Tag: reading

What I’ve read this year

What I've Read This Year

For the past few years, I’ve been using the Goodreads reading challenge to encourage myself to read more. I’ve kept my goal fairly simple, aiming to read a book a month. I’ve fallen a bit behind on sharing reviews as I’ve gone, so I thought I would share a quick catch up. Here’s what I’ve read so far this year:

  1. Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

    This book is a collection of poetry. This was beautifully written and gave me chills, but I found some of the poems difficult to read at times due to subject matter. Even still, I rated this 4 out of 5 stars.

  2. Wherever You Go, There You are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life by Jon Kabat-Zinn

    This was a self help style book, all about mindfulness meditation. The book was very well-rated and I read it on the recommendation of my doctor, but man. This book was not for me. It was too new-agey, too philosophical for my liking. I rated it 1 star.

  3. Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella

    This is a YA novel from the writer of the Shopaholic Series. Audrey suffers from anxiety and mild agoraphobia. There were parts of the story that really irritated me, but it was a fine read. 3 out of 5 stars.

  4. Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah

    The autobiography of the Daily Show’s Trevor Noah tells his amazing story from his young life in apartheid South Africa to the host of one of the more popular satirical news shows. This was a great read and I totally cried. I rated it 4.5 stars out of 5.

  5. Everybody Writes: You Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content by Ann Handley

    This was assigned reading for the course I took this year, so I picked it up because I had to. It’s a great resource for anyone looking for a guide to content writing. There were definitely chapters of this book that covered things I already knew, but it’s a solid guide for anyone that is new to content writing or looking to brush up on their strategies. I rated it 3 stars of 5.

  6. When We Collided by Emery Lord

    Another YA, this book put an interesting twist on the boy-meets-girl, summer loving story. It handles the portrayal of mental health and mental illness in a more realistic way. The story has alternating narrators, from the POVs of the two main characters. I really didn’t like the one character, but still rated this 3.5 stars.

  7. When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandy Menon

    While I found this book slow to get started, I really, really enjoyed the main character, Dimple. I honestly thought I knew where the author was going with the story, but she surprised me. It was a well-crafted story with real characters. I rated this 4 out of 5 stars.

  8. Other People We Married by Emma Straub

    Other People We Married is a collection of short stories. I didn’t really enjoy this book, but kept reading, because I thought maybe the next short story would grab me. It was readable, but I wouldn’t call it enjoyable. I gave this book 1.5 out of 5 stars.

  9. The Assistants by Camille Perri

    I loved this book, it was a fun read. The story was incredibly far fetched, but I think that’s what made it so fun. And having spent my fair share of time working as an unappreciated assistant, there was definitely something cathartic about this book. Don’t judge me! I rated it 4 out 5 stars.

  10.  My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella

    Another Sophie Kinsella book. This was definitely more of Kinsella’s normal chick-lit style, where her protagonist gets herself into some major trouble, lies about it, then gets found out and hilarity ensues. It was formulaic, but something you can pick up and read. It was fine. I rated it 3 out of 5 stars.

  11. This is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz

    Absolutely hated this book. I ended up hate-reading it because I really struggle with DNFing (Did Not Finish) books and again, it was a collection of short stories, so I thought maybe one of them would speak to me. I was not a fan of the main character. He came across as a complete asshole and maybe if I hadn’t read it in the middle of the garbage fire that is life, society and politics these days, maybe I would’ve enjoyed it more. But right now? Hard pass. I rated this 1.5 stars out of 5.

  12. This Adventure Ends by Emma Mills

    This book follows the story of Sloane, who’s adjusting to life in Florida. Her family has just relocated from NYC and Sloane is struggling with the fallout from the move. When a painting by her new best friends’ mother goes missing, Sloane takes it upon herself to find out what happened to it. I really enjoyed this YA novel. The author created a really great group of secondary characters in the main character’s group of friends and family. I rated this 4.5 out of 5 stars.

  13. I Know I Am, But What Are You? by Samantha Bee

    Samatha Bee’s autobiography was a good read. It was interesting to read about her early career and Canadianisms that were very familiar. I skimmed through some of the essays, but overall it was an entertaining read. I rated this 3 out of 5 stars.

  14. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

    I picked this book after watching this review of it on Marines’s YouTube channel. The story follows Starr in the aftermath of the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend from childhood, Khalil, by a police officer. This book punched me right in the feels. It was heartbreaking, inspiring and all too real for many POC families in America. I cried a lot. I gave this book 5 out of 5 stars.

  15. The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennett by Bernie Su and Katie Rorick

    I have to start off by saying I did not watch the web series, so I read this as a stand-alone book. I feel like that probably took away a lot from the story. This book was fine, but I wasn’t totally as in to it as my friends who experienced the webseries and book together. I very much related to Lizzie as being a mid-20s post-grad struggling to break into a competitive job market so she doesn’t drown in debt/have to live with her parents the rest of her life, but otherwise I found the story a little predictable. I gave this 3 out of 5 stars.

