5 Canadian Books to Check Out this Canada Day

CanLit Canadian Reads for Canada Day

Happy Canada Day, my fellow Canadians! As I was laying in bed this morning, I realized that I’ve posted on this blog every single Canada Day so far. First it was 10 Great Canadian Reads for Canada Day, then it was A #CanLit TBR. I really hate breaking tradition (and love sharing the CanLit love!) so I thought I’d share some new-ish Canadian titles that have really impressed me in the past year or so. (Fun fact: I’ve currently lent out 2 of 5 of these books to friends, so you know I’m serious about recommending them. So, please excuse their absence in the main photo!)

1.Daydreams of Angels by Heather O’Neill
This is the perfect book for the cottage! It’s a short story collection from a CanLit great: Heather O’Neill. O’Neill’s stories are whimsical, quirky, yet poignant. It’s such a great read. Read my full review of the book here.

2. This One Summer by Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki
Speaking of cottage reads, This One Summer is a beautifully written and drawn account of a young girl’s summer at the cottage. Coloured in shades of purple, the graphic novel is nostalgic, poignant, and a classic that I return to time and time again. Click here to read my full review.

3. Fifteen Dogs by Andre Alexis
You may remember this title from my #CanLit TBR! Well, more realistically, you probably know it for its 2015 Giller Prize win. I struggle between wanting to recommend Fifteen Dogs to dog lovers and telling them to avoid it. Why? In it, two gods are debating whether humans are better off for having self-awareness, and decide to test their theories by granting fifteen dogs self-awareness of their own. If the dogs die happy, then self-awareness is worth it. See how it’s a hard book to recommend to dog lovers?

4. This is Not My Life by Diane Schoemperlen
Remember when I said that there were two non-fiction titles that I couldn’t stop talking about? Well, This is Not My Life was one of them. You might recognize Diane Schoemperlen for her Governer General’s Award-winning Forms of Devotion, but in This is Not My Life, Schoemperlen gets a little more personal. The book is a memoir of sorts about her six year relationship with a prison inmate. Not only is her story incredibly fascinating, it also sheds some light on how complicated it is to date a prison inmate, how pesky ion scanners can be, and how Stephen Harper’s Tough on Crime initiatives affected the inmates (and their partners). I finished this book feeling that I knew another side of Canada a little bit better and I will not stop talking about this book!

5. The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood
I couldn’t write a post on CanLit without mentioning Margaret Atwood, could I? Last year, Atwood published her newest book: The Heart Goes Last. A dystopian novel that takes a bit of a tonal shift in the second half, The Heart Goes Last is scary, unsettling, and entertaining. What would a society be like if they alternated between freedom and imprisonment month to month? My full review can be found here.

Alright, friends! I’m off to the cottage to read now. Have you read any of the books I’ve recommended above? Do you have a new favourite Canadian book?

Daydreams of Bookworms

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I’ve always been a little prone to daydreaming during my down time. Nothing is more therapeutic than sitting on the couch, staring at my bookshelves, and imagining fun things. As a reader, I find that a lot of my daydreams have to do with books. (In fact, I came up with the idea of writing this post when daydreaming about bookish situations on the subway…) So, I thought I’d share some of my bookish daydreams — I’m sure I’m not alone.

1. Running into an author on the subway… while reading their book.

As I mentioned above, this thought came to me while I was on the subway. I was minding my own business when a Margaret Atwood lookalike stepped into my train! My heart got that brief panicky feeling until I realized it wasn’t actually her. (Does Margaret Atwood take public transit?) I then proceeded to daydream about meeting an author on transit while coincidentally holding their book. That would be SO COOL.

2. Being able to work with books all day.

Growing up, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do when I was older. When I got to university, I quickly realized that I didn’t want to study anything but English. (I compromised and minored in Economics.) Then, when it came to really thinking about a career, I didn’t see anything but books in my future. How would I ever get bored while working with books?

3. Having unlimited books a my disposal and having unlimited shelf space to keep them.

It’s the ultimate bookworm struggle: wanting more books while simultaneously running out of bookshelf space! So, until I move into a place where I can house my own personal library, having all the books and all the bookshelves will have to remain a daydream.

