Inside The Mind of a “Bookstagrammer”

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Happy Monday, friends! It seems as though my Monday Musings have been eluding me these past few weeks (could I have mused about everything there is to muse about already? I’m sure the answer is no) so I’ve decided to take a break from musing and write about something else instead: bookstagram! I’ve been spending more and more time on bookstagram — aka bookish Instagram — lately and this has come with a few side effects. I wonder if any of you relate to this?

As I’ve gotten more invested in bookstagram, I’ve noticed that I’m always on the lookout for pretty environments to use in my photos, almost to a comical degree. Oh, I’m visiting my boyfriend’s mom’s house? Time to see where I can bookstagram! (No lie: the photo above was taken at such a visit.) Going away? Yaaaaas! New bookstagram opportunities! I find myself constantly searching for something beautiful to photograph with a book in tow; and while I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing, it’s still a somewhat weird compulsion.

Another side effect of bookstagram is probably how silly I look whilst trying to get the perfect shot. It’s not enough to make me stop, but I often wonder what it’s like to be with me while I’m shooting away. I don’t often bookstagram while with other people in public, but still.

The thing is, I’ve always been into photography. Before I was a book blogger I had a photography blog where I challenged myself to post a photo a day. I used to dream of being a professional photographer, rollicking in fields with people and making beautiful art, snapping memories for families to cherish forever and ever. And while my dreams have evolved into something else, I still can’t kick the fact that I love taking pictures. Bookstagram has become the perfect marriage between my two passions, so despite the manic location scouting and potentially embarrassing photo taking, it’s not something I see myself giving up.

Are you on bookstagram? Do you get a little bit obsessive like I do? What’s the strangest thing you’ve done for a photo? (If you want to be friends on Instagram, you can find me at @onemorepageblog!)

#CanadaReads | Day 1 Recap

Canada Reads Day 1

Screen capture from CBC Books/Canada Reads

Happy Monday, friends! I know that I normally post Mondays Musings at the start of the week, but since Canada Reads has started, I thought I’d take a break and write a Canada Reads recap instead. I hope you’ll stick around and share your thoughts with me as well!

If you want to watch the broadcast before reading this post, click here. That being said, I promise to not give away who gets eliminated!

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It’s the Eve of #CanadaReads!

2016 CBC Canada Reads Shortlist

When I first started this blog, one of the big things that I wanted to accomplish was to foster a love for Canadian Literature, or CanLit. For a long time, I had discounted CanLit because I had a really outdated idea that it was boring. I don’t even know where I got that thought from! Well, I’m so glad that I have discovered otherwise because there are some truly fantastic Canadian books out there. Not only that — there are also so many ways to celebrate CanLit, including Canada Reads which starts tomorrow!

If you’re unfamiliar with Canada Reads, it’s basically a battle of the books type competition featuring 5 panel members who each defend a book that they believe best fits the year’s theme. This year’s theme is “starting over.” The four-day debate can be watched live online, on TV, or on the radio. Click here for more information!

Like most years, I challenged myself to read all 5 contending books and I was so so close to completing it this year. I ended up reading 4 of the 5 books in full, and unfortunately put down the last book after reading a few chapters because I wasn’t quite feeling it. That being said, here’s my breakdown of the five books:

Birdie by Tracey Lindberg (Defended by Bruce Poon Tip)
First line: “Maggie sits in the old tavern, amongst friends.”
My thoughts: Birdie is a complicated one for me, because I understand its significance but I spent half of the book not quite getting what was happening. It wasn’t until I got to see things from the perspective of other characters that I really truly “got” what was happening. While I think that’s more a shortcoming on my part, it did affect how I felt about it. That being said, I’m so excited to hear Bruce Poon Tip defend Birdie, as I think it will help me understand and appreciate the novel more.

Bone and Bread by Saleema Nawaz (Defended by Farah Mohamed)
First line: “If you listen, you can almost hear the sound of my son’s heart breaking.”
My thoughts: I loved Bone and Bread. I’m a sucker for family stories — especially if it has to do with sisters — and Bone and Bread was gut-wrenching and beautifully written. This is a book with characters that you’ll want to root for and care for, and I can’t wait to watch Farah Mohamed defend it in the debates.

The Illegal by Lawrence Hill (Defended by Clara Hughes)
First line: “Go home.”
My thoughts: Surprisingly, this was my first time reading Lawrence Hill. I was blown away by the complexity of the book, given how readable it is. Keita Ali has not had an easy life and he is fascinating to read about (and cheer on), but what ultimately impressed me the most about this book was how much I got sucked into each character’s story arc. Now that’s great characterization.

