Reading Wrap-up | January & February

Wow! Is it just me, or did February fly by? It usually drags on for me, but this year I can’t believe it’s already over. I didn’t post a January wrap-up, so I’ll combine both months.

I had a surprisingly great reading month in February, because I’ve found the secret to keeping my reading motivation: curating a book subscription box! We’ve been a bit slow to find the perfect pick for our April box. We were struggling to find recent releases that intrigued us. At the end of January we came up with a list of a few to read and decide between. I ended up reading three contenders this month, and I loved all of them! I’ll include the runners-up, but will leave the featured novel out—just in case any of our subscribers are reading and want to keep it a surprise.

Total Number of Books: 8
Total Number of Pages: 2,747
Average Pages per Book: 343
Average Rating: 4.4

I’ve linked the titles to Goodreads so you can read the synopsis, and I’ll just provide a few of my thoughts:

The Secret History by Donna Tartt

★★★★★

I’ll start by saying that I think this is one of those “adore or despise” novels. I happen to love it. It has become a favourite that I’ll definitely read again. I don’t typically make notes while I read, but I found myself frequently scrambling for a paper or my phone to jot down a line… or an entire paragraph. I just adore Tartt’s elegant prose and the dark academia vibes of this novel. Dark, twisted, and almost satirical— it’s a story that begs to be savoured and read slowly by candlelight on a dark, stormy evening.

The Montessori Toddler by Simone Davies

★★★★☆

I knew a little bit about the Montessori philosophy before reading this. I skimmed through some parts of it, but found it interesting overall. I like the practical suggestions for creating a toddler-friendly home as well as engaging activities using everyday items.

Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne

★★★★☆

“Using the extraordinary power of less to raise calmer, happier, and more secure kids.” I think I’ll eventually write a full review on this one, because I just have too much to say. I definitely connected with this book. It offered solid advice and suggestions for living a more simple and slow life, and the author discussed how that can benefit a child’s development.

The Other People by C.J. Tudor

★★★★☆

Perfectly creepy and un-put-downable! This was one of the contenders for our April book box. I breezed through this mystery/thriller, which had the perfect amount of suspense for me. I was drawn in from the first chapter and anxiously kept turning the pages—theorizing, desperate to “solve” the mystery. I thought I had it figured out, and I was right about one part. The gradual unraveling and final “reveal” was mostly satisfying, but there were a few aspects of the story that I didn’t feel were explained well enough in the ending, which bumped it down to 4 stars for me.

City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab

★★★★☆

This is a middle-grade series by one of my favourite authors. I’m typically drawn to anything “dark” with history, hauntings, and suspense. Having said that, I am also such a chicken when it comes to anything “scary.” I definitely could not have handled these without nightmares as a child or teenager—I was creeped out enough as an adult! I love that this story is set in Edinburgh, which is one of my FAVOURITE cities in the world. It was neat to revisit many of the places I’ve been in the city, and I love Schwab’s concept of “the Veil.” As a middle-grade novel, the characters and plot lack the complexity of her YA/adult novels, but I still loved it and didn’t feel like the language was overly simplistic. It was a quick, perfectly creepy read for me!

Tunnel of Bones by Victoria Schwab

★★★★☆

I found this one significantly scarier than City of Ghosts. There’s something about a “child” ghost that just CREEPS ME OUT! I legitimately could not read this past dusk or if I was home alone. While I didn’t love the setting of Paris as much as Edinburgh, I did find the plot more engaging, suspenseful and intense compared to City of Ghosts. I cannot wait for the next book in this series—set in New Orleans—coming in September 2020.

The Words I Never Wrote by Jane Thynne

★★★⭑☆ (3.5)

This was another contender for our April book box. I adore historical fiction, so I was bound to enjoy this novel set before and during WWII. It definitely covers a lesser-known part of this time period, and I love how it centers around two sisters who are essentially “split” between the two sides of war. It is rife with historic details and packed with emotion. The story and perspectives do shift frequently—often when you really don’t want them to—which was annoying at times, but also kept me reading because I needed to find out what happened! I feel a bit torn about this one because at some points it jumped around too much and it felt overly detailed… but then the history nerd in me loved the inclusion of those details, and the end did tie everything together nicely.


How many books did you read in February? If you had to recommend ONE book you’ve read so far this year, which would it be!?

Thanks for reading!

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 PM

The 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.

Screen Shot 2018-12-02 at 5.37.11 PM

Sea Prayer by Khaled Hosseini    ★★★★★

“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 PM

Sky 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 PM

The 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 PM

Simon 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…

518zN4ZSZiL._SX328_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

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?

signature

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!

