The Feminist Book Tag

I’ve taken a step back from blogging for the last few weeks while I tried to come to terms with an upheaval in my personal life. A few weeks ago I was laid-off from my job, along with most of my department. The loss of stability, both financially and professionally, has definitely thrown me, particularly because the job loss was sudden and unexpected. I’m going to ease my way back into blogging, but may still be a little scarce as I’m having trouble focusing enough to read fiction lately.

Fortunately, Rachel of pace, amore, libri tagged me for this fun feminist-themed book tag, and what better way to ease back into blogging than with a book tag?!

1- Your favorite female author

112077Even people I’ve only talked to once or twice before could probably tell you the answer to this one. Frequent readers of this blog are probably thinking ‘when will she shut up about this Dorothy Dunnett woman?!’ and the answer is not anytime soon! I’m a devotee of her sixteenth-century set historical epic The Lymond Chronicles, which span a decade in the life of misunderstood Scottish nobleman Francis Crawford of Lymond. To be honest I haven’t read much of her other work (I’m slowly working my way through standalone King Hereafter about the historical Macbeth, and have read the first two House of Niccolo books), and I’m less enthralled by these works so far, but in five-and-a-half years I’ve read The Lymond Chronicles three times and am now embarking on a fourth. That’s certainly enough to make Dorothy Dunnett my favourite female author.

2- Your favorite heroine

cityofbladesMy favourite heroine is actually a bit of a spoiler for The Lymond Chronicles, so I’ll go with another of my favourites, Shara Komayd from City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett. Clever but practical, Shara is a tea-drinking, glasses-wearing, middle-aged, woman of colour spy. I. Love. Her. She’s vivid, incredibly intelligent, and visibly torn between her duties as an operative and her passion for history. The second novel in the series, City of Blades, features an equally unique and fabulous heroine in General Turyin Mulaghesh. Short-tempered, and often swearing, she’s a cynical, older disabled woman of colour and makes for an entirely different protagonist. If you picked up these books without noting the author’s name, you would never ever guess that they were written by a white man.

3- A novel with a feminist message

11925514Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. Focusing on female friendship during WWII, Code Name Verity is divided into two parts. The first half is written from the perspective of Julie, a Scottish spy who is captured and detained as a prisoner of war in German occupied France, while the second part is told from her best friend Maddie’s point-of-view. Both young women are fighting for the Allied forces, and both excel in roles that were traditionally male (as a spy and a pilot, respectively). They’re incredible characters and the relationship at the center of the book isn’t romantic or sexual, but this overpowering platonic love between two women.

4- A novel with a girl on the cover

5- A novel featuring a group of girls

31423183Penance by Kanae Minato features Sae, Maki, Akiko and Yuko, who were tricked into separating from their friend Emily by a mysterious stranger. Hours later, Emily was found murdered. The novel is told from the perspectives of the surviving girls fifteen years after the murder and deals with how they have each been shaped and hindered by what occurred. Each of the characters are clearly differentiated from one another and exhibit believable and unique responses to the trauma they have undergone. Although I found that some of the unrealistic plot twists took me out of the story, I still recommend this quick read for its engaging female characters and exploration of themes of guilt and responsibility.

6- A novel with a LGBTQIAP+ female character

29414576Tash Hearts Tolstoy by Kathryn Ormsbee is one of the first novels I’ve found to prominently feature an asexual character. The protagonist of this YA contemporary novel deals with the sudden popularity of “Unhappy Families”, a webseries adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina that she and her best friend Jack have created, while also navigating what it means to be asexual. Asexual representation in fiction is so rare that it was an absolute delight to find Tash’s sexuality handled so well in Tash Hearts Tolstoy. She’s a hardworking, creative protagonist who experiences crushes and romantic feelings for others, just not sexual attraction, and it’s so powerful to see asexuality portrayed with such care.

7- A novel with different feminine POV

19161852The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin. The Fifth Season gives us three very different perspectives; Damaya, a frightened child, Syenite, an ambitious young woman, and Essun, a middle-aged grieving mother. All are women-of-colour surviving in a world in which inhabitants endure occasional “fifth seasons”. These periods of catastrophic climate change mean that people who have the power to control and create earthquakes are feared and used, brainwashed from a young age to obey for their own good. The world-building is exquisite in its complexity, the characters (both major and minor) diverse in race, sexuality, and experiences, and the prose is gorgeous. Even if you don’t read fantasy, you should read this book.

8- A book where a girl saves the world

29749085Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo. My only experience with Wonder Woman going into this book was the recent feminist movie, which I enjoyed but didn’t LOVE. I don’t think I would have given this a second glance were it not for the author. I’m so glad that I picked up Wonder Woman: Warbringer though because Leigh Bardugo created such wonderful female characters, bringing a teenage, unproven Diana Prince to life, alongside original characters like Alia, a shy teenager with a brilliant scientific mind, and her confident, overweight, gay, brown best friend Nim. Their race against both the clock and external forces to save the world maintained my interest throughout and I felt thoroughly empowered by the book.

9- A book where you prefer the female sidekick to the male MC

j6n48zI was one of those kids who loved to read and enjoyed the learning part of school, although not always the teaching methods or the social aspects, so of course I spent the Harry Potter books relating more to studious, passionate Hermione Granger than to Harry Potter himself. I’m also a big fan of Luna Lovegood, who is compassionate and unafraid of marching to the beat of her own drum. Harry’s a likable enough character and he makes a great protagonist for the series, but I’d rather hang out with Hermione and Luna is given the chance!

10- A book written by a male author and featuring a female character

barucormorantAside from Robert Jackson Bennett’s Divine Cities trilogy, the other fantasy book you’d never believe was written by a man is Seth Dickinson’s brilliant and devastating The Traitor Baru Cormorant. Baru is a fascinating protagonist. After the Empire of Masks invades her childhood island home, they rewrite her culture, criminalize her customs, and dispose of one of her fathers. Baru vows to tear down the empire from the inside. Swallowing down her hate, she applies her considerable abilities to rising within the ranks. Ruthless and calculating, Baru is a complicated, fierce, morally ambiguous protagonist set on attaining her goal at all costs.

I won’t tag anyone in particular, but if you feel like doing this tag please pingback so I can read your answers!



Get To Know Me Tag

I’m still trying to catch up on reviews from last month and this month, but it means tags have been failing by the wayside, so I’m trying to inject a little more fun stuff into the blog recently to counter the constant reviews. I wasn’t tagged in this one, but Rachel of pace, amore, libri did it recently and it looked like a lot of fun.

Favourite colour and do you have a book in that colour?
Blue and green, and everything in between!

Describe yourself in three book characters.

