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Year in Review

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Another year comes to a close. I say it every year that it feels like the year just flew by but this year seemed to go faster than most.  Maybe it was because it was such a fantastic year in books for me!  A personal highlight from 2015 was getting a job in a bookstore, because isn't that the dream?  Now let's see how my year in reading went:

Trends

This year, I kept detailed track of the books I read so that I could see what my reading habits are like. Here are some interesting stats from that:

96 Books Read, 27384 Pages Read
Average Rating: 4

31% of the books I read were Canadian.  The next most-read genre was Chick Lit at 19%.

69% of the books were written by female authors.
38% of the books I read were diverse books.

Popular Posts

Daydreams of Angels by Heather O'Neill
All Inclusive by Farzana Doctor
The Reason You Walk by Wab Kinew
Villa America by Liza Klaussman
China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan
Life or Something Like It by Annie Lyons
The Knockoff by Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza
Wr…

Month In Review

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December was a great month for reading for me.  I thought I would get very little reading done as I started working, however I guess since I'm working in a bookstore, it inspired me to read even more! I also chose some really good books this month that I just couldn't put down so that helped as well.

Here is what I read in December with my GoodReads ratings:

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng *****
Always the Bridesmaid by Lindsey Kelk *****
The Widow by Fiona Barton ****
Number Two by Jay Onrait ****
How to Speak Brit by Christopher J. Moore ****
Bella's Christmas Bake Off by Sue Watson ****
The Vintage Guide to Love and Romance by Kirsty Greenwood ****
Sofia Khan is Not Obliged by Ayisha Malik ****
The Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes ****
Mistletoe Mansion by Samantha Tonge ***
Yes My Accent is Real by Kunal Nayyar ***

Challenges

Diversity on the Shelf (4), Canadian Book Challenge (1)

What I'm Looking Forward to in January

A whole new year of books!!!

"Number Two: More Short Tales from a Very Tall Man" by Jay Onrait

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Everyone’s favourite Canadian (but left us for America) sportscaster is back with more hilarious stories from the worlds of sports, Canadian media, and now (because he left us for America) Hollywood.  
Number Two: More Short Tales from a Very Tall Man, by Jay Onrait, picks up where his first book, Anchorboy, left off and gives us more hilarious stories that will have you laughing out loud and completely grossed out, probably at the same time.
One has to wonder about Jay Onrait.  He is most certainly a hilarious guy, but how one earth is this his life?  Does he go out looking for crazy things to happen or do they just find him?  In this book Jay shares about hilarious circumstances in his life like trying to get a medical marijuana license, not giving up his table at a restaurant for Jay-Z even though it was Jay-Z’s table, getting bumped off of television appearances because of Rob Ford’s crack confession, and the madness that was the 2014 Sochi Olympics.  Oh, and the time they watched…

"The Widow" by Fiona Barton

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Canadian Publication Date: 16 February 2016
Jean Taylor’s husband died last week and while it is expected she would be mourning, she is actually quite relieved.  Because for years, she kept quiet about her husband- from her family, friends, the media, and the police.  But she doesn’t have to keep quiet anymore.
Years ago, Jean’s husband Glen was accused in the disappearance of a young girl but the police were never actually able to prove that it was him.  Jean remained the perfect wife and insisted to the police that her husband couldn’t have committed the crime.  Throughout all of the accusations and harassment, she stood by Glen.  
But now that Glen is gone, she can tell the truth.  It’s what everyone has been waiting to hear, and the police and the media are ready to listen.  But if Jean has been covering up for so long, will it be easy for her to finally tell the truth?
The Widow is a stunning debut psychological thriller by former journalist Fiona Barton.  Poised to be the mystery…

"Bella's Christmas Bake Off" by Sue Watson

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Amy Lane is about to have the worst Christmas ever. Her husband of twenty years has just left her for a younger woman with a stripper pole in her bedroom.  Her university age children have called to tell her that they won’t be coming home Christmas day.  And as usual, her year ten students are capturing her lowest moments on video and uploading them to the internet.
Bella Bradley will once again be having the Christmas of everyone’s dreams.  The queen of television cooking, her Christmas specials are always the highest rated shows.  She’s married to the ‘Silver Fox,” a war correspondent loved by all.  Her life is just one big Hello magazine spread.
When Amy’s and Bella’s Christmases collide, it can only result in one thing - the best bake off the country has ever seen.  
Bella’s Christmas Bake Off, by Sue Watson, is a fun novel that includes all of the essentials of Christmas - friendship, baking, helping each other out, and of course, a little magic.
The premise of this novel makes i…

