1/22/18

Marko Monday [26] - My Snake Blake

Although my last Marko Monday post was two months ago, one thing hasn't changed since then: the kid still loves snakes.  Jessica @ Novel Cravings sent me the sweetest Christmas parcel (more on that in my haul post later this week), and then sent a separate one with a book for Marko.  He loved going to the post office to pick up his book, and wanted to read it right away in the car on the way home.

I loooooove to read books when I can ham up the voices a little bit and bring the story alive.  This book provides the perfect excuse for that, drawing out the words orally as I traced my finger along the word that the snake had spelled out with his body.  Marko was laughing so hard about the mom being scared of the snake, especially when the snake spells out "Relax" so that the mom will calm down.  This book is a treat with simple and sweet illustrations, and a story of a boy and his best friend.

As I mentioned in last month's post, Marko loves his plush snakes, so here's a semi-recent photo of him with Randy, Blue, Teet-see and Lavander.


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1/16/18

Top 10 Books I Meant to Read in 2017

A new year, and a new Top Ten Tuesday, now hosted by Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl!  I totally meant to post last week, but forgot.  This week's topic is new year's resolutions, but I shared a post on that last week.  SO, I thought I write about last week's topic this week, because I like to break the rules.  So, here goes...ten books that I totally meant to read last year.

1. Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
2. The Revolution of Marina M by Janet Fitch
3. Once and For All by Sarah Dessen
These three books are on my list of 18 books that I plan to read in 2018 because all three are books that I can't BELIEVE I didn't read in 2017.

4. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
5. Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood
6. The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon
7. Graceling by Kristin Cashore
These four books are the last ones from my 17 books to read in 2017 list that I didn't quite get to.

8. The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto by Mitch Albom
9. The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy
10. A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
These three books were purchased in 2017 and I'm dying to read all three.  Not sure why they didn't make it to my nightstand just yet, but they will be soon!

How about you?  Do you have trouble posting the right Top Ten Tuesday topic on the right week?  Which books are your top priorities for 2018 because you didn't get to them last year?  Let me know in the comments below, and leave me a link to your post and I'll stop by.

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1/12/18

Anticipated Releases of 2016 and 2017

Jessi @ Novel Heartbeat recently shared her anticipated releases of 2018 and, at the end of the post, she looked back at her anticipated releases from last year, to see if she had read them all.  It's funny how we're always so excited for upcoming new releases, but when they actually are released, they end up sitting on our shelves for months and months.

I actually only listed new releases in my bullet journal for 2017, so I thought I'd recap two years, and start with my list of anticipated 2016 releases...

1. Stars Above by Marissa Meyer (February 2) -- read it in 2016
2. Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare (March 8) -- read it, but not 'til 2017
3. When We Collided by Emery Lord (April 5) -- read it in 2016
4. The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson (May 3) -- read it in 2016
5. A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas (May 3) -- read it in 2016
6. It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover (August 2) -- read it in 2016
7. Throne of Glass #5 by Sarah J. Maas (September 6) -- read it, but not 'til 2017
8. Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo (September 22) -- read it in 2016
9. Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor (September 27) -- haven't read it yet, but was actually published in 2017
10. Heartless by Marissa Meyer (November 8) -- read it in 2017, but since it was released right at the end of 2016, I read it almost right away

NOT BAD!  Only one of these books remains unread, and the publication date was pushed back, so it was published in 2016.  All but two books I read the year I purchased them, which is also awesome.

1. Wires and Nerve (January 31) -- read it in 2017
2. A Conjuring of Light (February 21) -- read it in 2017
3. Strange the Dreamer (March 28) -- haven't read it yet
4. Always and Forever, Lara Jean (May 2) -- read it in 2017
5. A Court of Wings and Ruin (May 2) -- read it in 2017
6. The Best of Adam Sharp (May 2) -- read it in 2017
7. The Names They Gave Us (May 16) -- read it in 2017
8. Lord of Shadows (May 23) -- read it in 2017
9. Once and For All (June 6) -- haven't read it yet
10. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo (June 6) -- read it in 2017
11. Tower of Dawn (September 5) -- read it in 2017
12. Language of Thorns (September 26) -- haven't read it yet
13. Warcross (October 3) -- read it in 2017
14. Top Ten (October 3) -- read it in 2017
15. Ringer (October 3) -- DNFed in 2017
16. Without Merit (October 23) -- read it in 2017
17. The Glass Spare (October 24) -- DNFed in 2017, but also received a copy in my Owlcrate, so I may give this book a second chance
18. Renegades (November 7) -- haven't read it yet

ALSO NOT BAD!  Only four books that I haven't read, one of which I didn't even buy so it counts less.  All three will definitely be read in 2018, as I have a buddy read planned for one and the other two are on my list of 18 books to read it 2018.

