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January Reading Roundup!

January was a very productive reading month. I read a combination of my own books and library books, and managed to complete quite a bit. One thing I have been doing is seeing if my library has an audiobook version of books I physically own and I have been finding it super helpful to tackle things I want to read, but haven’t necessarily tackled yet. Audiobooks have been a bit of a godsend right now as I work through cleaning and purging my house. I will share a Shelf of Shame photo update perhaps at the end of Feburary just so you can all see what the stats has been on that project.

Here’s the January reads I knocked out from my personal collection:

I am pretty pleased with this pile, even if it mostly came from the ARC shelf. Point is that I need to read what I own and I think that counts just fine. 🙂 Favourites from this stack were a toss up between The Closest I’ve Come by Fred Aceves and A List of Cages by Robin Roe, both which just emotionally affected me in great ways. I highly recommend those two for sure!

Here’s what I read from the library (no photo since the majority of these guys were already taken back).

  • The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds
  • #Weratedogs: The Most Hilarious and Adorable Pups You’ve Ever Seen by Matt Nelson
  • When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
  • The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic by Leigh Bardugo
  • Burning In This Midnight Dream by Louise Bernice Halfe
  • Miles Morales by Jason Reynolds
  • Crash Override: How Gamergate (Nearly) Destroyed My Life, and How We Can Win the Fight Against Online Hate by Zoe Quinn
  • Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo
  • Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen
  • Beneath the Sugar Sky  by Seanan McGuire

I am not going to focus too much about the books above, but needless to say, all of the ones I read above were fantastic and totally worth your time.

Then lastly, books I borrowed.

  • Tam Lin by Pamela Dean

I borrowed this one from a girlfriend of mine years ago and I FINALLY read it. I put it on my monthly goals list to complete just so the motivation was where. I liked it, though it is a very dense fantasy classic. Not sure if it’s one I’d ever read again, but I am happy I have knocked it out.

I am hoping February is as much a productive reading month as January was. I only acquired three books in the month, which I think is amazing given how my old book buying habits were. Two were books sent me (one was a gift from a friend, the other from a publisher) and I bought the one Jason Reynolds book my library didn’t own. I am hoping to keep up with everything I am sent this year, and again, I think it’s totally doable, but I will need to just keep at it.

Let me know if you’ve read any of the books above. I’d love to know your thoughts!

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Book Riot’s Read Harder 2017 Challenge – December Reads & Challenge Wrap Up

I did it! I finished the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge for 2017! I was worried that I was too down to the wire and that I wouldn’t complete my last two challenges given the size and density of the two tomes I had selected. Let’s share my last two reads and my thoughts!

Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez

Completes Challenge #4: Read a book set in Central or South America.

Thoughts: This was a very challenging book to get through. I don’t think it was a bad book, but definitely one that is slow paced. I think what I was having a hard time with was that I really didn’t have a sense of who the characters were and what I did know about them felt very one-dimensional. I will sing Marquez’s praises in that his writing is quite lovely, it’s just a shame that the story he was telling didn’t really shine in any way. The best parts of this book were learning more about the scenery and the smaller details, but the pining, romantic parts of this novel just didn’t feel romantic to me at all.


A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

Completes Challenge #19: Read a book in which a character of colour goes on a spiritual journey.

Thoughts: I was gifted this book a few years back and I remember the sheer size of it was on the intimidating side. Years later, I decided it was finally time to read this one. This is a beautiful book that looks at so many different themes: life, death, youth, adulthood, growing up, being childish, etc. I could go on with how jam packed this novel is with intriguing sentiments on all these topics. I adored the Nao sections, as I loved seeing her grow up and try to cope with the differences between America and Japan.

There were a few scenes were I really found myself weeping for her, empathizing with her and just wanting to be able to lend a helping hand. Ruth’s sections were a little more cut and dry given she is uncovering Nao’s life. I enjoyed her sections as well though I did find at times they dragged a bit. I will say the audiobook read by Ozeki herself was pretty fantastic give the amount of personality she infused into her characters. An excellent read that I know I’ll still be thinking about years to come.

I am definitely going to try my best and complete the 2018 challenge. I’ve given myself a lot of challenges really book-wise given I want to try to read more of my own stuff. This is the hardship of working at a library where shiny new things catch your eye and you go “ohhh shiny.”

