My Life in Books 2019

Both Rachel and Callum did this bookish tag/meme recently and I’m shamelessly stealing it from them as I try and get back into blogging in time for all of the fun end of year content!

The rules are simple: Using only books you have read this year, answer these questions. Try not to repeat a book title.

In high school I was 
The Girl in the Tower

People might be surprised by All My Puny Sorrows

I will never be The True Queen

My fantasy job is Sorcerer to the Crown

At the end of a long day I need Conversations with Friends

I hate The Deep

I Wish I had Magic for Liars

My family reunions are Empire of Wild

At a party you’d find me with Exit Strategy

I’ve never been to Blackfish City

A happy day includes Normal People

Motto I live by: Gamechanger

On my bucket list is Regeneration

In my next life, I want to have Vigilance

Books Mentioned:

Tagging anyone who would like to do this!

The Mid Year Freak Out Book Tag 2019

I’m more than a little late on this one, but before July slips away I couldn’t resist filling out the Mid Year Freak Out Book Tag for the third year in a row. Honestly 2019 has been a disappointing year of reading for me so far. I’ve read a lot of great reads but very few that blew me away. With just five months left of the year there are only 4 books or series that I can see making my year-end list of favourites. I’ll have to step it up! But first, a reflection on the first half of the year in books:

Question 1 – The best book you’ve read so far in 2019
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Hands down it’s Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe. I very rarely read nonfiction, but this narrative nonfiction work about the disappearance of Jean McConville, a widowed mother of ten, during the conflict in Northern Ireland known as “the Troubles” is so engaging that I had trouble putting it down and have since recommended it to countless friends and coworkers. One of the most unsettling and informative books I’ve ever read, it contextualizes the events of the Troubles and the day-to-day existence and trauma of those who lived through this period. Say Nothing will haunt me for a long time to come.

Question 2 – Your favorite sequel of the year


Two of my favourite trilogies wrapped up this year. I can only imagine the pressure an author must feel to stick the landing of their series, but both of these authors brought their respective stories to a close brilliantly. Amnesty, the final part in Lara Elena Donnelly’s Amberlough Dossier series focused on its characters to explore recovery from trauma and how to move on in a bittersweet but perfectly appropriate finale. Katherine Arden’s Winter of the Witch focused on Vasya, one of my favourite fictional characters, maturing into her powers and her slow-burn relationship with the Winter King. Although the pacing was at times uneven, I was engaged throughout and found the story deeply moving.

Question 3 – A new release that you haven’t read but really want to


Three new releases that have caught my attention, but that I haven’t picked up yet are:

The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon – Measuring in at a whooping nearly 900 pages, this is a doorstopper of a book that almost feels like a throwback to the massive fantasy epics of 10-20 years ago BUT it’s written by a woman and the reviews I’ve read say it’s worth the time investment.

A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine – This one got a lot of buzz as a clever, intricate sci-fi debut involving political machinations. All of these things appeal to me so I look forward to checking it out!

The Monster Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson – I’m not sure it even counts as new anymore since it came out last October, but I’m still dying to pick this up! I LOVED The Traitor Baru Cormorant but wanted to re-read before moving on in the series and I haven’t done it yet. This year for sure!

Question 4 – Most anticipated release for the second half of the year

Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir – I feel like every book blogger is talking about this book! I keep checking back waiting for it to be added to the Toronto Public Library catalogue so I can place my hold, but honestly the buzz has been so overwhelming that I might just buy a copy because this book sounds right up my alley!

The Dragon Republic by R.F. Kuang – Last year The Poppy War was one of my favourite books – a fantasy debut that was refreshingly diverse, was set in a brutal world, and featured a ruthless, not traditionally likable heroine. I look forward to continuing Rin’s story in this sequel.

Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo – At this point I will read anything Leigh Bardugo chooses to write, so I am all in for her adult fiction debut!

Question 5 – Your biggest disappointment

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The Raven Tower by Ann Leckie. I ADORE Leckie’s Imperial Radch Trilogy and the standalone novel set in the same universe (Provenance) so my expectations were sky high for her first fantasy novel but I was just so damned bored! I strongly considered DNF-ing and only didn’t so I could write my review on how much I disliked this book. Others may find it experimental and brave but I hated it.

