Saturday, November 7, 2015

The Martian by Andy Weir


The Martian
"Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he's sure he'll be the first person to die there. After a dust storm nearly kills him & forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded & completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—& even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive. Chances are, though, he won't have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment or plain-old "human error" are much more likely to kill him first. But Mark isn't ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—& a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?"


UNPOPULAR OPINION ALERT: I did not love this book.

I thought the story was really interesting, and I of course rooted for Mark Watney's survival just as much as the next person. BUT... there is just so much SCIENCE in the book. I'm not a huge science person. I love scifi, don't get me wrong. But actual, real, school-learning science? Ehh, not so much. The narrator/author goes into these scientific explanations for everything that happens, he can't just say "the equipment exploded". No, he has to go into WHY it exploded, what the chemical reaction was that made it explode, the physics explanation as to how the angle at which he landed kept him from being seriously injured, and so on and so forth. To me it felt as though at least a third of the book is explaining science, it was like reading a textbook for me at those times. It took a lot of the enjoyment out of the reading experience. Because I spent so much time trying to understand the science going on in the book, I lost the immersive experience that I love about reading a truly enthralling story.

That being said, I did enjoy Mark Watney's smart-a** personality, his ingenuity is insanely impressive, and if I was stranded basically anywhere, I would want this guy there with me. I loved a lot of the other characters as well, I thought the human-interaction portions of the book were really very interesting. What was going on at NASA, for instance, and what was happening with his crew mates, that is what saved the book for me. If the book was 100% Mark Watney on Mars, it would have been a 2-star book, for me. But as a whole, and for having great characters, it gets a three-star rating.

Review originally posted on Goodreads. Let's be friends over there cuz, let's be honest, I remember to blog sporadically like every 2 or 3 months and I don't review every book I read and don't you want to know what I'm reading in between blog posts?  Yeah? Awesome. See you over there, ohh, or on Twitter, or Instagram! We can be friends all over the internet! You can tell me how wrong I am about this book, or how good the movie was if you've seen it. It'll be a good time.

Monday, October 5, 2015

September Reads 2015

I didn't blog much (read: at all) in September. Truth be told I didn't get much reading done either. It was a pretty hectic month to be honest. I've never been one of those people who get through stacks and stacks of books each month (unless I'm reading a lot of YA, which I'm not), I'll usually get through just one or two novels a month. Occasionally I remember that I have a stack of comics to get through as well and I cross a few of those off my list as well. September was like that.  I managed to read two novels, two volumes of comics, and I finished off a short story collection that was started in August. I think I did alright:

Moral Disorder and Other Stories The Gunslinger (The Dark Tower, #1) Station Eleven
 Low, Vol. 1: The Delirium of Hope Saga, Volume 5

  1. Moral Disorder by Margaret Atwood: I love everything I read by Margaret Atwood with very few exceptions.  I think my issues with this book were more about my problems with short stories as a whole and not reflective of her amazing skills. All the stories in this collection revolve around the life of a single woman and the relationships in her life, and how they shape and affect her. Her writing itself is fabulous, but I personally had a hard time not reading this collection as if it were a disjointed novel. I originally gave it three stars and then bumped it to four because of the gorgeous cover and it felt like blasphemy to give the literary ambassador of my country (Oh, Canada) anything less. 
  2. The Gunslinger (The Dark Tower #1) by Stephen King: I signed up for the #HailtotheKing Challenge back in January and it took me all of nine months to finally get around to cracking open one of his books. The Gunslinger was my first Stephen King read and I enjoyed it much more that I expected to. Yes, it was confusing at parts, and yes, you could tell it was written by a writer early in his career. But you quickly get over those things and enjoy the book for what it is: a truly great story. I have definite plans to continue with the series and maybe even explore more of King's works. I have somehow managed to compile a small collection over the years without ever cracking a spine. It's definitely time to remedy that. 
  3. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel: This book was our NovelTea Book Club pick for the month of September, and I am so glad it was since I have a horrible habit of stockpiling amazing books and taking forever to get around to actually reading them. And this book was just that: amazing. It was dark but also hopeful. I actually had two dreams about an apocalypse while reading it, and I truly believe that if I'm having dreams about the book I'm reading, it's a real winner. Go now and read this book if you haven't already. I've been kicking myself for putting it off for so long. 
  4. Low: Volume One by Rick Remender and Greg Tocchini: From dystopian  novels to dystopian comics. This one was breathtaking both in storytelling and in art. The face of the Earth is uninhabitable and the last of mankind now lives under the sea, with resources and oxygen reserves running out. One woman has the hope and resilience to try and find a probe on the surface that has returned to Earth after years of searching space in order to find a new planet to call home. I wasn't really into it at first as I found the opening pages to be a tad confusing, but it all falls together bit by bit and by the end I was totally hooked. I'll definitely by picking up Volume Two and some of Remender's other works, such as Black Science
  5. Saga: Volume 5 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples: I cannot say enough about how much I love Vaughan's work, and this series especially. This wasn't my favourite volume of the series so far as not a lot seemed to actually happen, but I can tell it's leading up to something big and that is something that I am excited for. 

What I plan to read in October: 

Half-Blood BluesI haven't been doing well on my challenges this year (like at all) except for the Stephen King Challenge (above) which was easy enough as it only involved reading 1-3 books (1 and done - checked it off my list at last), so I was really hoping to get through some of my challenge books this month (and maybe also a few new releases that I have been eagerly awaiting all year). So far I have started Half-Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan and I am really enjoying it. It's really put me in a mood to read more WWII fiction and watch more movies surrounding that era (The Imitation Game is now on Netflix in Canada and it is FANTASTIC). Other than that I'm just really going to play it by ear. I'd like to maybe sneak in a few spooky reads this month. Dracula is on my Classics Club list, but I haven't fully decided if it's the one I want to read yet. 

