“Bliss” – Shay Mitchell and Michaela Blaney


Three friends, Demi Michaels, Leandra Hunting, and Sophia Marcus make a pact to always follow their hearts, their passion, their bliss. After graduating high school the three friends go their own ways toward their futures with ups, downs, and everything in between. “Bliss” is a novel that explores young adulthood, set in a glamorous life of Hollywood, the exciting world of intercontinental travel, and the uncertainty of home this book has a rapid pace and a resounding message.

The story of how I came across this book isn’t very much to tell. Having enjoyed Shay’s acting credits I knew she had written a book, and when I was recently at Comic Con her book was for sale and came with the bonus of getting to meet her and a signing! Meeting Shay was extremely exciting and she is a lovely human being.

I came back with many books from Comic Con but decided to read Shay’s first. It’s a good novel. I liked the world it was set in and I liked how flawed the characters were (it was very realistic because no one was perfect and you got pretty frustrated with all of them at some point). In the very beginning I felt that the descriptions were a bit forced as a way to introduce the characters but immediately after the prologue I no longer felt that way at all. I liked that it was realistically modern but it was also insanely over the top (or seemingly over the top to someone who would never have the lives that these girls have). One of the girls travels to foreign countries and bounces all over the globe and it seemed to superfluous but it was completely within her character and it just made sense for that person to be that way but in real life you’re going “no, absolutely not.”

The chapter titles were hysterical. The book overall felt like sitting down with a friend and having them tell a story, it was very readable. Does have some content for 18+ so read at your own discretion. But overall would recommend.

Pumpkins Scream In The Dead Of Night. . .

That’s right folks. Summer is over. Fall is here. And that means. . . HALLOWEEN.

Now, as a person who cherishes this one sacred day above all others in the WHOLE THREE HUNDRED AND SIXTY FIVE of the year I just have to say that I am getting a little tiny teeny bit TICKED OFF at the lack of Halloween love. Look, in July/August it’s all about back to school. In September BAM it’s Christmas!?! Hello, Christmas is one day in December. There are three whole months before Christmas from School Time Start. Slow your roll guys! Halloween deserves more than the blip on the radar it has become. Let me tell you a story. . .

So there used to be two Halloween stores in my town. Two. They were both large, beautiful, they sold everything from fake blood to fog machines, costumes to mechanical zombies that were motion activated. They. Had. Everything. And it was beautiful. Then last year one of them wasn’t quite as spectacular but they got the job done. Then. THEN. This year THERE ISN’T EVEN ONE IN THE WHOLE TOWN. OR ANY SURROUNDING TOWNS. I had to drive about forty minutes (which okay where I live that’s like unheard of) to find a Halloween store, and that was after the 3 that allegedly existed didn’t exist.

Then. I went to I think it was Target or something and they’re already packing up their Halloween stuff/discounting it TO MAKE ROOM FOR CHRISTMAS. What the hell!? I mean seriously!

I understand statistically that I live in a country with about 78% who are Christians and celebrate Christmas (add into that the other 22% who just like pretty lights and gifts and well, I get that it’s a popular thing). But Halloween exists guys. I feel like I must have been the actual God/Demon Samhain in a previous life or something to love this day as much as I do.

Aside from the lore that everyone knows – that Halloween is the time of year where the veil between the two worlds (life and afterlife) is the weakest (thus enabling spirits to cross into our world and be heard for the night) and the more practical approach (harvest time) – Halloween is also the best time of the year for the adventure. In our culture now you dress up in costumes, you trick or treat, you carve pumpkins, you tell spooky stories, you watch scary movies, and read scary books! I could write essays on the history of Samhain and Hallowe’en (in fact I have before. You can read if you like). In addition to all the history and all the lore, the weather is crisp and refreshing as the earth goes to sleep to prepare for winter. It’s a beautiful time of year full of rich history and excitement AND IT’S BEEN RUINED BY PEOPLE JUMPING THE GUN FOR JINGLE BELLS AND HO-HO-HO-ING.

Don’t get me wrong, Christmas time is fine. It’s fun. I love giving. I love caroling. I love ugly sweaters and the Home Alone series. But please can we just let Halloween have it’s month?

Now to elaborate on some fun Halloween things to do to get the most out of this very overlooked celebration. . .