4. Catching someone reading the same book as you in public, and then bonding over how much you’re enjoying said book.

I once had a woman tap on my shoulder as I was reading Heather O’Neill’s Lullabies for Little Criminals on the bus to tell me how much she loved the book. Unfortunately, I hadn’t read enough of it to have a good discussion about it with her at the time, but since then I’ve hoped and prayed that I could 1. see someone reading one of my favourite books on transit and 2. have the courage to start talking to them about it. Spontaneous book club!

5. Being able to remember all the details in all the books I’ve read.

Sometimes reading so voraciously has its downfalls: I find it so hard to keep track of certain things, especially names. I can hardly remember the names of the secondary characters in the book I just finished a few days ago! This is not necessarily a problem, but it definitely makes things difficult when you’re reading a book in a series and you can’t remember what happened in the book before. #booknerdproblems

So there you go! Just a few of my bookish daydreams. (I’m sure the list could have gone on forever.) Do you have any bookish daydreams? Do we share any of the same dreams?

Books I’m Thankful For This Thanksgiving

Read Away Winter Blues One More Page

This weekend is Thanksgiving weekend in Canada, and if you know me, you’ll know that I love celebrating holidays. That being said, Thanksgiving always makes me feel especially happy, as it’s a great reminder to be thankful for what I have. This year, thinking about my blessings is making my heart grow multiple sizes. Above everything, I think I’m most thankful for this feeling of contentment.

Anyway, cheesy intro aside (which will lead to…more cheese), the start of the weekend made me think about some of the books that I’m thankful for. Of course, it would be almost impossible to list every single book that’s had an impact on my life, so I’ll just pick and choose some of my recent/top favourites. (If you want to know the 10 Reasons Why I’m Thankful for the Bookish/Blogging Community, click here!)

1. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

Charlotte’s Web is one of the first books I remember really loving as a child. In fact, I loved it so much that I had most of the first chapter memorized. I recently did a Sporcle quiz (I know, I know) on identifying first lines, and reading “‘Where’s Papa going with that axe?’ said Fern to her mother as they were setting the table for breakfast.” brought back a wave of great memories. After reading Charlotte’s Web, I quickly devoured Stuart Little (not literally, thankfully) and The Trumpet of the Swan. I’m thankful that these books kick-started my love for reading!

2. I Want to Go Home by Gordon Korman

This is another childhood favourite, and I can still clearly remember laughing at Rudy Miller’s antics as he tries to escape summer camp. This book was actually first read to me by one of my teachers in school, and so, while I thank this book for teaching me that books can be wildly entertaining and hilarious, I must also thank my teacher for having great taste in books. (Also, I highly recommend reading Korman’s Macdonald Hall series – it’s equally hilarious.)

3. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

As I’m writing this post, I find it interesting how 2 of my top 3 favourite childhood books were read to me by teachers. I’m sure I would have found out about the ubiquitous Harry Potter series at some point in my life, but I’m grateful that a teacher introduced my class to Harry early, and that we were a part of the “fandom” who grew up with Harry. The Harry Potter series taught me that books could expand my imagination.

4. Re Jane by Patricia Park

I’ve been a terrible blogger these past few months, so even though I loved this book and have a deep emotional connection to it, I haven’t really mentioned it on my blog. While I was reading this book, a huge challenge was presented to me in my “real life,” and I was – and still am – so thankful that I had this book to escape to. It’s almost funny in a way, because at one point in the novel, Jane is trying to escape something as well, so I felt like our stories were connected in some way. This book, which I’m still aiming to review at some point, was a wonderful distraction during a tough time. (I should also mention that it’s a modern retelling of Jane Eyre, and a very good one at that.)

5. The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henríquez

Oh how this book ripped my heart to shreds and uplifted it! It really should be no secret that I love it when books make me cry, but this one stands out as a recent favourite that just left me sobbing on the couch. It’s kind of true what they say: “People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.” I still feel those emotions as if I’d read the book yesterday. Read my full review here.

6. Jane, the Fox, and Me by Fanny Britt and Isabelle Arsenault

When I think of this graphic novel, I think of how protective I felt of Hélène, the main character. She’s been unfairly bullied by her classmates and escapes through reading (coincidentally, the “Jane” in the title refers to the Jane in Jane Eyre… I’m sensing a strange pattern here). I’m thankful for this book because it exists. I want to give it to any child that feels alone, teased, or friendless. This book shows that things can get better, especially with help from a great book and your imagination. Read my full review here.

