting to “clean” up my life.  I am getting into a good place for creating again.  I am taking time for myself and letting the juices flow, and not feeling guilty for doing it.  I have been working on my blog, of course, but also two other writing projects that I want to finish some day.  I am going back to making my own greeting cards, and really putting a bit of myself into them.  I am colouring in the good colouring books with the good pencil crayons.  So while my creative side is getting a good work out, my mental and physical side have still been slipping.

I am extremely lucky that my cousin is also my best friend in that I can always bug her with health and beauty questions.  She terrified the living daylights out of me with her article on parabens…one minute I think am living a fun life, and next I find out I may be covered in parabens that may be slowly killing me.  Okay, the hysteria is all mine! She did make wonderful points on being more conscious of what we are buying, and finding out what those big words really mean.  She is passionate about beauty and health so she is out there trying to find products that are safe, effective and reasonably priced. And, of course then telling me about what I need to buy.

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Love the simplicity of this sign!

I am also fortunate to have a friend that is like-minded, so I have been also picking her brain and trying to absorb all her great advice on natural living.  Oh, did I mention she owns a store?  Good Omen sells natural products made by locally owned businesses. Lia, who also creates gorgeous unique jewelry, is all about supporting those that create.  I love that she  thinks that other women’s success is also your own success, and will lead to your own happiness.  While she runs an amazing business, she about seeing her customers happy and be “in the know” of the products they buy.

 

Lia and her picturesque shop also hosts workshops (looming, macrame plant holders, tea, herbal wellness) after hours.  With my all-over-the-place work schedule, I was unable to attend any of them.  I was determined to support my friend, so I patiently waited for an event I could attend.  Voila…enter Spring Tonic for Herbal Support and Cleansing.  Of course, if I attend anything to do with wellness I must bring along my strongest weapon, my cousin.  Not only does she know more about stuff in general, she is a whiz at this.  And, I also wanted to hang out with her and what a better event for us.

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We made our own tea, and were able to take it home with us!

Going back to my wanting to live a clean life…since my grandmother’s passing, my relationship issues and job situation I have been very unhealthy.  I have been eating crap, and lots of it. I have used my anxiety as a crutch to not be active or go out on walks.  The health of my body, or lack thereof, has also led to be mentally unhealthy.  I have been eating sugar and processed food, but not really enjoying it.  Spring is coming, if Mother Nature allows it this year, and the weather will be getting nicer.  While losing weight would be fabulous, what I really need is to go back to making my own meals from scratch.  I need to go back to seeing what goes into my body.  If I can’t understand what Wikipedia is telling me then I probably don’t need to ingest it.  Well, maybe not ice cream…I mean even ice cream.  I am not going to lie to you, it’s going to be a journey, an epic Lord of the Rings size of journey, but I am determined to get there.

 

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The jar for our custom made digestive bitters! Tee hee hee, books in the background of course. 😉

As I walked into Good Omen, I felt a bit lighter, knowing I was taking some steps to a better me.  The workshop was run by Brita Zeiler (Cordial Waters) who is an amazing person.  Like, Lia she is super passionate about herbalism.  Instead of a lecture style of teaching, this was an interactive discussion.  I can see her workshops being a little different depending on the participants.  We were encouraged to ask questions and sharing what we wanted to learn and our experiences.  I learned a lot about digestion and how I can incorporate natural herbs, plants and vegetables to be healthier.  A lot of my internal stressors will show up physically through my gut.  I feel sick and knotted if I am nervous, excited or scared.  It was great knowing that others feel that way too and that there are ways to help that be detrimental.  I am looking forward in taking what Brita taught us and doing my own research and finding something that works for me.  Thank you Brita and Lia for an amazing night! Did I also mention there was homemade hummus and crackers and tea provided by the lovely Lia? I know, when’s the next workshop, right?

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Tea, Bitter, booklet and contact info!

Good Omen Upcoming Workshops

Also, at this workshop I met Sonia of Woodlot – her products are sold at Good Omen. Her soaps smell so dreamy so I have more Googling to do tonight on products.  It’s kind of amazing that you just might meet the creator of the product in the store as you are smelling it.