To be honest I always get stuck on this question! Eliza Mirk from Eliza & Her Monsters – shy, creative, and anxious. Kirsten Raymonde from Station Eleven – a firm believer in the importance of art and that “survival is insufficient”, nostalgic for the world that was. Irene from The Invisible Library series – not nearly as cool as badass as her, but an intelligent librarian whose strength is the written or spoken word.

Hyped books yay or nay? If yay, what was the most hyped book you ever read? If nay, what was the most hyped book you decided not to read?
It really depends on the book. Sometimes there’s a really good reason for the hype and the book is every bit as good as you were lead to believe. I recent read The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas and thought it 100% lived up to the hype. I’ve also read some hyped books that I really hated, like Pierce Brown’s Red Rising, or decided not to read a hyped series because I don’t think it’s something that would appeal to me personally, like Sarah J. Maas’ books.

Recommend one book per season. Spring. Summer. Fall. Winter.

 1916: A Novel of the Irish Rebellion by Morgan Llewellyn. Although it spans a period from 1912 to 1916, the primary event is the Easter Rebellion of 1916, which makes this an excellent spring choice.

Summer. Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho. It’s a little lighter than I usually like my fantasy, but an absolutely delightful historical fantasy populated by charming PoC main characters bucking the system in Regency England.

Fall. The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater. The Scorpio Races practically demands to be read during the fall. It’s an incredibly atmospheric story, set on a gloomy Irish-inspired rural island during the month of November, and a sense of foreboding hangs over the island. I can’t imagine a more perfect fall read.

Winter. The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden. This is another book that creates such a vivid atmosphere, in this cause a frigid medieval Russian winter, that it’s difficult to picture reading The Bear and the Nightingale during a heat wave. From the first page its lyrical prose, sensory writing, and richly developed characters captured my attention and made me want to curl up under a blanket with a cup of tea.

Name one book that wrecked you emotionally.
Never have I been more wrecked than I was by Dorothy Dunnett’s Pawn in Frankincense. The Lymond Chronicles offer their share of emotional turmoil for the reader throughout, but it’s the climax and aftermath in this fourth volume of the six-book series that had me sobbing. Afterwards I felt numb, to the point where I felt like I couldn’t clean the house or just carry on. Rarely have I had a book hangover like this one!

Name one book you would recommend with tea and cookies.
Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell
by Susanna Clarke. Combing a dry sense of humour, a great deal of research (it has footnotes!) and a touch of magic, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell is a dense but rewarding Regency-set read about the resurgence of English magic during the Napoleonic Wars. Perfect for tea and a biscuit!

What is your guilty pleasure book?

I don’t really have one. In the past I was a little embarrassed about showing my love for the Captive Prince series by C.S. Pacat on goodreads because I had aunts and co-workers on there and it’s a little more risque than my usual reads since I’m not a romance genre person, but it’s a well-written series that I enjoy and squee over and will re-read.

Favourite dessert and a book that reminds you of that.

My favourite dessert is a Canadian concoction known as a nanaimo bar, which consists of a wafer crumb-based bottom layer (sometimes with coconut), with a middle layer of custard flavoured butter icing, topped with a solid chocolate layer. I’ll say Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery because it’s Canadian, sweet, and reminds me of my childhood, just like a nanaimo bar!

Are you a procrastinator? What book have you been procrastinating reading?

I am a big procrastinator. If there is no deadline, I will probably not do the thing. When it comes to books, I have been meaning to read Jane Eyre for quite literally more than a decade. I fully intend to get to it next month though! Hadeer and I are going to tackle it together, which should help our resolve!
Not tagging anyone in particular, but please feel free to do this and pingback to me!

Not Good Enough Tag

I wasn’t officially tagged, but Steph of Lost Purple Quill recently did this tag and where the book blogging squad goes, I follow (also it looked like a lot of fun)!


  1. You write down the names of 30 fictional characters on pieces of paper.
  2. You pick two names at a time and answer each of the 15 questions. For each question one of the two characters will be the one you believe fits best and the other is “not good enough”.


Vasya (The Bear & The Nightingale) VS. Gert Yorkes (Runaways)

Gert! Despite being only fifteen(ish?) she’s super bright and bookish, plus Vasya is from medieval Russia so I think a lot of contemporary English words would completely escape her.


Shara (The Divine Cities) VS. Damen (Captive Prince)

Oh man, I am going down! Damen poses more of a threat in hand-to-hand combat with his skills and size, but I hate the idea of giving Shara, an intelligent spy, more time to plan! I’d try and take out Damen first, but I don’t think I stand a chance here.


Ingray Aughskold (Provenance) VS. Iyone Safin (The Magpie Ballads)

I feel like Ingray would be the safer choice since she’s a little more transparent, but I have a pretty big girl crush on Iyone. She’s manipulative and ambitious, but so damn intelligent, and I’d like to hang out with her friend group (Savonn and Hiraen) and get into trouble with them, plus canonically she does get wooed by her girlfriend with a rose, SO I’m going with Iyone.


Eliza (Eliza and Her Monsters) VS. Sansa Stark (ASoIaF)

This is so cruel, I just want them both to be happy! Eliza’s anxiety would definitely prevent her from volunteering or standing much of a chance though. I think Sansa would step up, and she’s survived this long in Westeros, I’m pretty sure she stands a shot in The Hunger Games!


Savonn Silvertongue (The Magpie Ballads) VS. Laurent (Captive Prince)

Oh My God, they’re so similar though! I feel like I’d probably be the sacrifice since I couldn’t take either one of them (and then they’d probably get together). Savonn is built more in the Lymond mold of self-sacrifice though, so I could see him giving up his life, and Laurent is more likely to find a way off the island.


Lada (And I Darken/Now I Rise) VS. Lila Bard (Shades of Magic)

I’m 100% sure I’m the tag-along sidekick in both scenarios! Neither woman takes instruction well or is likely to play second fiddle to anyone, but they might let me tag along… if I prove to be useful. Lila is slightly less likely to kill me. Slightly. I’d be her sidekick.


Philippa Somerville (Lymond Chronicles) VS. Miles Vorkosigan (The Vorkosigan Saga)

I feel like Miles would just constantly get himself into trouble. I mean, he’d get himself out of it again too, probably by talking, but Philippa would be a more consistent employee, so I’d fire Miles.


Kaz Brekker (Six of Crows) VS. Eowyn (Lord of the Rings)

WELL, obviously it’s not going to be Kaz, so Eowyn it is!!


Inej Ghafa (Six of Crows) VS. Mildmay (Doctrine of Labyrinths)

Neither is really popular kid material, but Mildmay, with his scar, glower, and lack of self-confidence is most likely to be the outsider here. Inej could be a popular kid if she wanted to, maybe if Nina was by her side, but mostly people are probably a little intimidated by her.