I hope everyone enjoyed these posts. I hope if you were participating in the challenge that you completed your goals and even if you didn’t, you read this year and that is amazing! Check back with me at the end of January when we begin this process again!

Five Favourite Books I Read in 2017

As we are winding down the year, I thought I’d share five reads this year that stuck with me since completion. I read a lot of books this year (with less than a month to go!). I read over 400+ books (including comics) and I thought I’d narrow it to five simply because if I shared all my favourite, this post would go on forever and no one would read it.  All these books released in 2017, and I will be doing a post of favourites I read that didn’t come out this year soon!

Shall we begin?

My Brother’s Husband by Gengoron Tagame

This beautiful manga looks at one man’s relationship with his brother’s husband. Yaichi is a single parent raising his daughter, Kana, when a Canadian man named Mike shows up at their doorstep informing them that he is the husband of Yaichi’s deceased twin brother. This manga stuck with me all year since I read it — it looks at blended families, cultural differences, issues of homosexuality in Japan versus Canada. It’s just an amazingly well-woven story that made me snob, laugh and smile all in one go. I highly, highly recommend this manga to those looking for something meaty but thoughtful.

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

The premise of this novel-in-verse is based on an elevator ride that Will is taking and contemplating. Going down the elevator, Will is trying to figure out why his brother was murdered and given the “rules” of their family, one of them is exact revenge. This novel shows Will’s thought spirals as he tries to determine who his brother’s killer is, and can he commit murder. Gorgeously written,  Jason Reynolds work became a favourite of mine throughout the year, but this is the book that has stuck with me so far. I still have Boy in the Black Suit and his Miles Morales novel checked out from the library to read.

Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu

It is no secret on this blog that I am an intense fan of Jennifer Mathieu’s books. I have yet to be disappointed, and Moxie was the first of her books to come out with any sort of hype behind it. This book was worth the hype. It’s a feminist manifesto that looks at issues of sexual harassment, lady friendship, and taking matters into your own hands for the purpose of protest. Viv is a fantastic heroine who is someone many of us can relate to with ease, and how she grows in this story is easily one of the book’s best parts. Moxie is a kick ass novel through and through.

A Conjuring of Light by V.E Schwab

This conclusion left me a hot mess after completion. There is something about this world, these characters, and the way in which all the magic and politics flow in the story that keeps you guessing. Kell and Lila go through so much in this story, and it just felt like a roller-coaster of my feelings plummeting down the deepest slop, then feeling slightly relieved, only to find the hidden drop on the ride that makes you scream the loudest. I am so excited there will be more books set in this world, but A Conjuring of Light reminds a very satisfying and emotionally charged conclusion to an amazing fantasy series.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

I recognize that this is THE novel of 2017, but I think that title is well earned. The Hate U Give is a book I found myself recommending to patrons at the library frequently, regardless of whether they were readers of young adult fiction or not. Offering amazing insight into the Black Lives Matter movement, Starr and her family are memorable, wonderful, and people who are flawed but fighters. This book reminded me of when I was growing up, something I mentioned to Thomas when I met her back in the summer. While I will never understand what it is like to be a young black person, I have so much respect and an even greater desire to understand. This book was emotional, painful, and truthful. A hairbrush is not a gun.

These are some of my favourite 2017 releases that I LOVED this year and that stuck with me throughout. What are some of your favourites? I’d love to know in the comments below.

#TeensReadFeed Winter/Spring Preview!

On Saturday I had the chance to spend the afternoon learning about Raincoast Books upcoming YA titles for Winter/Spring 2018. There were so many interesting titles, and easily something for everyone. From a retelling of Jane Eyre in space to dark fairy tales to swoon-worthy romance. I thought I’d share the three titles from the event that I am most excited about!

The Hazel Wood
by Melissa Albert (January 30th 2018 by Flatiron Books)

This book sounds like something I would love to pieces. It’s a darker fantasy story that takes place in the contemporary world, and it’s about a cult-classic novel, death, and it just seems like it’s going to be a fantastic book to check out this Fall (even though it comes out in Winter!). It just looks like it’s going to be quite the adventure. Plus, Molly loved it and I trust what my co-blogger thinks when it comes to books.