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1/10/18

Someone In The Way - Rachel Del

I read and reviewed Rachel's other book, How To Be Someone Else, and really enjoyed it.  I went into this one expecting a similar, sweet contemporary, but instead found a book that had a lot more hard-hitting issues than HTBSE.

I was completely captivated by the story from the first page, and found myself inhaling almost half of the book in one day, scarcely able to put it down.  I loved the imperfect, battered characters who had each suffered greatly, and found myself rooting for them to rise above their pasts.  There was an element of mystery pervading that story influenced my need to keep flipping pages, anxious to find out what these deep dark secrets were, tormenting these characters.

My only complaint with this book is that I felt we could have dug deeper into the characters as, although some characters had a past, the story didn't dig deep into the characters as much as it could have.  The potential was there for truly exceptional and memorable characters, but the book didn't quite get there for me.

BUT, with that being said, at the end of the book, in the acknowledgments, Rachel alludes to the fact that one character's story isn't over yet -- and I hope this means that there's more coming for this character's story.  In that case, I may get my wish to delve deeper into what makes these characters tick!

If you're looking for a contemporary book that is completely unputdownable, with an excellent, captivating story, look no further than Someone in the Way.  With each book, Rachel surpasses her previous work, and I'm already looking forward to seeing what she comes up with next!

Note: An advanced copy of this book was provided by the author, but all thoughts in this review are my own.

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1/8/18

Reading Resolutions 2018

1. Have less physical books on my TBR on December 31 than I do now.
I made it to less than 100 physical books on my TBR by the end of the year, but I got some books for Christmas, and made a visit to my favourite used bookstore in Victoria, and my TBR currently sits at 111 books.  While I'd love to have 75 books on my TBR (or, honestly, only 50), I don't want to assign myself an actual goal.  This goal is still measurable, which is what I wanted last year when I set a specific number, but it feels less constraining than last year's goal.

2. Have less ebooks on my TBR on December 31 than I do now.
I was SO GOOD last year and didn't buy many ebooks at all.  Since Christmas, there have been some good sales, and I've added SEVEN books to my TBR!  Although I'm excited about all of them, I am going to make a conscious effort every now and then to pick up my ereader instead of a physical book.

3. End the year with no 2017 or earlier ARCs.
I've been really, really good at reading and catching up with my ARCs, and I currently only have one expired ARC.  I plan to read that one, and to stay current with ARCs this year, a very manageable task.

3. Finish 10 series.
Last year, I shared a post outlining the ten series that I plan to read.  This year, I'm not setting any goals with regard to the series I plan to conquer (although, if you read my 18 books to read in 2018 list, you'll see that reading all of those books will result in __ of the ten series).  I might read some old ones, or start and finish some new ones, we'll see!

4. Blog whenever I feel like it.
No pressure this year.  None at all.  I'm going to go where the wind blows me.

5. Participate in three online events.
Same goal as last year, which I totally exceeded, but I'm still going to keep it at the same for this year.  I have a few things from previous years that I'd like to participate in again, if they're happening, and I'm also equally open to participating in something brand new.  Again, let's see where the wind blows.

Do you make reading resolutions?  If so, what are your resolutions for the coming year?  If not, do you have a different method of setting your intentions for the coming year?  Let me know in the comments below, and a very happy new year to you!

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1/3/18

18 Books to Read in 2018

I originally came up with this idea after seeing several BookTubers post lists of 16 books that they wanted to read in 2016.  My first year, I read nine of 16 books, and last year I read 13 of the 17 books I'd planned to read.  This year's list is VERY ambitious, as quite a few of the books are lengthy ones, with a whopping grand page total of 10,093 when I combine all of the books on this list!  But hey, new year, fresh start -- LET'S DO THIS!

1. Lonesome Dove
My husband has been recommending this book to me since we first met 13 years ago.  I keep telling him that I will read it one day.  One day has come.  I feel like this will be a good summer read, and will give me the same sense of satisfaction that Shantaram did.

2. Alias Grace
If I read only one book off this list, it'll be this one.  I have the miniseries PVRed, and I've heard nothing but amazing things, but I want to read the book first.

3. The Way of Kings
I'll either read this one, or the rest of the Mistborn series, or both.  I'd like to finish the Mistborn trilogy before diving into another of Sanderson's series, so we'll see if I get to this one.

