Thanksgiving 2019

A lot has changed in only a short time.

I’ve taken some major steps towards my transition which is overwhelming, scary, and unbelievably exciting all at the same time. I’ve moved into my very own apartment. I’m getting a fish! It’s all amazing.

That being said, there have been some rough times as well of the last few weeks, but regardless of that, I’m still here and holding my head up high.

As rough as the last few years have been, 2019 included, I do still have a lot to be thankful for. I’ve made some amazing friends. I love my new apartment. I’m going to be able to start my transition any day now. It’s a lot and I’m so happy with all of it. I finally feel like I can live my life the way I want to and with moving I’m happy to finally have more reading time as well, so I look forward to posting more reviews again.

Happy (Canadian) Thanksgiving, everyone!

May Wrap-Up: When Mental Health Gets You Down

I had set a big reading goal for May, to read all 10 of the Star Wars: X-Wing Series books. But with work and life wreaking havoc on my mental health, that didn’t happen.

I read one book this month and that was the first X-Wing book, Rogue Squadron.

June for me is set to be an even rougher month (for reasons that can be explained in this post from last year) but I’m going to do my best to get through a reasonable list of books of all genres to keep myself from getting sucked into an even bigger reading slump.

The number of books I read is so directly connected to my mental health it’s probably strange, but I do want to make up for being something of a vegetable this month. My goal is four books to actually finish even if the list is longer than that.

June TBR List:

  • Killing Floor (Jack Reacher #1) by Lee Child
  • The Assassin’s Blade (Throne of Glass #0.5) by Sarah J. Maas
  • Red Rising (Red Rising #1) by Pierce Brown
  • The Beautiful by Renée Ahdieh
  • The Curse of the Werepenguin by Allan Woodrow
  • The Power of the Dog by Don Winslow (audiobook)

I’m also doing a two-man bookclub with a good friend of mine and we’ll be reading through A Song of Ice and Fire together so even if I don’t finish it this month, I’ll be reading Game of Thrones this month as well.

Tell me what you’re reading this month!

We All Need A Break Some Time

It’s been a weird week, and a long weekend.

Some really good things happened but I also haven’t been feeling like myself at all. A lot of what’s going on lately feels like one step forward two steps back, which we all know is not helpful, productive, or fun at all.

Because of this, I think I’m going to step back for a few days and just give myself a chance to get caught up on the things I need to get caught up on without feeling all stressed out. This includes the Throne of Glass read-a-long I’m hosting (the next Crown of Midnight post was supposed to go up today but I don’t think it’ll be up until Monday or Tuesday at this rate).

I just need a minute to breathe and I don’t feel like I’ve had that chance in awhile.

Thank you everyone for your understanding.

How Kaz Brekker Saved My Life; or A Very Personal Review of Six of Crows

While this blog post will also contain my review for Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows, it will also contain subject matter some reader my find triggering. Therefore, there is a content warning for suicide and suicidal ideation.

Should you only want to read the review, simply scroll past the first section.


It has taken me a long time to get to reading the beauty of the book that is Six of Crows. With it’s beautiful cover art, and stunning black sprayed edges, it’s a treasure on my shelves even if only to look at. There’s no real reason why I haven’t read it before now, but I will admit to reading it now primarily because I was told I’d get more from King of Scars (Bardugo’s latest book in the Grishaverse) if I did. I went into it thinking I knew what I was signing up for: a teen version of Peaky Blinders with more diversity and a touch of magic. As usual, I got a lot more than that, but I wasn’t expecting just how much more I got.

As followers of mine may know, I lost my 12-year-old cousin a year ago to suicide and it’s something I’m not ashamed to admit I’m still very much struggling to handle. As someone who has suffered very serious and very chronic depression along with being diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, suicide is something that is constantly haunting me.

Does this mean that I, myself, am suicidal?

At one point it did but I’ve gotten a little better at handling the dark days to the extend it’s more like intrusive thinking on it’s own rather than an impulsive urge to follow through on said intrusive thoughts. It’s background noise that gets louder on bad days, but still background noise. Since losing my cousin to something that I’ve thought about so intensly over the years, the noise is harder to quiet. Considering my life is not nearly where I was hoping and wanting it to be right now, it’s especially hard to ignore.

My day job is not ideal. The feeling of being a burden to those around me is suffocating. Being 24-years-old and not even really knowing who I am in my own head, let alone to the world around me, feels embarrassing when I see those around me who are younger and still more successful. These are things that make the noise loudest and sometimes it’s to the point where it’s hard to breathe.

