Thursday, December 31, 2015

Reading in 2015

Goodreads did this thing, where it shows you your year in books, with stats and everything! There's no way to export it properly though. I can Tweet, Pin and post is on FAcebook, and of course, share it to my Goodreads profile. So, maybe I took a screenshot of the top bit with my stats. That's cool, right?

I don't know what it is, I like being able to see what I read like this. I wish it had some kind of pie chart thing, where I could see it broken down by genre, just so I could know what my 2015 reading looked like.

I also thought I'd throw together an image of all the books covers for the wonderful books I've read.
Wonder how I made that image....

I read some amazing stories this year. I look forward to all the books waiting for me in 2016! 

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Daughter of Smoke and Bone

The end. The end made the whole book for me.  I was enjoying Daughter of Smoke and Bone the whole time, but I was slow to get into it in the beginning, I think that's because I started reading it just a few days before Christmas. I raced through the middle on Boxing Day; I must have read at least half the book in one sitting. My Hubby had to remind me to go to bed.

Karou is such a unique, interesting character. She talks about things, admits things, that other girls in Young Adult literature never admit to, which is what got me in the beginning. Moving forward in the story, I thought she was one thing, but before the end, I came to realize she was something else, something unexpected. I love that Karou surprised me. She grew and changed as her knowledge did. She did not end the book that same as when her story began. Not even close .

I loved Akiva. He also went from being one thing to another. He was hard and soft, serious and romantic. For a minute though, can we talk about the whole staring at the girl while she sleeps thing? It isn't just for vampire books. I don't care that Akiva (or whoever) thinks the girl is the most beautiful thing ever, don't watch them sleep. It will always make my eyes roll, no matter how much I've loved the book.... and love this story I did.

I am so excited to see what happens next, to see more of the other world. The way that Laini Taylor blended the story together, moved from one world to another, slipped in memories and feelings. Taylor wove her story together to create a tapetry of worlds and characters. I'm so excited to find out what happens with the rest of this exciting series.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Annual End Of Year Survey – 2015 Edition!!

So, I did this weeks ago and totally thought I posted it.  Oops! Better late than never!  Here is the 2015 End of Year Book Survey, hosted by The Perpetual Page Turner.

Reading Stats

Number Of Books You Read: 38

Number of Re-Reads: 2

Genre You Read The Most From: Fantasy

2015 Questions

1. Best Book You Read In 2015?
It’s a tie between Ruin and Rising and A Discovery of Witches

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?
The Fangirls Guide to the Galaxy, I still enjoyed it, but I didn’t love it the way I thought I would.

3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?

Umm… Shatter Me and A Discover of Witches maybe?  I didn’t expect to enjoy the books as much as I did.

4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?
I don’t really “push” people to read books. I supposed the book I suggested most to read was Mockingjay, before the movie came out.

5. Best series you started in 2015? Best Sequel of 2015? Best Series Ender of 2015?
Starter: Wild Seed, by Octavia Butler, just amazing
Sequel: Siege and Storm, by Leigh Bardugo
Ender: Ruin and Rising, by Leigh Bardugo (a fantastic series)

6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2015?

Umm… A bunch?
Andrew Pyper
Deborah Harkness
Jasper Fforde

I don’t think I can pick between them.

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?
Embroideries, by Marjane Satrapi.  It’s non-fiction, which I don’t read a lot of, but I want to read more.  I’ve actually read a couple non-fiction books this year, so yay!

 8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?
A Discovery of Witches, which I may have already mentioned a few times (and we’re only on question #8)

 9. Book You Read In 2015 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?
None?  I don’t re-read much, and when I do it’s not something I just read the year before.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2015?
The Eyre Affair or the covers for The Grisha series.

11. Most memorable character of 2015?
Thursday Next

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2015?

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2015?
I don’t know about “life-changing”, but the most thought provoking books I read were Embroideries, The Flying Troutmans and Death of A Salesman

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2015 to finally read?
Dawn of the Dreadfuls, I’ve had it forever and finally got around to reading it earlier this year.

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2015?
MacBeth had a lot of great quotes and here is just one:
"Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing." – Act V, Scene v
Depressing, but darkly beautiful.
16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2015?
Shortest: MacBeth (I’m not including the Short Stories I read.)
Longest: A Discovery of Witches (by one page over The Diviners)

 17. Book That Shocked You The Most
(Because of a plot twist, character death, left you hanging with your mouth wide open, etc.)
The Girl Who Played With Fire, I think.  It was a shocking, cliffhanger, ending.

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)
(OTP = one true pairing if you aren’t familiar)
Evie and Jericho, from The Diviners, even though I feel like Evie is going to end up with Sam, based on how I think the story will go, but if she ends up with Jericho, I would be so happy.
Also, I would have liked Thursday with Bowden in The Erye Affair. There’s lots of books left in the series, so who knows.

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year
Hattie and her niece and nephew from The Flying Troutmans

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2015 From An Author You’ve Read Previously
Wild Seed, by Octavia E. Butler

21. Best Book You Read In 2015 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:
The Eyre Affair because of What Red Read.

