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Sunday, September 29, 2013

My Life in September: Elizabeth Wein, the Kobo Aura, and Keeping Busy

Where did September go? This month has been such a blur for me, it's passed by so fast. In August, I experienced some major homesickness after moving away from home to the other side of the country. In September, I found out that the best cure for homesickness was keeping busy. And busy I was. Which unfortunately meant a lot less time for the blog and reading - I totally broke my goal of posting at least twice a week. Boo!

But there really wasn't anything for it. Between dealing with my particularly shitty landlord (unfortunately, I have yet to find a way to break my one year lease), preparing for my first ever teaching gig (I'm teaching two ecology labs with 50 students in each class! I was SO nervous, but somehow, I found that it actually wasn't so bad... and also, I might actually like this teaching thing), and settling into grad life and researching my master's thesis, I had very little time for much else! I do hope things will quiet down a bit now that I have my routine... we'll see.

Even though I had much reduced spare time this month, I still made time for a fun author event - the Toronto Word on the Street! Thanks to Christa of More Than Just Magic for letting me know about it (who I also got to finally meet!). I might have missed meeting one of my favourite authors - Elizabeth Wein, author of Code Name Verity and Rose Under Fire - if not for her!
(photos from my Instagram)
She read from Rose Under Fire - which I STILL haven't read yet, eek! - and talked mainly about the research that went into writing her excellent historical fiction novels. It was super interesting! And she is so lovely.
Elizabeth Wein and me
Because she is now living in Scotland, she was familiar with my Scottish Gaelic name and knew how to spell it immediately when I told it to her! I can count on one hand the number of times someone has been able to spell my name - actually, one of them was Beth Revis. (Side note: for those not in the know, Eilidh is my real name; I decided to spell it phonetically when I started my blog - "Aylee" - so that people wouldn't think my name was pronounced eyelid or something!).

I am always so starstruck and shy and excited when I meet my favourite authors! I was pretty flustered around Elizabeth Wein. I hope I didn't say anything too embarrassing in front of her... I honestly can't remember, I was so excited!

Some more excitement this month arrived in a very exciting package from Kobo!
I mean, WOW! I actually thought it was a scam at first when I received the offer email. It's not everyday that I get offered a free eReader, after all. And because I had been saving up to buy one of my own (up to this point, I've been reading my eGalleys off my laptop and iPhone), I jumped at the chance to receive a Kobo Aura. I think finally owning an eReader is really going to revolutionize the way I read. So HUGE thanks to Kobo!!
As for the Kobo Aura - I wish I could speak as someone who is experienced in eReaders and could compare and contrast the Kobo Aura with other eReaders. But as someone who has never owned an eReader before, all I can say is that it is AWESOME. It's on the smaller size of eReaders, which is perfectly convenient for me as it is very light and fits in my hand nicely. I love that it is easier on my eyes than a backlit screen, but that it also has the option of turning the screen on when reading in the dark! I can also track my reading speed, which is kind of cool. I can already envision myself buying tons of cheap eBooks now that I finally have an eReader - let's face it, it's inevitable.

Among my limited spare time this month, I somehow found time to watch the entire first season of Orange is the New Black - and I was obsessed from the start!
In some instances, the show absolutely terrified me - I would not be able to last even one minute in prison!! For real, I am nowhere near strong enough. But the reason I loved Orange is the New Black so much is that it had an unbelievable capacity to make me feel empathy and compassion for each of the inmates - and that's impressive.

Blog Posts in September (not many... boo!):

My Life in August: Homesickness, Ontario, and a Train Ride Across Canada
Top Ten Books I Would Love To See As A Movie
Muggle Monday: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Movie Adaptation
Review: Magic Marks the Spot by Caroline Carlson - 4 Stars

Oh man - only one review written this month! That's terrible. I'm going to try harder in October, I promise.

Best Book Read in September:
I haven't had time to do a lot of reading this month, but I have had a lot of time for listening to audiobooks in the mornings and evenings while getting ready for school and bed, and while performing various menial tasks. Enter The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, a free audiobook that I picked up from SYNC this summer. What fun! And it made me want to re-watch Sherlock real bad...


  1. Aylee, I was SO busy this month in September too! At least it distracted you from being homesick. :) Goodness gracious, it was your first time teaching and they threw you in with 50 students?! That's so awesome that you got to meet Elizabeth Wein, and even COOLER that she immediately knew how to spell your name! I know tons of people who would be dying to meet her. I don't blame you when you say you get flustered when you meet authors, it's hard not to fangirl in front of them over THEIR books! And eeep that Kobo Aura looks gorgeous! I love seeing bloggers begin to utilize technology. :) I've heard awesome things about Orange is the New Black, I'll have to check it out.

