JNG’s Weekly Round-Up ~ What I’ve Read and Been Up to Recently

Hello and Happy Sunday, dear Readers! My apologies for not having a Weekly Round-Up for you last week.  I had every intention of posting a review for the book I finished two weeks ago last weekend, but I must admit, … Continue reading

The Assassin’s Blade ~ #JNGReads the Throne of Glass Series

Check out the bookstagram page I share with my best friend, Emerald & Opal, to see more photos like this!

I feel like it’s time to finally put some thoughts on paper about a series that has recently taken my life by storm: the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas. I recently finished reading the novella collection The Assassin’s Blade, which serves as a prequel to the series itself, and just before that, I finished Empire of Storms, which pretty much destroyed me. The only current novel in the series that I have left to finish is Tower of Dawn…that is, until the new novel is released in October. Considering that I am just about caught up in the series, I figured it was about time for me to say a few things about the series, through the lens of having just finished a prequel that made me think a lot about my journey with these characters.

Having said all of this, there may be some minor spoilers ahead for the entire Throne of Glass series, so please bear that in mind.

Probably the single most impressive thing, in my opinion, about the Throne of Glass series is the development of the characters and their relationships with one another. This is what has led me to write this review after reading The Assassin’s Blade because so much of that collection brings to the forefront just how far the characters have come by the time we reach Empire of Storms. In The Assassin’s Blade, we see Celaena Sardothien in a way that, having come as far as Empire of Storms, we haven’t seen her for some time. She is back to being Adarlan’s Assassin, an overly confident sassy-pants who is obsessed with refinement, comfort and her physical appearance. She comes across as a bit vapid, I’ll be honest, but there is also evidently some fight in her and a great deal of strength. She isn’t exactly likable though, and in many ways she’s the true opposite to someone like Feyre of Maas’ A Court of Thorns and Roses in that Celaena is a bit…well…spoiled.

Reading about this version of Celaena (believe me, there are many “versions” of this character) reminded me of my initial reaction to Throne of Glass which, to be honest, wasn’t a novel I loved. Although the series certainly picked up for me, it wasn’t until I hit Heir of Fire and Queen of Shadows that I started to feel any affection for Celaena…and at that point, she had already become an entirely different character and reassumed her rightful identity as Aelin Ashryver Galathynius, Queen of Terrasen. I’ve noticed that Maas tends to like to do this with her characters, forcing them to make a total 180 shift, and Celaena certainly does that when she embraces the fact that she is the lost queen of Terrasen and accepts the responsibility associated with that. Aelin is similar to Celaena in some ways – she is fierce, cunning and skilled – but she is also so very different in that she is truly selfless. That much is clear by the (devastating!!!) end of Empire of Storms, and this transformation gave me not only a respect for Maas’ writing and creativity, but also for Aelin as a character. She has quickly become one of my favourite fictional heroines.

But how do we, as readers, reconcile the Aelin we know (and, in my case, love) by the end of Empire of Storms with the Celaena we found to be a bit of a mean girl in Throne of Glass and The Assassin’s Blade? Well, I think this is where the true power of the Throne of Glass series as a whole becomes clear. The series is the story of both Aelin Galathynius and Celaena Sardothien, and it is important to remember that these women are the same person. Who can say, though, that they have not changed at all over the years? Isn’t it normal for a person to grow and develop, especially in the face of trauma and adversity? So, why should Aelin/Celaena not undergo this same process – and why should older, wiser Aelin be judged for the actions and attitude of younger, less world-weary Celaena?

It was remarkable, to me, to see Celaena all over again in The Assassin’s Blade after journeying so far with Aelin. It really made me reconsider Celaena’s entire personality because I was much more sympathetic toward her while reading The Assassin’s Blade than I was when I first encountered her in Throne of Glass. That’s surely due to the gift of hindsight, but knowing what Aelin would go through in Empire of Storms, the sacrifices she would be forced to make by the end, I felt so sad for Celaena because I knew what was ahead in her future, from the salt mines of Endovier, to horrible battles against grotesque enemies, to…an iron mask and iron chains and an iron box that I’m still not even close to ready to talk about. Of course, Aelin also finds a lot of love (and heartache too) along the way, and it is glorifying to remember that she will eventually meet Rowan and share some beautiful moments with him…but everything is tinged with a bit of unease and melancholy, in the full knowledge that Celaena Sardothien, who puts so much time into her outfits and her hair and her nails, will very soon reach a point where none of that will matter even remotely.