Question 6 – Biggest surprise of the year


My big self-set challenge for this year was so read the Nebula nominees, which included novellas. I’d previously always thought that novellas weren’t my thing, but it turns out I was just reading the wrong ones! I read some brilliant novellas this year. I had a good inkling that I would adore Martha Wells’ Murderbot Diaries series since they’ve been so acclaimed and the summary really appealed to me, but I was surprised by how much I loved Kate Heartfield’s Alice Payne Arrives and Kelly Robson’s Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach. As a bonus, both authors are Canadian!

Alice Payne Arrives and its sequel are pure time travel fun with a lesbian WoC highway(wo)man protagonist who, along with her scientist lover, robs unsuspecting men who behave inappropriately towards women. What’s not to love?

Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach is an ecological novella that cleverly imagines how time travel technology could be used for profit, while exploring generational differences in a sensitive way. Also, it has an asexual secondary character!

Question 7 – Favourite new to you or debut author


I FINALLY read Martha Wells’ Murderbot Diaries series of novellas and I have absolutely no idea why it took me so long. I AM OBSESSED. Snarky pretends not to care introverted robot who would prefer to be watching its favourite TV shows but actually cares a whole lot and has to keep saving its stupid humans? Sign me up!

Question 8 – Your new fictional crush

Pass.

Question 9 – New favourite character


Hands down the answer is Murderbot. I adore Murderbot. I probably relate to it a little too much for it to be healthy. I will read anything Martha Wells writes about Murderbot. Runners up are Billy from Daisy Jones & The Six, who I found so empathetic and engaging, and Elma from The Calculating Stars. Her mathematical brilliance, drive to achieve her goals, ability to reflect on how she could do better when it came to women-of-colour and those from less privileged backgrounds, and her severe social anxiety made her such a well-rounded and interesting protagonist.

Question 10 – A book that made you cry

Once again, these two brilliant conclusions to trilogies. The emotional catharsis was A Lot. And honestly even the description for Amnesty when it was released was enough to make me emotional (DO NOT READ THE DESCRIPTION FOR AMNESTY IF YOU HAVEN’T READ AMBERLOUGH AND ARMISTICE, IT IS SPOILERY), so was there ever any doubt that the book would make me feel all the feelings?

Question 11 – A book that made you happy

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The True Queen by Zen Cho. Sorcerer to the Crown was such a delightful read and I absolutely adored this sequel as well. It’s well-paced, with more plot twists throughout than Sorcerer to the Crown and the writing remains witty, often with tongue-in-cheek. The return of Prunella and Zacharias filled me with delight, and I loved the expanded roles of some minor characters from the first book, and the introduction of new characters like Muna, a young Malaysian woman in search of her sister.

Question 12 – Your favourite book to movie adaptation that you’ve seen this year

I don’t know if I’ve seen any to be honest! I don’t tend to watch a lot of films though.
Although not a movie, I’m very much looking forward to watching the adaptation of Good Omens.

I also started watching The Magicians this year and binge-watched the DVDs in record time for the first three seasons and it was my happy place. I absolutely loved it. And then season four came along and if you’ve missed what went down about the end of the season, including the shameful treatment of mental health issues, queer characters, the actors involved, and the fanbase then you’re lucky. It’s soured my entire view of the show to date and I haven’t been able to watch it back since, which is a shame because the weird and frequently ‘just for the hell of it’ weirdness of the show, the musical episodes, and the friendships between the characters were exactly what I wanted in a show.

Question 13 – Favourite book post you’ve done this year

It’s been a rough year for me with the winter that never ends kicking my SAD into high gear and then a summer that has been incredibly humid and stressful at work so I haven’t had the time or drive to blog. I’m hoping to write a few non-review posts in the next few weeks that I’m looking forward to as things finally quiet down for me at work.

I’m most proud that I completed my challenge of both reading and reviewing all of the Nebula nominees for Best Novel and Best Novella before the awards were announced. Read my coverage here.