39223260_693065907697642_4625080629854208000_n

Here are the books I read in August:

9781787461703.jpg
Source

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    ★★★★☆

rain watcher
Source

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    ★★★★★

2728527
Source

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?

signature

Book Review | Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

Do you listen to audiobooks? They’re relatively new to me, and I must admit that a good audiobook can be the perfect way to experience a story. I first started listening to them out of frustration, really; I was slogging my way through the fifth novel in the Outlander series – The Fiery Cross – and I was struggling to get through it. I had abandoned it months before, opting for lighter and shorter reads. Determined to finally finish it, I checked out the audiobook version from my library’s app. Although seeing the length of the recording (55 hours and 34 minutes *GASP*) was daunting, I soon realized that listening to an audiobook made monotonous household tasks – cleaning, laundry, cooking, and snow shoveling – SO much more entertaining! This also happened to be last winter, when our tractor was broken down for the duration of the season and we got seemingly endless piles and piles of snow; I finished the second half of the audiobook ONLY listening to it whilst shoveling snow.
born a crime

I’ve also recently listened to Amanda Lindhout’s A House in the Sky and Naomi Klein’s book about climate change: This Changes Everything. Although I enjoyed those audiobooks, Born a Crime, narrated by Trevor Noah (the author), was a completely unique experience. I had seen various clips of Trevor Noah on YouTube, but to be honest I didn’t know much about him. I had been eyeing up Born a Crime every time I entered a bookstore. I had read the synopsis and a few reviews; I was not-so-patiently waiting for it to come on sale… aaaand it didn’t. I recently subscribed to Audible, and when I first saw Born a Crime on there, I was hesitant, mostly because I had been waiting to buy the print version for so long. Upon noticing that it was narrated by Trevor himself, and after skimming a few reviews, I dived in.
I haven’t read the print version of the book (I think I’ll buy it eventually… if it ever comes on sale!) but I wholeheartedly recommend listening to the audiobook regardless. Perhaps it was destiny that the hardcover book just wasn’t coming on sale. Even if you’ve read the print version, LISTEN TO THE AUDIOBOOK! Sorry, I feel like I am shouting this from the mountaintops, but that’s how good it is!
Listening to this book felt like sitting down with Trevor Noah over coffee and hearing him tell his life story. He is such a natural storyteller, and is downright hilarious; he had me regularly laughing and guffawing out loud, which garnered concerned looks from my fiancé. His voice brought this emotional, brutal, insightful and hilarious story to LIFE.
Trevor Noah was born at the tail end of apartheid: the period of systemic, institutional, government-sanctioned racial segregation and discrimination in South Africa. He was born to a deeply religious, independent, and charismatic mother. He starts out by describing how he was, quite literally, born a crime:

“On February 20, 1984, my mother checked into Hillbrow Hospital for a scheduled C-section delivery. Estranged from her family, pregnant by a man she could not be seen with in public, she was alone. The doctors took her up to the delivery room, cut open her belly, and reached in and pulled out a half-white, half-black child who violated any number of laws, statutes, and regulations—I was born a crime.”

As a mixed-race child, Trevor straddled the various groups in South Africa – he looked “colored,” but identified as black. His childhood was complicated, as he tried to find his identity and place in a divided society. He effortlessly weaves hilarious anecdotes and escapades with heart wrenching and tragic accounts of poverty, violence and racism. His story is both entertaining and insightful. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to it – and in fact, I actually cleaned and organized beyond what I needed to, just to keep listening. I learned a lot about life during and following apartheid in South Africa, and I completely fell in love with Trevor and his mother.

Now I am listening to it for a second time with my fiancé, because I just had to share it with him. If you end up listening to it, I’d love to know your thoughts about it.

Title: Born a Crime
Author: Trevor Noah
Publication Date: November 15, 2016
My Rating: ★★★★★

(P.S. The Hardcover book is actually on sale now… now you know my next book purchase!)

Goodreads | Amazon | Chapters


Do you listen to audiobooks? Please leave your awesome audiobook recommendations in the comments below.

signature

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…

 

this changes everything.jpg
Source

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!

 

ausch
Source

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!

 

 

fawkes
Source

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.

 

bossypants.jpg
Source

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…

 

born a crime
Source

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?

signature

 

Welcome to my Book Blog!

112Hi! My name is Janice. I am new to book blogging, and I have a serious reading addiction…

I suppose I’ve always been addicted to books, but my affliction has become increasingly serious as I’ve gotten older. We can blame my parents for igniting my imagination with creative bedtime stories (both made up and read from books). They happily fed my reading addiction for many years.

A little less than a year ago, I started a Bookstagram account. I had subscribed to this AMAZING new thing called a book subscription box. I am sure at that point subscription boxes had been around for awhile, but I was living in Northern BC, Canada, which is slightly removed from, well – everything! The first Novel Editions book box I received was absolutely magical! The novel itself – The Witches of New York – piqued my interest, and I adored all of the lovely goodies packaged so perfectly alongside the book. I thought, oh my goodness – this is perfection in a box! People need to see this! Of course, I snapped some photos and shared them on my personal Instagram. From there I was introduced to Bookstagram, bookish hashtags, other book subscription boxes, bookish merchandise, and all of the amazingness that comes along with book nerds sharing their love of books online!

Bookstagram has been adding fuel to my book addiction fire, and I am completely okay with that. I have met so many wonderful people, and started my own little business creating bookmarks and book sleeves.

A few facts about me:

  • My favourite genres are: historical fiction, contemporary and fantasy (although I read anything that sounds interesting)
  • I also love reading non-fiction about history, politics, philosophy, sociology, and anthropology
  • I am a full-time high school teacher
  • I need frequent immersion in nature to survive
  • Coffee is my life source
  • Tea is nice too

So, in order to share my thoughts on everything book-related, I have started this blog! I’ll be adding reviews of books as well as sharing book subscription boxes and other favourite bookish things! I hope you’ll enjoy it.

signature