Tag Archives: book chat

Book Chat – Falling Back In Love With Manga

Growing up I used to be a huge anime and manga fan. I used to consume it like it was candy. Then somewhere in the land of getting older and crustier, I stopped enjoying and perusing both mediums. My husband still religiously (and to this day) follows anime and manga, but somehow I fell super out of love with it.

In 2016 when I got my new job at the library, I gained a work!wife who reintroduced me back in manga. She constantly recommends new titles to me stuff she’s enjoyed, as well as stuff the teens at our local branch have been devouring as well. We also bonded over old anime classics like Saiyuki, and newer  shows like Yuri On Ice!!! My friend and co-worker did this amazing job of accidentally rekindling my love for manga and anime. Now, I struggle to stop.

Admittedly, I borrow a lot of manga from my work and that’s just because there is so much of it out there that it’s hard to keep up. It also gets insanely expensive as well. But I am finding that I am getting more and more into it. Especially when I see the kinds of manga that I am trapping for holds, or just what the teens come and talk to me about. It’s AWESOME. I now find myself completely down the rabbit hole for Haikyu, which is my friend’s favourite at the moment. I recently devoured Steins;Gate, which made me so happy considering I got a different ending in the video game than the one the manga implies is canon. I feel like anime and manga is back to those golden years where I was super in love with it. She also recommended Food Wars, and I am currently keeping up with Danganronpa as it releases in English.

I am just so happy with the amount of diversity in manga now. I was starting to worry for the longest time that it was mainly going to be moe and nothing but, and yet it’s so great to see the variety of titles that exist in English, as well as the popularity a lot of these series, old and new, still have. I admit, Haikyu for example is bringing me back to that dangerous fangirl territory I was in back when I loved Prince of Tennis. Reading Danganronpa reminds me how much I love the video games, and reading JUDGE instilled fear in me in a way which I didn’t think was entirely possible.

So dear readers of this blog who are manga fans: what are some manga out there that you can recommend for someone who is slowly getting back into the hobby? I’d be curious to know what some of the favourites are!

Ten Books to Read Before 2017

Last year I made a list of ten books I wanted to read about the year was out — I decided that list in December, got distracted by shinies and did not complete my challenge. I got through most of them, but I still feel like I failed somewhat. I decided this time around that I would start in November, and hopefully I can knock these ten reads off my TBR. I’ve been dying to read all of these books and for whatever reason I just haven’t grabbed them yet! Let’s look at the ten books I’d like to read before the new year hits (can you believe we only have two months left? Time flies!)

 

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All the Light We Cannot See
by Anthony Doerr

I got this book via #BooksforTrade over Twitter because everyone and their grandmother told me this book was fantastic. I tend to be wary of people stating when something is the best book ever, but I do love historical fiction (I just have to be in the right mood for it) and this novel’s premise sounds like it will be both interesting and heartbreaking. I love the idea of fated meetings, though I’m not always huge on books set during WWII. I cannot wait to give this read a try!

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Midnight Without a Moon
by Linda Williams Jackson (Release Date: January 3rd 2017 by HMH Books for Young Readers)

One of my quests doing RA work is to work on reading more diversely (though as my husband has pointed out, I predominately read novels written by women). I want to work on reading more novels that feature Own Voices and also People of Colour because I think that is such an important issue. I also want to read more novels where the protagonists are not White. What stuck me about Midnight Without A Moon is that it is another piece of historical fiction, written for middle grade audiences, focusing on an event in 1955 when Emmett Till, a young Africian-American boy, is killed for allegedly whistling at a white woman. That story is so famous and haunting, and I am interested to see what Linda Williams Jackson shares with that as the backdrop for this debut novel.

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The Monster on the Road Is Me by J.P. Romey

My co-blogger Molly shared this particular novel in her favourite books set in Japan and this one stuck out for me because of what she said and its beautiful cover. I LOVE Japanese folklore and I love books set in Japan, and through the synopsis it just sounds like this book is quite the wild ride. Definitely check out what Molly thought of this book, and I bet you it will sell you on this novel. As for me? I need to make time for it because it sounds like my jam.