Corn Mazes – they sound cheesy I know. But they’re actually a lot of fun! And if you have children or young ones in your lives it’s great for them. It gets you outside. Gets you some exercise. And it’s just down-home quality fun.

Haunted Corn Mazes – Now with the added bonus of scaring the bejesus out of you! Walk through a corn maze full of things that go bump in the night! The adrenaline is worth the price of admission!

Hay Rides – Again, it’s fun to just take a gander around a farm, usually on a tractor or a cart pulled by a horse or two. Fun for the whole family!

Haunted Hay Rides – Read above and add chainsaw wielding psychopathic clowns!

Haunted Houses – There are allegedly some in this country that are so scary if you can actually make it through the whole thing without having to call for them to let you out the emergency exit you get a full refund and probably a t-shirt or something. Haunted Houses are a great way to have a few laughs with some friends and get the ol’ ticker pumping!

Camping – There’s usually one or two campgrounds that don’t close up until November. You can take the family (or some friends) camping, roast marshmallows on a fire and tell scary stories about the Hookman or Bloody Mary.

Pumpkin/Apple Picking – Most farms have “pick your own” apples and pumpkins. It’s a great way to enjoy some time in the fresh air and pick your own food! Plus it supports local farms and where would be with without local economy!?

Haunted Amusement Parks – Yes! Six Flags of course has their “Fright Fest” but there are other smaller theme parks throughout the country that are more like carnivals that literally only open for Halloween and they’re entirely Halloween themed! Here’s a link for a general idea but I recommend googling local ones in your area!

Pumpkin Carving – An oldy but a goody. Go pumpkin picking (or buy one at your local farmers market or grocer), bust out the knives and spoons and start carving! It’s fun to be creative or themed and you can express your personality with a piece of hallowed out rotting fruit!

Watch scary movies – this is where I really get into it. I love scary movies. I’m a big horror buff. So I’ve taken it upon myself to create a list of some of my favourite Halloween movies! (in no particular order)

  1. Halloween (the original is the best but any of the 6 or so sequels are good too! Including the reboots!)
  2. Friday the Thirteenth (okay, so slightly off theme but it’s still horror and it’s still epic. And hey if you switch around 31 you get 13 so…) (as an aside the remake is actually really good)
  3. Pet Semetary (this movie is the only thing that freaks me out. I also recommend the book if you’ve got the time. Just don’t read it with an attic full of squirrels. . . long story.)
  4. House of Wax (classic in the sense of it having every cheesey horror movie element imaginable)
  5. My Bloody Valentine (I usually reserve “My Bloody Valentine” for … well Valentines Day but who can resist a little vengeful ax-murdering miner?)
  6. The Houses October Built (A movie about Halloween. In documentary style filming it explores the world of haunted houses and when too far is too far)
  7. Nightmare Before Christmas (Okay. Yes. I ranted about Christmas earlier. BUT this is a Halloween movie with a Christmas subplot)
  8. Hocus Pocus (duh)
  9. Tucker and Dale Versus Evil (honestly one of the best horror/comedy movies ever)
  10. Shaun of the Dead (even better than Tucker and Dale in the horror/comedy genre)
  11. Nightmare On Elm Street (every town has an elm street, and everyone needs some 80’s horror in their lives)
  12. Trick ‘r Treat (multiple stories weaved together centering around a small town on Halloween. . . okay this movie was actually kind of sad more than scary)
  13. Lost Boys (you don’t need an excuse to watch Vampire Movies okay?)
  14. Anything with clowns – honestly like. anything.
  15. The Exorcist (demons, exorcisms, what more could you ask for?)
  16. Amityville Horror (homicidal ghosts and daddy issues. sign me up)
  17. Scream (how can you not include a horror movie about horror movies in your lineup?)
  18. Idle Hands (super underrated movie if you ask me)
  19. Rocky Horror Picture Show (this has the bonus of being able to sing along and cosplay)
  20. Practical Magic (again more sad than Halloween’y but it’s definitely one for getting in the spirit of magic)
  21. In the same vein as above Harry Freaking Potter y’all. What more could you ask for at Halloween time than witches, wizards, magical beasts, goblins, ghosts, and magical feasts! (it’s all that I love and it’s all that I need at Hogwarts! Hogwarts! *credit to Starkid*)
  22. You can always watch “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Sam Winchester” – season 4 episode 7 if you want a quick Halloween theme fix of Supernatural (I also recommend “Monster Movie” 4×5)

There are a ton of other scary movies and probably even more ones geared directly at Halloween. But those are just some of my favourites.

