Literary Lifestyle: Let’s Shake Things Up

For the last few months, what I’ve been reading has changed a lot. If you were to compare the things I’ve read in the last few years to what I’ve been reading lately, you’d see what I mean. Before I joined the book blogging and BookTube community, I mainly read classics and adult fiction—varying from general, to thriller, to literary.
However, since I joined more of a community of readers, I’ve found more things that I like! I have always had eclectic interests, but my reading didn’t really reflect that.

As you probably know, a great, great deal of bloggers and BookTubers discuss, almost exclusively, Young Adult books. Before I frequented blogs and BookTube channels, I hardly ever read, or thought about, YA. I read what I knew. I honestly hadn’t read any YA since I was a teenager. And when I was a teenager, I didn’t read many different sub-genres of YA. I read almost nothing but fantasy when I was a kid and in middle school, but when I was a teenager, I gravitated more toward realistic fiction (except for Twilight of course. I loved those books when I was in high school! No shame). 

Lots of people today love YA, especially fantasy, and there seems to have been somewhat of an explosion of books in this genre. Because there is so much of it, and so many people talking about it, I have been exposed to more reviews and more titles in YA. This exposure has led to an exponential increase in the amount of YA I read. Specifically, I have been reading a lot of YA fantasy, and I am loving it. 

However, there are drawbacks to this as well. Because I have been exposing myself to so much of one genre, it has begun to limit the diversity of genres I read. Instead of expanding what I was reading, it has changed the focus, leaving it still equally narrow. This realization though, is helping me toward my goal of reading more diversely. Identifying the issue is half the problem! I want to read more diversely in many ways. I want to read a wide range of genres, from a wide range of authors, chronicling a wide range of experiences. I want to step outside of my comfort zone and test the waters, finding different things that I enjoy. 

When I sat thinking about this, it reminded me of something that Amanda Nelson said in a video on Book Riot’s YouTube channel. While discussing diversity in books, Amanda noted that we buy what we are sold. The things that are thrust at us, the things that we see and hear about the most, those are things we are going to read and buy. I have personally experienced this in my newfound love of YA fantasy. I heard somewhere that there are usually five points of contact before I person will purchase something. This means that the consumer will be more likely to buy something after they see it or hear about it five times. If you are complacent, you will continue to buy what you are sold! But if you take an active role in your consumption of books, this can change. 

If we buy what we are sold, we need to diversify what we are sold. This is not going to happen without an effort. We need to seek out books in different genres, books from different types of authors, telling different types of stories. You may be perfectly content with what you’re reading now—but what are you missing? The straight white man’s story is not the only one out there worth telling. YA fantasy is not the only genre worth reading. If we expand what we expose ourselves to, we will expand our interests and our libraries. This leads to expanding our minds. 

If you are a reader, you know the impact a book can have upon a person. Books let us experience things completely outside of ourselves, allowing us to grow in empathy and compassion. They teach us things from the eyes of others. If we are only reading one type of book, what are we learning? We are enjoying ourselves, and that is totally fine, but what about the myriad other things that books have to offer?

I’m not saying you should feel bad about what you read or what you like. I’m saying that we should allow ourselves to be exposed to other things. Maybe we will find something else that we like! For example, I have taken some tiny steps—I’ve subscribed to more channels and blogs that talk about various genres—not just YA. The things I read about are more diverse now, so hopefully the things I read will be too. 

What have you guys been reading lately? What are you interested in? What do you think about reading more diversely? How important do you think diversity in reading is? What can you do/are you doing to encourage diversity in books? And in your reading life? 

Tour Review + Giveaway[closed]: Girl Runner by Carrie Snyder

Girl Runner by Carrie Snyder 
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published February 3rd, 2015 by Harper (In Canada, published in 2014 by House of Anansi Press)
[Purchase]

An ARC of this novel was provided by the publisher through TLC Book Tours. I received this copy for my honest review and participation in the book tour. 