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The Burning Chaos (Smoke and Mirrors, #2) by Melissa Giorgio

I LOVED The Fading Dusk last year, and I thought Melissa created a really delightful fantasy world in that story. The sequel released, and of course somehow I haven’t read it yet (I am a crappy friend!). But seriously, the ending of the first book was a fantastic cliffhanger that left me wanting this sequel, and I just can’t believe I didn’t read it right away. I plan to remedy this, and you all should check out the first book because it is AWESOMESAUCE. You can purchase it here if you are interested!

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Black Apple
by Joan Crate

I have actually had an ARC for Black Apple since January of this year and somehow I haven’t read it yet. I’ve heard so many mixed things about this book that it has left me somewhat wary of what I am going to find here. This book is written by a Canadian author and is focusing on Native issues, and I am always a bit hesitant on books like this when they aren’t written by a Native author. I know there is an insanely important message regarding Natives in Canada and the Residential School system, which I do think is an under-discussed issue. I am looking forward to seeing what I think of this one.

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Stars Above (The Lunar Chronicles #4.5)
by Marissa Meyer

I only finally got to Winter this year, and gah, I loved that book so much. Of course this being a short story collection, you would have thought I would have ripped through this after I finished Winter, no? Well, I took a break, and now I want to make sure I read this before the Iko graphic novel Nerve & Wires comes out next year. I also promised my bestie she could borrow this, and should probably make good on that promise.

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The Pants Project
by Cat Clarke (March 1st 2017 by Sourcebooks Fire)

This is one of my most anticipated reads of 2017 and I already have an ARC of it. Part of me knows once I read it, I won’t be able to stop myself. Following the coat-tails of the delightful George by Alex Gino, Cat Clake brings up the tale of a transgendered middle grader who is in transition. I LOVE stories like this, and I will always continue to support books that focus on the transgendered experience. I feel like The Pants Project is going to give me some knowledge and perhaps some bigger feels.

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Love and First Sight
by Josh Sundquist (January 3rd 2017 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)

I loved Josh Sundquist’s non-fiction novel We Should Hang Out Sometime, mostly because I loved the honesty and over-the-topness of some of his dating escapades. He’s also just a great speaker in general, and I love how he reminds people that living with a disability doesn’t mean he is any less of a person. This is his first fictional YA novel, and I am looking forward to see if his signature voice and humour may translate over. We shall see, but I am stoked to read this book!

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Caraval (Untitled #1)
by Stephanie Garber (January 31st 2017 by Flatiron Books)

This is THE BOOK I keep hearing about in all of the YA bloggosphere, and I am so excited but so nervous to read this book, omg. I am trying to think of coherent thoughts about this book, but all of my lady friends who have read this book have told me nothing but amazing things. AMAZING THINGS PEOPLE. I need to read this, like, now. NOW NOW NOW. *faints*

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American Girls
by Alison Umminger

This is another book a lot of my friends have been raving about and Molly was kind enough to send me a copy of it. Molly and I have this trend in YA that we love and have dubbed “pretty-ugly girls,” which are, pretty, mean and yet we can’t look away from them. I am kinda hoping this fulfills that for me because I haven’t really read any books this year that really fits that trope, and it makes me kinda sad. I definitely need to read this one before the year is out.

 And there you have it! If you have read any of these books I’d love to know your thoughts on them — which are worth reading, passing on, which are OMGAMAZEBALLS and which ones are just ‘okay’. What are some books you want to get to before the year is out? Let me know in the comments!

September Wrap Up and October Goals ~

I don’t feel like I read a lot of my own books in September. In fact, unless it was comics related, I only read books I got from my work instead. Here’s the small pile of books I managed to read from my own collection in the month of September.