4. A Little Life
This book has been calling my name from the shelf since I bought it in late January 2017, so I know I will read it soon.

5. The Golem and the Jinni
This book was a gift from my secret sister last year, and when I posted it on Twitter, I had two or three people comment about how much they loved it!  I shared an Instagram picture of these 18 books, and the first comment on the picture was about this book.  I feel like it's one of those books that flew under the radar, but those who read it absolutely loved it.

6. Strange the Dreamer
This is one book that I wished I'd found the time to read in 2017, so I will make it a priority in 2018.

7. Bedtime Story
This book is one from my 2016 list, but I read Rob's latest book, Black Feathers, in 2017 and LOVED it.  This is the only book of his that I haven't yet read.

8. Wild Beauty
I've been wanting to read this since I received it in my Owlcrate, and it's gonna happen SOON.

9. Once and For All
This is the second one of my 2017 releases that I can't BELIEVE I didn't read in 2017.  Definitely at the top of my summer 2018 reading list!

10. A Dance of Dragons
Apparently, the last season of Game of Thrones isn't going to be out until 2019, so I think I can tide myself over with this book.  I read A Feast for Crows in 2016, and really didn't like it, so hopefully that experience will be a distant memory by the time I get to this one.

11. Vicious
I recently purchased this book, and I can't WAIT for more of Victoria's writing!!!

12. The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth
I've decided to include a non-fiction book on this year's list.  I'm not much of a non-fiction reader, but this one has intrigued me for years so it's time to give it a shot.

13. Velveteen
Lauren @ Lose Time Reading sent me this book when she was my secret santa YEARS ago, and yet it has sat unread on my shelves.  Definitely plan on picking this one up during the fall, since it looks ghostly and creepy.

14. The Sea of Tranquility
I originally thought it would be a fun goal to read or DNF all of the books on my "set-aside" shelf on Goodreads, but that seems a bit too ambitious.  So this is one of those books, and we'll see how many others I get to.

15. I Shall Be Near to You
I have quite a few books on my TBR that my husband bought me, but I still haven't read.  This is one of those books.  Ideally, I'd love to read all of the books that were gifted to me over the years, but we'll start small and see how that goes.

16. The Revolution of Marina M.
The third and final book of the "books I regret not reading in 2017" selections.  I will absotively, posolutely be reading this book in 2018 because I love Janet's reading SO SO SO MUCH.

17. The Prisoner of Heaven
The Shadow of the Wind is one of my all-time favourite books, and I finally picked up The Angel's Game in 2017.  While it wasn't quite as amazing as TSotW, I fell in love with his writing all over again, and I'm eager to complete the series.

18. Just Ella
There are so many long, dense books on this list, so I thought I'd round it out with a middle grade selection, and this one looks fairytale-eseque and perfect.

Have you read any of the books on my list?  Any that I should prioritize in 2018?  What are you planning to read in 2018?  Let me know in the comments below!

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12/29/17

2017 End of Year Survey

This is one of my favourite things about the end of the year, looking back over my past year of reading and forward to next year as well!  This annual survey is hosted by the incredibly talented Jamie @ The Perpetual Page Turner.

2017 Reading Stats

Number of Books You Read: 103
Number of Books You Re-Read: 6
Genre You Read The Most From: Contemporary and Fantasy

Best in Books

1. Best Book You Read in 2017?
This is always the hardest question of all to answer, but I think I'm going to go with Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng.  I saw the book all over the blogosphere, and I actually walked into a bookstore and paid FULL PRICE for the hardcover because I just had a feeling that I would love it.  And I did -- so much so that I found myself still thinking about the book weeks later.  

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?
Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick.  I loved Pitch Perfect, and thought that listening to Anna's story, told in her own voice, would be wonderful, but I was so underwhelmed by this book.

3. Most Surprising (in a good or bad way!) Book of 2017?
Amber @ Books of Amber has been "gently encouraging" me to read Unravelling for YEARS, I think since I hauled it (maybe three years ago?)  And yet it just sat on my shelf.  When I finally picked it up this year, it was SO GOOD.  I could barely put it down and I read it in two days, and its sequel equally quickly.

4. Book You "Pushed" the Most People to Read (and they did) in 2017?
The Darker Shades of Magic trilogy.  Every time I see someone post a picture of the book(s) on Instagram, I read the caption to see if they've read the it or not.  If yes, I squeal excitedly about how much I loved the series; if not, I tell them to READ. IT. NOW.

