Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Back to the Classics 2015 - another classics challenge

Karen over at Books and Chocolate is hosting Back to The Classics 2015. This certainly is not her first time hosting, but it is my first time participating and I am excited. 2015 is definitely the Year of Challenges for me and I am so pumped and ready to get this new year of awesome reading underway!

Basic run-down:
  1. All books must be read in 2015.  Books started prior to January 1, 2015, are not eligible.  Reviews must be linked by December 31, 2015. 
  2. All books must have been published 50 years ago or more. 1965 is the cut-off date.
  3. Ebooks and audiobooks are A-OK.
  4. Crossover between categories is NOT OK. Crossovers with other challenges you may be working on are fine, however.  
  5. Cut-off for sign up is March 31, 2015.
You can find the full list of rules and sign up here.

Here's my list:
1.  A 19th Century Classic -- Dracula, Bram Stoker
2.  A 20th Century Classic -- To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee

3.  A Classic by a Woman Author -- Emma, Jane Austen

4.  A Classic in Translation -- Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy 
5.  A Very Long Classic Novel -- East of Eden, John Steinbeck

6.  A Classic Novella -- Animal Farm, George Orwell
7.  A Classic with a Person's Name in the Title --  Undecided
8.  A Humorous or Satirical Classic -- Catch-22, Joseph Heller

9.  A Forgotten Classic -- This Side of Paradise, F. Scott Fitzgerald

10.  A Nonfiction Classic -- Undecided
11.  A Classic Children's Book -- Anne of Green Gables – L. M. Montgomery
12.  A Classic Play -- Literally anything from Shakespeare… Or maybe something classical... another one Undecided.

So, that's my list, I promise to do as little editing as possible and to stick with it as it is now (edited June 2015 - I realized I had listed the same book under two categories, a no-no). Happy classics reading!

A Reader's Bill of Rights

Reader's Bill of Rights

  1. The Right to Not Read
  2. The Right to Skip Pages
  3. The Right to Not Finish
  4. The Right to Reread
  5. The Right To Read Anything
  6. The Right to Escapism
  7. The Right to Read Anywhere
  8. The Right to Browse
  9. The Right to Read Out Loud
  10. The Right to Not Defend Your Tastes
I found this lovely little list floating around the interweb. Unfortunately, I don't know where it originally came from, but if you do - please let me know so I can give credit where it's due.
I'll be keeping these points in mind in the coming new year. I hope you do too.
Happy New Year Reading Buddies!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish Goals for 2015

Post more reviews: I think this is going to be on every (semi) blogger's list of goals. I've read so many books since starting this blog in August, but I've posted very few actual reviews. I'd like to post at least one review a week. Or do a few catch-up posts that have 3-4 mini reviews all stuffed together in one neat little package. I've seen post-it reviews around the blogosphere lately, maybe I'll do something like that. (Also, I'd like to blog more in general, more bookish topics, bookish finds, bookish discussions...)

Finish Series I've started: This one is self explanatory, I hope. Also, I'd like to Start new series I'm behind on: These are all the series that I've wanted to read, but for whatever reason, haven't yet gotten around to, for example: The Raven Boys, The Throne of Glass, Cinder, The Chaos Walking Trilogy, etc.
Organize my bookshelves: Seriously, those things are a mess. I can't find anything. There's no discernible order, or reason. They are overflowing. I buy new books and just pile them on so the unread books get forgotten in the back... Come to think of it, maybe the goal should be to acquire more bookshelves??
Read books I own: I am a bit unreasonable when it comes to buying books, it's much like an addiction really. I just cannot stop myself. I'd like to read a good chunk of the books I already own before buying new books this year. Of course, I always make exceptions for myself when it comes to book buying bans. Last year graphic novels, used books, and classics were all a-ok. This year, I'd like to shorten my list of exceptions to maybe just used books, or just comics. Or just the books I really, really, absolutely, MUST HAVE NOW. Sounds reasonable, no?

