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The Scott Challenge – March & April Selections

Welcome back to the “Scott Challenge” where my husband is challenging me to read some of his favourite books and I provide some commentary. The two books this month couldn’t be more radically different, as one is a science fiction collection from 1997, the other a sweet fantasy story about immigration. Let’s dive in, shall we?

March Pick:

The Callahan Chronicals
(Callahan’s #1-3)
by Spider Robinson (Published: Published October 15th 1997 by Tor)

I have a love-hate relationship with Spider Robinson’s writing. Often I love his characters, but the writing is too dry for me, lacking any sort of oomph. That is exactly the problem with The Callahan Chronicles, on top of it being a short story collection at as well. I do love books that involve space bars and weird patrons, and my favourite story in the book was one full of puzzles, which then Robinson at the end had to write a lengthy author’s note about how people were sending him solutions to this one puzzle, but he himself for the answer! I weirdly want to play the Callhan video game that was made in 1997, and I still might. Just wish I loved this more. 2.5/5 Stars.

April Pick:

The Golem and the Jinni
(The Golem and the Jinni #1)
by Helene Wecker (Published April 23rd 2013 by Harper)

The Golem and the Jinni was a book I heard a lot about when it released and one admittedly I just never got around to when it released. This beautiful fantasy novel is one I devoured on my weekend in Thunder Bay, because both the Golem and the Jinni were loveable characters just trying to blend into the world around them. This is a wonderful and different take on the immigration story, and even if you don’t like fantasy, this is still a book I’d recommend people give a whirl. It’s sweet, touching, heartbreaking, and more hopeful than one would image. 4/5 Stars.

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Middle Grade March Wrap-up – Part 1

Over the month of March, I decided to try and read a lot of middle grade. It was inspired by a lot of Booktubers who were doing similar, but also by the first book I finished in the month, All The Ways Home by Elise Chapman (which I keep hinting at and there will be a review closer to its release). Split into two posts, I thought it would be fun to share with you all the middle grade reads I checked out and some quick thoughts. I ended up reading six books, but will only be discussing five between the two posts.

The War I Finally Won
(The War That Saved My Life #2)
by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

I ADORED the first book in this series, but if I am being honest, I don’t feel like Ada’s story necessarily needed a continuation. This sequel has Ada and her brother Jamie with a legal guardian while World War II rages on. This is a hard one to talk about if you’ve never read the first book (which I highly recommend you do), but this one was a surpisingly slow sequel where I feel like it took its sweet time to get to the story it truly wanted to tell. I gave the first book a five star when I read it, but this one wasn’t the same spark for me. 3.5/5 Stars

The Golden Door
(The Three Doors Trilogy #1)
by Emily Rodda

I wanted to love this book so badly and I had a hard time with it. It’s likely more me than the book because I’ve been in such a weird fantasy slump and just not picking up fantasy books that spark joy in me. This one is such an old school sword, sorcery and dragon story for a middle grade audience and its fabulous in that regard for making that old school genre accessible. I thought the plot was very D&D and the characters just didn’t excite me. However, having since read it, I have recommended it a lot at work, especially for reluctant male readers! But yeah, this sadly wasn’t a hit for me. 2.5/5 Stars

To Night Owl from Dogfish
by Holly Goldberg Sloan &  Meg Wolitzer

A friend of mine described To Night Owl from Dogfish as “The Gap Parent Trap” and it 100% is. This addictive little book about two girls going away to a sleepover camp while trying to keep their dads in a relationship so that they get to become sisters is both funny, heartbreaking, and just charming all around. Avery and Bett will make you grin from ear to ear that’s how wonderful this story was. I think about it a lot and how much fun I had reading it, or how much I thought Bett’s grandmother was just the absolute best grandmother in a book ever. This sweet contemporary book knocked my socks off and I hope more folks check it out. 5/5 Stars

That’s it for part one! I hope you stay tuned because on Friday, I’ll share the other two wonderful reads I checked out for Middle Grade March!

#YearofLess Update 1 – Jan & Feb

March has just begun, and I thought it would be valuable every two months to show you guys where I am at with my #YearofLess project. I am sorry I haven’t shown much yet in ways in which I’ve made eco-friendly changes yet (more on that soon), but I thought I’d do a check in for books and tea. Books…. it ain’t great (though amazingly I haven’t bought a simple one of the ones I have acquired) and tea… tea is going very well.

