Wednesday 25 June 2014

(Kind of) Summer Vacation - The case for getting involved in University

I have resigned myself to the fact that I can no longer have the kind of summer vacations I used to have in between years of elementary and high school. I actually managed to hold onto my last true summer vacation until last year. While I did work part-time last summer, I didn’t have any other commitments and spent many of my days off laying in the sun with a good book or wandering my new neighbourhood I had just moved into. Summer vacations before that were similarly relaxing and commitment-less. Summer vacation was days and weeks on end of having a quiet family home to myself while everyone else was at work. Summer vacation was trips to Cultus Lake, visits to the outdoor pool, and evening walks in Fort Langley. Summer vacation was going to the Langley Canada Day celebration and watching the fireworks until midnight and then wandering home on the dark, quiet country roads.

This summer, I find myself scheduling in meetings and events into my days off, and working 5-6 days out of the week as well. After my first semester at SFU, I realized how much more I can do to build my resume and portfolio, and even having the summer ahead of me is not enough for me to be able to take a break. All throughout elementary and high school, I was not one of the students who got involved in extra-curriculars (unless you count 4th grade Track and Field, which you don’t). I tended to go to school, do well in my classes, and go home. Getting straight A’s seemed to get me enough opportunities and scholarships and I didn’t see the point of putting in any more effort than I needed to.

But after one year at SFU as a transfer student from a small community university (UFV), I can see where my resume is lacking when I’m up against all these other Communication, Business, and Publishing students who have been working on their resumes outside of classes for years. One of the biggest things I’ve taken away from this first year is that there are two ways you can go in University: you can focus on academics and pursue research fellowships and honours programs and other awards that will guarantee your entry into Grad school. Or, you can get as much paid and unpaid experience as possible while you’re in school so that you get a better job sooner after graduation.
Five years ago, I would have unquestionably chosen the first route. I do very well in classes and don’t freeze up on tests, so academics has always been my strong point. But now, I meet students my age every day who are interning at social media agencies (Or even running them!), working in Co-Op positions at some of the largest companies in Vancouver, and who have 1000 followers on twitter and a successful blog. I could see after only one year of being in this environment that I needed to step up my game.

When I transferred to SFU, I declared my Communication Major and Publishing Minor. Which means I’m graduating from a faculty where experience is everything. I realized that I can’t just get a good Communication or Publishing job with my good grades alone. I needed more experience. So I started branding myself online. I already had a Twitter account, so I started really using it in a professional way. I started following leaders in the publishing world, I started reading the things they posted and interacting with them when I could. I started this blog and I’ve tried to make it a place where I can update my progress through university and into a professional career while still being able to get booknerdy and share my passion for reading. I started connecting with classmates and employers on LinkedIn, and making my overall online impression a professional and personally representative one. 

While doing all this work on my personal social media, I realized how much I enjoy interacting with people online. I’ve become obsessed with Twitter and its ability to connect me with current events as they happen, and with other students in my faculty. I found countless events and opportunities through Twitter and other social media that have helped me figure out my direction in school and develop my skills for the future once I’ve graduated. The biggest thing I’ve learned from my first year at SFU, is that I’m now prepared and excited to start working on myself as a brand by developing my own skills through experiences inside and outside school so that I can enrich my life and improve my portfolio for my future. So although I may not have a summer vacation any longer, I’m investing in myself through every event I attend and every meeting I commit to. I’m networking with my fellow students so that we can learn from each other and make those connections that may come in handy one day.

So this summer, I started the process to be a part of SFU’s Co-Op program. I’m attending the workshops and interviews so that I can spend the Fall semester applying and interviewing for positions, and hopefully working in the Spring 2015 semester. I was also selected to participate in Epicentr’s EpiAcademy, a bi-weekly workshop series that is the newest (and only) training ground for future social media experts. In between all of this, I’m working nearly full-time and attending any and all events I find for students that involve communications, publishing, or social media. I also have plans to get Hootsuite certified as well as teach myself some Adobe InDesign and Coding basics before summer’s out. And I’m learning so much. I’m also meeting the coolest people and getting so inspired to work with my classmates in the industry once we’re all out of here. You really can do so much to invest in yourself if you put some effort into it, and I think the benefits are already showing themselves in my life. 

This post started because I was feeling resentful to be stuck inside in uncomfortably hot business causal attire on such a beautiful sunny day. But now I’m feeling such gratitude for the opportunities I have going to such an amazing school and living so close to Vancouver so that I can attend all of these awesome events while working alongside inspiring and motivated classmates who care just as much about all of this as I do. So if you're a Vancouver university student who's reading this, or even someone in the industry, I'd love to connect with you! Tweet me anytime @michelle_gaudet.