I finally found the words to write a review of Amberlough, one of my favourite books.

And I’m honestly pretty pleased with how my less positive review of The Raven Tower turned out.

Question 14 – The most beautiful book you have bought/received this year

The Amberlough Dossier series have some of the most beautiful covers I’ve ever seen in my life. I also bought a keeper copy of Robert Jackson Bennett’s Foundryside and I love the cover design on it.

Question 15 – What are some books you need to read by the end of the year

I’d really like to work through some of my owned but not read backlist of books. That includes reading Royal Assassin, the second in Robin Hobb’s Farseer series, Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers, Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham, The King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo, The Regeneration Trilogy (Regeneration, The Eye in the Door, and Ghost Road) by Pat Barker, and reading some of Mary Renault’s work for the first time.

As well as a few re-reads so I can continue with series – The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson and The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold – and a few classics. I’m hoping to tackle Rebecca (for the first time) and Frankenstein (which I haven’t read since I was 19) this Fall.

How’s everyone else’s reading year going? Are you having better luck with your book choices than I am? What should I add to my TBR that you absolutely loved and think I would too? Comment and let me know!

How I Choose My Books Tag

With the whirlwind that was the Toronto Fringe Festival over for another year, I have more time on my hands and what better way to ease back into blogging than with a book tag? Thanks to the wonderful Rachel @ pace, amore, libri for the tag!

Find a book on your shelves with a blue pink cover. What made you pick up the book in the first place?
13414716I read John Boyne’s latest novel, The Heart’s Invisible Furies (which I went on to name my favourite book of 2017) and intended to read more of his works, but it was Rachel’s rave that bumped this one to the top of my TBR. Rachel, Steph, and I share a love for painful books that hurt in the best possible way, so when Rachel sent us this text, I knew I had to pick it up!
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I may not have been as destroyed by The Absolutist as I was by The Heart’s Invisible Furies, but I did love it and am now a card-carrying member of the John Boyne fanclub.

Think of a book you didn’t expect to enjoy but did. Why did you read it in the first place?
7937843I knew that Room by Emma Donoghue was beloved by critics, but based on the subject matter and synopsis alone, I really didn’t expect to enjoy it. I picked the novel up with some trepidation when the book club I was in a few years ago chose it as our next read. I’m thrilled to say that I was wrong. I loved Room and gave it a full five stars, finding it distressing yes, but also powerful, inventive, and incredibly well-paced. I really miss being in a book club because it opened me up to reading books I never would have picked up on my own. Some of them, like In Cold Blood, Room, and The Devil in the White City, I enjoyed. Some of the choices – I did not. Either way though I read more broadly than I do when left to my own devices and that’s never a bad thing.

Stand in front of your bookshelf with your eyes closed and pick up a book at random. How did you discover this book?
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Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman. I first encountered this book on a university course list while completing my English degree! I read a lot of mediocre books in university but this was not one of them. From the moment I encountered it in my Science-Fiction and Fantasy Literature course I fell in love. It’s definitely my favourite Gaiman novel that I’ve read so far, and re-reading was that much rewarding after I had visited London and actually been on the Underground.

Pick a book that someone personally recommended to you. What did you think of it?

9322741In an effort to get away from listing the, by now surely into double-digits, recommendations I’ve directly or indirectly received from Rachel, I was introduced to Y.S. Lee’s The Agency series by my friend Annmarie. There’s a great shortage of good YA historical fiction out there, so I really enjoyed this quartet about an all-female spy agency in Victorian London. The first book is called A Spy in the House and introduces the banter-filled dialogue that is a hallmark of the relationship between the protagonist and her love interest. I love Mary Quinn herself as well. She’s independent, resourceful, and feisty at a time when women were supposed to be anything but.

Pick a book you discovered through book blogs. Did it live up to the hype?
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The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas is a wonderful example of a book that honestly does live up to the hype. Obviously it had appeared on bestseller lists and book blogs since before I even started blogging and I always meant to pick it up, but it took me awhile to get to it. I’m so glad that I did because it’s not only an important book thematically, it’s also damned well-written. Starr is a compelling protagonist, the book is complex and doesn’t paint everyone with the same brush, and although moral lessons are imparted, they never feel heavy-handed.

