Monday, April 25, 2016

Q1 Reading Update: the novels

It seems as though every time I write a post I have to preface it with "omg, I'm such a bad blogger, I haven't updated in soo long yadayada-blah-blah". I've decided that this time, I'm not going to do that.  Because, why should I?  It's not like you've been waiting with bated breath, hopelessly curious about what I've been reading (and if you follow me on Instagram @beanreading you're always up to date) but if you have, then yes. I apologize. Especially since I promised this post over a week ago and here it is the last week of April and I'm finally sitting down to write about what I've read during the first quarter of 2016.


Ok, so I've read only 9 novels this year thus far, but since Goodreads counts short stores and comics towards my Goodreads Challenge goal, then so shall I. And thank goodness too, or else I'd never get to 60 books by the end of the year. I've also included some children's novels that I've been reading with my biggest little, and for the most part I'll continue to do that, I won't be including picture books however. (Though maybe I should?)

The Novels:

The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic  - I started this book around Christmas and I finished it in December. For me, it's easiest to count books the year I finish them as some books sit on my shelves half-read for years. Literally. The funny thing is, when I finished this book I gave it only 3 stars. But the more distance I get from it the more I like it. I almost want to go back and bump up my rating. 4 months later and I'm more curious about a sequel then I was upon turning the final pages. Definitely maybe picking this one up again in the future.

Six-Gun Snow White - Catherynne M. Valente can do no wrong in my book and this novella was no exception.  I devoured this thing. It's not secret that fairy tale retelling are high up on my list of favourites, but it is so rare that an author stays so true to the heart of the tale, keeping so many parallels intact, all while recreating a highly original and unique tale. Loved every minute of this. My only complaint is the length. Give me more! Better yet, do a whole run of retellings. I'd love to see what Valente could do with The Little Mermaid.

Leviathan Wakes - I enjoyed the idea of this story more than the actual reading of it. Normally space opera is totally my jam sandwich but for some reason this story really dragged on for me. There were definitely some high points though and I'm going to continue with the series. I'm determined to figure out what all the fuss is about. But I fear all the hype has made it impossible for the series to live up to its reputation.

Our Souls At Night - Ugh, this one is hard to talk about. Such a simple, yet touching tale. It gave me so many feelings. Highly recommend.

Me Before You - I may be the only person I know that didn't dissolve into a puddle of sad lady tears at the end of this book. Maybe I'm heartless. Or maybe this book is overrated.

Wuthering Heights - I understand that this is a great novel. A Great Novel. It's a classic. All of that. Even while I was reading it I kept saying to myself, "Wow, self, this is a really Great book. Why did you wait 24 years to pick this one up?". But, BUT a Great Novel does not a Great Reading Experience make. I did not enjoy reading this. I kind of prefer books that don't have me hating every single character. Am I glad I read this? Yes. Am I going to read this again? Yes. But not anytime soon.  (And thanks to Julianne of Outlandish Lit for buddy reading it with me)

Between The World And Me - Possibly the most important book I've ever read.

Vicious - The first honest-to-goodness pageturner I've read this year. Infinitely entertaining. I can't wait to read more from Schwab.

The Graveyard Book- I love Neil Gaiman. He's one of my favourite authors. Again, he dazzled me. I loved Bod and all the Graveyard inhabitants. Can't wait to start my next Gaiman read.

Bonus: How to Train Your Dragon - this book was nothing like the movie. If you go into believing it will be similar you'll be sorely mistaken. The two share nothing in common but the title, and since we're all Hiccup and Toothless crazy around here it was a little disappointing.  Sadly, I feel the book would have been enjoyed a lot more if we didn't have the beloved DreamWorks movie adaptation to compare it to. Another reminder to always read the book before the movie (which was impossible in the case as we didn't even know the movie was based on a book until much later).

So, those are the novels I've been reading so far this year. I'm a long way from 60 but I'm hoping that the rest of the books I read this year are winners. Here's hoping. I'll be back soon(ish) to review the comics and novels I've been reading! Here's to a happy Q2 of great reads!

Monday, February 8, 2016

Top 10 Books of 2015

Hi, hello, Happy New Year, and all of that good stuff. What?? What do you mean we're already well into the second month of the year? It's FEBRUARY? Already?! Wow. December and January have just been a complete blur. A lovely, wintry, bookish blur.

Well, now that we've gotten that out of the way: Welcome to my first official post of 2016!

In 2015 I read a total of 54 and a half books (I tried REALLY hard to finish The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic but it just dragged on for ages, honestly the thing could have easily been 200 pages shorter without losing ANY of the plot, but I digress.) Of the 54 books I read, I only gave 3 2-star reviews on Goodreads (two of which were for YA novels, and one was for a "memoir" that I have been trying to erase from my memory ever since - I'd really love those reading hours back). I gave 13 3-star reviews (meaning I liked, but didn't necessarily LOVE these books). The rest of the books I really quite enjoyed and gave all 4 or 5 star ratings on Goodreads (all while, of course, neglecting this blog and failing to actually post coherent reviews, but really, who cares?). I gave a whopping 26 books 5-star ratings, so I'd have to say I have a pretty great reading year. All of this is just a crazy, rambling, round-about way of letting you know that for the most part I enjoyed what I read in 2015 and would now like to share with you my top ten reads of 2015. (N.B. Narrowing it down from 26 to 10 is going to be super hard on my Libra sensibilities, so these aren't going to be listed in any particular order)

 

  1. Just Kids - Patti Smith 
  2. We Have Always Lived in the Castle - Shirley Jackson
  3. Their Eyes Were Watching God - Zora Neale Hurston
  4. American Gods - Neil Gaiman (also The Ocean at the End of the Lane) 
  5. Animal Farm - George Orwell
  6. The Color Purple - Alice Walker 
  7. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone - J.K. Rowling 
  8. Daughter of Smoke and Bone - Laini Taylor (is it cheating if I list the entire trilogy here???)
  9. Station Eleven - Emily St. John Mandel
  10. Tiny Beautiful Things - Cheryl Strayed 
  11. Honourable Mention (like, so, so close to being in the Top 10, but I just couldn't decide which other book to bump off the list, and plus Neil Gaiman is already in the top 10, right? So I decided it was ok, and then I realized I'm the boss here, so that makes it totally OK): The Ocean at the End of the Lane - Neil Gaiman 
These were the books that really stuck with me even after I closed the final pages. These are the ones I stayed up late reading and couldn't forget about when I was busy doing life things that wasn't reading. I'm happy to say that my list seems pretty diverse in terms of genres, topics, authors of both genders and I'm pleasantly surprised by the number of classics that made it to my Top 10, as I don't consider myself to be a huge classics reader. I think my favourite read of the year was Harry Potter, because I got to read it with my mini for the first time, and he loved it! All in all 2015 was a really good reading year and I'm lookng forward to what the stacks have in store for me in 2016. 

Daughter of Smoke & Bone (Daughter of Smoke & Bone, #1)Station ElevenTiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear SugarHarry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (Harry Potter, #1)Their Eyes Were Watching God
Animal FarmThe Color PurpleAmerican Gods (American Gods, #1)Just KidsWe Have Always Lived in the CastleThe Ocean at the End of the Lane

I have been loving peeking at the top ten lists of blogs that I regularly follow and have been adding books to my 2016 like a crazy person... there are more books on there than I am physically capable of actually reading, but I'm looking forward to that challenge. Although I find it nearly impossible myself, I'd love to know what your favourite read of 2015 was! Help me curb my tendency to buy beyond my bookish means by recommending just ONE book you read last year. (I know how hard it is, believe me)