If you've got any quick spooky reads to recommend for October, please let me know!


Monday, August 17, 2015

Bout of Books 14

Bout of BooksI'm really excited about this, I have been seriously slacking on my 20 Books of Summer challenge and have fallen WAY behind (like, I've been reading the same book for the entire month of August behind), so hopefully, this readathon will help me kick my butt into high-gear. Actually, the kids being away at camp will probably be the biggest kick in the pants to get some reading done... You should totally join in.  What is Bout of Books all about, you ask?

From the Bout of Books team:

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, August 17th and runs through Sunday, August 23rd in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 14 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog.

I'll be updating my progress here on this post as well as on twitter and instagram so hopefully you'll come find me and let me know what you're reading.

I'm aiming for to at least get through 100 pages a day, I feel like this is totally doable since the kids are away, but also not overwhelming, because I still have a full-time job and, you know, a life to deal with and stuff. I'm not putting together a formal tbr for this readathon as I like to just read whatever strikes my fancy, but I'd like to finish 2 books this week (but I'd honestly be happy with finishing just one and wrapping up my current read) and hopefully take part in at least 1 challenge.

UPDATES

MONDAY:
Pages read today: 57
Pages read this week: 57
Notes: Super tired today after work, and fell asleep when I should have been reading. So far not doing super awesome at my 100-pages-a-day goal. Planning on making up for it tomorrow.

TUESDAY:
Pages read today: 106
Pages read this week:163
Notes: Not a bad reading day, I hit my goal of 100 pages which is pretty fantastic. Yay me.

WEDNESDAY:
Pages read today: 58
Pages read this week: 221
Notes: Today I only read on the train, I'm not feeling super productive this week.

THURSDAY:
Pages read today: 69
Pages read this week: 290
Notes: Not much read today (I've been binge watching Luther... OMG sooo addictive) but finished American Gods finally, yay!!

FRIDAY:
Pages read today: 11
Pages read this week: 301
Notes: I read one short story today from Margaret Atwood's Moral Disorder. This one is going to be my next commute book. My boys came home from their week at camp tonight so I didn't read at all this evening. Totally worth it.

WEEKEND:
Pages read today: 0
Pages read this week: 301
Notes: We had soccer tournament/bbq/festival Saturday and martial arts class and family dinner on Sunday so no reading got done over the weekend, but lots of fun family time <3.

Total Pages Read This Week: 301
Total Books Read This Week: 1

FINAL THOUGHTS: 


I didn't manage to reach my 100-page-a-day goa;, but I did manage to finish my current reach, which was pretty dense. Bout of Books is such a laid back readathon that I am totally satisfied and don't feel like a failure at all with how I did ;) 

How did your reading week go?

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Handling An Overwhelming TBR List

I used to keep a handwritten list of all the books I wanted to read. If I saw a book in a store that looked interesting but forgot to write it down on the list, it would be forgotten. Probably forever, never to be read. Generally, my written list would have anywhere from 50-100 books on it at any given time. This system wasn't perfect, but it worked usually. Unfortunately, I forgot to write new books down often, and a lot of books I wanted to read or meant to read never actually got read. This both frustrated and saddened me. And then I discovered Goodreads (thank the Book Gods for Goodreads!) 

Now I could browse new books, rate and keep reviews of the books I’d read, AND keep a TBR that wouldn’t get misplaced or forgotten! I’m crazy about Goodreads, I absolutely love it. I never forget to add a book to my list anymore. BUT (yes, there is a but) I also have more books on my TBR list than I ever had before.  My TBR list on Goodreads is over 700 books long. That is a crazy amount of books. Even if I read 100 books a year (my goal for next year is only 50 – double what it was this year) it will take me SEVEN years to get to the end of the list. That’s before considering all the books I will probably add to the list during the 7 years it take me to finish the list in the first place. 700 books, and it’s not getting any longer.  

When my list was around 500 books long, I started to let it stress me out. I started to think, “maybe I should stop adding books to my TBR until I’ve read all of these first”. And then I realized that if I stopped adding new books, I would forget about them – and then I would never have the chance (however unlikely) to get to them. 

