I’m Kicking My Reading Goals to Another Level in 2015

Reading Goals-2

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

In 2014, I read more books than I’ve ever read before and I think it’s because I set reading goals at the end of last year. I still can’t believe I finally read all the Harry Potter books (see this post), I documented my full year on YouTube and although I didn’t read 10 short stories, I did read all the Giller Prize Shortlist. So all in all, I’d say I had a successful reading year! This year, I’m going to do the same thing and list three goals that I hope to achieve by the end of 2015.

Reading ChallengeREADING GOAL #1 Pop Sugar has created something called the 2015 Ultimate Reading Challenge. Here’s the blurb from their website,

From a book your mom loves to a book with a love triangle, we’re giving you a wide range of reads, spanning eras and genres, instead of specific books. You don’t have to read all 50 books (technically 52, since one is a trilogy), but it’s a fun incentive to diversify your reading — you may be surprised by what you find you enjoy!

I love the idea of diversifying my reading and having a working reading goal, so here goes nothing friends. I’ve got a working list of subjects and I have no doubt that I’ll be able to use the Ultimate Reading Challenge as my guiding light. You can do the same by printing this handy printable version.

READING GOAL #2 When I was thinking of what goals to work on this year, I stumbled upon my pal Jenn’s blog post about her book blogging goals and it got me thinking. Maybe I should make one of my goals about blogging. I absolutely love blogging and the reason I started doing it was to connect with the book community. And now that the community has expanded, I find myself getting overwhelmed by it. I use to visit blogs regularly for book suggestions and to hear what others were saying about the books that I  loved reading. Now, I frequent them every once in awhile (maybe once or twice a month)and I IMG_8679hardly ever communicate with new bloggers. That’s why my reading goal number two is to get back in the book blogging game. My hope and goal is to connect with all of you. The people that visit this blog and the community as a whole. Whether that means joining groups, online chats or forums, I want to reconnect with everyone and rediscover why I chose to start book blogging in the first place.

I know that one of the requirements to do this is to not only visit more blogs, but to create new and fresh content on my own blog. Which I guess brings me to my second tier of this goal, which is to become a better book blogger. I blogged frequently in 2014, but not nearly as much as I’d like, which is odd, because I’ve really started enjoying writing. Writing for me has become somewhat cathartic over the years. It not only helps me to break down my thoughts on why I did or didn’t love a book, but it’s an avenue that opens up a discussion about books. That’s why I got into blogging. I wanted to talk about books all day and when I started this blog back in 2010, I didn’t know many people here in Toronto, let alone the book community. Now that I’ve been at this for a few years and I find myself talking about books in person with lots of people, my blog has taken the hit and that’s something I’d like to see change. NOW all that being said, I’ve finally created a blog calendar, I’ve come up with post ideas and I’ve already written six of the posts that are set to go live in the month of January. There’s no real science on how I intend to measure this goal, I just want to reconnect with that feeling of loving to blog! If at the end of the year, I feel more connected with the ideas, thoughts and discussions I’m a part of, then I’ll feel as if I’ve accomplished this goal.

READING GOAL #3 As I noted in the introduction to this post, I spent the first half of 2014 reading the Harry Potter series and when I finished reading the series, it felt like such an accomplishment. This year, I wanted to be a part of another series challenge, but I haven’t found one that piqued my interest until today when I got chatting with fellow book blogger, Lost in A Great Book. She mentioned that one of her goals would be to read the entire Anne of Green Gables series and then I thought, that’s it. That’s what I want to read… again. I LOVED the Anne of Green Gables series so why wouldn’t I reread it, especially since I’m now the proud new owner of this beautiful collection from Tundra Books!