There it is! A tiny list of the books that I’m thankful for. Whether they taught me something or simply touched me, these books are all important to me in their own way. Compiling this list has reminded me of why I love reading so much: it really does have the ability to alter lives for the better.

Which books are you thankful for? Are there any books that are especially dear to you? Let’s share stories!

5 Reasons Why I Loved The Martian by Andy Weir

The Martian Andy Weir Book Cover Blog Review Matt Damon

Last Christmas I was extremely grateful to receive The Martian, one of my top to-read books, from my dear friend M at Rain City Reads (thank you so much!!!). I completely fell in love with the story and was captivated from start to finish. I’d meant to blog about this sooner, but somehow I never got to it. Well, better late than never, right? Since I’m sure many of you have either read this book already or have read numerous reviews, I figured I would write a list of 5 reasons why I love The Martian so much. (Read the book’s synopsis here!)

1. The cheeky narrator.

One of the first things you’ll notice after starting the book is how humourous Mark Watney, the narrator and stranded astronaut, is. Personally, I’d find it pretty impossible to be so funny and sarcastic in his situation, but his ability to be like that is what makes him so lovable. He combines logic and science (yay!) with humour and heart to become one of my favourite narrators in recent history.

2. The science.

Disclaimer: I know next to nothing about botany and engineering and my math is… functional. But Weir makes everything so believable. I really could picture Mark figuring out how to grow crops using his own biomatter as manure, and how to create his own water using his engineering and chemistry knowledge. Best of all, he made me feel like I understood everything he was saying! Sure, his plans may be far-fetched in reality, but it sure didn’t feel like it when I was reading.

3. The suspense.

Will he make it out alive??? So many elements are working against Mark, from having to grow his own food, create water in a highly combustible environment, and move his whole station to a different part of Mars where the next mission will be. There’s also incredible suspense on Earth: will NASA even be able to create a vessel to send to Mars to save Mark in time?

4. It’s not all about Mark.

Judging from what I’ve said so far about The Martian, it would be easy to assume that the book is all about Mark. But it’s not. Weir also takes the time to develop secondary characters, from Mark’s crew mates (who followed orders and left Mars thinking Mark had died, and then had to find out that he hadn’t and they had essentially abandoned him) to the NASA employees who have to put together some sort of plan. They all seem so real, so believable, and have their own voices. It makes the book so fascinating and fun to read. I can’t wait to see this on the big screen.

5. It has a great publishing story.

Okay, so maybe this isn’t really about The Martian’s content, but I love hearing a great success story. Did you know that The Martian was initially self-published on Weir’s website and then picked up by a Newmarket-based audiobook publisher Podium Publishing? Go Canada! Eventually, Weir caught the attention of traditional book publishers, and, well, the rest is history.

So there you go! 5 reasons why I loved The Martian by Andy Weir. I absolutely can’t wait to see this on the big screen and judging by the trailer, I think it’s going to be amazing! Watch it here:

Have you read The Martian? What did you think? Are you looking forward to seeing the movie?

A #CanLit TBR

Canada Day Canadian Literature Books TBR

Happy Canada Day, everyone!

You may remember how I used to think Canadian literature was “uncool” and how over the past few years I’ve been trying to catch up and keep up on all of the amazing books Canada has to offer. Well, as you may have guessed, there’s a lot that I haven’t read yet, so I thought I’d share with you a portion of my CanLit TBR. (Of course, after I took the picture for this post, I realized I forgot to include Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood, which is definitely something I’ve been meaning to check out.) If, after reading this post, you’re looking for even more Canadian reads to add to your list, here are 10 books that I’d recommend! Now, on to my (incomplete) list:

A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews

One of my favourite books from last year was Miriam Toews’ All My Puny Sorrows. It was heart-wrenching, beautifully written, and helped shape my worldview. I’ve heard many great things about A Complicated Kindness, so I’m looking forward to being immersed in Toews’ beautiful words and thoughts again. (Fun fact: I didn’t know how to pronounce “Toews” until last year when I finally heard someone say it out loud. I used to pronounce it as “toes.” It’s pronounced “tay-ves.”)

The Inconvenient Indian by Thomas King

Canada has a deep (and dark) history with its Native peoples, and Thomas King’s The Inconvenient Indian aims to shed some light on the relationship between Natives and non-Native peoples in North America. As someone who would love to be more aware of issues like these, The Inconvenient Indian, which was one of the selections for Canada Reads 2015, has made it to the top of my Can Lit TBR. (Fun fact: Thomas King has been nominated for the Governor General’s Award for both fiction and non-fiction.)