From the jacket:

          Resonant of Elizabeth Gilbert’s The Signature of All Things and Tracy Chevalier’s Remarkable CreaturesGirl Runner is an unforgettable, beautifully written novel that celebrates a woman born to reach beyond the limitations of her time.
          As a young runner, Aganetha Smart defied everyone’s expectations to win a gold medal for Canada in the 1928 Olympics. It was a revolutionary victory, because this was the first Games in which women could compete in track events—and they did so despite opposition. But now Aganetha Smart is in a nursing home, and nobody realizes that the frail centenarian was once a bold pioneer.
          When two young strangers appear asking to interview Aganetha for their film about female athletes, she readily agrees. Despite her frailty, she yearns for adventure and escape. And though her achievement may have been forgotten by history, her memories of chasing gold in Amsterdam remain sharp. But that triumph is only one thread in the rich tapestry of her life. Her remarkable story is colored by tragedy as well as joy, and in Girl Runner Carrie Snyder pulls back the layers of time to reveal how Aganetha’s amazing athleticism helped her escape from a family burdened by secrets and sorrow.
           However, as much as Aganetha tries, she cannot outrun her past or the social conventions of her time. As the pieces of her life take shape, it becomes clear that these filmmakers may not be who they seem. . . 



This is a remarkable story of ambition, self-discovery, and family. I loved every minute of it! Girl Runner was inspired by the story of the Matchless Six, a group of Canadian women who returned Champions from the 1928 Olympics.  It tells the story of a fictional woman, Aganetha Smart, who embodied the same inspiring and revolutionary ambitions.

Girl Runner is told in a duel narrative, each a different time period in Aggie’s life. There is the present where she is 104 and in a nursing home, and there is the exploration of her past as a young woman.  I love this type of narrative. As the present goes on, something reminds Aggie of something in her past. We are then whisked off to live it alongside her. This is one of my favourite story structures and it worked really well here. It adds so many layers to the story and the added mystery of knowing the ultimate outcome of the past without knowing the details or how it came to bethose are revealed later.

At one point in Aggie’s life, she become an obituary writer for a newspaper. This is an interesting addition because throughout the story, Aggie imagines the obituaries for different people in her life, summing them up in a few sentences. This was a really interesting, often poignant, aspect of the book that I quite liked. This, coupled with the duel narrative, made for really great and enjoyable structure!

Aggie’s life was a tumultuous one, riddled with obstacles and tragedy. Not only so, but she grew up in a time where gender determined much of one’s life. Throughout everything, one thing always remained true for Aggieher love of running. This is presented in an almost tangible way in the story. Although I hate running myself, I could feel Aggie’s love of it. I didn’t just see it and understand that she loved it—I could feel it, too. While reading, I didn’t know that Snyder herself was a runner, but I should have guessed. This is just one example of the skill in Snyder’s writing!

This story is about a runner, yes. But it’s not really about running. Running is a facet of Aggie’s life. It  is a huge part of herbut there is so much more. This story shows what running meant to Aggiehow it drove her, how it kept her sanebut most importantly how it helped her to overcome all that was thrown in her path (and there was a lot). Running was Aggie’s true love, and remained her defining attribute in every phase of her long life:


All my life I’ve been going somewhere, aimed toward a fixed point on the horizon that seems never to draw nearer. In the beginning, I chased it with abandon, with confidence, and somewhat later with frustration, and then with grief, and later yet with the clarity of an escape artist. It is far too late to stop, even if I run in my mind only, out of habit.


This book was beautiful, compelling, and poignant. I loved it! The fact that it was written by a Canadian and it set in Canada was an added bonus! If you enjoy General Adult Fiction, Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction, or Family Sagas I definitely recommend that you check this one out.


About the Author

Carrie Snyder’s Girl Runner is shortlisted for the 2014 Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize. Her previous book, The Juliet Stories, was shortlisted for the prestigious Governor General’s Literary Award and named one of the Globe and Mail‘s Top 100 Books of the Year. Her first book, the short story collection Hair Hat, was shortlisted for the Danuta Gleed Award for Short Fiction. A mother of four, Carrie lives with her family in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.
Find out more about Carrie at her website, and follow her on Twitter and Facebook.
 
Carrie’s Tour Stops
Tuesday, February 3rd: Bookshelf Fantasies
Wednesday, February 4th: BookNAround
Thursday, February 5th: Broken Teepee
Monday, February 9th: Lit and Life
Tuesday, February 10th: Books on the Table
Wednesday, February 11th: A Bookish Way of Life
Thursday, February 12th: missris
Monday, February 16th: The Discerning Reader
Wednesday, February 18th: Olduvai Reads
Thursday, February 19th: Helen’s Book Blog
Wednesday, February 25th: Jorie Loves a Story
Thursday, February 26th: A Lovely Bookshelf on the Wall
Friday, February 27th: A Bookish Affair
 
Giveaway
This giveaway is brought to you by Harper and TLC Book Tours!
Make sure you read the Terms and Conditions. By entering you agree to these. 
Open to residents of the US and Canada. 