Turyin Mulaghesh (Divine Cities) VS. Breq (Imperial Radch)

Breq has probably remembered but she won’t let on or acknowledge my birthday except in some roundabout way that makes it look like she doesn’t actually care, while secretly being a softie. Turyin forgets and swears a lot about it, but she has a damn good excuse for forgetting.


Francis Crawford (Lymond Chronicles) VS. Kell (Shades of Magic)

It’s totally Francis. His obscure references and throwaway quotes in other languages mean that you only ever understand a quarter of what he’s saying, but he’s so handsome and charismatic, and what you do understand of his reviews is so engaging that you’re addicted anyway. Kell’s more of an oddity. I think people would watch him more in hopes that he’d perform a magic trick than for his reviews or thoughts on books.


Alec Campion (Swordspoint) VS. Jonathan Strange (Jonathan Strange & Norrell)

Alec would definitely be more fun, but then again it’s also entirely likely that he starts some kind of a fight and causes mayhem. Strange is far too distracted for a slumber party though. He would spend the entire time somehow engaged in magic and books and not paying any attention at all, so Alec it is! At least Alec’s sharp tongue would amuse.


Ronan Lynch (The Raven Cycle) VS. Luna Lovegood (Harry Potter)

I mean… biologically neither of these scenarios would ever happen. I’d like to co-parent with Luna though. She’d be a little spacey, but kind and creative and I think we’d get on. I’ll leave Ronan to Adam and Opal and his farm.


Cyril Avery (The Heart’s Invisible Furies) VS. Jean Valjean (Les Miserables)

I feel like running away is kind of Cyril’s M.O., so I could definitely see him doing this. If Valjean doesn’t respond it’s more likely to be because he doesn’t know what to say or he’s unfamiliar with texting.


Maia (The Goblin Emperor) VS. Adam Parrish (The Raven Cycle)

Oooh, I think Adam would be a more practical and effective parent but Maia is such a cinnamon roll that he would always have my best intentions at heart. I have to go with Adam though.

This was a tremendously fun tag! I wasn’t tagged by anyone, so I won’t tag anyone in return, but if you feel like doing this, definitely pingback here because I’d love to read your answers!

Monthly Wrap-up: January

Should a person who’s only posted a few things this month be writing a monthly wrap-up? Probably not, but I find these month-end posts useful for keeping track of my reading and theatre-going experiences, so I’m going to write one anyway and add in the reviews as I get to them.

It was definitely a slower month for me, with only five books completed, as I go through the January blues. My selections were almost all in the four star range (the exception being my one re-read), so a solid start to the year, but nothing outstanding. What will be my first five star book of the year? Hopefully something will blow me away in February!

Dear Martin
by Nic Stone  small 3 half stars  + Review
Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia  small 4 stars  + Review
The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden   small 4 stars  + RTC
Things a Bright Girl Can Do by Sally Nicholls   small 4 stars  + Review
The Game of Kings (re-read) by Dorothy Dunnett   small 5 stars   + RTC

Book of the Month: I tend not to count re-reads as a book of the month or in my best of lists each year, otherwise it would be my re-read of one of my favourite books of all-time, The Game of Kings. It’s honestly a toss-up. I LOVED most of Eliza and Her Monsters, but I had issues with the way the central relationship unfolds and felt like the book lost some of its tension, and my interest, towards the end. The Girl and the Tower took me a good hundred pages to get into, and wasn’t as enthralling as its predecessor, The Bear and the Nightingale, was, but I still really enjoyed it. Things a Bright Girl Can Do was a bright and well-researched breath of fresh air. I went in with no expectations and came away thoroughly impressed. It’s the book I had the fewest complaints about and might just be my pick of the month for that reason.

Least Favourite: Purely because I had a good month for books and everything else I read appealed more to me personally, it’s Dear Martin. As I explained in my review, I think it’s an important book, and I’m both glad that it exists and that I read it, I just didn’t find it as gripping as my other January reads.


Seen on Stage: I talked a little bit recently about how January in particular is challenging for me, so I’ve limited my theatre-going this month, seeing only one play. Groundling Theatre Co’s Lear, with legendary Canadian actress Seana McKenna in the lead role, was filled with strong performances and the choice to cast Lear as a woman offered some additional commentary on mother-daughter relationships and on women in leadership roles.

It’s taking me awhile to transcribe them, but I also spent the month conducting a few in-person interviews with actors in productions I saw this year for My Entertainment World’s annual Nominee Interview Series in advance of the MyEntWorld Critics’ Pick Awards. Look for those some time in February!


Coming up in February: I’ll be continuing my Lymond re-read by diving into the second book of the series, Queens’ Play at some point in time. I know a lot of my fellow Dorothy Dunnett fans consider Queens’ Play their least favourite of the series, but personally I love it. I’m also hoping to, at long-last read Jane Eyre, possibly as a buddy read with Hadeer if she’s still up for it! Otherwise I’m keeping my reading list a little looser this month, so I’ll be working through some of the books I have out from the library, including Traci Chee’s The Speaker, Jeff Vandermeer’s Borne, and posting my review of Rachel Lynn Solomon’s You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone.

What was your favourite January read? What are you most looking forward to reading in February?

First Impresions

As you’ve probably noticed from the lack of reviews or other posts recently, January is a rough month for me. You see, Daylight saving time ushers in the long, dark winter days that kick start my Seasonal Affective Disorder. I can usually make it through December out of sheer love for the fairy-light filled Christmas season, but after the ball has dropped and we’ve ushered in a new year, my spirits drop. Every year I struggle with January (and to a slightly lesser degree, February and March). The work day seems to zap me of whatever limited energy reserves I have and I wind up eating instant meals and feeling guilty about the housework I’m not doing and the reviews I’m not writing.

My reading (largely done on my commute to work) continues, but some of my bookish habits have altered. I’m a heavy library user who usually carefully manages her 40+ holds to ensure that I never have more checked out at one time than I can read. This month I got careless. I wound up with five books checked out and only a limited desire to read any of them, so I wondered, what if I read the first 50-ish pages of each book to see what grabbed me and then blogged about my first thoughts?

All of these book selections are by authors I’ve never read before, and were chosen at a whim, without reading a formal review or a friend recommendation.



You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone by Rachel Lynn Solomon
378 pgs. YA Contemporary

30339479Summary: Twins Adina and Tovah have grown apart over the years and have little in common. Viola prodigy Adina longs to pursue music professionally, while studious Tovah is awaiting her acceptance to Johns Hopkins to pursue a career in medicine. One thing could wreck their carefully planned futures: a genetic test for Huntington’s, the disease that is slowly destroying their mother. When the test results come in, one twin tests negative for Huntington’s, but the other tests positive.