Anyway. I highly recommend reading up on some Halloween lore and taking the time to decorate and celebrate this wonderful harvest holiday!

“The Bible” – A Collective Work

So lack of updates would make it seem I currently am taking a hiatus from reading. That is not the case. I am currently re-reading The Bible. I read it when I was a kid but didn’t absorb much except weekly lessons from Pastor Paul at my church and the teachings of Church Camp. But I decided now that I’m older and a priestess of the Wiccan faith I should brush up on other religious beliefs and mythologies. When I was in college I had an amazing professor who was the most inspiring woman. And she always had us comparing religions, challenging ideas, beliefs, questioning morality tales, looking deep within ourselves for outside truths. She is an amazing woman and one of my favourite professors (and people) ever. I had a brief moment sophomore year where I wanted to switch my major to theology because I was fascinated by what people believe as individual cultures and how these beliefs morph and transform overtime and bring us together (or tear us apart) as a species. So I’m brushing up on my religious studies. Starting with the good old bible because it’s honestly the one I’m most familiar with already (raised Christian and went to bible camp for many many years). Figured it was a safe place to start. I want to explore Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Egyptian Myth, Grecian/Roman, Shinto, pagan (including but not limited to my own Wiccan practice, Druidism, etc…) Rastafarian… There are dozens of religions I’ve never heard of and the ones I have heard of I feel I don’t even know half as much as they could teach. I just want to learn everything about faith, morality, stories of creation, of family, choice, ethics… I’m truly fascinated by all of it. 

“The Summer After You + Me” – Jennifer Salvato Doktorski

Lucy loves living on the Jersey Shore. The real Jersey Shore, not the part that was broadcast on television that gave everyone from Jersey a bad name. She loves the smell of the ocean, how it permeates everything in town. She loves the bungalows and the shops. And every summer from Memorial Day to Labor Day her down gets infiltrated by tourists who take over the town. She mostly finds them amusing and doesn’t bother with them too much (the first rule of being a local is don’t fall for the tourists.) But then there is Connor, her summertime-next-door-neighbor. But after last year, after Hurricane Sandy changed so much about her small coastal town, after it brought people within reach she thought were just a step away… when the following summer comes sweeping in, Lucy has a lot to discover about herself, her town, and her relationships.

Okay, living in a tourist trap myself I can DEFINITELY relate to most of this outline. Memorial Day to Labor Day is my own personal version of hell. But luckily Hurricane Sandy didn’t strike us quite as hard as it did our neighboring boroughs and states. The novel, while being about romance and relationships, also definitely is about rebuilding after the storm, and persevering. I would say that is one of the main themes in the book.

I wish that I liked this book more. I liked the idea, I liked the feeling. The setting. The protagonist just irritated me so much. She was written really realistically, maybe that’s why she annoyed me. The book was easy to get through, despite my being annoyed at it the whole time. And the second half was a bit more redeeming after the first. There were just a few things in it that drove me crazy; but again, that’s what made it realistic.

Overall, not my top ten favourites but not that bad a read. Summer, romance, hard decisions, beach life… if that sounds up your ally then happy reading.

“The Fill-In Boyfriend” – Kasie West

It’s prom night. How could Bradley dump Gia on prom night? Now she has to go into the prom and try and convince her friends that her very real boyfriend (who they believe is very made-up) dumped her in the parking lot. Yea, they’re sure to believe that. . . Except that boy in his truck has been watching her the whole time. . . And he’s not that bad looking from far away. . . he could be Bradley for a night.
Gia convinces a random stranger to be her “fill-in” boyfriend, but it turns out their paths would continue to cross. Tangling herself up in a web Gia has to figure out how to get through the rest of the school year with her pride, and friendships, intact.

This. Book. Oh. My. God. I’m sorry, I need better adjectives in my life. This book was cute, fun, fluffy, emotional, ugh. The Fill-In-Bradley was one of my favourite male characters. (If him and Oliver from “The Heartbreakers” did a crossover book I may actually die).

At first I kind of hated Gia. She was very much a spoiled kid in the first chapter, but then you realize that she’s much deeper, and not at all who she comes off as and you just feel for her. You want to hug her. And the Fill-In-Bradley gets a back story that makes you want to introduce him to your parents. (Although I would really have liked even more development there but it was good for the point of the story).

