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Why You Should Read Company Town by Madeline Ashby (A Not Review!)

20447745I have been an avid follower of the CBC’s Canada Reads program for the last couple of years. For those who are unfamiliar, Canada Reads is a “Battle of the Books” in which Canadian celebrities, entrepreneurs and personalities champion a book that they feel all of Canada should read. This year’s event begins on March 27th with five contenders:

The Right to Be Cold by Sheila Watt-Cloutier
Fifteen Dogs by André Alexis
Company Town by Madeline Ashby
The Break by Katherena Vermette
Nostalgia by M.G. Vassanji

Today, I want to focus a bit on why you should read Company Town by Madeline Ashby, and why it’s an important book to be included in this year’s Canada Reads.

  1. It’s SCIENCE FICTION! In the case of most literary awards that are out there, science fiction tends to often get snubbed because it’s not considered “literary.” What people forget is that science fiction has the power to provide “what ifs” that could become potential dangerous realities. Don’t believe me? Consider why George Orwell’s 1984 is selling so hotly right now.
  2. It focuses on the Maritime provinces, and even though the book is science fiction, the feeling of how the Maritime provinces are represented here feel very authentic. There is a feeling of isolation, hard work, loneliness, and discomfort that is common throughout the novel, and Ashby does an amazing job of evoking these emotions and having it play on the readers sense of both New Arcadia and the character of Hwa.
  3. It stars a bad-ass, non-augmented Korean woman named Hwa. She will kick your ass. No really. To be fair to Hwa’s character, she’s incredibly compelling as a heroine, and Ashby does an amazing job of making her feel so vibrant and alive in a world that feels so phony on the outside.
  4. It’s a page-turner. I literally blew through this book in a day because I found the writing style and the story so engaging. The themes are really easy to grasp, but Ashby does an amazing job of getting readers to question reality and the Lynch Family who basically have New Arcadia in the palm of their hands. There’s an amazing amount of back-and-forth and this is on top of a series of murders that Hwa somehow gets roped into investigating.
  5. There is wonderful social commentary about Canadian economics and politics, masquerading in this high octane story. Like I said, I found myself moving swiftly through this book and long after I was finished, I was still thinking about a lot of what happened in the story, and how it can potential relate to now.
  6. There is augmented people. Augmentation is fascinating.

There’s a my fangirlish ramblings on why you should check out Company Town. I hope to read and share some thoughts about some of the other Canada Reads nominees as I read them, but if they are anything like Company Town, they will be easy to recommend. I am definitely looking forward to checking out more of Madeline Ashby’s books, and if you love science fiction, this book really is worth checking out. It left an amazing impression on me!

2017 Reading Resolutions

While 2016 was a rough year for me on a whole, I cant say it was for my reading, as I completed 400 books. That is a lot and I have commuting and working in libraries to really thank for that. In 2017 my goal is less, as I am looking to only read 200 books. If I read more, great, if I don’t, that is okay too.

As a public library worker there’s a part of the job where one is expected to have a decent knowledge of literature, be it fiction or non-fiction. In library school we are often told to have a specialty in mind, but that we should always broaden the way in which we read, which is my larger goal in 2017. Here’s some of long-term reading goals for the year.

  1. Read more nonfiction. I read way more non-fiction in 2016 than I ever had in my lifetime and I want to keep this trend up. I am finally finding the kinds of non-fiction that interest me, more specifically about people, technology, weird industries, lifestyles. I find a lot of this stuff so fascinating, and if it’s women’s focused, the better. Reading more non-fiction has made me feel more well-rounded as a reader, and I am always looking for recommendations in this area as my expertise are still very limited.
  2. Work on completing/catching up on more series. I feel into a habit in 2016 where I mostly only read stand-alones or comics. While reading comic series fit this, I am looking more at the book series I’ve started over the years, the sequels I have sitting on my shelves and the fact that I still need to read them. I have Once Broken Faith by Seanan McGuire (An October Daye mystery), Crooked Kingdoms by Leigh Bardugo, so many books where I just need to sit down and play catch up. My goal is to try and catch up or complete on at least ten series.
  3. Read at east five 500+ page books. I am very guilty of this — big books intimidate me and 28114583often make me feel like they are making me backslide on my reading goal. However, there are so many interesting, big books I’ve avoided just because of the size and because LOL!reading goals. Quality versus quantity is going to be a big theme this year with me and I am going to knock some of these large books I’ve been curious about out this year.
  4. Read more diversely. I’ve always been a diverse reader and I’ve never really been one to shy away from that. This discussion, however, has become so much more important over the last few years and it’s something especially in libraries that we need to work more closely on given that our patrons come from a wide range of race, sexuality, religions, etc. We SHOULD be better at this, and there’s so many wonderful and promising reads that should be checked out more. Currently I am reading Midnight Without a Moon
    by Linda Williams Jackson and it is WONDERFUL.
  5. Don’t feel like you HAVE TO READ. I realize this is a weird one, but I confess: I am always reading. Sometimes when I don’t feel like it. I want to be okay with the fact that if I don’t feel like reading that it is okay. I have television shows, video games, friends,  an unhealthy obsession with Overwatch, that need some attention as well. Reading has always been my greatest comfort, but I am not going to beat myself up if I don’t read as much as I have in previous years.
  6. Give away more books. 2017 is going to be the year of purging for me. I am working towards purging every room in my house, and books are also going to be the same thing. I need to work on decluttering my spaces and focus on the reorganization process. Donating books or giving them to friends is always a plus in my books.
  7. Continue to buy less books. I have actually gotten better about this, although my shelf of shame would argue otherwise if it had a voice. I didn’t purchase a lot of books last year, but I did get a lot from trades, publishers and as gifts. It’s still a lot less than previous years, but yeaaaaaaah…. let’s work on this some more, shall we?
  8. Take out less books from work (aka the library). I work at a public library, do you know how hard this is for me? Do you know how hard it is to not take out the new and shiny books? Or deal with your co-workers giving you all the book recs and then you having a million holds? The pressure is real my friends. I need to work on taking less stuff out from the library because my shelf of shame is taking real issue with it. And honestly, it’s less stuff to lug to and from work, even if I love it so.
  9. Complete the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge. The 2017 challenge has me crazy excited, yo. See the challenge here.