Maas is a master of creating characters that stick with you. She made me, the reader who has never picked up Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings, into a fantasy lover just by creating heroines that touched me so profoundly and made me care. Aelin is one of those heroines, no doubt, and I’ve found myself thinking of her nonstop, especially after finishing Empire of Storms, which literally haunts me. I assume that Maas’ intention in releasing The Assassin’s Blade was to make her readers reconsider Celaena from a whole new perspective, and to me, she achieved the mark and then some. I was heartbroken for future Aelin, but still uplifted for former Celaena, knowing that she would become this fearsome and fascinating and awe-inspiring woman to behold. That ride, that journey of watching a woman come into her own, was remarkable.

And, perhaps I’m over-reading things and wearing my English MA glasses for this one…but were there an absurd number of references to iron chains and doors in The Assassin’s Blade?! That cannot be coincidence, can it? Not cool, Sarah J. Maas, not cool!

Song Recommendation:

I feel this song accurately represents Aelin’s journey as a character…and so I’ve been listening to it non-stop – haha!

*College & Electric Youth – A Real Hero*

 

JNG

Girl with a Green Heart

Here Comes The Sun ~ ☼ The Sunshine Blogger Award ☼

“Little darling, the smiles returning to the faces

Little darling, it seems like years since it’s been here

Here comes the sun” ~ The Beatles

I am so excited and overjoyed to have been nominated for the ☼ Sunshine Blogger Award ☼ by the lovely Catherine at the blog This is One for the Books! I was lucky enough to stumble upon Catherine’s profile on Goodreads (she’s a fellow Canadian, which is what caught my eye to begin with), and I found her blog through there. This is One for the Books is an adorable and extremely eye-catching blog, and Catherine’s reviews are all thoughtful and well-written. I’ve already found a new favourite YA novel from her website (Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson) and I’m eager to read several more that Catherine recommends because I’ve already grown to trust her opinion. Definitely check out her blog because you will no doubt be intrigued by everything she writes!

Now, on to the particulars of the Sunshine Blogger Award…

Description of the Award:

The Sunshine Blogger Award is given to those who are creative, positive, and inspiring while spreading sunshine to the blogging community.

(Aww, shucks, way to make a girl feel special! ❥❥❥)

The Rules:

1) Thank the person that nominated you and link back to their blog.

2) Answer the 11 questions your nominator has given you.

3) Nominate 11 other people and give them 11 new questions to answer.

4) List the rules and display the award.

☼ Okay, so here we go, time to answer the 11 questions provided to me by Catherine…

  • Describe yourself in a single word.

Ahh, I always find this sort of thing so hard because I feel like it is nearly impossible to sum a person up in only one word…but maybe loyal…?

  • Where are you from, and what is the most common stereotype or misconception about your hometown/region/country?

I’m from Toronto, Canada, which is something I am super proud of! There are sooo many common misconceptions about Canadians, but probably the one that annoys me the most is that we are believed to be passive. I think that’s a gross overgeneralization, and I believe that Canadians are incredibly patriotic and protective of one another and our unique culture. So yeah, we’re definitely not going to lie down and be dismissed if other countries are being patronizing toward us…as I’m sure has been very evident in the news lately, to those not from Canada…

  • Why did you start blogging? Is there a story behind the name of your blog?

I started blogging after finishing my Master’s degree because I needed an outlet to discuss books emotionally, which I felt I wasn’t able to do when writing academic essays. There is a story behind the name The World of my Green Heart, which I wrote a detailed post about that you can read here, and which relates to the first short story of my own that I ever wrote and the character I created for it.

  • What is your favourite post you’ve written?

This is a tricky one, and I had to think about it a lot because it’s such an unexpected question, but I would say my review of one of my favourite romance novels of all time, The Hating Game by Sally Thorne. You can read my review here. I wrote the review in little bursts when I just couldn’t take my mind off the book, and I’m particularly proud of how honest and raw my words are!