Playing Atari with Saddam Hussein
by Jennifer Roy (February 6th 2018 by HMH Books for Young Readers)

This book had me at it’s title. There’s something intriguing about a book that has both the words Atari and Saddam Hussein in it. This middle grade read takes place in 1991 and follows an eleven year old boy who loves video games. Over forty-three days we learn about how the main character, Ali’s family survives bombings as Saddam Hussein goes to war with the United States. I feel like this is going to be a wonderful, smart, challenging read and I can’t wait to check it out.

Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World
by Pénélope Bagieu (March 6th 2018 by First Second)

This graphic novel offers mini-comics for many badass ladies throughout history. I feel like I am a huge fan of books that teach me about women and women’s accomplishments, as I loved Badass Ladies Through History and Wonder Women. I just want more books like this and since it’s a graphic novel, I feel like I’m going to be all over it.

During the event we also learned about Nice Try, Jane Sinner by Lianne Oelke (releasing January 9th 2018 by Clarion Books), who was discussing her writing process, her beginnings as a writer and how he got her publishing deal. It was such a fantastic talk to listen to, and it has me excited to read the book when it releases. Then there were prizes, which is always fun. I ended up winning the “Hazel Wood” prize pack, which has me interviewing Melissa Albert, and I am stoked to have that opportunity. No pressure though, right? So excited!

There was also food, swag bags, and so much wonderful and thoughtful discussion. I also ended up with too many books added to my TBR, but you know what? I accept that I am going to die with a TBR pile and I love learning about new reads. Huge thank you again to Raincoast for allowing me the opportunity to hang out with them and learn about the new reads, and for the awesome prize which I cannot wait to share with you all!

 

Book Riot’s Read Harder 2017 Challenge – May Reads

With May winding to a close, I can safely say, YAY! And by that I mean, I read more books for my Book Riot Read Harder challenge than I did in the month of April. How wonderfully unexpected, am I right? Plus, I liked the majority of what I read for the challenges as well. Let’s see how May faired.


The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Completes Challenge #7: Read a book published between 1900 and 1950.

Note: This book was originally published in 1911.

Thoughts: So hilariously, I never read this book as a child. I remember owning an “easy-reader” version, but somewhere a long the line this was just a book I never bothered to pick up. Which is a real shame that I am doing it so late in life given how much I love A Little Princess. I found The Secret Garden to be a really enchanting book, and I found myself very invested in all of the characters and the mystery behind the garden itself. I oddly loved Mary, even when she was being a brat (and I am not always fond of the “bratty child”). It’s funny too because I often find classics fairly difficult to read, but this one I was compulsively turning pages because I felt so absorbed in the story. So glad I finally gave this one a go!


Difficult Women by Roxane Gay

Completes Challenge #22: Read a collection of stories by a woman.

Thoughts: Difficult Women is one of those short story collections that is incredibly raw from story to story. Many of what Gay’s heroines portray are women who are “difficult” in the sense that they are unconventional, not following specific female binaries, and they are intense. Some of the stories are very heartbreaking, tragic, others are hopeful. There’s an honesty in Gay’s writing that makes each story compulsively readable. If you like short story collections, this is a great read.

My favourite stories were: La Negra Blanca, Difficult Women, and I Am a Knife. Though seriously, every story is pretty captivating.


Neither Here Nor There by Bill Bryson

Completes Challenge #8: Read a travel memoir.

Thoughts: I adore Bill Bryson and he’s one of the few non-fiction writer’s I actually try to keep up with. I usually find his brand of humour coupled with being informative to be something that gels with me easily. However, Neither Here Nor There is so far my least favourite Bill Bryson book to date that I’ve read. I usually love his travel memoirs because I feel like he does this great job of making the reader feel like they are there with him, but this one, likely due to how old it is, lacked in that department for me. I found Bryson’s antics a little frustrating, and he does more complaining than he does sharing anecdotal information. This book did have some glimmering moments that I personally enjoyed, but overall I found this book to be lacking in the fun-informative department.

Book Riot’s Read Harder 2017 Challenge – April Reads

April was a slow month for my Read Harder Challenge. In fact, I only completed one challenge for the challenge, which is pretty damn pitiful if you ask me. Usually I try to knock out two or three, but I got very into just reading what I felt like during the month and it was good to do that.