" A Proper Family Christmas" by Chrissie Manby

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Annabel Buchanan has lived a life that many dream of.  Like the generations of her family before her, she is beautiful, wealthy, and has impeccable manners.  Or so she likes everyone to think.  A tragedy is about to show the cracks in her perfect image.
Annabel’s teenage daughter Izzy is in need of a kidney transplant.  They are desperate to find a donor and Annabel must turn to her family - her real family.  It turns out that Annabel was given up for adoption by her teenage parents.
When Annabel first meets the Bensons, she is embarrassed and put off by who she discovers.  The Bensons are, well, let’s just say not as well put together as Annabel is.  And the Bensons aren’t exactly impressed by Annabel’s pedigree.  
As Christmas approaches, Izzy’s situation becomes more dire and the Bensons and Buchanans soon find themselves growing close as they race to find a donor.  Maybe this holiday season, Annabel will discover that you really can’t choose your family.
A Proper Family Christmas …

"Mistletoe Mansion" by Samantha Tonge

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Kimmy Jones dreams of two things - seeing her name in the headlines of the gossip pages she loves to read and owning her own cupcake company.  While she may only ever read the gossip magazines, she can definitely get her company up and running.  But when her boyfriend tells her that owning her own company isn’t sensible and that she should get a job sorting potatoes with him, she realizes that her relationship has come to an end.
Finding herself homeless just before Christmas, Kimmy pretends to be a professional house sitter along with her best friend Jess and her first job is at the incredible Mistletoe Mansion.  Before she knows it, she’s living the glamorous life she always dreamed of.  She becomes fast friends with Melissa, the golf WAG next door who has the paparazzi staking out her home.  And her cupcake business is off and running thanks to Melissa and her rich friends.  
But Mistletoe Mansion isn’t all it seems.  Some very strange things are happening. Mysterious music is bei…

"Everything I Never Told You" by Celeste Ng

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Lydia is the favourite daughter of Marilyn and James Lee, a mixed race couple raising their three children in 1970’s Ohio.  Studious, beautiful, and obedient, her parents see in her everything they were unable to achieve.  
But Lydia is dead now.  And the family cannot understand what happened.  At first she was just missing but when her body is found at the bottom of the local lake, the family dissolves into chaos.  As they deal with the fallout from her death, they must confront the long-kept secrets and hidden emotions that threaten to tear the family apart for good.
Everything I Never Told You is the debut novel from Celeste Ng.  It is a story of family and identity, of finding yourself and living up to expectations.  Haunting and moving, it is an incredible and poignant novel.
When I first picked up this book, I thought that it was a mystery - Lydia is dead, what happened and who killed her?  But it is actually much less about her death and more about the drama surrounding her fa…

"Chinkstar" by Jon Chan Simpson

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In Red Deer Alberta, Chinksta rap is the all the rage.  And the biggest star of the scene is rapper King Kwong.  But not everyone is a fan of Kwong - his younger brother Run doesn’t like his music or his personality.  He wishes he could have nothing to do with him.  
But Kwong has gone missing, days before the biggest performance of his life.  Run doesn’t really want to get involved, but when his mother is wounded by a bullet fired into their home, he has no choice.  Before he knows it Run, along with his best friend Ali, finds himself in the middle of a battle between Red Deer’s rival gangs.  
Chinkstar is a raw and fascinating novel by debut Canadian author Jon Chan Simpson.  A story of music, family, and culture, it takes readers on an adventure into a crazy world.
I decided to read this book after hearing Jon talk at the Word on the Street festival this past summer.  Speaking on a panel about diversity in the publishing world, he was hilarious and insightful and I knew I had to re…