  • If you could choose any superpower what would it be?

This is going to come across as super lame probably, but I’d love to be able to know a language as soon as I hear someone speaking it. I think that could be such a valuable skill to have because you’d be able to blend in and feel comfortable in any country, and you’d also know if people are gossiping about you behind your back in another language – haha!

  • What is one thing on your bucket list?

Well, I actually just crossed a big item off my forever bucket list: seeing a ballet at the Opéra Garnier in Paris. You can read about my experiences there (during my honeymoon) in this post here.

  • If you could be any TV or book character for a day, who would you be and why?

Ahh, okay, this is so challenging because I love sooo many TV and book characters… GAH! Okay, I’m going to go with Queen Victoria, but as she’s portrayed on the ITV series Victoria – a young queen, just at the start of her reign and her marriage to Prince Albert. And particularly, I’d like to live out the events of the episode when she marries Albert. Yeah, that’d be AMAZING!!!

  • What was your favourite movie or TV show as a kid?

Definitely Beetlejuice, the animated series. Also, I adored the movie version of Beetlejuice. I basically wanted to have an imaginary friend that would come to life whenever I said his name 3 times…I guess that probably translated into my love of reading and escaping on adventures with fictional characters.

  • What is your favourite type of food to eat?

Oh jeeze, this is easily the hardest question yet because I LOVE food. But I’m going to have to go with cookies on this one…basically any kind! I would eat a cookie every morning for breakfast if it was socially acceptable and not horribly unhealthy!

  • What is one song you will never get tired of listening to?

This is also tricky because I adore music of all genres and I’m an obsessive listener because I will play a song over and over, never getting sick of it. At the moment, I’m a bit obsessed with Meat Loaf’s song “I Would Do Anything For Love”…which I’ve actually listened to about 5 times while writing this post.

  • What is the most adventurous thing you’ve done?

I have to be honest, I’m not the most adventurous person in the world, or even in the immediate vicinity at any given moment. Having said that, I do like to push myself outside my comfort zone, and I guess the last time I did that was when I accepted my new job. Not exactly adventurous, but it did mean switching into a new industry entirely and going after a career I’ve dreamt about for my entire life…so it felt like a big, scary and exciting step for me! I’m super proud of the fact that I pushed myself to get out of a job that was comfortable and try something more challenging and exhilarating!

Alrighty, now those were some awesome questions – they really got me thinking and I hope you enjoyed my answers! I’d love to hear your responses to these questions in the comments!

My Sunshine Blogger Selections:

I would like to tag: Tony Burgess | Emma at Emma Reads Too Much | Lily at Sprinkles of Dreams | Brianna at Bookishly Bree | Lena at The Printed Girl | Victor at My Poor TBR | Destiny at Howling Libraries | Frankie Lovely at A Thousand Lives of Frankie Lovely | Chelsea at The Suspense is Thrilling Me | Crystal at Lost In A Good Book | Roselyn at Odds & Ends

Please feel free not to answer my questions if you’re not interested – but please accept this as a thank you for writing posts that always make me smile and get me thinking!

My Questions:

  1. What is your favourite book written by an author from the country you live in?
  2. What are your favourite lyrics from a song and why do you like them so much?
  3. What is your favourite book to movie/TV series adaptation?
  4. What is your least favourite book to movie/TV series adaptation?
  5. What book do you think every person on Earth should read, and why?
  6. Have you met an author before? If so, under what circumstances and was it all you’d expected it would be?
  7. Where is your favourite bookstore in the world? Have you been there in person? Do you have a picture of it to share with us?
  8. What is your favourite bookish photo that you’ve taken or come across on social media? Share it with us!
  9. What is your guilty pleasure book/genre or movie/TV series?
  10. Who is your fictional crush or best friend (from any fictional story)?
  11. Who is one author you feel is seriously underappreciated? What book by them would you recommend to someone who has never encountered their work?

Thank you so much again to Catherine for brightening my day (or, more accurately, my year) with this nomination!

xo

Janille N G

Girl with a Green Heart

The Persian ~ Le Personnage Principal of A Christmas Fairytale

All signs led to him.