I seriously want to live inside this book.

If you’re in the mood for frenemies, social drama, thoughtful characters without being over-the-top-cliches, then you have found your book my friends.

Happy reading.

“The Heartbreakers” – Ali Novak

Stella hates “The Heartbreakers” music. It’s sugar pop “rock” and can make your ears bleed. But for her sister, Cara, who is the ultimate fangirl Stella will do anything. Even stand in line for two hours to get her an autograph from the dancing monkeys. But she doesn’t expect to run into a cute boy at Starbucks. She doesn’t expect to flirt with a cute boy at Starbucks. She doesn’t expect that that cute boy is also the lead singer of the band she hates. Oy vey.

Honestly. I was hesitant to read this book. I was searching for a book that was “fluffy”, “light”, “readable”, “cutesy”. I didn’t want anything substantial or overly stimulating. Just something romantic and cute. When I read the back of the book I said to myself “ah yes, girl meets boy, girl is awkward, boy is famous. Perfect.” and I bought it. But part of me was like “WattPad sensation”?! “Boy band”!? Oh God. This is a published One Direction Fanfiction isn’t it!?! (don’t get me wrong, I fricken LOVE One Direction as much as the next fangirl, but I am always slightly bothered by the fanfiction-turned-book ever since E.L.James. I mean come on. My fanfictions are awesome. Why am I not published?!)

ANYWAY. Moving forward.

Even if this book were a secret One Direction (or perhaps the Wanted since they were “edgier” and had only 4 members to start with) Fanfiction I still think this book was lovely.

It had a lot of character depth. The themes of family and friendship were perfect. The story had both the weak cuteness of a love story and the deep rich heart of a family saga. Stella is dealing with things in her own life, in her family life, that are causing her to stand on the precipice of the unknown, not sure how to proceed (and not sure if she even can). The book follows her through a crazy whirlwind of self realization, big choices, and of course romantic interludes.

The book was everything that I needed at this moment. It was a good read. Good characters. It was tied up in a bow. But it was a very stylish bow. I’m going to check out what else Miss Novak has written.

“The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things” – Carolyn Mackler

Fifteen year old Virginia Shreves finds herself floundering through her youth. Her best friend has flown across the country, she’s struggling with body image issues, a family crisis has taken over her life, she’s stopped seeing her kind-of-sort-of-not-boyfriend… everything culminates in a series of destructive behaviours, bold moves, and attempts to find who she truly is.

I thought the book was good… Growing up chunky I could relate a bit to most of Virginia’s problems. Except the whole being super rich part, and scarfing down any food that came at me. (despite my hefty size I don’t generally over-eat.) Anyway, her list, “The Fat Girl Code of Conduct” was something I would have written back in high school:
1. Any sexual activity is a secret. No public displays of affection.
2. Don’t discuss your weight with him.
3. Go further than skinny girls. If you can’t sell him on your body, you’d better overcompensate with sexual perks.
4. Never, ever, ever, ever, ever push the relationship thing.

But I think that overall the novel doesn’t give itself enough room to grow. I think that everything in the book was wrapped up too simply. I don’t think that the struggles of the character were overall written out in a way that was realistic to most readers. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed the book. I just think that it was a bit too… structured. Like there is a script for “how to write a teen book for outcast fat chicks”.

I like that the message of the novel is positive. I like that it has a female power and energy to it. I like that it discussed healthy weight loss versus unhealthy weight loss. I like that it touched on self harm and eating disorders. But it didn’t really delve fully into any of these things, just the briefest of mentions. That’s also part of what I liked about it though. As a person who has had issues with: eating, self harming, depression, anxiety, overall bad juju I can say from experience that one day I would be bouncing around the room starting exercise regiments and the next day I would be taking paperclips to my skin and waiting for the pain. I mean, that’s a lot how Virginia is too. She doesn’t always have a consistent method of dealing with her emotions. And I think that’s valid of someone her age in her situation. That being said;  there were a lot of stereotypes in this book. Fat kid = unpopular. Popular kid = jerk. Plus, a lack of character development on some of the side characters. I understand that that’s how a lot of high school teen novels are so I’m not condemning it, just pointing it out. I think that the book was good, but it had potential to be great.