Thoughts: It takes an exceptional YA Contemporary read to really grab me, and I suspect that’s not You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone. Don’t get me wrong, there are some interesting things here. As someone who majored in the humanities during my undergrad, I found Adina’s jealousy and bitterness over society and family valuing her sister’s STEM aspirations over her gift for music very relatable. Genetic disease is a topic I haven’t seen explored before in YA and I think it’s done here, at least in the brief section I read, with sensitivity and honesty. I’m also intrigued by the debt that’s subtly alluded to in the story; Why does Adina owe Tovah? However, the writing style reads on the young side of YA, a personal pet peeve of mine, and the prose is not particularly well-written, employing a tell don’t show method that grates. I’m also a little put off by the fact that it’s already so crush/romance-centric.

Verdict: Ultimately it’s a quick enough read that I plan to continue, but I’ll be surprised if this is above a 3.5 star book for me.

Things a Bright Girl Can Do by Sally Nicholls
419 pgs. YA Historical

33876596Summary: Through rallies and marches, in polite drawing rooms and freezing prison cells and the poverty-stricken slums of the East End, three courageous young women join the fight for the vote. Lesbian suffragettes in 1914! Do I really need to say more?

Thoughts: Full disclosure, by the time this posts I will have finished this book, which gives you a pretty good idea of how much I enjoyed the first fifty pages! Things a Bright Girl Can Do is engaging from the first chapter, where it depicts a pivotal moment in the life of one of its heroines, Evelyn. I loved that all three protagonists, Evelyn, May, and Nell, are from different backgrounds and social upbringings. Nell is a poor East End factory worker who wants equal wages for women, May comes from a Quaker family and is a pacifist seeking a peaceful way forward, while Evelyn is an upper-class girl who wants to attend university like her brother and beau – yet they all share a common goal of equality. It’s a theme that resonates in this day and age when feminism continues to strive for equality. It’s also notable in that the book is YA historical fiction with LGBT rep, in Nell and May.

Verdict: Charming, yet unafraid of depicting the violence of the suffragette movement, Things a Bright Girl Can Do is definitely worth reading.

The Five Daughters of the Moon by Leena Likitalo
222 pgs. YA Historical Fantasy

33099589Summary: The Five Daughters of the Moon is the first part of a fantasy duology inspired by the 1917 Russian Revolution and the last months of the Romanov family. As the Crescent Empire teeters on the edge of a revolution, sisters Alina, Merile, Sibilia, Elise, and Celestia, are the ones who will determine its future.

Thoughts: I have the vague feeling that this will be one of those books where the concept is better than the execution. At just 222 pages, it’s an incredibly short read – I’m already almost a quarter of the way through! – so I feel like I have a pretty fair impression of the book. The Five Daughters of the Moon is certainly original, combining elements of technology with magic through the fictional counterpart of Rasputin. There are also some inventive  ideas here, including the fact that the titular five daughters each have a different biological father (“seed”) sometimes chosen for political reasons, and the idea that naming something  or someone can anchor the soul to its body. I was less impressed by the writing. The first narrative voice is supposed to be that of a six-year-old child, but it doesn’t feel authentic. The language is too mature and the child seems to understand everything that an adult would.

Verdict: It’s so short that I may end up finishing it anyway, but I suspect I’ll be more in awe of the gorgeous cover and the intriguing concept than the book itself.

Borne by Jeff VanderMeer
323 pgs. Dystopia

31451186Summary: Rachel is a scavenger in a near-future ruined city that is littered with discarded experiments from The Company, a former biotech firm, and hosts a dangerous and unpredictable massive bear. On one of her missions, Rachel brings home something unusual, which she names Borne. Initially resembling a sea anemone, she comes to realize that Borne is not a plant, or even an animal, but an intelligent, and ever-changing life-form.

Thoughts: Borne is one of the most unique novels I’ve encountered, demonstrating that new and interesting things are in fact still possible within the well-worn dystopia genre. The world building is thorough, and yet seamless, so it never feels like an info dump. The writing style and plot are engaging and invite curiosity about will happen next and how the creature named Borne will change. My one caveat is that already the main female character has been brutally beaten (though fortunately not raped). I hope that this is either an isolated incident of violence, or that the violence will be more evenly distributed throughout the rest of the book.

Verdict: Borne is the most promising of the five books on this list and one that I look forward to continuing.

A Skinful of Shadows by Frances Hardinge
415 pgs. YA Historical Fantasy

34213608Summary: Makepeace is an illegitimate daughter of the aristocratic Fellmotte family and shares their supernatural hereditary gift: the capacity to be possessed by ghosts. Unbeknown to them, the wild, brutish spirit of a bear already resides in Makepeace, and may be her only defence against the Fellmottes’ terrible plans for her.

Thoughts: 50 pages in and I still can’t decide how I feel about this book! I love the idea of the English Civil War setting, a period not often used in fiction, although the first fifty pages don’t feature a lot of world building. I’m also intrigued by the introduction, in the last chapter I read, of Makepeace’s ominous grandfather, Obadiah Fellmotte. Unfortunately I still don’t feel connected to any of the characters. I’m starting to come around to Makepeace (mostly because she defended a mistreated dancing bear and attacked the men who were responsible), but at fifty pages I should care about what happens to an orphaned teenage girl more than I do. I suspect that this may just be a book that is not for me. The writing is certainly atmospheric, giving off a dark horror vibe in the descriptions of spirits that I think other readers will really enjoy. As someone who won’t touch the horror genre with a ten foot pole though, I’m probably not the intended audience.

Verdict: If I didn’t have so many other books out from the library now I’d probably give it a try, but at the moment A Skinful of Shadows is near the bottom of my pile.

Let me know if you’ve read any of these and what you thought of them! How do you choose which books to commit to? Do you ever give them a fifty page test drive? Let me know in the comments.

Least Favourite Books of 2017

Like many in the book blogging community, I consider reading to be a form of escape, and 2017 was a year when we all had a lot to escape from. Many of the books I read captured my imagination and took me on moving, well-plotted journeys, populated by sympathetic flawed characters. Some… did not. My favourite books of 2017 can be found here, but I’ve also compiled a list of five of my least favourite reads of the year.

The good news is that only two of the books I read this year are so egregiously bad that I’d actively discourage anyone from reading them, the other choices fall more into the category of novels that either disappointed me with their execution, or that were simply not my cup of tea. Some of my choices will likely be controversial as they are critically acclaimed, so keep in mind that this is simply one person’s opinion. These books did not appeal to me personally, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t be exactly what someone else is looking for!

