Books I’ve Read in 2015

It’s that time of year again folks; it’s when I list all the books that I’ve read in one year so you can see how much reading I do and how little I  actually parent my child. No-I don’t post this list to brag, in fact, I think many people actually see it as proof that I am as lame as they suspected. And no, I don’t get out much, but when I do, I try to sneak a book into my purse so I can get a bit of reading in wherever I am.giphy

For those of you who are just seeing this list for the first time (you can check out my lists from 2013 and 2014 too), I’ll run down the rules quickly. This lists each book in the order I read it in, and I will link to my review of the book if I indeed wrote one. If I didn’t write a review, it’s not because I didn’t like it, I simply ran out of time. Keep in mind that many of the books I review I receive directly from publishers in return for an honest review (like many of my fellow book bloggers), but a small percentage of the books have been given to me by friends and family (for example, the Murder She Wrote books). No one would ever notice this, but I feel the need to mention something else; in some cases I will have read parts of one of these books previously for a book-related gig in the past, but I list the books here once I’ve read them completely. So, for instance I read parts of Matthew Thomas’s book We Are Not Ourselves in October of 2014 when I hosted the Wordfest gig he was in, but I wasn’t able to read it cover to cover until 2015.

Many of my reviews are positive, because I typically refuse to review books I know I won’t enjoy and I can usually find something good to say about almost everything I read. If you want to see me post more negative reviews, let me know in the comments section and I’ll consider upping my standards in 2016! Just kidding, don’t do that.

  1. Indian Ernie by Ernie Louttit
  2. Not the First Thing I’ve Missed by Fionncara MacEoin
  3. Wildness Rushing In by dee Hobsbawn-Smith
  4. A Crack in the Wall by Betty Jane Hegerat
  5. The First Principles of Dreaming by Beth Goobie
  6. Rose’s Run by Dawn Dumont
  7. Wiseman’s Wager by Dave Margoshes
  8. Between Clay & Dust by Musharraf Ali Farooqi
  9. Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes
  10. Bark by Lorrie Moore
  11. We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas
  12. The Forever Girl by Alexander McCall Smith
  13. Neverhome by Laird Hunt
  14. What I Meant to Say: The Privates Lives of Men-Edited by Ian Brown
  15. No Man’s Nightingale by Ruth Rendell
  16. 7 Ways to Sunday by Lee Kvern
  17. The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling)
  18. Landing Gear by Kate Pullinger
  19. As Chimney Sweepers Came to Dust by Alan Bradley
  20. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
  21. A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing by Eimear McBride
  22. If I Fall, If I Die by Michael Christie
  23. Suitcase City by Sterling Watson
  24. 12 Rose Street by Gail Bowen
  25. Welcome to the Circus by Rhonda Douglas
  26. A Beauty by Connie Gault
  27. Delicious Foods by James Hannaham
  28. A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler
  29. Time Will Say Nothing by Ramin Jahanbegloo
  30. The Half Brother by Holly LeCraw
  31. The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan
  32. The Mountain Story by Lori Lansens
  33. In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume
  34. Where Did You Sleep Last Night by Lynn Crosbie
  35. A Measure of Light by Beth Powning
  36. The Incarnations by Susan Barker
  37. Saint Mazie by Jami Attenberg
  38. Wake the Stone Man by Carol McDougall
  39. In Another Country by David Constantine
  40. His Whole Life by Elizabeth Hay
  41. Blackout by Sarah Hepola
  42. The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald
  43. Under Major Domo Minor by Patrick deWitt
  44. Hausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum
  45. Close to Hugh by Marina Endicott
  46. Honeydew by Edith Pearlman
  47. Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller
  48. The Mystics of Mile End by Sigal Samuel
  49. The Mountain Can Wait by Sarah Leipciger
  50. The Wrong Cat by Lorna Crozier
  51. Ghostly-Edited by Audrey Niffenegger
  52. One Night Markovitch by Ayelet Gundar-Gostaven
  53. Long Change by Don Gillmor
  54. Sutterfeld, You are Not a Hero by Tom Stern
  55. Nora Webster by Colm Toibin
  56. The Big Disconnect by Catherine Steiner-Adair (this was a parenting book I read, and because I have no idea what I’m doing as a parent, I don’t feel comfortable writing reviews on parenting books quite yet)
  57. Did You Ever Have a Family by Bill Clegg
  58. Manhattans & Murder by Jessica Fletcher and Donald Bain
  59. Yuletide Murder by Jessica Fletcher and Donald Bain
  60. The Winter War by Philip Teir (review to be posted shortly)
  61. This is Happy by Camilla Gibb (review to be posted shortly)

