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Friday, January 29, 2016

January Recap: Thesis Completion, Ice Castles, and True Crime Documentaries

As I mentioned in my last life recap, I successfully defended my thesis in December. This month, I finally finished all of the required revisions on my manuscript, got it approved by my supervisor and my department, and now I'm... done. It feels a little surreal and a little anti-climactic, but I guess this means I am officially a Master of Science (whatever that entails). I'm pleased though and I'm very relieved it's over so I can move on to the next stage of my life!

Also in January, I got the opportunity to check out the Ice Castles in Edmonton when I went home to visit with my family. Words cannot express how ethereally beautiful this winter wonderland was. Nor could I do it justice in describing how it was made so here's a Buzzfeed article on it if you're curious.

An ice castle Elsa would be proud of

Also in January, I became mildly obsessed with a couple of true crime documentaries. I never had any interest in this kind of thing before, but ever since I listened to the podcast Serial last year about the inconsistencies surrounding a murder case in 1999, I've become equal parts fascinated and troubled by how our justice systems work, the issues with interrogation methods, the problems with relying on a jury's verdict, etc. Here are two other exceptionally well done true crime docs out there that I would recommend:

Okay well, everyone and their dog has seen Netflix's Making A Murderer by now, but I just want to reiterate how in depth and gripping it is, and also how heartbreaking and frustrating. HBO's The Jinx is equal parts gripping, as well as beautifully filmed, and the ending had me literally gaping in astonishment. In a way, these two true crime documentaries are opposites: in Making A Murderer, a poor and uneducated man is accused of a murder he did not commit and sent to prison unjustly; in The Jinx, a rich and well-educated man is accused of murders he did commit and weasels his way out of prison unjustly. Never has the distinction and benefit of having class and money when taking on the justice system been made more apparent than in these two documentaries...

Well, that's it for me - I hope everyone had a great January!

Posts in January

Life Update Again
My 2015 Bookish Stats
Stacking The Shelves: Holiday Edition
Muggle Monday: It's an exciting time to be a Harry Potter fan again
Waiting On Wednesday: HarperCollins Winter 2016 Catalog
Waiting On Wednesday: Penguin Winter 2016 Catalog
Waiting On Wednesday: Macmillan Winter 2016 Catalog
Review: The Martian by Andy Weir - 4 Stars

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Waiting On Wednesday: Macmillan Winter 2016 Catalog

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill of Breaking The Spine in which upcoming, eagerly anticipated releases are highlighted on the blog.

This week, I've chosen to feature a few picks from the Macmillan Winter 2016 Catalog:

Stars Above by Marissa Meyers
Date: February 2, 2016
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The enchantment continues....
The universe of the Lunar Chronicles holds stories—and secrets—that are wondrous, vicious, and romantic. How did Cinder first arrive in New Beijing? How did the brooding soldier Wolf transform from young man to killer? When did Princess Winter and the palace guard Jacin realize their destinies?
With nine stories—five of which have never before been published—and an exclusive never-before-seen excerpt from Marissa Meyer’s upcoming novel, Heartless, about the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland, Stars Above is essential for fans of the bestselling and beloved Lunar Chronicles.

I'm excited to see a bound collection of nine extra stories from the Lunar Chronicles universe! There's something so much more special about having a physical collection of stories bound together with a beautiful matching cover to go along with the rest of the series, instead of a few stray e-novellas out there on the internet. And I'm looking forward to learning more about our favourite characters in Stars Above!

These Vicious Masks by Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas
Date: February 9, 2016
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Jane Austen meets X-­Men in this gripping and adventure-­filled paranormal romance set in Victorian London.
England, 1882. Evelyn is bored with society and its expectations. So when her beloved sister, Rose, mysteriously vanishes, she ignores her parents and travels to London to find her, accompanied by the dashing Mr. Kent. But they’re not the only ones looking for Rose. The reclusive, young gentleman Sebastian Braddock is also searching for her, claiming that both sisters have special healing powers. Evelyn is convinced that Sebastian must be mad, until she discovers that his strange tales of extraordinary people are true—and that her sister is in graver danger than she feared.