  16. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling

    Another autobiography! This one by Mindy Kaling had its moments, but at times her self-deprecating humour gave me the same feels as Amy Schumer’s brand of humour. As in, it felt bad, man. I rated this 2 out of 5 stars.

  17. Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall

    This book tells the story of Norah, who suffers from anxiety and agoraphobia. She can barely manage to leave the house to see her therapist, but things change when she has an encounter with her new neighbour. This story reminded me of other YA novels like Finding Audrey and Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon, but it was way better because Norah’s struggles feel more realistic and true to life than Audrey’s (and isn’t insta-cured when a cute boy shows up) and she is truly ill. I rated this book 3.5 stars out of 5.

  18. Difficult Women by Roxane Gay

    Okay, so this book was difficult to read at times. No pun intended. The stories in this collection deal with very heavy subjects. Some of the stories are hard to read and left me feeling uncomfortable. I had to take a break from this book because of how difficult I found some of the subject matter. That being said, I still found Difficult Women to be well-written and a good read. I rated it 4 out of 5 stars.

  19. The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

    It’s been a few months since I’ve finished this book and I’m still not exactly sure how to describe it. The main story follows a group of kids in a small town where weird shit happens as they’re getting ready to graduate high school. It’s definitely science fiction, it’s definitely quirky and I love the diversity in the characters. This book is not for everyone, but it was definitely my kind of weird. I rated it 4 out of 5 stars.

  20. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

    Speaking of weird and quirky… Eleanor is an incredibly socially awkward, solitary woman in her mid-30s. She lives a very regimented life, which has been her method of survival. She and her awkward, sloppy and loud coworker, Raymond, happen upon an elderly man having a medical emergency. The unlikely pair save him, which inevitably leads to them all sort of saving each other.  I really wasn’t sure where this book was going at first. It’s clear that Eleanor is haunted by things that she has survived, but the ending of the book still took me by surprised. I’m pretty sure I liked this book? I rated it 3 stars out of 5.

  21. Illuminae (The Illuminae Files #1) by Amy Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

    Set in 2575, a corporate war is breaking out and recently broken-up teenagers Kady and Ezra, along with the rest of their planet, are fleeing the conflict. On top of that, their fleet of evacuated civilians is dealing with a homicidal artificial intelligence and a zombie-plague. Kady is trying to untangle a scary corporate conspiracy and ugh, now she has to rely on her stupid exboyfriend and other teen-angsty things. I found this book distracting as heck to read, because it’s told through IM conversations, dossier briefings, medical reports, intercepted emails, and interview transcripts. But the design of the book is beautiful and once I got into the story, I had a hard time putting the book down. This is the first of a trilogy.  I rated it 4 out of 5 stars.

  22. Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

    I loved, loved, looooooved this collection of essays by Roxane Gay, and it wasn’t only because she did a complete tear down of the bullshit that is the “romance” of books like the Twilight Saga and 50 Shades of Grey Trilogy. Though that was a very good part of the book and made me feel incredibly justified and validated for the trauma my friends and I suffered recapping the series for the Snark Squad website. Anyway. Twilight and FSoG aside, this was an excellent commentary on feminism, the culture and media we consume and that we can all do better. I rated this 4.5 out of 5 stars.

  23. Mr. Kiss and Tell (Veronica Mars #2) by Rob Thomas

    Okay, let’s be honest: I read this book for one reason and one reason only: I am a Marshmallow.  My love for Veronica Mars runs deep and she was taken from us too soon with the cancellation of her show after the 3rd season. After the Kickstarter campaign that brought us the Veronica Mars movie, these two books were released to carry on the VM universe. In this book, Veronica is hired to investigate the claims of a woman who says she was assaulted and left for dead by an employee in Neptune’s fancy hotel. The book was fine, but if it wasn’t Veronica Mars, I wouldn’t have read it. I gave it 3 stars out of 5.

  24. Gemina (The Illuminae Files #2) by Amy Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

    This is the second book in the Illuminae Files. I was better prepared for the way the story was presented, so I found this book easier to get stuck into. The book follows new characters on the Jump Station Heimdall, who wind up pulled into the corporate warfare when the company BeiTech tries to gain control of the station. Hanna, the daughter of the station’s commander, reluctantly teams up with Nik and Ella, members of a notorious crime family to try to save the crew of the Heimdall and the universe. No big deal, right? I gave this 4 out of 5 stars.

What are you reading right now? And do you use Goodreads? Let’s be friends there!

