November Wrap-up

Happy December!  Sorry for the delay in my November wrap-up, I’ve just been too busy relaxing in my cozy, Christmasey home 😉

Total Number of Books: 7
Total Number of Pages: 2,469
Average Pages per Book: 353
Average Rating: 4.4

Here are the books I read in November:

Screen Shot 2018-12-02 at 5.38.02 PMThe Girl They Left Behind by Roxanne Veletzos     ★★★★★

First of all, a huge thank you to JKS Communications and the author for sending me a copy of this book. I always gravitate towards books set in the time period of the Second World War. I love learning about the lesser-known pieces of history. The Girl They Left Behind is a fascinating and deeply moving novel based on the lives of the author’s mother and grandparents. The story gives us insight into life in Romania – first ravaged by war, then faced with political upheaval, economic uncertainty, and loss of freedom under Stalin’s rule. This novel captured my heart immediately, and had me crying within the first 50 pages. It was an emotional ride, exploring war and family relationships. The characters are deep and multi-faceted, providing an endearing and riveting read.

Sea Prayer by Khaled Hosseini    ★★★★★Screen Shot 2018-12-02 at 5.37.11 PM

“I have heard that we are the uninvited.  We are the unwelcome.  We should take our misfortune elsewhere.”

Hosseini wrote this as a response to the Syrian refugee crisis, and it is a beautiful, heartbreaking, and timely work.  Written as a prayer/letter from father to son, this book is a truly masterful piece of art.  It features stunning illustrations by Dan Williams, and both the images and words are breathtakingly beautiful.  It’s short, yet impactful.  It requires slow contemplation and leaves you heartbroken.  Yet another one that brought me to tears this month…

The Return of History: Conflict, Migration, and Geopolitics in the Twenty-First Century by Jennifer Welsh   ★★★.5

This was my only non-fiction read of November.  It is the book version of Welsh’s CBC Radio Massey Lecture, in which she refutes Fukuyama’s idea of “progress,” and argues that many of our past struggles – the ones we presumed would disappear or be solved – have returned. She discusses the mass movement of refugees and displaced populations, the invasion and annexation of territories, and the continued attempts to annihilate ethnic and religious minorities.  This is clearly intended as more of a surface overview than a deep dive into the problems and potential solutions.  It is interesting, and provides a good entry point for those interested in the current state of our world.

Screen Shot 2018-12-02 at 5.35.53 PMSky in the Deep by Adrienne Young.   ★★★.5

I am still a bit torn about this one.  I was so excited to read this book – a stunning Viking-esque cover, a badass female protagonist, and an interesting premise.  The novel starts out strong by thrusting us straight into battle with Eelyn.  Right from the beginning I felt immersed in the story, and subsequently drawn in by Eelyn’s emotional turmoil as she discovers that her brother – who she thought she saw die previously in battle – is still alive and now fighting alongside the enemy tribe.  I was eager for the mystery to unravel, and as a history and mythology nerd, I delighted in the Viking-inspired setting.  Ultimately, I was not fully captivated throughout the whole novel.  There were a few points where I really had to push myself to keep reading.  I suppose it just wasn’t as impactful as I had anticipated.  I had trouble connecting with most of the characters, and I wasn’t thrilled about the romance that seemed to develop abruptly.  I did enjoy the book, but it didn’t “wow” me as I expected it would.

Screen Shot 2018-12-02 at 5.37.45 PMThe Book Thief by Markus Zusak    ★★★★★★★★★★★★★ (just all of the stars in existence…)

First of all, I can’t believe it took me this many years to read The Book Thief.  It graces many book nerds’ all-time favourites list, so I suppose my hesitation was due to the fact that I had high hopes and did not want to be let down.  Well, I can tell you that I was certainly NOT disappointed in any way.  The Book Thief is everything I want and need in a story.  It gave me the most horrendous book hangover I’ve ever experienced, and I know that I will re-read it over and over again, just to spend more time with the characters.  Zusak’s writing is so poetic, and the fact that this novel is narrated by Death makes it so unique and fascinating!  I could go on and on and on about this book, but I need to finish this post, so I’ll exercise restraint.