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This seems like a sad amount given the Shelf of Shame still hasn’t shrunk enough in my eyes. One of the other issues I am facing is the amount of sequels that have sat unread on my shelf. This needs to change! I have a lot of fantasy sequels I’ve neglected over the month, so my goal is to try and read as many as I can. Here’s a few sequels I have outstanding that I could read:

  • Blood for Blood by Ryan Graudin (Which doesn’t release until November)
  • Catalyst by Lydia Kang (which Molly got me forever ago and I still haven;t read. I SUCK MOLLY)
  • Invasion of the Freaks by Sean Williams (4th and final book to his Fixers series)
  • Chaos Choreography by Seanan McGuire (5th book in her InCryptid series)
  • Once Broken Faith (10th boon in her October Daye series)
  • Fiddlehead by Cherie Priest (6th book in the Clockwork Century series)
  • The Peculiar Night of the Blue Heart by Lauren DeStefano (2nd book in the Pram series)
  • The Bands of Mourning by Brandon Sanderson (6th book in the Mistborn series)
  • Staked by Kevin Herne (8th book in the Iron Druid series)

So these are a few books I am considering reading in October. Let’s try to play sequel catch up, shall we?

Book Chat – How I Learned to Stop Being Afraid of Non-Fiction

As a public library worker and someone who specifically handles a lot of Readers Advisory requests, non-fiction still is the one area that I often struggle with. It’s not to say that non-fiction can’t be enjoyable, but it’s definitely a genre I struggle to gravitate towards. However, in 2016, I’ve read more non-fiction than I have any other year that I’ve done my reading challenge. Sometimes I think non-fiction is about finding books that interest you and, if your like me, find things you enjoy while also coming out of your comfort zone.

Here’s three non-fiction books I’ve recently read that I loved and would encourage others to definitely check out.

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Adulting: How to Become a Grown-up in 468 Easy(ish) Steps
by Kelly Williams Brown

This book made me laugh and provided me with practical advice on how to live alone for the first time. If you are familiar with my background, I spent the majority of my twenties taking care of my sick parents and I wasn’t one of those lucky kids  who went away for university. This book gave me so many ideas and solutions for different situations that I may come across, especially cleaning techniques that I never would have thought would work. I feel like this should be mandatory reading for first time youngins who happen to be on their own for the first time. Seriously, there is some wonderful tried and true advice here.

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Let the Elephants Run: Unlock Your Creativity and Change Everything
by David Usher

I had a long love affair with David Usher’s music back when I was in high school, more specifically, I was a fan of his band Moist. This is our public library’s community read, and it’s definitely a very different choice than what we’ve had prior. This book explores unlocking creative potential, and being reminded that everyone can posses creativity and the ability to try and do things in different ways. It’s also a book that encourages the reader to WRITE IN IT! I think while some of Usher’s methods are a bit contradictory at times, I do love the moments in the book where he explains where a lot of his inspiration for some of his popular hits like “Black Black Heart” come from. There’s definitely some interesting ideas in this book, and if anything, it’s definitely a fast read.

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Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory
by Caitlin Doughty

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes is easily one of my favourite recent non-fiction reads, and it’s a book I discovered through Cece @ Problems of a Book Nerd‘s YouTube Channel. I chose to read this book very recently after my mother had passed away and it gave me insane insight into the funeral industry, how we mourn those we’ve lost, but also some of the funnier situations that come from dealing with the dead on a day to day basis. While this book definitely has some “ew” moments, it also has a lot of “ah ha!” and “Bwahahahaha!” moments as well. If you can get your hands on this book, it’s definitely worth the read and it’s quite the little oddball.

I’ve also read a few other good non-fiction reads which includes Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy by Sam Maggs (she knows I love this book though… repeatedly), and I read Spinster by Kate Bolick, which provides an interesting look at spinsterhood and the women who pioneered spinster-culture. There’s definitely a lot of great non-fiction out there, and I feel like I’m really only just scratching the surface.

I would love to have some recommendations for awesome, fun, or interesting non-fiction reads. Please share them in the comments below and recommend me some fun non-fiction! Help me expand my reading universe! 🙂

Book Chat – Learning to Love Audiobooks

Audiobooking was a thing I thought I’d never do. The idea of listening to a book being read to you did not feel like “reading” to me. I felt a lot of hesitation towards audiobooks and I am disappointed in myself for allowing my previous judgement dictate how I feel.