Minister Without Portfolio by Michael Winter (Defended by Adam Copeland)
First line: “She told him there wasn’t another person.”
My thoughts: This is the book that I didn’t end up finishing, so I’m going to really pay attention to what Adam Copeland says about it during the debates. (I always find that I appreciate a book more when I hear someone fiercely defending it.) I didn’t keep reading the book because I unfortunately didn’t feel like I cared about Henry enough.I’m sure the “point” of the book was to watch Henry grow as a person, but I just wasn’t compelled.

The Hero’s Walk by Anita Rau Badami (Defended by Vinay Virmani)
First line: “It was only five o’clock on a July morning in Toturpuram, and already every trace of night had disappeared.”
My thoughts: This was another book that I loved. And, surprise! It’s a book about a family. I especially loved this book because it features a child who is displaced to a completely foreign country (from Canada to India). As someone who also moved to a foreign place when they were young (I moved from Canada to Hong Kong in grade four), I could relate to seven-year-old Nandana but also appreciate how hard the adjustment must be for the adults as well. Everyone in The Hero’s Walk has their own story, problems, and regrets, and it was a fantastic character-driven novel.

So, who do I think will win? I have no idea! All five books have characters who are trying to find themselves and start over in a way. I’m just excited to see fellow book lovers defending their picks!

Did you read the Canada Reads shortlist? Are you rooting for a particular book? Let me know!

Get Ready For Valentine’s With These Bookish Pick-Up Lines (Success Not Guaranteed)

Bookish Pick Up Lines Valentines Day for Book Lovers

Unless you’ve been living under a rock and haven’t come across any Valentine’s Day merch recently, you’ll probably know that Valentine’s Day is coming up soon. (It’s this Sunday, in fact!)

So, to get into the spirit of the “holiday,” I’ve combined two of my favourite things (book lovers and being cheesy) to help you get ready for V-Day. Note: Every time I’ve used puns to try to attract people I’ve been met with groans and slow claps, so… Your mileage may vary.

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Craft Tutorial | How To Make Your Own Kindle Case

Main Image - Craft Tutorial How to Make Your Own Kindle Case Karen One More Page c

Finished Homemade Kindle Case Tutorial Karen One More Page Open b

Hi friends! I’m so excited for today’s post because it combines two of my favourite things: my love for reading and crafting. I’ve had my Kindle for almost two years now, and as I’ve been using it more and more, I’ve noticed that the case I bought for it is starting to wear down. I bought my first case at Chapters/Indigo (it was originally designed for Kobo readers -oops!) but now that a few years have passed, I wasn’t able to find anything of the same dimensions in store. I briefly considered ordering a case off of Etsy, but in the end I figured I could make my own for a fraction of the price. 😉 The full project took me just around 4 hours (and that’s without instructions), so I think it’ll be quite easy for you to do too!

Plus, if you’ve been participating in Penguin Random House Canada‘s #DigitalDetox, this is a fun way to be bookish while staying away from the screen!

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Book Trailer | Undermajordomo Minor by Patrick deWitt

Hi friends! I hope you’re having a great Tuesday morning so far. My day is just getting started, but this little gem of a video is sure making getting up more interesting!

I mentioned in my CanLit TBR post that I’ve been meaning to read Patrick deWitt’s upcoming novel Undermajordomo Minor. Well, that hasn’t changed. My friends at House of Anansi were kind enough to give me a sneak peek of its book trailer yesterday, and I have to say it made me want to read the book even more! If you haven’t watched the trailer I linked to above, what are you waiting for? 😉

I love how quirky and strange it is, successfully hinting at the “ink-black comedy of manners” the book is hailed to be.

If you can’t wait to read Undermajordomo Minor and want it delivered to you on its release date, click here to pre-order a copy from Chapters Indigo! (Disclaimer: I do not get a commission whatsoever for providing this link; I’m just spreading the word!)

What do you think of the trailer? Are you excited for Undermajordomo Minor?

One More Page Turns One Year Old!

Karen One More Page Blog

I can’t believe I’m typing this but my little blog One More Page turns one year old today! Writing that makes me feel so proud and happy. I can’t believe it’s already been a year, but at the same time, I can honestly say it feels like it’s been longer. I’ve met so many amazing bloggers and readers and have read the most I think I’ve ever read in a year (83 books)!

I’ve already written a post highlighting how thankful I am for the blogging and online reading community as well as some books that have shaped my worldview, so I thought I would take some time to reflect on the past year!