And that really is just the half of it. The larger focus this year is to work on cutting down the amount of books I have being okay with not keeping every book I own, and read for quality not quantity. I am going to try to stay on top of the review books because I want to get back into making sure this blog still has content. I am hoping to share more features, even if this is a primarily review-based blog. I am also hoping to have more reading adventures, since last year I didn’t have as many as I would have liked.

What are your goals for reading in 2017? Do you have anything you for sure want to accomplish? Let me know down below.

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?

#Booktubeathon! TBR

I love #Booktubeathon even though I don’t booktube. I love being able to participate in the challenges and figure out what I want to read. Seriously, seven books in seven days? It’s insane, but totally do-able and I’ve been lucky that nearly every year I have done this, I have successfully completed the challenges. The event runs from July 18th to the 24th! Here’s what I will be reading and what challenges they will hit!

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1/ Read a book with yellow on the cover. — Gertie’s Leap to Greatness
by Kate Beasley 
2/ Read a book only after sunset.  — Castle of the Zombies (The Fixers #1)
by Sean Williams 

3/ Read a book you discovered through booktube. — The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (Wayfarers #1) by Becky Chambers
4/ Read a book by one of your favourite authors.  — Still Life with Tornado by A.S. King
5/ Read a book that is older than you. — The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare, 

6/ Read and watch a book-to-movie adaptation. — The Green Mile by Stephen King 
7/ Read seven books. — Planet Of The Cyborgs (The Fixers #2) by Sean Williams 

We shall see how I do! If you are participating, let me know down in the comments!

Ten Comics & Graphic Novels You Should Check Out! May 2016 Edition

Despite all the sad that’s been in my life lately, graphic novels and comics have definitely been a thing I’ve been clinging towards. They are quick, easy reads that can be enjoyed in a lot of different forms. I haven’t done a recommendation post for comics and graphic novels in awhile, so here’s some new favourites and others I think are worth checking out.

Previous Posts:

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Goldie Vance #1
by Hope Larson, Brittany Williams, & Sarah Stern

My best friend tossed this little gem of a comic over to me recently and let me tell you: it’s spunky, cheeky, and a whole heck of a lot of fun. It feels like a fresher take on Scooby-Doo and stories that are inspired by that era. The characters, especially our heroine, Goldie, are just really cleverly written and delightfully charming. I’ve only read the first issue (of four) and considering where the plot line is going, i think it’s going to continue to win my heart over.

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The Pitiful Human-Lizard series
by Jason Loo

OH MY GOD THIS SERIES. It is perfect in so many ways, and if you are a Torontoian, there’s a lot more you can appreciate as a reader of this comic. Pitiful Human Lizard is a very weird hero, a loser who we can all root for. But he isn’t even the star in his own comics, because Mother Wonder is just… she’s the best. Oh, and Lizard’s mom. I love his tiger mom. There’s currently six issues out of this comic, and it’s definitely worth grabbing for those who love twists on the superhero formula along with great writing and artwork.

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Zatanna: The Mistress of Magic 
by Paul Dini, Stephane Roux, et al.

Zatanna is an amazing superheroine who really never gets her due. It’s a shame really, because she’s such a clever little minx, who offers readers tons of magic and fun. Plus this series is written by Paul Dini, the ultime Zatanna fanboy. But seriously, her solo run is easily one of the most fun I’ve had the pleasure of reading, and there’s a lot of creativity that is done with her character that other DC heroines just don’t get. There’s only two trades for this series, and both are worth checking out.

