Blog Tour: The Summer of Jordi Perez by Amy Spalding | Review, Burger Talk, and Giveaway! (CA Only)

Friday, 6 April 2018

Book: The Summer of Jordi Perez (and the Best Burger in Los Angeles)

Author: Amy Spalding

Publisher: Sky Pony Press (Available in Canada through Thomas, Allen & Son

Pages: 284 Pages

Format: eArc

Source: Sent to me by Thomas, Allen, & Son

Thanks to Thomas, Allen, & Son for providing me with an eArc in exchange for an honest review! 

Seventeen, fashion-obsessed, and gay, Abby Ives has always been content playing the sidekick in other people’s lives. While her friends and sister have plunged headfirst into the world of dating and romances, Abby’s been happy to focus on her plus-size style blog and her dreams of taking the fashion industry by storm. When she lands a great internship at her favorite boutique, she’s thrilled to take the first step toward her dream career. Then she falls for her fellow intern, Jordi Perez. Hard. And now she’s competing against the girl she’s kissing to win the coveted paid job at the end of the internship. 

But really, nothing this summer is going as planned. She also unwittingly becomes friends with Jax, a lacrosse playing bro-type who wants her help finding the best burger in Los Angeles, and she’s struggling to prove to her mother—the city’s celebrity health nut—that she’s perfectly content with who she is. 

Just as Abby starts to feel like she’s no longer the sidekick in her own life, Jordi’s photography surprisingly puts her in the spotlight. Instead of feeling like she’s landed a starring role, Abby feels betrayed. Can Abby find a way to reconcile her positive yet private sense of self with the image others have of her?

Oh where to begin with this one. I started reading this during one of the most stressful times of year for me, and I have to say, it was exactly what I needed. When the snow kept coming, it was really lovely to escape into this sunny, brightly coloured world that Amy Spalding has created. Because that's what it is: a welcome, light hearted escape.

I love Abby, can I start with that? She brought me so much joy, and I could have read another hundred or so pages of her just hanging out with her friends. The way the dialogue was written was relatable to my Millenial Youth Senses™ without seeming cringeworthy, or like it was pandering to a younger audience. In all of the dialogue, it felt like these characters were people I knew in high school, or people I stood behind in line for a coffee between classes. They felt so real.

The relationships in the book were what caught me, if I'm being honest. The sweet friendship between Jax and Abby, and their burger quest was so nice to read about, even if there weren't enough burgers and gossip for me. I felt like that was an easy way that the characters were able to get stuff off their chests, but it wasn't the most original thing. I wish there had been more about Abby and her sister, Rachel, as that is something I would have loved to get to read about. Yes, Mahlia has known Abby almost her whole life, but the relationship between sisters is something so intense that I would have loved to read more about them.

Also, I cannot write a review without talking about the relationship between Jordi and Abby. It was so adorably sweet, and so heartwarming. There's a line towards the end (don't worry, no spoilers), about seeing yourself through the eyes of someone else, and I'm smiling just thinking about it. Their relationship was so pure and precious, and I found myself rooting for these two girls from page one. I also found myself getting oddly defensive over Jordi. Had I not been sucked in early on, and had given into the suspension of disbelief, I can see how the big plot moment would feel like it was coming a little out of left field, but I still really enjoyed the conflict, and I really loved how Amy Spalding was able to piece things back together into a beautiful ending. 

Another thing that was super real, and something I so appreciated, was the way Abby sexuality is never something questioned. Seeing a queer voice that is as solid as the voices that are straight is not something I read that often, and often something that doesn't get enough attention, and I'm so glad that all the representation in this book was there and was treated so well.

I did have some issues with the book, but in all honesty, they never impacted my reading experience. I felt like the book was almost a little too focused at times, almost forgetting characters when they weren't directly involved with someone or something. Also I felt like chapters seemed to 'fade-to-black' instead of actually conclude. Small things I know, but they did irk me a bit while reading.

The main thing I loved about the book was that it knew exactly what it was. The book's identity was never at odds, and Amy Spalding was able to do really wonderful things with these fascinating characters and these summery, almost rom-com like plots. The book reminds me of sunshine: it warms me up and makes me smile. It was such a lovely summery read, and I can imagine people reading this on the beach, or by the pool during the hot hot summer.