5. Best Series you Started in 2017?  Best Sequel of 2017?  Best Series Ender of 2017?
It's a slippery slope to have the Shades of Magic on every question, so I'll go with the other series of Victoria's that I started and finished in 2017, This Savage Song.  SO GOOD.  Best sequel, hands down, is Lord of Shadows.  My heart has not yet fully recovered.  Best series ender is a tie between A Conjuring of Light and A Court of Wings and Ruin.

6. Favorite New Author You Discovered in 2017?
Celeste Ng.  Kristin Harmel.  Leila Howland.  Angie Thomas.  Karin Slaughter.  Brandon Sanderson. Victoria/V.E. Schwab.  I read lots of new-to-me authors this year!

7. Best Book From a Genre You Don't Typically Read/Was Out of Your Comfort Zone?
Mistborn.  I was SCARED to pick up a Brandon Sanderson book.  Adult fantasy is definitely out of my comfort zone, and he's such a beloved author in the bookish community.  But I read Mistborn in September and loved every minute of it.  The next two books are a high priority for 2018, and I also want to give The Way of Kings a try.

8. Most Action-Packed, Thrilling, Unputdownable Book in 2017?
I started reading thrillers in October and couldn't stop!  This is definitely a new favourite genre of mine.  I read Black Feathers, The Girl in 6E, He Will Be My Ruin and Pretty Girls, all of which I had a hard time putting down.

9. Book You Read in 2017 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?
Little Fires Everywhere, or the Darker Shades of Magic trilogy -- I'd like to reread them on audio.

10. Favorite Cover of a Book You Read in 2017?


These covers are SO GORGEOUS and I love them so much.

11. Most Memorable Character in 2017?
Lila Bard.  I'm trying to not mention Shades of Magic in every question -- but it's SO HARD!

12. Most Beautifully Written Book Read in 2017?
Turtles All the Way Down by John Green.  That book shook me, but in a good way.

13. Most Thought-Provoking / Life-Changing Book of 2017?
Oh darn, Turtles again?  I didn't fully understand what OCD was until I read this book.

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2017 to finally read?
Shantaram.  I started it in November 2012, but had to set it aside because I was too exhausted to focus on such a dense book, and I developed pregnancy-induced carpal tunnel syndrome, which made holding a heavy book impossible.  I can't believe it took me almost five years to pick this book back up -- but it was worth the wait.  Truly an incredible book.

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2017?
Usually I wrestle with this question, but reading Shantaram this year gave me LOTS of possible choices.  I'll go with a quote from the opening page of the book -- if this doesn't entice you to pick up this beautiful book, then nothing will...

“It took me a long time and most of the world to learn what I know about love and fate and the choices we make, but the heart of it came to me in an instant, while I was chained to a wall and being tortured. I realised, somehow, through the screaming of my mind, that even in that shackled, bloody helplessness, I was still free: free to hate the men who were torturing me, or to forgive them. It doesn’t sound like much, I know. But in the flinch and bite of the chain, when it’s all you’ve got, that freedom is an universe of possibility. And the choice you make between hating and forgiving, can become the story of your life.” 

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2017?
How I did this: Went to my read books on Goodreads and sorted by page number and just looked for what I knew I read this year that was the shortest and longest.
Longest -- Shantaram
Shortest -- The News

17. Book that shocked you the most?
Behind Her Eyes -- I did NOT expect that ending.

18. OTP of the year (you will go down with this ship!)
Feyre and Rhys.

19. Favorite non-romantic relationship of the year?
The friendship between Kell and Lila.

20. Favorite book you read in 2017 from an author you’ve read previously?
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo -- I loved that it was SO different from TJR's other books, but also such a unique book.  I loved how unlikeable Evelyn was -- it reminded me of my experience reading Fairest.

21. Best book you read in 2017 that you read based SOLELY on a recommendation from somebody else?
My friend Tina texted me one day and said she wanted to read The Life Intended and that we should read it together.  I borrowed it from the library, but then our lives got busy and we never did.  Then, near the beginning of the year, I found it on a bargain table at Chapters and picked it up.  This book never would have been on my radar, had it not been for her.  And I LOVED IT.

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2017?
I'm not much of a book crush kind of girl, but I absolutely adored Kelsier in Mistborn.

23. Best 2017 debut you read?
I think that The Hate U Give is the only debut that I read this year, and it's fitting that it's also one of my top reads of the year.

24. Best worldbuilding / most vivid setting you read this year?
The world building in A Darker Shade of Magic is INCREDIBLE.  Also, This Savage Song had an incredible post-apocalyptic world.  And Mistborn's magic system is on a whole different level.