Currently: January 2017

Currently

watching: A Series of Unfortunate Events on Netflix

I read the books and was a fan, but never watched the movie adaptation. I had zero interest in the film adaptation, probably due to the casting of Count Olaf: Jim Carrey. He’s ruined so many of my favourite things by starring in film adaptations: How the Grinch Stole Christmas, A Christmas Carol. So I chose to skip A Series of Unfortunate Events.

However, when I heard Netflix was doing an adaptation, and that Neil Patrick Harris was starring in it as Count Olaf, I was really excited for it. And it’s been decent so far, and I have zero casting complaints.

We’re recapping it over on Snark Squad, so if you’re a fan or just checking out Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events for the first time, join us.

 

reading: The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney

 

This is the fifth book I’ve read so far this year. It’s something I borrowed and is not something I’d pick up normally, but I’m working on broadening my reading choices.

I’m also reading Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer. It is the fourth and final book in the terrible, horrible, dumpster fire of a book series the Twilight Saga. Why? Because we’re recapping it on Snark Squad. I can’t tell you how thrilled we are to be finishing these books.

listening: Fire in my Soul – Walk Off The Earth


The latest single from Walk Off The Earth. I may have mentioned that I’m a fan of all their work? Covers, original songs, it’s all good. So when I saw on Twitter that they were going to be releasing a new single, I couldn’t wait. I like the feel of this tune.

 

making: Labels

For Christmas, my mother gave me a label maker. And that might seem like an odd thing to be excited about, but I was super excited for it. I’ve been using it to organize all of the important papers, contracts, manuals, warrantees, and other documents in the house. It’s a system I’ve been using at work to keep track of templates and master copies of things and it translated really well into a system to use at home. Nerdy and OCD enough for you yet?

 

feeling: Cold

Winter is my least favourite season. I’m just not here for these long nights or freezing, sunless days. And I have the worst time keeping warm. I layer on the clothes, the blankets, I even own and make use of a Snuggie.  But I just can’t seem to get comfortable in the winter, temperature-wise. Is it spring yet?

planning: A retirement party

Not mine! (If only). My mum is retiring this year and we’re working on planning her a bash to celebrate.

 

loving: Spending time with my niece

I haven’t actually talked about this on my blog too much, which is surprising because it’s been such a huge change in my family life, but my brother and sister-in-law had a baby this summer. I am so in love with my little niece and am really enjoying being an aunt. It’s also been really cool to see my other brothers embrace their new role as uncle. It’s been awesome and I’m so lucky to be living close to them and her. I don’t know my other niece and nephew very well, and spending all this time with baby Squish is something I’m really loving.

 

What are you guys up to lately? Let me know!

 

4 Female Protagonist Types I See Over and Over Again

I always have the worst time finding summer reading. I tend to go for easier, lighter reads in the summer and I try to avoid rubbish books. No vampires or werewolves. No more futuristic dystopians. No teens dying from cancer or car accidents. No books centred on abusive relationships. It’s my summer vacation and I don’t want to be reading anything that’s triggering or going to make me anxious.

BOOKSSSSS

I was starting to think that maybe I was a little too picky about my summer reading choices, but then I talked to my 22-year-old cousin and she found she was having a similar problem. She was having a hard time find books to read, period. All she wants is book characters to relate to. We talked about it and came to the general realization that there are protagonists that seem to have thematically similar conflicts that break down depending on the age of the protagonist:

The Teenage YA Protagonist

Books where the protagonist is a high school student, dealing with the transition into the ‘big’ world of high school or starting at a new school. These books usually involve a conflict around an ugly duckling finding herself and her first boyfriend. And spoiler alert: the boyfriend is usually a garbage human.

Examples: Twilight, Willow, Beautiful, Chasing Boys

The College YA Protagonist

Books where the main character is dealing with the transition of either going off to college, leaving her home behind. The conflicts of being out on her own for the first time and the mistakes she makes while she strikes out. These books sometimes feature a love triangle between a high school boyfriend and a new, more mature, college romance.

Examples: Dearst Clementine, To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before

The Adulting Protagonist

Then there seems to be a bit of an age jump there, and the next kind of heroine we encounter are the post-grads, trying to land her first big ‘real job’ and the hilarity that ensues with that transition. I feel like the subtitle to most of those books could easily be ‘Adulting is Hard’. These Adulting protagonist have love stories that usually see the protagonist getting engaged at the end. Usually, to underserving, terrible boy characters. It’s kind of depressing.

Examples: Confessions of a Shopaholic, Devil Wears Prada, Post Grad

The Balancing Act Protagonist

Then we get to the stories about married women who are struggling with balancing their lives, trying to manage being a ‘good’ wife and mother, while also a good friend and being a rockstar at work. Sometimes, the major conflict is with their husbands, and on the occasion, the heroine is realizing she’s married the wrong man. Sometimes, that conflict comes from the fact the main character has prioritized their jobs over their families, so their husband’s fragile egos are hurt.