4/5 Stars. I can see myself recommending this to people who want something light, warm-hearted, and super sweet. 

And now onto...

Burger Talk

My family is made up of burger lovers. We're not always looking for the fanciest one, but we love a good homemade burger, and a good fast food burger. Our summers essentially revolve around backyard BBQs, and trips to Five Guys (which hands down has the best burgers).
But four years ago, when I moved to Halifax for my undergrad, I was introduced to the glory that is #HalifaxBurgerWeek. Since then, Burger Week has been a staple in my friend group. But I will never forget the burger I had last year, from local restaurant called The Auction House. I still dream of this burger. One of the downsides of Burger Week, is that the burger is only here for one week, so I will never get to experience it again.
The burger was called the 'Oats Mcgoats Brisket Burger', and it was described as: brushed with an oatmeal stout glaze, topped with pistachio feta cheese, spinach, candied tomato chips and smoked bacon. 
I mean come on!!!

Tourwide Giveaway

The winner will receive:

1. 1 hardcover copy of The Summer of Jordi Perez (And the Best Burger in Los Angeles) by Amy Spalding
2. 1 pack of FujiFilm Instax Mini Film
3. 1 $5 gift card for Five Guys (Canada)


- Canada Only (full rules found in the T&C on Rafflecopter)
- Giveaway ends Wed. Apr. 11th @ 12AM EST
- Winner will be drawn randomly through Rafflecopter, contacted via email and will have 24 hours to claim their prize

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Review: Memorial by Alice Oswald

Saturday, 3 February 2018

Book: Memorial: An Excavation of the Iliad

Author: Alice Oswald

Publisher: W. W. Norton Company

Pages: 90 Pages

Format: Paperback

Source: Purchased through my university bookstore

In this daring new work, the poet Alice Oswald strips away the narrative of the Iliad--the anger of Achilles, the story of Helen--in favor of attending to its atmospheres: the extended similes that bring so much of the natural order into the poem and the corresponding litany of the war-dead, most of whom are little more than names but each of whom lives and dies unforgettably and unforgotten in the copious retrospect of Homer's glance. The resulting poem is a war memorial and a profoundly responsive work that gives new voice to Homer's level-voiced version of the world. Through a mix of narrative and musical repetition, the sequence becomes a meditation on the loss of human life.

Every once in a while, a book comes along and hurts you. It pushes you around, and it forces you to feel all the emotions that you don't want to feel, and when you think it's over, it pushes back harder and more intensely. And at the end of it, you can't do anything but thank it. You thank it over and over again, because of how beautiful and poignant it is.

This was my experience with Memorial.

Memorial is, as the title says, an excavation of Homer's Iliad, but the Greek epic is not required reading in order to get this book. What Memorial does is remember, grieve, and memorialize the fallen soldiers of the Trojan war. The collection starts by listing 200 names. Yeah. The first 8 pages are just names -- Greek and Trojan names intertwined, in the order in which they die in the Iliad. The book then goes to explain the deaths, and give context for almost each death that is just glossed over in the epic.

Each memorial is followed by a simile, which is then sometimes repeated. The way in which Oswald presents these similes makes them seem more important than the memorial itself, saying more about the death than the remembrance. The shift that Oswald makes from the first page to the last page, ignoring the main story in the Iliad, and ignoring the implications of the war in general, and focusing on the micro elements like the individual lives and bonds, and the small elements of nature, create an incredibly intimate retelling of the Iliad.

Oswald ignores the size of each character, giving Patroclus the same amount of time as a fallen horse, not letting any one character's memorial overshadow anyone else. And the time and emotion which she gives to each person is heartbreaking. This book is a eulogy for the victims of war, and this fact is repeated in the afterword by Eavan Boland. Boland writes: 

"They all die in front of us before the poem is over. And we shouldn't be surprised. There can be no other ending... But why, the reader might ask, do these young men need to die again? ... What we see above all is that the atmosphere of epic has no expiry date. The soldiers here are not ciphers any more than they are merely symbols in the Iliad. In fact, the opposite is true. They are the brothers, husbands, sons of every war. And as we put down Memorial, we wonder whether we first met them in Homer's epic or saw them on last night's news bulletin."

