Save the Date ~ #JNGReads

You’re going to want to save a date to read this book all in one sitting – it’s that good!

Save the Date by Morgan Matson got me out of a reading slump I didn’t even know I was in. I’ve read a few good books recently (namely, The Kiss Quotient just before this one), but I wasn’t feeling that unbearable urge to sit down and crack open my book, I wasn’t feeling that heart pounding desire to bust out of work and get home so that I could spend my evening reading. With Save the Date, though, those emotions of excitement and eagerness came rushing back and I found myself thinking about the book even when I was away from it.

Save the Dateis an excellent example of how profound and powerful YA novels can be. My experience of reading it reminded me very much of when I read Before I Fall (a YA book I absolutely loved!) – don’t get me wrong, the subject matter is totally different, but Save the Date, despite it’s lighthearted and funny plot, felt just as meaningful and important as Before I Fall and is a book I would recommend to all YA readers out there.

This novel follows the Grant family, particularly youngest sibling of 5 Charlotte (Charlie) Grant, on the weekend of sister Linnie’s wedding. The story is told from Charlie’s perspective and I fell instantly in love with her – she is wholesome and sweet and somewhat innocent, with a huge heart and this unwavering love for her family and nostalgia for her childhood. Her mother is a famous cartoonist, and intermixed with sections of the story are comics featuring the fictional/illustrated Grant family which mirror what is happening in the plot, and this was an especially nice, heartwarming touch that really made the family feel incredibly real. Each one of the Grant family members, from the father who is a botany professor obsessed with his garden and his feud with one of the neighbours, to Charlie herself, struggling to decide where she wants to go to college, is well fleshed out and so easy to love, and I can honestly say that this was a story where I connected to and enjoyed reading about every single character.

What so many other reviewers have also pointed out is that this particular YA novel is focused on these family relationships, and does not rely too heavily on romance. Yes, there are love interests and crushes for Charlie, but her main source of happiness is having her family all together again during this special weekend, and she spends a lot more time assisting with the wedding and chatting with her siblings than obsessing over her crushes. This was extremely refreshing, and allowed Matson to focus on more profound topics like growing up and what it means to become an adult yourself while still longing to hang onto your connection to your childhood and your family. Charlie struggles with letting go of the past, particularly as her parents prepare to sell their home, and it was so interesting to watch her grapple with the fact that losing a physical space does not at all equate to losing memories and relationships. Like I’ve said, everything about the story was heartwarming and it is kind of impossible not to fall in love with Charlie and her family.

On top of all of this awesomeness, Morgan Matson’s writing style is truly addictive. This book is not short – it’s over 400 pages and the font is pretty tiny! – but it doesn’t feel like a burden to read at all and I found myself flying through it and actually trying to slow down so I wouldn’t finish it all too quickly. I’ve also read Matson’s novel Since You’ve Been Gone and I loved that, so I had a feeling I would really like this one too…but I am so very pleased that Morgan Matson is quickly becoming a YA author I can rely on to deliver an engaging and enjoyable story!

This book should be a John Hughes film…but since it isn’t a movie just yet, GO READ IT!!!

❥❥❥❥❥(out of 5)

JNG

Girl with a Green Heart

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How I Read ~ Reading Habits Book Tag ~ #JNGReads

Happy Sunday Everyone!

I am very pleased to be back with you this afternoon after having been included in a lovely bookish tag by the amazing Catherine at This Is One for the Books. Catherine’s reviews and posts are always so well-written, thorough and passionate, and she is the perfect reader to follow along with on her Goodreads and Twitter (her tweets always get me laughing and thinking) – I’d highly recommend giving this fellow Canadian of mine a follow! Thank you again for the tag, Catherine! xo

Now, onto the questions that Catherine has tasked me with answering, all of which are about my reading habits. These questions were such fun to answer as they got me thinking about how I read and why I read in a certain way.

(Sidenote: Feel free to follow along with me, and my best friend Camille, on our bookstagram account Emerald & Opal to see more photos like the one above!)

  1. Do you have a certain place at home for reading? 

When I was still living with my parents (just over a year ago), I would always read in my bedroom because my dad would be blaring hockey on the TV and I would find it impossible to concentrate. But, since moving in with my husband, I now read on the couch in our living room, and if my husband is watching a TV show or playing a videogame (as he is right now, beside me – shout out to anyone who has played the game “Witcher III”!), he is kind enough to throw on headphones so that I can still curl up and cuddle beside him but not have to contend with the noises from whatever he’s doing. My dad could learn a thing or two on TV watching etiquette from him – haha! 😉

  1. Bookmark or random piece of paper? 

Bookmark all the way – I’ve been collecting them since I was a kid, and I am currently using one that I got when I was in London on my honeymoon, from the Victoria & Albert Museum.