In the past I’ve tried to keep thinking of Harry Potter or Game of Thrones or even hyper focusing on anime like Naruto, Bleach and Full Metal Alchemist for motivation to keep moving forward (a prominent line from FMA) but those things always taper out and fade away and I’m stuck scrambling to find something else to chase away the overwhelming pressure of depression.

So where does Six of Crows come in?

Right now.

The moto of the gang (essentially) run by Kaz Brekker is “No mourners. No funerals.” To paraphrase the book itself, this passes between members of The Dregs as “good luck”. But to me, it spoke to the background noise telling me “Hey, wouldn’t things just be easier if you stepped in front of the bus?” It told this voice, this noise, “No. There will be no mourners. There will be no funerals.”

6c413a0f076a683ae908f290fdbe95dbTo me, it’s a reminder of the hardships that come with death. It points at my cousin’s still mourning family and says, “Do you really want that to happen instead?”. There are many books I can get lost in for hours at a time to simply forget what’s going on around me or to help me ignore the storms of conflict that are raging in my head. No mourners. No funerals. can calm the anxiety that tightens my throat when the last thing I want to do is be a cashier. It can remind me that there are people who care about me without sounding patronizing. It’s a warm blanket in the rain that pushes me to make things better myself. And that’s what Leigh Bardugo has given me.

She has taken spite as motivation and given it a strength and a voice that I can hear in my own head and use with my own strength.

Mental illness is different for every person who deals with it, but that’s the thing. We deal with it. And sometimes it’s impossibly hard to just deal with something that makes us legitimately considering the possibility that ending our lives will make it easier for those around us and even for ourselves. Let that sink it. Death as something easier. Coping is hard no matter the healthy or unhealthy method being used, because coping isn’t a solution. But it’s something that can keep us going which is so important.

Therapy and medication are proven to help, but therapy isn’t always accessible and medication doesn’t always provide ideal help as often the side effects outweigh the positives. If you are capable of trying either of these methods, I encourage you to. But if you are unable to find at least one thing to keep you moving forward. It doesn’t matter how small that thing is or how insignificant you think it might be to someone else. It does not matter what it is long as it matters to you. For me it’s this quote. It’s not wanting to put those I care about through mourning and funerals.

So this is the story of how Kaz Brekker, the Bastard of the Barrel and a very seriously fictional character, showed me that spite and perseverance can be enough. That it’s okay if that’s enough. Because as long as there are no mourners and no funerals, everything will still be moving forward. And maybe that will be okay.

And, please, if you are depressed: tell someone. If you want to die: tell someone. If you have no one to tell, I will listen to all venting. Just send me an email. If you’re struggling, there is no need to struggle alone.


THE BOOK REVIEW

Thank you for coming to my TED Talk on my personal experiences coping with mental illness. If you skipped it, thank you for coming to this review.

Six of Crows takes The Grisha Trilogy to the level the world truly deserves. The third person perspective makes the narrative so much stronger and using what I’ve been calling “the A Song of Ice and Fire method”, switching between characters every chapter is great (and with a much more manageable cast size than ASOIAF).

The Dregs we meet in this book are Kaz Brekker – the ring leader and best known criminal in the slums of Ketterdam, Inej Ghafa – Kaz’s secret finder and Wraith of Ketterdam, Jesper Fahey – gunner, gambler, and secret Grisha, and Nina Zenik – ex-member of the Ravkan Second Army and known Heartrender. We also get to know the latest Dreg still proving himself, Wylan Van Eck – son of a promenant merchant and explosives expert, and Matthias Helvar – a Fjerdan Grisha hunter.

This band of misfits joins together for the biggest heist of their careers and wind up stuck in a trap bigger than they planned for.

I loved the way each character bonded and how their motivations were all so entirely different and yet they were still so supportive of each other. I loved how this book had my heart racing at every twist to the point that it actually took me almost three weeks to finish it (something unheard of when it comes to how fast I normally read).

The diversity of the characters and even how their different cultures kept clashing just made the world feel so much more real and alive than it did in The Grisha Trilogy. Don’t get me wrong, I am still a supporter of the original trilogy, but the growth in Leigh Bardugo’s writing is an absolute honour to see.

I do think that the best part of the book is definitely Kaz. I felt a real connection to him and his constant anger hidden behind fierce nonchalance and sass. I related to his dislike of being touched and appreciated that while his emotions changed throughout the story, that his ticks remained the same. He’s come to mean a lot to me, even if he is fictional.

While being very late to this party, I adored this book from cover to cover and once I have recovered from the ending, I look forward to the beauty that is my red sprayed hardcover of Crooked Kingdom that has been sitting on my shelf since release day.