Find a book on your shelves with a one word title. What drew you to this book?
22637358Melusine by Sarah Monette has a truly awful cover, but it was recommended to me by my friend Kiera, who also enjoys painful (usually fantasy) books. She lent me her copy (the books are, devastatingly, out of print) and I fell in love. The four book series features political intrigue (another fav trope of mine), brilliant world-building, and shifts perspectives between Felix, a flamboyant, often infuriating, wizard and his half-brother Mildmay, a gruff, street-smart thief and assassin with a crippling inferiority complex. I have a love-hate relationship with Felix, but Mildmay is one of my favourite fictional characters of all time. Their voices are so different it’s difficult to believe they’re written by the same author and the books are among my absolute favourites, although they deal with dark subject matter and are not for the faint of heart.

What book did you discover through a film/TV adaptation?
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The Eagle of the Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliff. For some reason, probably the fact that even though objectively it’s bad, it contains several tropes that I enjoy in fiction, I like the action-adventure movie The Eagle starring Channing Tatum and Jamie Bell. I’d been meaning to read the middle grade historical fiction book from the 1950s that it was based on for years, but only got around to it when I saw the book for sale while visiting Housesteads Roman Fort in Northumberland a few months ago.

 

Think of your all-time favorite books. When did you read these and why did you pick them up in the first place?

I’m just choosing a few of my favourites here: The Game of Kings (Book #1 in The Lymond Chronicles) by Dorothy Dunnett, Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, and Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo.

Two reasons for The Lymond Chronicles: 1) I was reading C.S. Pacat’s Captive Prince series (back when it was being published chapter by chapter on Livejournal) and she often mentioned the influence that Dunnett had on her writing (try reading Captive Prince after you’ve read Lymond – there are A LOT of similarities) and how Dunnett’s writing was a masterclass in tension; 2) I was looking for more historical fiction recs and Dunnett’s name came up on multiple message boards in the same sentence as authors like Sharon Kay Penman, who I’d enjoyed.

I was a long-time fan of the musical Les Miserables. From a young age I played the cassette and sang along with the songs even before I understood what they were about. When I was a teenager I read a very abridged (I think it was about 500 pages) version of the novel and honestly thought that was it, it was only when I got a bit older that I realized I hadn’t actually read Les Miserables as it was intended. I tackled the unabridged version over the winter in 2011 and although it’s definitely a “project book”, it requires dedication to get through, it’s honestly one of my favourite books and brought me to tears.

I read and enjoyed Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha trilogy so I picked up Six of Crows because I enjoyed the world that she had created and found it original within YA Fantasy fiction. I was blown away. The Grisha trilogy is enjoyable, but not on the same level as Six of Crows, which along with its sequel are among my favourite books ever!

I’ve been out of the loop, so I’m not sure who’s been tagged or not, but if you’re interested in doing this tag, consider yourself tagged!

 

 

 

 

 

The Netflix Book Tag

I wasn’t tagged for this specifically, but I remember it going around a few months ago and bookmarked it to do when I had more time.

RECENTLY WATCHED: The last book you finished reading

31625039Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann, which is a YA contemporary novel featuring a black, biromantic asexual protagonist. I’m not always a big fan of the genre, so I found this a little cutesy for my personal tastes, but I think it’s a hugely important book and I’m so glad that it exists. The romance is very sweet and Alice’s troubles with her parents (who are pushing her into a career that doesn’t interest her), and with feeling like a third wheel are relatable as well.

TOP PICKS: A book that has been recommended to you based on books you have previously read
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A few friends have recommended Robin Hobb’s books to me and one even left her copies with me when she moved to New Zealand! I don’t know why I haven’t gotten to them yet, but I’m planning to dive in next month!

 

RECENTLY ADDED: The last book you bought
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I bought The Eagle of the Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliff in the gift shop at Housesteads Roman Fort, and read it while on vacation. I don’t often buy books as souvenirs but this was a good purchase!