The way I look at my TBR list now is as more of a “someday maybe” list. It’s for books I don’t own, or don’t have the desire to get at the library in the immediate future. The books I choose to read are very often chosen by how I feel – do I feel like reading a mystery just because it’s on my TBR? More often than not, the answer will be no. And I’ll choose something else on a whim. Even though I take such a relaxed approach to my TBR list – (which is very different from my TBR pile, which is unread books I actually own) not everyone does. If looking at an overwhelming TBR list gives you hives, I’ve put together a list of tips that might help you. [If you've read anything on project management, some of these may look familiar to you ;)]
1) GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK
Unless it’s for school, your TBR list is supposed to have all the books you want to read on it for fun. Are you going to enjoy your current read if you’re stressed about finishing it so you can move on to the next book on the list? Probably not. Reading for pleasure is usually a relaxing pastime. It’s not homework. It’s not your job (unless it is your job, if so, you probably don’t need a list like this one). Give yourself a break, cut yourself some slack. Stop telling yourself you have to finish all the books. You don’t have to, you want to, and that’s a different beast entirely.
2)LIMIT YOURSELF
If you can – personally, I don’t like to do this, but if your list is out of control and driving you nuts try it out. How many books did you read last year? Double that number and you have your TBR limit, it'll be challenging, but not insanely overwhelming. Try not to let your list get past 50 titles, or 100 if that number doesn't scare you.
3) TIME LIMITS
If keeping a running list of 50 or 100 is still too much, try giving your lists a time limit such as books you’d like to read in the next month, or in the next year. Once that time is up, consider if the books left are still interesting to you. If they are, and you intend to read them soon, add them to next month’s/ year’s list. If not, forget about them. (You can always re-add them later if you really want to)
4) ONE IN ONE OUT
Try to avoid adding too many books to your list at once (my downfall), maybe consider adding a new book to your list every time you cross one off? My mom taught me to employ this method when it comes to clothes shopping and believe me when I say that it has saved my closet. Why not your TBR list?
5) BE REALISTIC
I am not under the illusion that I will somehow win millions of dollars in the lottery, retire at 25 and devote the rest of my free time (which would be ALL of my time) to reading all of the books that I could ever want to read ever. (I can admit that it is a dream of mine, but I know it’s not a realistic one.)There is no way that I will ever, realistically, get to the end of my ever growing list. And I’m ok with that. Be realistic about your expectations and keep your list to a number that you think you can actually get to the end of, if getting to the end really matters to you.
6) DON’T DUPLICATE
Your list I mean. Compare the books that you want to read against each other. Are there books on your list that are very similar to one another? Do you really need to read 3 different series about fallen angels? Do you really need to read 4 different epic fantasy sagas – all with more than 10 books in each series? (That one may just be me). Probably not. Compare similar books closely, read reviews of each. Decide which books you may prefer, and say goodbye to the others. Trust me, I spent the better part of a year reading nothing but paranormal/vampire-centric romances, I read everything from Twilight to the Sookie Stackhouse (True Blood) series. And while I loved them, I can readily admit that I am sick of the genre overall. I don’t have to read another vampire romance again. You’ll feel free. And the sight of yet another fallen-angel series on a book store shelf won’t make you nauseous.
7) BE CHOOSY 
Be choosy. Be picky. Be persnickety. Scrutinize every book you consider adding to your list. Are you familiar with the author? Are the reviews good? Generally, unless it’s a book I KNOW I will love, I tend to trust in the popular opinion. If 1000 reviewers on Goodreads gave a book less than 3 stars, I probably won’t love it. It might be an OK book, but when it comes to the books that I actually want to give my limited time to, I prefer great ones over the mediocre. 
8) OUTSOURCE
I modified this tip from a project management guide. While it may not be feasible to get someone to do your reading for you à la Cath and Levi of Fangirl, you can get your audio reading on while you are doing other things, like driving or walking the dog. Try audio books and you can knock off a book that might take you a couple days to read in a  much shorter amount of time, without even trying.
9) SORT AND SEPARATE
Try sorting through your TBR list and try separating the books you want to read into different categories. Maybe separate your YA from your adult fiction. Try separating your classics from your contemporaries. Maybe separating them by topic would work for you, all fallen-angel related books on one list, all zombie novels on another (maybe reconsider tip #6). Looking at smaller lists that are sorted into categories will be less overwhelming, and it will make it easier to find the books you feel like reading at the moment. Feel like reading a horror? If you’ve got a list dedicated to the genre, you’ll find something quicker than searching through a list that has every book you could ever dream of reading thrown in together.
10) REMEMBER FUN
There are a lot of books on my TBR that I consider books I “should” read. The autobiographies of Nelson Mandela and Gloria Steinem come to mind, but there are lots of others. Remember tip #1 (it may just be the most important tip of all) this isn’t homework. No one is telling you that you have to read anything you don’t really want to. Not crazy about classics but feel like you should read more Jane Austen? Don’t. You don’t have to make a fun hobby into work. I tried forcing myself to read stuff that wasn’t exciting me and that’s how my last reading slump happened (someone remind me to write a post about how to get out of a slump). If thinking about reading a book on your list doesn’t excite you and make you want to pick it up now, ditch it. You can always re-add it later if you change your mind.
BONUS TIP – for the utterly desperate
KILL YOUR TBR
Throw it away. Delete it. Get rid of the whole thing. Take a break from Goodreads and move forward on a book-to-book basis. Choose your books based on what you want to read right now. And once that book is done chose your next read. You can go on like this indefinitely or you can return to a TBR style list if you ever get stuck on what to read next. Or you can try a website like whatshouldireadnext.com.
 How do you handle your TBR List? Do you have a separate TBR Pile of physical books like I do? Have you tried any of the above tips? Will you? Got any other tips to share? Let me know!

Monday, July 27, 2015

It's Monday, what are you reading? (July 27, 2015)

So, July has been a super slow reading month for me. Like, SUPER SLOW. It has seriously set me back in the #20booksofsummer challenge, but I'm not complaining, and I'll tell you why:



This book is gorgeous. It's buttery smooth and oh-so-captivating. It truly pulls you into the story and it feels as if you've been transported to the 60s and really gain a true sense and understanding of the times. I didn't fully understand all the references or instantly recognize each famous or influential name that was dropped (there is so. much. name. dropping.)... I mean, it's not really my fault Brian Jones died over 20 years before I was born, amiright?? But, artistic references flying over my head aside, it doesn't take away from the fact that this book is gorgeously written. It's raw and honest, and there is so much beauty in that.
In it Patti Smith reminisces on her relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe, and it reads almost like an oral history being told to you by a wise old friend. There is so much insight, and ideas about art, music, creativity, and the creative process. There is really so much to take away from this book.
I really took my time with this one (over 2 weeks!), and it was definitely worth every minute. Usually I try and get through books super quick (the tbr pile ever beckoning me), this was the first time in a long time a book truly grabbed me and held on. I was in no rush to finish it. In fact, I'm a little sad to have reached the end. It is book to savour, to spend time with languorously pouring over the words. It's a book that requires some reflection. And is definitely deserving of a re-read, or two. Or more. With a pencil, highlighter, notebook, etc. I had heard maybe a handful of Patti Smith songs before reading this book, but now I have a much deeper appreciation of her talent. I will definitely be seeking out more of her work, both musical and otherwise. 