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New Year, New Look

I was getting sick of the way my blog looked before, so I gave it an update, thanks to the fine themes they have available through wordpress. I personally find change difficult, but I hope you, dear readers, appreciate this transformation, because I would like my blog to be more user-friendly; if you can’t find what you’re looking for on my site, than that’s not good for anyone! Thankfully they made it easy for me, because changing the format of this site stretches the very limits of my formatting abilities. That being said, I’d  love to hear your thoughts on ivereadthis’s new look.

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Give the Gift of Intelligence this Christmas

It’s that time of year again, the gift-giving season we all dread/look forward too! Now that I stay at home all day, I have a lot of time to think about what I’m going to get people, and where and when I’m going to get it, so I’ve been thinking about Christmas since the beginning of November. For those of you who don’t have that kind of time, a good book is always a great gift for that special someone on your list, and because you most likely have multiple people to buy for, going to a book store will ensure you can cross off everyone on your list in one go. Best of all is that you don’t have to stop foot in a mall, because you can go to your local, independent bookstore to get all these wonderful gifts. The people that work there will also be able to give you honest, thoughtful recommendations too. Hotline-Banner-Home

But, if you don’t want to leave your house in the driving snow, you can also get useful recommendations from the knowledgable publishing staff at the Penguin Hotline.  You just send them some info about the person you’re buying for (interests, age, etc) and they will recommend a book that should suit their tastes. I’ve been assured this resource is publisher agnostic (which I’m assuming means they won’t just recommend books published by their own company) because these kind folks just want people to read good books, which is a mantra we can all get behind. So don’t get people useless crap that will just collect dust in their basement, get them a gift that makes them smarter: something that they can pass along to others when they’re done with it…or enjoy again and again!

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The Literary Festival Season Has Begun!

So with the onslaught of Fall book awards come the annual procession of literary festivals. Canada is lucky enough to have quite a few of them, although there is always room for more! As you all know, I used to work for Wordfest, so this is a topic near and dear to my heart.

I just finished reading a fun little piece in the Globe and Mail interviewing various authors about their coping techniques on the festival circuit. And just so we’re clear, most authors are dying to be on this kind of tour, and find it an honour to simply be invited to these festivals. There are of course, those mega super stars who can pick and choose what they do, but for 98% of Canadian writers, these appearances are fun because they’re finally getting paid to read their own writing to audiences.

4067553As Mark Medley notes at the beginning of the article, there is no shortage of debauchery at these things, and I can attest to that. Dave Bidini wrote an article about this, and lucky me, the inspiration for this came from a certain evening we both participated in during Wordfest. (Side note, he’s attending Wordfest again this year, go check him out!) Everyone seems to think that your university years are when you party hardest. In my case, it was when I was exposed to poets, musicians and fiction writers looking to let loose in the mountains.

Each festival week that I worked was a mixture of exhaustion and stress.  But every time an author I really admired spent time chatting with me, or genuinely thanked me for my hard work, it made it all worth it. I even have a few, treasured gifts from some writers who I can now call friends, which is just icing on the literary cupcake for me.

This is all to say that I’m a bit nostalgic when this season rolls around, because I miss the roller coaster of emotions that would typically accompany my work at the festival. However, being in the audience is just as fun, especially because I don’t have to worry if the readers are going to party too hard for their own good that night. They probably will, but I’ll be fast asleep at home while it’s happening.

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Book Tag: Reading Habits Tag

I’m curious to see if people care about my reading habits or not, but either way, I’m posting this because I was tagged by another blogger.  I’m a techno newb, so I may not be doing this right/tagging people correctly, but thanks to Book Bunny I’m going to attempt it, so here goes!

Do you have certain places at home for reading?IMG_20150809_163306396_HDR

Yes, although I’m willing to pick up a book and start reading just about anywhere. My favorite reading location is my couch, in our front living room, with Smokey, Pearl, or both sitting on my lap.

Bookmark or random piece of paper?

Bookmark! I have about a million of them, but my favourite one is from the resort my husband and I got married at in St. Lucia, called Jade Mountain. 