Saturday 26 April 2014

Stacking the Shelves #4

 Stacking the Shelves is a meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews

I got my tax return, GST cheque, and vacation pay in the span of a single week... So I went book shopping! I forgot how awesome it feels to have money to spend on books.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe - Benjamin Alire Saenz
This beauty is on my Summer reading list and was just released in paperback.

Into the Still Blue - Veronica Rossi
I only book-loaned this one from work for now. I don't own the rest of the series yet, I'll buy them all when they're in paperback. But this one is probably at the top of my TBR because I'm so worried someone at work is going to spoil the ending!

The Dark and Hollow Places - Carrie Ryan

I really enjoyed The Forest of Hands and Teeth, and this is the third in the series. It was $2, I really couldn't say no. I would like to add - I hate this cover and I really wish teen books would stop doing this. We don't need these "sexualized death" covers on YA books. So sick of that.

Sabriel - Garth Nix
The girls over at Epic Reads got me really excited about this classic fantasy. The prequel is coming out in the fall.

Ready Player One - Ernest Cline
It's about time I owned this!! THE BEST nerdy sci-fi adventure I've ever read. This book is so much fun and I adore it and it's been my Staff Pick at work for ever. So now I finally actually have it on my shelf.

Leave me a link to your StS and I'll definitely check it out! 

Saturday 19 April 2014

Stacking the Shelves #3

 Stacking the Shelves is a meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews

I haven't had the money/time to buy books in a while! So here are the latest books I've added to my collection.

The Fault in Our Stars - John Green

It's about time I owned this! I read it already, don't worry. My sister was a hipster fan of this book before all the hype, and she forced me to read it shortly after it was released. When I saw it was finally in paperback, I added it to my shelf :)

The Here and Now - Ann Brashares
 I'm book-loaning this one from work because I looove Ann Brashares. And not just her Sisterhood series... I ADORED My Name is Memory. Holy, that was a good book. I'll re-read that soon and review it. In the meantime - READ IT.

Unite Me - Tahereh Mafi
 In the process of re-reading the Shatter Me series, I realized I hadn't read Fracture Me, and didn't own Destroy Me, so I bought them both on my Kobo.
Ignite Me - Tahereh Mafi
What a beauty. I had to own this one. And I finished it yesterday! Review to come :)

Leave me a link to your StS post and I'll definitely check it out! 

Wednesday 2 April 2014

Summer Reading List

Spring semester is almost over, and even though I signed up for one sessional Summer course, I'll be done in June and will have TWO AND A HALF glorious months to read whatever the heck I want! I've already been thinking about my Summer reading list and I have a lot of ground to cover if I'm going to meet my goal of reading 100 books this year. I have a lot of anticipated series with books being released in the next couple of months and I have this OCD complex about re-reading series before I finish them off if it's been a while since I read them. I need to experience the full series as a whole. Sooo, here is my list, so far, of what I plan to read this summer! (In relative order) 


So The Grisha Trilogy was my ultimate favourite series I started last year, and I'm so insanely excited for Ruin and Rising to be released on June 17. I'm going to need to re-read the first two before then so I can enjoy the conclusion even more than I already know I will! 


I love the beautiful writing style of Tahereh Mafi (and I really just love her in general, have you seen her on Instagram?!). This series is so great, instead of seeing a character start whole and end up broken, we get to see an emotionally-damaged Juliette grow and fight and become strong. I read the first two over a year ago and need to refresh my memory to finally read Ignite Me, which came out in January.

It's about time I get into the Percy Jackson & The Olympians series. Seriously, I need to wedge my way into this fandom because I've heard so many good things. I read the first book last summer within a single day and really enjoyed the humour, so I'd like to at least read the rest of this series and see what all this fuss is about!

In the summer, I need a hefty little fantasy paperback like this one to really sink my teeth into once my brain is done with school. I've heard nothing but positive feedback about this series.


This is probably my second favourite series of all time (next to HP, what else?). I love Katsa, the strong, smart, and feisty heroine who discovers her true powers on a quest in this strange and beautiful fantasy world. What a fantastic series, I've been raving about it to everyone since I read it last year and I want to re-read it to experience it again. That's how amazing it is. This girl doesn't put up with the bad attention she gets from men, and it's great.

I read the first two books in this series this past summer/fall and I remember the plot well enough to jump straight into the conclusion. I've been avoiding spoilers on this one for a while now!

I read The Selection and The Elite only this past Fall and I liked them SO much more than I expected to! I thought they would be too much like The Bachelor but they really weren't. I'm 100% Team Maxon and I'm so concerned about how this series is going to end! :S It comes out May 6!

Oh my goodness you guys, if you are a fan of John Green or Rainbow Rowell, you have to read this book. I read it in one sitting because I loved it so damn much. Talk about a progressive way of looking at romance and love. So great to see the themes in this novel on a teen book shelf. Just great. I have to re-read it. If you take any recommendation from this list at all, let it be this one.