Currently Reading: 

  • Emma - Jane Austen (I've been impossibly behind on my Back to the Classics and TBR challenges, so I'm trying to remedy that)
  • A number of comics: I might make a separate post on all the comics I've been reading lately if I feel like it. I've been reading comics since I was a little kid stealing borrowing from my older brother, and I feel like they deserve their own post. So glad to see comics regaining their popularity in recent years. They so deserve it. 

What are you reading??

And if you've got any comics reco's pls let me hear em!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

What I Read in June - Reviews

If I Stay (If I Stay, #1)  Omens (Cainsville, #1)

If I Stay - Gayle Forman - I enjoyed this book, it was more emotional than I expected it to be but it was a quick read, and I am thankful for that. This was book 1 of my #20booksofsummer

Omens - Kelley Armstrong - book 2 of my #20booksofsummer was really quite the guilty pleasure. Not that I didn't think it was great - but I have a heap of challenge books (mainly classics) to get through, and I've been avoiding them...


Daughter of Smoke & Bone (Daughter of Smoke & Bone, #1) Days of Blood & Starlight (Daughter of Smoke & Bone, #2) Dreams of Gods & Monsters (Daughter of Smoke & Bone, #3)

The Daughter of Smoke and Bone series became books 3, 4, and 5 of my #20booksofsummer challenge and they took over the entire second half of the month of June for me. I had no life while reading these. And I have no regrets. It's such a hard series to sum up simply, without getting too spoilery and rambly. Here's a tiny bit of the blurb from Goodreads for those of you who haven't heard of this series yet (meaning the people like me who spend most of their time under rocks):

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real, she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious "errands", she speaks many languages - not all of them human - and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.
When beautiful, haunted Akiva fixes fiery eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

I read this series on my Kobo annd while reading an ebook you don't really realize how long a book is, each book in the series is around 500 pages but it completely flew by for me. I just couldn't put it down. It has been an incredibly long time since I've read a truly addictive YA, the fact that it also featured top quality writing is just a wonderful bonus... I'm kidding, the writing here was EVERYTHING. I was drooling over every page.

All three books were thoroughly engaging and entertaining, they definitely live up to the hype (for me at least). I gave all three books 5 stars on Goodreads.  Even though I have the series on ebook, I've considered buying the paperbacks just so I can have these gorgeous things sitting on my shelf. I'd definitely re-read this series, so getting the paperback set would be a great incentive for me to do that. Seriously, those covers are just stunning.

I would recommend the Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy to anyone who enjoys fantasy or is interested in getting into fantasy, or anyone who, like me, may have lost faith or interest in the YA sector as a whole due the the constant churning out of indistinguishable crap for profit, for whatever your reasons may be. It has everything: humor, action, romance, a feisty bff sidekick, a pretty badass heroine, war, rebellion, star-crossed love. The list goes on. I think anyone could enjoy this. I have to review and recommend this series as a whole, because there is just no way I could have done them separately, each book is a true continuation of the previous book. I'm glad I waited until the series was complete before reading it. Waiting for sequels is the worst, and waiting on this series would have been torture.

Usually I never say this, but, BUT, I think I would really love to see a movie adaptation (done well) of this series. It would slay. Who would be in my dream cast?  Who would be in yours?? Clearly I'm still obsessed with this series even though I finished it over a week ago. I guess this is what they call a book hangover?? How long do these things usually last???

Thursday, June 18, 2015

#20booksofsummer

20 books of summer - master image

Cathy of 746 Books has started a great summer challenge, the 20 Books of Summer challenge. I'm actually a little (read:very) late in posting this as it really started on June 4, but c'est la vie! here we are.

The premise is actually quite simple: 1 summer. 96 days. 20 books.

I figured that since I plan on doing LOTS of reading this summer, I might as well make it a fun challenge (yes, another one). I actually wanted to give myself more structure rather than just listing out the next 20 books I read, and I wasn't ready to put together a list of books to get through. I'm too much of a mood reader for that anyway. So, I decided to give myself categories for the books I choose to fall under, and it's going pretty well so far. I've already got three books down (more reading happening than blogging over here, which when I think about it, is a very good thing - having a book blog without reading any books is rather pointless).

I'm really hoping to get some of my challenge books read over the summer, but like I said: mood reader. It seems like as soon as I put a book on a challenge list, I lose interest in actually reading it. Even if I was excited beforehand. Odd? Yes. Maybe it brings me back to my school days and assigned reading lists.