Now, especially as I’ve grown older, I am enjoying audiobooks more. I find them great for when I’m walking my dog (big dog, little dog hates walks) or when I’m cleaning my house, it’s great to just listen to a story while working. I think my enjoyment of audiobooks may also be due to the fact that it is something I am constantly teaching at work to customers on who to use if they don’t want to talk out Audiobooks on CD. Teaching them how to download them through places like OneClickDigital or Overdrive through the library teaches them that there’s a pletora of titles out there to listen to and enjoy.

Some of my favourite audiobooks are the ones read by the authors themselves. Part of the reason I love when authors read their own books is it adds a level of authenticity to characters. I may imagine who one character sounds in my head while the author may have something drastically different. If you ever want to hear a sense of what I mean, listen to any book by Judy Blume that she reads and you’ll know exactly what I mean.

Through my adventures in audiobooking, I’ve found titles that have worked well for me, and some that I think I would have enjoyed more had I read the physical book. Narrators really do make a world of difference and if you have the chance to check out an audio sample, I always recommend doing so because there’s nothing worse than wanting to read a book and the narrator isn’t what you were expecting.

If you aren’t sure where to start, here’s three audiobooks I absolutely adored and definitely recommend checking out.

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You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost)
by Felicia Day

This is a fantastic audiobook that is read by the author and it’s adds a great level of authenticity. When Felicia is fangirling over video games and conventions, there’s a real genuiness to hearing her voice — you get a better sense of her emotions, and when she talks about her social anxiety and depression, it’s very raw to listen to her discuss it with such strength. She doesn’t sugarcoat her feelings in any way, and I think that’s why this worked so well for me as an audiobook. The only downside? It comes with a PDF to enjoy some of the photograph content, but you know what? It’s fiiiiine!

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Crudrat
by Gail Carriger

I kickstarted this book a few years back and it was my real first foray into audiobooks — and this was a full cast audiobook performance no less! Fantastically produced, and a fun story overall, Crudrat is the pinncale of what audiobooks can do for listeners, providing such a rich and intense listening experience. Seriously, if you can get a copy it’s worth checking out.

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The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy (The Penderwicks #1)
by Jeanne Birdsall, Read By: Susan Denaker 

My first foray into the Penderwicks was actually through audiobook. This series has a fantastic reader in Susan Denaker, who does can amazing job giving voices to each of the characters in this series, each very distinctive. This is how I fell in love with this series, and since my work doesn’t have books three or four in digital audiobook format, I had to resort to physically reading them and you know what? I pictured the characters the way Susan Denaker read them. Crazy, huh?

If you’ve been enjoying audiobooks, how did you get started on them? What have been some of your favourites you’ve listened to? Let me know down in the comments!

Book Chat – Books That Surprised Me

Sometimes when I read a book, I worry I won’t enjoy it. I look at it, read the synopsis, flip through the first few pages, and debate. Surprises can come in a variety of forms — enjoyment, disappointment, disgust, confusion, there’s a lot of emotions to describe when a book can surprise you. Sometimes it’s a plot element, maybe it’s overall enjoyment, it’s hard to gauge why something works or doesn’t work for you. I thought I’d share with you guys a few books that I’ve read that have surprised me in a variety of ways.

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The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
by Sherman Alexie (2007)

If I’m being honest, I had some reservations going into The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, if only because I am Canadian and I am a Canadian who loves Native American Fiction, but also is depressed by Canada’s past towards indiginious peoples. While this novel isn’t about Canada or written by a Canadian, it offers a very important prespective on “native culture” and what it means to be white-washed.

What surprised me about this novel wasn’t the topic, but it was in how I read it. I listened to this on audiobook with Sherman Alexie as the narrator, and at first I didn’t entirely dig his reading voice. In fact, it out right annoyed me at times… yet then as the story grew, his voice grew on me as well. There is an authenticness to the novel in having him read it, and I could feel Arnold’s emotions and struggles in Alexie’s voice and feel it in a way that felt very different then reading words off the page. This book is clever, it’s funny, and it’s downright sad at times. It took me on a surprising emotional journey, and it totally deserves all the awards that it has won.