5. (edited* also 6, & 7)
Read at least 6 classics: I have done pretty poorly as far as reading the classics is concerned. I joined the Classics Club to help remedy that and hopefully in 2015, I won't just read the classics, but I'll actually participate in more discussions and post all the reviews that I mean to. **That seems more like three goals to me: Read 6 classics, Participate more in the Classics Club, Review more classics. Oh my, it is 3 goals.**

6. 8.*
Utilize my local library: This sort of goes with my "read books I own/buy less books" goal. Except that if I'm reading library books, I'm not really reading the books I own. I think I've created a conundrum for myself. Well, if I use the library more, at least I won't buy as many books, am I right?
7. 9.*
Be a better book-clubber: I love the convenience of online book clubs, but the ease of it has made it possibly too easy. I have joined so many book clubs and reading groups this past year, but my participation has been terrible. Without a physical meeting to attend I let my participation slip. A lot. I'd like to do better than a bi-monthly check-in in 2015. The Classics Club, The Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge Book Club, the I Like Big Books Book Club, the Hello, Hemlock (CanLit) Book Club,  the Novel Tea Book Club, the Close Reads CafĂ© Book Club all deserve better from me. [Also, if you are also a member of any of these clubs, let me know! :)]  
**This also goes for read-alongs and reading challenges - I knew my non-joiner tendencies from high school would haunt me for all eternity, when I sign up for these things, I want to actually follow through!** (Maybe, I should make it a goal to sign up for less things?? I need to start thinking smaller - this is the reason why goals fail!)

8. 10.*
The easiest, most obvious one of all: achieve my Goodreads Goal of reading 50 books in 2015.
I think this turned out to be a list of 15 goals instead of 10. But, at least I dream big, right? What are some of your bookish goals for 2015?

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Booking Through Thursday (4) - How much do you read?

btt button
How much do you actually read? Few of us get as much time as we’d really LIKE for reading, but do as much as we can, so … how many books do you read? How many hours a day?
I would really like to spend all of my time reading (seriously, if there's a job out there for a professional reader, I am your girl); however, real life tends to get in the way of that. I take a train when I commute to work and usually read most days as long as I'm not too tired. Even if I don't get any other reading done that day, the train ride will give me about an hour and a half of reading time at the very least. If I'm lucky (ie. not too busy), I'll sometimes read for about a half hour on my lunch break. If I'm really really lucky (ie. my day wasn't to hectic), I'll get about an hour or so of reading in before bed too. At the very least, I always read with my children for about 20 minutes before they go to bed. Reading daily is a huge priority in our house. It tends to vary from day to day but an hour to two of reading is usually my average.

As far as how many books I read, that tends to vary too. It depends on a number of factors: the length of the book; how much I'm enjoying it; how motivated to finish it I am; even how good I think it is - the unputdownable-ness (it's a word) of a book makes a huge difference to how fast I'll get through it. YA books are usually really quick reads that I can finish in one sitting. Classics can sometimes take me two weeks to get through depending on the length and how much they make me really think.

I guess my long-story-short answer to this question is: it depends.

So... How much do you read?

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: My Winter TBR

Disclaimer: Yes, I know it's Wednesday but just as I was preparing myself to publish this last night... I fell asleep. I know, it's a terrible excuse but it happens. I'm sorry.

November 25:  Top Ten Books On My Winter TBR 

  1. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy - This is the December - January pick for the I Like Big Books book club on Goodreads. It's a great group, if you like big books join us and read along!
  2. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe  by C. S. Lewis - This book just feels wintry to me. My first-grader loved the movie, so I think this might be the year we read this one together.
  3. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens - This one seems obvious, but I've never actually read it. This might be the year for it.
  4. Winter's Tale by Mark Halpern - This has been sitting on my shelf unread since last winter, I think it's about time it gets read, plus it has winter in the title so BOOM. Done.
  5. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens - I'm doing a read-along with Alysia of exlibris, she is totally awesome and you should check out her Booktube channel. This is my first Dickens and I'm both excited and nervous about it. I really want to like this one.