This Wednesday I’m Waiting On…

Bone Gap by Laura Ruby
YA Thriller
Hardcover, 368 pages
To be published March 3rd, 2015 by Balzer & Bray

From Goodreads:

          Everyone knows Bone Gap is full of gaps—gaps to trip you up, gaps to slide through so you can disappear forever. So when young, beautiful Roza went missing, the people of Bone Gap weren’t surprised. After all, it wasn’t the first time that someone had slipped away and left Finn and Sean O’Sullivan on their own. Just a few years before, their mother had high-tailed it to Oregon for a brand new guy, a brand new life. That’s just how things go, the people said. Who are you going to blame?
          Finn knows that’s not what happened with Roza. He knows she was kidnapped, ripped from the cornfields by a dangerous man whose face he cannot remember. But the searches turned up nothing, and no one believes him anymore. Not even Sean, who has more reason to find Roza than anyone, and every reason to blame Finn for letting her go.
          As we follow the stories of Finn, Roza, and the people of Bone Gap—their melancholy pasts, their terrifying presents, their uncertain futures—acclaimed author Laura Ruby weaves a heartbreaking tale of love and loss, magic and mystery, regret and forgiveness—a story about how the face the world sees is never the sum of who we are.

This book sounds SO AWESOME. I love thrillers. I think this book also has a mythological/magical realism element to it and I love that in books!

Top Ten Tuesday #10: Bookish Problems


Top 10 Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish

Because I clearly can’t read (oh the irony), I did this week’s TTT last week. So I guess I’ll do last week’s this week!

Top Ten Bookish Problems


1) When people say some variety of “ You don’t need any more books,” or “You already have too many books.” DJSDJFHO. First of all, no I don’t need any more books; not literally. You don’t need anything fun. You could survive without fun. It would just suck, and life would have way more meaning if you actually enjoyed it. Second, no such thing as “too many books.” If you can’t understand that, why are we friends…? 

2) I don’t have enough money for all the lovely books I want. Give me your lunch money!!!

3) I am an impulse shopper. Refer to 2).
4) I don’t have enough (any) friends IRL that love reading. This is lame. I have no one to blab to or fangirl with. Or have intelligent, well informed literary conversations with. I like both. I get neither. 

5) I am a freak and am too scared to drive into the actual city. Therefore, there are no indie bookstores/comic book stores for me to frequent and support 🙁 

6) I still live at home and am running out of space for my books to live. 

7) I’m never sure where I stand on loaning my books. On one hand, if I love something, I eagerly want to share the love. But then I sometimes have regrets. Because, since I do love it, I actually want it back and in perfect condition kthnxbai. 

8) When people IRL ask me for a book recommendation. I should really pick some go tos… Anyway. I like to take my time and think about things. But if someone puts me on the spot, at least half the time I blank. And then think of like 2853498693 books they would like later when it no longer matters. 

9) When I have the first few books in a series in paperback, and then the next one comes out and I just can’t wait for the paperback to come out. So, it ends up looking stupid on my shelf. THEY NO MATCH. I have similar feelings when it comes to comics. I have the other issues in the trade paperback but the next one doesn’t come out until forever! I want to know what happens now but don’t want to get the single issues if I don’t have the whole series in single issues. You feel me?

10) Staying up way too late reading. I do this all the time. I am the type of person that really needs their beauty sleep or can be a total crankpot/zombie the next day. I can’t survive on less that 6.5 hours. I will fall asleep walking. I might anyway.

What are your bookish problems?

Video Review: The Darkest Part of the Forest

The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black
YA Paranormal Fantasy
Hardcover, 328 pages
Published January 13th, 2015 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
$20.00 (List Price CAD)
Purchase: [Amazon] [Book Depository]




Storyline A
Structure/Execution A
Writing A
Characters A
Conclusion A
__________________
Have you read this book? What did you think? 
For more bookish videos, subscribe to my channel on BookTube! 

This Wednesday I’m Waiting On…

The Winner’s Crime (The Winner’s Trilogy #2) by Marie Rutkoski 
YA Fantasy
Hardcover, 352
To be published March 3rd, 2015 by Farrar Straus Giroux

From Goodreads:
          Book two of the dazzling Winner’s Trilogy is a fight to the death as Kestrel risks betrayal of country for love.