Fun fact, though: My mom uses a square of (unused, obviously!) toilet paper as her bookmark…and she’s always losing it, which I guess is okay because she has like an endless supply. But needless to say, I find this a bit of an odd preference!

  1. Can you just stop reading or do you have to stop after a chapter/a certain amount of pages? 

Like Catherine, I prefer to stop at the end of a chapter so that I can remember where I left off, but I often read on my subway trip into work, so this isn’t always possible. I don’t usually have a problem remembering what part of the page I left off at, though, because I will always make sure I finish the paragraph I was reading, even if I have to pause in the subway station before walking to work.

  1. Do you eat or drink while reading? 

I will definitely have a drink with me while I read – right now, I’m sipping on an Arizona iced green tea, but I usually have an earl grey or English breakfast hot tea. Or water if nothing else is available, but that just doesn’t feel special enough as a reading beverage most often. Like Catherine (again), I can’t eat while I’m reading because it requires that I look away from the page too much to make sure I’m not spilling my food, which I tend to do a lot because I am the world’s messiest eater!

  1. Multitasking: Music or TV while reading? 

Nope, definitely not! I have tried listening to classical/instrumental music while reading before, but even that distracts me. The only time it works okay is if I’m reading in a coffeeshop because background noise doesn’t get to me.

  1. One book at a time or several at once? 

Always one book at a time! I’ve never been able to read multiple books at once, ever since I was a kid, because I find it so hard to stay focused and keep the stories straight. Also, I’m an all or nothing kind of person, so I prefer to focus all my energies on finishing one book and then moving onto the next one.

  1. Reading at home or everywhere?

I read everywhere! I always have a book with me to pull out on the subway or during my lunch break, and sometimes I even feel too restless and distracted by household chores to read at home, so I’ll head out to my favourite Starbucks so I can focus on nothing else but my reading goal for the day. (I’m a bit crazy so I’ve set a goal for myself of reading 100 pages a day…it’s almost like daily homework, but more fun!)

  1. Reading out loud or silently in your head? 

I read silently because I find it really hard to absorb a text when I read it out loud…but I have started reading Neil Gaiman’s book Norse Mythology aloud to my husband because he’s not much of a book reader (he prefers graphic novels) but he really wanted to hear the story. I feel like the style of Norse Mythology lends itself to being read aloud, though, so it has been working out well so far.

  1. Do you read ahead or even skip pages?

Okay, confession time: I always read the last sentence of a novel at the start. I know this is probably a controversial thing and some (most) readers will think I’m insane, but I just have had this habit forever, and my brother actually does the same thing. Yes, this does result in spoilers a lot of the time, but I’m not at all bothered by that, and usually it just makes me eager to read even faster and find out how the characters could’ve gotten to those circumstances by the end!  

  1. Breaking the spine or keeping it like new? 

I can’t imagine ever breaking the spine of a book. Blasphemy!

  1. Do you write in your books? 

I do sometimes. I have no qualms about writing in a book because I started the habit in university to highlight passages and make little notes, and I like to do that now when I find a quote that really speaks to me. I also (*gasp*) dog-ear pages of my books if they have a passage I really like so I can find them easily later, and I love looking back at a book and seeing all these pages dog-eared and knowing I must’ve loved the writing a lot!

Well, that’s it from me – thanks again to Catherine for tagging me because this was a ton of fun!

I would like to tag the following awesome bloggers (no pressure to answers these questions, but just wanted you to know I’m constantly inspired by what you write!)…

Emma | Lily | Crystal

Janille N G

Girl with a Green Heart

It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like… ~ The Start of a Christmas Fairytale

Once upon a time there lived a boy and a girl who loved Christmas.

Okay, they were more like a man and a woman, but in the interest of not aging myself too much (my birthday is tomorrow and I’m still insisting on hanging onto my girlhood, although I am distinctly in my mid-twenties now), let’s consider them young-ish adults. When this boy decided to marry this girl, after only a few years of courtship, he proposed to her on a blossoming May day. The sun was shining, the air was clear, the flowers were out and about, waving at the passersby. It was a glorious day to celebrate such a beautiful union!

But, the girl didn’t want to get married in May…or in any warm season, for that matter. No, this particular girl, with her raven hair, pale skin, and blushing cheeks and lips, had always dreamed of getting married during what she believed to be the happiest time of the year ~ Christmas.

Flash forward to almost a year and a half later, and this boy and girl are in a flurry of wedding planning. It is only just over a month until their nuptials, which will take place on December 22nd, and they have settled comfortably into a home in their favourite city. What they didn’t consider when moving in, however, was that they would want to bedazzle their new home in honour of their Christmas wedding…and since it was already past November 1st, what were they waiting for?