Chez L’Arabe by Mireille Silcoff

This collection of linked short stories centres around a woman in Montreal who is suffering from a chronic illness. I’ve actually read the first story from this collection and it is beautifully written. I can’t wait to read more. (Little known fact: Chez L’Arabe was inspired by Silcoff’s own medical struggles.)

Fifteen Dogs by André Alexis

I picked this up at Coach House Books‘ spring launch and have been meaning to get to it since. Set in Toronto, this book imagines what it would be like if dogs had human intelligence. Need I say more? (Fun fact: To get into the heads of the dogs he was writing about, Alexis went around Toronto to try to imagine how different neighbourhoods would smell like to a dog. “In some ways that’s disgusting because you have to have shades of urine or shades of merde,” he writes in this article on the CBC website.)

Undermajordomo Minor by Patrick deWitt

This is actually an upcoming title from House of Anansi Press, but I’m extremely excited to dive in because I’ve heard great things about deWitt’s writing, especially in his previous book The Sisters Brothers. The back of the book describes Undermajordomo Minor as “a triumphant ink-black comedy,” which has me intrigued to say the least. (Fun fact: 2011 was a huge year for deWitt as The Sisters Brothers was nominated for the Man Booker Prize, Scotiabank Giller Prize, Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, and Governor General’s Award for English language fiction alongside fellow Canadian writer Esi Edugyan.)

Have you read any of the books on my list? Is there anything that I missed and should read ASAP? If you’re in Canada, how are you spending your Canada Day?

5 Reasons Why The Truth and Other Lies by Sascha Arango Should Be on Your TBR

The Truth and Other Lies Sascha Arango Book Review

[I received a copy of this novel by its Canadian publisher Penguin Random House Canada. This does not affect my opinion on the book.]

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ll notice that I don’t review a lot of murder mysteries or thrillers. To be honest, I’m too much of a scaredy cat to pick them up most of the time, but when I read the synopsis of The Truth and Other Lies by Sascha Arango, I was so intrigued that I knew I’d have to give it a shot. Luckily for me, it’s not as horror-driven as I’d feared, and I ended up loving the novel. So, without further ado, here are 5 reasons why you should add this to your TBR pile ASAP.

1. The Truth and Other Lies is Sascha Arango’s first novel, but according to his author bio he’s won prizes “for his work on the long-running detective series Tatort.”

Arango’s experience in writing detective stories really shows in The Truth in Other Lies. I’ll admit that I’m not the most well-read in this regard, but the way that the book unravels really hit a spot for me.

2. It’s a bona-fide page turner.

Once I started reading this book, there was absolutely no putting it down until I was finished. The characters, specifically Henry Hayden, suck you right into the narrative. Even though it’s not written in first person, Arango has a way of getting the reader inside Hayden’s head and it’s absolutely terrifying and thrilling at the same time. What’s Hayden going to do next? How is everything going to end? This is an “all-nighter read” if I’ve ever seen one.

3. The main character is a writer. Or so it seems…

 I’ve talked about my fascination with ghost writing on this blog before, so it should come as no surprise that this aspect of the book really appealed to me. You see, Henry Hayden is an acclaimed and beloved writer, but his biggest secret is that he hasn’t written a single word. With a new book deadline looming, Hayden’s ghostwriter becomes tangled up in the “lies, truths, and half-truths” fabricated by Hayden, creating an extra dimension of suspense to this already tense novel.

4. It’s The Talented Mr. Ripley-esque in the best way possible.

I’m not the only one who draws the Patricia Highsmith comparison here, but it’s so apt that I can’t help making it. Hayden is so charming on the outside, but when readers get to peek into his mind, they discover something else altogether. It’s kind of terrifying how normal people can look on the outside, yet have such intense thoughts underneath the surface. This character study alone makes this book worth reading.

5. It’s the perfect book club read.

The second I finished the book I whispered to myself, “I need to talk to someone about this.” This would make a great book club read because of how everything unfolds. For fear of giving anything away, I’ll just say this: if you’ve finished the book, let’s talk.

Verdict: I loved reading this book. It’s a quick read but it’s jam-packed with action. It’s part “crime thriller” (quotations because even a wimp like me could handle it) part family drama. As a reader, I really couldn’t ask for anything more.