Can you just stop reading or do you have to stop after a chapter/ a certain amount of pages?

As a new mother, I am frequently forced to stop reading ( usually accompanied by a baby’s wail, signalling the end of nap time), but when I’m reading at night before bed, I typically try to make it to the end of my chapter or section.

Do you eat or drink while reading?

Oh hell yah! A nice cup of tea is a great accompaniment to any kind of book, but if I’m feeling naughty, a Cadbury Dairy Milk Bar is my go-to choice.

Multitasking: Music or TV while reading?

The only thing I can do at the same time as reading is breastfeed my baby, or pet my cats if they are close at hand. That’s about it.

One book at a time or several at once?

Usually I like to stick to one book, but these days I find myself reading one kind of book to blog about, plus some parenting book that gives me some sort of clue as to what I should be doing with my kid.

Reading at home or everywhere? IMG_20150809_165817026

Errrrrrrrreywhere.

Reading out loud or silently in your head?

I read my own books silently, but I read out loud to my baby.

Do you read ahead or even skip pages?

God no.

Breaking the spine or keeping it like new?

I’m not sure if I actually break the spines, but I force them open as much as needed to read comfortably. I also try to keep the dust jackets of the hard cover books intact, so I can pass them on to others when I’m done.

Do you write in your books?

Why the hell would I do that?

I’d like to tag the wonderful blog I Will Never Own Enough Books to answer these same questions, when she gets around to them! And no rush, I know you’ve got lots of reading to do :)

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Judging a book award: the most rewarding/time consuming job on the planet

I had the good fortune of being a judge for the 2015 Saskatchewan Book Awards that were just handed out this past weekend.  I was on the panel that decided the winner of the City of Saskatoon and Public Library of Saskatoon Book Award: Manny’s Memories by Ken and Angela Caron. It’s been awhile since I read the book (November-December ish), but of course I remember it well because it was so beautifully written and illustrated. I recommend picking it up-it includes a CD with the book as well that gives some nice context to the story, so it’s well worth the 15 bucks. download

This category was particularly difficult to judge, because it encompassed all different genres of books: children’s books, cookbooks, poetry, fiction, non-fiction, you name it! From what I understood, the only criteria of the category was that the author had to be living in Saskatoon, so pretty broad. How do you compare a children’s book to a book of poetry? It’s challenging, let me tell you, but I believe the most deserving book won, and I stand behind our decision completely.

There were about 20 books in total that needed to be read, some very short, some very long. I even cooked a recipe out of the cookbook to help decide where I stood on it. So yes, it was a time-consuming process, but because I love reading, it was a really enjoyable task. I must say, this has also given me a new appreciation for the people who judge major literary prizes, because many of those high profile, international awards have 50-100 submissions. Even for die-hard book lovers like myself, reading one book every day or two can be tiresome, so luckily I’m starting slow with a regional award like this one. But I’m hoping I’ll get the chance to judge more book awards in the future (call me!).funny-call-me-maybe-maeby

The hardest part was keeping quiet about this newest adventure on my blog for this long, so the next few reviews that you will see on here are some of the books that I read as a judge for this category. I’ve always been a big fan of Alberta-grown lit, but I can now confidently say that Saskatchewan has some pretty good authors as well.

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Book News: Harper Lee to publish her second novel

I’m a couple days late on this one, but I thought I’d weigh in on this latest piece of exciting book news anyway. Harper Lee, author of the classic To Kill a Mockingbird (published in the 1950s), has announced that she will be releasing her second novel titled Go Set a Watchman in July 2015, with publisher HarperCollins (those lucky bastards, other publishers are most likely muttering to themselves).harper-lee

Before I delve further into this topic, I would like to admit something horribly embarrassing (because why not?). I thought Harper Lee was a man, until this past Tuesday, when I saw her publicity photo appear on my facebook feed accompanying this breaking news. In my defense, when I read the book in Grade 10, I’m sure I knew at the time that Lee was a woman, but that fact seems to have slipped my mind in the 15 plus years since. I was also unaware that Harper Lee was still alive (yes, I’m sure my ignorance is surprising to many), so I felt doubly awkward when hearing this news, mainly because it forced me to realize how little I actually know, vs. how little I actually think I know.