Okay, how can I resist the tagline "Jane Austen meets X-Men"?? What a wonderfully bizarre combination. It may just be a gimmick to get people interested in the book, but hey, it worked on me. I guess I'll wait to see how These Vicious Masks fares in reviews before picking it up, but I'm definitely intrigued!

Riders by Veronica Rossi
Date: February 16, 2016
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For eighteen-year-old Gideon Blake, nothing but death can keep him from achieving his goal of becoming a U.S. Army Ranger. As it turns out, it does.
Recovering from the accident that most definitely killed him, Gideon finds himself with strange new powers and a bizarre cuff he can't remove. His death has brought to life his real destiny. He has become War, one of the legendary four horsemen of the apocalypse.
Over the coming weeks, he and the other horsemen--Conquest, Famine, and Death--are brought together by a beautiful but frustratingly secretive girl to help save humanity from an ancient evil on the emergence.
They fail.
Now--bound, bloodied, and drugged--Gideon is interrogated by the authorities about his role in a battle that has become an international incident. If he stands any chance of saving his friends and the girl he's fallen for--not to mention all of humankind--he needs to convince the skeptical government officials the world is in imminent danger.
But will anyone believe him?

Woah, wait - the premise of Riders has the main character becoming one of the legendary four horsemen of the apocalypse?? Talk about wonderfully bizarre! I'm all for originality in books, plus I've heard great things about Veronica Rossi as an author, so I say bring on Riders!

How about you? Are you waiting on any of these Macmillan Winter 2016 reads? Are there any upcoming books from the Macmillan Winter 2016 Catalog that I didn't include here that you feel I should add to my list?

Monday, January 25, 2016

Review: The Martian by Andy Weir

Publisher: Crown
Published: February 11, 2014
Pages: 369
Source: Borrowed
Rating: 4 Stars

Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he's sure he'll be the first person to die there.
After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate the planet while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded on Mars' surface, completely alone, with no way to signal Earth that he’s alive — and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone years before a rescue could arrive.
Chances are, though, he won't have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment or plain-old "human error" are much more likely to kill him first. But Mark's not ready to quit. Armed with nothing but his ingenuity and his engineering skills — and a gallows sense of humor that proves to be his greatest source of strength – he embarks on a dogged quest to stay alive, using his botany expertise to grow food and even hatching a mad plan to contact NASA back on Earth.
As he overcomes one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next, Mark begins to let himself believe he might make it off the planet alive – but Mars has plenty of surprises in store for him yet.

In short: The Martian by Andy Weir is a creative and thrillingly plotted science-driven story with a super likeable protagonist.
Science! Science science science. I'm excited because it's pretty rare that having an intelligence in science plays such a key part in popular fiction. And though I am no physicist or botanist, I found I could definitely appreciate the explanations and scientific process that Andy Weir presents in The Martian. I don't know how accurate it is (though I have read a few articles that poke holes in the science behind The Martian), but it was very clear that Andy Weir wasn't just bs-ing his way through the plot. There is clearly some serious thought and research put into it by this relativistic physics and orbital mechanics hobbyist-turned-author.

I do hope I'm not scaring anyone away from reading The Martian by the mention that key plot points depend so heavily on science, however; you don't have to be a fan of heavy sci fi to enjoy this read. The science explanations are relatively easy to follow and I think the major draw of the novel to general audiences is actually the quick-witted protagonist and the thrillingly-plotted action. As a reader, you will want Mark Watney to be successful in his plight to get off Mars because he's damned likeable and has the perfect sense of humour to keep him sane during his lengthy bout of solitude. And as a reader, the numerous surprises and thrills will keep you engaged from beginning to end.