Have you read The Truth and Other Lies? Are you a fan of crime thrillers?

Celebrating International Women’s Day 2015

International Womens Day 2015 Books

Happy International Women’s Day! Every year on March 8th, International Women’s Day celebrates women’s achievements while advocating gender equality. I think days like these are so wonderful because while we have made great progress when it comes to gender equality, there is still so much to be done. (And I’m still in shock when people tell me that gender inequality doesn’t exist…)

So, in honour of International Women’s Day today, I’ve chosen some of my recent favourite reads to celebrate! These in some way or another have touched me and inspired me. I realize as I’m typing this now that I should have included Roxane Gay’s Bad Feminist, so let’s pretend that her book is pictured.

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

The first thing I loved about this book was its packaging. It’s so small and compact that it would be perfect as a small gift (and it totally should be given away as gifts). I also love that it’s so cheerful and bold with its colour choice. It really demands attention, and for a rightful reason. On to the content: this is actually an adapted essay by Adichie, who originally presented it as a TEDx talk. Adichie shares personal anecdotes and defines what feminism means to her. She doesn’t shame anyone for not recognizing gender issues; she merely explains (very eloquently) how they exist and why we should be paying more attention. One of my favourite passages:

“The problem with gender is that it prescribes how we should be rather than recognizing how we are. Imagine how much happier we would be, how much freer to be our true individual selves, if we didn’t have the weight of gender expectations.” (pg 34.)

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

There is a reason why The Handmaid’s Tale is hailed as a classic. This haunting dystopian novel shows us a world where there is no freedom – even those in the ruling class are required to follow strictly defined roles. Handmaids are chosen to be reproductive machines, while Wives are simply housewife figureheads. Commanders are supposed to have relationships with their Wives but mere relations with the Handmaids. This is a society that is so constricted by their prescribed gender norms that hardly anyone is happy. If you haven’t read this yet, I’d strongly recommend it.

Hausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum

This is an upcoming title from Random House but I loved it so much that I thought I’d give it a shout out here. The story follows Anna, an American expatriate living in Switzerland with her banker husband and three children. As the novel’s title suggests, Anna is a housewife. She is completely dependent on her husband and his family. She doesn’t know how to drive, and thus relies on trains or someone to drive her when she needs to go anywhere; she has limited grasp on German (and even more limited handle on Schwiizerdutsch), requiring her husband to help her with paperwork; she doesn’t even own a bank account. That she is a housewife almost defines her, except for her secret life away from her family. I highly enjoyed getting to know Anna – not as a housewife but as a deep, complex person – and I can’t wait to chat about it more when it officially comes out.

Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham

Moving away from fiction, I wanted to feature two memoirs that I have loved recently, the first one being Not That Kind of Girl. It is no secret that I admire Dunham. She is not afraid to be different – in fact, she flaunts it – and she continues the trend of letting us in on her thoughts and feelings in her memoir. She doesn’t claim to know everything, yet she offers sound advice from time to time. Something that has stuck with me:

“Here’s who it’s not okay to share a bed with: Anyone who makes you feel like you’re invading their space. Anyone who tells you that they “just can’t be alone right now.” Anyone who doesn’t make you feel like sharing a bed is the coziest and most sensual activity they could possibly be undertaking. Now, look over at the person beside you. Do they meet these criteria? If not, remove them or remove yourself. You’re better off alone.” (pg. 20.)

Yes Please by Amy Poehler

Like Dunham, Amy Poehler is another public figure I adore. I love that she is so committed to promoting rising female talent (Broad City, Upright Citizens Brigade, Smart Girls at the Party, anyone?). The fact that she has such a strong friendship with another female – Tina Fey – just makes me so happy. To me, Poehler exemplifies the fact that you don’t have to step over everyone’s toes to get to the top. Why not do it together and show that successful women are not exceptions to a rule? There were so many wonderful bits in Yes Please that I shared my favourites in this post. The “currency” tip is my absolute favourite.

So there you have it! If you’re looking for something new and inspiring to read this International Women’s Day, I hope my list proves to be as thought-provoking for you as it was for me.