 

*All of this is just MY OPINION and THOUGHTS…you should research and make your own decisions on what will work for you! I do definitely recommend you visit Good Omen because it’s a good place to start on that reserach

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Leaving the shop…but had to take one more look around!

International Women’s Day!

Women's Day

Supporting a Day without Women!

I am so lucky that I am surrounded by  a great group of inspiring and encouraging women.  The first woman in my life is also the most important person in my life, my mom.  We are alike in many ways and yet so different at times.  She loves looking at yarn, like I adore browsing bookstores.  She would make sure I went to the library weekly even if it meant busing it in winter weather.  And, on my days off of school and later work, I would make sure she was able to visit her fabric or yarn stores.  We like to see each other happy, even when our definition of “happiness” is so different.  Though we may argue and have glacial silent treatments…there is no one I would rather be stuck on an island with than her.  (She is definitely smarter than me :))

My maternal grandmother has been another hero of mine.  Like my mom she was strong lady that was so generous and kind.  It is why I can never regret being generous and kind even if it comes back to haunt me. They’ve shown me what kind of woman I want to be now and in the future. I always wished I had sisters, but I was fortunate enough to have a great group of female cousins.  As we grow older, and some of us a bit apart, the one thing I can count on is that I can message them and they would be there regardless.

As you know my book club is important to me…mostly because of the four women who attend it.  We are different ages, different interests (other than reading, of course), different backgrounds, etc but yet we connect like a little family.  If something good or bad happens in my life, I want to contact them right away with it.  When I am feeling like I am not going to go anywhere in life they are there to remind me this is temporary.

I have always had a hard time keeping friends because of my anxiety I find it hard to commit to plans, and can seem at times to be indifferent.  Other than my book club, the first person to stay has been my best friend, KM.  I met her through work, and became friends when we both realized we loved Canadian fiction.  When I became sick mentally, she not only stayed my friend, but she made it easier for me to want to get better.  She has compromised so many times in order to make me feel comfortable.  After a conversation with her, even if it’s about the latest celebrity gossip, I feel like the world is an okay place.  She thinks I can be what I want to be and believes I will get there, when even I can’t see it.  And, now seeing her as a mother to a daughter,  I am even more in awe of her.

As I said above, I always wanted sisters, and in  2011 I kind of got that wish.  I met two incredibly smart, kind, beautiful book soul mates.  We live in different parts of North America, living different kind of lives, but no one knows me like these two.  It’s not even things I have told them.  Through emails or other chats they can tell just by what I write if I am okay or not.  When there were days I thought I was nothing and waking up seemed to much, they would know somehow and I would have a message waiting for me.  These messages got me through the day…then the next day, etc.  When I was trapped in unhealthy relationship it was their acceptance and unconditional  love that made me finally put my foot down.  They are both inspiring women that I hope some day I can be like.  (JA/MB) And, when I thought I could not get luckier I met another inspiring woman who I met through books and a book group.  She is always there to listen and make me feel like I make a difference in the world. (JS)

Almost every job I have worked I have met amazing hardworking sweet women.  Some are my mentors (in how I want to be in a career and as a leader) and most are my friends.  Some I see on a daily basis, and some I keep in touch with but all mean a lot to me.  In my current job, I am so fortunate to have a connection with most of them, in different ways.  They watch out for me, support me, and encourage me to follow my passion.  They want to see me succeed for my own happiness.

I have also had women in my life that are have been important, but have given me such a negative vibe.  My own paternal grandmother is unkind to women and tried to teach me it is best to only have sons.  It was because of her that I thought I was worth less being a girl, and I was burden to my parents.  I was not enough for my family.  She taught me that it is okay to be mean to other women because you were once bullied, and to lie when it suits you.  How she treated my mom and my aunt (by marriage) really terrified me of mother-in-laws.  I almost avoided it till my last relationship.  A woman raised by her mother, who has 4 sisters, and many nieces – I was kind of looking forward to meeting my ex’s mother.  It was a bit of shock to see that women like my grandmother still existed.

Those experiences, in my opinion, have only strengthened my relationships with positive women. It has made me want to help other women succeed.  I can only be the best me, when everyone in my “squad” is doing well.  You can always be pushed down…but you always have the choice of either lashing back or getting up and keep doing what you are doing.  I hope my actions and words show which way I am going.