The boy and the girl were eager to get to the local arts and crafts store and pick out their first (albeit artificial) Christmas tree, along with ornaments, ribbons, the whole lot. There was just one problem, though: neither the boy nor the girl owned a car (although, it is important to note that the girl could drive; she just had no interest in owning a car herself). How on Earth were they going to get a Christmas tree home with them? Sure, the store was only a 30-minute walk away, but weren’t Christmas trees usually big and heavy? The boy reassured the girl that he could handle it, flexing his muscles while he was at it, and the girl pushed all worries out of her mind, thinking they could sort things out in due time.

Flash forward again to 2 hours later, when the boy and the girl are scurrying down the busiest and longest street in their city, carrying not 1, not 2, but 3 Christmas trees! When they saw the incredible sale on trees at the store and realized that they could get 3 trees for the regular price of 1…well, how could they resist? They were, after all, the ultimate Christmas enthusiasts! And it seemed that the residents of their favourite city were taking notice: they got multiple stares from people walking past (particularly as they took their many breaks along the trip home), and one man even stopped them to ask if perhaps they had gotten a bit carried away, getting 3 trees? The girl replied, confidently, “Absolutely not, Sir! Christmas is the happiest time of the year, so why not make the most of it?” She smiled and continued brightly, “Have a very Merry Christmas!” The boy smiled too, his heart growing about 10 sizes at how utterly adorable the girl was! *cough cough*

The boy and the girl would look back fondly on this hour-long trek, and the story of their first, most ambitious Christmas would be passed on from one generation of their family to the next, as their grandchildren and great-grandchildren shared the story of JNG and SS’s first official Christmas together.

~ If you haven’t gotten it by now, that boy and that girl are none other than my fiancé and me. And, it’s definitely true – we did indeed walk an hour home, lugging 3 Christmas trees, just last weekend. Our place couldn’t look more festive (aka absolutely perfect)! Would you like to see?

We decided to wrap our kitchen cabinets like presents, and gave each one a label. Some of the “gifts” are from our favourite literary characters!

 

Our 2 smaller Christmas trees, named after our favourite brothers and fellow Christmas enthusiasts: Ernest and Albert.

 

Our large Christmas tree, affectionately named Tree #108 (inspired by Queen Victoria’s Doll #123).

Stay tuned for more Christmas-y blog posts coming soon, as wedding month kicks off here at The World of my Green Heart!

JNG

Girl with a(n Ever)Green Heart

High Lady

High Lady

“Night Triumphant – and the Stars Eternal.” ~ A Court of Wings and Ruin Sometimes you get so obsessed with a book that it starts to slowly take over aspects of your entire life. Welcome to my world. These obsessions … Continue reading

Pipe Dreams

“And so it came about that Eliza’s luck held, and the expected opposition to the flower shop melted away. The shop is in the arcade of a railway station not very far from the Victoria and Albert Museum; and if you live in that neighborhood you may go there any day and buy a buttonhole from Eliza.”

Pygmalion, George Bernard Shaw

My Dream Home (Victoria College)

If only I had Eliza Doolittle’s luck.

I don’t think there’s a person on this planet who hasn’t considered what they would do if they won the lottery. Sure, people probably consider different amounts and try to determine how much they would require to quit their jobs and be comfortable for the rest of their lives, and these values certainly vary from person to person. Then they decide what they would do with this money…Would they travel the world, see the greatest sites in every continent? Would they buy a home by the ocean, in a forest, in a famous city? Would they donate a large sum of it to charities, hospitals, people in need? Or would they live just as they do now, all the while knowing that they will never have to worry about providing for their loved ones?

I know exactly what I would do with my lottery winnings, and I have known for many years. At one point, I thought that, if I had all the money in the world, I would immediately apply for and pursue my PhD. I would be on a plane to Oxford tomorrow, copies of Jane Eyre and North and South packed in my suitcase, wearing a cozy cardigan. After meeting SS, my goals changed slightly, and I realized that I didn’t really want to do my PhD, not because I didn’t have the money readily available for it but because I didn’t have the time to devote to it. I believed, and still do, that my time could be better spent nurturing an incredible relationship and building a humble but secure family life. When I thought about winning the lottery with SS, I knew that the first thing I would want to do was get married immediately; obviously, we’re in the midst of planning our wedding, so we can afford this exciting party anyway, but I knew that if we won the lottery, we could travel to Paris and get married beside the Eiffel Tower, or we could have our reception in a secluded and gothic English castle. And we could take our honeymoon in Japan, like SS has always dreamed of. We could have a wedding with the character we’re trying to recreate here in Toronto with a bit more ease and immediacy. And we could start our married life, the life I now know I want more than any other, that much sooner.