Are you reading any female-centered literature this International Women’s Day? Do you have any book recommendations for me? (I need to find my copy of bell hooks’ Feminism: From Margin to Center…)

#RHCBloggerPreview: 10 Spring/Fall Titles to Put on Your Radar

Random House Canada RHC Blogger Preview

There are many reasons why I love being a book blogger, and one of them is being able to find out about new and exciting titles before they’re published. Last night, the wonderful ladies at Random House Canada (Lindsey, Aliya, and Jessica) hosted a blogger preview at their Toronto offices and it was a wonderful night learning about some of their upcoming books, chatting with fellow book-lovers, and munching on delicious pizza! I definitely left the event feeling super excited about the books they told us about, so I thought I would share my enthusiasm with you all. So, here is a list of 10 books that I think should be on everyone’s radar!

1. In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume (June 2nd, 2015)

Judy Blume In The Unlikely Event Book Cover

Let’s just dive right in, shall we? I grew up reading (and loving) Judy Blume, so I couldn’t be more excited to hear that she is releasing a brand new adult novel. Based on true events that witnessed a series of passenger airplane crashes within a three-month period, In the Unlikely Event “bring[s] us the lives of three generations of families, friends, and strangers who will be profoundly affected by these events, either directly or indirectly.” Read more on Goodreads here.

2. The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro (March 3rd, 2015)

Kazuo Ishiguro The Buried Giant Book Cover

It’s been a decade since Never Let Me Go, but Kazuo Ishiguro is back with The Buried Giant! I’m really looking forward to reading this as I thoroughly enjoyed the #RemainsReread with Random House Canada last year where we read (or re-read) The Remains of the Day. (Read part 1 of my re-cap here.) This has been described as “a story of a marriage” as well as a “myth-like.” Aliya made a particularly great point about Ishiguro: (Paraphrased to the best of my ability!) “His books are not always easy, but they are always worth it. He never writes the same book twice.” Yep, I’m in. Read more on Goodreads here.

3. Boo by Neil Smith (May 12th, 2015)

Boo Neil Smith Book Cover

Lindsey introduced this book as “Lord of the Flies meets The Lovely Bones.” Intrigued yet? “In an afterlife exclusively for thirteen-year-olds, an oft-bullied social misfits makes the friends he never had on Earth in this charmingly quirky coming-of-age novel.” In parts a murder mystery, I think this book will have everyone buzzing when it comes out in May. Read more on Goodreads here.

4. We Are All Made of Molecules by Susin Nielsen (May 12th, 2015)

We Are All Made of Molecules Susin Nielsen Book Cover

I have raved about Susin Nielsen before, but I couldn’t help squealing when We Are All Made of Molecules came on the screen at the conference. I have actually had the privilege of reading this book already, and it is amazing. Seriously, I have never disliked a Susin Nielsen book ever. This book is a “hilarious yet deeply moving story [about] a sweet, awkward boy and a not-so-sweet girl.” It has the perfect balance of laugh-out-loud funny and serious topics. SO. GOOD. Read more on Goodreads here.

5. Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives by Gretchen Rubin (March 17th, 2015)

Gretchen Rubin Better Than Before The Happiness Project

You may have heard of Gretchen Rubin before, as she is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Happiness Project. In Better than Before, Rubin “tackles the question: How do we make good habits that are easy, effortless, and automatic?” I  am definitely a creature of habits (some of them bad), so this seems like just the book for me! Plus, I’m making it a point to read more non-fiction this year, so Better Than Before kills two birds with one stone. Score. Read more on Goodreads here.

6. A Robot in the Garden by Deborah Install (August 4th, 2015)

A Robot in the Garden by Deborah Install Book Cover

Everyone who has read A Robot in the Garden already seems to be enamored with it, and it’s not hard to see why. Described as “Pixar-esque” and “if Up and Wall-E had a baby” (credits go to Siobhan), this is a “funny, touching, charming, wise, and a bit magical novel that explores what it is to be a man, a sentient being, and even a parent.” It seems like Tang the robot will be one of those characters that we will love long after the book is done. Read more on Goodreads here.

7. His Whole Life by Elizabeth Hay (August 11th, 2015)

His Whole Life Elizabeth Hay Book Cover

I have an embarrassing confession to make: I have never read anything by Elizabeth Hay. It’s never too late to start though, right? His Whole Life is sure to be a big Canadian release, and I can’t wait to read this book that “[starts] with something as simple as a boy who wants his dog [and] takes us into a richly intimate world where everything that matters to him is at risk: family, nature, home.” Lindsey called this book “a story of a family” and “really accessible,” so I’m excited to make this my first book by Hay. Read more on Goodreads here.

8. Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella (June 9th, 2015)

Finding Audrey Sophie Kinsella Book Cover

My heart started doing crazy things when this book was introduced. If you know me, you’ll know that I love the Shopaholic series, so it’s no surprise that I’d be excited for Sophie Kinsella’s venture into writing for young adults. I’m especially interested in Finding Audrey as it deals with anxiety disorder and psychological recovery. Plus, how amazing is that cover?? Read more on Goodreads here.

9. Snow White and the 77 Dwarfs by Davide Cali; illustrated by Raphaelle Barbanegre (April 14th, 2015)

Snow White and the 77 Dwarfs Davide Cali Raphaelle Barbanegre Book Cover

What if Snow White didn’t have to entertain 7 dwarfs, but 77? This is a picture book reimagining of the famous Snow White tale “with hilarious results.” It’s “a funny, twisted retelling for fans of The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka and The Three Pigs by David Weisner.” We were shown a few of the illustrations at the conference, and I thought those alone made the book worthy of picking up. I’m intrigued by this one! Read more on Goodreads here.

10. Good Food, Good Life: 130 Simple Recipes You’ll Love to Make and Eat by Curtis Stone (March 10, 2015)

Good Food, Good Life Curtis Stone Recipe Book Cover

We all agree that Curtis Stone has a “media-friendly” (read: attractive) face, but that’s not the only reason to check Good Food, Good Life out. As someone who always struggles to find recipes that are both easy to make and delicious, this sounds like just the book for me. “Recipes include Butternut Squash with Sage Brown Butter, Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Alabama BBQ Sause and Asparagus, …” I’m drooling just thinking about it. Read more on Goodreads here.

Honourable mentions (Fall titles!):

  • The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood. It’s a new Margaret Atwood book. What more do I need to say?
  • Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon. Aliya loved “everything, everything” about this book. It’s about a girl who is allergic to everything and has to live a sterile life. What will happen to her when she falls in love with the boy next door? What intrigued me the most about this one is that there is artwork throughout the book. Ooooooh!
  • The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald. This sounds similar to The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry and is a must-read for book lovers. I think the story speaks for itself. I’m sold.

So there you have it! It was so difficult to choose only 10 books, but somehow I managed. Are you excited about any of these upcoming titles? Are there any other books that should be on my radar?

*Thank you again to Random House Canada for hosting this fun event!

#GreenGablesReadalong | 5 Reasons Why I Love Anne of Green Gables

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Hi everyone, happy Sunday! First off, I’d like to apologize for the unexpected blog silence. It’s been a very busy week and I’ve so far failed at scheduling posts (so much for those new year resolutions…). But! I am here today with a belated but exciting post! Lindsey from Reeder Reads is hosting an Anne of Green Gables readalong where participants will read one book in the series each month and I’m so excited to be a part of it. Click here to find the schedule and join us!

I’ve only read Anne of Green Gables once before, and that was for a class in university. (Shocking, I know!) But I have yet to meet anyone who can say they disliked the book once they’ve read it. I think a lot of it has to do with the strength of Montgomery’s characters – they are all so endearing, especially the fierce, imaginative Anne. If you haven’t read the series before, I would highly recommend it! And if you need extra convincing, here are 5 reasons why I love Anne of Green Gables:

5. The beautiful descriptions of Avonlea.

While Avonlea doesn’t exist in real life, L.M. Montgomery descriptions make you feel like you’re really there admiring all the greenery and beautiful landscapes. With her extensive descriptions, plus Anne’s made up names for places like “Lake of Shining Waters” and “Lover’s Lane,” you’ll feel like you’re right there basking in the Avonlea sunlight with the residents.

4. Matthew and Marilla.

When Matthew and Marilla find out that an orphan girl has been sent to them instead of the boy they requested, they don’t know what to do. Their initial reaction was to send her back (girls can’t really help Matthew in the field, after all!). But, after some consideration and some very amusing speeches by Anne, the siblings decide to keep her. Throughout the book, you’ll start to love them just as much as you love Anne; Matthew for his quiet and loving nature, and Marilla, for her stern appearance but secretly warm heart. Was there ever a more perfect fictional family?

