Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Top 10 Goals/Resolutions For 2015

Oh my, it is gone! 2014 is gone. I've mentioned before that in 2015 I want to read more diversely, but what I also want is to read more broadly. There are areas that I feel that I am doing ok, as in Author Sex where I am reading 59% Female authors vs 41% Male. Where I am lacking is on cultural representation I am afraid. Only 14% of my reading represented POC and slightly better, but still 31% of my reading had a Stong Female Main Character (SFMC for short). Also, only 13% of my reading was nonfiction...I want my reading to be more about the content AND authors than the total of books read. Yeah, I read 100 books on 2014, but when you see the stats (and I do love stats)...they don't make me happy.

So here are my top 10 resolutions for the year that comes. It will also be the year that I am supposed to seriously start writing my thesis (maybe defend? Not sure yet) so I am a bit afraid I won't be able to make it to all of the goals, but I will do my best!

1. Read more diversely:

For that I opened my own challenge. As I mentioned in it, from my side I am starting with reading at least 1 POC author per month. I do realize that this is not the only one of reading diversely, but it is my starting point.

2. Read more in Spanish

This is more for me, 91% of the books I read on 2014 where in English, either translations or because they were originally written in English. My Spanish is a big part of who I am, and hence I want for it to make part of my reading life once again. As in my first resolution, I want to read at least 1 book in Spanish per month. They will probably overlap at times, but this is perfectly fine.

3. Read more Canadian Literature

I've been living in Canada for more than 5 years now and only until recently I started reading consciously Canadian author, mainly Margaret Atwood and Alice Munro. I believe being in a new country I should get to know it's authors better, and so I have joined another online book club called Hello Hemlock. So that's 1 Canadian Literature Book a month.

4. Read more nonfiction

As I mentioned, I really didn't read much nonfiction during 2014, I mean it was better than in 2013 thanks to #NonFicNov, but still. So, yes, you guessed it: at least 1 book of nonficiton per month.

5. Finish (when possible) series that I left hanging

This only applies to series I liked. If I left them hanging because I was just not capable or reading it anymore well, that's different.

6. Keep track of how many of my books pass the Mako Mori Test

Basically I was already looking for SFMC in my books, but I would like to pay more attention to how many of the books I read have female characters that, while they might not be the main one they still have their own strong arc story and it is not about supporting the male character/

7. Read more of my "already owned" books

Pretty self explanatory I think. In 2013, 43% of my reading was from books I already owned, 50% in 2014. I want to at least keep it to 50% if not a bit higher. This is just about really knowing what is unread on my shelves.

8. Join at least one of the Dewey's Read-a-Thons
If not as a reader, for sure as a cheerleader!

9. Keep track of the country represented by the book

Whether by the author's origin or where the story takes place.

10. Read all the month picks from the Sword and Laser  and the Hello Hemlock book club

Well...I will try, sometimes I can't access the books on the right month and then I forget to catch up :/

To not feel guilty if by some reason or another I can't make all my resolutions

I will try, and I will do my best, but I will stop the book guilt!

That's it! Here is a screen shot of my Excel tab for 2015. Do you think I forgot something? Let me know :D

Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Empyrean Key by J. L Tomlinson

The author contacted me and sent me a copy of this book for an honest review. This review is not sponsored nor influenced in anyway. The book was published on August 27th, 2014.

First impression

A fantasy book sent in the world of Ardentia. Jahna is a Narcean teenager growing up in Ardentian soil, her pale hair and skin color giving her away easily. She doesn't know much of her past, her mom won't talk to her about it and so, she is determined to know more and helping her to do so she has her two friends, Lilac a strong girl from a family of warriors, and Silko, a fragile but smart boy who loves knowledge and books.

At the same time, the king of Ardentia, the light of the Kingdom, is dying. With no male heirs, Princess Mydra would have to take the throne, except that...over centuries this has never happened. Never before a King didn't have sons, and the Queen Selizardra is suspected of being the culprit also adding to the case against her that she a foreigner.

Jahna will finally get some answers to her past but in doing so, she will realize she is in for way more than she expected for.

Final thoughts

The author did a wonderful job building this new world, sometimes I would feel lost with so many new terms that were never explained. See, this is a delicate balance I find when reading fantasy or science fiction: with new words/terms sometimes authors either over explain or as in this case, don't explain them enough. The first case makes me feel like the author wants to take me by the hand, and in the second, well, I have to re read paragraphs several times to try to understand what is going on and my brain then disconnects.

I quite enjoyed the secondary characters, mostly Lilac and Silko; but I didn't completely fell for Jahna and found her a bit predictable as well as her story. The abrupt changes from Jahna's story to Mydra's made it pretty obvious (to me at least) what was going on between them, and without this surprise element the rest of the story felt...sort of short I am afraid.

