July Wrap-up

July has been a great reading month for me!  Who knew that being 9 months pregnant could be so enjoyable 😉  I had THREE five-star reads this month, which is pretty good… although one is about childbirth and I can’t reveal one of the others.

Total Number of Books: 8
Total Number of Pages: 3,310
Average Pages per Book: 414
Average Rating: 4.06

Okay… so the best book I read this month, I actually can’t include or talk about!  It’s slowly killing me to keep my mouth shut about it, because it’s a contender for my top reads of 2019.  BUT we are likely including it in our debut book subscription box this October, so I don’t want to spoil the surprise for those of you who follow my bookstagram/blog and who will also be ordering the box.  So you’ll have to be patient and wait a few months for me to gush about how much I loved it!

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Storm: It’s a Curse to Remember by Gurpreet Kaur Sidhu    ★★★

Thank you to the author for sending me a copy of her novel in exchange for an honest review!  I loved the premise of this book and the plot was captivating. I got hung up on some of the wording, and sometimes the shifts in time and perspective had me a bit confused and having to flip back and re-read through sections. Having said that, there were many suspenseful parts where I could not put this book down. Overall I enjoyed it, and I’m interested in seeing where the author takes things with the second book in this series.

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Home Front Girls by Suzanne Hayes and Loretta Nyhan    ★★★★

Written as a series of letters between two women during WWII, this book sheds light on the everyday experiences of women on the American home front.It was a delightful read,  reminiscent of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (although not quite as magical).I’ll disclose that I’m a history nerd, and I love most novels set during this era, so I am slightly biased.I adored witnessing the developing friendship between Rita and Glory. I love how the letters capture their inner and outer lives in such a personal and relatable way.I wouldn’t say it was an amazing novel, but it was definitely a quick, light, and enjoyable read.  I would definitely recommend this book to readers who love historical fiction.  Publication date September 3rd 2019.  Thanks to HarperCollins Canada for this ARC.

 

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City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert    ★★★★

I listened to the audiobook narrated by Blair Brown, and I really enjoyed it! I loved the colourful array of characters at the Lily Playhouse, and was drawn in by the witty dialogue. I was fully captivated by the era and atmosphere, and I had fun exploring 1940s New York through the experiences of Vivian. My attention waned a bit towards the end of the novel, but I think that was just because I missed the entertainment and debauchery…

Gilbert has said that, “My goal was to write a book that would go down like a champagne cocktail- light and bright, crisp and fun.” In my opinion, she succeeded in meeting her goal!

 

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The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt ★★★★★

I am going to have to keep this short, because I have so many thoughts and feelings about this book!  Eventually I’ll sit down and write a proper review of it.  There are such mixed reviews for this book, and I completely understand why.  Personally, I absolutely adored it!  Tartt’s prose is beautiful and evocative.  It is a deep, moody, and immersive book that needs to be read slowly and savored.  It is not a carefree or easy read, but if you love literature, detailed, rich prose, and gravitate towards art and philosophy, then I would recommend it.

 

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Good Girls Lie by J.T. Ellison    ★★★.5

First of all, I loved the setting of this novel!  An old, prestigious girls boarding school in a small town created the perfect atmosphere for intrigue and murder.  I loved the gothic feels, secret societies, and overall creepiness.  It was full of secrets and had a good twist that I didn’t expect.  I did find some of the characters annoying, and feel like the story would have been more convincing set further in the past rather than the present.  The story kept my interest and was enjoyable, but wasn’t amazing.  Expected publication December 31, 2019.  Thanks to HarperCollins Canada for this ARC.

Pregnancy-related books

Belly Laughs: The Naked Truth About Pregnancy and Childbirth by Jenny McCarthy    ★★★

A funny and entertaining look at all of the changes that you may experience during and after pregnancy.  It was good for a laugh!

Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth By Ina May Gaskin    ★★★★★

Very informative and interesting.  I was terrified of childbirth, but this book along with the Positive Birth Company’s hypnobirthing course and of course our amazing doula have completely changed my mindset and made me realize that it is a completely natural process that our bodies are made for!  I’d definitely recommend this book to all pregnant women!


What was the best book you read this month!?  Any recommendations?  Thoughts about any of the books included here?