The categories I decided to go with are:

Update: I did a TERRIBLE job at sticking with the category idea, so here's what I read:

5 Ebooks (for all the ones I keep forgetting I downloaded):
  1. If I Stay - Gayle Foreman (June)
  2. Daughter of Smoke and Bone - Laini Taylor (June)
  3. Days of Blood and Starlight - Laini Taylor (June)
  4. Dreams of Gods and Monsters - Laini Taylor (June)
  5. The Girl on the Train - Paula Hawkins (July)
  6. Omens - Kelley Armstrong (June)
  7. We Should All Be Feminists - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (July)
  8. Just Kids - Patti Smith  (July)
  9. Wealthing Like Rabbits - Robert R. Brown (July)
  10. American Gods - Neil Gaiman (August)
  11. Moral Disorder - Margaret Atwood (August/September)
So, that's it. Pretty simple but still, I think it will help. The biggest challenge for me will be 
classics because I have to be in just the right mood to start them, and also getting to the library, as much as I love it I just don't utilize it enough.

Are you joining the challenge?? Do you know what the next 20 books you'll read will be? If so, let me know - and tell me your secrets! How do you stick to your list?

Update: So, obviously, I didn't actually read 20 books this summer. But I think I did pretty well all things considered. I really didn't expect American Gods to take me almost the entire month of August. It was denser than I expected it to be, although I did thoroughly enjoy it.  If you participated in #20books, please let me know how you did. Did you stick to your list? Make your choices at Random? And if you successfully read 20 Books: Please tell me how you did it??


Monday, June 8, 2015

It's Monday, what are you reading? (June 8, 2025)

Boys Adrift: The Five Factors Driving the Growing Epidemic of Unmotivated Boys and Underachieving Young Men Emma Omens (Cainsville, #1)
 
I've decided to try my hand at this series (created by Shannon of River City Reading), I think I can commit to at least a once a week check-in. I'm hoping to keep myself on track this summer instead of letting this blog fall to the wayside, as tends to happen during the lazy summer months, so I think this will be quite a help.
 
I can't believe it's already the second week of June, half way through the year and I am exactly on track with my 2015 Goodreads goal being 50% complete (blatant self-congratulation here).
 
Last week, I finished Boys Adrift, which I really enjoyed. I found it an incredibly fascinating and insightful look at boys and men in my generation, why they have been lagging behind, and what can be done to improve the situation. I find that I have such a hard time reviewing non-fiction, I'm not sure why that is exactly, and I'm not all that interested in looking deeper to figure out why that might be, so Here is my ultra-mini review on Goodreads. Bottom line: I liked it, you should read it.
 
I'm currently reading Omens by Kelley Armstrong, which I mentioned in my May Wrap-Up post. I'm only three chapters in, I had a busier weekend than I planned so I didn't get much (any) reading done. I used to really love Kelley Armstrong's books, but it's been a while since I've found a new series of hers that I really enjoyed, I'm hoping the Cainsville series can turn that around. I enjoyed Bitten, but quickly lost interest in the rest of the Women of the Otherworld series, which makes me think I mostly just liked the tv show (hello eye candy). I did enjoy the Darkest Powers trilogy (her first YA series), but hated severely disliked her follow-up/spin-off trilogy Darkness Rising. Like I said, I'm hoping that the Cainsville series can reignite my old love of Kelley Armstrong, fingers crossed on this one, as I've heard good things.  
 
I'm also still in the early chapters of Emma, and I'm hopeful I'll get through it by the end of next week. I keep telling myself that if I get through it I'll let myself rewatch Clueless for the 8 billionth time. I'm way behind on all of my challenges (Back to the Classics and 2015 TBR Challenge), so I'm hoping with Emma I'll get to cross at least one book off each list (I don't think this counts as cheating). This is my first year participating in either challenge, so I'm aiming for success (and being optimistic).

What are you reading?

 
 
 
 

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

May Reads 2015

It's starting to look like a general trend, maybe monthly wrap ups will be my thing now. The truth is, I know I should blog more, but it does take away time that could be spent reading.
Oh well, c'est la vie!

Here's a quick run down of what I read in May:


Hold Me Closer, Necromancer (Necromancer, #1) Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch After the War is Over The Fangirl's Guide to the Galaxy: A Handbook for Girl Geeks
 
  1. Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride: This was enjoyable, but I was expecting more. It was certainly humorous, but not nearly as funny as the reviws led me to believe. I gave it 4 stars, but it was really a 3.
  2. Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman: I loved this, the dry English humor was just spot on. I love Neil Gaiman and there were a number of instances where I convinced myself I could just tell which lines were his. It was my first Pratchett read, and it has me excited to go back and read a Discworld novel or two.
  3. After the War is Over by Jennifer Robson: This book was meh, just ok for me. I gave it three stars because it was enjoyable enough to pass the time on the long morning train ride for a few days. I've heard her previous book, Somewhere in France, is better, but I'm in no rush to get to it.
  4. The Fangirl's Guide to the Galaxy by Sam Maggs: I gave this one 3 stars, because it was cute and the author is from my hometown (Toronto!). A lot of the parts I sort of skimmed over, this book it basically a handbook for "how to geek", and I didn't really need an explanation about what Superwholock is, but Kat Stark's review perfectly sums up all the issues I had with it, and also shed some light on a few I didn't think of at the time. I did, however, really enjoy the fact that she included a whole section on feminism and where to look for awesome female characters (the best part of the book frankly).

What I plan to read in June:

I've actually got a number of books on my "Currently Reading" shelf and I'd like to clear some of them out before I pick up anything new. June's going to be a catch up month for me.
 