I think this would be a better read for a MA or early YA group of readers. My cousin is 10 years younger than I am and I am pretty sure she would enjoy the whole story, and continue the series.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

#AMonthofFaves: 5 Books That Deserved the Hype

Hello everybody! First of all Merry Christmas Eve :). Today's topic on the Month of Faves event is 5 books that deserved the hype . I wasn't sure if we were limited to books we read on 2014, but looking around to other people's post I figured it would be ok. So here they are, 5 books that I read and found that they more than deserved the hype.

1Q84 by Haruki Murakami: I've found that this is one of those books that you are either going to hate or love, and I loved it. It is super weird, and sometimes you pout the book down thinking: what the H did I just read. But it was so involving and different! it is also a huge book, so I understand why so may people just put it down completely, but in my opinion it is worth to push through.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline: This was such a fun read you guys! But once again, it really depends on the reader. It has a lot of pop culture references, mostly from the 80s, but also to the gaming world. So if you don't like or even don't care for those, you might not enjoy it as much as I did. However it was great for me. The characters were fun, the rhythm very fast paced and exiting. 

Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed: I have talked to you about this one almost on every post of this months event, but I will do it again, just because it was so beautiful. Sure, it made me cry, but that is just how touching the whole book was. I've been recommending it all over town since I finished and I intend to continue doing so.

The Martian by Andy Weir: Just as RPO, this one is a book that might not be for everyone. There is quite a bit of science and sarcasm. Mark, the main character, is not a pleasant person necessarily, but boy it was fun. Also just like RPO, A read it after me and it made him very happy too, and considering we have quite different reading tastes that is a plus on my list :).

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern: Wow, I just realized this was one of my first reviews in this blog! And even almost 3 years after I still have a lot of love for this book. It is magical, it has action, love, whimsical world building... everything! Even some delicious treats that with just the description will make you salivate. I am a bit sad that I couldn't re read it this December with the Sword and Laser book club, but as it turns out I lent it to my cousin back in 2012...and she hasn't finished it yet, if you can believe that.

Well there you have it, my 5 books for today. I wish you a lovely Holiday time!

Friday, December 19, 2014

#AMonthofFaves: Picking Favorites!

I think we can all agree that this event is making our TBR grow and that this is a good thing ;). Here are my favorite posts of the week:

On Monday Andi from Estella's Revenge gave us all book envy with her recently acquired list!

On Tuesday I met Christina's Blog: You Book me All Night Long (great name right?) and I loved her list of top 10 read of 2014. For this same post, Andi was a favorite once again

On Wednesday we discussed 5 fave Winter Reads and Tanya from GirlXOXO had great suggestions for the cold weather! I also loved Florinda's picks for this topic (I also think that Fangirl is a good winter read). You can find her at The 3 R's Blog.

On Thursday it was time for 5 winter must haves and I have to say guys, your winter is definitely not like mine at all!!! Favorites include Andi, Trish and Flo, all of them with great products to keep us comfy and cozy in this frightful weather!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

A Month of Faves: Top 10 (or so) Favorite books of 2014

Well, here it is, I am finally telling you my top 3 books of the year. But first I will introduce some of the runner ups:

Geek Love by Katherine Dunn
Dawn (Xenogenesis #1) by Octavia E. Buttler
Angelmaker by Nick Harkway
What We see When We Read by Peter Mendelsund
The Martian by Andy Weir
El ruido de las cosas al caer (The sound of things falling) by Juan Gabriel Vásquez
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

And now....drum roll please, here are my top 3 of the year!!!

As I said, 2 non fiction, 1 fiction, all of them by women and one of them in Spanish :D

Here are some exceprts from my reviews that explain why they were my favorites

Nosotras que nos queremos tanto by Marcela Serrano:
It was a splendid read and I would recommend to all of my contacts and beyond. It has taken me a while to write this review, mostly because I feel that words fall short for what this book made me feel. So I can only say, read it!.
I know this is a short review, particularly for a book that I loved, but I cannot put into words how this book makes me feel. It made me laugh, cry, laugh while crying, miss my family like crazy, made me tell people I love them and even took away weight from my shoulders. I would recommend this book to everybody, but get some tissues first. Now go and read it.
The Goldfinch by Donna Tart
It was a beautiful book, full of sentiment; a book that I have recommended several times already and that I might even re listen too.
2014 was a good reading year for me, I hope you had a wonderful year too!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Introducing My Own 2015 reading Challenge


I wanted to use today's free topic post to talk to you guys about something.

