January 2016

January was a good book month for me. It wasn’t good in just about any other regard, but I managed to completely finish 13 books!

As with every year, I have been participating in James’s TBR Triple Dog Dare.

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Not being in school any longer means I have not had to make any exceptions for myself, so all 13 of January’s books came off of my TBR bookcase.

Four were from the McClelland & Stewart New Canadian Library series, which every Canadian will recognize from their distinctive covers. I’m a personal fan of the fourth generation of covers, with their beigey spines and notable Canadian paintings on the front, though the second generation is more well known, with the sort of acid-trip colours and Rorschach designs.

I also finally read The Martian, by Andy Weir – I still haven’t seen the movie, as I am perpetually behind with these things, but it is absolutely on my to-do list. I don’t want to make any sweeping statements just yet as we’re only just into the second month of 2016, but I am quite certain this book will remain in my top 10 of the year!

There was quite a lot of Canadiana in January, as along with the four NCL titles, I also read The Blue Castle by L.M Montgomery, a Bill Richardson book about meeting eccentric Canadians from coast to coast, and a short book from the Amazing Stories line about early dinosaur hunters and palaeontologists in Canada.

Another publisher’s line that I am fond of is the New York Review of Books. I love their design, for one, and I’ve yet to pick up a book and not love it in some way. January saw me read Chess Story by Stefan Zweig and Nightmare Alley by William Lindsay Gresham. I have very mixed feelings about the second title, but they are strong feelings and therefore still mostly positive. The last line in the book gave me absolute chills!

Of course, as is my ongoing problem, despite moving 13 books off my TBR list, I added far more than 13 to it in January! Hopefully February will feature more reading and less buying!!

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Weird and Wonderful Words

I’ve been cleaning my home office/crafts room/reading room/place I stash stuff and I came across a very neat notebook that I had forgotten I had – at some point, I started writing down all the new words I came across in my reading, and their definitions.

Some sample pages:

I have always been what the writer Robert MacNeil calls “wordstruck” – overwhelmed by the beauty of language.

Here are some of my favourites, now rediscovered thanks to this notebook!

Angulate Wentletrap: A mollusk. An elongate but robust shell with whorls. From the Dutch wenteltrap, for “spiral staircase”.

Apocope: The loss of one or more sounds or letters at the end of a word, ie “hangin’ loose”. From the Greek apokoptein, “to cut off”.

Cacqueteuse: A 16th century chair for women, built to accommodate the bulky clothes then stylish. From the French caquet, “to chatter”.

Cockalorum: One who struts or boasts, appearing like a rooster.

Euneirophrenia: The peace of mind after a pleasant dream.

Monadnock: A mountain that has resisted erosion and stands isolated on a plain.

Obdormition: The numbness when one of your extremities falls asleep.

Pulchritudinous: Possibly the ugliest sounding word ever to mean “physically beautiful”.

Persiflage: Light, frivolous talk or flippancy, from the French persifler, “to banter”.

Quidnunc: Someone who is eager to hear the latest gossip. From the Latin quid nunc which literally means “what now”. How great is that?!

So, dear fellow readers, what are some of the words you’ve come across in your reading that left you wordstruck?

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2015 Reading Wrap-Up

Jamie over at The Perpetual Page-Turner has created a great end-of-year survey which I am filling out. Her post has some beautiful graphics but I am going to be lazy and not include them. Check them out though!

2015 Reading Stats:

Number Of Books You Read: 141
Number of Re-Reads: Only 1! I love the idea of re-reading but rarely do it, because there are so many books out there I still haven’t read!
Genre You Read The Most From: Toss up between general non-fic and literary fiction.

Best in Books

1. Best Book You Read In 2015?

I rated 10 books at 5 stars on Goodreads in 2015. Narrowing it down to one each in fiction and non fiction, I would say the best I read were Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson and The Sabbath: Its Meaning for Modern Man by Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel.

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

The five Faye Kellerman books I read. I remembered loving the Peter Decker/Rina Lazarus books when I was in high school, but I didn’t rate one of them higher than 3 stars and I think I was being generous there. It was a disappointing discovery, to be certain!