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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

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★★★★

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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September Wrap-up

Total Number of Books: 6
Total Number of Pages: 2,162
Average Pages per Book: 360
Average Rating: 4.7

I had an amazing reading month!  I will always choose quality over quantity, and this month I read quite a few wonderful books.  I must admit that I am quite liberal with my five-star ratings, compared to most people, but if I really enjoy every aspect of a book I think it deserves those five stars! I also just know what I love in a book, so I tend to abandon other less interesting books and finish the good ones…

spellbook.jpgThe Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel: A Story of Sleepy Hollow by Alyssa Palombo     ★★★★☆

This book definitely fit in well with September’s changing leaves and gloomier weather.  I love that the author told the legend of Sleepy Hollow from the female perspective.  There was a nice mix of romance, suspense, witchcraft and creepiness to make this a lovely autumn read. Thank you to NetGalley for this one – I’ll be posting a full review soon!

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald      ★★★★☆great gatsby.PNG

I’d read this before (ages ago), but I decided to listen to the audiobook version, narrated by Jake Gyllenhaal.  I just adore the language in this book, and it has me seriously yearning for an evening spent at a Gatsby-style party.  This era is one of my very favourite settings!

usagainstyou.PNGUs Against You by Fredrik Backman     ★★★★★

The day I received this in the mail I started reading it. I’m pretty sure I finished it over a weekend, because I just couldn’t put it down! I am in love with Backman’s writing, and enjoyed spending more time with the residents of Beartown.

Harry Potter: A History of Magic     ★★★★★histmagic.PNG

This book is EVERYTHING I LOVE combined into one stunning masterpiece.  My major was history, and whilst at university I did a lot of research about magical beliefs and practices throughout history.  This essentially looks at the magical creatures and subjects in Harry Potter, and their ties to various practices and people throughout history.  It is absolutely fascinating, and is one that I will keep picking up and reading again and again.  Plus, it is illustrated and presented in such a beautiful way.

20180915_105040.jpgThe Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton     ★★★★★

I was sent this book as part of the HarperCollins Canada First Look program, and I am eternally grateful because it was one of those mind-blowing reads that you will keep thinking about long after you’ve finished it! Read my full review here.

Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover     ★★★★★educated.PNG

This book is a fascinating glimpse into a very different life.  I was completely captivated by the heartbreaking and unimaginable story of Tara’s childhood.

 

I have a really hard time sticking to a TBR list, HOWEVER since it is October, there are a few books that I am hoping to read this month:

  • This House is Haunted by John Boyne (1/3 through and loving it!)
  • The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
  • The Witch of Willow Hall by Hester Fox
  • The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz
  • The Hollow of Fear by Sherry Thomas
  • The Little Shop of Found Things by Paula Brackston

How many books did you read in September? What were some of your favourites?

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August Wrap-up

Total Number of Books: 3
Total Number of Pages: 739
Average Pages per Book: 246
Average Rating: 4

This was far from my best reading month, but I have legitimate excuses!  At the beginning of August, Ryan’s family and friends arrived in Vancouver from England. We spent some time touring around Vancouver, then WE GOT MARRIED at the gorgeous Lac Le Jeune Wilderness Resort. It was an absolutely PERFECT day, and an amazing time spent with family and friends celebrating!

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Here are the books I read in August:

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Black Klansman by Ron Stallworth    ★★★☆☆ (3.5)

I was ecstatic to win this book in a giveaway by Raincoast books, as it had been on my radar! A Black Police Detective infiltrating the KKK!?!?!? The premise instantly intrigued me. While I found the book absolutely fascinating, the writing was not overly captivating. Interesting, but not “wow” for me. I feel like this COULD have been one of those amazing, mind-blowing books, but it just fell a little flat.

The Rain Watcher by Tatiana de Rosnay    ★★★★☆

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A moody and atmospheric read, delving into family relationships and the dark secrets and memories that lay beneath the surface of the beautiful and iconic setting. I don’t want to say too much, as I’m in the process of writing a full review. I will say that it’s the perfect autumn read (expected to be published October 23), and I love love loved the main character Linden.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows    ★★★★★

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I made myself read this (or rather listen to it via audiobook) before watching the movie. I ADORED it!!!! At first it was a bit difficult to keep track of all the characters, but I completely fell in love with each and every one of them – well, maybe not Mark. If epistolary novels are not your thing, then you probably won’t enjoy this; however, I found the letters incredibly entertaining, and they allowed the authentic voice of each character to shine through. While reading it, I kept wondering, “How on earth are they going to make this into a movie?” I think they did an excellent job! I’m definitely buying the book and reading it. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the book OR movie.