  1. I've been reading Boys Adrift by Leonard Sax, it's a really fascinating non-fic about guys in my generation and how they have lost a lot of the maturity, motivation, and drive that guys had even 30 years ago (think video games, ADD, failure to launch, etc.). I'm a slow non-fiction reader, but have plans to finish it this week.
  2. Emma and Persuasion by Jane Austen: I started both of these early in the year and set them both aside for some reason. I had big plans to read all of Austen's novels this year. Hopefully, I'll get through these this month and I'll be back on track.
  3. Allegiant by Veronica Roth: I started this book well over a year ago, and I've been struggling with DNF'ing it. I feel like I should because it's awful, but I hate DNF'ing books. It's crazy, I know. I'll make a deal with you reader, if I don't read this this month it will officially be DNF'ed. Check in with me. Hold me accountable. Please.
  4. Omens by Kelley Armstrong: I have loved some of Armstrong's books, and have been "not so crazy" about others.  This one is a cheat, not exactly a "current read" but my mom pushed it on me and she wants it returned so I'm going to read it. The rest of my "current" reads, will have to wait until July (I'm talking to you, Dickens and Tolkien).
So that's that. Hopefully I'll get through (at least) these 5 books in June and maybe even I'll whip through a few graphic novels. I'm keeping my fingers crossed and my weekends open.

Reading: Alice Walker (a long overdue post)

The Color Purple"You better not never tell nobody but God."
When I picked up The Color Purple in February as my Black History Month pick, I mostly chose it for the wrong reasons (could there really be a wrong reason to pick up this book? Probably not, as long as you're reading it). Firstly, February is a busy month for my family (we have 5 birthdays that month), plus valentine's day (which - usually I don't care about, but the 1st valentine's day in a relationship is kinda special).  I knew I wouldn't have a ton of time to get a lot of reading done, but I knew I wanted to read something.  I knew I wanted to read something short.  I knew I wants to read something topical.  I knew I wanted to read something important (read: not fluff - it won the Pulitzer so it qualified).  I also knew I wanted to cross a book off of one of my many challenge lists, in this case, it's the Classics Club. (Crossing off lists is so satisfying.)

I had my choices narrowed down to Giovanni's Room and The Color Purple.  Both of these novels are short (reason number 1).  The Color Purple won out because I thought the epistolary style of the writing would make it an even quicker read than Room, even though it has more pages. The fact that I had the option of watching the movie version after completing it did factor in as well (of course).  After reading it though, I realized that it doesn't matter why I picked the book up. It only mattered that I did.  And I am so glad that I did (I'm sure I would have enjoyed James Baldwin too, but that's not the point here). 

Taking place in the southern US, the story follows the lives of two sisters in the 1930s.  Their struggles, their trials, their heartbreaks, their triumphs.  At times I found this story to be heart wrenching, gutting even. It is so honest and raw. And at times it made me angry, the anger didn't blind me to the beauty of the story, however, and in contrast to the hopefulness you feel from the characters it just makes it that much more poignant. The characters all felt so real.  I loved this book so much I gave it 5 stars on Goodreads.


Possessing the Secret of JoyI noticed Possessing the Secret of Joy in my local bookstore and picked it up solely because it had Alice Walker's name on it. I had loved reading The Color Purple so much, I was eager to read any other of Alice Walker's offerings I could find. Following the story of some of the characters first introduced in The Color Purple, Possessing the Secret of Joy was, for me, an even greater reading experience than The Color Purple was. I loved every minute of reading this, I had such an emotional response to Possessing that far surpassed that of when I read Purple. I loved getting back into the "world" of The Color Purple as well, getting to revisit the extended characters that I was so curious about was such a treat. I highly recommend this one to fans of Alice Walker, feminists, and anyone with a vagina, or anyone who knows someone with a vagina. Just about anyone, basically.

Monday, April 13, 2015

March Minis

Ok, so I do realize that it's the second third (!)week of April already (the snow is finally gone!!) but as you probably already know (or can easily tell), I didn't post a ton in March. I'm trying to make up for that now by filling you in on some of my favourite reads from March. Let's go:

Ru

Ru by Kim Thúy: Ru was the Canada Reads winner for 2015: The one book to break barriers. Originally published in french, the writing is lyrical, haunting, and beautiful. It jumps back and forth between the past and present as a woman reminisces over her life from Vietnam refugee to Canadian immigrant.  This book gave me a lot to think about and the Canada Reads debates were great fun to watch.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman: Neil Gaiman is one of my favourite authors and this book is now a new favourite of mine. The story was strange and fantastical and beautiful and sad. It was short, but perfect.

Their Eyes Were Watching God

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston: I originally picked this book up because I completely fell in love with Alice Walker's work in February and she said that "There is no book more important to [her] than this one", and I completely understand why anyone would claim that to be so. I loved this book so much I wanted to do a full post on it (in fact I still might). I struggled with the language at first but once I got used to it, I couldn't put it down. 5/5.

Y: The Last Man - The Deluxe Edition Book Four Y: The Last Man - The Deluxe Edition Book Five

Y: The Last Man (Volumes 4 & 5) by Brian K. Vaughan: Stephen King called The Last Man "the best graphic novel [he's] ever read. I say this every time I read something by Brian K. Vaughan (Saga comes to mind). The ending of this series really got to me though, and it's the only graphic novel that I can remember making me cry, that's saying something. You need to read this series, and then you need to read everything else by Vaughan.

Have you read any of these? Did you watch Canada Reads? If not, you still can! And should! Will you be adding any of these to your tbr? I'd love to know. 

Friday, April 10, 2015

Review: Animal Farm by George Orwell


Animal FarmMr. Jones, of the Manor Farm, had locked the hen-houses for the night, but was too drunk to remember to shut the pop-holes...

This is a fantastic book.  Animal Farm is a satirical "fairy tale" about a farm of animals (duh) that grow fed up with being slaves to a human farmer and plan and execute a revolution.  Once their society is established, however,  they find that their leaders, the pigs, are even worse than the humans they longed to free themselves from.