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

Cure for the Common Breakup by Beth Kendrick. I wrote about my love-hate relationship with “chick lit” and how Beth Kendrick was my new favourite thing earlier this year.

4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?

I don’t actually push books on people for the most part. I often pass on mysteries to my mum for her bus rides, and I will occasionally tell my husband if I think he’d like a book I’m reading, but that’s about it. Although, I did create an annotated list of books to read for my mother-in-law’s birthday, which she was really happy with!

5. Best series you started in 2015? Best Sequel of 2015? Best Series Ender of 2015?

Best sequel would be A Clash of Kings, by George RR Martin. Best series I started, the Black Dog Bay series by Beth Kendrick. I didn’t read any series enders in  2015. I don’t actually read many series – nothing worse than getting invested and then not being able to find the next one!

6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2015?

Beth Kendrick. I also rediscovered Helen Humphreys and Zoe Whittall, both authors I’d read before but forgotten how much I enjoyed their work.

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

I don’t read a lot of YA, especially YA romance, but I really enjoyed The Chapel Wars by Lindsay Leavitt. It was funny and the characters all seemed to actually behave their age, which is something I really have trouble with in YA.

8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

Playing Dead by Julia Heaberlin. I stayed up all night to finish this one, I loved it!

9. Book You Read In 2015 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

As I said at the beginning, I am not really one for re-reading, so it’s not likely there will be any.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2015?

The cover for Cure for the Common Breakup is what first drew it to me. I also love the cover for Terroryaki! by Jennifer K. Chung. I also quite like the cover of Sacre Bleu: A Comedy d’Art by Christopher Moore.

 

11. Most memorable character of 2015?

Speaking of Sacre Bleu, Blue and the Colourman are certainly memorable!

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2015?

In terms of language, the best of the year were The Sabbath by Heschel and A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood.

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2015?

Without a doubt, absolutely The Sabbath. It caused me to rethink a lot about how I approach my faith.

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2015 to finally read?

Songs of Distant Earth by Arthur C. Clarke. It’s not that book specifically, but I really can’t believe I made it to this point in my life without reading any significant amount of Clarke! He’s an incredible writer.

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2015?

“I have no physical symptoms, but psychologically there’s this burden. I’ve got to get rid of it somehow. Of course, when I first went back to work I was scared the same thing might happen again. It takes positive thinking to overcome fear, otherwise you’ll carry around this victim mentality forever.”

A victim of the Tokyo Underground attacks on his post-traumatic disorder, from Underground: The Tokyo Gas Attack and the Japanese Psyche by Haruki Murakami.

16. Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2015?

The longest was A Clash of Kings at 778 pages. The shortest was Norman, Speak! by Caroline Adderson which is a 32 page children’s book.

17. Book That Shocked You The Most

The Plague Dogs by Richard Adams. I finished it a week ago and I’m still thinking about it. I can’t really put into words what exactly it was that shocked me but it was just an incredible book that evoked a lot of emotions from me, including shock.

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)

Erica Falck and Patrik Hedstrom from the Fjallbacka books by Camilla Lackberg. I love their dynamic and the way they support each other no matter what.

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year

Rowf and Snitter in The Plague Dogs.

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2015 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

Buried Angels by Camilla Lackberg. I’ve read a handful of her Patrik Hedstrom books, and this one was my favourite so far.

21. Best Book You Read In 2015That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:

At least half of the books I read come from recommendations! No one title is standing out to me, though.

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2015?

I remain faithful to my one true love, Sandor Clegane from A Song of Ice and Fire!

23. Best 2015 debut you read?

I’m glad you specify debut, because I read a number of great books published in 2015 but many of them were not debuts. A standout in the debut category is Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear by Lindsay Mattick, which is a gorgeously drawn children’s book about Mattick’s great-grandfather Harry Colebourn and the bear who would become Winnie the Pooh.

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

George RR Martin has many failings as a writer, but one of his strengths is his worldbuilding. Westeros and the rest of his world are so elaborately created in words that I can imagine myself in every scenario he writes.

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

As If! The Oral History of Clueless as told by Amy Heckerling and the Cast and Crew, by Jen Chaney. I wrote a review (it even has gifs!) when I first read it. Even just rereading my review is reminding me of how fun it was to read!