3. Quotable moments.

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” Have you heard this quote before? Yep, it’s just one of the many quotable things Anne says in Anne of Green Gables. Another one of my favourites is this gem about following fashion trends: “…I’d rather look ridiculous when everyone else does than plain and sensible all by myself.” Let’s bring puffed sleeves back, Anne.

2. The Gilbert/Anne competition.

Yes, every heroine needs a nemesis. In Anne of Green Gables, poor Gilbert Blythe struck the wrong chord when he made fun of Anne’s red hair. Anne, the master of holding grudges, becomes fiercely competitive with Gilbert every year in school. It’s so fun to read Anne’s one-sided hatred towards Gilbert when he’s so good-natured about their relationship for the most part. Will they ever become friends??

1. Anne Shirley

Anne, Anne, Anne. She is probably one of my favourite fictional characters ever. She has such a bright personality that you would have to be cold-hearted to not love her. She’s spunky and so full of life. Besides being a fun character to read, she also inspires me to exercise my imagination, and to love everything with all of my heart, from beautiful mornings to romantic writing. I will always thank L.M. Montgomery for creating such a vivacious character.

Have you read Anne of Green Gables? What is your favourite part of the book/series? Are you participating in the #GreenGablesReadalong? Don’t forget to use the hashtag on social media so we can all follow along together!

Reflections and 2015 New Year’s Resolutions

2015 Reading Bookish New Year Resolutions

Happy new year’s eve everyone! As the year comes to a close, I’ve been feeling the need to reflect on 2014 and make new resolutions for the coming year. Yes, I am definitely the type of gal who makes resolutions every year.

This year has been an incredibly fulfilling year for me. I finally feel like I can call Toronto my home (rather than feel like a tourist), and this blog has had a lot to do with that. I’ve met so many wonderful people, attended some incredible events (thank you for all of the opportunities!), and, of course, read some life-changing books. I couldn’t be more thankful for this little space on the internet.

But while I feel proud of what this blog has accomplished over the months, I’m even more excited to continue to improve on it in the new year. So, without further ado, here are my blogging and reading resolutions for 2015:

10. Be more organized and get better at scheduling posts.

I’ve always admired those who have enough foresight and will power to plan their posts ahead of time (instead of writing it and posting it immediately after). Next year, I hope to be a better planner!

9. Don’t worry about surpassing this year’s reading goal.

Unless I finish a book tonight, my final reading tally for this year will be 83 books. Even though this is my first year keeping track of my books read, I know for a fact that this is the highest it has ever been for me. I tend to be pretty competitive with myself, so I’m resolving to learn to relax and go with the flow.

8. Be more creative with my photos and experiment with graphics.

I have always loved photography and I am happy with my photos on this blog most of the time, but I really want to push my boundaries next year and be more creative!

7. Don’t rush through books.

This is kind of tied to #9 and I’ve commented on this before in a previous Monday Musings post. I want to make sure that my quick reading pace doesn’t sacrifice my enjoyment of a text. In 2015, I’m going to try to be more aware of when I’m skimming instead of reading.

6. Make more time to visit and comment on other blogs.

I’ve made so many great blogger friends this year, I want to dedicate some time each week (hopefully every day) to read what others are posting and contribute to the discussion! I will not comment just to comment, but I sincerely appreciate every comment I receive on my blog and I want to pay it forward!

5. Read at least 5 books that are already on my shelves.

This is every bookworm’s problem, isn’t it? We accumulate books at a faster pace than we can read them. (Well, that’s the case for me, anyway!) I’m pledging to read at least 5 books that I have already purchased.

4. Be more diligent about cross-posting.

Sometimes I am forgetful and don’t do this! I hope to be more diligent next year.

3. Participate in more readathons and book events.

I always have a great time chatting with fellow readers during these events, so why not make an effort to do it more?

2. Keep a physical record of what I read.

While I’ve been loving tracking my reading on Goodreads and HarperCollins Canada’s 50 Book Pledge, I would like to have a notebook so I can keep forever and ever. (I have already bought the notebook – woohoo!)

1. Keep having fun.

I really can’t stress enough how wonderful it has been writing this blog and meeting other readers and bloggers. You have been a huge (positive) part of my year and I am so, so thankful. I am so excited to continue on this bookish journey with you all. I’m sure it will be filled with a lot of fun and happiness!

I wish you all the happiest new year’s eve and here’s to an even better 2015! xoxo

Did you set any resolutions this year?