"All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others."

George Orwell is known for his brilliant ideas and political writing.  Animal Farm is my first introduction to George Orwell's work and I have to say it did not disappoint.  Although I'm not that well-versed in the socialist/communist philosophies in Russia during Stalin's time (or any time at all actually -- I did watch The Trotsky once, but that was mostly because of the majorly ridiculous perfectly valid and legit crush I have on Jay Baruchel), I have enough general knowledge that the irony of the tale wasn't completely lost on me.  I think that someone with even less familiarity than I have would have picked it up on all the themes as well. 

Full disclosure: I did hit up Wikipedia and Sparknotes to make sure the ideas in my head were at least minimally in line with those "in the know" and guess what? They were. Stalin = Napoleon & Trotsky = Snowball. Boom. The working class loyally (blindly) following a corrupt leader believing he has their best interests at heart is a tale as old as tales can be. 

Even though it was published in 1945, I found it to be refreshing and exciting.  And it's short, so bonus.  This is the third classic I've read for The Classics Club and my first read for the Back to the Classics Challenge (A classic novella).  I'm excited to read more Orwell and I think 1984 is going to be my next pick. I'm also geared up to tackle the rest of the books on my Back to the Classics list.

...The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books Recently Added To My To-Be-Read List

 
 
I am constantly adding new books to my TBR list, and I do mean CONSTANTLY - I'm doing it right now even. It's currently around 2000 books long - but that's okay, I have my whole lifetime to get to the end. And if I die before I get to the end (please, god, no), I'll just haunt libraries and such. Here are some books recently added to my tbr list that I am most looking forward to. Usually I find it hard to come up with ten things, but not this time. Keeping it to just ten was remarkably hard.
 
  1. Intolerable: A Memoir of Extremes: I decided to put all of the Canada Reads picks on my TBR list after live-streaming all the debates. This is the one, I'm most looking forward to.
  2. Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances: I love Neil Gaiman and everything he does, this one is a basically a given.
  3. Of Things Gone Astray: I found out about this one through Outlandish Lit, whose blog is awesome and wonderful and everything I want to be. This book sounds wonderful, and weird, and beautiful. (And that cover!!)
  4. Buck: A Memoir: I'm Canadian. The immigrant experience practically defines my country. I find these stories fascinating and enlightening, and usually very eye-opening. I'm looking forward to this one.
  5. The Heart Goes Last: Margaret Atwood can do no wrong. I worship at her shrine. What else can I say? Okay, the synopsis actually does sound pretty awesome too.
  6. Radiance: "is a decopunk pulp SF alt-history space opera mystery set in a Hollywood—and solar system—very different from our own." Uhm, SOLD.
  7. Black Feminist Thought: I've heard nothing but great things about this one. I'm super curious and interested in what I'll learn from this.
  8. The River of No Return: I wish I could remember which blogger turned me onto this, but it has so many of the things I love: time travel, Napoleon, romance, time travel, historical fiction. It almost gives me Kate & Leopold vibes, and I love that.
  9. Daughter of the Forest: Every time I hear about this book, someone is raving about how wonderful it is from Booktube to the blogosphere. It sounds awesome, and I love a good fantasy.
  10. Lagoon: Whenever Elizabeth from Books and Pieces recommends something this highly, it goes immediately on my TBR. I could create whole tbr lists dedicated solely to reading books that are Elizabeth-approved (that actually sounds like a fantastic list , someone should do this - Elizabeth, please - I'm begging you to do this). And I don't read nearly enough African fiction. Cheers to Diverse Reading ya'll! 
 
Intolerable: A Memoir of Extremes Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances Of Things Gone Astray Buck: A Memoir The Heart Goes Last Radiance Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment The River of No Return
Daughter of the Forest  (Sevenwaters, #1) Lagoon


Sunday, March 15, 2015

Winter Reading Wrap-up

  books-boots-drink-fire-fireplace-Favim.com-111366

Even though the first day of spring isn't technically until Friday, it's only four days away, so I think it's safe to do this wrap up now. I doubt much will change in the next few days. Unless I go on a crazy reading binge or something, which, knowing my schedule, would be pretty amazing actually and would deserve a separate post all on its own, so in any case you would be duly updated. 

I have been a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad blogger lately. Granted, my schedule (as mentioned above) is pretty hectic. And, okay, maybe I am exhausted by the end of the day 98.6% of the time. And of course that means that some of the things that I'd like to be doing, naturally, don't actually get to be done. And blogging consistently, sadly, is one of them. BUT that doesn't mean I haven't been reading. I have. As furiously and obsessively as ever. I have read 12 books so far this year. 12! Which means, I am very happily on track with my reading goal of 52 books in 2015. In fact, Goodreads tells me I'm actually 2 whole books ahead of schedule, which makes me feel just about giddy on the inside. I have been incredibly lucky also because the books I have been reading have been FANTASTIC. 

Reading lots is infinitely easier than reviewing lots, so I'm going to share a few super-short mini reviews of what I've been reading this winter. 

Tiny Beautiful Things - I loved this book. I've never read or even heard of the Rumpus Room before picking up this book, but I am so glad I did. So many of the things Sugar shares hit right home for me. I want to recommend this book to everyone. Even you. So I will. You, yes you, should read this book. It's honest, it's touching, it's truthful, and it's full of big things. Little things too. 

The Dust of 100 Dogs - This one was a bit of a disappointment for me. The premise was interesting, but the execution fell flat. I've heard so many great things about A. S. King. so I plan on giving her another chance, I'm hoping something else might be a better fit for me. 