  2. I really like the sweater you're wearing in your pictures. The elbow patches especially. I am glad that this past month was a better one for you. One day at a time. I have to admit I am a wee bit jealous that you now have a plethora of author/book events to go to. Living in/near Toronto does have its perks. I watched Orange is the New Black in August and I flew through it. It was pretty good. I am eager for the second season.

    I hope in October you continue to feel better about being away from home, that you can figure out how to break your lease and you find a routine that works for you.

  3. I KNOW WHERE DID SEPTEMBER GO, I AM STILL LOOKING FOR IT. It's great that you're not as homesick as before, even though that means we didn't see as much of you as we'd like :). Keeping busy does seem to stave away a lot of the less pleasant feelings - or at least it has for me too o.o.

    Shitty landlords :(. I hope you can find a way to break that lease... And oooh, your first ever teaching gig? I'm going to be applying for graduate school soonish, and I think I'd be like you, very nervous but actually end up liking the teaching portion. (2 labs though? Ack. I imagine the prep for the lab can take up more time than the lab itself.) I'm also very interested in what the experience is like. Do you get powerpoints for the lab lecture? Do you take the kids on ecology trips (ecology was the one bio course I avoided)? Did you need to take a refresher on ecology before you taught or is that a part of your thesis? How did they choose ecology for you to teach?

    I hope things settle down for you! You sound so busy!

    Ooh, the Toronto Word on the Street sounds awesome. I'm never aware of author events o.O and you got to meet a blogger friend and one of your favorite authors? Awesome. I still need to read Wein's books...

    Oooh, you should read RUF! I've heard that one's better than CNV, and if Wein is one of your fave authors based on CNV :D :D.

    :( if not for you spelling your name as you do, I may have been one of those people who pronounced it like eyelid. I am ashamed for something I have not yet even done lol. I think that is because you felt the need to write it that way when here I am, sometimes wondering why people pronounce my parents' names wrongly. I'm no different. What does your name mean in Gaelic, if I may ask?

    WOAH. You got a Kobo? AWESOME. And now you can use the money you saved for something else! :D :D. I too have not owned an e-reader (unless you count my brief stint with a Kindle as a Christmas present but I don't because I sold it), so I don't know half the features you mentioned, but YAY FOR AWESOME FREE GIFTS THAT YOU LIKE.

    AHhhh, the Sherlock Holmes book was one I wanted to download from SYNC but that is literally the week I forgot to check the site. I haven't read a single SH book :(. And with all the Holmesian adaptations these days??? Like Sherlock, which I've only watched one episode of but admired the brilliance that is Benedict Cumberbatch and which it sounds like you really like.

    1. Woo, you write the best comments! To answer your questions:

      Do you get powerpoints for the lab lecture? Yes, but we can alter them to our liking if we want. Do you take the kids on ecology trips (ecology was the one bio course I avoided)? The first few labs take place outside in the field. It was so hard keeping track of 50 students! Glad I didn't lose anyone. At least I don't think I did... Did you need to take a refresher on ecology before you taught or is that a part of your thesis? I am no expert in ecology, but I do know enough to at least be one step ahead of the students. A lot of them didn't even know what a dandelion leaf looked like... How did they choose ecology for you to teach? They asked me to name four possible options for classes to teach; some with marking portions only, some with labs. Ecology was my fourth choice. But I'm actually liking it!

      What does your name mean in Gaelic, if I may ask? Eilidh is the Scottish Gaelic name for Helen! I am named for my grandmothers - one was Scottish, the other was named Helen.

  4. That's great that you're finally starting to feel better in your new home! Though, that sucks about the shitty landlord ...

    Yay for Word on the Street! You look so cute in all of your pictures. :) I still haven't read ANY Elizabeth Wein, so I should get on that ...

    I haven't watched Orange is the New Black, but I do have the book ... maybe I'll give that a read before watching. I doubt I'd last, either.

    Hope you have a good October!

  5. Your month sound so busy! I am totally jealous that you went to Word On The Street Toronto, I heard about it and decided not to go (I feel super lame now). I totally did not know that about your name so I definitely want to learn how to pronounce it properly. I haven't watched Orange is the New Black only because I'm scared of being scarred for life but it sounds super awesome. I hope you're starting to enjoy Torontonian life (it is amazing) and good luck with October. And I'm super jealous of your Kobo, like insanely jealous!

  6. You are so incredibly busy, but yet you were able to mix in some fun. I'm totally excited for you getting a free e-reader. How cool is that!!! You deserved something nice, I think you will be excited to find you will be able to actually read MORE now that you've got an ereader in your possession.