“I was immensely interested by this story of the Persian. I wanted, if there were still time, to find this valuable and eccentric witness. My luck began to improve and I discovered him in his little flat in the Rue de Rivoli….I also went into the past history of the Persian and found that he was an upright man, incapable of inventing a story that might have defeated the ends of justice.”

~ The Phantom of the Opera, Gaston Leroux

Long before I read a single Victorian novel, I was obsessed with a different story. The musical The Phantom of the Opera was my absolute favourite story from the moment my grandfather first took me to see it when I was in elementary school. Something about the heartbreaking love story (which is so similar to my favourite Disney movie, Beauty and the Beast, in many ways) touched me profoundly, and my passion for the music, characters and eventually the original French text of Le Fantôme de l’Opéra has been ingrained on my heart for what feels like my entire life. I sincerely believe in the power of music on the human soul, and the soundtrack to The Phantom of the Opera has very much been the soundtrack to my life – it is the music I instantly turn to when I am stressed, the opening notes from The Point of No Return are my alarm clock tone, and I have derived infinite pleasure from seeing the musical on more than half a dozen occasions, in many different cities around the world.

Years later, when I started studying the French language, I picked up Gaston Leroux’s novel and flew through it. This was a turning point for me, when I realized that I did in fact understand French…and that I absolutely adored the language. I would not be even close to where I am today, in terms of my education and my career, if I didn’t speak French, and I credit my desire to pursue the language all throughout my schooling to my first experience of reading and loving Le Fantôme de l’Opéra. The text branded itself on my heart alongside Andrew Lloyd Weber’s gorgeous music.

I remember distinctly when I was in third year university and stressed out of my mind studying for my French exams (ironically). That was the year that the 25th anniversary production of The Phantom of the Opera was performed at the Royal Albert Hall (again, ironic, considering that the venue is named after one Prince Albert of England), and lucky for me, it was broadcast by Cineplex at a theatre only 10 minutes away from my home. I bought tickets as soon as I learned they were on sale, and since I was single at the time, I dragged my mom with me to the theatre. I was truly and utterly blown away by the production, and I became attached to the portrayal of the characters by Sierra Boggess, Hadley Fraser and most particularly Ramin Karimloo. Karimloo performed as The Phantom, and although I will always be loyal to my first Phantom, Colm Wilkinson, Karimloo totally blew me out of the water with his incredible voice and tortured portrayal of one of my favourite characters. I was obsessed, and I went home and Googled him immediately, purchasing as many of his CDs as I could. I learned that Karimloo was Iranian born and had moved to Toronto when he was a child. He grew up in Toronto, where he first saw The Phantom of the Opera, and because of Colm Wilkinson, decided to pursue acting and singing. I didn’t know much about Iran, but somewhere in my searching I read that Iranians are often referred to as Persian…whatever that meant. It certainly wasn’t relevant to me at the time.

Flash forward to just over a year later, when a bookish girl who believed in nothing more than True Love sat down across from a kind, gentle, loving boy. He asked for her phone number, after only moments of speaking to her, and the rest, as they say, is history. In an attempt to get to know this new guy who had entered my life and who seemed to be taken with me, I started texting my now fiancé before our first date, asking him some key facts about himself. One of these questions was his nationality, to which he replied Persian.

Persian… Persian… I scratched my head at that one and asked my mom where exactly Persia was on the map. Turns out, it isn’t on there anymore and my mom (who is Lebanese) explained that Persian people hailed from Iran. Then, it hit me…Ramin! He was Persian! Well, if that sexy, brilliant singer was Persian, then I was certainly planning to give this new guy a chance. I went on my first date with SS with an open mind and heart. (Imagine my disappointment, though, when I learned early on that he couldn’t sing. Haha!)

It wouldn’t be until years later, when I was studying the text of Le Fantôme de l’Opéra again that it all came back in a flash. The Persian…arguably the most influential and significant character in Leroux’s novel. He is written out of the musical adaptation for reasons of keeping the plot concise, I can only assume, but he is the character that is responsible for most if not all of the action in the novel. He is the one who guides Raoul down to the Phantom’s lair to save Christine. He is an intimate friend of Erik, the Phantom. And, he is only ever referred to as The Persian. How could I forget this character? And if the text of this novel was stamped on my heart…then perhaps a Persian man was there too, long before I ever met my very own Persian man in real-life.