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That’s why I’m starting an Anne of Green Gables Reading Challenge for all to join, just like Just A ‘Lil Lost did for the HP series. The plan will be to read one book to read each month starting in January and ending in August, which means that if you’re following along, we’ll be reading  the following books in the corresponding months:

  • January 2015 — Anne of Green Gables
  • February 2015 — Anne of Avonlea
  • March 2015 — Anne of the Island
  • April 2015 — Anne of Windy Poplars
  • May 2015 —  Anne’s House of Dreams
  • June 2015 — Anne of Ingleside
  • July 2015 — Rainbow Valley
  • August 2015 — Rilla of Ingleside

If you want to join me in my Green Gables Readalong, you can join the fun by commenting below and be sure to use the hashtag #GreenGablesReadalong on all your social media channels. I’ll be sure to monitor it and ensure that everyone is connecting with one another. I’d also encourage you to leave a comment below and let me know that you’re participating in the challenge.

I’d love to hear your 2015 Reading Goals! Be sure to leave a comment and I’ll be sure to respond. 

[Video] Document Your Life – December 2014

December - 2014

Last year around this time, I discovered this really fun site called Document Your Life and I thought to myself… “hey, I could do that.” I could document everything that happened in 2014 and share the books I read, the memories I made and all the great people that helped to make it a fabulous (and it was fabulous) year. So I made a goal around this time last year, and then I did it. I followed through and continued to do it for a full year. I’d haul out my iPhone, flip it horizontally and record. After awhile, my friends got use to it and everyone else, well they’d look at me funny for a second and then they’d go back to living their lives. The end result are 12 videos that I’ll forever cherish and use to help me remember just how lovely 2014 was. So I present you the LAST video of 2014… the finale if you will. It was a month filled with friends, family and a lot of reading. Seriously, I read a lot of books this month and thanks to my extra long holiday vacation, I’m going to be continuing to read great books right into the New Year.

*The concept of the Document Your Life videos was created by Lauren Hannah. Her story, videos and a description of the project can be found here.

** The music in this video is Something About December by Christina Perri http://www.christinaperri.com/headorheart 

If you’re interested in seeing ALL the Document Your Life videos I’ve done this year, you can watch the full playlist here.

I’m on the fence if I’m going to continue doing these videos in the year 2015. They’re a wonderful way to reflect on the year, but I’ll be honest and say that they’re a lot of work. If you’ve enjoyed watching them, leave me a comment below and let me know if you’re interested in me continuing to create them and I’ll be sure to take your opinion into my decision making. THANKS and Happy New Year to each and every one of you!

14 Books I Should Have Read in 2014

There’s no possible way anyone is able to read all the books that came out in one year. It’s just not possible. And since I’m not a speed reader (yet), I just couldn’t read everything I wanted to read this year. The books listed below are the books that were ones everyone was talking about on television and radio, they’re books that you’d always see people on the subway/in coffee shops and most importantly, they’re books that helped shape the year 2014. Luckily for me, books don’t go bad and I do have every intention of reading them… eventually. If you have read one of the ones listed, let me know in the comments your thoughts on the book(s) and why it did/didn’t have an impact on your 2014 reading experience.

18052934No One Else Can Have You by Kathleen Hale – I put this book on the list out of sheer curiosity more than anything else. Kathleen Hale was warned not to read too much into her Goodreads reviews. Some will like your book, some won’t. But when she decided to bite the bullet and log on to hear what people thought of her new book No One Else Can Have You, she stumbled on one persons review that read,

“F**k this,” it said. “I think this book is awfully written and offensive; its execution in regards to all aspects is horrible and honestly, nonexistent.”

As Kathleen Hale explains,

“Well, it’s a weird book,” I reminded myself. “It’s about a girl with PTSD teaming up with a veteran to fight crime.” (source)

What proceeded to happen next is a bit of a cat and mouse chase for Hale, who shared her experience of tracking down her reviewer/catfisher and putting a name to the face of the person that “reviewed” her book. All of this is explained in her article for The Guardian and this book and author received a lot of quizzical looks from the public about her behaviour, but did get people to take notice. Myself included. And although, I don’t necessarily agree with her actions, it did make me want to pick up her book. I want to read the book that got Blyth up in arms and I wanted to read the book that others on Goodreads called, “a compelling mystery that grabs hold of you”. (source)