In my rush to finish Allegiant when it first came out, I don't think I appreciated it as much as I could have. This series has been one of my favourites since Divergent was first released and I want to fully experience it. I also want to re-read it with the perspective I have after knowing the ending now. I also want to read the Four novellas, I didn't read them before because his perspective was so hard for me to get into, but after Allegiant I think I can.

This sounds fantastic and is getting a lot of hype at work right now. Read the synopsis and you'll see what I mean. A dystopian world with classes and a hero driven by a longing for justice, this is my kind of book.

I found this one through someone on Instagram and I'm really excited about it! I loved Ready Player One and Under the Never Sky because of the futuristic technology and virtual reality aspects, so adding this to my summer reading list was a no-brainer for me.

This is another one everyone on Instagram has been talking about. A contemporary romance about a summer road-trip? I need a book like this every summer :)

I read this book in only a couple days last summer, it is so much fun. After recommending it to everyone, I've gotten myself excited to re-read it this summer. It's got virtual reality, an imperfect and likeable underdog, a badass girl, and basically the entire plot is set in a video game.

I noticed the beautiful cover of this one at work a few months ago and I've seen reviews of this one on quite a few blogs lately. I love quirky and slow-moving plots that I can just enjoy without worrying about suspense. I've also heard this is a beautiful story, a perfect book for me to enjoy during the slow summer months.

Usually I read Harry Potter every summer, but I don't think I'll have time this year! If I do, that's what I'll add to the bottom of this list:) Below is a picture of what I read a couple summers ago:

What are you guys reading this summer? Do you have a book that you read every year like me? :)

Friday 14 March 2014

Review: The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

The Lunar Chronicles

I can't believe it took me this long to read this series!!! In my last post, I mentioned that the author, Marissa Meyer, did a book signing at my work, which was the main reason I finally picked Cinder up. People have literally been telling me since the day it came out that I should add the series to my list. But you know how sometimes there are just those books that everyone loves that you just say ...meh, it's not for me? (Mortal Instruments, bleh) DON'T say that about this series!! I really wish I had listened to everyone who told me to read this sooner so that I could have participated in the excitement over the recent release of Cress, the third (of four) titles in The Lunar Chronicles.

Since this is a review of the first three books (I read them one after the other - that's how much I liked them), I don't want to give away any plot spoilers because I want EVERYONE to read them, so I'm just going to stick to some general things I loved about these books.

For those who don't know the series, the books are based on a future version of Earth where a plague continues to weaken humans who live in fear of their Lunar neighbours, a group of humans who live on the moon and have evolved into a strange and powerful people. Cinder is just a poor cyborg mechanic who gets swept up into the search for a cure due to the secrets of her past.

There are few books that make me fall in love with all the characters as a group (The Perks of Being a Wallflower, The Fault in Our Stars, Looking for Alaska, Graceling) and make me want to be friends with all of them. This series did this effortlessly. Meyer has 7 main characters by the end of the 3rd book, and I love their interactions with each other. They are all so hilarious together and their little quips and retorts had me snorting in even the most serious scenes.

Another thing I love about this series is how everything is foreshadowed and how it all works together. Characters and events are all seamlessly interrelated and linked in ways that made me very impressed with all the planning that must have gone into this series. Meyer is very good at making everything fit. And her foreshadowing is just subtle enough that it made me excited to keep reading to see the interactions and events that I thought she was alluding to.

This series is so fast-paced. It is very hard for me to find a book (especially a YA book) that doesn't have at least a couple sections where you 'get to know' the characters while the plot stagnates. This series never had those moments, and I loved it. I had to force myself to put each book down in order to finish my papers and eat food. They completely sucked me in.

I really like Cinder as a character. I love all the female leads, but Cinder is the best because she's so anti-damsel-in-distress. And for a series based on retellings of classic fairy tales, this is really appreciated. And I don't want to give any spoilers...but there are two other characters who just made me squeal in Cress. It takes a lot for me to think two characters are the cutest things ever, but there are two in this series that do that. I'm dying for Winter in 2015. GAH!

A few words on the fairy tale aspects: I am not a fan of fairy tales, I've never like the gruesome and depressing stories. This was the main reason it took me so long to read these books. HOWEVER, don't let this deter you like it did for me! I actually really liked how the fairy tales are incorporated into this series without being the central focus. I began to appreciate the certain amount of guessing I could do about the plot because of knowing how the fairy tales went.

Okay I have to stop talking about this series now. There's just so many things I love about it. Cress is definitely my favourite of the three books so far. them. Trust me. I'm still stuck in the world Meyer creates, and I finished it yesterday. I couldn't even start another series until I had written all this out.

Speaking of another series, what should I read next? I'm caught between Incarnate by Jodi Meadows, Defiance by C. J. Redwine, or re-reading Shatter Me so I can finish that series! Help!