References to Persian rugs and artifacts abound in Victorian literature too. They’re seriously everywhere. Was I perhaps, then, being led toward SS throughout my entire life?

It’s funny how Fate works. I remember vividly that in high school, I was constantly looking for signs from the universe that my crush was my future husband. If his name was whispered in my vicinity, or I saw an object we had talked about or that was somehow associated with him, I took it as this notice from Fate that yes, in fact we would end up together. But, needless to say, we didn’t, and in the years before I met SS, I often wondered what the point of all those signs was. Now, I realize, I was looking at the wrong signs; I was being distracted, led away from realizing that a Persian man had always played a role in my life, from childhood, and that one Persian man in particular would become the love and light of my life.

There are tricky and problematic things about Iran, no question…but now that I know a thing or two about Persian people and their culture, I can say that they are warm and genuine, caring and good, and I am very lucky to have a number of them in my life. Ramin, of course, with his voice that soothes me when I’m stressed. And, my fiancé especially, whose very presence in my life is something I consider a real miracle.

Janille N G

Girl with a Green Heart

Wednesday Words ~ Spotlight on “Sunscreen”

Hello dear Readers and happy hump day!

We’re already at the middle of the week… Can you believe it?  I’m extremely grateful for the fact that this week seems to be flying by because there is just too much excitement in my life at the moment to sit at work all day!  I’m getting restless, to say the least.

Welcome to my first ever Wednesday Words post.  I’m not going to lie to you all and pretend that this sort of post is going to become a weekly thing here on the blog, because Lord knows that I find it hard to do weekly updates, what with being torn between reading and writing reviews for the 2.5 million books I have in my room.  Having said that, I was thinking that whenever I have a particular passage or quote or song lyric I’d like to share, I’m going to try to do it on a Wednesday (what can I say, I’m a fan of alliteration!) and go into greater depth analyzing the quote in detail.  So, look out for more Wednesday Words posts in the future (if not consistently)!

Today’s spotlight is on a song that I recently stumbled upon in this great Spotify playlist called “Your Favorite Coffeehouse”.  I’m new to Spotify – I have an iPod which I update regularly, so I never felt the need to use the Spotify app – and I am loving it!  Although my iPod is great for listening to music at the gym or on the subway, it doesn’t allow me to discover new music or artists, and I find it hard to listen to music for too long with headphones, so I wanted a means of listening to music out loud from my work computer.  Spotify allows me the perfect opportunity to do that, and I’ve already found a bunch of new songs that I am really fond of and would’ve never heard otherwise.  It also has some great playlist collections, like the Coffeehouse one which is absolutely brilliant, and I was able to save entire albums from artists I adore, like HAIM (Something To Tell You is THE album of the year, in my opinion) and Bruce Springsteen.  I swear, there is nothing Spotify doesn’t have and I love having all this music at my fingertips!

One of those amazing and new (to me) songs is called “Sunscreen” by Ira Wolf.  I have to admit, I know nothing about Ira Wolf.  Although I saved a bunch of her other songs on my Spotify account, I haven’t gotten around to listening to them just yet…because I have been listening to “Sunscreen” on repeat ever since I first heard it.  Honestly, I made a playlist called “On repeat…” with just this one song so that I can listen to it over and over, uninterrupted.  It is just the loveliest little song – so romantic and simple and easy to listen to that I can’t stop.  I latched onto the lyrics as soon as I heard them because they so eloquently and creatively emphasize the routine, mundane and simplistic aspects of love.  Love is about being accepted, of course, but also about having that companion who may be flawed but perfectly complements you in every way.  Love is about having someone with you for the everyday moments, for the little events and occurrences that no one else can possibly fathom or appreciate.  I think Ira Wolf hits the nail on the head with her lyrics about wanting someone to be there every single day, to support and guide her, and to put in that effort to be a true friend and lover.  The lyrics speak for themselves, so I am going to include them here and highlight the portions that touched me most profoundly.