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The Raven King (The Raven Cycle #4)
by Maggie Stiefvater (2016)

I am going to avoid spoilers for this book given how new it is, but this book was a ball of surprises from start to finish. It’s one of those books where from book one you KNEW WHAT WAS GOING TO HAPPEN, but you always kept hoping Maggie Stiefvater wouldn’t actually do it. If you’ve read the series, you know what I am talking about, and the way in which she did left me emotionally spent. However, there were other parts of this novel that just surprised me (Chapter 33 is perfect, you guys), and it made me love the novel, its characters and the series a million times more. Sometimes when you know something is supposed to be predictable, author’s will throw a wrench and still manage to surprise the crap out of it.

Maggie: I want my tears back, dammit.

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The Princess in Black series
by Shannon Hale & Dean Hale (2014-)

You should all not be surprised that a middle grade series is on this list, but let me tell you: The Princess in Black series continues to get better and better with each installment. What surprised me with this series was that I worried I would find it too juvinile at times to enjoy. The child in me loves this series and the adult in me in me keeps wanting to say I shouldn’t enjoy this series, but I do. This is a favourite of mine to recommend to reluctant readers at my the public library I work at, and it’s a fun one to talk up and explain to parents as well. Cheeky and fun, this series is for kids who love adventure, and adults who miss the feeling of being a child again.

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Mayumi and the Sea of Happiness
by Jennifer Tseng (2015)

Mayumi and the Sea of Happiness was such a mixed bag of a book for me. Meanwhile it focuses on a more taboo subject matter (an adult woman sleeping with a minor), that actually wasn’t the aspect of the book that surprised me, even when it started to get rather heavy. What surprised me was how beautiful the writing was in this book, but how unrealstic and frusrating the plot was for such a beautifully written book. I spent a lot of the novel wanting to scream at Mayumi, and I was certainly annoyed by how literary the boy began to sound despite his distaste for literature. There’s a lot in this book that feels hapharzardly put together and yet I COULDN’T STOP READING IT. This book was such a weird reading experience and it’s one I have a hard time forgetting because I felt so confused and yet so involved in the development of this story.

What are some novels that have surprised you, for better or worse? I’d love to know how others experience “surprising” aspects of a novel and how it affects your reading experience. Let me know in the comments below what your thoughts are on the subject!

Book Chat – Because It’s All About Them ARCs, ‘Bout Them ARCs…

CYH99ndUQAA4_4dIn 2015, I went a little ARC crazy. It was too the point where there were large periods in my reading where I read nothing but, even if I wasn’t in the mood for them. ARCs are an interesting thing in that they can make us feel a variety of things: excitement over having something you wanted early, jealousy when we see something someone else has, and tired because sometimes there’s just so many of them. It’s a crazy roller-coaster of emotions, and something that isn’t always easy to rectify.

The picture above is my current pile, with old ARCs that I’ve received from friends in the back, and all upcoming 2016 titles in the front. As you can see, I have about sixteen titles to read, four which are January releases (end of January mind you), then the rest are from February to April. That’s a lot to read! But I am also one of those people who has a long commute to work, so I always tend to read my ARCs then because I have that uninterrupted amount of time that I can just read and relax. But still, sometimes I think I overreach what I am capable of, and this year I need to be a lot better about not going to crazy and taking on too much more than I can actually handle.

The other issue with ARCs, as wonderful as they are, is that you tend to forfeit reading your own books that you own for them. This means your TBR gets a little larger, and you don’t feel like you’re making as much progress either. I hate that feeling, especially because I don’t like the idea of quantifying reading, even though it’s something I unconsciously do. The Shelf of Shame in my house is a real thing, and it’s something every year I try to work through and bring down more and more.

In 2016, I plan to work on reducing my TBR more. I feel like this is every person’s goal, but for me, I want to just enjoy reading as much as I can, and reading what I want to read. I love receiving and reviewing ARCs, but I also don’t want them to be the thing that dominates my reading time. How do you combat this problem of wanting to read your own books but also feeling obligated to read what you’ve requested? I am huge on schedules and I’m generally really good at following them, but I’d love to hear some tips on how you manage your TBR, and more specifically how you manage the time between ARCs and personal books.