349535c5. Sonora by Hannah Lillith Assadi
I feel a little bit badly about sticking Sonora on here because it’s such a clear case of a book that just was not my cup of tea. A contemporary, literary fiction work that reads like an extended fever dream, Sonora is pitched as a lyrical coming-of-age story about Ahlam, the daughter of a Palestinian refugee and his Israeli wife, and Laura, the wilder, bolder best friend. Together they move from the desert suburbs of Arizona to explore drugs, sex, and boys in New York City, but the highs and lows of the drug-fueled lifestyle threaten to destroy them both. The writing is both the best and the worst thing about Sonora. At its best, Assadi’s prose is lush and poetic, as in her descriptions of setting, from the stark Sonoran desert in Arizona to the bustle of New York City. However, I found the ornate language distracting, to the point where I read the discussion questions at the back of the book and realized that I had missed key plot and character elements because the prose was so stylized! Sonora offers little of substance and reads less like an engaging and effective novel than it does an experiment in form, devised by the author to enable her to play with imagery and language freely without being constrained by plot. As someone who reads little in the way of literary fiction, it was a slog. Putting aside the plot and form issues, Sonora is a book populated by characters who only ever feel surface deep, making it difficult to connect with them. Ultimately I was left wishing the story had been more cohesive, and that the book had drawn more on the interesting familial relationships between Ahlam and her parents, than on her more cliché connection to party girl Laura.

311451484. The Love Interest by Cale Dietrich
The Love Interest is certainly the most readable book on this list, taking me only a few hours to read cover to cover, but it’s also one of the most disappointing books I’ve encountered. The problem? It’s a textbook case of a fabulous concept executed poorly. The fault appears to lie with author Cale Dietrich who doesn’t seem to know what he wants the book to be. At times The Love Interest appears to be a straightforward satire of the traditional YA romance genre, with laugh out loud funny lines. Yet it also tries to construct an original dystopia, in which boys are groomed from childhood to be “love interests,” lifelong spies who keep tabs on potentially important people by becoming their significant other. The result is a mess of a novel that doesn’t do either of these things well.

The idea behind The Love Interest is a subversion of the traditional YA love triangle. Pitting Juliet’s two love interests, a nice boy-next-door type and a bad boy against one another to win her heart, they instead fall for one another. Sounds fascinating right? Unfortunately the in-story subversions and lamp shading of YA tropes just don’t make sense within the context of the, rather shallowly constructed, world. Take for example the Nice vs. Bad formula. Each “love interest” is rigidly groomed to fit one type or the other and one Nice and one Bad are sent after each chosen girl, yet the in-world explanation for WHY these tropes have to be adhered to is hand waved. Ultimately, I found myself asking why a lot while reading this book and never getting much in the way of satisfying answers. Despite some incredibly funny lines, the inconsistency in the storytelling, the shallowly-rendered characters, and the lack of logic in the world building add up to a book that never fulfills its potential and that fails to do justice to a terrific concept.

6352223. War & Peace by Leo Tolstoy
My first experience with classic Russian literature did not go well. I believe that somewhere in War & Peace‘s 1,300 pages there is a genuinely good four or five hundred page book, but War & Peace as it exists now is an unbalanced work. The first half of the book is stronger, offering interesting, if enigmatic, characters and wry commentary on how young men romanticize the war, but mid-way through Tolstoy abandons all pretense that he is writing a novel. The remainder of War & Peace reads like a dissertation that exists only for Tolstoy to spout his thoughts on war, The Great Man Theory, and more. Even the (100 page!) epilogue reads more like the rambling conclusion of a Masters student than a novel. There’s a brief stretch where Tolstoy remembers that he has actual characters and returns to their lives to quickly sum things up, but even this seems like an afterthought. More accurately titled War & War & War & War & War & War & Peace, it often feels like any emphasis or development of plot and characters are a digression for Tolstoy, instead of the main event. If you’re especially keen on military history I imagine War & Peace makes for a fascinating read. If not, don’t read War & Peace, read Les Miserables instead.

184678182. An Untamed State by Roxanne Gay
Roxanne Gay is a noted feminist and writer of non-fiction and I certainly don’t intend to take away from her contributions, but her debut work of fiction is, quite frankly, awful. The first half of the novel deals with Haitian-American Mireille’s abduction at gunpoint outside the walls of her father’s multi-acre estate by men seeking ransom. When her captors do not receive the sum they’re looking for, Mireille is repeatedly, and graphically raped. The remainder of the novel deals with the aftermath of this trauma. Part of my hatred for this book comes from the fact that it aims to comment on complex themes of racism, sexism, and classism, yet offers nothing of value to the conversation. Rape and trauma are subjects that should be handled with delicacy, particularly in a time when shows like Game of Thrones have been criticized for their gratuitous use of sexual violence, yet Gay’s take is upsettingly exploitative. Gay appears to be trying to create a mirroring panic in the reader during the kidnapping scenes with her use of staccato prose, but the effect is just choppy and poorly written. The dialogue is even worse, full of over-the-top, corny conversations that wouldn’t be out of place in a cheesy romance novel or a B movie. The relationship between Mireille and her husband Michael is immature at best, and the two characters appear to be in constant competition for the title of most irritating character. It doesn’t help that An Untamed State suffers from pacing issues, thrusting readers into the midst of kidnapping within the first few pages, before we have time to become invested in the characters, but my biggest issue was with the graphic depictions of Mireille’s sexual assault. It’s difficult to believe this book was even written by a woman, let alone a noted feminist, because the rape scenes are so frequent, graphic, and disturbingly voyeuristic. The ending breaks even the tenuous grip that An Untamed State had on reality with a twist that is so implausible and unnecessary that it had me rolling my eyes at the page. The only redeeming qualities here lie in Gay’s portrayal of PTSD following the kidnapping and in the fascinating, but sadly all too few, insights offered on the immigrant Haitian-American experience.

231688171. The Dark Forest by Cixin Liu
Although I found it dense and too “hard science fiction” to be my kind of book, I admired the merits of The Three Body Problem, the first book in Cixin Liu’s Remembrance of Earth’s Past trilogy. Unfortunately, the sequel is not only dull and devoid of interesting characters, it’s also shockingly misogynistic throughout. Without going into too much detail, the book deals with an incoming alien invasion of Earth by the Trisolarans. Although their ships will not arrive for 400 years, the Trisolarans have planted subatomic particles that give them access to all human information on Earth, making it nearly impossible for humanity to form a response that the aliens will not see coming. In response, humanity appoints four “Wallfacers” and provides them with unlimited resources to design separate and secret strategies to mislead and foil the Trisolaran attack.