Let’s look at books! Here is images back from the beginning of January.

And now here is how the piles look since the end of February:

It grew. Again, I didn’t buy any of these books — not a single one! However, publishers love sending me books, which I am grateful for because once I read them I pass them on to those who can love them (schools, organizations, and my colleagues), but for all the progress I thought I made, it looks like it’s overflowing even more. I also went to the library conference back at the beginning of the month, so I was handed a lot of free books as well.

I also blame this pile:

A lot of these holds were in the process of expiring it, so they came through for me. I’d love to get all of them read in March, but I doubt it. I may just also put some of them back on my For Later Shelf and take them out again when I am ready. We shall see though< I may also just read them all and then cry about it later when I didn’t get to my own stuff.

Again, my goal is to cut this as much as I can — I’ll consider it a victory if I can get the pile on the floor read and donated. It’s going to take a lot of hard work, but I know it’s doable. I also know come Spring, I will get into a mood and purge more as well, and I think that will also make me feel a bit better. For the month of March I am participating in Middle Grade March, a month long read-a-thon for middle grade lovers. I have so much middle grade on my shelves that I feel like this is a good opportunity to knock some of it out and spread some love. At the end of the month, I’ll share some of my favourite reads.

Tea

My tea situation is far better than the books. I haven’t managed to clear out a full ziploc bag yet, but I’m definitely getting there. I’ve been really focused on working through what’s in the ziploc bags because my goal is to get it so I just have the few tins that I can then refill at different places to my heart’s content. I love tea, but let’s be real, my pile was getting out of control.

Before:

After:

Seriously, this looks a lot more mangeable than it was previously. It’s not perfect, but I am enjoying how little the ziploc bags are getting. 🙂 We shall see at the end of April if either of these have gone down. For now, wish me luck!

Book Riot’s Read Harder 2018 Challenge – May and June Wrap Up

You may have noticed that I skipped a month for this feature. If I am being realistic, given how much crap has been going on in my life, it was an easy thing to forget. However, since then, I have read a few more books for my challenge. Lemme share what the last two months have brought me.


Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi

Completes Challenge #10: Romance Novel by or About a Person of Colour

Thoughts: While this book is getting a lot of mixed reviews, I personally loved the crap out of it. I loved the meet cute between Penny and Sam, and I loved how organic their friendship was from the start and how it blossomed into quite the dramatic romance. This book has great friendships, and while Penny and Sam are challenging characters to enjoy, I think Choi does an amazing job of getting the reader to understand where they are both coming from. Check out my review here.


The Emissary by Yōko Tawada

Completes the Challenge #19: Book of genre fiction in translation

Thoughts: I found this on our New & Popular shelf at work and decided to give it a whirl.  I don’t mind a very abstract read, but something about this book left me feeling very lost and confused a lot of the time. Maybe it’s me being out of practice reading Japanese Literature, or maybe it’s the fact that this novel jumps around with too many ideas but nothing feeling concrete at all. Yeah, not sure what happened here.

 


And there you have it! It’s another two reads, one for each month. I didn’t do so hot, but let’s be honest: I’m trying to do a bit too much on top of getting ready to move and go on vacation. Here’s hoping for a better month in July! (Though I doubt it.)

Cramathon Wrap Up!

So Cramathon happened back from June 10th to the 17th, and despite all the crazy in my life, I decided I wanted to participate. Of the seven challenges, I completed five! I thought that was pretty good given it was happening during a very busy and crazy work period. Since the read-a-thon ended I am still working on the last two challenges, which are finishing Tiffany Sly Lives Here Now (which I am enjoying a lot!) and staring Dear Martin.

 Predicted 5 Star Read – Sadie by Courtney Summers – It was, in fact, a five star read and definitely what I needed to be reading in my life. I am going to have a review coming closer towards the date, as well as another post discussing Sadie a bit more loosely in weeks to come. Let’s just say if you love a thriller, you need this book. 5/5 Stars.