    Sorry about you crummy landlord situation. That sounds miserable. Hope something works in your favor soon. I'm not much of a TV watcher. Orange is the new Black is not even a show I've heard of. We have Direct TV (Satellite) and I've searched for it and its not available, bummer.

    Can't wait to see your October update. These are fun..!!!

  7. Yay for the Sherlock audio.

    LOVE the pics. You look adorable as usual.

    Good luck with the heinous landlord.

  8. Ugh! Landlords! It's so hard to find good ones.

    How cool is that that Elizabeth knew Gaelic. I love how cute and starstruck you look meeting her!

    So awesome you got a free ereader! They are so handy and I love them for reading at night and taking everywhere with me.

    Awesome that you read Adventures of Sherlock! I've been wanting to read them since I watched Sherlock. I'm waiting for season 3 and I'm trying to be patient here…. :)

    Also, I am very impressed that you posted essentially once a week while going to grad school. Seriously - be proud of yourself! You rock!

  9. I need to read more Sherlock Holmes book/stories. I cannot wait for the BBC Sherlock to come back on! That's great you're staying busy, and I'm happy to hear that teaching is going well. Yay for meeting Elizabeth Wein. How fun! I still need to get a copy of Rose Under Fire! LOL


  10. September did fly by. In fact, the whole year flew by like it didn't care (it doesn't), and I'm feeling a bit panicky right now, because I really don't want the year to come to an end just yet. What happened to June and July? How did all these months go by so quickly?! Anyway, I'm so glad you were able to battle homesickness by keeping busy - even if it meant that you weren't around as much as you would've liked. I think real life has priority over the blog, though, so don't you worry about us! (It's easier said than done, I know.)

    I wanted to teach when I was little, but now? Not so much. I don't think I could stand in front of a class of kids - no matter how young - and speak confidently! Plus, I'm awful at trying to explain things verbally, so I'd be of no use at all. So it's great that you're starting to warm up to your new routine. :)

    You got to meet Elizabeth Wein.

    You got to meet Elizabeth Wein... AND YOU DIDN'T INVITE ME? Lol, kidding, but really. I'm a bit jealous, because Elizabeth happens to be my favorite historical author ever (based on the one book I've read by her, I mean). So cool that you managed to get your two books signed - hopefully this will give you more incentive to go read ROSE UNDER FIRE, because that is one book you don't want to miss! Also, you have a pretty awesome name, even if there is the high chance of people mispronouncing it. Now I'm not sure if I should call you Eilidth, or if I should just stick to Aylee... :P

    I've seen the new Kobo Aura floating around the blogosphere, and I think it's a wonderful way for Kobo to advertise their new product. I find my Kindle pretty useful - though sometimes a bit annoying, since the formatting gets mixed up whenever I read e-galleys on it - so I'll be sure to keep the Aura in mind if I ever want to switch to something else. :D

    *hugs* I hope October is a much better month for you!

  11. Oh my God, your name is Eidith! I keep calling you Aylee, which I now assume is your virtual name? Well, so long as you don't mind, I'll call you by both names. :P You seemed to have had a great time at the event and a great time overall. Enjoy e-reading!

    Sarika @ The Readdicts

  12. Eeep, your real name is so pretty! I really just thought your name was Aylee which was kinda cool so this changes everything. What do I call you, now? I always appreciate people who want to teach as a living, I don't think I have it in me and your first time with 50 students total? You rock.

    Yay, congrats on receiving the Kobo ereader. I'm still like you were reading on my phone and laptop. I keep getting confused as what ereader would suit me best so I keep delaying buying it. I should've one by the end of the year. Hopefully. This one does seem great with the backlighting option.

    It's so great that you got to meet Elizabeth Wein. I hadn't had a chance to read Code Name Verity yet. You do look a little bit shy when meeting her but who wouldn't be when meeting one of their favorite authors. Imagine meeting JK Rowling? I can't even.

    So isn't Orange is the New Black just the best? I gobbled up the first season in August and wow, so good. It really gave me a new perspective on how things could really be bad for a person. And you're right, I won't be able to survive in prison. I shudder just thinking about it! But kudos to more OITNB soon. =D

    I hope that landlord issue gets settled and that you feel less homesick this month. All the best for you Master's thesis research and the teaching. Hope you get to read more books in October.

  13. Yay! So glad to hear you're settling in to your teaching gig and enjoying it. And what an awesome event! I saw Elizabeth when she came to LA and she was so well spoken and lovely. I'm not surprised that she knew how to pronounce your name since she's an expat expert of sorts. I still need to finish OITNB but I'm loving it so far!

