November Summary

November has been the BEST reading month! Last month I sent a new PB for most pages read in a month, but it didn’t last long because I beat it again this month. I always read a lot of books in November because I get really into the Goodreads Choice Awards and always try and read as many of the nominees as I can (I decided to make this my November monthly challenge). This month I read a whopping 17 books, granted 6 of them were graphic novels and short stories, but it was still a new personal record for most books read in one month. Here’s what I read:

Books read: 17
Pages read: 5,221
Main genres: Graphic Novels, Fantasy, Fiction
Favourite book: So many good books! So hard to choose, but probably Our Homesick Songs by Emma Hooper

So, like I said, a lot of the books I read this month were nominees in the Goodreads Choice Awards. I read a lot of books, so I won’t spend too long on each one. To start things off I read two books by V.E. Schwab, Vicious (⭐⭐⭐⭐) and it’s sequel, Vengeful (⭐⭐⭐⭐), which was nominated in the Sci-fi genre. Vicious was published 5 years ago, but it’s only just geting a sequel, so I decided to read them back to back and really liked them. I don’t think the second book was quite as good as the first, but they’re fast-paced novels that examine morality and the things that drive good people to do bad things.

I also read a few non-fiction books, which is a genre I don’t normally read. I decided to read Phoebe Robinson’s new book, Everything’s Trash, But It’s Okay (⭐⭐⭐⭐), which was nominated in the humour category, and absolutely loved it! I read Phoebe’s debut novel in 2016, which was pretty good, but I think she really upped her game in this book and I would totally recommend the audiobook. I also received a free copy of Abbi Jacobson’s new book, I Might Regret This (⭐⭐⭐), from Hachette, which I was thrilled to read, but ended up not loving quite as much as I’d hoped. Through I’m still a huge fan of Abbi and Broad City. Hatchette also sent me an early copy of Wundersmith (⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐), the sequel to Jessica Townsend’s debut novel, Nevermoor. I read Nevermoor a few months ago and was pretty much obsessed with it, so I immediately jumped right into the sequel and was delighted that it was just as wonderful as the first book! It’s a middle grade fantasy series full of whimsy that gives me huge Harry Potter vibes. A solid 5 stars – this series is incredible and I would recommend to everyone!

I read a few very short books, Sea Prayer by Khaled Hosseini (⭐⭐⭐), which is a short illustrated picture book that he wrote for charity (which I didn’t review), and For Every One by Jason Reynolds (⭐⭐.5), which was nominated in the Poetry category. Both books were nice, but honestly, I thought they were both a little too short to pack that much of a punch.

For graphic novels, I read the latest volume of Saga, by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples (⭐⭐⭐⭐). I absolutely love this graphic novel series, but the latest volume pretty much killed me, and it appears Vaughan and Staples may be going on a bit of a hiatus over the next little while, so that kills me even more. I also devoured the first 3 volumes of a new graphic novel series called Fence, by C.S. Pacat and Johanna the Mad (⭐⭐⭐⭐). Only the first volume is published at this time, but there are 12 issues available and I liked the first volume so much I actually had to seek out the individual issues instead of waiting for the next two volumes. It’s a series about a high school boys fencing team, which sounds kind of boring, but it actually excellent!

In addition to Phoebe Robinson’s new audiobook, I also listened to Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix (⭐⭐), which is the second and final book in Julie C. Dao’s dualogy. I really liked the first book, Forest of a Thousand Lanterns, which I also read as an audiobook, but the second book was a huge disappointment. The narration changed characters and I found this one pretty boring compared to the delightful nastiness that was the first book. The first one was a retelling of the evil queen in snow white, where as this was one a more traditional snow white retelling, although they were both sent it an asian inspired fantasy world, which I liked. Speaking of asian- inspired fantasy worlds, I read R.F. Kuang’s debut novel, The Poppy War (⭐⭐⭐⭐), which was nominated in the fantasy category. It is a heavy book, but wow! Kuang’s story is rich is depth, setting and history. It examines the Sino-Japanese war and the atrocities people commit against one another in war and how we justify them. A heavy hitter, but very well written and plotted.