My one qualm in The Martian is the writing. It's of the cut-and-dry, no-frills-attached variety, and though many readers won't have a problem with this, I for one prefer a little flair and poetry in my reading. It's for this reason that I feel like The Martian makes an even better movie than it does a book, as the action lends itself well to a Hollywood thriller and the prose works fine as a screenplay. I hope I haven't angered any of my book-loving friends with that statement! I still give all the credit in the world to Andy Weir for coming up with such a creative and thrilling read in the first place.

This might beg the question: is there any point in reading the book first before seeing the movie if I thought the movie was better anyway? And the answer is that I do still recommend reading the book first just so you can appreciate the creativity and research that Andy Weir put into The Martian. And if you're unsure about whether you will like all the science talk? I'd recommend audiobooking The Martian instead - I think you could still appreciate Weir's thought processes even if you just take in a glancing overview of the science.

Other Reviews:
Alison Can Read
Doing Dewey
Good Books and Good Wine

Author Links:

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Waiting On Wednesday: Penguin Winter 2016 Catalog

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill of Breaking The Spine in which upcoming, eagerly anticipated releases are highlighted on the blog.

This week, I've chosen to feature a few picks from the Penguin Winter 2016 Catalog:

The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman
Date: January 26, 2016
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London, April 1812. On the eve of eighteen-year-old Lady Helen Wrexhall’s presentation to the queen, one of her family’s housemaids disappears-and Helen is drawn into the shadows of Regency London. There, she meets Lord Carlston, one of the few who can stop the perpetrators: a cabal of demons infiltrating every level of society. Dare she ask for his help, when his reputation is almost as black as his lingering eyes? And will her intelligence and headstrong curiosity wind up leading them into a death trap?

I've never read Alison Goodman's Eon duology, but I've heard nothing but great things. So you bet I'm excited to read her upcoming Regency Era novel, The Dark Days Club, about a stylish Lady who is also a demon-hunter!

Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton
Date: March 8, 2016
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She’s more gunpowder than girl—and the fate of the desert lies in her hands.
Mortals rule the desert nation of Miraji, but mystical beasts still roam the wild and barren wastes, and rumor has it that somewhere, djinni still practice their magic. But there's nothing mystical or magical about Dustwalk, the dead-end town that Amani can't wait to escape from.
Destined to wind up "wed or dead," Amani’s counting on her sharpshooting skills to get her out of Dustwalk. When she meets Jin, a mysterious and devastatingly handsome foreigner, in a shooting contest, she figures he’s the perfect escape route. But in all her years spent dreaming of leaving home, she never imagined she'd gallop away on a mythical horse, fleeing the murderous Sultan's army, with a fugitive who's wanted for treason. And she'd never have predicted she'd fall in love with him...or that he'd help her unlock the powerful truth of who she really is.

Admittedly, I wanted to read Rebel of the Sands as soon as I saw that drop-dead-gorgeous cover, but I recently got around to actually reading the synopsis and that sounds mighty good too. Who could resist a sharpshooter heroine and a desert setting with mystical beasts?!

The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle by Janet Fox
Date: March 15, 2016
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Something is not right at Rookskill Castle, a rundown Scottish manor shrouded in mystery. The castle is a temporary boarding school for children escaping the Blitz, but soon it’s clear there is something terribly wrong. There are clues hinting that a spy is in the house, and there are undeniable signs of a sinister magic. When the children in the castle’s temporary boarding school begin disappearing one by one, it’s a race against the clock for twelve-year-old Kat Bateson, her two younger siblings, and their new best friend.

Hogwarts will always be the ultimate magical Scottish boarding school, but that doesn't mean there's no room for another one in fiction. I am very curious to read about the magical Scottish boarding school in The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle!

How about you? Are you waiting on any of these Penguin Winter 2016 reads? Are there any upcoming books from the Penguin Winter 2016 Catalog that I didn't include here that you feel I should add to my list?

Monday, January 18, 2016

Muggle Monday: It's an exciting time to be a Harry Potter fan again

It's time for Muggle Monday, in which I highlight something from the Harry Potter world. This is somewhat inspired by the Mundane Monday posts by The Mundie Moms.