Examples: Shopaholic Takes Manhattan, Everyone Worth Knowing or pretty much anything by Marian Keyes

Prove me wrong, books!

I guess that if you’re looking to create conflict in stories, while avoiding dark or heavy stuff, you’re only left with relationships, maybe?

I feel like I’m asking for the impossible trying to find something to read that is easy, fun, while at the same time skipping those more traditional, almost formulaic plots. I could do without these characters that revolve around a female protagonist’s romantic relationship or finding the balance between keeping their romantic partner happy, while also being happy themselves. I’m looking for more from my books, you guys.

Am I being too harsh about these kinds of protagonists? What kind of books do you like to read during the summer?

Or even better… do you have a book recommendation for me? Tell me all about it in the comments below.

Hello, it’s me.

My host sent me an email in early January to remind me that my domain for this blog was expiring. It was a nice reminder that I had a blog, but it was also a reminder that I had a blog and wasn’t actually… blogging.

awkward

I honestly spent a lot of time thinking about whether or not to renew this domain. I haven’t posted regularly in a few years. I hadn’t written at all in 2016 yet. And people keep telling me blogging is dead. That no one blogs anymore and even if they do blog, no one is reading them. So why bother?

Good question. But I’ve always liked the idea of having an easy way to self-publish and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to ditch the posts I’ve collected here.

Clearly I decided to renew after all, because you’re reading this (All two of you! Hi, Mom!). I’m going to get back into this blogging business slowly. So I’m starting off with a currently to catch you up!

Currently…

watching:

Lots of basketball. A little bit of baseball. And Big Brother Canada. Yes, it’s awful. Oh, well.

reading:

New Moon. Wait, stop. It’s for a good cause, I promise. My friends and I didn’t suffer enough when we recapped Twilight back in October… Someone thought it would be a good idea to recap New Moon, so… welcome to my hell. Or better yet, check out 31 Days of New Moon over one the Snark Squad website.

I’ve also been reading the Black Widow graphic novels by Edmondson and Noto. They are excellent.

listening:

Basically this song by Walk Off The Earth on repeat:

making:

A lot of my spare time lately has been spent developing two new websites. And a few other projects for a returning client. It’s been all work and no fun. But I genuinely enjoy building these things. I’m getting nothing but sexual harassment from my day job, so I’m delving deep into the things that are restorative to my mental health and that’s building and designing.

feeling:

I’m feeling okay. My day job is just not what I want to be doing with my life, so I’m trying to squeeze every last second out of my time spent away from work. I am tired of winter. I am tired of my job. I’m tired of a bunch of things that I can’t really control. It seems like the closer to being done with all of this, the slower time is going. I’m trying to stay focused on the light at the end of this long, long tunnel. We’re getting there.

planning:

What I’m going to do once my contract at work is up. It is going to be so good, you guys.

loving:

Reading and BookTube. I’ve been watching a lot of my amazing friends creating some awesome content. Their videos are making me want to read more, which is something I’ve not been doing a lot of lately.

What have you been up to lately?

Falling for the public library

I’ve pretty much always been a reader. I would find an author or a series and read every book written, one after another. In the summers, my mother would take my brothers and I to our library to sign up for the summer reading challenges and I’d easily hit the book count within the first few weeks of the summer vacation. As an adult, I rarely visit libraries anymore and had been mostly buying books or borrowing them from my friends. Books take up a lot of real estate in our home, and it makes me a little crazy. I don’t like clutter or to feel closed in by a lot of stuff. So my book habit has dropped off, and with it, so has my reading.
I’ve been wanting to read more. Last year, I read maybe 3 books, tops. For the entire year. I didn’t really want to be buying books again. But I have a confession about borrowing books from a library… Library books gross me out. I have an irrational germophobia around certain things. Library books sometimes come with mysterious stains in them. There was a bedbug outbreak at our main library branch. And I can never seem to get this picture out of my head; the big stack of my friend’s dad’s library books on the toilet tank… So many germs. So my irrational germophobia says a huge nope to bringing those books into my house. Which in turn, has kind of curbed my reading habit of late.

Then, this past weekend happened. It basically rained from Friday night straight through until Monday morning. It was cold and gray and perfect spend the weekend with a stack of books weather. But I didn’t have a stack of books. I was complaining to M about my lack of reading material and he suggested I look into borrowing eBooks from the library. Freaking genius. Through a desktop and iPad app, I had access to my public library’s electronic library. I can finally enjoy reading again, despite my irrational library-book-related germophobia.

Dancing Ron

It also means I can borrow books from the library without having to interact with actual human people out in the world, but I’ll leave my hermit-tendencies for another day.

I love my public library again. And that’s a great thing.