A Year in Review: Favourite Books of 2016

“Because every day with a book is slightly better than one without, and I wish you nothing but the happiest of days.”

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It is that time of the year already. Choosing favourite books of the year is not always an easy task, especially when there are so many great ones to choose from. For me, the favourites are the books that really made an impression on me and ones I would love to revisit and reread at some point. These are ten standout books I read in 2016:

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Select a book for the full review!

I thoroughly enjoyed these books and if any of them look like something you might enjoy as well, I absolutely recommend giving them a try.

Happy reading!

Bookshelf: Odd and Quirky Reads

img_2291Sometimes a book is just different. It surprises you, it confuses you, it makes you think, and perhaps leaves you scratching your head. But most of all it captures your attention and provides a unique reading experience. I love books like this. Looking at my bookshelf, there are five books that standout to me as odd and quirky reads that were surprising and confusing in all the best ways.

1. The Room by Jonas Karlsson
A story about a man named Björn who discovers a small, secret room that becomes his refuge from the open floor-plan office space and his co-workers. An amusing and wonderfully unique story.

2. The Blue Girl by Laurie Foos
Told through alternating perspectives of three mothers and three daughters, it tells the story of a time when a mysterious girl with blue skin was saved from drowning. After which, the mothers take turns visiting the blue girl and feeding her moon pies that contain their secrets. An odd concept but one that is very well executed.

3. The Beautiful Bureaucrat by Helen Phillips
Josephine is hired as one of many bureaucrats entering an endless amount of numbers into something only known as “The Database.” Her new position and her husband’s increasingly odd behaviour begins to take its toll, leading to an unsettling discovery.

4. All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders
A unique book with elements of magical realism, fantasy, and science-fiction. Patricia is a witch with a deep connection to nature, and Laurence is a genius when it comes to science and technology. They find friendship in the challenging times of their youth, but end up going their separate ways only to reunite as adults, at a time when the world is descending into chaos.

5. I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid
Told from the perspective of an unnamed woman who is taking a road trip with her boyfriend, Jake, to visit his parents’ farm.  The woman is unsure of her new relationship and is thinking of ending things.  However, the trip doesn’t go as she thought it would and things take a strange turn during an unexpected detour. Creepy and unsettling.

What are some of your favourite odd and quirky reads? 🙂

My Favourite Books About Books

IMG_2029“The words you can’t find, you borrow.
We read to know we’re not alone.  We read because we are alone.  We read and we are not alone.” – Gabrielle Zevin, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

My recent read of The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman, a book about a secret Library society, spies, and of course books, made me think back to some of my favourite books that have books as one of the main themes.  It is always wonderful to read something that captures the love of reading so many of us share and the beauty of a story.  These are my favourite books about books:

1. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
Young Daniel becomes fascinated by a book called The Shadow of the Wind by Julián Carax.  When he sets out to find other works by tis mysterious author, he discovers that someone is destroying every book Carax had ever written.  Beautifully written and engaging story with an intriguing mystery.

2. Mr. Peneumbra’s 24-hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
Young protagonist Clay Jannon stumbles upon a pattern in customer book selection, and sets out to uncover the mystery of Mr. Penumbra’s bookstore with the help of his friends.  A fun adventure that examines the relationship between new technology and old school books.

3. The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
Independent bookstore owner A.J. Fikry is grieving the loss of his wife and has isolated himself from just about everyone.  When he discovers an unexpected package left at his bookstore, his life takes a turn in a whole new direction.  A beautifully written and touching story. Continue reading “My Favourite Books About Books”

Top Five Summer Reads

IMG_1846“One benefit of summer was that each day we had more light to read by.” – Jeanette Walls, The Glass Castle

Summer is such a wonderful season for reading.  Even with work, classes, or whatever activities occupy your time, there is an atmosphere of relaxation.  After we have fulfilled our daily obligations we can enjoy the beautiful weather, breathe in the fresh air, and be very thankful that the winter is well behind us.  When I think of great summer reads I think of page-turning stories that you can’t help but get lost in.  These are my favourite summer reads from my virtual bookshelf:

1. 300 Days of Sun by Deborah Lawrenson
In order to get away from career and relationship troubles, Joanna decides to embark on a trip to Faro, Portugal where she meets Nathan, a man in search of information on a kidnapping that occurred decades ago.  Nathan asks Joanna for her help with his investigation due to her background in journalism.  Their search leads them to a book that was sold as a work of fiction but in truth may hold the answers they are looking for.  A total page-turner that brings the sights and sounds of Portugal to life.

2. Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Finding herself stuck and lost in life, twenty-nine year old Hannah Martin moves back to her hometown of Los Angeles, determined to turn her life around.  Upon her return, her best friend Gabby throws her a welcome home party where Hannah runs into her high school love, Ethan.  As Gabby is set to leave the party, Hannah has the choice of either going home with Gabby or staying out later with Ethan.  As we all know, choices have consequences. The book splits into two timelines showing us what happens with each scenario.  A fascinating look into how one choice can affect the entire course of a person’s life. Continue reading “Top Five Summer Reads”

Top 5 YA Novels I Have Read & Reviewed

IMG_0297In the past couple of months I read a few YA novels, all within a relatively short span of time.  I found them to be nice reads but falling short of the intrigue presented by their premise, and ultimately not reaching the full extent of their potential.  This made me look back at the YA novels I have read and reviewed so far to re-visit my prior experiences.  While there are a few books that fell short for me, there are five stand-outs that I thoroughly enjoyed and would recommend.

1. The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers
If I had to recommend just one book, it would be this one.  It is a smart, character driven debut novel that is absolutely brilliant.  It follows a nine-member crew travelling on a tunnelling ship whose job it is to punch holes through space in order to create shortcuts.  A must-read.

2. The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton
A strange and heart-breaking story about a girl born with the wings of a bird.  It’s wonderfully engrossing with great depth of character as it explores the struggles of Ava and her family. Continue reading “Top 5 YA Novels I Have Read & Reviewed”

Favourite Books of 2015

“A great book should leave you with many experiences, and slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading.”

2015 was a great reading year.  I discovered new authors, enjoyed styles of writing I had not read before, and came across books that soon became a treasured part of my bookshelf.

When choosing my favourites of the year, I selected those that I not only loved but would love to re-read.

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1. The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
Sometimes a book finds you at at the right time, and The Storied Life A.J. Fikry was one of those books.  I went through a long period of time where I fell out of reading, when life started to feel overwhelming.  When I was looking for a book to get back into the swing of things, I ended up picking up The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry and it really touched my heart.  A bookstore owner, who is grieving the loss of his wife and isolated himself from others, finds an unexpected package left at his store that changes the course of his life.  It’s a beautiful story, and on top of that, one that serves as a love letter to books.

2. Signal to Noise by Sylvia Moreno-Garcia
A charming debut novel that alternates between 1988 and 2009 in Mexico City.  It follows a girl named Meche and her two best friends, Sebastian and Daniela.  Inseparable friends each dealing with personal challenges who discover they can cast spells through music.

3. A Robot in the Garden by Deborah Install
Another wonderful debut novel.  This one is about a man named Ben Chambers who is stuck in a rut and dealing with marriage problems.  One day his wife discovers a robot in their garden, which makes Ben embark on a journey that changes his life.

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4. The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender
The title completely got me with this one, and the book as a whole delivers. A unique story about a girl named Rose who can taste people’s emotions through the food they make.  We follow Rose from the age of eight, when she first discovers her ability, to her early twenties and see the ways it alters her reality.

5. Vicious by V.E. Schwab
The moment I finished the last page of Vicious, it became an all time favourite.  It’s one that has been on my reading list for a while, and I only wish I had read it sooner.  Two best friends turned enemies set on revenge.  The story, the characters, the writing… all brilliant.

6. The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers
A smart, character driven debut novel that is absolutely brilliant.  It follows a nine-member crew travelling on a tunnelling ship whose job it is to punch holes through space in order to create shortcuts.

Hope 2016 brings many more brilliant reads. 🙂

BOOKSHELF| my comfort books.

img_3316“I have a shelf of comfort books, which I read when the world closes in on me or something untoward happens.”

There are a number of reasons we gravitate towards certain books.  Something appeals, something clicks, something draws us in.  Certain books we end up going back to because they take us back to a certain time or a different world, or they make us smile and laugh.  Each in its own way brings us some form of comfort.  These are the books on my shelf that I would consider my comfort books: Continue reading “BOOKSHELF| my comfort books.”