Now that I’ve got that out of the way, I want to say how excited I am about this. Will I rush out and buy the book? Probably not, I don’t typically jump on these book bandwagons like others. I will consider buying the book (from a local independent of course) as a gift for someone though, it could be a great conversation starter, and I’m sure many of my friends won’t hear about this news at all, so I’ll appear very knowledgeable just by getting it for them.

Since the news broke, there have been questions around the timing of this book, mainly because it is widely known that Lee is in failing health, and her dutiful attorney passed away a few months before this new book mysteriously appeared. Apparently Lee wrote it before To Kill a Mockingbird, but it hadn’t been up for release until now. Is Lee being taken advantage of by a big corporation? Who knows? And does anyone want to point out how strange it is that the imprint releasing her book is also named Harper? I haven’t seen any jokes about this yet, so perhaps I’m missing something, or I simply have a childish sense of humour.

But  I AM excitone-of-katy-perrys-dancing-sharks-reveals-his-identity-during-a-reddit-amaed about this because of how much press and attention it’s getting. Who knew, that just mere days after the internet’s incredible over-focus on dancing sharks during a Superbowl halftime show, that our intelligence could return this quickly to discuss something so worthwhile? Lately I’ve been reviewing the the ‘trending’ topics on facebook with distaste and pity for humankind, but my spirits are buoyed by the articulate discourse coming out of this latest announcement. Yes, people believe there are more important things than Kim Kardashian’s latest photo shoot and the 10 ways in which Missy Elliot out-shined Katy Perry, and it simply took a blast from the past to get us there. God bless you, Harper Lee.

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Books Ive Read in 2014

Well here it is again, my annual list of what i’ve read in the past year. You will notice I read 61 books in 2014: 4 less than I did last year. I shudder to think how little I’m going to read in 2015…

For many people, reading 61 books in a year seems like a strange (and quite possibly boring) task, but for me this is a disappointing number, because in 2013 and 2012 I read 80 books each year. 80 seems like a much more impressive number, no? Reading is by far my favourite pastime, so I hate seeing my numbers go down each year, but this is what happens when life gets in the way of your hobbies.ecde7721063e2c7fb6e48956f2daf116

A quick explanation for those of you who are new to my year-end list: I state the book title first, and then the author. I hyperlink to my reviews of the books, if I wrote one. Just because I didn’t write a review, doesn’t mean I didn’t like the book, I probably just ran out of time! You’ll also notice that some books I’ve just left spaces for, because I’m currently a jury member for a book prize, so I’m not allowed to state what the prize is, who the authors are, or what the books are. Just trust me that I’ve read the books, and I’ll post the reviews for them in the spring once the winner has been announced.

Enjoy this list, and if you see any books that you’d like to read, feel free to message me and I can see if I still have it lying around to send to you.

  1. Road Ends by Mary Lawson
  2. A Permanent Member of the Family by Russell Banks
  3. Whiskey Creek by Dave Hugelschaffer
  4. Bellman & Black by Diane Setterfield
  5. Double Happiness by Tony Brasunas
  6. The Dead in their Vaulted Arches by Alan Bradley
  7. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
  8. All the Broken Things by Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer
  9. That Part Was True by Deborah McKinlay
  10. Innocence by Dean Koontz
  11. Quiet Dell by Jayne Anne Phillips
  12. Cockroaches by Jo Nesbo
  13. You Should Have Known by Jean Hanff Korelitz
  14. Red Rising by Pierce Brown
  15. Dead Brilliant by Christopher Ward
  16. The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon
  17. The Harem Midwife by Roberta Rich
  18. Boundary Problems by Greg Bechtel
  19. The Age by Nancy Lee
  20. Gin and Daggers by Jessica Fletcher and Donald Bain
  21. One More Thing by B.J. Novak
  22. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  23. Blessings by Elise Juska
  24. The Lemon Grove by Helen Walsh
  25. The White House by JaQuavis Coleman
  26. The Confabulist by Steven Galloway
  27. To Rise Again at at Decent Hour by Joshua Ferris
  28. The Son of a Certain Woman by Wayne Johnston
  29. The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
  30. The Divorce Papers by Susan Rieger
  31. The Fever by Megan Abbott
  32. All Our Names by Dinaw Mengestu
  33. The Quick by Lauren Owen
  34. Fifth Business by Robertson Davies
  35. No Relation by Terry Fallis
  36. The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri
  37. Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane
  38. Big Brother by Lionel Shriver
  39. All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews
  40. The Cat Who Could Read Backwards by Lilian Jackson Braun
  41. Sing in the Morning, Cry at Night by Barbara J. Taylor
  42. Medicine Walk by Richard Wagamese
  43. California by Edan Lepucki
  44. A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
  45. Riel Street by Colette Maitland
  46. The Last Days of the National Costume by Anne Kennedy
  47. Leaving Tomorrow by David Bergen
  48. The Freedom in American Songs by Kathleen Winter
  49. Us Conductors by Sean Michaels
  50. Serpents Rising by David A. Poulson
  51. Reunion by Hannah Pittard
  52. The Table of Less Valued Knights by Marie Phillips
  53. World War Z by Max Brooks
  54. *****
  55. *****
  56. Abattoir Blues by Peter Robinson
  57. ****
  58. Bear by Marian Engel
  59. ****
  60. ****
  61. ****