Now that we are in the process of planning our wedding, though, I know that if I won the lottery tomorrow, I wouldn’t change a thing about the wedding we’re having. I firmly believe that it is going to be perfect, exactly what both SS and I have always envisioned, so I wouldn’t spend any more or less money on it. It is going to be exquisite just as we have it planned.

So, my priorities for my lottery money have changed again…

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll already know what I would do if I won the lottery tomorrow. I would set myself, and SS, up in a home right across the street from Victoria College at the University of Toronto. It would be the exact home featured in the photo above, a home just like the one Henry Higgins lives in in My Fair Lady (check out the scene I linked on my Twitter page yesterday to get a sense of the type of home I’m talking about). I have a bit of a love affair with doors, and this home would have a solid black one, with three small steps leading up to it and a black gate in front. Flowers and small shrubs would surround the porch, and the entrance would lead right onto the sidewalk, right into the heart of downtown and close to the beautiful campus I spent so much time at and grew to love so dearly. We would entertain our dearest friends here, having dinner parties at Christmas, the outside of our lovely home covered in wreaths and poinsettias and sparkling lights. I would invite my best friend CV over for tea and we would curl up in luscious armchairs by the window with our favourite novels. I would walk to work every morning, all the while knowing that my dream home was waiting for me upon my return. And I would continue to work, not in an office, not on a tight schedule, but somewhere pleasant and warm and inviting, just for the fun of it. I would find the nearest flower shop, one similar to the gorgeous shop in my hometown of Whitby (which is actually hiring a part-time sales associate at the moment…tempting!), and work there basically for free since I don’t need the money anyway. I would just want to wear pretty dresses every day, and fresh blooms in my hair. I would want to brighten people’s days by offering them a free flower every now and then (paid for with my newfound fortune, naturally), and strike up conversations with my favourite customers. I would live a relaxed, stress free life, but one that would also leave my children amply provided for.

Oh, what a dream! Not dissimilar to Eliza Doolittle’s in Pygmalion: a simple life, replete with the comforts of a loving home and work that is truly enjoyable and fulfilling. It’s the best life I can possibly think of, not too extravagant, just right for me.

Probably I should start buying lottery tickets if I actually want to have a shot at this life! 😉

What would you do if you won the lottery tomorrow? Let me know below; I’d love to hear!

JNG

Girl with a Green Heart

my green heart

Where I Read — Home Away From Home

Reading in SS's Backyard

Hello hello and happy weekend!

Can I just say that there is nothing better in the summer than weekends! Who wants to wear dress pants in 40 degrees Celsius? Not this girl!

Anyway, I digress. This week, I’ve decided to skip the #JNGReads/#JNGListens post and instead do another entry about a location Where I Read. I could’ve done a #JNGWatches post, because if you all follow me on Twitter, you’ll see that I’ve been posting gifs and photos and videos of two particular movies all week. I watched both Pride and Prejudice (the version starring Keira Knightley and Matthew MacFayden) and Becoming Jane last weekend, and I’m a little obsessed with both movies. I also realized that my fiancé has never seen Becoming Jane, so I’ll likely have to rectify that situation this weekend and watch the movie again. What a sacrifice to spend another 2 hours with James McAvoy! *sigh* The things we do for our future husbands! 😉

Oh dear, here I go digressing again! Okay, let’s focus — on to my most recent reading location.

A few weeks ago, SS and I had a mini engagement party with the members of our wedding party (some of whom I introduced on the blog here). The next day, we spent a leisurely Sunday in his newly landscaped backyard. SS and his parents did ALL the landscaping themselves, and the garden is truly a sight to behold it is quite breathtaking and the flower beds and built-in stone benches are absolutely beautiful. It’s a perfectly serene and peaceful little retreat, with a covered deck that stays cool and shaded, and a lovely collection of vibrant and vivid summer colours.

On that particular Sunday, the sun was quite scorching, but SS and I were totally protected under the deck, and I was able to spend hours reading Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey in complete calm. Although SS and I are looking to buy a condo and most likely won’t have a garden of our own any time in the foreseeable future, it is nice to know that we will always have a warm and inviting atmosphere to hang out in at his parents’ place. And it is truly remarkable to me that I feel so comfortable there…that I can casually sit in his backyard and feel like I am right at home.

SS's Backyard #1 SS's Backyard #2 SS's Backyard #4

 

 

 

 

I’ll be spending a few days this week at SS’s house while his parents are away on a vacation, so chances are I’ll be spending a lot more time reading in this pleasant setting!

Enjoy your weekend and the blazing sun!

SS's Backyard #3

JNG

Girl with a Green Heart

my green heart