For the past 2 or so years, I have participated in the GoodReads reading challenge, the Where are you Reading Challenge (hosted by Book Journey) and the Sequel Challenge (hosted by Novel Heartbeat and Writer Grrl Reads). This year also joined other monthly events. But this has also been the year where the talk about reading more diversely has been all over my radar. I joined the A More Diverse Universe challenge (Diversiverse for short), hosted by Booklust and I tried to incorporate more diverse reading by the end of the year. It was good, but it can be better.

So I have decided to hold my first ever challenge! I will call it: Diversifying 2015. My goal is to read at least one diverse author every month. Diversifying can also be applied to reading more LGBTQ authors or POCs off course. Every month I will do a wrap up post, and I would love it if you can add on those posts your own Diverse readings of the month! That way we are all exposed to more diverse reading and get the wheels turning!

But I want to also give a tiny incentive. So here is the deal, every entry every month will give you a registration and at the end of the year I will randomly select a lucky winner for a 20$ gift card from Book Outlet! (If the winner leaves in a country that is not covered by them we will figure something out :D)

So here is the registration form and as I said every month there will be a wrap up post. I hope you guys join me on this!!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A Month of Faves: A Year in Books Timeline

Which month did you … read the most, the least, read the book you liked LEAST for the year, read your longest book, tried a new genre, fell hard for a book boyfriend, re-read a favorite, finished an epic series, read something you’ve been wanting to read for a long time etc.

January: The month of my birthday!!! I read 7 books on January (one of them on my top 3 ;))  This is also the month I read my least favorite books of the year: 2 romances that were given to me on Christmas on a gift exchange. I read them on a dare, but safe to say that so far I haven't found romances I like. 

February: the month I finally got around to reading a Neil Gaiman

March: Only read 4 books this month, but I read Angelmaker and loved it!

April: Read-A-Thon!!! I read The Last Unicorn that month and got to meet Peter S. Beagle

May: The month I read the most: 12 books that month!!! Great books that month with Dreams of Gods and Monsters (excellent series) and The Martian

June: The month I joined NetGalley! My first book from them It Girl, wasn't that great, but during this month I read my other fiction favorite of the year, in Spanish.  

July: The month I first read Dawn and fell in love with Xenogenesis

August: It was slow month for my reading. Best book of the month was The Name of the Wind but I never got to write the review :/

September: The month I participated on my first official Read-A-Long with The Haunting of Hill House.

October: Read-a-Thon part 2. I also read 12 books this month and it is the month I first read Meg Medina. It is also the month I was introduced to another YA series I quite enjoyed with The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer.

November: Non-fiction November, Oh gosh, it feels so long ago and it ended less than a month ago!. Ok, so I read my non-fiction favorite during this month.  It was also during November that I read the longest book I've read this year with Three Daughters

December: I've finished 2 books so far this month and I should finish another 2 at least. But this month has been proven to be busier than usual with my experiments finally working. So that's good, but it takes time from the reading. 

What about your year??

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

A Month of Faves: Fave New-to-Me Author Discoveries

Hello, hello everybody. How is your holiday season going? Mine has been busy, and it will remain that way so better not think too much about it. Today's post for #AMonthofFaves is Favorite Authors that you discovered recently. This year I discovered a lot of authors, but none of the following wrote my 3 favorite books of the year. The thing is, even though I really loved those 3 books, they were the first time I ever encounter their writing, and I am not sure yet I would read anything by them. Probably, but time will tell. Here I present to you 3 authors and my reasons why I think I would read anything by them:

Octavia E. Butler: Thanks to the Sword and Laser Book club I came to read Dawn, the first book in the Xenogenesis trilogy. I immdiately loved the style and I then read Adulthood Rites and it was amazing. I only have to read Imago from this series, but I already now I am going to love it. Her world construction, the way she touches humanity so on point...it is amazing, I have no better word. 

Meg Medina: I read Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick your Ass in part because the people from Book Riot kept mentioning it and I was not disappointed at all. But it is more than her writing beautiful realistic Latino characters guys; afterwards I listened to her interview from Our Reading Lives (another BR podcast) and I was smitten. She was so nice and interesting, and I just felt identified, you cannot compete with that! I follow her on Twitter and she is just great.

Emily St. John Mandel: One of my last books of the year was Station Eleven (I haven't written my review, but I am on it, I promise) and it blew my mind. It was so different and the narrative was beautiful; I have no idea how she made such an intricate web, but oh boy she had me from the first moments. I already had Last Night in Montreal on my wishlist, but it has recently moved to my must haves 

There you have it, 3 fantastic ladies that blew my mind in 2014. What about your new faves??