91E6exaOufLBeing Mortal by Atul Gawande – This is one of those books that kept popping up everywhere in my social feeds. So after I finally did some research, I found myself being surprised that so many people wanted to read a book written about medicine and the limitations surrounding the care and spiritual well being of the elderly. As someone that had a Grandparent suffer with alzheimer’s disease, it was very difficult to watch her slowly lose her memories and her whereabouts. Her quality of life was beginning to diminish, but I find peace and clarity in believing that the nursing home she resided in made her happy as  she spent hours doing crafts, socializing with others and what I like to believe enjoying her final years. Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal, 

addresses his profession’s ultimate limitation, arguing that quality of life is the desired goal for patients and families. Gawande offers examples of freer, more socially fulfilling models for assisting the infirm and dependent elderly, and he explores the varieties of hospice care to demonstrate that a person’s last weeks or months may be rich and dignified.

Even now, as I’m sitting her writing this post, I’m even more interested in reading Being Mortal as his research is something that hits close to home. There are so many of you that I’m sure are in the same boat as me that would find this subject fascinating, so let’s all get our butts in gear and start reading what sounds like a compelling book.

A-Girl-Is-a-Half-Formed-Thing-cover-hiresA Girl is a Half-Formed Thing by Eimear McBride – It was the cover of Eimear McBride’s that originally had me intrigued. When I finally snapped out of it and stopped judging a book by the cover and picked up a copy of the book to find out the premise of the book, I ignored that pesky never ending reading pile and purchased a copy of A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing. According to the description of the book, it’s “the story of a young woman’s relationship with her brother, and the long shadow cast by his childhood brain tumour. Not so much a stream of consciousness, as an unconscious railing against a life that makes little sense, and a shocking and intimate insight into the thoughts, feelings and chaotic sexuality of a vulnerable and isolated protagonist.” Reading the premise again has me itching to read this amazing debut novel… I really need to get it together.

bad-feminist-roxane-gayBad Feminist by Roxane Gay – Due to the Jian Ghomeshi scandal, the rights of women and feminist ideas became regular dinner conversation here in Toronto and thanks to people who bravely took a stand and authors like Roxane Gay, Caitlin Moran and many others, the word feminist has become a commonly used word in our vocabulary. Bad Feminist is a collection of essays that span politics, criticism, and feminism. My hope is that many of you have read this book and can tell me your thoughts about it in the comments. I’ve been itching to read it, but just haven’t got the chance to you yet. The people that I do know have read it say it’s absolutely marvellous and I have no doubt that they’re telling the truth. Who wouldn’t want to read a book that explores “one woman’s journey of her evolution as a woman (Sweet Valley High) of color (The Help) while also taking readers on a ride through culture of the last few years (Girls, Django in Chains) and commenting on the state of feminism today (abortion, Chris Brown). She’s been called revolutionary, insightful and funny and this is one book I’ll definitely be picking up in the near future.

81HtWazT5IL._SL1500_Every Day is for the Thief by Teju Cole – A couple of years ago, I had the pleasure (and it really was an absolute pleasure) to read Open City by Teju Cole. I remember reading that book and thinking to myself that Cole’s writing was outstanding. Not only was it smart and thoughtful, but also felt like it was writing that mattered.  So why in God’s creation have I yet to read his new book, Every Day is for the Thief? It’s not like I haven’t see it reviewed everywhere, The Guardian, NPR and the Telegraph, to name a few, it just slipped through the cracks.  If you haven’t read read Teju Cole before, take my word for it, he’s amazing and as indicated on Goodreads, he’s often compared to the literary greats JM Coetzee and Chimamanda Adichee.

18079683Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi – During some downtime at Inspire this past November, I treated myself and read about 10 pages of Helen Oyeyemi’s Boy, Snow, Bird in the PRH booth and I was immediately transfixed. Then this funny thing happened called, Christmas preparation and my reading list took an immediate hit. So I would say that of all the books on this list, Oyeyemi’s book is the one I’m the most bummed that I didn’t read in 2014. To give you an idea of why I can’t wait to read it, I’m going to share the description with you,

In the winter of 1953, Boy Novak arrives by chance in a small town in Massachusetts, looking, she believes, for beauty—the opposite of the life she’s left behind in New York. She marries a local widower and becomes stepmother to his winsome daughter, Snow Whitman.