“Sunscreen” is a beautiful song, a work of poetry put to music, and I sincerely encourage you all to have a listen!

Enjoy your Wednesday and look out for more song recommendations coming soon!

JNG

Girl with a Green Heart

*Note: This post was in no way sponsored by Spotify…trust me, I’m not enough of a music aficionado to have Spotify pay me any particular attention – haha!

Somewhere – #JNGWatches & #JNGListens

“There’s a place for us, somewhere a place for us. Peace and quiet and open air, wait for us, somewhere.” – West Side Story

This is a subject I don’t really want to talk about, but I feel I have to.

I am one of the extremely privileged FEW who has never had to deal with severe racism. I’m thoroughly Canadian, born and raised, and I have never been discriminated against because of my culture or physical appearance or anything of that nature. But, we’ve all been following the news lately, and racism is a very prevalent part of our society’s culture. In Canada, I think we’re a bit better off, but every now and then there are those stories of people facing prejudice and hatred because of the place they were born, the beliefs they ascribe to, the clothes they wear, any number of things. I’m not qualified to speak about these specific issues because, like I said, I’ve never been in the position to be discriminated against in this way. However, I can state my opinion, which is that racial, religious, discrimination of any kind is wrong, horrible and detrimental to our overall society and well-being.

This past Monday night, I watched West Side Story in its entirety for the first time ever. It is my mom’s favourite musical and has been since she was a child, and although I’ve always been familiar with the songs and the story (especially considering that it was derived from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet), I can’t say I’ve ever seen all of the scenes of the movie adaptation. On Monday, when I stumbled upon the film on Turner Classic Movies, I sat myself down and watched all of it…and ended up crying a few times along the way. Now, I should say that I’m not really a crier – a movie has to be downright depressing to get me to shed a tear. I’m much more likely to cry while reading a book because I’ve journeyed with the characters for longer. Anyway, something about West Side Story really got to me. Maybe it’s the fact that Maria doesn’t die at the end like her counterpart Juliet and is instead forced to live without her newfound love Tony. Or, perhaps and probably more likely, it’s the fact that Tony dies for absolutely NO GOOD REASON. Discussions about gun violence are prevalent enough nowadays that I don’t have to get into that. But what I do also find ludicrous is that Tony is murdered in cold blood simply because he is hated by another group of people. The Sharks despise the Jets, the Puerto Ricans and the “real Americans” just can’t get along, and so a young man with his entire life, a fine future full of love and happiness ahead of him has to die. This seems utterly senseless to me.

Like I said, I’ve never faced true discrimination. I’m incredibly lucky in that way. But, I have experienced hatred and racism and prejudice on a smaller scale, even within my closest circles. There are a lot of people in this world who refuse to accept those who don’t think exactly like them. My father, mother, brother and I are pretty open and honest about our beliefs and this isn’t always easy for us because not everyone, sometimes not even those people who are supposed to know and love us best, chooses to respect our opinions. Furthermore, my fiancé is from the Middle East, as is my mom’s family, and that carries its own difficulties and sources of misunderstanding. It’s all a little pathetic in my opinion because I pride myself in being open-minded under all circumstances – I was raised to never be judgmental. But fine, I can handle if someone wants to judge and criticize me – I just think it’s sad and is going to ruin what little peace and dignity there is left in our world.

What am I trying to say here? Well, I’m not trying to get all preachy, although it seems like I have. All I want to say is that I watched West Side Story this week and I loved it…but I also hated it, because fiction has become far too real recently, and it doesn’t seem like anyone is learning from the stories around them anymore. And in that sense, I think the readers of all sorts of fiction are starting to fail themselves these days.

JNG

Girl with a Green Heart

my green heart

No Inspo

I have to admit, I wasn’t planning on writing a blog post today at all. If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll have noticed that I didn’t tweet any specific #JNGReads or #JNGListens quotes this week. This is the second week that I haven’t consistently tweeted a meaningful quote or line every single day, and the fact is bothering me more than a little. I hadn’t intended to draw attention to this today – instead I thought it might be best just to skip my weekly blog post and hopefully find a collection of quotes beautiful enough to warrant sharing this week. But, then I remembered that the point of this blog is to update you all on what I’m reading at the moment, and more importantly on what I’m feeling about what I’m reading at that same moment. The whole point of my #JNGReads/#JNGListens initiative was to take you into my mind, to give you a glimpse of the passages and scenes from the books I was reading that stuck with me and left an imprint on my heart. So, it stands to reason then that if I’m not posting any quotes, it’s because nothing is standing out to me in the literature I’m encountering at this time. I’m reading, but nothing I’m reading is that incredible, groundbreaking or memorable to me.

