12/12/17

Top 10 Books of 2017


It has been MONTHS since I last shared a Top Ten Tuesday post, hosted by the wonderful ladies at The Broke and the Bookish.  Each week bloggers share a list based on a particular theme, and this week's topic is one of my end-of-the-year favourites: my top ten favourite reads of the year.  I've been working on my end of the year survey and picking one favourite book for the year is HARD.  So this week's topic gives me the perfect excuse to pick ten favourites instead of just one!

In no particular order ...

1. The Shades of Magic trilogy by V.E. Schwab
First item on the list, and I'm already cheating.  But it's my blog and I can do what I want, and I read so many amazing books this year that I can't give three of the ten spots on this list to this series, even though it is amazing enough to merit three spots.  I already can't wait to reread this one, and am contemplating a reread on audio, even though I've heard mixed feelings on the narrator.  I just loved it so much.

2. This Savage Song duology by Victoria Schwab
I was on the fence about picking up Schwab's young adult work because I'd heard that you either love her adult fiction or her YA fiction, but not usually both.  I'm SO GLAD I picked up This Savage Song because I LOVED it (Shades of Magic is still my all-time favourite of hers though!  It's pretty hard to beat Lila Bard, although Kate is a close second).

3. Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson
I READ A BRANDON SANDERSON BOOK THIS YEAR AND IT WAS GLORIOUS.  I'm dying to read the rest of the series, and bought them all already, but then life got crazy and I want to read them when I can take the time to enjoy them in all their gloriousness.

4. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
This book was everywhere on Instagram after it was included as a Book of the Month pick.  Even though I'm in Canada, and can't subscribe to Book of the Month, I'm definitely keeping my eye on their picks because I read couple of other BotM books this year and was wowed by all of them.

5. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
This book is going to be on a lot of favourites lists, but it deserves every single mention.  

6. The Dark Artifices by Cassandra Clare
Lady Midnight was one of my high-priority books for this year, especially after I thought I'd do the Make-Me-Read-It-A-Thon last year, and the book community picked this book off my TBR.  This is another one of those books that deserves all the hype, and I don't think my heart has fully recovered from reading Lord of Shadows.

7. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
TJR is an auto-buy author for me, and I have loved each of her books.  She writes solid adult contemporaries that are full of heart, but this book was very different from her other books.  Evelyn Hugo is a very unlikeable woman but, as I felt with Fairest by Marissa Meyer, I was absolutely captivated by Evelyn's character and her motivations, and the plot kept me turning the pages long past bedtime.

8. Love Her Wild by Atticus
I ADORED this book, and the combination of stunning photographs with beautiful words is an experience that I have yet to recreate.  I've stumbled across a few other poets on Instagram, and I'm going to order a few volumes of poetry in the new year, hoping to recreate the experience that I had while reading this gorgeous book.

9. Turtles All the Way Down by John Green
I've loved each one of John Green's books, so I never doubted that Turtles would be on my list of favourites.  The narrator in the story blew me away, and I felt honoured that John wrote such a personal book that helps readers to truly understand how the narrator's mind works.  It made the book even more important when I saw so many reviewers expressing gratitude to John for writing a book that made them feel less alone, and a book that showed the world that someone understands their mental health struggles.  

10. Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu
This was a surprise favourite, although I should know by now that when Estelle @ Rather Be Reading loves a book, it'll be a favourite of mine too.  This is a book that I wish I could have read as a teen, but it warms my heart tremendously to know that teenage girls today can read this.

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12/7/17

On Trying New Things

It's December, and with December comes a lot of time for reflection on the past year of reading.  Looking back over the books that I've read this year, I'm pretty proud of myself for diving headfirst into two genres that I didn't read a lot of prior to this year...

Adult Fantasy

Ever since Alexa Love Books started hosting the Flights of Fantasy challenge (two years ago? three years ago?), I've been slowly getting back into fantasy.  As I've mentioned on here before, I read a LOT of fantasy as a child, but then slowly veered towards contemporary and more reality-based stories as I grew up.  I started slowly getting back into fantasy over the past couple of years, but have stuck primarily to young adult fantasy books, mainly because I still find adult fantasy intimidating.  The books are often tomes and I worry that the world-building will be overly complex and confusing.  

BUT, this year I did it.  I binge read the entire Shades of Magic trilogy by V.E. Schwab and I LOVED EVERY MINUTE OF IT.  AND I tackled of the most intimidating books and authors on my shelves and I READ A BRANDON SANDERSON BOOK.  And it was AWESOME and INCREDIBLE and ALL THE THINGS EVERYONE SAID IT WOULD BE.

Lesson learned: don't be scared of the fantasy.

Plan for the future: read lots more of the fantasy.