My first post: “January 2014

A bit underwhelming, but my first post was a recap of my January 2014 reading – even though it was already mid-February. Better late than never, right? I really wanted to have a full 12 months’ worth of monthly summaries, so I chose to post that as my introduction to book blogging.

My first book review: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

I said it then and I’ll say it now: I can’t believe it took me so long to read that book. It is amazing. Book aside, I think it’s interesting to see how my reviewing has changed in a year. I’m still using a similar format, but my “verdict” sections have become much more detailed. Nice!

The first book I received for review: The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

I’m so thankful for all of the publishers I have worked with in the past year, but I will always have a soft spot for Penguin Canada and thank them for their vote of confidence in my writing/blog in April. The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry was a heart-warming read that involves a crotchety bookstore owner and a surprise package that arrives at his doorstep one day.

My first author event and giveaway: Meeting Lissa Price, Author of Starters and Enders

Meeting Lissa Price was amazing (and nerve wracking) but also so much fun! It was the first time I met other book bloggers in “real life,” too. Thank you so much Random House Canada for all of the wonderful opportunities over the past year. It is always such an honour to be invited to events!

My highest viewed post: “Not That Kind of Girl: A Night with Lena Dunham (Giveaway)

I guess it makes sense that my most-viewed post would be a giveaway post but I’m glad it’s this one. I am a huge admirer of Lena Dunham and I loved being able to give a signed copy of Not That Kind of Girl away!

My proudest moment: Being featured on Canada Writes’ “Canada Blogs” section!

There have been so many amazing moments this past year it was hard to choose one, but I still have to pinch myself when I think about this feature.

Thank you so much for following me on this blog journey (and letting me indulge with this post). It has truly been an eye-opening and FUN year of blogging and I couldn’t be more grateful for all of the opportunities and friends I’ve met. Ahhhh! Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to eat a cupcake in celebration. xoxoxooxox

Are you a blogger? When is YOUR blogiversary?

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Christmas Lights

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays fellow book lovers! I don’t really have a bookish post planned for today but I wanted to take the time to wish you all a Merry Christmas. I hope your holidays are filled with warm memories, good food, and, of course, amazing books! I know I will be indulging in more than one read this weekend! 😉 I’m off to spend some quality time with my friends and family – see you in a few days!

What are you reading today? How are you spending your Christmas holidays? Did Santa bring you any new reads this year?

Book Review + Q&A | Alphabetique by Molly Peacock

Alphabetique Molly Peacock Characteristic Fictions Book Cover Book Review

[I received a copy of this book from its publisher Random House of Canada. This does not affect my opinion of the novel.]

This is going to be a special post! I’m so thankful to have the opportunity to share some questions answered by Molly with you (thank you, Random House Canada!), so keep reading to find the Q&A section at the end of my review (spoiler: I loved the book!). 😉

Once I read Molly Peacock’s dedication — “To all those who imagine alternative lives” — I knew that I would enjoy her new book Alphabetique: 26 Characteristic Fictions.

Presented as 26 short stories, Peacock imagines the lives of each letter in the alphabet as if they were all alive. From “C, the Softie” to “E’s Encyclopedia of Emotions” and “R and her Great Egret,” these individual letters, under Peacock’s wing, have the capacity to feel real, actualized emotions and live full anthropomorphic lives.

Weaved throughout this unique and inventive concept is Peacock’s lyrical, poetic prose and deft commentary. One of my favourite lines from the book comes from “C, the Softie.” In the story, “c” learns that not all feelings can be translated into words, that “confusion is necessary before conclusion.” Peacock elaborates,

“Not everything charms into words instantly. Some things whinny inside you or skitter out as hooves of colour and later clang like horseshoes against a forge. Some things can’t be crammed into a concept. They just have to be cried.” (page 12)

This is just one of the many poignant statements Peacock makes in Alphabetique. As someone who isn’t always able to express their emotions so beautifully, these small details and observations added an extra element to the book for me to admire and love.

Not all of the stories are so serious though: “While Jiggle Juggles, J Makes Jam” is a pleasure to read out loud due to its abundant alliteration (a device that is used throughout this delightful book); “O’s Full Circle” is a sexy story about a letter learning to feel comfortable in her own body; “T’s Diary” reveals a self portrait that records much more than vanity. As a collection, these stories are wonderful reads for the dreamers and language lovers out there. They are smart, well-written, and have a lot of heart. Some read like poems while others are fairy tale-like. I would be surprised to find someone who doesn’t love it.