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2015?
Matthew De Clermont from A Discovery of Witches. Also Nicolai from the Grisha Trilogy.

23. Best 2015 debut you read?
I didn’t read any.

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

The world in the Grisha trilogy.  It just came to life.

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?
Star Wars Jedi Academy: The Phantom Bully and Return of the Padawan, MG graphic novels that are just super cute.

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2015?
The Flying Troutmans, the whole thing is just so tragic.

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?
The Demonologist, by Andrew Pyper

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?
I think it’s a tie between Ruin and Rising and A Discovery of Witches.

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2015?
The Waves, by Virginia Woolf.

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?
I think The Diviners, because I kept being frustrated by Evie’s decisions.

Book Blogging

1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2015?
Seeking a Little Truth

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2015?

3. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog?

4. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?
I heard Andrew Pyper speak about the process of writing.

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2015?
Umm… all of them?

6. Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year?
I got a new job. So, Yay! But also, it’s a lot of work and it has totally cut into my reading blogging time.  After spending 8 hours (minimum) a day staring at a computer screen, I don’t want to do that when I’m done working. I need a better blogging app for my phone or tablet.  Just finding a better work/life balance is what I need too.

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?
I’m surprised, my most popular post this year has been my thoughts on Jane Austen’s classic, Northanger Abbey.

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?

I don’t know…. Let’s just go with my most recent read, As Birds Bring Forth The Sun and Other Stories.

9. Best bookish discover (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?

10.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?
I participated in the Classics Club Spin twice this year with The Waves and MacBeth.  I look forward to the next Spin too!

Looking Ahead – Books 2015

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2015 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2016?
Full Dark, No Stars, by Stephen King

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2016 (non-debut)?
The Raven King, by Maggie Steifvater

3. 2016 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?
I don’t really keep up with debuts. I just go with whatever catches my eye or what others are talking about.

4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2016?
The Raven King…. Should I find another answer to this question?

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2016?
Finally find a work/life(blogging life) balance that makes me happy.

6. A 2016 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone:
Not that lucky this year.  Maybe next year!

Happy Holidays Everyone!!

Happy Boxing Day! - Merry Day After Christmas!

I hope everyone had a great Christmas, or whatever holiday you celebrate. We've had a great, though busy time so far. My children got a ton of Lego.  I didn't realized when I mentioned it, that every grandparent was going to get that for them. We also got some for them, so I imagine we will be stepping on tiny, pointy pieces for the next few months.

I am really excited by the presents my husband got for me.  I tweeted it yesterday.  

Look at how well my husband knows me. Every present I opened was a gasp or squeel of joy. It was so thoughtful.

I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas and is relaxing with their wonderful new gifts, friends and family.

For those of you braving the malls today, Good Luck!!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

As Birds Bring Forth The Sun and Other Stories

I was so excited when I received a copy of Alistair MacLeod's As Birds Bring Forth The Sun and Other Stories. Years ago, I read the title story, in a collection of Canadian stories, From Ink Lake and was just captured by the beautiful writing. The words brought to life the Cape Breton landscape. When the collection containing this amazing story was offered to me, I had to take it. I'm going to say a few sentences about each story as I read them, though they all deserve so much more.

The Closing Down of Summer is a sad tale.  It is beautifully written, but my heart breaks a little for the narrator, who seems trapped in his life.  I wish they could escape and do so much more.

Winter Dog is a beautiful story, but again, a sad one. It was a timely story too, as the story began with the first snowfall before Christmas. It's a reminiscence; the  narrator looks at his children playing and at the dog that visits from across the street and he is reminded if a dog who looked similar, who saved him, but was not long for the world. The memory is strong, but somehow hidden.

To Everything There Is A Season is another beautiful story taking place at Christmas. It is sad to think if crossing the threshold to the adult side of Christmas, but is has to happen eventually. It is also sad to return home, though warmly welcomed, to see something once thought steady, has changed.  I lived this story. So much emotion in just a few pages.  

Second Spring is an interesting story. It's about growing up, I think. There's a thorough description of butchering, which was...strong. There was a lot about farm life, things I didn't know. But mostly it was about the narrator, from seventh to eighth grade and how much can change in a short amount of time. 

Why do all these stories have to be so sad?!?!

The Tuning of Perfection was heartbreaking in just a few pages. I loved Archibald. I felt for him, for his losses and how his family seemed to slip away from him. This story speaks to lost heritage and to desires. Maybe the best story of the collection thus far. 

As Birds Bring Forth The Sun is a haunting and tragic take. Maybe even stronger on this second reading.  Is is another sad tale from Mr. MacLeod. The first time I thought it was sad and mysterious. I found myself wondering about the dog. This time, I'm not wondering so much about the dog, but what spectre might be following this family, real or imagined. I'm wondering about family legends and how long they last. I also see different things in the story when it is in the context of this collection. The Gaelic, the loss and family. Now that I've read it again, I think this might be the best story in the collection, the one that can connect them all. 