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Soppy: A Love Story
by Philippa Rice

Everyone should read Soppy, regardless of whether you’ve been in a relationship or not. It’s such a true to life series of comics that remind you what it’s like to be so in love with someone, that even the simplest things can bring you joy. I couldn’t help but yell at my husband about this book and some of the stuff that was happening in it and screaming “THIS IS US HONEY!!!” and him going “Okay, Sam. You’re nuts.” Then looking and agreeing. This book with make your heart flutter with fluffiness, and we all need some fluffiness every now and again.

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Tomboy: A Graphic Memoir
by Liz Prince

Tomboy by Liz Prince is a graphic memoir that really spoke to me. It is about Liz Prince’s experience growing up as a “tomboy” and how she dislikes gender stereotypes of what it means to be male or female. In a lot of ways she reminds us how cruel those stereotypes can be, and how people regardless of age she be able to promote themselves any way they want. There’s a lot of heart and soul in this memoir, and I loved my time with it. Definitely worth the read for those who want more meaningful exchanges in their graphic novels.

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Power Up 
by Kate Leth, Matt Cummings

I LOVE POWER UP! This is a comic that bends gender norms and stereotypes and it is HILARIOUS! Amazing characters, quirky adventures, beautiful artwork, this is one of those graphic novels for those who love crazy characters with hearts of gold. How can you not love an art student, a stay at home mom, an ageing athlete and a goldfish as a superhero team? Best superhero team ever! (Screw you, Justice League and Avengers!)

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Descender, Vol 1: Tin Stars (Descender #1)
by Jeff Lemire, Dustin Nguyen, & Steve Wands

Descender is a wonderful, mysterious series penned by Jeff Lemire. This means it’s an instant read for considering how much I adore his work. It also features Dustin Nguyen’s stunning artwork, which is AMAZING and wonderfully detailed. TIM-21 will steal your heart on his quest to survive in a world where bounty hunters wish to capture robots for… various gains. I really am excited to see where this series goes, and it’s one of those comics that makes you long for space adventures. Fantastic comic series for those who love space and robots… or both!

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Giant Days 
by John Allison, Whitney Cogar, Max Sarin & Lissa Treiman

GIANT DAAAAAAYS. It is a fantastic ongoing series about college adventures, personal relationships, and how to survive adulthood. This series is charming, funny, and it’s easy to love Esther, Susan and Daisy. Every time my best friend hands her her physical issues when she’s done with them, I immediately devour them because that is how much this series makes happy. This is definitely a good recommendation if you love series like Lumberjanes. READ THIS SERIES!

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Bitch Planet
by Kelly Sue DeConnick, Valentine De Landro, Taki Soma, & Robert Wilson

Meet your new favourite feminist series starring ladies who can probably kick your ass. Kelly Sue DeConnick continues to impress me with her work, but Bitch Planet may be my favourite of hers. These are woman of various backgrounds, identities, social backgrounds and they refuse to give up who they are to an institution that wishes to change them. The stories in this series are rich, personal and thoughtful. This series kicks so much ass and you will love the ladies of Bitch Planet, I promise.

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Something New: Tales from a Makeshift Bride
by Lucy Knisley

You may have saw my recent review for this one, and I stand by my thoughts on it. Truthfully though, I’ll read graphic memoir that Lucy Knisley pens. Each of her graphic novels is very personal and full of a lot of inspiration. She just tells everything like it is and she eases the reader into so many situations that they can relate to. Something New is great for those who are married, but I’d even argue those who are single would find value in this as well. Any of her books are worth checking out, but this recent one is pretty spectacular.

What are some of your new favourite graphic novels? Let me know in the comments, and trust me, there will be more of these coming up, as I read more stuff worth recommending.

River & Sam’s Fave Books of January!

A new year means there’s going to be new monthly favourites. For those of you who may be new to the blog, River and I always try to share a favourite book of the month that we want to recommend to you all. Without further ado, here’s the picks!

River’s Pick:

25742635Behold the Bones by Natalie C. Parker (Release Date: February 23rd 2016 by HarperTeen)

River’s Thoughts: This was one of my most anticipated books for 2016 and I am so happy to say that it lived up to my expectations!!! It’s a perfect companion to Parker’s debut, Beware the Wild and I was SO happy to return to Sticks and these characters! This book is so creepy and so damn country I can’t even stand it!!! I was enchanted from the start and I am crossing my fingers that there will be a third book because I am not ready to leave the swamp!

Sam’s Review:

25332036A Week Without Tuesdays by Angelica Banks

Sam’s Thoughts: This book was a recent release, but my goodness, this it what top grade middle grade is like! Finding Serendipity was one of my favourite reads from last year, and the sequel was just as awesome. This series is full of imagination and charm, and It will get you excited for a whimsical adventure. If you love middle grade, or have a middle grade lover in your life, get them reading this series!

What was your favourite read in January? Let us know in the comments!

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.