January Start Up

WELCOME 2019!

With 2018 finally and fully out the door, it’s time to think about resolutions. I don’t like resolutions because those kind of changes-with-a-deadline never end up sticking and only prove to stress me out more than they should. So instead of “new year, new me”, my plan is to really set realistic goals.

  • I want to stop being so hard on myself all the time
  • I want to make more time for writing (and will be participating in Leigh Bardugo’s #BAYMTGO challenge this year)
  • I want to practice writing my first novel’s query letter every month until the manuscript is finished
  • I want to read 100 books
  • I want to do my best to stick to a set TBR each month
  • I want to conquer some series I keep putting off (Game of Thrones, Throne of Glass, and Outlander)

And with these resolutions, comes my TBR list for January! I don’t have a set order that I’ll be reading these in but these are the eight novels I’m hoping to read this month. If you want to do a buddy read for any of these, then just let me know!!

  • Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
  • Slayer by Kiersten White (ARC)
  • The Matchmaker’s List by Sonya Lalli (ARC)
  • Rough Animals by Rae DelBianco
  • City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
  • The Song Rising by Samantha Shannon
  • Strange Days by Constantine Singer
  • The Goblins of Bellwater by Molly Ringle (ARC)
  • (and if I have time to take part in the Buzzfeed Bookclub this month) My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

Here’s to 2019 hopefully not being the dumpster fire that was my 2018. Here’s to making things better for myself and not putting so much energy into toxic people or relationships that aren’t going anywhere.

Last Month but not Last Stop

Happy December 1st, everyone!

With the winter season truly upon us along with the holiday season, there is a lot to do, but that doesn’t have to be an overwhelming task nor does it need to be stressful. It also means that yesterday was the official end of NaNoWriMo 2018.

I had a goal to add 50,000 words to my existing word count on a project I’ve been working on with the incredibly Laura Lee (co-creator of the web comic Ghost Junk Sickness), but with work and the stress of readjusting to several major life changes, I sadly did not reach that goal. I did a ton of writing giving the level of work I’d been putting into other things, and am still very proud of myself. I tried my best and did as well as I could and I’m teaching myself that that is good enough. That as an author am good enough.

I have smaller goals this month since working in retail means working even harder this time of year, but they are goals all the same.

My writing goal is to finish three more chapters by the end of the year rather than focusing on word count.

My reading goal is 11 more books to reach my challenge target on GoodReads of 100.

My self-care goals are to be more disciplined in keep my work areas at home tidy in order to stay clear headed and focused.

My social goals are to get out of the house more often and reconnect with those in my life who care for me and I for them.

These are all simply goals I want to bring into the New Year at the end of this December since it may be the last month of 2018, it’s not the end of anything. Especially not the end of trying hard to hit marks that mean something to me.

What are your remaining goals for 2018? Let me know in the comments!

Some Big Changes

I’ve been a little sporadic lately, but for once it’s because I’m so busy rather than unmotivated. Throughout September I’ve been to so many author events and reading so many incredible stories, it’s hard to keep up with reviews and posts, but I am hoping to change that this coming weekend and get some good stuff queued up since I have a ton of reviews to get to.

Now let’s get to the updates, shall we?

Yesterday I got my first package from House of Anansi Press to review some recent releases and I am so unbelievably excited about that and will be doing something of a late night unboxing after yet another event I will be attending tonight. This is the first time I’ve received physical copies from publishers in exchange for reviews and I am so excited!

Next up in news is that I have started a Patreon with a new serial project! If you follow me on Twitter, you may already know what it’s all about, but if you don’t I’ll be doing a separate post within in the next day or two when I update it with the next chapter, but if you want to check out my latest project right now you can find everything you need to know at Patreon.com.

Finally is something a little more substantial. I’ve decided to move out of Toronto and back to my home town where I will be going back to school for library studies. All I have ever wanted to do is write, but if there is one thing I’ve learned it’s that not everyone in the writing community is fortunate enough to support themselves on their art alone and it’s time I found something I genuinely love to do. And that’s library work. The move itself will be a rather significant adjustment as my hometown has never been a very positive place in my mind, but it will be worth it for the sake of my own health to get out of the city for a bit while I focus on getting the life I want.

The move won’t really effect any of my online presence other than I may not attend as many events as I have this month, but I can live with that. My PO Box will remain the same until otherwise stated as well so no worries there. I’m honestly just looking forward to the chance to get my life together the way want to and am lucky for the chance to be able to do that.

Stay tuned for some upcoming event posts as well as reviews of some truly incredible (and Canadian!) books.