25. Book that put a smile on your face / was the most FUN to read?
I had the best experience reading The Best of Adam Sharpe because there's a playlist that goes along with the book!  It was awesome to read, then listen to a song, then reread a passage with the song playing in my mind.  I've never read a book this way before, but it really brought the reading experience alive in a way that I haven't experienced with any other book before.

26. Book that made you cry or nearly cry in 2017?
LORD OF SHADOWS.  My heart has still not fully healed.

27. Hidden gem of the year?
The One and Only Ivan.  I haven't read much middle grade in years past, but this book was so sweet and genuine, with such a beautiful story.

28. Book that crushed your soul?
I want to say Lord of Shadows again, but I'll pick something else instead.  Black Feathers, although a thriller and not really soul crushing per se, centred around the experiences of the homeless on the streets of Victoria.  It really changed the way that I look at people who are living on the streets, and made my heart hurt for the life circumstances that have led them there.

29. Most unique book you read in 2017?
A Little Something Different, while certainly not a favourite book this year, was definitely unique.  Told from the perspective of many different characters, but not the main characters, it was an interesting way to tell a story.  Particularly the parts that were told by a disgruntled park bench and a squirrel.

30. Book that made you the most mad (doesn't necessarily mean you didn't like it)?
The Lux Series -- SO.  MUCH.  EYE.  ROLLING.

Your Blogging / Bookish Life

1. New favourite book blog you discovered in 2017?
I rediscovered Rose Quartz Reads, whose blog I used to read, but then I kind of fell off the blog-reading wagon.  I've started email subscribing to my favourite blogs, so that I can read posts on my commute.  Hopefully, this year I'll get better and being on my blog reading game.

2. Favourite review that you wrote in 2017?
Burn by Julianna Baggott, because it's not just a review of the final book in the series, but also a reflection on my journey with the series.

3. Best discussion you had on your blog?
It will come as no surprise, but the post with the most comments is my introductory post for the Love-a-thon.  Rereading those comments is already getting me excited for the 2018 round.

4. Most thought-provoking review or discussion you read on somebody else’s blog?
Tiff @ Mostly YA Lit is one of the sweetest, kindest bloggers I know, but when I read her pregnancy announcement post, I cried so hard.  I was so blown away by how honest and genuine she was in her post about her struggles to get pregnant, and so honoured by how she shed light on an issue that affects so many, but isn't talked about openly.

5. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?
I can't choose just one!!!!  I loved the All the Short Ones Readathon because it was something new that I hadn't done before, but I also loved joining the Love-a-thon again, as well as the Broke and Bookish Secret Santa.

6. Best moment of book blogging/your book life in 2017?
Meeting Jessica @ Novel Cravings (and her adorable son!) in REAL LIFE.

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?
The Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag -- I gotta start doing more tag posts next year ... they're so much fun!

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?
I love sharing Marko Monday posts, and will continue to do so regardless of the fact that these posts rarely get comments -- but my son is so cute!!!!  Give him some love!!!

9. Best bookish discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?
Owlcrate -- I'm four months in and fully down the rabbit hole.

10.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?
Mostly?  I just wrote a wrap-up post on this.  I finished all four of my reading challenges, but didn't quite reach all of my goals.  But I'm okay with that.

Looking Ahead

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2017 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2018?
I started The Revolution of Marina M, but got distracted by other things.  I will definitely, definitely be reading this book in 2018.

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2018 (non-debut)?
I wrote a post on this too!  But if I had to choose one ...  I can't do it.  I choose two: Save the Date by Morgan Matson and Queen of Air and Darkness by Cassandra Clare.

3. 2018 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?
I don't know if I'm anticipating any debuts (and I'm terrible for paying attention to debuts that are releasing!)  If you know of any, please let me know.

4. Series Ending You Are Most Anticipating in 2018?
Throne of Glass and the Dark Artifices.

5. One Thing You Hope to Accomplish or Do in Your Reading/Blogging in 2018?
RELAX.  I had a pretty sluggish blogging year, and sometimes the pressure of not posting and not having engagement with my posts gets to me a little bit.  BUT, I fully intend to not worry about this in 2018, and just go with the flow.  If I'm inspired to post, I'll post.  But if it's quiet on here for a little bit, just know that I'm probably curled up with a good book and a mug of tea, and I'll be back soon!

If you filled out this survey, please leave me a link to your post and I'll stop by!  Thank you from the bottom of my heart, as always, for taking the time to visit my little corner of the internet =)

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