Verdict: An impressive collection of short stories that wowed me. The stories put a smile on my face with its intelligence and wittiness. Go ahead and read it – you won’t be disappointed.

Read if: You’re a dreamer, love fairy tales and short stories, and are ready to go on a whimsical, smart, alliterative journey. If you’ve ever wondered what each letter of the alphabet would be like if they were capable of thinking and feeling.

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Now for the question and answer part!

Q: What’s the importance of noticing in our everyday lives? (I was especially excited to read Molly’s answer to this because from reading her book, it really seems like she picks up on all the little details of life! Her answer is just as beautiful and poetic as I’d imagined it would be.)
A: When you notice something, even if it’s only a button or an orange or the pattern in a sidewalk grate, it’s as if someone has handed you a rarity. Attention creates luxury because it stops time. For a suspended moment you are calmly energized by what you are seeing, hearing, and touching. It brings you back to your senses. Even the gravel beneath your feet becomes a marvel of a mosaic.

Q: What’s your motto?
A: Go with the Flaw.

Q: What words do you try to live by?
A: Only do what you can only do.

Q: Pencil or pen?
A: Pencil for poetry on blue lined pads. Computer for prose!

Q: Do you get jealous of other writers?
A: Sure, but then I remember Jean Rhys who said, “we’re all just drops in the ocean of literature.”

Q: What’s your practical advice for writers?
A: Schedule your writing. I mean that. Actually schedule the time you write. Then when your family and your job and Grandma and the wolf and your dentist demand your time, you can actually look at your calendar and say, I’m sorry, I can’t make it then. Can you do 2:15pm instead? If your time to write is actually designated in your ical, or written in your datebook, all those around you (including you yourself) will take it seriously. Your calendar is a monument to your time. Carve it—or be carved.

***
I also recently learned that Molly has an Alphabetique Advent Calendar for those of you who can’t wait to start getting into the countdown spirit! The calendar has already started, but you can subscribe to it here and see the archive as well!

Plus, don’t forget to follow Molly on Facebook, Twitter, or at www.mollypeacock.org!

Thanks again to Random House Canada for this wonderful opportunity!

Have you read Alphabetique? For those of you who have, did you have a favourite letter?

Giveaway | Not That Kind of Girl: A Night With Lena Dunham

Lena Dunham Not That Kind of Girl Toronto

Lena Dunham has been someone I’ve admired for quite a while. I think that she’s an important public figure in that she seems like a pretty down-to-earth person with a lot of interesting things to say, especially about gender relations and mental health. I am a huge fan of her show GIRLS and I devoured her newly-released memoir Not That Kind of Girl in two days (in my opinion, I read it a little too quickly, but that’s what re-reads are for, right?). So, when I managed to snag tickets to see her in Toronto, I was over the moon.

When I watched GIRLS for the first time, I was in a place in my life where I felt like I was getting it together but also not really getting it. I found a lot of myself (and my friends) in the girls in the show, and the honesty with which it portrayed women (or, at least, a group of women) really impressed me. I finally felt like there was a show that was real; it wasn’t sugar-coated or tied up neatly. I could relate to it. Oh, and did I mention that on top of that it’s also funny and thought-provoking? Because it’s both of those things too.

I’m happy to report that Lena in person is just as impressive as Lena on screen or Lena in writing. Her answers to interviewer Johanna Schneller’s questions were smart, humorous, and honest. She was very articulate and charming and I agreed with a lot of the things she said. Since I was basically in awe the whole time I was at the event (honestly, it felt like such a surreal night), I didn’t think to write down any quotes; luckily, Jessica from Paper Trail Diary has a wonderful re-cap that I urge you to check out.

After her on-stage interview, Lena signed copies of her book. She was incredibly friendly and really took the time to talk to each of her fans. She even personalized each book, which I wasn’t expecting her to do since the line up was so long. I was a jumble of nerves when talking to her but I managed to get a few words out and I’m glad I got the chance to tell her how much I love her work. It was truly a magical night.

Now, here’s the fun part! I want to share my love for Lena Dunham with YOU! I was able to get an extra copy of the book signed, so I’m giving it away to one lucky reader!

**CLICK HERE TO ENTER THE GIVEAWAY**

CONTEST RULES:
1. No purchase necessary.
2. Open to residents of Canada + the United States only.
3. If a winner is picked and their Twitter account only has giveaway entries, I will choose again.
I want the winner to genuinely enjoy these books!
4. Have fun and good luck!

Are you a fan of Lena Dunham? Will you be checking out (or have you read) Not That Kind of Girl?