A wicked stepmother is a creature Boy never imagined she’d become, but elements of the familiar tale of aesthetic obsession begin to play themselves out when the birth of Boy’s daughter, Bird, who is dark-skinned, exposes the Whitmans as light-skinned African Americans passing for white. Among them, Boy, Snow, and Bird confront the tyranny of the mirror to ask how much power surfaces really hold.

Dazzlingly inventive and powerfully moving, Boy, Snow, Bird is an astonishing and enchanting novel. With breathtaking feats of imagination, Helen Oyeyemi confirms her place as one of the most original and dynamic literary voices of our time.

So stay tuned to the blog and/or my Goodreads profile, because I have no doubt that this book will be appearing on them very soon.

Crazy Town cover biggerCrazy Town: The Rob Ford Story  by Robyn Doolittle – I don’t know why it’s so hard for me to believe that this book came out this year, because as a Toronto resident, the Ford controversy has felt like a never ending situation. But the book most certainly did come out this year and it nailed our formative (thank god) Toronto mayor to the wall. For awhile, it seemed like you couldn’t turn on your computer or television and not see our mayor, Rob Ford. Robyn Doolittle has closely covered Rob Ford’s career and had a hand in helping expose Ford’s cocaine problem. I’m sure I don’t really need to relive the drama, but there was photographic proof, video proof and an embarrassing audio file that kept having Torontonians feeling embarrassed and slightly mortified. As the controversy has died down a bit and a new mayor has been elected (and his last name isn’t Ford), I’m finally interested enough in reading Crazy Town. I’ve heard that she reveals some new facts about the Ford family and really takes a microscopic look at the family that had Toronto in the news for a big chunk of 2014.

9780771089435The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters – I’m going to tell you a story. About a year or so ago, I sat in a meeting and I heard Sarah Waters’ Canadian editor tell everyone that M&S would be the Canadian home to Sarah Waters new book. The word “elated” comes to mind. I was jumping up and down with excitement to read the book. Then some weird things happened.

  • The manuscript came out… I didn’t read it.
  • The advanced reading copies came out… I didn’t read it.
  • The BOOK came out… I didn’t read it.

So now here we are… present day and I still haven’t read the new Sarah Waters book!? What is wrong with me. Everyone I know that has read it says it’s brilliant and even without having read it, I know that they’re right. So I’m making a point to get it together and finally read The Paying Guests in 2015. Let’s all do it together? Okay? Good. I like knowing that we’re in the same boat.

9781594486104_custom-69abf675d4e4bc63b1a61c9705e9b57e1b948cc1-s6-c30On Such a Full Sea by Chang-Rae Lee – I like to call Chang-Rae Lee’s book, “the Sia book.” Not because the artist Sia had any affiliation with the book, but doesn’t the cover look like the dancer in Sia’s hit song Chandelier? Anyway… see how quickly I get off track? On Such a Full Sea, 

takes Chang-Rae Lee’s elegance of prose, his masterly storytelling, and his long-standing interests in identity, culture, work, and love, and lifts them to a new plane. Stepping from the realistic and historical territories of his previous work, Lee brings us into a world created from scratch. Against a vividly imagined future America, Lee tells a stunning, surprising, and riveting story that will change the way readers think about the world they live in.

Typically, I’m not a huge fan of futuristic, imaginative worlds, but after finally reading the Harry Potter series this year, I’m now more interested in reading this particular genre. I’ve heard a lot of people talking about this book and I’m sad I missed it this year. Thank goodness, I finally own a copy and can start reading it ASAP.

