The Beautiful by Renée Ahdieh

The Beautiful by Renée Ahdieh is the first in a sumptuous, sultry and romantic new series set in 19th century New Orleans where vampires hide in plain sight. Released on October 8, 2019, The Beautiful became an instant New York Times and Indie Bestseller – a testament to master storyteller Renée Ahdieh’s newest sultry romance and decadent, thrilling mystery, which is sure to enrapture fans of the genre, new and old.

In 1872, New Orleans is a city ruled by the dead. But to seventeen-year-old Celine Rousseau, New Orleans is a safe haven after she’s forced to flee her life as a dressmaker in Paris. Taken in by the sisters of the Ursuline convent in the middle of the carnival season, Celine is quickly enraptured by the vibrant city, from its music to its fancy soirées and even its danger. She becomes embroiled in the city’s glitzy underworld, known as La Cour des Lions, after catching the eye of the group’s enigmatic leader, Sébastien Saint Germain. When the body of one of the girls from the convent is found in Sébastien’s own lair – the second dead girl to turn up in recent weeks – Celine battles her attraction to Sébastien and suspicions about his guilt, along with the shame of her own horrible secret. After a third murder, New Orleans becomes gripped by the terror of a serial killer on the loose – one who has now set Celine in his sights. As the murderer stalks her, Celine finally takes matters into her own hands, only to find herself caught in the midst of an age-old feud between the darkest creatures of the night, where the price of forbidden love is her life.

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Indigo Teen Staff Picks of the Month 2019

If this happens to be the first time you are hearing about the Indigo Teen Staff Pick of the Month for the first time, you may be curious as to just what it is – as you should be! In short, Indigo Staff Picks of the Month is an initiative run by Chapters/Indigo Books & Music Inc., with the goal of featuring new and exciting book releases for various demographics and/or genres. The Indigo Teen Staff Pick of the Month focuses specifically on the Teen/Young Adult demographic, with books from various genres, including Fantasy, Science Fiction, and Contemporary.

Each month, 100 staff members read a number of teen and YA books, and then vote for their pick of the month! Each monthly pick is announced by Chapters/Indigo at the beginning of each month, and each of the picks are kept secret until then!

If you’re shopping in store, you can easily identify current, and past, Indigo Staff Picks of the Month by spotting the black, circular sticker on their cover (see below). If you’re shopping online, you can check out current and past Indigo Staff Picks of the Month here. If you happen to pick up your own copy of an Indigo Staff Picks of the Month book, please be sure to show it off on social media by using the hashtag #IndigoStaffPicks!

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My Year in Books 2019

It’s the time of year for lists and reflection, and I would be amiss if I didn’t reflect upon what I read this year, and if I didn’t share my favourite reads of 2019! Everything considered, I still managed to read quite a lot this year – 78 books to be exact (or around there, because I am sure I missed recording a few on Goodreads here and there!), which amounted to a whopping 29,736 pages read! While this isn’t quite as much as My Year in Books 2018, I am still really happy to have not only met my goal (to read 50 books), but to have surpassed it as well!

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Anyways, Goodreads put together this super neat feature called “My Year in Books”, and I thought it would be awesome to combine some of the things I learned from it with my yearly Top 10 Books post! I have attached photos of “My Year in Books” below my Top 10 of 2019 post for this of you who are interested in viewing it – including a fabulous collage of all the books I read this year!

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A Book Blogger and Reader Burnout

“Creative types are haunted by a specific misconception: that because we are spending time doing what we love, we aren’t allowed to be burnt out by it, exhausted from it, or tired of it.” – Leah Rachel Won Esson, BookRiot

Well, long story short – I am woefully behind on my reading list, my book reviews, and my engagement with the bookish community in general. I could list excuses, but the fact of the matter is this – I have simply been feeling burnt out. For those of you who have (luckily) never experienced true “reader burnout”, let me tell you – it is undoubtedly a real thing. And when you, like me, are embroiled in the world of book bloggers and bookstagramming, this burnout seems to be unequivocally associated with guilt and feelings of inadequacy.

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Truly, I see this a lot in the reading community, albeit mentioned under different names or explained though different terms – but at its heart, so many of my fellow blogger and book lovers are looking for support to pull them out of their “reading slump”. This is accompanied by a pervasive fear of missing out, of not being among the first to read the hottest new releases, or of not having the most followers. Even the most ardent of book lovers are sure to feel overwhelmed and disappointed in themselves when constantly comparing themselves to others’ success and achievements. The pressure to keep up can seem insurmountable (at least it certainly felt that way to me), and this alone is undoubtedly a major factor in “reader burnout”. 

“Forcing yourself through burnout will only make the books go by slower, and forcing yourself to read when your mind is pulling away will only make reading less of a pleasure.” – Leah Rachel Won Esson, BookRiot

Upon this realization, I have recently come to realize (through some intense introspection and self-reflection) that I have nothing to feel guilty about. I have not fallen off some path, I am not falling behind some imagined finish-line, nor have I stopped loving reading and blogging. I have come to realize that I can love something, but still need a break from it (it being reading and blogging, of course). And I did desperately need a break from it – because after four years of blogging almost weekly, I was running on empty. So instead of forcing myself through books I didn’t feel equipped to read, or writing reviews I simply didn’t have the energy for, I stepped back and started just spending my time doing whatever it was I wanted to do – whether that was playing Pokemon Sword, or binge-watching Star Wars. I considered why I was reading what I was reading – was it for me, or for others? Were my goals self-driven, or a reflection of my own subconscious fears of falling behind my peers? Once I worked through this, and began to really consider why I began on this path at all, I began to feel more myself again. A break was what I needed to gain perspective, to reinvigorate myself, and to remind myself why I love reading in the first place.