Cixin Liu’s strengths clearly don’t lie in character development, as his creations have so few distinguishing characteristics that they blend together into one bland, not particularly likable, type. The female characters, of which there are few, fare even worse. Liu’s women exist primarily as love interests for the male characters, who lead, make the tough decisions, and generally hold positions of importance, including all four Wallfacer appointments. Many of the female minor characters betray their husbands, leaving me to wonder if the author has some unresolved issues, and The Dark Forest opens with the womanizing protagonist unable to even remember the name of his latest fling when she is killed off! But the most offensive portrayal of all occurs in a plot that has to be read to be believed – except that no woman should ever read this book. Main character Luo Ji falls in love with an imaginary perfect woman that he has created (which his doctor describes as a totally normal experience?!) and his infatuation is so overwhelming that it destroys the only close relationship he has with a real woman. When he is appointed a Wallfacer and has the resources of the world at his disposal, he decides to use them to find a real woman who fits exactly the image he has in his head, by describing her to a bodyguard. Unbelievably, the bodyguard finds a woman who exactly matches this description, brings her to Luo Ji and they proceed to fall in love and have a child together! An impending alien invasion is more believable than this entire plotline. Throughout, the woman (Yan Yan) is infantilized, described as innocent, childlike, in need of protection, and possessing less education than our male protagonist. After they’ve been together for a few years (long enough for her to procreate), Yan Yan is quite literally fridged! The author puts her into refrigerated hibernation, along with her daughter, held as hostages against Luo Ji’s good behaviour, and they’re never heard from again. Never before have I read something so disturbingly, casually misogynistic, yet The Dark Forest holds a 4.4 rating on goodreads and has been critically acclaimed! My suspicion is that the blatant misogyny in these books is being tolerated because the author is Chinese. I’m all for diverse voices, particularly in the traditionally white male written SFF genre, but they should not come at the cost of three-dimensional female characters. Fans of Science-Fiction and Fantasy deserve better.

What were your least favorite reads of 2017? Comment and let me know!



Best Books of 2017

It’s that time of year again, when we go through the nail-biting process of sorting through our goodreads shelves and blog reviews to compile a list of the year’s best books! Although I fell short of my personal record for number of books read in a single year (hitting 65 versus 79 in 2016), I’m mollified by the fact that this figure includes the 1,300 page behemoth that is War & Peace (sadly appearing not on this list, but among my Worst Reads of 2017). This list of my favourite books of 2017 includes both books that were published this year and older titles that I read for the first time in 2017.

Honourable mentions (in alphabetical order): The Absolutist by John Boyne, And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie, If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio, The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers, More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera, and Now I Rise by Kirsten White.

3407695210. The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo
To be honest, this list should be more of a Top 9. Any one of my honourable mentions above could easily also fill this final slot of my favourite books for 2017, but I’ve opted for a Leigh Bardugo’s The Language of Thorns, an imaginative collection of short stories set in the same universe as her Grisha trilogy and Six of Crows duology. I’m usually not a huge fan of fairy tales, or of short stories, and yet The Language of Thorns held me in thrall like the King by Scheherazade. The six tales highlight Bardugo’s keen storytelling ability as she uses stock characters and tropes, but twists them in unique and unexpected ways. I found the stories where she draws inspiration from existing properties to be more effective than her wholly original tales, but all six of these stories are worth reading, and are notable for the diversity they organically incorporate. Special mention must be made of the gorgeous illustrations by Sara Kipin, which frame the pages of each story in vibrant teal and red patterns and designs, that grow and change over the course of the tale.

“Bad fates do not always follow those who deserve them.”

253532869. Provenance by Ann Leckie
Looking at the other science-fiction entries on my list this year, I’m definitely sensing a pattern. It turns out I like my sci-fi less intense and more intimate and character-driven. Ann Leckie’s Provenance fits the bill with this intelligent, and hard to classify, standalone novel that’s part political thriller, part mystery, and part coming-of-age story. Provenance is set among the Hwae, a people who place enormous significance on “vestiges”, documents and artifacts that commemorate a specific event of personal or historical importance. When the narrative reveals that many of the vestiges that the Hwae hold dear are actually fakes, Leckie uses this to pose questions about the way we document historical events. Does a document need to be genuine to be important? Or can it gain significance through what it represents, even if it is based on a lie? As a Librarian who took a number of Archives classes in grad school, I kind of loved this book. Although naive and privileged, protagonist Ingray Aughskold is an immensely likable and resourceful heroine, and the supporting characters are equally well-written. Ultimately, Provenance is a deeply satisfying coming of age story about finding your place and your family, and about recognizing that the road everyone expects you to take is not always the right one.

“’I had never really thought about it that way before. Who are we if our vestiges aren’t real?’
‘You never really thought of it before because nobody has ever really questioned your being who you say you are. No one has ever told you your own vestiges are false, or that they mean you’re not really entirely Hwaean.'”

255288018. Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston
Loosely based on Shakespeare’s play The Winter’s Tale, and taking its name from the famous stage direction, Exit, Pursued by a Bear is the rare YA contemporary novel that stuck with me. During a party at summer cheerleading camp, someone slips something in co-captain Hermione’s drink and she blacks out. The novel deftly depicts the lead up to, and aftermath of, the rape, as Hermione tries to figure out how to move on with her life. There are a million ways in which this book could have been a disaster and/or a cliche, but Exit, Pursued by a Bear differs from other rape survivor stories by providing Hermione with a strong support system of friends and family. The novel doesn’t sugarcoat the assault or the aftermath, but Johnston’s story is primarily about regaining agency after it is stolen from you. Figuratively and literally Johnston puts the power back into Hermione’s hands in this insightful examination of strength and support in the face of trauma.

“If you think I’m going to apologize for being drugged and raped, you have another thing coming.”

AncillarySword7. Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie
After a lengthy stay on my TBR, I finally got around to reading Ann Leckie’s critically acclaimed Imperial Radch series this year and yes, it was every bit as wonderful as I had hoped. The first volume, Ancillary Justice, pitted Breq, a blunt centuries-old spaceship AI inhabiting a single human ancillary body, against the powerful Lord of the Radch in a high stakes quest for vengeance. I expected the second book in this trilogy to be an action-packed continuation of the saga, but what I got was something much rarer. Ancillary Sword focuses in on a single planet for an intimate, thoughtful sequel that delivers both subtle character development and sharp social commentary. Much of the book explores themes of identity, power, and privilege, delivering a pointed critique of colonialism. All this is wrapped up in a package that includes some of the most unique and detailed world-building I’ve ever encountered, characters I adored, and some genuinely moving moments. I cannot recommend this series highly enough.

“You take what you want at the end of a gun, you murder and rape and steal, and you call it bringing civilization. And what is civilization, to you, but us being properly grateful to be murdered and raped and stolen from? You said you knew justice when you heard it. Well, what is your justice but you allowed to treat us as you like, and us condemned for even attempting to defend ourselves?”