I’m currently about halfway through Emily Giffin’s forthcoming novel First Comes Love. While I enjoyed Something Borrowed, Something Blue and Love The One You’re With, I haven’t read a work by Giffin in a very long time. I was gifted this book by a friend of mine, and so I decided that I certainly couldn’t pass up the opportunity to delve into Giffin’s fiction once again, especially since the book was so conveniently in front of me.

The story and characters are pleasant enough, but nothing about the plot has really made an impact or impression on me, and this is most definitely why I haven’t had any quotes to share on my Twitter recently. The writing style is enjoyable and flows well, but none of the lines say anything unique or describe emotions and ideas uniquely enough to warrant a mention. Perhaps I should start quoting lines from the novel this week to give you an idea of how ordinary they are – this isn’t meant to be critical or condemnatory necessarily, as I am having a good time reading the book, but I just want to defend my lack of inspiration and excitement at the moment.

I think what I mostly want to represent in this post is the fact that not all books are earth shattering or monumental. Sometimes you’ll come across a book that’s just fun and light and refreshing, but that doesn’t really stick with you all that much. I find that incredibly discouraging, but at the same time, I think I need to start coming to terms with this fact. Otherwise, the act of reading becomes less relaxed, more pressure is put on every single work to be a favourite – and since that isn’t realistic, it’s best not to feel such anxiety to love and adore and rave about every single book one reads.

I will review First Comes Love thoroughly when I do happen to finish it – but for now just know that, silent though I am right now, I am reading.

(And, if you’re at all interested, I have been sharing passages and lines from my own writing and works of fiction on Twitter every now and then – so follow along if you want to get a sense of what #JNGWrites!)

JNG

Girl with a Green Heart

my green heart

Black Hearts – #JNGListens

If you follow along with me on Twitter, you’ll have noticed that midway through this week I started quoting lyrics from some popular rock songs. These lyrics were selected from the songs played by two of my favourite rock groups at the concert I went to exactly a week ago. Obviously, you’ve heard it here time and time again, I’m a huge fan of concerts – I love the experience of watching my favourite musicians perform live and witnessing their artistic genius come to life before me. I’ve attended MANY rock concerts, but I’ve mostly only seen male artists (such as my all time favourite, Bruce Springsteen, quite recently). I’ve been desperately wanting to see a specific list of female rock stars for the longest time, and last Sunday I was able to check two groups off my Concert Bucket List.

Joan Jett and the BlackHearts Heart Concert

Last Sunday, I got to see Joan Jett and the Blackhearts open for Heart.

Now, I know a lot of people find it funny that I like these particular artists so much, considering that most of their music was released before I was even born. I absolutely love all of their songs, though, and I chose to select my #JNGListens quotes for this week from two of my favourite songs.

“Yeah, my, my such a sweet thing

I wanna do everything” – Crimson and Clover, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts

“Come on home, girl

He said with a smile….

Try to understand…

He’s a magic man” – Magic Man, Heart

Although these two songs are definitely my favourites by Joan Jett and Heart, I have so many other favourites that I can sing along to as well, such as I Hate Myself for Loving You (Joan Jett), Alone and What About Love (Heart). What I didn’t expect, however, was for the songs to be performed so well. Joan Jett has an incredible presence: she’s naturally really badass, but she also comes across as genuine and excited to engage her fans. As for Heart, Ann Wilson has an amazing voice and she sang effortlessly. Nancy Wilson is a great guitarist, and it was so cool to see these females get a crowd so excited and engaged. I loved the fact that the rock music was just as hard and edgy as if a male artist was performing (and why shouldn’t it be?), and I had fun dancing and singing along for hours.