Book Out of Your Comfort Zone – Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi – This book was so WEIRD, but so beautifully written that I couldn’t take my eyes off the page. It’s a difficult book to describe, but one if you’re interested in works by Nigerian writers. 4/5 Stars.

A Book That Has Been On Your TBR A Long Time – The Dust Devils by Sean Williams – I finished the first book in this series earlier in the year and enjoyed it. I decided to check out the sequels, Dust Devils and The Scarecrow and for me this series just didn’t do it for me. It was an okay fantasy series, but I just never truly felt invested. 2/5 Stars.

LGBTQIA+ Ownvoices Book – Wide Awake by David Levithan – This book was weirdly uplifting, kind of utopian, and a very interesting take on if the world wasn’t filled with discrimination. Not the most realistic book, but definitely one I loved just because I loved how hopeful it was throughout. 4/5 Stars.

Something That is Not a Standard Novel – Dear Martin by Nic Stone – INCOMPLETE

Book With Your Favourite Colour on it – Tiffany Sly Lives Here Now by Dana L. Davis – INCOMPLETE.

Read Seven Books – Flor and Miranda Steal the Show by Jennifer Torres – Yes, yell at me! I decided that this was my freebie book for the read-a-thon since I already had it started and had finished on the first day. You can read my review here. 4/5 Stars.

Five out of seven challenges isn’t too bad. The next read-a-thon I am hoping to participate in is #TomeTopple which starts on June 29th. I will be so happy if I complete two 500+ page books (well one comic, one book). We shall see. Let me know if you participated and whether or not you completed the challenges! 🙂

Cramathon TBR!

I lovelovelovelove readathons and of course they always seem to fall during my busy weeks for work. However, it never seems to stop me from participating! Cramathon is a seven day long readathon, from June 10th to the 17th. It’s being hosted by quite a few booktubers and you can check out their intro video here.

There is seven challenges to complete (if you choose to do so). I haven’t selected a 7th book to read yet, but it’ll likely be whatever I choose to pick up. Here’s the challenges I have plotted out:

  1. A Predicted 5 Star Read – Sadie by Courtney Summers (I love Courtney Summers, all her books make me so happy that they exist in the world)
  2. Book Out of Your Comfort Zone – Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi
  3. A Book That Has Been On Your TBR A Long Time – The Dust Devils by Sean Williams
  4. LGBTQIA+ Ownvoices Book – Wide Awake by David Levithan
  5. Something That is Not a Standard Novel – Dear Martin by Nic Stone
  6. Book With Your Favourite Colour on it – Tiffany Sly Lives Here Now by Dana L. Davis

I don’t think I will get through all of these books, but believe me, I am determined. Here’s hoping for some success!

Book Riot’s Read Harder 2018 Challenge – April Reads & Challenge Wrap Up

April has been a hot mess of a month. Prepping a house for sale is a daunting and dreadful task, but we are so close to the finish line when it comes to decluttering, painting and being ready for market. Somewhere in the month of April, I managed to knock out two challenges from the Book Riot Read Harder 2018 Challenge. Here’s what I read!


Birds Art Life by Kyo Maclear

Completes Challenge #6: Read a book about nature.

Thoughts:  I really enjoyed this book, so much so I read it in the span of two sittings. I found I really connected with a lot of Maclear’s thoughts, especially her discussions on grief and how it effected her emotionally and creatively. I also thought her observations on the idea of inactivity was intriguing as well, especially when we live in a society that shames people for inactivity, even though it can be a form of self-care or a means to recharge, refocus and figure out next steps. I also loved learning about birds as well, and how each has such unique characteristics. Birds have a sense of simplicity that humans don’t. Overall, I thought this was such a great non-fiction read that left me thinking even after I had closed the book.


False Hearts by Laura Lam

Completes Challenge #17A sci fi novel with a female protagonist by a female author.

Thoughts: This speculative crime novel hit all my personal buttons: cybernetics! cults! bio-hacking! organized crime! TWINS! This was a stellar science fiction story that looks at two sisters torn apart and their journey to reconnect given the mechanical changes happening through San Francisco. I was so invested in Taema and Tila’s story! If you like sci-fi that also functions as a thriller, then you need to check out False Hearts!


Here’s hoping May is a stronger month for knocking out more of these titles!