"Shopaholic to the Rescue" by Sophie Kinsella

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Becky Bloomwood is on her biggest mission yet…and it has nothing to do with shopping.
The last time we saw Becky, her father Graham had disappeared with her best friend’s husband, Tarquin.  All she knows is that they left Los Angeles because Graham was hoping to set right a relationship from the past.  But Becky’s mom, and her best friend Suze, are convinced there is something more sinister happening and that the men are in danger.  Now it’s up to them to track the men down.
And so, an RV carrying Becky, her husband Luke, her daughter Minnie, her mom Jane, her mom’s best friend Janice, Suze, and Becky’s archenemy Alicia is headed to Las Vegas and time is of the essence.
Shopaholic to the Rescue is the 8th novel in the always popular Shopaholic series by Sophie Kinsella.  It is a fun and witty story of adventure and hijinks that only Becky can get herself into.
So let’s start with the obvious, what everyone is saying when it comes to this series.  It does feel like it has been going on…

Christmas Gift Guide

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It's December 1st and before we know it Christmas will be here.  It's time to get out and buy those gifts. And I always say that you can't go wrong with a book.  But the bookstore can be very overwhelming and it's very tempting to pick anything off the bestseller wall and be done with it.  But if you're looking to get something with a bit more thought put into it, here are my suggestions of books that you can't go wrong with.

For the Teen in your life:

Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon

The story of a teenage girl who has a disease that keeps her from being able to go outside.  She's content in the world she lives with, until she falls in love with the boy next door.  An absolutely sweet and moving story.







For the person who is well-read:

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald

A young Swedish woman arrives in a small-town in the United States to find that her vacation isn't going to go as planned. So what does one do when they are feeling…

Month In Review

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November was a great month for reading for me. It started off slow but picked up toward the end of the month and I read a lot of great books that I just could not put down.  I did realize that if I want to make my goal of reading 105 books this year, I need to put things into overdrive.  I'm sure I can hit 100 this year, let's see if I can do 105.
Challenges
Diversity on the Shelf (3), Canadian Book Challenge (3)
What I'm Looking Forward to in December
Reading, reading, reading!  Trying to press toward my goal.  There are a couple of books that I'm looking forward to reading. Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng is one of them and I was also given a copy of The Widow by Fiona Barton (next year's The Girl on the Train) and I can't wait to read that one!  
Merry Christmas everyone!

"Slammed" by Colleen Hoover

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Eighteen-year-old Layken has been through the toughest time of her life.  After the sudden passing of her father, she’s had to move across the country with her mother and nine-year-old brother.  She’s not happy to be in a new town where she knows no one, but she knows that she has to be the rock for her family.  She’s just not sure how she’ll hold it all together.
Then she meets Will Cooper, her 21-year-old neighbour who is cute, intriguing, and more than interested in her.  They can’t fight the connection they immediately make and after Will introduces her to the world of slam poetry, Layken begins to think that the move may not be so bad.
Until they make a discovery that quickly puts an end to their relationship.  But they still have to see each other on a daily basis which both Layken and Will find difficult to do.  And when Layken receives devastating news, it becomes almost impossible to stay away from each other.
Slammed is the first book in a young adult series by Colleen Hoove…

"Just the Way You Are" by Lynsey James

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Ava Clements has never been lucky in love.  The only time she ever felt true love in her life was six years ago when a secret admirer began sending her letters.  She was supposed to meet up with the mystery man but he never showed and the letters stopped.  Her best friends Max and Gwen were there to pick her up but she has never been the same.
Thankfully, she has been able to throw herself into her work writing for a magazine.  She lost out on the opportunity to write the dating column to the office bitch. But she has an idea of how to win back her position and it involves reuniting two lovers separated fifty years earlier.  With everything going on, she doesn’t have much time for love.  
But now, the letters have started again.  And as much as she wants to forget him, she can’t. Ava is determined this time around to make sure she finds out who he is.  Because he is the only man she has ever loved.
Just the Way You Are, by Lynsey James, is a sweet, fun novel full of love and heartbrea…

"Falling in Love with Hominids" by Nalo Hopkinson

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Nalo Hopkinson is known for her fantastic, vivid, and stunning works of fantasy fiction.  One can only imagine how incredible it is to possess her imagination.  From Brown Girl in the Ring to Skin Folk, Hopkinson is at the top of the class when it comes to fantasy.  Her mix of modern speculative fiction with Afro-Caribbean folklore makes for incredibly inventive stories.  
Falling In Love with Hominids is a new collection of short stories written by Nalo Hopkinson, most of which are unavailable anywhere else in print.  These eighteen stories were written over the past dozen years and cover a wide variety of themes.
Fantasy and Speculative Fiction aren’t genres I read much of, in fact I’m not familiar with them enough to even know if there is supposed to be a difference between the two.  But whenever I hear people discussing the genres, I hear Nalo Hopkinson’s name come up.  Brown Girl in the Ring is often held up as one of the best. I have not read that one yet but I did read The Chao…