Screen Shot 2018-12-02 at 5.38.15 PMSimon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli     ★★★★☆

This was such a fun and endearing read!  I absolutely adore the characters, and was drawn into the story right away.  It was a quick and light-hearted read.  Now I NEED to see the movie…

 

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The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee     ★★★★☆

This is another one that I had so much fun reading! From the outset, I loved and hated Monty.  He is one of the most entertaining protagonists I’ve had the pleasure of meeting, and his wit and sarcasm had me giggling constantly.  I just adored his relationship with Percy.  This book is full of humour, adventure, and romance!  Plus it’s set in history, with English gentlemen being not-so-gentlemanly.  Just read it!

Looking back at my TBR for November, I read ONE of the five books I had planned to read.  In my defence, I did disclose that I am horrible at following a set TBR…

I’m currently reading:

  • Witch Born by Nicholas Bowling
  • The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch (FINALLY!!!)

Two books that I am DETERMINED to read in December (because I need all the magical reads this month) are:

  • The Toy Makers by Robert Dinsdale
  • Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor

Let’s see if I can accomplish that at least! 😉


How was your reading month? Any amazing recommendations?

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October Wrap-Up & November TBR

“October extinguished itself in a rush of howling winds and driving rain and November arrived, cold as frozen iron, with hard frosts every morning and icy drafts that bit at exposed hands and faces.”

― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

I can’t believe it is already November! The last stubborn leaves have given up and fallen to the ground, where they’ve been covered in heavy frosts and falling raindrops. We’ve been gravitating towards our comfort foods, and our home, yard and vehicle are now ready for the blanket of snow that will soon cover us…

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October Wrap-up:

October was a decent reading month for me. I didn’t finish as many books as I’d have liked to, but I have completed my 2018 reading challenge: I’ve read 60/60 books!  I also didn’t have any 5-star reads this month, which is unusual!  I didn’t write any reviews in October, and I am struggling to read any of my NetGalley picks, because I really just despise reading on my e-reader.  If I have the option of choosing a physical book, I will read that every time – regardless of how interesting the book on my e-reader is.  The good news is that I own approximately 60 unread books…. which should last me another year without buying any (HAH, as if that will happen… )

haunted
★★★★

This House is Haunted by John Boyne

where the crawdads
★★★★

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

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★★★★

No Is Not Enough: Resisting Trump’s Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need by Naomi Klein

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★★★★

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

word is murder
★★★★

The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz

I also read an amazing graphic novel of Poe’s Stories & Poems! I didn’t count it towards my challenge, but for all of you Poe fans out there: it is BEAUTIFUL!

I am still currently reading:

  • A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin
  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  • The Wisdom of Psychopaths by Kevin Dutton

November (maybe) TBR:book thief

I’m horrible at actually following a set TBR, because I am a mood reader. These are some I’m really hoping to get to though.

  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  • Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor
  • The Toy Makers by Robert Dinsdale
  • The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
  • The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

See any books that you’ve read or want to read!? Let me know in the comments below.

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Blogoween | Hallowe’en in a Fictional World

So #blogoween has basically been a massive fail for me! I had every intention of participating more regularly, but life is just too busy…

At least I’ll end strong with a few new posts to finish it off!

Today’s host is Clo @ Book Dragons and the prompt is “Pick any fictional world that you’d love to experience Halloween in.”  To be honest, I didn’t really have to think hard about this one….

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By the time Hallowe’en arrived, Harry was regretting his rash promise to go to the deathday party. The rest of the school was happily anticipating their Hallowe’en feast; the Great Hall had been decorated with the usual live bats, Rubeus Hagrid’s vast pumpkins had been carved into lanterns large enough for three men to sit in, and there were rumours that Albus Dumbledore had booked a troupe of dancing skeletons for the entertainment.

I would LOVE to spend Hallowe’en at Hogwarts! Oh how amazing it would be to spend the night in a massive, magical castle in the highlands of Scotland – full of floating carved pumpkins and a delightful feast in the Great Hall.  I’d love to stuff myself with goodies and pumpkin juice, surrounded by witches and wizards!  The atmosphere would be perfectly eerie, but also cozy.