But let's be real as to why I made up this feature: I just want the opportunity to post something about Harry Potter.

It's been a while since I posted my Muggle Monday feature, but I think it will be making a more regular comeback in 2016 for good reason: it's an exciting time to be a Harry Potter fan again.

The entire concept of my blog was based around the fact that I had spent the past decade living and breathing all things Harry Potter, only to have the rug swept out from under me when the franchise came to an end and I was left floundering with a major series hangover. Of course, my love for the series will never fade. But in the wake of the end of the Harry Potter franchise (i.e. my life), I felt a tremendous amount of loss in that it was over and there would never be anything NEW to get excited over again.

But in the past years, deals have been struck and announcements made: new works set in the Harry Potter universe and written by Queen Jo herself. And so in 2016, it's an exciting time to be a Harry Potter fan again, and I couldn't be happier.

Here are some of the things to be excited about this year as Harry Potter fans:

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Premiering July 30, 2016 in London's West End in two parts, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child will tell the story of Harry's life nineteen years later and of Albert Severus Potter, Harry's youngest son.

Jo always said "never say never" when it came to the possibility of Harry Potter 8, but I don't think anyone ever expected it to happen this soon and in play format, no less. I would think Harry has earned his happy ever after finally and so I hope no harm comes to him in this next story! I'm just excited that this work was written at least in part by J.K. Rowling - that's what makes it a must-see.

It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.
While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Another Wizarding World project written by J.K. Rowling: the first movie adaptation of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them will be hitting screens November 18, 2016. Fantastic Beasts will give us our first look at Newt Scamander as a main character, as well as the Wizarding World in America in the 1920s. Even though we won't be seeing our favourite boy wizard at any point in this movie, it's still set in the same world and it's still written by Jo, and so there is much to be excited about here.

The story revolves around Newt Scamander's (Eddie Redmayne) arrival at the Magical Congress of the United States of America (MACUSA), for a meeting with an important official. Central to the story and this meeting is a magically expanded briefcase which houses a number of dangerous creatures and their habitats. When the creatures escape from the briefcase, it sends the American wizarding authorities after Newt, and it threatens even further the state of magical and non-magical relations, which is already in a dangerous place, due to the threatening presence of the fanatical New Salem Philanthropic Society, an extremist organization dedicated to the eradication of wizard-kind. The story tells of what effect this devastating mistake has on the state of wizard/No-Maj (the American term for a non-magical person) relations in New York City's community of wizards and witches in 1926, the effort to correct the mistake, and the horrors of the resultant increase in violence, fear, and tension felt between magical and non-magical peoples.

Cormoran Strike Series

Alright, well this one is unrelated to the Harry Potter world in any way, but let me just say that if you're a fan of J.K. Rowling's writing - doesn't matter if you don't typically read adult mysteries - then you MUST read this series. If you love Jo's characterizations - and I'm sure you do if you're reading this post - then you will love these characters too. The fourth book in the series will be out in 2016 as well, though no firm date has yet been set. Also on my radar: the BBC television adaptation of the novels.

So yes, lots to be excited about in 2016! As I mentioned, I plan on posting my Muggle Monday feature more regularly in 2016, at which point I plan on discussing each of these at more length.

So I'm curious: which of Jo's 2016 projects are you most excited about?

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Stacking The Shelves: Holiday Edition

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews to showcase books that I have received for review, bought, borrowed, been gifted, or won to read.

I haven't participated in Stacking The Shelves in years, but I thought I would join in this week to share my great Holiday Haul because I'm very excited about all the books I received:

Vicious by V.E. Schwab (x2) - one copy from Sara of Just Another Story and one copy from Micheline of Lunar Rainbows
This is clearly a case of Great Minds Think Alike and These Ladies Know Me So Well because I received two copies of this book and I already know I'm going to LOVE it. At the moment, I'm feeling no need to get rid of one of these copies because I like both covers and want to keep both... Maybe I'll switch between the two when reading :p

Of Metal and Wishes by Sarah Fine - from Zahida of Musings of a YA Reader
Zahida surprised me with this book during our last meet-up before I left Toronto. It's one she loved so I'm stoked about it! I'm going to miss our regular catch-ups and book signing events together!