"The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend" by Katarina Bivald

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Sara has always been a girl that keeps to herself, preferring the company of books rather than people.  But when the bookshop she works at in her home country of Sweden closes down, she isn’t sure what to do next.  So when her elderly pen pal Amy invites her to stay at her home in Broken Wheel, Iowa, she goes against everything she’s known herself to be and takes Amy up on her offer.
But when Sara arrives in Broken Wheel, she discovers that Amy has died.  In fact, Sara arrives on the day of the funeral.  Now she will be staying in the dead woman’s house for the next two months, in a very small town in a foreign country.
Broken Wheel isn’t known for anything really and Sara quickly discovers that.  As she gets to know the people of the community, she realizes that the town is desperately in need of a pick-me-up.  And Sara knows just what to do - she opens a bookshop.  It takes a bit of convincing to get the townspeople on board with the idea but once it all falls into place, the town …

"Aya" by Marguerite Abouet

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1978 is a golden time in Ivory Coast, a time of stability and affluence.  In working-class Yopougan, also known as Yop City, the open-air bars and discos are thriving, the holidays are soon to come, and everyone is upbeat.  But this time may not last forever.
Nineteen-year-old Aya is a studious girl, determined to make good in life.  Along with her friends Adjoua and Bintou, she navigates Yop City with joy and laughter, trying to stay out of the gaze of nosy relatives and neighbours.  At night, young adults gather in the market square for clandestine meetings with secret lovers.  But for one young couple, what happens at the square will quickly become known by everyone and relationships and friendships will be tested.
Aya is a beautiful graphic novel written by Marguerite Abouet and illustrated by Clément Oubrerie.  The story of a girl making her way in the world, and along with her friends enjoying the typical teenage life.
About Aya, Marguerite Abouet said, “…I wanted to show in Aya…

"Daydreams of Angels" by Heather O'Neill

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Fairy tales for grown-ups, that is exactly how Heather O’Neill’s first collection of short stories can be described. Daydreams of Angels is an incredible and descriptive collection of short stories, designed to stretch your imagination and take you on a journey that is touching and full of wonder. 
O’Neill’s novels are ones of great creativity.  She has an incredible way with words and the rich descriptiveness of her writing jumps off the page.  Often when I read short story collections I read one story and then take a break but with this book I just wanted to keep going to the next story.  I couldn’t wait to see what else her mind could come up with.  
Two of my favourite stories include:
Swan Lake For Beginners - an experiment is undertaken to clone Rudolph Nureyev but each generation is never quite right and soon a town in Quebec is heavily populated with the clones.
Dear Piglet- a teenage girl who became part of a cult is writing a letter which explains the motivation of the crimes…

Month In Review

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After a few slow months of reading, October gave me a boost.  My usual task of working through the Giller Prize longlist was responsible for it and once again I very much enjoyed reading so much CanLit.  Here is what I read in October, with my GoodReads ratings:

Between the World and Me - Ta-Nehisi Coates *****
The Illegal - Lawrence Hill *****
Daydreams of Angels - Heather O'Neill ****
All Inclusive - Farzana Doctor ****
Boundless - Bryan Bishop ****
Martin John - Anakana Schofield ****
Outline - Rachel Cusk ****
Confidence - Russell Smith ****
How to be a Grown-up - Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus ***

Challenges

Diversity on the Shelf (3), Canadian Book Challenge (6)

What I'm Looking Forward to in November

In October I was able to make a dent in my Netgalley list and once I finish the last few on my list, I plan to reward myself with some fun Christmas chick lit.