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It’d be entertaining (and also slightly terrifying) to watch the ghosts glide around the hall.

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If I were feeling up for an adrenaline rush, I could wander down to the forbidden forest after dark, and see which creepy creatures are lurking there…

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Which fictional world would you love to spend Hallowe’en in!? Tell me in the comments below.

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Blogoween | Hallowe’en Book Tag!

In an effort to kind of catch up on my #blogoween posts, here’s a fun Hallowe’en Book Tag! I snagged it from an old post by @The Sassy Geek. Feel free to join in!

1)  Favourite Scary (must read) for Halloween

I don’t read many scary books, but I did enjoy The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. I tried watching the Netflix series, but I didn’t get past the first episode… yup, I’m a major chicken and I value my sleep.

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2)  Scariest Book Cover

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IT. I am terrified of creepy clowns, so I despise this cover… and will never read the book OR watch the movies.

3)  If you could go trick-or treating with any author, who would you pick?

Do they have to be alive today? I’d totally choose Edgar Allan Poe.

4)  If you could dress up as any bookish character for Halloween, who would you be?

I’d love to be Alosa from Daughter of the Pirate King, because It’d be fun to be a bad-ass, red-haired pirate for the evening!

5)  If you could find anything (from any book) in your trick-or-treat stash, what would you hope to find?

I’d hope to find an invisibility cloak!

6)  In what fictional world would you like to go trick-or-treating?

I would love to go trick-or-treating in Hobbiton! I am smiling just thinking about how awesome that would be.

7)  What book villain would you not like to meet alone in a dark alley on Halloween?

The Headless Horseman or Voldemort. Both are quite terrifying.

8)  Would you rather dress up as a vampire, zombie, werewolf, or Shadowhunter?

Definitely a vampire… but a “classic” vampire, not the twilighty ones…

9) Pick a candy (just one) from Harry Potter that you would love to find in your stash.

Chocolate frogs! I am addicted to chocolate, plus frogs are just so cute. Hopefully mine wouldn’t hop away too quickly.

10)  What is your favourite Halloween candy?

Anything with chocolate!


Tag – you’re it!  Have some fun with this Hallowe’en tag!

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Tag Tuesday / Blogoween | Finally Fall Book Tag

I’ve been seeing this tag around, so I figured I’d join in the fun.  This tag was created by Alina at TallTales, and although it isn’t part of the Blogoween prompts, it definitely fits in with the Autumn post theme!

In fall, the air is crisp and clear: name a book with a vivid setting!

dsom.jpgOne of my favourite worlds would have to be the “Londons” of A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab.  I have such vivid images of each London in my mind, and I enjoyed exploring each of them throughout the series.  My favourite, of course, would have to be Red London:

“Flowers and hearth fire, spiced wine and underneath, the scent of home.  A place of strength and beauty, laughter and music and the steady hum of magic.  Power in balance, and balance in power.  The palace arcs over the glittering Isle, the river like a ribbon of red light beneath.  The regal House of Maresh sits on the throne.  And a magician stands behind it.”

Nature is beautiful… but also dying: name a book that is beautifully written, but also deals with a heavy topic like loss or grief.

child finder.jpgThe Child Finder by Rene Denfield is a heartbreaking and beautifully written story about loss and abuse.  It was a tough and unique read.

“Three years ago, Madison Culver disappeared when her family was choosing a Christmas tree in Oregon’s Skookum National Forest. She would be eight years old now—if she has survived. Desperate to find their beloved daughter, certain someone took her, the Culvers turn to Naomi, a private investigator with an uncanny talent for locating the lost and missing. Known to the police and a select group of parents as The Child Finder, Naomi is their last hope.”

Fall is back to school season: share a non-fiction book that taught you something new.

A recent favourite non-fiction read was Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge.  It was a thought-provoking look at systemic racism, specifically in Britain, but of course relevant throughout the world.  It’s one of those books that will make you think more critically about society and yourself.

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In order to keep warm, it’s good to spend some time with the people we love: name a fictional family/household/friend-group that you’d like to be a part of.