My book club’s November pick was You by Caroline Kepnes (⭐⭐⭐.5). I’ve been trying to get to this one for a while and with the TV series being released on Netflix in December, it was good timing. You is a mystery/thriller novel told from the point of view of a stalker and boy, is it creepy. I didn’t like it quite as much as I hoped, but it is still very well written and quite different than most other books out there. I finally finished reading Swing Time by Zadie Smith (⭐⭐⭐.5), which I started reading way back in July (shocking I know). I had put it aside around the 300 page mark, but I finally picked it up and read the last 150 pages. I quite liked this book, but it is not very compelling, and for that reason it was hard to pick up, despite liking the story.

Finally, two of my favourite books of the month, along with Wundersmith, were The Simple Wild by K.A. Tucker (⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐) and Our Homesick Songs by Emma Hooper (⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐). The Simple Wild was nominated in the romance genre and I was instantly motivated to read it when I found out it was about Alaska (I have a bit of an obsession with Alaska since reading The Great Alone earlier this year). It had a bit of a slow start and the main character was a little vapid at times, but I ended up loving this book! The main character was 26, which is refreshing since most of the books I read feature teenagers or families. I’m starting to really appreciate family dramas, and this one was a mix of family drama and romance that really worked for me.

Our Homesick Songs was my last read of the month and it was also a family drama, but this time historical, that completely captivated me. It’s about the disappearance of cod in Newfoundland in the early 1990’s and the impact it had on rural communities. It’s a simple story about a family living in a remote fishing town, but it is so beautiful written and evokes a strong feeling of homesickness and loneliness. Newfoundland is where I was born and raised, so it had particular meaning for me and I was incredibly impressed by Emma Hooper’s prose. I devoured this book and it is definitely going to be one of my top picks of the year.

So there you have it, all 17 of the books I read this month. There were some really great books. The fact that I rated three of them 5 stars is very rare since I sometimes go months without rating anything 5 stars. I feel like I’ve finally escaped the book slump that I was in over the summer and I’m feeling very inspired by all the great books I’ve been reading!

I’d love to know, what books did you read and love this month?

Empire of Storms

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Genres: Fantasy
Pub date: Sep. 2016 (re-read Oct. 2018)
Series: Throne of Glass #5

It’s pub day for Kingdom of Ash! I finished my re-read of Empire of Storms in perfect timing (last night) and I already picked up a copy of Kingdom of Ash this morning! Here’s my review for Empire of Storms and I’ll be posting my review of Tower of Dawn in the next day or two while I read my way through the finale!


This book destroyed me. Even though I’ve already read it and I’ve had that cliffhanger hanging over me for the last two years, it still killed me. I am now dead, thanks Maeve.

In all seriousness though, with the exception of the ending, I barely remembered anything from this book aside from a rough outline of events. I forgot so many of the details that it was almost like reading a brand new book! I feel like this series keeps getting more and more convoluted, but I kind of love it. I don’t know if the way everything has come together was intentional from the beginning, or if Sarah has just somehow been able to make it all work out as she writes each new book, but I really hope it’s the former. I love smart plots. It’s what makes Harry Potter such a beloved classic. Sure, it’s fun and creative and heartbreaking, but it’s also insanely detailed and super clever. Empire of Storms has a crazy large cast of characters, and while I’m not super crazy about each of them, together it makes for smart and well developed story.

I really can’t guess at how Maas is going to resolve all this drama in the final book. I wonder if we’ll get some new character perspectives. In some ways I hope not because it’s hard enough keeping track of the 800 million characters we already have, but I also don’t think I could resist getting Ansel’s internal monologue.

What I loved about this book was that this is the first time we actually get all of the characters together at once (except for Chaol, not really missed TBH). In previous books the characters have all been doing their own thing, which makes for a dynamic story, but not always a fast paced one. Empire of Storms has a slightly slow start (although barely), but once you reach like… 15 or 20% it is literally impossible to put this book down! I think it has to do with our characters finally meeting up with one another. There are less storylines to follow, more badass-ery, and it just makes the whole plot flow a whole lot quicker. Like the entire final 30% of this book is just one huge nail-biter.

I definitely think this is one of the best books in the series. I’m still on the fence for which is better, Empire of Storms or Crown of Midnight, but it’s hard to compare them since they are very different in structure. CoM is more of a traditional fantasy with just 3 viewpoints, whereas EoS is undoubtedly epic fantasy. I love them both. The stakes are so high in this book and we finally get to see the full might of Aelin’s power. I know there are people out there that don’t like Aelin because it’s like she can do no wrong, but I think that in the first 3-4 books (at least), she makes a million mistakes and Queen of Shadows and EoS are the first books where she starts finally pulling her life together. Should she have held her secrets so close to her chest in this book, maybe not, but her whole life has revolved around secrecy up to this point and she does start bringing some of the members of her court into her plans. Not all of them, but hey, it makes for more dramatic reveals!