Saturday, December 6, 2014

The Bracelet by Dorothy Love

I asked and received this book through NetGalley for free. This review is not sponsored nor influenced in anyway. Thanks to Thomas Nelson Fiction for the book. The expected publication date is December 9.

First impression

This is the first book from Dorothy Love that I have ever read. Most of her books are on Historical Fiction and this added to the beautiful cover made me ask for a copy at NetGalley. While the description of the book hints at a mystery, I think this element was not as present as I expected. The bracelet in question only had its appearance 1/3 into the story and the whole mystery was solved ¾ in, which made it feel like that everything after that was a bit too long. However, if you would take just the historical fiction part, it was a very entertaining read.

Final thoughts

The book revolves around Celia Browning, a 19th century Savannah socialite, day dreaming about the love of her life while at the same time taking care of her father and sharing her household with her orphan cousin. Celia has been in love with Sutton MacKay ever since they were kids and now he is coming back from Jamaica to, it would seem, marry her and take over his family business. But not everything is perfect in Celia's life, a nuisance in the form of a reporter stirring stories better left untold, comes to taint her family's reputation and to make matters worse, she starts getting threats from a mysterious origin.

The author does a great job when setting the background; at point I felt like I was watching a period movie, with the description of the city, the dresses and the dialogues. I enjoy when authors manage to build the world this nicely, since it makes the experience much more involving.

The part that I felt was in deficit was the mystery part. Considering that the title of the book is The Bracelet I was under the impression that the mystery would come from a bracelet. In fact, what we have is two mysteries, that at the end, sort of blend together, but not quiet. And even then, it didn't feel that heart gripping type of mystery and the conclusion was predictable for me.

What I ended up doing to review this book, was just remove the mystery part of the equation and that is the reason I ended up giving it a 4. The author gave me what I was expecting: a historical fiction with a sweet love story in a small southern town. No more and no less. If that's what you are looking for, got for it. If you are looking for a page turning type of mystery, I would look for something else.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Life of a Blogger: Where you live

In the words of Jessi from Novel Heartbeat:
It’s a weekly feature. Each week I will choose a subject and talk about that subject in my life. The topics will be non-bookish so that you can get to know me on a more personal level! I definitely encourage you guys to participate, too. I want this to be meme style with a linky for you to add your posts to. I want to know more about you guys as well!

My face says it all
As some of you may know by now, I moved to Canada about 5 years ago. I live in the province of Quebec in the city of Montreal.  I generally love living here, except for winter, I just don't get used to it.

Me one of the first times I skated
But even I have to admit that it is not the end of the world, and to try to keep up the morale we try to keep active, for instance I really enjoy ice skating, although sometimes the cold makes it impossible to stay outside long (at least for me).
The Olympic Stadium

At the entry of the Botanical Garden
Off course winter isn't here all year long, and that's when you can really enjoy the city. It has a beautiful architecture. One structure you might recognize if the Olympic Stadium from and one of the places that I always try to show to people visiting me (when possible) is the botanical garden, because it is so pretty! I am sure it is not an unique event here, but at a certain time of the year you can even see the butterfly exposition. Basically all year long you will find an event, is a very lively city. You will find a lot of music events (Jazz festivals, Classical music to name a few), the Rogers cup  and the F1 for those into sports...oh and off course the Montreal Circus Festival, since Cirque du Soleil is based here.

But I think my favorite part of the city is the amount of parks it has. So much green! It makes me so happy and in summer we always end up in the park, taking the sun, reading and just relaxing.

People will sun bathe in the parks, although sometimes they make a fake beach downtown. But if you have an awesome park nearby, why not, right?

If not in the garden you will probably find me on our terrace, or in our garden. Last year we had a bunch of raspberries and strawberries. As you can see, when the sun is here you take every second you have under it. 

You probably also know this, but Québec is a francophone province, and so the city of Montreal is also francophone. But on of the things that I amazes me the most is the amount of languages I can hear just going to work. Some I manage to recognize, but it is always fun to see how many cultures are at the same place at once.

That's my brief intro on Montreal; honestly is a city that is better lived than described ;)

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Why I read: The Serious Pleasure of Books by Wendy Lesser

First impression

On my first shopping spree at Book Outlet I saw this book; I liked the cover and the premise seemed interesting. Wendy Lesser is a critic, a novelist and also an editor so it was appealing to me to hear, or rather read, in the words of someone who is so into the field that is reading, why reading is such a pleasure and I will admit I was curious to see if we had similar points. From the beginning of the book I realised this was more about the serious part rather than the pleasure part, or at least that is what the book made me feel. From sentences such us "real literature" and "[…]to refer repeatedly to murder mysteries, a notoriously trashy form" to afirmations that frankly let me feeling (and I realize this is completely subjective) like the author was disapproving of my reading, I just couldn't find joy in this book.