Now that summer holidays are over, I am hoping to get more reading done! I am currently reading A Storm of Swords, A Place for Us, and Educated. I also just received The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, and it sounds like such a good one that I am being swayed to start it, even though I already have enough books on the go. Ahhhh!!!!


Have you read any of these books? Thoughts?

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July Reading Wrap-up

Total Number of Books: 9
Total Number of Pages: 3,350
Average Pages per Book: 372
Average Rating: 4.3

Hellooooo summer vacation! July was such an awesome reading month for me! I’ll admit that I’m a reader who is pretty easy to please, but it’s impressive that I rated all of the books I read this month as above three stars.

20180729_160150.jpgTimes Square (novella) by Rich Walls ★★★★☆ (3.5)

This was a fun read that swept me through the streets of dazzling New York on a little whirlwind adventure. A nice quick summer read.

The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware ★★★★☆death of mrs westaway
I didn’t like the last Ruth Ware book I read – The Woman in Cabin 10 – but I’m glad I read this one! Honestly, the cover drew me in, and it fit the secretive, gothic, creepy vibes so well. The tension and suspense kept me turning pages late into the night – which made it that much creepier…

 

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This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate by Naomi Klein ★★★★★
I listened to the audiobook and it took me a long time to get through (I don’t even remember how long ago I started it…) but it was well worth it! I learned so much about climate change. Disclaimer: this is one of those books that will completely open your eyes and further your understanding, but along the way you will end up incredibly frustrated about what goes on in our world.

 

The Alchemist by Paul Coelho – ★★★★☆ (3.5)alchemist.jpg
I still feel torn about this one! Maybe I’ll write a full review at some point, if I ever sort my feelings out. For now let’s settle on part of me loving it, and another part of me feeling “meh” about it (can we maybe blame that on the fact that I’m a Gemini? The whole two very parts to my personality/preferences thing?) In other words… I’ll get back to you on The Alchemist.

clash of kingsA Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin ★★★★★
What can I even say? My love of this series is just through the roof! I have watched the TV series (several times…) and I was incredibly intimidated by the books. I am glad I started the TV series first, because it has definitely helped me to keep the characters and story lines straight, but obviously the books are WAY better. Don’t let the books intimidate you – they are fantastic!

 

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Auschwitz Lullaby by Mario Escobar ★★★★★
I gravitate towards any WWII-era historical fiction. This book was both beautiful and tragic. Fans of Ruta Sepetys’ Salt to the Sea and Between Shades of Grey, as well as Martha Kelly Hall’s Lilac Girls will enjoy this novel. Read my full review of Auschwitz Lullaby here.  It releases in August, so add it to your TBR/wishlist!

 

 

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Fawkes by Nadine Brandes ★★★★☆

 

Remember, remember!
The fifth of November,
The Gunpowder treason and plot

My love of historical fiction AND fantasy led me to this one. I was so intrigued by the synopsis. I ended up really enjoying it, but not absolutely loving it. Five star reads are what I would consider must-reads – books that I would 100% recommend – but I can’t say this was one of those for me. Having said that, I found the story incredibly creative, and kept thinking about how much fun (especially as a massive history nerd) this would have been to come up with and write! Definitely worth trying if you like both historical fiction and fantasy, or for anyone who is already fascinated by this time period and/or Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot.

 

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Bossypants by Tina Fey ★★★★☆

I listened to this by audiobook, which was highly entertaining! Lots of laughs out loud. I can’t say I knew much about Tina Fey before listening to this, so I went started it with the expectations of something light and humorous. It was both hilarious and interesting. I have to say that I am a huge fan of memoir/autobiography audiobooks read by the authors themselves. See my new favourite next…

 

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Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah ★★★★★
This was unexpectedly amazing! I listened to the audiobook, which was absolutely hilarious, but also insightful and emotional. Trevor Noah is an engaging storyteller, and it was so special to listen to him tell his own story. I started this book with no expectations, and finished feeling pleasantly surprised but also wanting more!  I’m also listening to this a second time with my fiancé, because I loved it so much I just had to share it!

Wow! Three five-star reads for me this month! Have I mentioned how much I love summer vacation? 😉 August is our wedding month, with family and friends coming to Canada from the UK, so I probably won’t get much reading done, which I am totally OK with! I will definitely be sharing some of our bookish wedding decor with you on here 🙂 Also stay tuned for some reviews of the books above.


Which books did you read in July? Did you have any 5-star reads?

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