I would love to be part of the Weasley family. Oh how I’d adore hanging out at the Burrow, surrounded by coziness and chaos 😉

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The colourful leaves are piling up on the ground: show us a pile of fall-colored spines!

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Fall is the perfect time for some storytelling by the fireside: share a book wherein somebody is telling a story.

51em3xUxHOL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_Yesssssssss two of my favourite books of all time fit this one: The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss.  The Kingkiller Chronicles take place over three days, in which Kote – the innkeeper – is revealed as Kvothe, whose famous name is shrouded in rumours and mystery.  Kvothe is a renowned sword fighter, musician, and magician who is even rumoured to have killed a king.  Now living life as Kote the innkeeper, Kvothe saves a traveling Chronicler from a terrifying spider-like creature called a Scrael, and in return, agrees to allow the man to chronicle his life as Kvothe.  I absolutely LOVE the first two books in the trilogy and, like so many others, I am anxiously awaiting the third!

The nights are getting darker: share a dark, creepy read.

I haven’t read many dark, creepy reads.  I did recently read This House is Haunted by John Boyne, and it was incredibly creepy!  It was just the right amount of scary for me, and the gothic Victorian setting was perfection.

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The days are getting colder: name a short, heartwarming read that could warm up somebody’s cold and rainy day.

Hmmmm, to be honest I don’t read many short or heartwarming reads!  I tend to gravitate towards more deep, dramatic and thought-provoking books.  One light-hearted, but not necessarily short one that I enjoyed was The Rosie Project by Graeme Simson.  One that I’m looking forward to (if my books ever arrive in the mail….) is To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before.

Fall (luckily, it’s my favourite season) returns every year: name an old favourite that you’d like to return to soon.

The Harry Potter Series! I always get the urge to return to this series in the fall or winter. It just makes me feel cozy and is a total comfort read. We actually just finished our annual Harry Potter movie marathon, and are currently watching “Creating the World of Harry Potter,” which is an AMAZING documentary series about how the movies were created.  Another old favourite I always love to return to is The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien.

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Fall is the perfect time for cozy reading nights: share your favourite cozy reading “accessories”!

My favourite cozy reading necessities are a cute mug filled with tea, a cozy blanket, and a bookish candle burning beside me.  Tasty fall treats are always welcome too…

Spread the autumn appreciation and tag some people!

I can’t figure out how to actually tag people so that they’re notified – so if you know how pleeeeeease tell me how to do this in the comments!

I’m inviting anyone reading this to have some fun by participating in the tag 🙂


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Blogoween | Top 5 Books About Witches

It has been a busy week, so I totally missed my planned Blogoween post for Thursday October 4th!  The lovely Kaleena at Reader Voracious is our host for the prompt:

Top 5 Books about Witches

Here are my picks (in no particular order):

hermione.PNGHarry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

I had to include my all-time favourite series, because it happens to feature Hermione – who is without adoubt my favourite witch 😉

1witches.jpgThe Witches of New York by Ami McKay

I loved this book! I am beyond excited to read Half Spent Was the Night: A Witches’ Yuletide, which is released this month!

Those averse to magic need not apply…

1880

Witches Adelaide Thom and Eleanor St Clair have opened a tea shop in Manhattan specialising in cures, palmistry and potions.

When an enchanting woman called Beatrice joins the witches as an apprentice, she soon proves indispensable, but her new life is marred by strange occurrences.

She sees things no one else can see. She hears voices no one else can hear. Has she been touched by magic or is she simply losing her mind?

Amidst the witches’ tug-of-war over how best to nurture her gifts, Beatrice disappears. But was it by choice or by force? In a time when women were corseted, confined and committed for merely speaking their minds, is anyone really safe?”

spellbook kvt.PNGThe Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel by Alyssa Palombo

This novel – a retelling of the Legend of Sleepy Hollow – portrays witches in a more real, historical context. I love it! It’s the perfect read for October.