A Tale of Two Cities Anna Karenina Winter's Tale The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (Chronicles of Narnia, #1) 
A Christmas CarolThat's it for my TBR because three of my picks are so long. Here's what we'll be reading in our fort:
Once Upon a Northern Night by Jean E. Pendziwol
The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsberg
The Call of the Wild by Jack London
White Fang by Jack London

Monday, November 24, 2014

2015 TBR Pile Challenge

I love new books. I love used books. I love collecting books. I love buying books. I love buying books so much that I tend to buy books faster than I can read them. I've heard that this is a pretty common habit for most avid readers (except for you smarty-pantses who use your public library to its fullest potential), but I buy more books than I can read and it's become a problem. I have tons of books gathering dust because I am just not getting to them and it's saddening because at some point I must have been really excited about reading them. Long story short, this is why I am glad that for the first time I will be able to participate in...
Adam of Roof Beam Reader is hosting his SIXTH annual TBR Pile Challenge and I, for one, can say that I am definitely going to benefit from joining in on this one.
The Goal for this challenge is to read (and review) 12 from your "to be read" pile within the year. Crossovers with other challenges are A-OK, but these books should have been on your shelf for at least a year. You are also allowed to have two "alternates" in case you decide to toss aside one of your titles.
You can sign up for the challenge here, you'll need to link your master TBR List and update the links to your reviews. You can also leave comments on that post throughout the year to update your progress and everyone that completes the challenge will be entered in a giveaway!
*Note: On the 15th of each month, there will be a monthly check-in to keep us all on track, as well as mini challenges and giveaways. So much fun to be had by all.
We'll be chatting about the challenge on Twitter, Instagram & Facebook, using #TBR2015RBR

My 2015 TBR Challenge Master List:

  1. Little Women - Louisa May Alcott
  2. Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
  3. Anne of Green Gables - L. M. Montgomerey
  4. The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
  5. As I Lay Dying - William Faulkner
  6. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone - J. K. Rowling
  7. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle - Haruki Murakami
  8. Half-Blood Blues - Esi Edugyan
  9. Blindness - Jose Saramago
  10. Roots - Alex Haley
  11. Atonement - Ian McEwan
  12. Emma - Jane Austen
  • The Road - Cormac McCarthy

Sci-Fi Month: Booktube!

I love BookTube. It is really, really great. Really. Before I started this blog I considered if I should go the Book-tube route, rather than the choice I ultimately made which was (obviously) old-school style blogging. Although I still contemplate (and sometimes fantasize) about starting a Booktube channel of my own, I just don't think I have the confidence to sit in front of a camera and share my face with the world and talk about some of the things that I am most passionate about. Something about the (semi) anonymity of the written word lends a sort-of safe(-ish?) feeling to blogging that I think makes it easier to share my opinions without worrying too much about mean comments. YouTube commenters seem to be quite mean and unforgiving but thankfully (SO THANKFULLY) there are wonderful, wonderful people out in the world who are braver than me and willing to share their wonderful videos on YouTube.

I have to admit that when I first started reading science fiction, I didn't fully realise that's what it was and I was surprised to find out that most of my favourite books were science fiction. You like books with zombies? You like dystopia? You like Sci-fi! I really have to credit booktube with my newly found knowledge because I wasn't really categorizing anything I read before - it was all just fiction. I also credit booktube with inspiring me and leading me to discover even more new-to-me science fiction titles to add to my ever growing TBR list. I doubt I'll ever reach the end of the list, and I definitely won't as long as I keep adding to it - BUT, I digress. What I really wanted to talk about was BookTube, and more specifically, my top 3 favourite BookTubers that focus (or talk quite a bit about) science fiction.
  1. books and pieces - Elizabeth focuses on sci-fi and fantasy, there are also really great discussions and hilariously costumes educational videos - I have learned so much from her.
  2. SFF180 - Thomas's videos are smart and engaging. He's super knowledgeable and doesn't necessarily focus on YA, so if you want to find out more about adult sci-fi and fantasy, check out his channel.
  3.  Ink Bones Books - Sanaa talks mostly about fantasy books but she does occasionally talk about science fiction as well and her videos are really well done, she always recommends books that I really really love. And is one of my absolute favourite booktubers.
Do you love booktube as much as I do? Do you have a booktube channel? Who are some of your favourite booktubers? I'm always looking for recommendations!


Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Classics Club Spin

As always, I am a little (a lot) late to post this (the deadline was November 10...oops!). But, I'm here now and I've decided to participate in my first ever Classics Club Spin. I couldn't decide which classic to read next so the timing for this couldn't be any more perfect!