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Liebster Award

Last week, Elsie Ohem, who I’ve never met but will be continually grateful to, nominated me for the Liebster Award. I have no idea what this award is, but I’m so honoured to be nominated for ANYTHING that I will gladly participate in this chain-letter type thing that comes along with a nomination. As I typed that last sentence, I realized I had better figure out what the award is, if I’m going to be nominating other blogs for it.index

So, apparently it’s awarded to blogs that have less than 200 followers (which is apparently a category that ivereadthis.com falls into), but this not something to be ashamed of, rather it’s something to be proud of, because hey-I’ve got a readership!

Part of being nominated for this award means you have to answer a bunch of questions that your nominator has set out for you, so I’ve answered a few below. My readers know I like to keep things short and sweet, so here goes:

  1. What is your favorite hobby? Reading!
  2. Do you prefer books made into movies or movies made into books? Both!
  3. What is something that no one would ever guess is true about you? I don’t have a favorite author or book.
  4. If you could spend the day with any person of your choice, who would it be and why? Lil’ Bub the famous internet cat sensation, because he is so adorable.
  5. What is the one thing you want to accomplish before you die? Visit the Galapagos Islands.

There you have it! I’d like to nominate one other blog for this award. Congratulations goes to: Becky in Bookland

And the questions you can choose from to answer are:

  1. Why do you blog?
  2. Who do you imagine reads your blog?
  3. How long have you been blogging for?
  4. Who is your favorite author?
  5. Do you hope to be blogging for the rest of your life?

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Book Event: Back to (Writing) School with Author Ian Williams

Last night at the Barley Mill Pub in Eau Claire, I had the pleasure of attending another successful and educational Writers Guild of Alberta event. Recently named University of Calgary writer-in-residence Ian Williams gave a thought-provoking yet still entertaining presentation on writing. Although I don’t consider myself a formal writer,  he still gave me some useful tips, and I’ve decided to start calling myself a ‘creative non-fiction’ writer rather than a blogger, as this sounds much fancier.

Ian Williams, speaking to a rapt crowd at the Barley Mill last night

Ian Williams, speaking to a rapt crowd at the Barley Mill last night

When the event began, Williams announced that his talk would be focused more on us, the audience, rather than himself. He wanted us to leave the event learning a bit more about our own writing styles, which in all my years of attending literary events, came across as a rather creative approach. Understandably, we were all a bit hesitant when he said this, as most writers don’t like the limelight, and horrific images of people standing up and discussing their books-in-progress danced through my head. However, quite the opposite happened, and I believe the objective of the evening was reached. What revelations did I have?  I realized that I don’t take my writing as seriously as any poet, and my particular ‘style’ of writing includes getting a bunch of crap down on the page, and editing it all afterwards. So, very useful soul-searching was done on my part.

Williams also encouraged us to challenge ourselves: if you’re the type of person who does all their writing in the morning, try writing at night! If you’re the kind of person who only writes fiction, try writing non-fiction and see where that gets you. I’m about to embark on an online writing course, so I hope to take advantage of this advice and try out my very rusty fiction-writing skills to see if this improves overall communications. Williams also emphasized the fact that writing a bunch of stuff that never sees the light of day is a good exercise, which is a difficult pill to swallow for multi-taskers like myself (“what a waste of time” I thought in my head) but I do see his point.

Who says writing workshops have to include the same, old boring advice? And isn’t it better to take in these words of wisdom while in a pub, sipping a glass of beer and munching on some yam fries? I thought so too, so stay tuned for the next WGA event, you won’t want to miss it.

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