Kindness, acceptance and support are what makes the women in my life inspirational and amazing.  Thank you!

 

 

My Novelesque Scribbling: Poetry

Eye to eye, hand to hand

words you spoke

none of it exactly true

let you go?

make it work?

gave myself

all the time

still giving now

can’t give up

forgive

can’t forget

you can’t give even a bit

you can walk away

I bring you down

expect something

I cry alone

everyone’s around

but not you

you judge

me

judge you

I want to be happy

I want you

hand to hand, eye to eye

My Novelesque Scribbling: Poems

Some of my own writing:

Crows have always intrigued me as they seem smart yet are not liked.

UNTITLED #1:

What sorrow has the crow

as he’s shooed from his perch

What can he say about all the winters

he has scrounged and hid

This I wrote this after listening to an old time Western radio program.

UNTITLED #2:

The Hangman’s call looms over a town

as the sand kicks high to the sun.

Men work through the stinging rays

to errect the gallows

where other men

burn with judgement

and swing for their sins

 

 

February: Month of Sorrow, Love and Reviews

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Image found on Pinterest

I used to think that February was depressing because I was usually single on the holiday. Then I was in a long-term relationship, and his birthday was also in this month, so I started to look forward to the month of love.  February 2013, 2014 and 2015 brought 4 deaths of people close to me.  One was my maternal grandmother who meant the world to me.  One year and one day later, my neighbour died.  She was a lot like a grandmother to me.  I saw her daily as a child, and she just showered love and kindness on me.  Then one year and one day from her death, her husband died.  They could make the couple in Notebook seem like amateurs in love. He was a strong silent soldier who gave me a respect for war.   Rounding out the deaths, was my cousin’s beloved paternal grandmother.  She happened to die on my ex’s birthday – which also started the death of our relationship.  (He was angry that I “chose” to go straight to the hospital to be at my cousin’s side as she lost one of the most important person in her life, and also say goodbye to someone who was an important person to me. It was then that I started to question who I was with and if our priorities in life were similar.) And, so this year I am again alone on Valentine’s Day and for once I am okay with it, because this year I am my own person and am happy about that.

Part of me wants to sleep through this month, but then…I think of all the people alive around me that are worth getting through this fog for, so I get up.  Books are more than just a hobby for me.  It is something that helps me get through life.  When I am reading I am away from the things that haunt my mind.  Some say I am avoid reality but I think it allows me put life in perspective.  It’s also my thing.  I am not the prettiest or the smartest but I can read over 300 books a year.  I can come up with book lists and recommendations, be in any book conversation (even if I have not read the book because I probably read about the book) and bring up useless but wonderful book trivia.  It makes me unique and stand out.

Book recommendations are easier for me because I have had plenty of practice working at a bookstore and libraries.  But also, now as a reviewer.  My ex would ask, “who cares about your opinion on a book”? I started to think, “yeah, why was I doing reviews?”  Then I remember every book conversation I have had and I know why.  I love talking about books with people.  I love getting excited about reading the same book, or getting/giving recommendations and finding out that a series gets better if I just make it through book one first.  While I don’t have thousands of followers I do get great comments from readers thanking me for writing a review because they can skip a book, or should definitely read it.  Publishers and authors want me to review books because my opinion matters to them.  My passion for reading comes out in my reviewing and I genuinely love doing it.  For me it is worth it even if just my besties read them.  I recently hung out with one of my besties and she and I, of course ended up in a bookstore.  She turned to me at one point in our conversation and said that another reason she loves going to bookstores with me is that it feels like she has her own personal book shopper.  And, that to me, is like being told I am the prettiest AND smartest person she knows.

I finished Lisa Gardner’s newest novel, Right Behind You, this afternoon and will be reviewing it tomorrow.  Right Behind You is the 7th book in the Quincy & Rainie/ FBI Profiler series.  It has been a few years since Gardner has written a book in that series.  I will be starting a new blog feature entitled, Thriller Thursday.  I will give you more details on the feature tomorrow.  It is time for this blogger to jump into a new book before sleepytime.