The basic idea behind the Classic Club Spin is that you list your choice of any 20 classics from your Classics Club list that you haven't read yet. This is your "spin list". The Classics Club mods will post a randomly selected number from 1 to 20 and the challenge is to read whatever book falls under that number on your Spin List, by the given date: January 5, 2015
As I mentioned I am late to post this, so I'll be sharing my spin list and my spin pick in a single post. The idea behind this is that if I share it, I will actually read and review my pick. I've been slow to finish my books lately, and even slower to review, (I've been blaming a job change, but it's probably more due to laziness) so a kick in the pants was definitely needed. 
Without further ado, here's my Spin List:

  1. The Woman in White
  2. The Great Gatsby
  3. Les Miserables
  4. To Kill a Mockingbird
  5. The Wind Up Bird Chronicle
  6. North and South
  7. Persuasion
  8. As I Lay Dying
  9. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
  10. The Handmaid's Tale
  11. Don Quixote
  12. The Little Prince
  13. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
  14. 1984
  15. A Little Princess
  16. My Antonia
  17. Great Expectations
  18. The Bell Jar
  19. Mrs. Dalloway
  20. In Cold Blood
Slaughterhouse-FiveThe Classics Club Spin number was #13. It looks like I'll be reading Slaughterhouse-Five next month. This will be my first Vonnegut and I'm both excited and nervous about it. I'm hoping that not too much of it will go over my head, and that I enjoy it. I really want to like this book. 
What was your classics club spin pick? Let me know in the comments or on twitter using #ccspin. 

Readalong Wrap Up: The Hound of the Baskervilles

Hamlette over at The Edge of the Precipice was kind enough to host a read-along of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Hound of the Baskervilles and provided a few questions for the participants to answer:

Have you ever read any Sherlock Holmes stories before?

Nope, this is my first ever Sherlock Holmes read and I'm glad it was because I quite liked it.

Have you read this before?  If so, why did you decide to re-read it?

Again, nope. But I've wanted to read Sherlock's stories for a while and didn't know where to start. So this read-along was the perfect starting point to experience Sherlock.

At the end, Watson calls this adventure a "singular narrative, in which I have tried to make the reader share those dark fears and vague surmises which clouded our lives so long and ended in so tragic a manner."  Did he succeed in making you share them?

There was definitely a clear feeling of unease and general discontent throughout the book, I really appreciated the evocative language which made those feeling very clear. It wasn't as dark as I was expecting it to be but it was gothic. The moors, the fog, the mysterious setting made all the difference in this story, it created most of the feeling for me. I'd consider that a success.
Day 19, Character most like me: Sherlock. We are both unusual, not into social interaction, and really specialized in our skills and interests. We are both a lot more sensitive than we look, and have no problem with doing things outside the status quo. As a matter of fact, we enjoy it.
Have you seen any film adaptations of this story?  If so, do you recommend any?

Aside from Sherlock episode, no. But I do highly (HIGHLY) recommend it. I would definitely be interested in watching more adaptations, especially if there are good classic versions out there.

What did you like best about The Hound of the Baskervilles?

I really liked the writing. The characters and the eerie setting made this a perfect fall read. I also appreciated that I was actually surprised by the ending. I didn't expect that (it was different, of course, than the Sherlock episode), I guess I would make a terrible detective.

Was there anything in the story you didn't care for, or think could have been done better?

<3 SherlockI can't say that there's anything I really didn't like about the story, but I was surprised that Sherlock didn't have more of an active role in the plot for the bulk of the middle of the novel. I expected as that as the main character, his detective work would have been in the spotlight the entire time, which wasn't the case at all. That being said, I do love Watson, so I don't think I would change a thing. 

Have you read The Hound of the Baskervilles? Would you recommend any other Sherlock Holmes stories or adaptations? Please share!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

#Minithon Introduction [& Update]

I have long been jealous of Readathon participants and their ability to spend 24 hours or more reading. I love that, I love the idea of that. I love that those people actually have that many hours to devote to reading. I am not one of those people. I have a full time job. I have a long commute. I have a partner who might revolt if I locked myself away for days at a time to read. I have children that need attention, and feeding. I have CATS. Obviously, the full readathon isn't something I can actively participate in with so much going on in life. 