          The engagement of Lady Kestrel to Valoria’s crown prince means one celebration after another. But to Kestrel it means living in a cage of her own making. As the wedding approaches, she aches to tell Arin the truth about her engagement…if she could only trust him. Yet can she even trust herself? For—unknown to Arin—Kestrel is becoming a skilled practitioner of deceit: an anonymous spy passing information to Herran, and close to uncovering a shocking secret.

          As Arin enlists dangerous allies in the struggle to keep his country’s freedom, he can’t fight the suspicion that Kestrel knows more than she shows. In the end, it might not be a dagger in the dark that cuts him open, but the truth. And when that happens, Kestrel and Arin learn just how much their crimes will cost them.

I just read The Winner’s Curse and now I’m just dying to read the next one! I really enjoyed the story and the characters. I need to know what happens next! 

Top Ten Tuesday #9: Awesome Book Heroines!

Top 10 Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish


These are my favourite bookish heroines! They aren’t really in order.

1) Lizzie Bennet from Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
Lizzie is just the best. She’s funny, she’s smart, she’s well read, and she doesn’t take any crap! She’s my favourite character. 

2) Jane Eyre from Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
Jane is pretty excellent. She is smart, and convicted! She never waivers in her beliefs!

3) Meira from Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch
She is totally kick butt! She’d do anything for her people.

4) Kelsea from The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
She’s smart and a great queen! She’s also just totally awesome. 

5) Kestrel from The Winner’s Curse Marie Rutkoski 
She’s strong-willed and talented, and super smart. 

6) Carol Danvers from Captain Marvel by Kelly Sue DeConnick
Because girl superheroes are the best. 

7) Kamala Khan from Ms Marvel by G. Willow Wilson 
She’s so funny and goofy and such a good friend!

8) Kathy from Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
There’s just something about her.

9) Becky Bloomwood from Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella
She’s so funny I could die. 

10) Emily from Amulet by Kazu Kibuishi 
This little girl with powers that has to save everybody! She’s awesome!

Who are your favourite heroines? Either from books or TV/Movies!


Hunting Shadows: An Inspector Ian Rutledge Mystery–Tour Review and Giveaway [closed]!

Hunting Shadows by Charles Todd
Paperback, 352 pages
Published December 30th, 2014 by William Morrow Paperbacks (Originally published January 21st, 2014)
$18.50 (List Price in CAD)
 
It’s 1920. The war may be over, but the scars it left behind are far from healed. Memories of horror are brought back in the Fens when a hidden shooter begins killing people. Armed with what can only be a military issued riffle, the killer is what the one witness can only describe as a monster. 

As the police scramble with very little evidence, they are forced to call in Scotland Yard to investigate. Inspector Rutledge finds himself in Fen Country, an eery, small-town part of England. Fen Country is a marshland dotted with several small towns, and Rutledge finds the inquiry taking him back and forth between them. Throughout the inquiry, the police seem to be grasping at straws as they search for evidence. Who could have a riffle? Where could s/he have hidden? What is the connection between the murders? Is there a connection? 
 
This book though. 
 
I loved it. It was everything I like a mystery to be. It was perfectly paced with compelling, three dimensional characters and a mystery that was far from predictable. Not only that, but I loved the setting. It sounds like a charming place to visit in the day, but a creepy place to see at night—especially when the fog sets in. 
 
This is the first Charles Todd novel that I have read. It’s pretty far into the Ian Rutledge series, book sixteen or something like that, but I found it didn’t really matter. I’m sure I would have had a greater understanding of the Inspector had I read any of the previous novels, but it wasn’t necessary to enjoy or understand the story. 
 
This book surprised me in many ways. Mostly, I hadn’t expected to like it as much as I did. Not that it didn’t sound interesting, but I generally find mysteries (of the non-thriller variety) enjoyable but mostly just okay overall. Hunting Shadows on the other hand was just a great book in general. I found myself immediately drawn in by the beautiful setting and the quirky characters. 
 
I only had one issue with Hunting Shadows, and it lay in the conclusion. There were two layers to this conclusion, and one of them served no real purpose—it only unnecessarily convoluted an already fine ending. 
 
However, overall I did really like this book. I would recommend it to readers who like mysteries, or just books with a mystery element to them. 
 