  14. Wow, you're teaching two classes with 50 students each?! Lol, I'd be terrified! I did my first lesson with Grade 5s - it was drama - and was so nervous. I can't even imagine standing in front of undergrad students and teaching them something! I'd be stuttering the entire time!

  15. :) That's awesome that she spelled your name right!! I have the worst time with Gaelic names, I admit, they never sound like I think they would! So YAY! I haven't read Rose Under Fire yet, either, but I 'm saving it for when I'm in the right frame of mind.

    Also, I'm teaching two courses with 50 kids this term too (though no Ecology, I taught that last term, this one is Geography), I would be freaking out if I had to teach class outside - my kids aren't the best behaved and would probably just up and leave - but it would be a nice change of pace. I hope you have lost of fun with it.

    and YAY that you are enjoying your KOBO!!

  16. Eilidh/Aylee, this is so so cool - especially your name! I have a name that's CONSTANTLY mispronounced, so I feel your pain :P It's 'Ellie' without the 'i' but still pronounced Ell-ee. Everyone either puts in the eye or pronounces it 'Elle', it's very annoying. I blog by my middle name. My three middle names are English and French and my first name is French - it's funny, because I have completely Irish/Gaelic heritage! I love how your name is Gaelic, I certainly wouldn't have pronounced it wrong ;) Also, Aylee is a really pretty name. So spelled phonetically in Irish I'm guessing it'd be ... Éilí? Pretty cool (Irish phonetics are weird).

    Teaching?! Wow, how cool! Best of luck with your thesis, though I can't say I'm very experienced with all of that! I think Jacqueline Wilson and Derek Landy spelled my name with the 'i', sadly. That's awesome about the author meetup!

    Enjoy the e-reader, you're very lucky :D

  17. Yes, September flew by! I'm still not sure what I did with all my September days.. I wish there was a way to slow everything down, so I could enjoy everything more.

    Wow, I didn't know that Eilidh is your real name, I love it! <3 But I can understand you changed it, because I think I'd pronounce it wrong, haha. I have the same thing with my name, so I settled down with Mel.

    Ohhhh, teaching for two groups of 50 people, wait to go! I'm terrified to speak in front of huge groups, but it's great that you might have find something else you like :D I think some people are just born to be teachers (and I'm definitely not one of them :p)

    I would love to go to an author signing. You look very pretty in the pictures! I think I'd be one mess in front of them, haha. Signed books are the best <3

    Kobo is pretty awesome huh? I love my Kobo Glo - and how generous that hey sent so many e-readers to bloggers! I'm surprised they do such things.

    Good luck with your crappy landlord (I hope you can find a way to break the lease) and your thesis. Take your time :D I hope you will be able to read some more, but watching TV shows is also great.

  18. Where DID September go?! Seriously! I can't remember a month ever zooming by so quickly before O.O

    Anyhoo, look at you go, keeping busy, totally working it :D I'm glad you were able to distract yourself from missing home with exciting new things like teaching classes ( 50 students each? WOW.) and going to sweet signings and bookish events! I wish I lived closer to a big Canadian city so I could attend events and maybe even meet other Canadian bloggers. The closest would be Montreal but it's still like an 8 hour drive o_O

    BIG congrats on signed goodness AND getting the kobo aura!!! *throws confetti* Sucks on the shitty landlord though, been there myself a few times when I was in Uni...ugh! I hope it all gets resolved asap.

    PS- I'm planning a Sherlock rewatch myself ;) just as soon as I finish my Doctor Who rewatch...which should be any day now! I'd started reading the Sherlock Holmes stories awhile back, and I was really enjoying them but for some reason I'd gotten sidetracked and never got a chance to get back. You enjoying them so much on audio might be exactly what I need :D

  19. Wow, your month sounds fantastic!! I'm so happy for you! Sorry to hear about the awful landlord, but it sounds like everything else in your life is trying really hard to make up for that! I'm so giddy excited that you get to teach. I adore teaching, but I've never actually had the opportunity to teach a real live class (the closest I've come are training workshops at work and forcing my little sister to play "school" with me when we were kids).

    I'm also super excited for you getting an e-reader! That's awesome!

    Is this your first experience reading Sherlock Holmes? I LOVE him! I only have two novels left unread and a small handful of short stories but I'm "saving them" for when I want a new Holmes fix. Have you read The Hound of the Baskervilles? I liked that one a lot.

    1. No, I haven't read The Hound of the Baskervilles yet! I want to read more though, that's for sure!