This is my first of what I hope will be many concerts showcasing female rock bands. Next on my list is definitely Pat Benatar – what can I say, I love my 80’s music! 😉

❥ ❥

JNG

Girl with a Green Heart

my green heart

Once Upon a Dream – #JNGListens

~ “I know you, I walked with you once upon a dream….

But if I know you, I know what you’ll do,

You’ll love me at once / the way you did once upon a dream.”

~ Disney’s Sleeping Beauty

I’m posting this week’s #JNGListens entry a touch early because I have plans for another blog post this weekend. I realized when I was thinking about and mapping out these two posts that they treat very similar themes, and so I thought, why not post them both in one weekend…but that, of course, takes some manipulation and some strategic moving around of my regular #JNGReads / #JNGListens post. So, instead of getting my quote selection of the week on Sunday, I’m delivering it up to you all today. And stay tuned for another blog post later this weekend as well!

Today’s quote, or I should say quotes, is a long set of lyrics from the song Once Upon a Dream, featured in the popular Disney movie Sleeping Beauty. Now, I have to admit, I’m not a huge Sleeping Beauty fan in the least – honestly, I find the story a little bit boring (the main character is, after all, asleep for most of the action) and I’ve never been overly fond of the older Disney movies – the old-school animation creeps me out a little. But, for whatever reason, when SS and I were staying at the Hotel Victoria in downtown Toronto last weekend, this was the song that was stuck in my head on repeat, and I couldn’t stop humming it for the whole weekend…and actually, yes, I am listening to it right now.

Why was I so touched by this song? I think it may have something to do with the book I just finished reading and was in the middle of last weekend (Spoiler Alert: this is what my second post of the weekend will be about), but I think it was also largely due to the fact that my mind was totally preoccupied with my incredible boyfriend. SS’s birthday just passed on Tuesday, and so I’ve been ridiculously grateful for and totally in awe of his existence for the entire week, beginning with our hotel stay last weekend. There is a moment every single day where I am stunned into silence by the fact that such a perfect (for me at least! haha), caring, loving and genuine man exists and that Fate or the Universe or whoever decided to gift him to me. I feel lucky beyond words for this.

And, I suppose, the song Aurora (the original Sleeping Beauty) sings about her Prince Charming spoke to me because of my (healthy, I promise) obsession with and overwhelming love for SS. I found myself listening to the song and thinking, like Aurora, that I must’ve encountered SS before, that he must’ve been a fixture in my forever green heart long before I sat across from him at our university. (Sidenote: You can read the story of how we met here.) I never expected to meet him on that day, and I don’t think I consciously thought throughout the exchange, Oh, this is him! This is the man I’ve been waiting and longing for! But, when I think back on the events, I remember that there was something between us as soon as we locked eyes on each other: there was a definite spark, that feeling of warmth and fuzziness I’m always going on and on about. I just knew, in an instant, that I had to give him my number when he asked. I didn’t know anything at all about him, but I felt comfortable and at ease, and I never had a single doubt about my interest in him. I was intrigued from the start.

Why is that? Listening to Aurora’s song has helped me arrive at an answer to the questions I’ve been asking myself for more than two years now: Where did SS come from, how did he find me and why did we have such a profound and irresistible connection? I want to say, especially based on the quote above, that I’d already met SS, in a dream, a fantasy, in the world of my imagination. I’d seen him somewhere before, in my romantic mind’s eye, and I was searching for his physical embodiment, for his representation in the real world, for years and years without even realizing it. If there is such a thing as soul mates, which I think there is, SS must be mine, because my heart recognized him before my mind even did. And isn’t that what Aurora is talking about? She’s dreamed about her prince for so long that she knows him at first sight, and she knows exactly what he’ll do: love her purely and without limit.

I think that we are meant to meet certain people in our lives and Fate has a large hand in bringing them to us or us to them. But I also think that there’s something to be said for human instinct, for that love-at-first-sight sort of feeling. Maybe we’ve met all the people we’re supposed to know and love in our dreams before…and seeing them in real-life is only an extension of the wonderful and fantastic world of dreaming?!

It’s a nice thought, isn’t it?

JNG

Girl with a Green Heart

my green heart