Kid Lit

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A Collection of Books My Kids Are Reading
Reading Together Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
A1: Age 8 Escape from the Overworld: An Unofficial Minecrafter's Adventure by Danica Davidson Mini-Souris: Reine Du Monde by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm
A2: Age 6 Pat le Chat: J'adore aller à l'école and Pat au Baseball by Eric Litwin
ABC of Toronto by Per-Henrik Gurth

"How to Be a Grown-Up" by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus

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Rory McGovern has what many people would consider the perfect life.  Forty-something, she has a creative freelance job, two beautiful children, and is married to an actor.  She is in the prime of her life and loving it.
Until one day, her husband Blake returns home from auditioning, despairing over losing out on another part, and announces that he needs a break.  In other words, he’s leaving.  Just like that, Rory is a single mother in need of a job.  
When a colleague tells her of an opportunity at a digital media start-up, Rory jumps at it because she has no other options.  But this new job is a high-end lifestyle website - for kids.  Rory now has to spend her days sourcing furniture and home decor for toddlers.  On top of that, her bosses are girls barely out of childhood themselves.  Can Rory navigate this new, foreign world of millennials while holding her marriage and family together?
How to Be a Grown-up is the newest novel from Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus, authors of the …

"Between the World and Me" by Ta-Nehisi Coates

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How does one live in a country that was built on the false notion that you as a person are less than others?  In a nation where the ruling powers have used the colour of your skin as an excuse to enslave, segregate, lock up, and murder?  How does one move forward with hope and optimism in a world that so often places little value on you?  
In Between the World and Me, writer and editor Ta-Nehisi Coates addresses these issues through a letter to his adolescent son.  A son who is growing up in a world that claims to be progressive, that claims to be past racial issues and yet everyday bombards us with images of Eric Garners, Freddie Grays, Trayvon Martins, Sandra Blands, Tamir Rices, Michael Browns, and so many more.  
From the streets of Baltimore in the 1980’s to Howard University in the 1990’s, Coates shares his story of growing up Black in America to help his son understand the world into which he was born.  As a young boy he quickly learned the ways of the world outside his door, …

"All Inclusive" by Farzana Doctor

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Working at an all-inclusive resort sounds like a dream job for most people who live in countries where winter exists.  Who wouldn’t want to live and work in paradise? But with the endless paperwork, quotas to meet, and tourists who think that she is always on call it isn’t what Ameera, a Canadian working at a Mexican resort, would call paradise.
To get away from the hassles of her work, Ameera spends her time in the resorts swingers’ scene.  There are always couples on vacation looking for a single person to join them and Ameera fills that spot easily.  She is able to hook-up without having to worry about the person becoming attached or ever having to see the person again.  
But while Ameera thinks she is being discreet, someone knows exactly what she is up to and has anonymously informed her supervisor.  She needs to find out who is spreading the rumours about her before she loses her job.  Meanwhile, one of her encounters is with someone who can help her solve a mystery that has pl…

"Martin John" by Anakana Schofield

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Martin John is the man you don’t want to be sitting next to on the subway.  He’s trying his best to keep his impulses under control.  But when you have the urges that Martin John has, can you really stop?
Martin John is not a good person.  His mind does not work the same way as other people.  This leads him to do things to other people.  He touches them.  His mother has tried to stop him but the only thing she could do was to send him far from home.  He’s sought help, he has his coping methods, but can it actually help?
Martin John, by Anakana Schofield, is a bold, brave, and disturbing novel that takes you inside the mind of a man every woman tries to avoid.  It is a footnote to Schofield's first novel, Malarky, with Martin John a character in that book, but it is not necessary to have read that book first.
One of the best words to describe this book is uncomfortable.  How can this subject matter not be?  Schofield takes you inside the mind of a man who is an abuser, whose urges …

"Outline" by Rachel Cusk

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Faye, a British writer, is spending a part of her summer in Athens teaching a writing course.  But it is the people she meets along the way that define her trip.  
There is something about Faye that people want to tell her their stories the moment she meets them.  It begins with the passenger sitting next to her on her flight.  He tells her of his childhood, failed marriages, and the boat he owns in Greece, which he offers to take her on.  And from there, she continues to meet people who tell her of their loves and loss, their hopes and dreams, their pasts and presents.  And though Faye is mostly the listener, her story slowly begins to emerge amongst the others.
Outline, by Rachel Cusk, is a collection of stories all told to the same person. It’s not a book that is plot-driven, but rather character-driven, told through conversations.
Upon beginning this book, I really didn’t think it would be a book for me.  I didn’t think I would care much for characters who just tell you their stor…