Here’s the only challenge I completed:

 The Sound of Water: Haiku by Basho, Buson, Issa, and Other Poets by Sam Hamill

Completes Challenge #23: Read a collection of poetry in translation on a theme other than love.

Thoughts: This was a surprisingly difficult challenge to complete given I’m not the biggest poetry reader, and the majority of published poetry is often about love or relationships. Then I remembered I had a background in East Asian Studies and was like “I could read Basho again!” Through my work I found this tiny little collection of haiku from the greats such as Basho, Busan and Issa. A lot of the poems focused on meditative states and the evolution of life. This was a very quick, easy, and thoughtful collection of relaxing poems to read!


Here’s hoping May is a better month for completing challenges! However, I am really glad to have knocked this one out giving how much trouble it was giving me at first.

Five Books I Want to Read This April By New To Me Authors

One of the reading challenges that was provided to me by a friend for the month of April was to read more books by authors who were new to me. I own so many books by authors I’ve never read before but having been dying to check out for years. I thought I’d share with you guys five books I hope to tackle this month but authors who are definitely new to me, or who may be debut authors who I may want to read more of in the future.

I Believe in a Thing Called Love
by Maurene Goo (Release Date: May 30th 2017 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)

I saw this book while I was at OLA back in Feburary, and had been at Raincoast Books booth. The cover really caught my attention, and when I read th back, I knew it would be the kind of contemporary story I’d adore. This book is for the Kdrama fans, and those who love fun romance fluff. I also like that the heroine feels like Kdramas are going to be the way to understanding romance and dating. I am very excited to read this book, and isn’t the cover adorable? IT’S ADORABLE.

When Dimple Met Rishi
by Sandhya Menon (Release Date: May 30th 2017 by Simon Pulse)

This is an upcoming debut that I have been so excited to read since it appeared on my doorstep. If I am being honest, part of me wished I had read it as soon as I had gotten it, while the other half of me kept saying “No, wait until closer to release.” I’ve only heard positive things about When Dimple Met Rishi both as a romance novel and as a comedy. While I am not always the biggest romance lover, books like this one come along and they basically scream “SHUT UP YOU LIKE ROMANCE NOW READ ME.” Also I love reading about other cultures and this comes from the perspective of two Indian-American teens whose families want to instill parts of their culture that don’t necessarily work nicely with American culture. I feel like this is going to be a very fun read.

Short
by Holly Goldberg Sloan (Released on January 31st 2017 by Dial Books)

So I am going to point out that I actually own two books by this author (the other being Counting By 7s) and somehow I haven’t read anything by her yet? Many of my friends who I trust and who love middle grade adore Holly Goldberg Sloan’s books. Short definitely caught my eye because it’s focuses on The Wizard of Oz, which I LOVE. Regardless, this month I am going to read one of her books. The ultimate question really will be which one!

Prep School Confidential (Prep School Confidential #1)
by Kara Taylor (Released on July 30th 2013 by St. Martin’s Griffin)

Over the years, Molly my amazing co-blogger has sent me lots of books. This particular series is one she sent me her extra copy of and told me it was a fun and quick read. I’ve been needing more fun and quick in my life, and I feel like this is the kind of silly teen mystery novel that will just pass the time and be delightfully entertaining. It’ll be good to get some non-ARCs off my TBR this month!

The Girl with All the Gifts (The Girl With All The Gifts #1)
by M.R. Carey (Released on June 19th 2014 by Orbit)

So I have had my copy of The Girl With All the Gifts since last summer and still haven’t read it. Story of my life. The worst part is that this book has insane hype behind it, every friend who has read it has loved the living crap out of it, and I’ve been told it’s just one of those highly originally stories that seems to stick with you long after the story is over. I need to get back into reading more adult fiction, and clearly I need to make time to read this beloved novel. I feel like this book is totally up my alley and I keep going “I’ll get to it later!” Real answer however: NEED TO READ SOONER NOT LATER.

So these are five books by five authors I’ve never read that I’d like to tackle soon. Have you read any of these books? If so, please let me know in the comments of what you thought of any of them. I am always happy to hear varying opinions.