2qir5w76. A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers
I went back and forth over whether to include both of Becky Chambers’ Wayfarers books in the same entry on this list, but ultimately bumped her debut, The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet to my Honorable Mentions, because as much as I loved its series of vignettes about the diverse crew of a spaceship, it was the standalone sequel, A Closed and Common Orbit, that blew me away. Told through alternating chapters, this science-fiction novel consists of parallel narratives. The primary story follows the ship’s AI formerly known as Lovelace as she adjusts to life in an artificial body that was never meant for her and grapples with issues of identity. Twenty years in the past, the secondary storyline follows a ten-year-old girl created as part of a slave class for labour. Despite never seeing the sky before, she takes advantage of an industrial accident to escape the factory and spends her teenage years building a way off the planet. I found it incredibly empowering to read about two women from tragic pasts who start over, gain autonomy, and shape their own identities, quite literally naming themselves. The imagination on display here, particularly in the creation of alien species, is something to behold, and I loved the positive message represented in the idea that the families and friendships you choose are every bit as, if not more, important than romantic love.

“It was hard to play it cool when you wore your heart on your face.”

362368035. Swansong by Vale Aida
When I read Elegy, the first volume of the Magpie Ballad duology, last year, it felt like it had been written for me. The Dorothy Dunnett-esque style of writing, intricate plotting, and complicated, enigmatic, flawed characters combined to make a fantasy novel I wholeheartedly adored. I just finished Swansong last night, so you can expect a full review singing its praises in the next couple of days, but suffice it to say that it lived up to my sky high expectations. This was one of those books where I was torn between wanting to finish right away and see how everything was resolved, and putting it off because I couldn’t bare to say goodbye to the characters I so loved. Set in Cassarah, a country on the brink of war with neighbouring Sarei, disgraced actor-cum-soldier Savonn Silvertongue returns to face his nemesis and one-time lover The Empath. Meanwhile, his closest friends Hiraen and Iyone Safin engage in their own struggle to defend the city, but it’s only a matter of time before they too are wrapped up in Savonn’s spiderweb of intrigue and their secrets are dragged into the light. I can’t count the number of times I felt my heart seize in my chest as I read certain scenes. The characters, even the villains, are rendered with depth and pathos, and I felt invested in the relationships between them, be they romantic, familial, or platonic. I also loved that lesbian and gay characters and relationships figure so prominently in the text. The prose is witty and elegant, the pace maintained throughout, and Vale Aida wraps up her duology in a deeply satisfying way that gives each of the characters resolution.

“‘People would believe anything about you as long as it was scandalous enough. But it’s all lies, isn’t it?’
‘You ridiculous pastry,’ said Savonn. He sounded almost tender. ‘Is that what you think?'”

15q8eaf4. The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
I have never been more quickly hooked and reeled in by a book than I was by Katherine Arden’s enthralling debut. The quintessential winter read, The Bear and the Nightingale makes me want to curl up under a warm blanket with a cup of tea and watch the snow fall outside. The story is based on medieval Russian folklore and mythology, and tells the tale of the winter king and Vasilisa, a brave and wild, yet compassionate, maiden. Arden’s prose is lyrical and compelling, and her writing appeals to the senses so strongly that I could almost feel the residual warmth from the family’s giant oven. Most of all though, I loved Vasilisa. She’s a tremendous heroine. Vasilisa is striking and direct, yet she is also kind, doing all she can to help the household spirits, the horses her family owns, and to the other members of her family. This means that she is often caught between doing what is expected of her as a woman and doing what she knows to be right. Magical and atmospheric, The Bear and the Nightingale is a book that I will remember for years to come, and I wouldn’t be surprised if, every winter when snow covers the ground, I feel a pull to re-read.

“Now hear me. Before the end, you will pluck snowdrops at midwinter, die by your own choosing, and weep for a nightingale.”

AConjuringOfLight3. A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab
When it comes to epic stories I need them to have consequences. I love books where the characters are irrevocably altered by what they have experienced, and Schwab delivers on this, bringing the Shades of Magic trilogy to a satisfying conclusion in A Conjuring of Light. Continuing the saga of Kell Maresh, a magic user who can travel across four parallel, but unique, Londons (Black, White, Red, and Grey), the stakes feel higher this time, as Kell’s vibrant, magic-filled, Red London home is threatened. I adore the world building in this series, the way in which each London is differentiated from its counterparts, and, like Narnia, the Shire, or Hogwarts, I found myself wishing that I could slip into Red London and explore its night market. Tension is maintained throughout the novel for a story that kept me on the edge of my seat, but the greatest draw here is Schwab’s tremendously likable cast of characters. Bidding goodbye, or at least Anoshe, to Lila, Kell, Rhy, and Alucard early this year was certainly bittersweet, so I’m thrilled to know that Schwab will be writing additional stories in this world!

“There were a hundred shades between a truth and lie, and she knew them all.”

Right up until the moment I hit publish, I kept changing my mind about which of my favourite two books of the year would land the coveted spot at the top of my list. In another five minutes I’ll probably change my mind again, so this is virtually a tie. Suffice it to say that both of my choices are books that I highly recommend!

Pachinko2. Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
Following four generations of the Baeks, a Korean family, through the twentieth century, this historical epic depicts the discrimination and hardship faced by ethnic Koreans, known as “Zainichi” (or foreign residents), living in Japan. As someone who knew very little about Japanese-Korean relations, or the history of both countries, I found the novel incredibly interesting and informative, but it’s the immensely likable, hard-working characters who make this novel so special. The Baek family’s story is one of survival and of sacrifice in order to provide a better life for the next generation. I adored the entire cast of characters, from kindly Hoonie, a cleft-palated fisherman, and his resilient daughter Sunja, to earnest Christian missionary Isak, and sister Kyunghee, who provides a lightness to the novel and to Sunja’s life. Lee’s elegant prose richly captures the myriad of different settings, from the small Korean fishing village where Sunja is born to Japanese cities, and although Pachinko is nearly 500 pages, it’s perfectly paced, so the novel never feels long. Months later, Pachinko has stuck with me; I still find myself thinking about the characters and the journeys they undergo, and I know this is a book that I will want to re-read in the future. I was profoundly moved by the story, which was by turns heartbreaking and inspiring, and by Min Jin Lee’s deft exploration of home and cultural identity in a way that’s both accessible and engaging.