51pPqSnhtBL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki – Originally I had no idea that this book was a graphic novel. I kept seeing Mariko Tamaki’s book popping up all over my regularly circulated book websites and I thought the cover was pretty fantastic, but had yet to pick up a copy. It wasn’t until my friend Anne purchased a copy of the book that I had a chance to browse through it. The art and the use of only three colours to tell this heartbreaking story about a girl on the cusp of teenage hood. As someone who always enjoys a good graphic novel and young adult novel every once in awhile, I’m surprised I didn’t rip it out of Anne’s hands right then and there. BUT sinceI adore my pal and it wasn’t my book, I didn’t take it.. I swear, I’m a really nice person. As I sat compiling this list, I started to remember how much I longed to read this book. Now if Anne would just get back from Thailand, I could borrow her copy and we’d be in business.

20819685The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell – Ready to hate me? I know you might after you read this. This year, I had to the absolute pleasure of meeting the incomparable David Mitchell and let me tell you, he’s everything you think he’s going to be. He was witty, charming, funny and gracious. He was in town to promote The Bone Clocks and he took a few minutes to answer some Twitter questions that had been submitted (it’s worth checking out here) and I’ll be perfectly honest and tell you that on the day he came in, I was not having a good day. I don’t remember why and I’m sure it’s irrelevant now, but I just remember having a pretty crappy morning and then David Mitchell walked in the room. His sense of humour, his appreciation and his charm was the reminder I needed about how lucky and fortunate I am to get to work in an industry that allows me the opportunity to meet people named “one of the Time Magazine‘s most influential people”, although, Mitchell was quick to point out that in the grand scheme of things, he’s not even the most influential person in his house. I have such fond memories of that day and I’m sure I’d continue my David Mitchell love fest if I read The Bone Clocks, I just haven’t read it… yet. Every one I know has called it a masterpiece and are determined that it will one day be made into a film, but I haven’t read it. I’m not sure if I consciously chose not to read it or I was intimidated by it’s size (it rounds in at a nice 624 pages), but I just haven’t. This is another that I don’t want to put off too long. I think when it comes out in paperback, I’ll make a point of finding an empty Sunday and finally dive in.

womeninclothes-600Women in Clothes by Sheila Heti – My cousin Joanna is really into fashion and I think she has a real future in the industry, so when she came to visit, it made perfect sense to hand her over my copy of Sheila Heti’s Women in Clothes. According to its description, the “book is unlike any other. It is essentially a conversation among hundreds of women of all nationalities—famous, anonymous, religious, secular, married, single, young, old—on the subject of clothing, and how the garments we put on every day define and shape our lives.”

Now I’ll be perfectly honest and share with you that I have zero fashion sense. Sometimes I dread getting out of bed, because putting an outfit together seems so intimidating, so it might make little sense to you why this book would be included in this list. BUT I got to meet Sheila Heti this fall and not only was she spunky and full of life, but she made me want to obtain a copy of her book and really understand the essence of clothing; the why’s, what’s and how’s in our clothing decisions. You never know, maybe I’ll learn a thing or two if I read this beautiful book.

81XbzO1loHLEverything I Never Told You by Celeste NG – Any book description that starts with the sentence, “Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet . . .” makes me perk up a little bit. Celeste NG’s book was another book that just kept popping up everywhere. I hadn’t heard much about it and then poof, everyone and their dog was reading this book. I can see why though. The description continues to read, “When Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together tumbles into chaos, forcing them to confront the long-kept secrets that have been slowly pulling them apart.” It just sounds like the perfect book club read. I plan on suggesting this one and I’ll be sure to bring oodles of wine and cheese so we can really examine the Lee family.

BIG-LITTLE-LIESBig Little Lies by Liane Moriatry – I had to end the list with the cover that most made me stop in my tracks this year. Seriously. Have you ever seen a cover look as stunning as Liane Moriatry’s Big Little Lies? Here’s a quote from Entertainment Weekly,

The secrets burrowed in this seemingly placid small town…are so suburban noir they would make David Lynch clap with glee…[Moriarty] is a fantastically nimble writer, so sure-footed that the book leaps between dark and light seamlessly; even the big reveal in the final pages feels earned and genuinely shocking.

From the sounds of it, the cover isn’t the only thing that’s intriguing about this fantastic looking book!