Unteachable - This is the romance novel that taught me romance novels could be well written and entertaining as well a steamy. This book was just dramadramadrama and I loved every minute of it. 

The Madman's Daughter - Despite finding it incredibly predictable, I enjoyed this book and was entertained by it. I think I would have enjoyed it more if I wasn't already familiar with the story that it's based on, however. I don't think I'll be continuing with the series but it was a fun quick read. 

Trading Rosemary - This is a beautiful, haunting story that stuck with me for days after I finished it. I don't say that often (read: never) about short stories. The story of a woman living in a world where memories are traded as currency and how what she chooses to trade, what memories she parts with, effects not only who she is but her sense of self. It was incredibly thought provoking. How do you put value on memories, memories should be priceless, shouldn't they? Read this story and you'll ponder that yourself. 

I've also been reading some graphic novels and comics that I may or may not do a round-up type post on sometime in the near or distant future, I haven't decided. I've also read several books off of my classics club list, completely by accident! I just read what I felt like and wasn't even conscious of my own goal-crushing awesomeness. Stay tuned for those reviews, that may or may not show up sometime in the near future. I'm optimistic that I'll be able to stay on top of my blogging, and I'll continue to post my bookish tweets (mini-mini reviews) on Twitter, and pictures of what I'm reading on Instagram at the very least. It's spring (almost). Time to start a Spring TBR.

What have you been keeping cozy with this winter? What will you be picking up this spring??

The Sisterhood of World Bloggers Award!


Thank you so much Juliane of Outlandish Lit for nominating me! I love these question/answer type posts, I'm always so interested in reading what other people have to say. I apologize for how long it's taken me to actually get around to answering these questions (and for generally being absent lately), but I'm glad I finally got my butt in gear to get this done. It was so fun!

Here are the rules for the The Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award:

1. Thank the blogger that nominated you, and link back to their site.
2. Post the award's logo onto your blog.
3. Answer the 10 questions you've been asked.
4. Nominate 10 other bloggers and ask them 10 questions.  

My Answers:

1. What's the weirdest book you've ever read?

I don't really read a lot of "weird fiction", but maybe some graphic novels I've read recently could be considered "weird". I'm definitely interested in exploring "weird fiction" as a genre, since I haven't been exposed (or exposed myself) to much. If you've got recommendations, give 'em to me! 

2. What's your favorite book cover?

I am always finding new beautiful covers to admire and covet. I did a whole post on book covers back in September and I have to say, I don't think my favourite covers have changed all that much. For some reason my eye is always drawn to a blue cover, usually with nautical or aquatic themes. I don't know what that says about me, I can't even swim. But here's one of my favourites: 
The Light Between Oceans

3. Condense the summary of your least favorite book into a haiku.


Nothing special here
Too boring to get sorted 
Divergent, just meh

(I never claimed to be  poet)

4. If you've met an author, who was it? If not, who would you like to meet?


I haven't met any authors, but would certainly love to!
Dead? Anne Bronte. Alive? Neil Gaiman.

5. Tell me your personal ebook feelings.


I commute and I find my kobo very useful for travel, however, nothing beats an actual physical book.

6. What book do you recommend to people most?


Whatever I have most recently read that I loved and think someone else might love as well.  My most, recent recommendation was Animal Farm. 

7. How do you feel about open endings?


Honestly, it depends on how invested I am in the story. Sometimes if I really feel for the characters and care about how their story turns out, I want to know the definitive canonical ending to the story. I just need to know what the author was thinking, how the story is supposed  to end. Other times, usually if the book is particularly speculative, I don't mind letting my imagination wander and thinking about about all the possibilities, all the different ways a story can end and coming up with my own answers. 

8. You're Jack in The Shining. What line from a book will you type over and over again to frighten your family?


I think I can I think I can I think I can 

9. Do you like me? Circle one: Y / N. Just kidding. What's the worst book recommendation you've ever received?


Y!!!

This is a toughie...  The worst book recommendation I've received... is possibly the Divergent series. Or maybe Outlander... not because I thought it was a bad book, or that it was poorly written, but because I found it quite problematic.  I had a lot of issues with it (that I loudly ranted about in the car for a good 30 minutes). Maybe I'll write a post about it (or maybe not... the Outlander fandom is everywhere).  I found the majority of it to be enjoyable, but there were parts that I just couldn't let go of and gave me rage blindness while reading it.

10. What book would you have sent into space to best represent humans?

A Brief History of Everything. Probably. Or some Archie Comics. 

I'm  going to totally do that lame thing where you nominate everyone in an attempt to appear to be inclusive but really you're just being lazy because it's past your bedtime and you're too tired to think of ten bloggers you'd like to answer your questions. If you're a sister-blogger (or even if you have a sister - why the heck not) and would like to answer some totally random bookish questions, please feel free to do so and comment/link back so I can see your answers!

  1. What's your bookish origin story (when/how did you become the bibliophile you are today)?
  2. How did you come up with your blog name?
  3. What's your favourite genre?
  4. Which Bennet sister are you?
  5. What's your desert island/lost in space book pick? 
  6. Which movie adaptation did you think was better than the book?
  7. Which book/series do you think deserves to be made into a totally awesome movie/tv series but it sadly overlooked?
  8. What was your favourite read of 2008? Can't remember? Fine, 2014 then (2008 was picked arbitrarily anyway).
  9. Which Hogwarts House have you been sorted into (Ravenclaws holla!)?
  10. If you could recommend one book to me (knowing as much about me as you do now, which is probably nothing) what would it be?