Reading this gave me chills. It's so true, and I didn't realize it until I read it. This story is giving a voice to, and memorializing those whose deaths are not publicized. Oswald turns the focus from the Gods, those who dominate over the war, and force us to realize how many deaths go unnoticed in these expansive fits of violence. It's eerie, heartbreaking, and ultimately brilliant.

I was utterly shaken by this book, and while I believe it is beyond a star rating since it really was a spiritual experience for me, I still gave it 5/5 stars. And I will leave you with my favourite simile from the book, in the hopes that it will hit you in the same way it hit me

Like leaves who could write a history of leaves
The wind blows their ghosts to the ground
And the spring breathes new leaf into the woods
Thousands of names thousands of leaves
When you remember them remember this
Dead bodies are their lineage
Which matter no more than the leaves

Happy reading

Winter TBR

Friday, 5 January 2018

School finishes in April, and while I'm really excited about the books I'll be reading, I'm also trying to focus on reading for pleasure. While the semester will have its ups and downs work wise, I hope to have a little bit of time here and there to do some reading! So instead of separating my year into quarters, I've put it into 3rds: Winter, Summer, and Fall. So here are the books i'm hoping to read in the Winter!

School Books

For my 4th year seminar on Michael Ondaatje:

For my 4th year seminar on aesthetics and ethics, Is Beauty Just?


& For fun

2018 New Years Resolution

Monday, 1 January 2018

2017 was a wild ride. I finished my 3rd year at university, and started my final year. I wrote my thesis. I lived in London for 5 months, and I went to 12 countries this year, I read 80 books. I saw 5 West End shows, and 2 broadway shows. I started meditating and reading tarot. But I grew apart from friends. I struggled with mental illness and self motivation. I fought with people, and I struggled through situations. but that's life, and it moves on. 

I want to really try and make 2018 the best in all the ways I can. I know there are things that are out of my control, obviously, but I've set myself some resolutions for 2018 that I'm excited for!

Read 50 Books
In 2017, I read 80 books, but that was mostly because of professors who just like creating huge reading lists. I only have 2 english courses this semester, and then i'm done my degree, so I'm setting my sights on the classic 50 book challenge. I have no set TBR, but I do want to accomplish some goals with my reading. Which brings me to...

Focus on Consuming More Diverse Media
I want to read more books by POC, Queer Authors, or authors of other minorities. I want to listen to more music by diverse musicians. And I want to watch more movies with POC and more diverse actors at the lead, and behind the scenes. I am open to recommendations as to where I should start, and I'm excited to make this a focus of mine.

Review Every Book I Read
I'm really bad at keeping up with reviews, but this year, I want to review every book I read, before I start the next book. I want this blog to be more a collection of my own thoughts on books, for me, rather than me just talking on a surface level about books. I think that by keeping up with reviews, I'll be able to collect my thoughts better.

Read More Tarot
I started reading tarot cards about 8 months ago, and I fucking love it. I find myself turning to the cards more often than not, and call me whatever you want, I do believe that there is something there. There are a few books on the tarot I want to read (more on that in another post), but I want to do more readings for myself, for others, and get my cards read some more.

Visit 5 New Countries

I was so spoiled this year to get to travel as much as I did, but i've been bitten by the bug, and I'm not ready to stop. I want to add 5 new countries to the list this year, and while this is a little more out there, and maybe the least possible, I'm adding it in anyway. I want to go to Italy, Russia, Ireland, Australia, and Portugal, but who knows where this year will bring me.

Post 52 Times in 2018
I want to post once a week. I want to be more involved in a community i've been involved in since 2012. I want to comment more, and read more blogs, and watch more videos, and I want to be an active contributor to this community that I'm so glad I get to be apart of.

Those are the goals I've set for myself in 2018! Please let me know what your goals are, link me to your blogs so that I can follow more bloggers, and recommend me some diverse reads!

Thanks for sticking around. Happy 2018. Let's crush it.