I have to talk about Lysandra first. I expressed my love for Lysandra in my QoS review and my love for her continues to grow in this book. I would argue that Aelin trusts Lysandra more than anyone, maybe even Rowan. She entrusts Lysandra with so many things in this book and with the greatest task of all at the end of the book. It’s so refreshing to see their female friendship amongst all these possessive male relationships. And I like her (mostly) non-interest in romantic relationships. Lysandra has been taken advantage of by men her entire life and I think it’s very accurate that she would have little interest in pursuing anything with men and I’m really glad Maas didn’t just impulsively hook her up with Aedion, even though that’s obviously where things are headed. Either way, Lysandra is BADASS. I can’t decide what I love more, sea dragon or ghost leopard.

Second, I have to talk about Elide. I did not love Elide in QoS. I didn’t dislike her, she was just kind of boring, but I am totally into her in EoS and think she’s actually one of Maas’ most important characters. Every other character Maas has written has been extremely physically powerful. They all have either magic or insane battlefield skills. I love that Elide has none of those things, yet she is not powerless. Fighting is not the only kind of strength. Lorcan gets Elide out of a lot of her mishaps, but she saves herself several times too and I loved that she was clever and always planning her next move to get herself out of trouble. One of my favourite scenes is early in when she successfully bluffs her way out of the Ilken attack. I was waiting for Lorcan to swoop in and save her and I loved that she got away on her wits alone. She is a bit of a pawn in the story sometimes, especially at the end, but she offers something very different from the rest of the characters. And yes, I totally ship her and Lorcan and LOVED Lorcan’s growth in this book.

Dorian’s storyline is interesting in EoS and I can’t decide if I like it or not. He is very passive for most of this book and to be honest, a lot of the time I kind of forgot he was there. He’s broken and recovering from what happened to him in QoS, so that’s to be expected, and I’m excited for where the story might take him in KoA. I like that Dorian ends up with the keys at the end of EoS because he has always deferred to Aelin in the past and I think it’s finally time for him to be one of the heroes of the story. I couldn’t decide whether I liked his darker side in this book or not though. He is definitely changed as a result of the Valg Prince and has a much darker side, portrayed most often with Manon, which I thought was realistic that he might have been a little corrupted by the valg prince, but I do miss the sweet Dorian from the first few books.

Try as I might though, I just don’t like Aedion. I find it hard to pinpoint what it is I don’t like about him. He’s too arrogant for me and I don’t like the emotional responses he has to things that upset him. He is a total asshole to Gavriel – I mean I can understand why he’d be pissed – but as far as I can tell Gavriel never really knew who he was and is blood-sworn to a psycho, so it’s not like there’s much he ever could have done about it. Plus Aedion does a 180 from QoS in his feelings about Aelin. In QoS, it’s like she could do no wrong, but in EoS he’s totally pissed at her all the time and I don’t like how he always reacts with anger. And then when he freaks out at Lysandra at the end for no one telling him about hers and Aelin’s plans – like you are not entitled to know everything or to everyone’s trust. When Lysandra was like, “I serve Aelin, not you”, I was like, “Yaaas girl, tell him”! He supposedly loves Lysandra and claims that he just wants her to be happy, whether it’s with him, someone else, or no one at all, but I still feel like he feels he’s entitled to her and it just irks me.

Anyways, I wasn’t planning to go through a detailed character portrait of everyone, but it’s hard not to because they are all such interesting people and it’s fun seeing how they’ve grown over the past few books. I won’t get into them all. I don’t think I have a whole lot to say on Rowan. The sex scenes are a little cringe-y, but overall I thought Rowan was toned down a lot in this book from the last and I liked him a lot more. PLEASE FIND AELIN FOR US ROWAN.

I also don’t have a whole lot to say about Manon. She was obviously BALLER in this book and I’m so glad to see her re-united with the thirteen. They are like the ultimate in girl power and I can’t wait to see what havoc they’re going to wreak in KoA.