Thankfully, Tika of Reading the Bricks is hosting a mini-readathon today. This readathon is perfect for me because it's all about laziness ease: Snacks, tweeting about snacks, reading, talking about reading and bookish things on social media, more snacks, staying in pajamas, and general laziness relaxation of all kinds. I'm Canadian and there is all kinds of cold and snow outside so today is the perfect day to stay in, laze around, stay in bed, and read. (and tweet: #minithon)

I'm a little late posting this as the minithon started at 8am Pacific time, 11am where I am in Canada; and ends at 4pm Pacific time, 7pm in Ontario. But I slept in, so forgive me. 
Here's the rules guidelines:
1) Mini-everything! Mini snacks, mini naps, mini discussions (aka tweets),  and of course, some justification of why your reading material falls into the category of "miniature," the sillier the better.
2) Just 8 hours, beginning to end. We will begin at 8am Pacific time (that's 11am ON, CA). And when we end at 4pm PT (7pm ON, CA), everyone can breathe a sigh of relief at a job well done. 
3) Let's keep it to only 2 posts - one introductory and one to close out the 'thon - so as to leave us plenty of time for... reading
I'm looking forward to this minithon, I'll be posting what I read and what I snacked on in my minithon wrap up and I'll also be tweeting and instagramming #minithon throughout the day. 
Let's chat on twitter! (See my sidebar!)


I'm very pleased to be able to say that my first ever minithon was a successful one. Now, as a disclaimer, it's very nearly impossible to fail at minithon. The entire premise of the minithon is for it to be as easy as possible (for those of us to lazy for readathons). I tweeted, I snacked, I drank lots of tea. I even got some reading done. It was mostly blog posts, which, I was told, still counted; but I did get some book reading done too. I read one of the essays/ chapters in Lena Dunham's Not That Kind Of Girl and even read a little poetry too, so all in all, a win. 

 Tika of Reading the Bricks was so great for hosting this minithon. THANK YOU!

How did you spend your Saturday? Did you participate in the minithon? Did you get any reading done? Let me know :)

Sci-Fi Month: Thanks to Science Fiction


“Anything that one man can imagine, another man can make real.” - Jules Verne

Thanksgiving is coming for all my friends south of the border and even though we Canadians celebrate in October, there's always something to be thankful for and since it's still sci-fi month, I scoured the web for things that we can thank Science Fiction for.

There are many many inventions out there in the world today that were once dreamed up solely to exist between the pages of science fiction, be those pages bound in book or script form (I'm looking at you Star Trek). I am not a super-techy person, but I sure am glad that these awesome things exist today. There are so many more things that started out as ideas in science fiction than I am going to list here, and there will definitely be countless inventions to come in the future. As humans, it's in our nature to speculate, to create, to invent, to improve. To push boundaries. And I think we all owe a big thanks to science fiction, for being the pioneer of inventive ideas. Because without it, we might not have such awesome things as these: 

1) Cell Phones - thank Star Trek 

2) Submarines - thank Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

3) The Helicopter - the inventor of the helicopter was inspired by Jules Verne's Clipper of the Clouds


4) The Rocket - thank H. G. Wells' War of the Worlds, the inventor of the rocket became obsessed with space flight after reading it


5) Atomic Power - H.G. Wells' book The World Set Free  inspired physicist Leo Szilard to create a nuclear chain reaction 

The World Set Free

6) The Taser - Fun Fact: Taser is actually an acronym for "Thomas A. Swift's Electric Rifle" based on Edward Stratemeyer's books about an inventive boy who created and "electric rifle" inspiring the tasers of today


7) Tablets - you can thank Star Trek: The Next Generation for your iPad


8) The Waldo - I'll be honest with you, I didn't even know what the waldo was before I started researching this post, but we can thank sci-fi author Robert Heinlein for his short story about an inventor named Waldo who created a mechanical hand 

9) Nasa Canadarm - (yay Canada!) while I'm not entirely sure if it was directly inspired by it or not (please tell me if you know!), the Canadarm is pretty similar to the mission robot from 2001: A Space Odyssey 

10) The Internet - Tim Burners-Lee (credited with inventing the internet) was inspired by Arthur C. Clarke's 1964 story Dial F For Frankenstein 

Tim-Berners-Lee-WWW.jpg                     The Collected Stories of Arthur C. Clarke

There you have it, 10 pretty awesome things we might not have if not for sci-fi...and because I like to give credit where credit is due, here are the links I used to find out about all this cool stuff (and also, in case you're interested in reading more, here ya go):