Thanks again to all that read my reviews and blog.  You can follow my blog and other exciting things to come on this website.  If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them here or contact me

 

Behind the Curtain: My Novelesque Life

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Evening at Home; Painting by Edward John Poynter

Dear fellow readers,

First of all, you have been so amazing to me.  I started my book blog because I enjoyed sharing my love of reading and books.  Now, over a year later, it has become more than just a venue to share my reading.  Reviewing books has motivated my own writing – especially when it comes to my poetry and personal essays.  I have come so far in sharing my words, thoughts and feelings.  I have opened up in ways I never imagined I could have.  It is hard to write online, exposing yourself, but everyone has been so great.  In venturing on this journey of “self”, “self love” and “beliefs and passions” I have made stronger bonds with those that truly care. I have come to redefine family and love.   It is amazing how blogging about books – which helps to calm my anxiety – has made me a happier and more relaxed person.  I am looking forward to a new adventure with this website.  I will be moving a lot of my material from my blog to here, as well as having new material in the next six weeks.  However, I will not be launching this website full-time till January 1, 2017.  I would like to have a post every day for you, so I am working on a realistic plan.  I hope, above all, I can keep you entertained.

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Found on Google Image

(Edited from June 30, 2015)

The question I always get from readers is “what should I read next?”  

So far I have worked at a library, bookstore, universities and (now) again at another library, so I get this questions a lot.  When I am not working my day job my nose is usually voluntarily stuck in a book, or an eReader or listening to an audiobook.   I find that I really love this question and it is interesting to see how much book dialogue this can produce.  I also relish in the challenge – finding the right balance of matching a great book to an eager reader.

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Drop Everything And Read – must read!

It is more than just loving a book and telling everyone you ever met that they, “MUST READ” this said book.  First, I like to ask what books people have read and liked, so I can narrow down the genre and style and then throw out a few titles, with a brief verbal review. Working in a bookstore I used this conversation style a lot. We were also given ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies) so that we could try a book and recommend it if we liked it.  But this time you are letting people know if this a book they should pick up or pass on.

I am a great fan of Michael Ondaatje‘s work and have enjoyed most of his poetry and books I have read.  BUT when I recommend any of his pieces I make sure to note the kind of reader that would enjoy this style of writing.  Ondaatje is very lyrical in his words and his imagery unfolds like a poem (even in his nonfiction) so it is not for fans of cozy mysteries or legal thrillers.  And, yet I have given both Michael Ondaatje and John Grisham ★★★★ (meaning I would recommend this book and would do a reread), but I have liked them for very different reasons and try to make that clear to anyone that reads my reviews.  If there is anything I can ever approve on or any suggestions you may have  – I am always up for comments!

And, please never hesitate to get further clarification on any my reviews (my.novelesque.life@gmail.com).

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Allan R. Banks – Girl Reading

Just a little snapshot of the person behind the books…
I live in British Columbia, Canada – born and raised in mostly mild weather, but was indoors a lot due to seasonal allergies.  I am an only child and as a kid that meant a lot of times characters from books would be my imaginary siblings, lol. Any loneliness I felt, books would take me away to another place and time.  I must confess this right away…I have a severe case of reading addiction – I love buying and reading books in all formats and genres, and talking about them to anyone who will listen. My first job was as a Page (shelver) for a public library, and to further support my university tuition, I took a job at a local independent bookstore. It was there that I really started my book collection – often getting free copies or ARCs- and also obtaining a weird knowledge of books I’ve never read, or figuring out a book from 10 words or less. I have also worked in Admissions for a few academic institutions (my commute always gave me a lot of time to read) and I am now a Library Assistant at another public library.

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Friends & Tea – from Daily Express

When my nose is not stuck in a book…

I love watching classic movies (anything Bette Davis or Katharine Hepburn has me sold), anything BBC or PBS, crime/mystery/thriller shows, paranormal dramas (think Buffy and Grimm), true crime programs (Dateline) and sometimes silly things that can only amuse me (ahem, Grey’s Anatomy). I also enjoy drinking tea, writing whatever the muses grant me, sketching, colouring, baking and running my (face to face) book club (11 years now!). More on me later 😉