“Self-care can come in many different forms and sometimes the best care you can give yourself is a break.” – Leah Rachel Won Esson, BookRiot

So to my fellow blogger, bookworms, and/or Bookstagrammers reading this – please remember that you are not lost. You are not failing yourself, or anyone else. In taking a break – by embracing your so-called “reading slump” – you are really taking care of yourself. And when you are ready, you will pick up that next book, or write that next blog post. 

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Christmas Wish List 2019

Well Bookworms – it’s official, I am bringing my longer-than-expected hiatus to an end (with this post)! It feels like it has been months since I have sat dawn with my laptop to write a post about anything books related – and since it actually has been months, please forgive me if this post isn’t quite up to my usual standard.

Regardless, I am excited to be back and to be sharing my 2019 Christmas Wish List with any of you who have decided to hang around long enough to see my triumphant return to blogging. Books are one of my favourite gifts to give, and to receive. I especially enjoy gifting books I have read to friends and family, so that we can share and discuss them once they have been read! And since my father and I have a similar taste in books (see: anything high-fantasy), this usually works out! My boyfriend is more into Sci-Fi, so I’ve managed to wrangle him into reading some of my YA Sci-Fi favourites, like The Illumiae Files (Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman) or Skyward (Brandon Sanderson).

Anyways, back to my Christmas Wish List! As it is most years, this list is a jumble of recent releases, and older releases (typically from earlier in 2019), that I simply haven’t had a chance to get my hands on. As usual, most of the books on the below list are YA Fantasy, with a dash of Sci-Fi mixed in!

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Ninth House (ARC) by Leigh Bardugo

Ninth House, released on October 8th, 2019, is the long-awaited adult debut by the beloved author of Shadow and Bone and Six of Crows. With this darkly lyrical new novel, Leigh Bardugo creates a mesmerizing tale of power, privilege, and dark magic set among the Ivy League elite.

Galaxy “Alex” Stern is the most unlikely member of Yale’s freshman class. Raised in the Los Angeles hinterlands by a hippie mom, Alex dropped out of school early and into a world of shady drug-dealer boyfriends, dead-end jobs, and much, much worse. In fact, by age twenty, she is the sole survivor of a horrific, unsolved multiple homicide. Some might say she’s thrown her life away. But at her hospital bed, Alex is offered a second chance: to attend one of the world’s most prestigious universities on a full ride. What’s the catch, and why her? Still searching for answers, Alex arrives in New Haven tasked by her mysterious benefactors with monitoring the activities of Yale’s secret societies. Their eight windowless “tombs” are the well-known haunts of the rich and powerful, from high-ranking politicos to Wall Street’s biggest players. But their occult activities are more sinister and more extraordinary than any paranoid imagination might conceive. They tamper with forbidden magic. They raise the dead. And, sometimes, they prey on the living.

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October 2019 Reading List

September was a crazy month for me – if you happen to follow me on Bookstagram, you may have seen that I accepted a new teaching role, and not only did I move into a new grade, but I also increased my work load to full-time! While this is thrilling and exciting (truly – it’s as if all my dreams are coming true!), it does mean that I have accrued quite the to be read pile!

So, as I settle into my new teaching role and my new routine, I am going to focusing on reading the books that are already on my shelves! These books are mostly ARCs that I received at the Indigo YA Fall Preview, though a couple are recent releases that I picked up in the past few weeks.

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Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin

Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin is a brilliant debut, full of everything readers of the genre love: a sparkling and fully realized heroine, an intricate and deadly system of magic, and a searing romance that will keep readers reading long into the night. Released on September 3rd, 2019, Mahurin’s debut novel is the Indigo Teen Staff Pick of the Month – and also featured in their most recent Indigo Book Box!

DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary copy of Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin  from Indigo Books & Music Inc. in exchange for an honest review. 

Two years ago, Louise le Blanc fled her coven and took shelter in the city of Cesarine, forsaking all magic and living off whatever she could steal. There, witches like Lou are hunted. They are feared. And they are burned. As a huntsman of the Church, Reid Diggory has lived his life by one principle: Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. But when Lou pulls a wicked stunt, the two are forced into an impossible situation—marriage. Lou, unable to ignore her growing feelings, yet powerless to change what she is, must make a choice. And love makes fools of us all.

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HCC #FrenzyPresents Fall Preview (2019-09-25)

A few Sundays ago, I had the privilege – and pleasure – of attending the Harper Collins Canada #FrenzyPresents Fall Preview event in Toronto, Ontario. This is only the second time I have been able to attend, but as with my first event, this HCC #FrenzyPresents event was a blast! Not only did I get an in-depth preview of so many fantastic upcoming YA releases, but I also had the chance to meet several of my fellow Canadian Book Bloggers, which was simply heartwarming. Truly, my heart is so full.

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