In conclusion, my wish list for KoA is as follows:
– Rowan please find Aelin ASAP and save us all from the extended torture that has been the last two years. My heart has been trapped in an iron box all this time.
– More Ansel, maybe even an Ansel perspective? Love that fiery redhead!
– Dorian kicking some ass, becoming a hero in his own way and hopefully re-uniting his kingdom under a better banner than his father represented
– Manon and Asterin, I don’t care what they’re doing, I just think this is such a fun pair
– Happy Lysandra. Yes, Aelin made a huge sacrifice for her friends and her kingdom, but so did Lysandra. She is giving up everything and more than anything I just want to see her happy.
– Elide saving the day through some feat of wits, not strength. Also, even though I think Lorcan is a total coward for crawling after Maeve at the end of EoS, I hope these two can work it out because I love them together.
– Some alternative to “the queen that was promised” that doesn’t make us all blubbering messes at the end of this book

That’s all, it’s really a pretty simple wish list Sarah, my bad for not sending it to you earlier, please accommodate in tomorrow’s book release. JK, we all know we’re gonna be dead tomorrow because Sarah J Maas is going to kill us all with this finale.

Top Reads Winter 2018

I read some really great books over the past few months, so I decided to take a look back at some of my favourite reads this Winter (Jan-Mar). I read a total of 32 books and it was really hard to narrow down the field. I re-read a few old favourites (Jellicoe Road and Beartown), but I decided not to consider these since they weren’t new winter reads and I’ve talked a lot about them already. So, my top 5 reads of Winter 2018 (in no particular order) are as follows:

Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok

I read this as part of my January Challenge to read 3 books about immigration and I loved it! It’s a simple story about a girl and her mom who immigrate from China to America and struggle to make it in New York City. They live in a horrible apartment with no heat and work long hours in a sweat shop sewing clothes, receiving little support from their family. But the main character Kimberly is determined to get an education to lift herself and her mother out of poverty. Girl in Translation tells of her struggles throughout middle school and high school – I thought it was just such a quiet, meaningful story.

I listened to this one as an audiobook and it was the first fictional audiobook I’ve loved. Julia is the teenage daughter of Mexican immigrants whose older sister Olga has just died in a tragic accident. In the wake of her death, Julia struggles with her grief and her inability to live up to her mother’s ideal of the perfect daughter. She acts out against her family and those around her, shutting herself off from the world in her anger. Julia is not a likable character, but her grief was just so raw and real that I couldn’t help but love her, despite all the questionable choices she makes. A fantastic read about grief and identity and special props to the audiobook narrator Kyla Garcia, who is fantastic!

Saga, Volume 8 by Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples

I’ve been reading my way through the graphic novel series, Saga, for a while now, but something about the latest issue struck me so much more than all the other volumes. Saga tells the story of Alana and Marko, an intergalactic family who fall in love despite coming from two opposing sides of a war, and their newborn daughter Hazel. The story follows them across the galaxy as they try to be a family despite all the people and governments who want all evidence of their traitorous relationship to be eliminated. Vaughan weaves so much relevant social commentary into this series about families, violence, relationships, and politics and Fiona Staples artwork is amazing! The artwork is NSFW, but a fantastic and engaging series!

The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline

I picked up this book because it made the Canada Reads shortlist for 2018 and I’ve been trying to read more Canadian authors and it did not disappoint. I can’t pinpoint why I loved this book so much, it’s a pretty short science fiction read about a dystopian future where indigenous people are hunted for their bone marrow. The government has constructed a second round of schools for indigenous peoples to harvest their bone marrow that are chillingly familiar to the residential school system. The book tells the story of one group of indigenous individuals who form their own kind of family in the woods to try and protect themselves. We slowly learn everyone’s back story throughout the novel and you can’t help but admire them for their hope and tenacity. I thought it was a meaningful and beautifully written story.

This book surprised me. It was really hard to pick the last book for this list out of all the 4 star books I read this season, but this one just stands out for me. I didn’t expect to like it that much and it is a looong book, but Johnston dragged me right into his story and I was completely captivated by Fielding and Smallwood and their love for Newfoundland. I read Don’t Tell the Newfoundlanders a few years ago and I feel like this was a good companion novel because together they examine both sides of Newfoundlands journey to confederation with Canada. I really liked Johnston’s writing and it was a moving read about a place so dear to my heart.