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2015?

The Plague Dogs by Richard Adams. There were definitely tears.

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?

Terroryaki! – I picked it up based on it’s cover and it was hilarious. Plus, it informed me as to the existence of the annual international 3-day novel competition, which I am strongly considering signing up for next year.

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?

Thankfully I can say none of the books I read in 2015 crushed my soul. I have no time for books that hurt!

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2015?

I’m still not sure how to describe Fifteen Dogs by Andre Alexis!

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

There aren’t any books that made me mad. There were a few that left me disappointed, but no emotion as strong as anger.

I’m leaving out the section Jamie included about blogs, as by my own admission, I have not been super involved in blogging or participating in events in 2015. I *did* participate in a number of book swaps, which are always great fun, and I’m hoping that I can be a bit more present and active in 2016!

Looking Ahead

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2015 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2016?

Another Jane Austen book. It’s not terribly important to me which one it is, but I have been averaging one a year and I still have a few to go!

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2016 (non-debut)?

Tracy Chevalier has a new book out in 2016 – I don’t actually know anything about it, but I love her writing and therefore I am excited!

3. 2016 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?

I don’t know – I don’t follow a huge number of ARC-reviewers so I don’t know what all’s coming out in 2016.

 4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2016?

Well, rumours have The Winds of Winter possibly coming out by year’s end, so there’s always that for anticipation!

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2016?

I just want to be more active. I hope to blog more, participate in more challenges, etc.

6. A 2016 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone:

I haven’t read any 2016 releases yet!

Hope you all had a great 2015 and here is to a book-filled 2016!

 

 

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The final Triple Dog Dare

Hi all, please ignore my months-long absence! A year end wrap-up will be up by the end of the week. (In theory.)

In the meantime, it’s that time again!

tbr-final-dare

James over at James Reads Books is hosting his final TBR Triple Dog Dare. The dare is thus: read only the books on your TBR shelf from January 1 to April 1. Exceptions are up to you – in the past, I’ve made exceptions for school-related books. This time around I am not in school, so I am allowing myself no exceptions!

I won’t be without choices though, there are currently 178 titles in my Unread Library and there are still 4 shopping days left in 2015!!

 

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October is Octover! Monthly Wrap-Up

October was a slow book month for me. I spent a lot of the month dealing with illness, so my usual reading time of the commute to and from work was instead spent in bed watching old cycles of America’s Next Top Model.

I completed 7 books this month, and as always, here are a few numbers:

Books: 7
Pages: 2574
2 were by women, 5 by men. One was a library book, the rest were from my TBR – really proud of that one! Only one was non-fiction, and the fiction was about half mystery/thriller, half literary fic.

No real highlights, they were all good books but nothing stood out. Here’s hoping November will be a bit more interesting!

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Book Review: Fifteen Dogs, by André Alexis

Fifteen Dogs was published this past April and has been shortlisted for the 2015 Scotiabank Giller Prize. I received my ARC in January at the OLA Conference, and I was immediately sold on the premise of dogs who receive the godly gift of human awareness and communication. Apollo and Hermes debate on whether having the ability to think in human language and having human intelligence would affect dogs and their innate sense of happiness, and give this gift to fifteen dogs in a nearby vet’s office. These dogs are there for various reasons and are brought together into a new pack by this shared gift.

Apollo and Hermes have determined that the experiment will have been a success if even one of the dogs is happy with his life at the time of his death. How the dogs react to this sudden ability is at the crux of the story. Some accept it, some cannot.

This is not a happy book. It’s a book about the potential for happiness, but it’s not a happy book. Like many people, I have more of a problem with reading or viewing animal cruelty than human cruelty. This book does not shy away from animal cruelty, and be warned – there is animal death.

I found myself wanting to put the book down more than once, but I also found myself wanting to reach the end so I could find out for myself how the debate was resolved. I’m glad I stuck it out, because the book left me thinking, and to me that is the sign of a good book. Alexis’s writing is fluid and poetical, and though I have not read any of the other Scotiabank Giller finalists, I will not be surprised if Fifteen Dogs is given the prize.

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Wordless Wednesday

or, a photo essay in my inability to say no to a used book sale.

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October’s been a good month.

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