 

POPULAR ON NETFLIX: Books that everyone knows about (2 you’ve read and 2 you haven’t read or have no interest in reading)

Have Read: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, Circe
Haven’t Read Yet: Lincoln in the Bardo, The Poppy War

COMEDIES: A funny book
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I don’t read a lot of comedies, but I really enjoyed Lianne Oelke’s Nice Try, Jane Sinner, about a teenage girl who signs up to be on a community college version of Big Brother in order to afford moving away from home.

 


DRAMAS: A character who is a drama queen/king

112077Francis Crawford of Lymond.

Here’s his entrance in Dorothy Dunnett’s The Game of Kings: “Lucent and delicate, Drama entered, mincing like a cat.” In the second book he apologizes to another character for his repeated dramatic entrances. He is the High King of Drama and I love him.


ANIMATED: A book with cartoons on the cover
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I don’t know about cartoons, but the cover for Leah on the Offbeat features a stylized version of Leah Burke.

 


WATCH IT AGAIN: A book or series that you want to re-read


219811The problem with me is that I’m a serial re-reader who loves to revisit my favourite books – especially when I hit a bit of a reading slump. The book I just finished, Amberlough, reminded me in some ways of Sarah Monette’s excellent Doctrine of Labyrinths series, and in other ways of Vale Aida’s Magpie Ballads duology, so those are the books I’m most itching to re-read right now, but I’m trying to work through the urge in order to read some new books!

DOCUMENTARIES: A non-fiction book you’d recommend to everyone
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I read VERY little non-fiction, but I really enjoyed Erik Larson’s Devil in the White City, which weaves together the story of serial killer Henry H. Holmes with that of  Chicago’s World Fair of 1893.

 

ACTION AND ADVENTURE: An action-packed book
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Has anything ever kept me on the edge of my seat like the Six of Crows duology? I love the brisk pace of the series, which effectively balances character moments with action scenes, to create books that make you go, ‘maybe just one more chapter…’


NEW RELEASES: A book that just came out or will be coming out soon that you can’t wait to read

39676520By this point John Boyne is on my list of authors that I trust enough to automatically buy or borrow. I’ve read three of his books so far and each one I’ve given 4 stars or above, with The Heart’s Invisible Furies being named my favourite read of 2017. I CAN’T WAIT for his newest novel, A Ladder to the Sky, which comes out this summer. I think Steph, Rachel, and I are planning a buddy read, so stay tuned for that in a few months!

Not tagging anyone in particular, but if you’re interested please consider yourself tagged and ping back to me so I can read your answers!

The Mid Year Freak Out Book Tag 2018

Last year I participated in this book tag, which offers a great chance to look back on your reading for the first half of the year. I’m still a little in shock that it’s been almost an entire year, but here’s a review of my reading in 2018 so far.

Question 1 – The best book you’ve read so far in 2018

Just sneaking in under the wire (I read it last weekend), the best book I’ve read so far this year is Tin Man by Sarah Winman. It’s a thoughtful, quiet book about the relationship between two men in England. Told first through the perspective of one character and then through the diary entries of the other, it’s a poignant story that packs an emotional punch.

The runner-up couldn’t be more different. I’ve never read anything like Jeff Vandermeer’s Borne. Told through prose that is by turns lyrical, eerie, and thoughtful, Borne follows a scavenger in a post-apocalyptic city who brings home and cares for a sentient being she names Borne. But as the being grows and changes, questions arise about Borne’s purpose. Serving as a moving exploration into what it means to be human, Borne is the kind of book that stays with you long after you’ve read it.

Besides these two choices though, I haven’t been reading a lot of quality books so far in 2018 and I’m hoping to change that in the second half of the year!

Question 2 – Your favorite sequel of the year

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I’ve only read one or two sequels this year, so by default it’s The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden. I actually found The Girl in the Tower a little disappointing though. I obviously still enjoyed it – I gave the book four stars – but it just didn’t cast the same spell over me as The Bear and the Nightingale, which was one of my favourite reads last year. I’m still eagerly looking forward to finishing the trilogy next year though.