Thrillers

I joined #Spookathon this year, and had only selected one thriller-esque book for my TBR, but once I read Black Feathers, I just wanted more.  So I threw the rest of my TBR out the window (how unlike me, I know!) and binge read two more thrillers.  And I'm currently reading another thriller.

This fall I've had a lot going on.  Work has been busy.  I finished the last class for my HR Management certificate (and it was a dry, difficult class filled with lots of labour legislation).  As a result, I struggled a lot to find the energy to read and, as a result, have watched a lot of TV this fall (Stranger Things and This Is Us).  And although I'll always give myself the flexibility to walk away from reading when I need a break, I've also noticed that picking up a gripping contemporary (like Inside the O'Briens by Lisa Genova) or a thriller (like my current read, Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter) seems to be a surefire way to suck me back into reading.

Lesson learned: I like a book that I can't put down.

Plan for the future: read lots more of these unputdownables.

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12/5/17

Reader Problems Tag

I love watching tag videos on BookTube, and have been writing posts on tags whenever I feel inspired to do so!  The Reader Problems Tag was created by About to Read, and you can see the original video here.


1. You have 20,000 books on your TBR. How in the world do you decide what to read next?
I've tried all kinds of things, from TBR jars to having my husband pick my next book. I've tried sticking to TBR lists too, but in the end I just pick what I'm in the mood for. Sometimes I have to pick up and put down a few books before I find something that sticks.

2. You’re halfway through a book and you’re just not loving it. Do you quit or are you committed?
Definitely quit. If I can tell that I'm just not in the mood for the book, I'll set it aside to read at a different time. But if it's a book that just won't work for me, I have no problem DNFing the book. Life's too short to waste time reading books that aren't my cup of tea!

3. The end of the year is coming and you’re so close, but so far away on your Goodreads reading challenge. Do you try to catch up and how?
I've purposely set my Goodreads challenge way lower than I need to because I don't like the pressure of trying to read a certain number of books by the end of the year. So, as a result, I'm never behind!

4. The covers of a series you love do. not. match. How do you cope?
It bugs me but I wouldn't waste money replacing the books of the series. Except Harry Potter -- I'm on a mission to acquire all of the original Canadian hardcovers.

5. Every one and their mother loves a book you really don’t like. Who do you bond with over shared feelings?
Hmmmm.... I have similar bookish taste with Jessica @ Novel Cravings and Lauren @ Lose Time Reading, so chances are I'll be able to chat with one of them about the book.

6. You’re reading a book and you are about to start crying in public. How do you deal?
I'd just go with it! This has actually happened to me on a ferry with Jodi Picoult's Nineteen Minutes and it ended with a sweet little old lady sharing her chocolate and Kleenex with me.

7. A sequel of a book you loved just came out, but you’ve forgotten a lot from the prior novel. Will you re-read the book? Skip the sequel? Try to find a synopsis on Goodreads? Cry in frustration?!?!?!?
It depends on my love for the series. Sometimes I'll re-read it, but other times I'll just look up a synopsis online and then dive in. If it's been a long, long time since I read the series, and I've lost interest in the series, I'll just move on with my life.

8. You do not want anyone. ANYONE. borrowing your books. How do you politely tell people nope when they ask?
I don't mind lending out books, but I'm always cautious about lending books to people who know how to take care of their books. I lent a book to a coworker once whose cat knocked over a glass of water and water damaged the book, like the book would never lay flat again because the pages were utterly warped. While I understand that accidents can happen, this coworker returned the book without even acknowledging the damage or apologizing, just said "Thanks for lending it to me; it was pretty good." Needless to say, I didn't lend any other books to her.

9. Reading ADD. You’ve picked up and put down 5 books in the last month. How do you get over your reading slump?
This happened to me a couple of years ago, and it was AWFUL. In all honesty, I just stopped reading altogether. I watched a lot of BookTube, binge watched Dance Academy on Netflix, and reading was there waiting for me when I was ready to come back.

10. There are so many new books coming out that you’re dying to read! How many do you actually buy?
I buy the books that I know I'll love and want to cherish forever. Generally, I research my book purchases pretty well, so I have a pretty good idea ahead of time that it's a book that I'll love. If it's a book that I'm not sure about, I'll borrow it from the library instead.

11. After you’ve bought the new books you can’t wait to get to, how long do they sit on your shelf before you get to them?
Honestly, since I'm such a mood reader, it totally depends. I've read about half, or a little more than half, of the books that I've bought this year. I'm pretty proud of that, and I know that the books that I haven't read are the ones that I just haven't been in the mood to read just yet. But they're there and they're shiny and pretty and waiting for me when I'm ready.

And now the fun part -- I tag Jessica @ Novel Cravings and Lauren @ Lose Time Reading, since I mentioned you both in my post!