“Living everyday in the presence of those who refuse to acknowledge your humanity takes great courage”

332532151. The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne
From the very first page of John Boyne’s sweeping saga about growing up in twentieth century Ireland as a gay man, the black humour and engaging style of writing enthralled me. The first-person narration by Cyril Avery is hilarious, poignant, and even tragic as it deals with such heavy topics as the hypocrisy of the Irish Catholic Church, homosexuality in twentieth century Ireland, adoption, and AIDS, yet the author’s masterful balance of humour and drama keeps the The Heart’s Invisible Furies from feeling like a tragedy. John Boyne has a gift for writing characters who are monumentally flawed, yet incredibly sympathetic. I may not have agreed with the choices Cyril makes throughout the novel, yet I understood the reasoning behind them and continued to root for him, because he acts without cruelty of intent. More than any other novel this year, The Heart’s Invisible Furies held me in its thrall. I COULD NOT PUT IT DOWN, finishing the 580 page hardcover in just a few days and reading well into the night! The pacing is swift, the characters funny, flawed, and engaging, and the tragedy tempered with a sense of humour that had me literally laughing out loud, although the moving narration also had me in tears of a different kind before the end.

“’You look like a Greek God sent down by the immortal Zeus from Mount Olympus to taunt the rest of us inferior beings with your astonishing beauty,’ I said, which somehow in translation came out as ‘you look fine, why?’”

I’d love to know your thoughts! Have you read any of these books, or are you planning to? What were your favourite books of 2017? Please comment and let me know!

A-Z Bookish Tag

I wasn’t tagged in this one, but I came across it on Steph from Lost Purple Quill’s blog and couldn’t resist!

A. Author you’ve read the most books from

As an adult, I believe it’s Lois McMaster Bujold. I’ve been slowly picking away at her Vorkosigan Saga space opera series when I have a gap between books, and have also read the first in her fantasy series, The Curse of Chalion.

B. Best sequel ever

I have to go with Steph here and say Maggie Stiefvater’s The Dream Thieves. As much as I enjoyed the first book in the series, The Dream Thieves was so much better and focused on showing Ronan Lynch’s depth. It’s a wonderful book. OH actually, also Sarah Monette’s The Virtu. One of my favourite books of all time (although her Doctrine of Labyrinths series is heavy on the trigger warnings), and improves upon the first book in the series, Melusine.

C. Currently reading

Forest of a Thousand Lanterns
by Julie Dao. Its an East Asian-inspired fantasy re-imagining of The Evil Queen legend. So far I love the world building and I find Xifeng really interesting.

D. Drink of choice

If I could only drink one thing for the rest of my life it would be cold water. I am such a fan of plain, cold water. While reading though I love a cup of flavored black tea!

E. E-reader or physical book

I prefer physical books.

F. Fictional character you probably would have dated in high school.

I was too shy to date anyone in high school. I definitely had a crush on Elijah Wood’s Frodo though.

G. Glad you gave this book a chance


Room by Emma Donoghue. It’s not something I would have picked up if my book club hadn’t chosen it, because the subject matter just does not appeal to me, but I wound up really loving it. The narrative voice of a five-year-old was perfect, and just when the routine of mama and Jack’s days was getting dull, Donoghue changes it up.

H. Hidden gem

I’m honestly so baffled that Robert Jackson Bennett hasn’t received the sort of attention that some fantasy authors have. I didn’t love the third book in the series as much, but City of Stairs and City of Blades are brilliant. They feature intelligent, courageous WoC protagonists, exquisite world building, and engaging plots that deal with the lasting impact of colonialism. I highly recommend this series!

I. Important moment in your reading life

The moment when I finished the last course of my English degree in University. I read a few really excellent books during my degree, largely due to a wonderful professor who taught a Science Fiction and Fantasy course, but I also read a lot of really meh or just plain bad books, and picking them apart to analyze took away from my enjoyment of books. After I graduated, I rediscovered reading for pleasure and read voraciously. Also, when I worked at Chapters, the major bookstore chain in Canada, and met people who were similarly passionate about reading and recommended books to me.

J. Just finished

The Blood of Flowers by Anita Amirrezvani, about 17th century Persian carpet weavers. I really enjoyed the flowing prose, sensory world building, and the storytelling aspect to it.

K. Kind of book you won’t read


L. Longest book you’ve read


Yes, you guessed it, it’s still Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables. Despite the length, and Hugo’s occasional digressions, it’s very much worth reading and moved me deeply.

M. Major book hangover because of…

When I finish a series that I really love, it’s so hard to move on and say goodbye to the characters I’ve loved so much. Sometimes the desire to just re-read immediately is overwhelming. I had a really hard time finishing and moving on from Crooked Kingdom, A Conjuring of Light, The Raven King, and Checkmate.

N. Number of bookshelves you own

Just two in my apartment (each with six shelves), and I also have one in my bedroom at my parents’ house holding some of my additional books. I’m trying to avoid expanding to a third by only buying keeper copies of books I love and new copies of books I can’t wait to read, and by periodically weeding my collection.

O. One book you’ve read multiple times


I’ve read The Game of Kings three times? I think, and I’m beginning it for a fourth in 2018!

P. Preferred place to read

It depends on the season! I do a lot of pool-side (outdoor) or balcony reading when it’s warm enough in Toronto, but this time of year I love to read on the couch beside my Christmas tree!

Q. Quote that inspires you

I’m really not one for inspiring quotes, but I do like Rowling’s “It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.” 

R. Reading regrets

Why oh why did I read The Dark Forest by Cixin Liu this year? What a taste of time. 500 dense pages of so misogynistic it’s hard to believe people praise this book at all. The first book had redeemable qualities but this one just didn’t.

S. Series you’ve started and need to finish

I have a few historical fiction series like this, so I’ll say Sandra Gulland’s Josephine Bonaparte trilogy and Sharon Kay Penman’s Welsh Princes series.

T. Three of your time favorite books

U: Unapologetic fangirl

I tend to be all-in when it comes to fandoms, but especially Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows duology, Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Cycle, and Dorothy Dunnett’s Lymond Chronicles.

V. Very excited for this release more than others

There aren’t many upcoming releases that I’m excited about actually – but longer term I can’t wait for the Nikolai series promised by Leigh Bardugo, as well as the Dreamer Trilogy that Maggie Stiefvater is working on!

W. Worst bookish habit

Returning books late to the library! I’m really bad for that and end up having to pay down my fines periodically.

X. X marks the spot: Pick the 27th book from the top left shelf

None of my bookshelves are wide enough for this!

Y: Your Latest Purchase

It’s been awhile actually, possibly An Arrow’s Flight which I bought second-hand on Steph’s recommendation.

Z. Z snatcher–book that kept you up way too late

I read A Little Life in a matter of days despite it being 700 pages because I just COULDN’T PUT IT DOWN.

I wasn’t tagged so I won’t tag anyone in turn, but feel free to do this tag if you’re interested. It’s a lot of fun!