Question 3 – A new release that you haven’t read but really want to

I have The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang on hold at the library! It’s received glowing reviews on goodreads and from my blogging friend Hadeer, and looks right up my alley as an adult fantasy featuring rich worldbuilding and an intriguing heroine. Similarly I’ve heard wonderful things about Kirsty Logan’s The Gloaming, and I’m looking forward to Tessa Gratton’s The Queens of Innis Lear, a retelling of one of my favourite Shakespeare plays.

Question 4 – Most anticipated release for the second half of the year

I’ve read three of John Boyne’s books so far and have really enjoyed them all, so I can’t wait for his latest, A Ladder to the Sky! I’m also really looking forward to Pat Barker’s take on The Iliad in The Silence of the Girls. There are also a bunch of sequels I can’t wait to read: Seth Dickinson’s The Monster Baru Cormorant, which continues the tale of Baru’s climb to infiltrate the system that colonized her island, killed one of her fathers, and rewrote her culture, V.E. Schwab’s Vengeful, the continuation of her story about supervillains, Record of a Spaceborn Few, the latest in Becky Chmbers’ Wayfarers series, and Kirsten White’s Bright We Burn, the final book in her Conqueror’s Saga about a gender-swapped Vlad the Impaler.

Question 5 – Your biggest disappointment


The three reads that, in one way or another, didn’t live up to my expectations were Circe by Madeline Miller, Dear Martin by Nic Stone, and The Lonely Hearts Hotel by Heather O’Neill. I loved The Song of Achilles and was really looking forward to seeing Miller’s take on a divisive female character like Circe, but I found the heroine passive and thought the book dragged in the middle. I wanted to love Dear Martin, but it read very much on the young side of YA so this was more a mismatch of book and reader than a reflection on the book itself. I really disliked The Lonely Hearts Hotel. It’s whimsical prose was tonally a complete mismatch for the dark and disturbing subject matter and as a result the book ended up sounding rather flippant about topics like sexual abuse, prostitution, and drug abuse.

Question 6 – Biggest surprise of the year

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Nice Try, Jane Sinner by Lianne Oelke. I went in with no idea what to expect and, as a YA contemporary, which isn’t really my genre, didn’t expect to enjoy this book as much as I did. The book follows Jane as she attends community college to finish her last few classes of high school after an ‘incident’ caused her to be absent for the last semester. Yearning for independence, but unavailable to afford a place on her own, Jane lies about her age and signs up for a Big Brother-inspired community college show. So long as she stays on the show, she has a place to stay and a shot at the prize! Jane is a fiercely funny, sometimes ruthless heroine that I rooted for and I loved the unique premise of the book.

Question 7 – Favourite new to you or debut author

Probably Sarah Winman. Based solely on Tin Man, I’d love to read more of her works. My mom read one of her other books, When God Was A Rabbit, several years ago and marked it as one of her favourites, so I should probably start there!

Question 8 – Your new fictional crush

Pass.

Question 9 – New favourite character

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Jane Eyre from Charlotte Bronte’s novel of the same name. I FINALLY got around to reading Jane Eyre for the first time and it was everything I hoped it would be. It sucked me in and I loved Jane with all of her spirit, intelligence, and passion. Special mention to a few other fierce females I’ve loved this year though: Evelyn Hugo is often unlikable, but I couldn’t help admiring her ruthless pragmatism, ambition, and ability to go after what she wanted most in The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, and, as I was mentioning, I adored Jane Sinner, a flawed, funny, competitive high school student competing on a community college reality program like Big Brother in Nice Try, Jane Sinner.

Question 10 – A book that made you cry

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Once again, my answer is Sarah Winman’s Tin Man!  It’s a slim volume that you can read in a matter of hours, but I found it incredibly moving and there were definitely some waterworks by the end!

Question 11 – A comic book that made you happy

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I’m so glad this questions exists this year because I was so delighted by the first arc of Rainbow Rowell’s continuation of my favourite Marvel comics series, Runaways! Rowell captured the essence of each of the Runaways characters and brought them back together in a way that felt organic and not forced. I can’t wait to see where she takes them next and how the relationships between these characters have changed in the year or more that they were apart.

