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?

Everything’s Trash, But It’s Okay

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Author: Phoebe Robinson
Genres: Humour, Non fiction, Memoir
Pub date: Oct. 2018 (read Nov. 2018 on Audible)

Okay, this book blew me away! I read and enjoyed Phoebe Robinson’s other book, You Can’t Touch My Hair, when it first came out. but this book was a whole level above her last book. I think her writing has gotten better and I had the joy of listening to her narrate this on Audible. Phoebe is most well known for her podcast, 2 Dope Queens, which I must confess I’ve never actually listened to, but it makes sense that she would make a great narrator.

My first thought when I started listening was that Phoebe is really funny. I laughed out loud at several of her stories and really enjoyed her perspectives. But she totally blew me out of the water with her essay on white feminism. I can’t remember the title, but it’s early in the book and if you read the book, you will definitely know which one I’m talking about. Phoebe takes no prisoners in this essay and while parts of it made me feel really bad, she is totally right and I really appreciate her calling it like it is. White women are absolutely one of the groups to blame for Trump being elected and our failure to make feminism intersectional is not okay.

The essay is at times uncomfortable, but accurate. Black women and women of colour are much more oppressed then white women and have been fighting for equality for much longer than white women have. But we’re at a time when feminism has really taken off (third wave?) and white women are dropping the ball on their black sisters. It’s nothing new, we’ve been doing it for centuries. I recently listened to Elaine Weiss’s book, The Woman’s Hour, which is about suffragists and their fight to win the vote. Weiss also draws attention to the fact that while the suffragists did win the right to vote for all women, they were never in support of women of colour and many didn’t believe they should be afforded the right to vote alongside white women. Robinson draws attention to the fact that Women of Colour have been showing up to fight for equality alongside white women for decades, but white women fail to return the favour.

I can see how this essay might alienate some of her readers, but I’m so glad she wrote it. I’m sure some will dismiss her as an angry, black woman, but she should be angry, her feelings are valid, and she should be empowered to write about it. In my opinion this was the strongest essay in the book, but she did write some other great essays on money and social issues.

I was all ready to give this book 5 stars after her essay on feminism, which I thought was a really hard hitting thought piece, but her book took a bit of a different direction after that. She includes several funny stories about what it was like to finally achieve a modicum of success and what it was like meet Oprah and Bono. The essays were funny, which is the primary reason people come to this book, but they just weren’t as inspiring as some of her other essays. Its a minor complaint because not everything is going to have the same emotional gravitas, but after that one really great essay, everything else just felt the tiniest bit disappointing.

Phoebe is a little bit over the top sometimes, as are her jokes, and I didn’t like the addendum in the audiobook, which is basically like this weird couple interview that I thought didn’t add any value. But overall Phoebe delivered on everything I was looking for in this book. She was laugh out loud funny (I would seriously recommend the audiobook over the hard copy), and she made me think.

Side note: Phoebe’s attempt at going on a blind date when she was visiting Vancouver was pretty much the funniest, most accurate thing ever. Her date tried to convince her to go on a morning hike with him and she was like, “Nope, I am not going out in the wilderness with a man I don’t know, that is how women get murdered.” Which is totally accurate (the murder part), but also the best description ever of what dating in Vancouver is like. Everyone’s all about that nature; I don’t even doubt this was a total innocent (and oblivious) move on her blind date’s part. People are just obsessed with the outdoors in Vancouver and don’t understand how someone might not be as into it as the rest of us (I include myself in this us, lol).

I Might Regret This

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐
Author: Abbi Jacobson
Genres: Non-fiction, Memoir, Humour
Pub date: Oct. 2018 (read Nov. 2018)

Thank you to Hachette Book Group Canada for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

First of all, I LOVE Broad City and it was definitely the primary motivation in me reading this book. I’m a bit late to the game and I only discovered Broad City last year, but I actually love everything about it. So when I saw Abbi was publishing a book, I had to have it.

I Might Regret This is a collection of essays and drawings circling around a road trip Abbi took last year across the US. She shares some thoughts about her trip, some general thoughts about her life and recent break-up, and some stories about her experience working in comedy. It was a fun book and I really enjoyed some of the essays, but unfortunately others felt a little bit like, what’s the point?