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In A Ship Of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente - from Micheline of Lunar Rainbows
Yessss!! I've been wanting to read this one for YEARS and now I finally see it happening this year!

Eeny Meeny by M. J. Arlidge - from Lauren of Shooting Stars Mag
Lauren gifted me with this book with the knowledge that I love the Cormoran Strike books and this one is in the same vein as those - so that's definitely exciting! Something to tide me over until the next Cormoran Strike book is released!

Confess by Colleen Hoover - from Ambur of Burning Impossibly Bright
I remember mentioning to Ambur that I've never read anything by Colleen Hoover and I wouldn't know which book of hers to start with... and she surprised me with this one! I'm excited because Ambur is a big fan of hers and I def trust her opinion.

Roald Dahl Book Set - from husband
Roald Dahl was my J. K. Rowling before I read HP, but it's been many years since I've read any of my old childhood favourites. And now I can!!

Wolf By Wolf by Ryan Grandin - from husband
I had this one for review last year, but unfortunately I was so busy that the eARC period ran out before I could get to it. The premise has intrigued me since I first heard of it.

The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman - from Penguin Canada via Goodreads Giveaway
I haven't really heard anything about this one yet, but I'm looking forward to finding out what it's about!

Harry Potter Colouring Book and Enchanted Forest Colouring Book - from husband
I will now be joining the recent adult colouring book craze with these two beauties - I hope I can stay within the lines!

How lucky am I to have so many people in my life who know my reading tastes so well and are so generous?! So lucky.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Waiting On Wednesday: HarperCollins Winter 2016 Catalog

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill of Breaking The Spine in which upcoming, eagerly anticipated releases are highlighted on the blog.

This week, I've chosen to feature a few picks from the HarperCollins Winter 2016 Catalog:

Shade Me by Jennifer Brown
Date: January 19, 2016
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Nikki Kill does not see the world like everyone else. In her eyes, happiness is pink, sadness is a mixture of brown and green, and lies are gray. Thanks to a rare phenomenon called synesthesia, Nikki’s senses overlap, in a way that both comforts and overwhelms her.
Always an outsider, just one ‘D’ shy of flunking out, Nikki’s life is on the fast track to nowhere until the night a mysterious call lights her phone up bright orange—the color of emergencies. It’s the local hospital. They need Nikki to identify a Jane Doe who is barely hanging on to life after a horrible attack.
The victim is Peyton Hollis, a popular girl from Nikki’s school who Nikki hardly knows. One thing is clear: Someone wants Peyton dead. But why? And why was Nikki’s cell the only number in Peyton’s phone?
As she tries to decipher the strange kaleidoscope of clues, Nikki finds herself thrust into the dark, glittering world of the ultra-rich Hollis family, and drawn towards Peyton’s handsome, never-do-well older brother Dru. While Nikki’s colors seem to help her unravel the puzzle, what she can’t see is that she may be falling into a trap. The only truth she can be sure of is that death is a deep, pulsing crimson.

Shade Me features a protagonist that has synesthesia, a condition in which stimulation of one sensory pathway results in the stimulation of another sense... in this case, the main character perceives emotions as colours. I've always found neurological conditions like synesthesia fascinating and I'm very curious to read Jennifer Brown's take on what it would be like to experience this phenomenon!