Wednesday 26 February 2014

Meeting Authors - Marissa Meyer

One of the biggest benefits of working at a bookstore is the fact that authors visit to do signings every so often! So far, through events at the store, I've been fortunate enough to meet Matthew Inman, creator of The Oatmeal, Kelley Armstrong, Nicholas Sparks, and most recently, Marissa Meyer of the Lunar Chronicles!

Usually, when events like these go down, it's a chaotic day to be in the store and even crazier to work that day. There is often very little communication about what an author is going to do in terms of how much talking they'll do, how many books they'll be signing, if there's going to be a Q&A, and if they're going to be a decent human being (Ahem.. one of them wasn't). But I love these days because of the opportunities I have to potentially meet people from the publishing industry.

Cinder has been on my TBR list for ever, seriously, since it came out. When I heard Ms. Meyer was going to be visiting, it was all the motivation I needed. I read Cinder and Scarlet before the event last week and was surprised with how much I enjoyed the spin-off of the classic fairy tales in a science fiction world.

Ms. Meyer herself was lovely, quirky, and just nerdy enough that I wanted to be her. She spent over a half hour giving the crowd a rundown of series' plot, talking about some characters, and telling a story about being both a Trekkie and a fan of Sailor Moon (an inspiration for the series). At the end of her talk, she gave the audience the option of hearing one of two fairy tales: Cinderella or Rapunzel. The crowd picked Rapunzel and so she gave her fans an amazing retelling of the original story, gore included. She was enigmatic and funny and entertaining, and she gave her die-hard fans an awesome experience that was worth the 6+ hours of waiting in line.

I find that after meeting movie or music celebrities, I am usually disappointed. When you meet those kinds of celebrities, you expect them to act similarly to how you see them in their films or interviews, and when they don't hold up to that expectation, it's such a let down (Shia LaBeouf). With authors, it's always a strange experience for me. It's hard to connect the person with the characters that you've grown attached to, and it's hard to realize that the author actually created the story you've been lost in for the past week.

I don't know about you guys, but I always feel slightly protective and territorial when I find a book or author I love. On one hand, I want to gush and buy copies for everyone I know, but on the other hand, I feel so strange knowing that someone else is just as absorbed in a story as I was. It's weird to think of someone else reading the lines of the characters who feel like my friends and knowing they probably feel attached to them too. This situation is extreme in terms of Harry Potter. I can't even go there =P

So at a book signing, there's 150-300 people standing around you, asking questions about the storyline and the characters and the subplots that you read, and it always hits me that everyone experienced the same story in similar ways as I did and we all know these characters as well as the next person. We probably all laughed at the same sentences and cringed when the same things went wrong.

Reading, for me, has always been a solitary event. I've never been in a book club and I've never had friends who read the same things as me. So when I go to these author signings and I'm forced to acknowledge that every other person in the room understands my feelings about Cinder and Thorne, I love and hate it, and I remember why I want to work in this industry. Books bring people together, and amazing authors like Marissa Meyer keep my faith that the book industry isn't going anywhere for a long time.

Monday 3 February 2014

Stacking the Shelves #2

 Stacking the Shelves is a meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews

There was a super amazing deal on some teen books a couple weeks ago on the Indigo website, so I finally bought some of the books that have been on my list for a while!! Can't wait for the semester to be over so I can get started/re-started on these! :)

I picked up this book at work because of the beautiful cover and my love of birds. The sequel is "Darkbeast Rebellion," and I have this thing with books about rebellions...
It's a 9-12 book, which is a nice change from the angst-y teen books I'm used to.

I bought this one based on a stellar review from Kristy, who always has good book advice and we read the same genres :) Love this cover, and I hadn't heard much else about the series other than from what she's said, so it's kind of nice to have a book lined up that isn't over-hyped.

I have loved this cover since it was first released, and now that there's a sequel out, I thought I'd buy this one when I saw it on sale. I've heard good things, so at least if I love it, I'm not stuck waiting for the next one.

Everyone has been talking about this series, but the whole android/cyborg thing has never really interested me. HOWEVER, the author is coming to my bookstore for an author signing later this month!!!!! So I always read the books of authors who visit. And a couple co-workers have raved about the series as well, not to mention the third book in the series is almost out. 

Already read and LOVED it, I just never owned it. Once again, a fantastic recommendation that did not disappoint. I have recommended this series to countless customers and friends since I read it, and Ignite Me comes out (so) soon, so I have to re-read these before I grab that one.

I picked this one up at the library over the summer and read it so fast and then devoured the second book as well while on vacation. So good, but again I didn't own it. The third is OUT!! So now I have to refresh my memory and read the last one :D 

So there are a lot of books this week that I've already read but didn't own, but I'll be buying all the sequels to these guys soon. Screw grocery money...All I need is my cat and some books.