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Friday, January 6, 2017

Stacking the Shelves: Holiday 2016 Edition

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews to showcase books that I have received for review, bought, borrowed, been gifted, or won to read.


Happy New Year! It's been a year since I participated in the Stacking the Shelves meme to show off my 2015 holiday book haul. I'm super excited and grateful for the books I got over the 2016 holiday season so I thought I would show them off as well:


To start off, a few books I received pre-holidays from the work I do as a bookkeeper for my dad's company:
Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas - I ordered this shortly after completing Queen of Shadows, which I loved. I will hopefully get to reading this soon - certainly before the final Throne of Glass book comes out this year!

Leuchtturm1917 Dotted Hardcover Notebook (A5), Royal Blue - In the tail end of 2016, I decided to try my hand at bullet journalling and quickly fell in love. I've always been a planner and list-maker, but have always done so digitally - to varied success. With bullet journalling, there's something about planning in analog that just works for me and has been keeping me on track and motivated to be productive. So I decided to treat myself to a pretty new journal for the new year!

Holiday Gifts:
The Piper's Son by Melina Marchetta - from Ambur of Burning Impossibly Bright
I've only read one Melina Marchetta book before - Jellicoe Road - and I found it to be so beautiful and impactful. So I'm looking forward to my next Marchetta read!

I'll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson - from Sara of Just Another Story
I have heard nothing but the most amazing things about this author and this book and so I am stoked to read this!

Uprooted by Naomi Novik - from Micheline of Lunar Rainbows
Here's another one that seemingly everyone loved. I just KNOW that this one will end up being a favourite fantasy of mine!

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt - from in-laws
My in-laws both loved this book a lot and thoughtfully thought I would like it as well.


As with last year, I can't help but feel SO lucky to have so many people in my life who are so thoughtful and know my reading tastes so well! I expect 2017 will be a good year in books for me :)

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

2016 End of Year Survey

The Annual End of Year Book Survey is hosted by The Perpetual Page-Turner


1. Best Book You Read In 2016?
In chronological order read: The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater, Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, Fire and Thorns Trilogy by Rae Carson, Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas, and Vicious by V.E. Schwab. I read lots of great books this year, but these are the ones that ended up sticking with me weeks, months later.

2. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child had a ton of bizarre surprises in store and I'm still not really sure what to think of them...

3. Best series you started in 2016? Best Sequel of 2016? Best Series Ender of 2016?
Definitely The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater.

4. Favorite new author you discovered in 2016?
Rae Carson! I was blown away by her Fire and Thorns Trilogy.

5. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?
I usually avoid depressing contemporary books like the plague, but I must admit that Me Before You by Jojo Moyes was a great reading experience.

6. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?
The Fire and Thorns Trilogy by Rae Carson - these books are so fast-paced, they accomplish more plot-wise in a few chapters than the average book, which takes thrice as long.

7. Book You Read In 2016 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?
I would love to do a series reread of The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater, probably via audiobook.

8. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2016?

9. Most memorable character of 2016?
Laura Ingalls from the Little House Series quickly won me over with her spunky tomboy spirit and I loved reading about her journey growing up as a pioneer in the Northwest US. Also: Marvin, the chronically depressed robot, from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

10. Most beautifully written book read in 2016?
The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater.


11. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2016?
Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. I wouldn't say this book was life-changing, but it definitely gave me a ton to think about.

13. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2016 to finally read?
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams! That book was originally published in 1979, is a classic, and is right up my alley so I don't know what took me so long.

14. Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2016?
Longest: Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas - 648 pages
Shortest: one of the numerous children's picture books I read to kids during my summer job

15. Book That Shocked You The Most
Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff had some insanely fun shocking moments!

16. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)
Yorick and Agent 355 from Y: The Last Man by Brian Vaughan.

17. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year
The Raven Boys + Blue, from the The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater.

18. Favorite Book You Read in 2016 From An Author You’ve Read Previously
The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater. I had previously read The Scorpio Races - an all-time favourite of mine - so it is no wonder The Raven Cycle was a WIN for me in 2016.

19. Best Book You Read In 2016 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:
When I heard from Micheline of Lunar Rainbows that the audiobook of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy was read by the inimitable Stephen Fry, I KNEW I had to have it!

20. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline.

21. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?
For sure The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams!

22. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2016?
Me Before You by Jojo Moyes.

23. Book That Crushed Your Soul?
The final volume of Y: The Last Man by Brian Vaughan.

24. Most Unique Book You Read In 2016?
Saga by Brian Vaughan and The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente. HELLO creativity!!

25. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2016 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2017?
Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass #5) by Sarah J. Maas

26. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2017 (non-debut)?
Throne of Glass #6 by Sarah J. Maas - the series ender!!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Top Ten Authors I Read For The First Time In 2016


Top Ten Authors I Read For The First Time In 2016

1. Jojo Moyes (Me Before You): This year I finally read the much hyped Me Before You (still have to see the movie adaptation though), and it was every bit as depressing as I was told it would be. Heh. It was a good story though and I would like to read more from Jojo Moyes.

2. Charles Darwin (Voyage of the Beagle, Origin of Species): Of course I studied Darwin's ideas ad nauseam in school, but I'd never actually read his books until this year. Origin of Species was a bit dry, but Voyage of the Beagle - in which Darwin recounts his thoughts from his 5 year trip exploring the Southern Hemisphere and developing his theory of evolution - was honestly FASCINATING.

3. Barack Obama (Dreams From My Father): Turns out this guy can WRITE! I listened to the audiobook of Dreams From My Father - narrated by Obama himself - and it was interesting to learn so much about his backstory. Slightly off topic: PLEASE DON'T LEAVE US BARACK!

4. Colleen Hoover (Confess): I finally read my first Colleen Hoover book this year and experienced the full extent of her trademark emotional drama in Confess. I would definitely like to read more from Colleen!

5. Rae Carson (Fire and Thorns Trilogy): I was blown away by Rae Carson's Fire and Thorns Trilogy this year (read my full review here). Queen Elisa is for sure one of my all-time favourite fictional rulers!

6. Laura Ingalls Wilder (Little House Series): Looooved this autobiographical telling of tomboy Laura Ingalls growing up as a pioneer of the northern midwest US in the 1800s!

7. Brian K. Vaughan (Y: The Last Man, Saga): 2016 was also the year that I started to explore graphic novels and Brian Vaughan was easily my favourite graphic novel author I read this year. Completed series Y: The Last Man and ongoing series Saga are both excellent!

8. Catherynne M. Valente (Fairyland Series): Catherynne M. Valente is an author unlike no other... though it initially took a while to get into her writing in her Fairyland Series, I came to really love it for its uniqueness!

9. Douglas Adams (Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Series): I was inspired by Micheline to finally dig into the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Series by Douglas Adams on audiobook this year and while my interest definitely waned as the series went on, I loved my hilarious Douglas Adams experience!

10. Roald Dahl (The BFG, Esio Trot, Matilda, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Fantastic Mr. Fox): Okay, okay, Roald Dahl isn't a new author for me. BUT in some ways it felt like a new experience as I haven't read any of his books since devouring most of them as a wee child many, many years ago. I am about halfway through my Roald Dahl boxset that I got for Christmas last year and thoroughly enjoying every whimsical moment!


Friday, December 2, 2016

November Recap: Rest in Peace, Stela

November was a bit rough for me and as a result I wasn't up for much blogging. At the beginning of the month, I lost my dear ferret, Stela:

Super Stela
It was about 3 years ago that I adopted my ferret girls, Mü and Stela (whose names together create Mustela, their scientific genus) and they quickly became a big part of my life and my heart.

Mü and Stela
Stela is maybe about 2 years older than Mü and has had a number of health problems over the past few years. And yet despite that, her passing still felt very abrupt. Just that day she was scampering about as per usual and hiding her toys around the house as always. She was totally fine, and then all of a sudden she wasn't.

One of the many nests Stela found for herself to sleep: my sock drawer
Mü for her part is doing okay. They were a bonded pair so I was quite concerned how Mü would handle Stela's passing considering they were always together. We brought the body home from the vet to show to Mü and she seemed to sort of process things in her own way. It was very sad.

Mü and Stela
I've had a few weeks to mourn and adjust now, but damn I miss her. She was such a sweetheart, such a character. She brought a smile to my face every single day.

Silly Stela
It was actually the day before the US Election that Stela passed away and I like to think her little heart was so pure, so virtuous, that she knew she couldn't live in such a world with such a repulsive world leader. Heh.