Final thoughts

I will be honest: every time I thought about writing this review I cringed remembering how I felt reading the book. It read to me like a highbrow lecture that made me feel inadequate with my reading. I am not saying off course that this was in any way the intention of the author; I am just telling you how the speech in the book affected me.

From the beginning, when she used sentences such "real literature" it stroke me as disdain of some sort, disapproval of genres and even of certain readers and while I can be as much as a book as anyone, this just felt wrong. Then there was the situation with the examples she uses to show the alleged pleasure for the first chapter I could not recognize the books or for that matter the authors she was citing. This, I know, is my problem, not hers. Probably I would recognize authors that she wouldn't, and that's ok. But when in all of her examples there is not a single one you recognize, engaging with the book and saying:"Ah yes, I see what your point Mrs. Lesser". If you compare it with What We See When We Read by Peter Mendelsund you might see what I mean with this. I have never read Anna Karenina, but being such a wide known book I knew and understood what the author meant; this was impossible for me with Lesser's book.

Even in cases where I had read the book or at least part of it, this understanding of the author was not there. For example I tried to read Don Quixote (in Spanish mind you) I made it to chapter 12 I think where he starts having a monologue with rocks, once Sancho Panza has left him alone. I just couldn't go on; there was no pleasure for me reading it. I made it through Swann's Way and In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower but after that I no longer engaged in Proust's work. But even then, when she did use these books at examples I just couldn't see what she was pointing out in them and I would end up with the horrible feeling that it was my fault.

One thing we did agree on was translations and their effects on the reader. I am one of those people that would love to read all her books in the original language, but then again, I am not going to learn Swedish any time soon guys and my German won't allow me to read The Never ending Story any time soon, even if it is a book I already read. So it is important to find someone who manages not only to translate the sentence but the meaning of the sentence, and of course this is hard to do.

I was sad at the end, because I had very high expectations for the book, but it was just not for me.

Monday, December 1, 2014

December, A Month of Favorites!: Introduction Post

This December I will be participating in A Month of Favorites. Don’t know what it is? Well:
All December-long, Estella's Revenge, Girlxoxo, and Traveling with T will be sharing our fave bookish (and sometimes non-bookish) experiences from throughout the year AND we want YOU to join us! The schedule of topics is posted below – in some cases, we’ll be joining with other bloggers' events – and other times, one of us will be hosting a link-up. Plus, there will be 3 GIVEAWAY WINNERS for a book of your choice from Book Depository. Every time you post on one of the topics below, and join the Linky on one of our 3 blogs – you’ll be entered to WIN!
I won’t be able to do ALL the post, but I will sure try to make the most J. Our first subject is:

Faves Month Introduction

This has been such a wonderful year of reading guys! I’ve participated in amazing bookish events and with this I managed to not only read almost double the amount of books I read last year (96 so far and I think I will manage to get to the 100!), but I also managed to read with more variety. Now, as most years, I mostly read Fiction (87%). I do not classify my books by genre, further than fiction vs non-fiction, so forgive me if I can’t give you any more data here.

How have I read? Well, this year 45% has been in paper, 25% as ebooks and 30% in audio. Of this, 52% I own, 30% from the library, 16% borrowed from friends and 2% as Galleys.

When do I read? ALL the time now, thanks to Audio books, because now I can read while doing lab work that does not require my attention (washes for example) But other than that it has to be when I get back home and I want to disconnect.

While some authors have shown up several times this year, I don’t feel like they were necessarily my favorite authors necessarily, is just that I was finishing series, although I think it is safe to say that anything Laini Taylor gets out there I will read from now on, because I so loved the Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy.

And now I am supposed to hint to you which one of the books I’ve read so far was my 2014 favorite, without telling you upright. Well, you know this would be so much easier if I could point just one!

I have narrowed it down to three wonderful books. They are all written by women, 2 fiction and 1 nonfiction. One of the fiction ones and the nonfiction really touched me on a very emotional level, I went to read them with sincerely no expectations other that people that I care for have read them and seemed to love them and I loved the books in return. The other fiction book was a big one, not only in size but also regarding how much talk it got! None of the books was actually published this year.

Very close and I guess runner ups on my favorites this year, would’ve been The Martian, Angelmaker and What we See when we Read. But I will discuss those later this month ;)

So that is my introduction. If you guessed what were my faves this month let me know, and off course let me know of YOUR favorites!!

Have a wonderful week and month!