Revenge And The Wild by Michelle Modesto
Date: February 2, 2016
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The two-bit town of Rogue City is a lawless place, full of dark magic and saloon brawls, monsters and six-shooters. But it’s perfect for seventeen-year-old Westie, the notorious adopted daughter of local inventor Nigel Butler.
Westie was only a child when she lost her arm and her family to cannibals on the wagon trail. Nine years later, Westie may seem fearsome with her foul-mouthed tough exterior and the powerful mechanical arm built for her by Nigel, but the memory of her past still haunts her. She’s determined to make the killers pay for their crimes—and there’s nothing to stop her except her own reckless ways.
But Westie’s search ceases when a wealthy family comes to town looking to invest in Nigel’s latest invention, a machine that can harvest magic from gold—which Rogue City desperately needs as the magic wards that surround the city start to fail. There’s only one problem: the investors look exactly like the family who murdered Westie’s kin. With the help of Nigel’s handsome but scarred young assistant, Alistair, Westie sets out to prove their guilt. But if she’s not careful, her desire for revenge could cost her the family she has now.

Revenge and the Wild initially caught my eye because it's been a while since I've read steampunk, which is a genre I've always loved. More recently, I've been hearing some murmurings from reviewers who really loved this debut from Michelle Modesto, so sign me up!

The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig
Date: February 16, 2016
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Heidi Heilig’s debut teen fantasy sweeps from modern-day New York City to nineteenth-century Hawaii to places of myth and legend. Sixteen-year-old Nix has sailed across the globe and through centuries aboard her time-traveling father’s ship. But when he gambles with her very existence, it all may be about to end. The Girl from Everywhere, the first of two books, will dazzle readers of Sabaa Tahir, Rae Carson, and Rachel Hartman.
Nix’s life began in Honolulu in 1868. Since then she has traveled to mythic Scandinavia, a land from the tales of One Thousand and One Nights, modern-day New York City, and many more places both real and imagined. As long as he has a map, Nix’s father can sail his ship, The Temptation, to any place, any time. But now he’s uncovered the one map he’s always sought—1868 Honolulu, before Nix’s mother died in childbirth. Nix’s life—her entire existence—is at stake. No one knows what will happen if her father changes the past. It could erase Nix’s future, her dreams, her adventures . . . her connection with the charming Persian thief, Kash, who’s been part of their crew for two years. If Nix helps her father reunite with the love of his life, it will cost her her own.

The Girl From Everywhere is another 2016 debut, but I'm not entirely sure what to make of its premise... All I know is it sounds super original and that's almost always a plus in my book. So I say bring on the time-travelling ships!

How about you? Are you waiting on any of these HarperCollins Winter 2016 reads? Are there any upcoming books from the HarperCollins Winter 2016 Catalog that I didn't include here that you feel I should add to my list?

Thursday, January 7, 2016

My 2015 Bookish Stats

I love breaking down my year in reading into different stats based on rating, genre, etc. The results always interest me! I did this last year, as well. I don't know if anyone really cares about these stats except for me, but I find that it's a good way to keep track of trends in my reading and certain things I might want to change for this year.

If you're wondering: no, I did not just compile all this information recently. I've been keeping track of my 2015 books all year long in a spreadsheet, so this didn't take me as long to do as you might think!

Total books read in 2015: 150
Number of rereads in 2015: 21

I hope I don't sound too full of myself when I say that I am quite proud of these numbers. It's taken me a lot of practice and prioritizing to be able to get my number of books read in a year up to 150. What's more is I've successfully challenged myself to read 25 books more each year than the year previous:

So the question becomes: can I really keep this trend up and read 25 more books for 2016 (ie. 175 books total)?!. I'm not counting on it. I would say that would be an unnecessary pressure to put on myself just to follow some trend. Instead, my goal for this year will be more conservative (relatively) at 100 books. And I think I will be perfectly satisfied with that number should I accomplish it.

Note: To make this easier, I've rounded UP all .5 Star Ratings. So 4.5 Stars is lumped in with 5 Stars, 3.5 Stars is lumped in with 4 Stars, etc.

2015 Breakdown By Rating: I didn't read as many books this year that I was *in love* with as I did last year, but overall 2015 was a pretty solid year in books, I would say! It's pretty rare these days that I pick out a book to read that I end up disliking completely.