Question 12 – Your favourite book to movie adaptation that you’ve seen this year


The adaptation of Becky Albertalli’s Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda to Love, Simon. I actually saw the movie first, but they’re different enough (while still capturing the essence of the characters) that I don’t think it would have mattered, I fell in love with both the fluffy but compelling novel and this movie, which had one of the most engaged audiences I’ve ever seen!

Question 13 – Favourite book post you’ve done this year

I was really pleased with how this week’s Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Awaken My Wanderlust post shaped up, and I enjoyed the First Impressions post I did early this year where I read the first 50 pages of five books and wrote about my initial thoughts and whether or not I planned to continue reading them. As far as reviews go, I can’t lie I’m pretty proud of my comparing the ridiculous sounding summary for Borne, a book that actually works extremely well, to what the pitch for SpongeBob SquarePants must have sounded like.

Question 14 – The most beautiful book you have bought/received this year

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I buy very few books (I’m a heavy library user), but I did purchase the beautiful paperback edition of Min Jin Lee’s Pachinko, one of the best books I read last year.

Question 15 – What are some books you need to read by the end of the year

All of the upcoming releases I mentioned, and I’m trying to read some more classics, so hopefully East of Eden by John Steinbeck and Eugene Onegin by Alexander Pushkin.

Tagging anyone who wants to do this!

What’s the best book you’ve read so far this year?

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.


Spring.
 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.
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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.
JonathanStrange
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?

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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.

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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?
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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)!

HOW IT WORKS:

  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”.

YOU ONLY HAVE ONE MORE SPOT ON YOUR SPELLING BEE TEAM, WHO WOULD YOU PICK TO COMPLETE YOUR TEAM?

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.

BOTH CHARACTERS WANT TO KILL YOU, WHICH ONE WOULD YOU KILL FIRST SO YOU HAVE A BETTER CHANCE OF SURVIVING?

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.

YOU’RE ON THE BACHELOR/BACHELORETTE AN YOU’RE DOWN TO THESE TWO CHARACTERS, WHICH ONE ARE YOU GOING TO GIVE YOUR ROSE TOO?

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.

YOU’VE BEEN CHOSEN FOR THE HUNGER GAMES, WHO WOULD MOST LIKELY VOLUNTEER IN YOUR PLACE?

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!

YOU’RE STRANDED ON AN ISLAND. WHICH CHARACTER WOULD YOU SACRIFICE TO ENGAGE IN CANNIBALISM?

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.

YOU’RE THE NEXT DC/MARVEL SUPERHERO (WITH YOUR OWN TV SHOW OF COURSE), WHO IS YOUR SIDEKICK?

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.

YOU’RE A MANAGER OF AN AVOCADO ADMIRING COMPANY, WHO WOULD YOU FIRE FOR LACK OF COMMUNICATION SKILLS?

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.

YOU’VE JUST FINISHED A BOOK IN WHICH YOUR FAVOURITE CHARACTER DIES, WHICH CHARACTER IS MOST LIKELY TO COMFORT YOU?

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

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

UGH, IT’S HIGH SCHOOL. WHO WOULD MOST LIKELY BE PART OF THE POPULAR CLIQUE?

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.

THE DAY HAS ARRIVED; YOU’RE FINALLY A YEAR OLDER! WHO WOULD HAVE THE NERVE TO FORGET YOUR BIRTHDAY?

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.

YOU’VE JUST FOUND AN UPCOMING BOOKTUBE STAR? WHO WOULD MOST LIKELY BE?

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.

SLEEPOVER TIME! UNFORTUNATELY YOU CAN ONLY INVITE ONE PERSON, WHO WOULD YOU INVITE?

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.

BAM, YOU’RE PREGNANT. WHO’S THE FATHER/MOTHER?

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.

YOU’VE JUST WRITTEN A SUPER IMPORTANT TEXT. WHO WOULD ‘SEE’ IT, BUT NOT REPLY?

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.

YOU’VE JUST WOKEN UP AND IT’S TIME FOR BREAKFAST. YOUR MUM’S BEEN REPLACED BY WHO?!

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!