 
About Charles Todd
Charles Todd is the author of the Bess Crawford mysteries, the Inspector Ian Rutledge mysteries, and two stand-alone novels. A mother and son writing team, they live in Delaware and North Carolina, respectively. Visit their website at Charlestodd.com and like CharlesToddNovels on Facebook.

 

Tour Stops
Friday, January 2nd: Kritters Ramblings
Tuesday, January 6th: Dwell in Possibility
Wednesday, January 7th: 5 Minutes For Books
Monday, January 19th: Broken Teepee
Thursday, February 5th: Luxury Reading
Friday, February 6th: Bibliotica
Monday, February 9th: Jorie Loves a Story
Wednesday, February 11th: A Bookworm’s World
Wednesday, February 18th: The Discerning Reader

The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski


The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski
YA Fantasy
Hardcover, 355 pages
Published March 4th 2014 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
$19.99 (List Price in CAD)
Purchase: [Amazon] [Book Depository] 


Kestrel is the daughter of the Valerian General. He led the army that successfully conquered Herran and enslaved the Herrani people. Now Kestrel is a wealthy aristocrat. The menial tasks in her life are performed by slaves. 
 
Kestrel has always sought independence. Her people value strength and military prowess, as does her father, but Kestrel just wants to be herself and make music. Her life is controlled by the politics of her people. One day on a journey into town accompanied by her best friend Jess, Kestrel finds herself unwillingly in a slave auction house. Soon she meets Arin, and everything changes.
 
I was drawn into this novel immediately. The world was so interesting, the characters so compelling. I read this book so fast because I just had to know what was going to happen next. I found the author did a really good job with pacing. Because of this, I always felt the tension—in the plot, as well as between the characters. 
 
I am dying to get my hands on the next book! Thankfully, it comes out in three weeks! (March 3rd!)

A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler

A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler
Literary Fiction
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published February 10th by Bond Street Books (an imprint of Penguin Random House)
Note:  I received a complimentary copy of this novel from Random House Canada in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed here are completely honest and completely my own.
 
This book is hard to write a summary for. The plot sweeps through three generations and the family history that lies therein. A Spool of Blue Thread  is a family saga, a rich tapestry of family history peopled by interesting and compelling characters. There are Abby and Red, the current matriarch and patriarch of the Whitshank family. There are their four children—Amanda, Jeannie, Denny, and Stem— and subsequent grandchildren. There are Linnie and Junior—Red’s parents, the founders of the Whitshank family as we know it—who we only meet through the eyes of the past. As Red and Abby grow older, their children must come together to care for them. They are brought back to the family home, built by Junior’s hands. 
 
This is a story of family, of resentment, of secrets, of acceptance, of forgiveness. It’s a story of love, of hardship, of the American Dream. It’s a magnificent story written by a brilliant author. It’s one you won’t soon forget. 
 
I really, really liked this book. I was immediately drawn into the lives of Abby and Red. I could see their flaws, but I loved them anyway. That is one of the major high points of this book. Tyler make you feel for the characters like you would members of your own family. She lets you get a glimpse of the workings of the Whitshanks, and there is something so familiar about it—so real. The day-to-day, the trivial, it becomes so interesting when placed on the backdrop of a family drama. 
 
This book jumps back in time to flesh out the characters and their histories. Tyler does this so wonderfully and seamlessly. Each trip back in time is so fitting and so well placed. As you read, this family blooms before you, letting you in on a deeper level than any of the individual family members ever achieve. 
 
There was one thing that I didn’t really like—as far as the characters go, most were fully fleshed out. However, the daughters Amanda and Jeannie felt two-dimensional. Perhaps this is in line with the way Abby and Red focused more on their boys, but I would have liked to know them more. 
 
I love this quotation:

‘Well, you know about time. How slow it is when you’re little and how speeds up faster and faster once you’re grown. Well, now it’s just a blur. I can’t keep track of it anymore! But it’s like time is sort of… balanced. We’re young for such a small fraction of our lives, and yet our youth seems to stretch on forever. Then we’re old for years and years, but time flies by fastest then. So it all comes out equal in the end, don’t you see.’

 

This is the first book I’ve read by Anne Tyler but it definitely won’t be the last! She won the Pulitzer prize in 1999 for Breathing Lessons so that’s definitely going on my TBR! Check this one out if you like family stories, literary fiction, or general adult fiction!