2015 Breakdown By Genre: Now this is surprising: 2015 is the year that contemporary fiction officially became my most read genre over fantasy. Granted, only by a little bit, but still. I don't think anyone who knows me would have ever expected this to happen... But I think it has to do with the fact that I largely read via audiobook in 2015 and I'm not the best at listening to stories with complex world building like you might find in fantasies. I find it much easier to follow non-speculative-fiction audiobooks.

2015 Breakdown By Type: And here's the audiobook statistic that I mentioned above: 2015 was truly the year of listening to books rather than reading them, for me. This was purely because of the limited time I had to read physical books for pleasure. The majority of my physical reading time was devoted to scientific papers as part of my research for my thesis... I had to turn to audiobooks to get in my pleasure-reading. This year, I truly hope I can make my return to physical reading for pleasure. It's not that I dislike audiobooks - I love my experience with them - but I've missed the times when I could snuggle in for the night with a good book and a mug of tea.

2015 Breakdown By Author Gender and Protagonist Gender: I'm feeling quite pleased with these stats! I would say that's a pretty even spread between both author genders and protagonist genders.

2015 Breakdown By POC and LGBT Presence: Somewhat good proportions... or at least an improvement over previous years. My goal this year will be to exceed the proportion of books I read with a POC and LGBT presence from 2015.

2015 Breakdown of Series Vs. Standalones: Nothing surprising here. And though it may be most people's goal to read more standalones, I'm okay with having read mostly series in 2015. Actually, one of my goals for 2015 was to work on completing some of the many, many series I am currently in the middle of. And I would say I succeeded that! I've gotten my number of WIP Series down to only 6 (from 20 or so)!

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Life Update Again

Happy New Year everyone! As I mentioned in my last post, I have been very busy these past few months due to some major life changes. BUT I think life is finally starting to slow down for me again (I HOPE). So hopefully this means a return to a regular reading and blogging schedule soon.

In case you were curious about what has been keeping me so busy, here are some updates:

1. I have successfully defended my thesis. I am currently working away on my revisions and I am hoping to get my manuscript in top shape so that I can get my chapters published.

2. I got married to my boyfriend of five years. We ordered an officiant off the internet, got her to edit down the ceremony to the bare legal minimum, and had it over and done with in five minutes. It’s not that I don’t take the institution of marriage seriously; it’s just that the hubbub, stress, and cost of a wedding do not suit my husband or me at all. Later, we celebrated with family and friends:

3. I am moving back to Alberta, maybe for the long-term. My husband has accepted a full-time permanent job in his field in Alberta, and those positions don’t come around too often in palaeontology. Moving is always a tremendous amount of work, but moving across the country is something else and it has been the focus of my attention these past weeks, along with my thesis.

We bought a car (first ever), packed it with some belongings and the ferrets and set off on our road trip. It's faster, cheaper, and safer to cross the continent via the U.S. in the winter than it is to go through Canada, so that's what we did. We got to see some great sights along the way:

Ghostly Presidents at nighttime - Mt. Rushmore, South Dakota
Wicked cool natural rock structure - Devils Tower, Wyoming
It seems like I only just moved to Toronto, so it’s crazy to think that I’m moving away again so quickly. There are many people here in Ontario that I will miss!

And to come:
1. A return to a more regular blogging schedule. This might not happen immediately as I still need to finish revisions on my thesis, get settled in my new place, and find a job, but it should hopefully happen soon and I’m looking forward to it!
2. A return to reading for pleasure. As with blogging, I haven’t had a ton of reading time to myself either, sadly. There were quite a few 2015 reads that I had been dying to get to when they were first released, but I found I couldn’t make the time for them last year. Finally I will get to read them in 2016!

So that’s it for me. 2015 was a pretty exciting year for me, but I am honestly looking forward to a less exciting, but still pleasurable, 2016 with some quiet time. Best wishes to everyone in the upcoming year!