Vision has many levels. It is about literal visions as in "the second sight". I really liked and felt for the narrator, retelling a tale of his father. It was deeply sad, maybe the sadest tale of all. It was not seeing what was in front of you.  It was blindness, the narrator's father and the old woman with cats. Vision is a story I feel like I will have to read again.

There's a lot of Gaelic in MacLeod's collection of short stories. It is a part of everyone. You can tell that it was something he grew up with and had a deep impact on his life. Each of these stories is piece or slice of their particular narrator's life, and it is a piece that has had a deep impact. Jane Urquhart writes the afterward in this edition. You can tell by the way Urquhart talks about the stories, how much she enjoys them and MacLeod. She has a deep appreciation for the stories, their emotion and their "universal" themes "told though intimate moments". Do I agree with Urquhart that the themes are universal? Migration, family, love, loss? Yes, I suppose I do, though when I read the stories, I didn't think that way. Instead, I appreciated the beauty of the writing and the sadness of the tales. It's definitely a collection I can see myself coming back to in a few years. 

I feel lucky that As Birds Bring Forth The Sun and Other Stories and MacLeod's other collection, The Lost Salt Gift of Blood came to me. Both collections were eventualy published together as Island, but I'm glad I have them seperately. I wonder if the themes or feelings of the other stories will be different. For right now though, I'll allow myself to ponder the lives of Alistair MacLeod's amazing characters.

Monday, December 07, 2015

Emily Dickinson!

The Classics Club Spin number is 19!  That means Three Series (aka the poems of) Emily Dickinson. I actually started reading this some time ago, like over a year. I read the first series over the course of a few months, but then I slowed down. It is a lot of poems, like A LOT. I still read them, but it has been down to a few every month, usually inbetween whatever novels or short stories I'm reading. Whenever I've made a Classics Club Spin list the past few times, if comes up with Dickinson's number, I include it.  I want to finish the poems.  I want to finish them before my list becomes due.  With the past few spins, I've hoped to get Dickinson, because I know it will be the motivation I need to finish the complete poems. I think I can do it. February 1st. Ya, sure. No problem.

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Classic Spinning

I just saw this post.  Ahh!  I've been behind on my blog reading and I just happened to be thinking, I wonder when there will be another Spin.  Bam! Here it is.  The rules are here.  20 books randomly (thanks to from my list:

1. Discourse on Method, by Rene Descartes
2. The Raven, by Edgar Allan Poe
3. A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens
4. Medea, by Euripides
5. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, by Anne Brontë
6. Appointment with Death, by Agatha Christie
7. From the Earth to the Moon, by Jules Verne
8. Grimm's Fairy Stories, by Jacob Grimm & Wilhelm Grimm
9. The House of Mirth, by Edith Wharton
10. The Woman in White, by Wilkie Collins
11. Daisy Miller, by Henry James
12. Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson
13. Sherlock Holmes #1: A Study In Scarlett, by Arthur Conan Doyle
14. Anne of Green Gables, by L.M. Montgomery
15. Tales of Angria, by Charlotte Brontë
16. Dracula's Guest, by Bram Stoker
17. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, by Tom Stoppard
18. A Farewell to Arms, by Ernest Hemingway
19. Three Series, Complete, by Emily Dickinson
20. The Cat In The Hat, by Dr. Seuss

I do want to read more classics this year, so this is a good way to start.  I'm excited to see what the number will be!

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Book Storage

I have run out of shelf space. More than run out. I have 4 bookcases, with shelves doubled up with paperbacks and others fronted by hardcovers. I don't need just one more bookshelf, I need at least two. To try to alleviate the weight and allow my book buying to continue, I thought I'd make a "book tower". Basically, I stacked a bunch of hardcovers up to my chest. I made the tower two books wide, to try to distribute the weight and leaned my husbands Ivanhoe sword against it (yes, we have some replica weaponry), to try to hold it up. After a couple weeks, it can tumbling down. (I'm going to blame the children.) For a while now, they've been left in small stacks on my living room floor, behind the rocking chair. 

What do I do with them?

I think they're going to end up on the shelf in my room. On the bottom of the shelf I have boardgames. I love boardgames, but these are ones we haven't played in ages and they're just sitting there. Do I remove them to the basement and put the books there?  I might be able to jigsaw them into fitting. The games would go into the storage in the basement. Why don't the books go there? Well, I've realized that it's about emotional attachment. When I see the games, I don't really feel anything. I don't even really notice them. When I look at books, I think about their stories. I think about what happened, what they mean and how I felt when I read them. I remember and it makes me smile. Having the books closer to me, might just add a little happiness into that corner of my day. So, I move the books, right?

I was browsing Pinterest, when my sneaky daughter came up behind me and announced, "We should do that!" What did she see? A book Christmas tree. I told her that would be nice and we have more than enough books to do it, but not enough space. We'd have to get rid of our actual Christmas tree to do that and no one wants that. I could build one in her room, but there wouldn't be much room for anything else. Plus, this doesn't seem like the permenent solution I want.