Rest in peace, dearest Stela.


Favourite TV Show of November:
Now here is a definite bright spot of the month: Gravity Falls. I couldn't help it, when I was watching this show, it just made me feel happy! I can't remember the last time I so thoroughly enjoyed a TV show by Disney, but whenever it was I don't think I was an adult. Gravity Falls is just one of those shows that transcends age though. It's super silly and light hearted and yet it has a great mystery as well. Highly recommended to all!


Favourite Book of November: 
I technically started this one in October, but I wasn't up to reading for a good while there... Thank goodness that this chapter in the Throne of Glass series was able to save me from a potential reading slump! Sarah Maas never fails to impress and Queen of Shadows was another superb instalment. I am so impressed at the growth of all the characters since book one and I am both excited and terrified to see what is yet to come for them in books five and six. I should hopefully get to Empire of Storms soon!

Monday, November 28, 2016

Muggle Monday: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Review

It's time for Muggle Monday, in which I highlight something from the Harry Potter world. This is somewhat inspired by the Mundane Monday posts by The Mundie Moms.

But let's be real as to why I made up this feature: I just want the opportunity to post something about Harry Potter.


This week, my thoughts on the movie adaptation of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them:

Directed by: David Yates
Screenplay by: J.K. Rowling
Produced by: Heyday Films, Warner Brothers
In Theatres: November 18, 2016
Length: 2 hrs. 13 min.
Rated: PG


The adventures of writer Newt Scamander in New York's secret community of witches and wizards seventy years before Harry Potter reads his book in school.


I'm sure I wasn't the only one who was both very excited to get another story set in J.K. Rowling's Wizarding World and kind of nervous that this movie adaptation (based on the textbook Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander that was written for Comic Relief 15 years ago) wouldn't live up to expectations after the success of the Harry Potter franchise.

But there was no need to worry after all. I am happy to report that I (and it seems like the vast majority of people) thoroughly enjoyed this latest Wizarding World addition - no doubt thanks to the fact that the screenplay was written by J.K. Rowling herself (and not just written by another person and signed off by Jo...). It helps too to have David Heyman and David Yates (and heaps more crew members) return from the Harry Potter films.

What kind of plot can really come out of a little 42-page textbook listing magical creatures that J.K. Rowling wrote for charity? Turns out quite a lot, which should be no surprise for those acquainted with Jo's bountiful imagination. Fantastic Beasts follows a young Newt Scamander who has been travelling the world studying magical beasts, only to run into trouble upon landing in 1920s New York City as some magical entity has been terrorizing people, both magic and non-magic alike.

I know there was a lot of muttering about how the initial trilogy of Fantastic Beasts that is now expanded to five movies is all a ploy on Warner Brothers' part to get more money. But I truly believe J.K. Rowling needed to expand the movie series for legit reasons. The five movies will cover the rise and defeat of the dark wizard Grindelwald and begins in 1926 and will end in 1945. So. This first movie is really only the tip of the iceberg of loads more story to uncover.

For me, the highlights of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was the myriad of magical creatures we were introduced to (and excellent CG effects), as well as the new characters we meet
(and the actors that play them). There is a new "trio" in these movies that is actually a quartet (pictured in the movie poster above) and I quickly became attached to them and their friendship.

I love Newt especially. He is essentially the wizarding world equivalent of Charles Darwin: just as a young Darwin travelled the world discovering new creatures and developing ideas to write his book Origin of Species, so is Newt planning to apply all that he has learned into the book that becomes Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. I find Newt/Darwin's curiosity for animals and nature, as well as their preference for beasts over humans, so dang charming and relatable. Eddie Redmayne plays the perfect Newt: very shy and unassuming around most human beings, very open-hearted and generous with all magical creatures.

The only - ONLY - negative that I have to say about this movie is simply this: I would have rather have had a book first. I'm not talking about the movie script that was published alongside the movie, I mean a proper descriptive book written by J.K. Rowling. There were many moments while I was watching the movie in which I wished I could get more insight into a magical creature or into the mind of what a particular character was thinking, like we were able to with Jo's written books. I realize that is a selfish wish to have considering we were lucky to receive any tidbit of wizarding world lore after Harry Potter ended, but that's just how I feel.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and I can't wait for the following four movies to come! If you have seen the movie, I would love to know your thoughts!