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12/1/17

December TBR

I know, I know, I said no monthly TBRs and now this is, what, four months in a row?  I have tons of books that I want to read right now, so let's see how many of these I get to before the year is over!

Library Books
1. Warcross by Marie Lu
I'm not 100% sure that I'll like or finish this one, since I loved her Legend series but could barely make it through her Young Elites series.  I'm willing to give it a shot though.

2. Endless by Kate Brian
3. Hereafter by Kate Brian
I gobbled up Shadowlands last month, and immediately put the next two on hold at the library, even before I hit the crazy cliffhanger of an ending!

4. Unbreakable by Elizabeth Norris
I read, and loved, Unravelling a couple of months ago, and want to finish up this duology while the first one is fresh in my mind.

Review Books
5. Someone in the Way by Rachel Del
I reviewed Rachel's book How to Be Someone Else on the blog last fall, and really enjoyed it.  I was honoured when she reached out to ask if I'd be interested in reading this book, which is a complete re-write of her first book!  It comes out in early January.

6. She Regrets Nothing by Andrea Dunlop
This one may not happen, as it's a February release, but I would love to start the year ahead on my ARC game.  Wishful thinking, but a girl can dream, can't she?

From My Shelves
7. The Passion by Jeanette Winterson
8. Love, Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
9.  Pretty Girls by Karen Slaughter
10. The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto by Mitch Albom
These are the books calling my name from the shelf at the moment.  The Passion was gifted to me by my Secret Santa last year, and I'm so intrigued by it.  I ADORED Stargirl when I read it many, many years ago and I think it's time to pick up the sequel.  I've read a lot of thrillers this fall, and saw that Jordan @ The Jordan Journals really enjoyed Pretty Girls, so I hope that I will too.  And, finally, The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto has just been calling my name for a while.  I love that the story is narrated by music (or something like that) which just gives me some good Book Thief type vibes.  Plus, I saw someone on Instagram say that he read it in a day because he couldn't put it down.

Ten books is fairly ambitious and, knowing my moodiness when it comes to reading, I'll likely change up my entire TBR by the time this post goes live!

What about you?  What are the books that you're hoping to get to before the end of the year?

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11/30/17

Reading Round-up - November

It's Christmas next month.  CHRISTMAS.  This year has flown by so incredibly fast!  November was a pretty good reading month for me.  I started off thinking that I might actually hit 100 books this year, but then I slowed down and read some chunkier books, so we'll see where I end up at the end of the year.  I'm not too concerned either way.


1. Little Fires Everywhere
This book was INCREDIBLE.  I saw rave reviews popping up all over, and the hype is so so SO deserved for this book.  It centres around two families in a suburban town, and I was riveted from page one.  I already can't wait to re-read it; hopefully, with the Badass Book Bitches (my new reading crew on Instagram).


2. Felicity by Mary Oliver
Every since I read Love Her Wild during the summer, I've been searching for another poetry book to blow me away.  This one was very good!


3. The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
After I finished Little Fires Everywhere, I could feel a reading slump coming on because I couldn't decide what I was in the mood to read.  I tried picking up The Name of the Wind and the second Mistborn book, but couldn't get into any of them.  Then I thought I felt like a contemporary, but couldn't settle on one.   So Marko picked a book off the shelf for me, and he chose this one.  I read The Shadow of the Wind on my honeymoon and LOVED it, but hadn't picked up either of his other two books.  I'm so glad it read this one, as it evoked a lot of the magic that the first book did.  I'll definitely be picking up the third book in the not-too-distant future.


4. For One More Day by Mitch Albom
The Five People You Meet in Heaven is one of my all-time favourite books and, although I've enjoyed each of his other books, I still haven't quite hit that WOW factor that I found in Five People.


5. Shadowlands by Kate Brian
So I randomly realized the other day that I picked up a cheap ebook of this book AND my OTSP Secret Sister bought me a copy, so reading this book knocked a book off both TBR piles.  And HOLY SMOKES this book was unputdownable.  It was amazing content-wise, but once I started I raced through to the end.  And then put the next two on hold at the library.


6. The Power by Naomi Alderman
I have a new reading group on Instagram called the Badass Book Bitches.  An amazing group of inspiring ladies, and we're dedicated to feminist reads.  As I've likely mentioned on here before, I have a Bachelor of Arts with a major in Women's Studies, so I've read a lot of feminist texts or read texts through a feminist perspective, but university was a long, long time ago, and it's been refreshing to discuss with these ladies and really delve deep into a text.  The Power was good, but not amazing, but our conversations were truly the highlight of the reading experience.


7. We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver
My book club picked this one, and I listened to it on audio.  The beginning was really dull and I contemplated DNFing the book, but it got better as it went on.  Although reading from the perspective of the mother was interesting, I think Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult did a better job of tackling the concept of school shootings and, possibly, no other book on the topic will ever compare?