There you have it friends, I’ve revealed my reading skeletons with you and gave you a glimpse at some of the books I didn’t get around to reading this year. Like I said in my introduction, books don’t go bad. Well I guess, technically, they do get musty smelling, but in my humble opinion, that’s half their charm. I will eventually tackle all the books I’ve listed above, but in the interim, I’d love it if you shared with me the books you’ve read in this list that I should start with first. I’d also love to hear the books you didn’t read (but really wanted to) in the year 2014.

#MazeRunnerFriday Twitter Viewing Party with James Dashner & a Giveaway!

It’s the Friday before the “big day” and if you’re like me, you’re stocked up on sweets and hot chocolate. So why not grab your warmest blanket, pop The Maze Runner in your DVD player and live chat your experience on Twitter using the hashtag #MazeRunnerFriday. Oh and the best part, James Dashner, the author and inspiration behind The Maze Runner will be jumping in the conversation as well!

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Based on the book by James Dashner that made The New York Times best-sellers list for more than 100 weeks, THE MAZE RUNNER brings together an up-and-coming cast of young talent including Dylan O’Brien (“Teen Wolf,” The Internship), Thomas Brodie-Sangster (“Game of Thrones”), Will Poulter (We’re the Millers), and Kaya Scodelario (“Skins”) that do whatever it takes to survive.

In this heart-pounding survival thriller based on the best-selling novel, Thomas (Dylan O’Brien of MTV’s “Teen Wolf” ) wakes up trapped in a massive, ever-changing maze with a group of boys who have no memory of the outside world. Facing dangerous obstacles at every turn — especially the deadly Grievers that roam the concrete corridors at night — Thomas and the others must race to piece together clues in order to discover their true purpose… and find a way out before it’s too late!

I’ve read The Maze Runner trilogy and thanks to my friends at Fox Home Entertainment, I’m excited to share that I am going to be hosting an affiliated giveaway so that YOU can enter to win a Blu-Ray copy of The Maze Runner and a copy of James Dashner’s book The Maze RunnerTHIS CONTEST IS OPEN TO CANADIAN AND UNITED STATES RESIDENTS.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Maze Runner Prize PackGood luck and I’ll see you all on Twitter TONIGHT (remember to use the hashtag #MazeRunnerFriday) , at 8:00pm Eastern (5:00pm Pacific).

My Favourite Books in 2014 that I HAVEN’T Reviewed… Until Now!

When you’re a book blogger, sometimes you’re reading up to 3 or 4 books at a time. Sometimes you read just to escape and the last thing you want to do when you finish a book is write a review for it. BUT, now that it’s colder outside, all your favourite television shows are on hiatus until the New Year and you’ve got tubs of hot chocolate on hand to get you through the cold weather, it’s time to turn on the old computer and start writing. I really like writing, it’s cathartic and it helps me tap into the feeling and emotions I felt when I read a particular book. With that being said, I got behind on my reviews this year. Like, really behind. So I decided to take a different approach to ensure you hear about these eight books that I loved and really wanted to review. I made a video!

Who would have thought I could go on and on about eight books for twenty minutes (well probably anyone that’s met me in person), but I did. I suppose I had a lot to say, because I loved each and every one of these reads. And if you’re saying to yourself, I don’t have 20 minutes to spare to watch this girl yammer on about books for that long, just think, you might find a good holiday read for one of your family members or friends. I’d ALSO be very appreciative if you watched it, because I showered for the video and tidied up my bookshelf, so maybe just watch it to make me feel like all my efforts were all worth it. 25+ views will indicate I should continue to wear deodorant and brush my hair. hehe

Without further ado, here’s the video of the 8 Books I Didn’t Review on my Blog in 2014.

If you like these types of videos, be sure to let me know in the comments. I’d love to keep doing them if they’re something you’re all interested in seeing. And like I say in the video, I’m going to be getting better at posting book reviews when I read the books, so stay tuned for lots of upcoming recommendations!

– Happy Reading (& Reviewing)