“When Ichabod Crane arrives in the spooky little village of Sleepy Hollow as the new schoolmaster, Katrina Van Tassel is instantly drawn to him. Through their shared love of books and music, they form a friendship that quickly develops into romance. Ichabod knows that as an itinerant schoolteacher of little social standing, he has nothing to offer the wealthy Katrina – unlike her childhood friend-turned-enemy, Brom Van Brunt, who is the suitor Katrina’s father favors.

But when romance gives way to passion, Ichabod and Katrina embark on a secret love affair, sneaking away into the woods after dark to be together – all while praying they do not catch sight of Sleepy Hollow’s legendary Headless Horseman. That is, until All Hallows’s Eve, when Ichabod suddenly disappears, leaving Katrina alone and in a perilous position.

Enlisting the help of her friend – and rumored witch – Charlotte Jansen, Katrina seeks the truth of Ichabod Crane’s disappearance, investigating the forest around Sleepy Hollow using unconventional – often magical – means. What they find forces Katrina to question everything she once knew, and to wonder if the Headless Horseman is perhaps more than just a story after all. In Alyssa Palombo’s The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel nothing is as it seems, and love is a thing even death won’t erase.

the witches.jpgThe Witches by Roald Dahl

I read this book when I was quite young, and I remember being absolutely terrified!  I’d actually love to re-read this soon.

“This is not a fairy-tale. This is about real witches. Real witches don’t ride around on broomsticks. They don’t even wear black cloaks and hats. They are vile, cunning, detestable creatures who disguise themselves as nice, ordinary ladies. So how can you tell when you’re face to face with one? Well, if you don’t know yet you’d better find out quickly-because there’s nothing a witch loathes quite as much as children and she’ll wield all kinds of terrifying powers to get rid of them.”

circe.PNG Circe by Madeline Miller

I am still reading Circe, and I am enthralled by this beautiful story of this Greek goddess of “magic” – sometimes called a witch.

“In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child—not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power—the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves.

Threatened, Zeus banishes her to a deserted island, where she hones her occult craft, tames wild beasts and crosses paths with many of the most famous figures in all of mythology, including the Minotaur, Daedalus and his doomed son Icarus, the murderous Medea, and, of course, wily Odysseus.

But there is danger, too, for a woman who stands alone, and Circe unwittingly draws the wrath of both men and gods, ultimately finding herself pitted against one of the most terrifying and vengeful of the Olympians. To protect what she loves most, Circe must summon all her strength and choose, once and for all, whether she belongs with the gods she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.”

I’ve also just started The Witch of Willow Hall by Hester Fox, and I’m loving it so far.


I’d love to know what some of your favourite books featuring witches are! Tell me in the comments below.

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Blogoween | Halloween/Fall Covers & Tuesday Intros

The Blogoween prompt for today is “Favourite Halloween/Fall Covers.” Today’s Blogoween host is Anthony @ Keep Reading Forward. I’m also going to combine today’s prompt with Tuesday Intros (hosted by I’d Rather Be at the Beach), because I’ve just started reading one of the books below and I love the intro!

I actually have very few books that fit this prompt well.  This is probably because I have just started reading more thriller and horror novels.  Two I love are:

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This gorgeous edition of Dr. Jekyll and My. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson.

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As well as this delightfully creepy cover. The other version I’ve seen around is gorgeous as well!

Now for Tuesday Intros, featuring This House is Haunted by John Boyne:

17307162.jpg“London, 1867

I blame Charles Dickens for the death of my father.

In tracing the moment where my life transformed from serenity to horror, twisting the natural into the unspeakable, I find myself seated in the parlour of our small terraced home near Hyde Park, observing the frayed edges of the hearth rug and wondering whether it might be time to invest in a new one or try to repair it myself.”

I love how the novel opens by foreshadowing the death of her father as well as the horror and unspeakable things to come. Plus you really have to wonder how Charles Dickens could be blamed for her father’s death…

I am about a third of the way through This House is Haunted, and I am enjoying it thus far! As a newbie horror reader, it’s easing me in nicely.

Since it kind of goes with the prompt, here’s a nice little autumn-coloured collection of some of my books:

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I’m excited to see everyone’s favourite Halloween/Fall covers!


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