8. It Happens All the Time by Amy Havatny
I picked this one up on a whim because I was buddy reading The Power and took my ereader to work, but needed another book to read after I'd finished the week's allotted reading.  I flew through the book, absolutely enthralled by the story and the dual narration.


9. Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu
OMIGOSH THIS BOOK.  It's been hyped all over, but totally lives up to the hype.  It's the book that I wish I could have read as a teen, because it's full of feminism and grrrrrrl power and all the things I wish I'd been exposed to at a younger age.  BUT, with that being said, I'm just happy that teens today can be exposed to this book and its awesomeness.


10. Shopgirl by Steve Martin
At the time of typing this, I'm not 100% sure I'll finish this by month end, but considering the fact that it's only 130 pages, I think it's possible.  I picked this up on a whim at a used bookstore, when I asked the bookseller for a recommendation.  At first I thought, Steve Martin, like the funny guy, and thought it couldn't possibly be that good; however, Steve Martin can WRITE.  It's very well written and I'm totally caught up in the plot line already.


11. Flora & Ulysses by Kate diCamillo
I was looking for an audiobook and wasn't quite sure what I wanted to spend my Audible credits on, so I hopped onto Overdrive instead and saw this.  Kate's other books, The Tale of Despereaux and The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, are high up on the list of my all-time favourites, so I always have high expectations for her books.  This one is good, and the narrator is delightful, but I realized halfway through that the book is illustrated, and I think I might be missing out on the full magic of the story because the illustrations aren't a part of the audio experience.  SO, while I will finish this one (I only have 45 minutes left in the audio), I know that I'll revisit it in print format.

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11/27/17

Marko Monday [25] -

Lately, Marko has been into snakes.  For his birthday last year, he acquired a large plus snake, and has acquired three more since then.  On weekend mornings, we can hear the rattle of his rattlesnake's tail as he brings all four plush snakes down the hall and climbs into our bed.  Then we all have to "squeeze up like a happy family" with him and his snakes in the middle.

So when we stumbled across this book at Value Village one day, we had to grab it and it's been a favourite lately.  The story is told from the boy's perspective and the snake's perspective, and the book is flipped upside down when switching perspectives (front to back, and then back to front). It's a cute story, because the boy is scared of the snake, and then when the snake tells the story, he's scared of the boy.  As a mama who wasn't super fond of snakes to begin with, this is a good reminder that they're probably just as scared of us as we are of them.


It's hard to believe that we're closing in on this little man's fifth birthday.  He's growing like crazy and has lost some of his short stockiness, as he's quite tall and a bit lankier now.  He loves imaginative play as well as curling up on the couch with a book or watching a movie together.  Cuddles are harder to come by these days as sometimes he's "too busy" but it just makes them all the more enjoyable when he does slow down for just a minute to snuggle.  I always want to grab him and squeeze him and demand that time slow down, just a little bit.  But he squirms away and races off to fight some more bad guys before dinner.  For "just one more minute, okay Mama?"

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11/16/17

Tome Topple - Round 5

My favourite part of November is Tome Topple, especially as I always seem to feel myself burning out on reading towards the end of the year, as I try to catch up on reading challenges and read all the things I'd planned to read.  Generally, by November I've either realized that I'll get it all done in time, or I've completely given up hope.  This year it's the latter, and I'm fully ready to curl up with a tome or two for the last half of November, and just enjoy reading.

Tome Topple was created by Sam @ Thoughts on Tomes and you can watch her announcement video here.  The challenges for each round of Tome Topple are the same and as follows:

1. Read more than one tome.
2. Buddy read a tome.
3. Read a graphic novel.
4. Read a tome that is part of a series.
5. Read an adult novel.

I've never managed to complete all five challenges for this readathon, mainly because the focus is on reading larger books and I'm always impressed with myself for getting through one book!  In order for a book to count as a tome, it has to be over 500 pages.


For this round of Tome Topple, I will be reading Janet Fitch's new release The Revolution of Marina M.  To say that I'm excited about this book would be an understatement as Janet Fitch is, without a doubt, one of my favourite authors of all time.  I read White Oleander when I was 17 and loved that book so much that I flipped back to page one as soon as I was finished because I couldn't bear for it to be over.  I absolutely cannot wait to get lost in her writing again, and this book is a BEAST -- 800 pages!  Perfect for Tome Topple.

If I feel like a second book, I'm considering either the second book in the Mistborn trilogy or The Cuckoo's Calling, both of which count as a book in a series.  BUT we'll see.  One massive tome will likely be more than enough =P

Are you participating in Tome Topple?  What are you planning to read?  Let me know in the comments below, and good luck with your reading goals!

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