The full title of the book is “I Might Regret This: Drawings,Essays, Vulnerabilities. and Other Stuff”. I want to highlight the vulnerabilities, because I think that was the strongest part of the book. I think one of the reasons people like to read celebrity memoirs is to learn something new about that person and what makes them human. Famous people can sometimes seem really unrelatable, so showing us some of their vulnerabilities makes them seem a little more human.

I really like Abbi’s stories about making it in comedy, the challenges of being a woman in comedy, and how scary and debilitating it can be to achieve success and when to acknowledge it’s time to try something new. I liked reading about her experiences and the challenges she has faced. I liked reading about her break-up, fears, anxieties, and vulnerabilities. I think Abbi and Ilana are both already very relatable and reading about her experiences re-iterates the point that she’s really not that different from anyone else. Plus, it’s cool seeing someone make it on their own.

I think that Abbi and Ilana are pioneers in their own way. Their characters are real and gritty in a way that we don’t often see on television. They’re not afraid to be real – they don’t have their lives figured out, they make mistakes, they don’t have good jobs, and they smoke a lot of pot. They care about the world and social issues, yet it’s so much easier for them to navigate the world by virtue of being white and they get away with a lot of bullshit. But I love that their friendship is central to Broad City and everything else is secondary. They don’t really fight with each other and they always put another first in every situation. It’s so lovely to see a female relationship like that portrayed on TV. I know they care about social issues like equality for women, people of colour, and every spectrum of LGBTQIA. I would have loved to hear Abbi’s opinions on social issues or stories about her relationship with Ilana, but instead this memoir tells some kind of trivial stories about her road trip that are kind of funny, but mostly lacking in any kind of real talk.

It hurts me to say that because I think Abbi has created something really unique and important with Broad City, and I enjoyed her stories about her experience, but some of the content in this book seemed a little trivial and I was just expecting more. It probably doesn’t help that I immediately followed up Abbi’s book with Phoebe Robinson’s new book, Everything’s Trash, But It’s Okay, which is both smart and funny and doesn’t shy away from pulling the punches on social issues such as institutionalized racism and how white women need to show up for women of colour and make their feminism more intersectional. Robinson’s writing has been totally blowing me away and in retrospect, makes this book seem a little trifling.

That said, this is Abbi’s first book (and not Robinson’s) and it is a little unfair to compare the two. I think Abbi was going for something very different in this book, but as much as I wanted to love it, it fell a little flat. I still think it’s a 3-star read, it just didn’t blow me away. But I’m still stoked for season 5 of Broad City!

Scrappy Little Nobody

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rating: 
Author: Anna Kendrick
Genres: Memoir, Non-Fiction, Humour
Read: Nov. 2017

Wow, this was much better than anticipated!

I’m not really an Anna Kendrick fan, with the exception of Pitch Perfect, but Scrappy Little Nobody was surprisingly well written and actually really interesting. Kendrick spends a few chapters on her childhood to let us know she really does come from a normal family and then she jumps into how she got into acting and what it was like adjusting to fame and Hollywood.

I found her beginnings really interesting; I had no idea she started off on Broadway at the age of 12, but I guess that helps to explain why she’s been featured in so many singing roles. She talked about her first experience on a film set when she did Camp at 14 and how surreal it was when the film featured at Sundance. She was disappointed when she told her class she was going to Sundance and they didn’t seem to care, until she later discovered they just didn’t realize she meant THE Sundance because they couldn’t picture tiny little Anna occupying the same festival as mega stars like Britney Spears and Paris Hilton.

She moved to LA straight out of high school and landed the role of Jessica on Twilight. I got a kick out of listening to her talk about Twilight and how awesome it was to get a minor role like Jessica because you got to be in the film and hang out with the stars for a few weeks each film, without any of the crazy fan notoriety, because really, who cares about Jessica anyways. But the money from Twilight kept her afloat financially for two years because even after landing a role in arguably one of the largest teen franchises (AFTER HP YOU GUYS), she still lived with two guys in a crappy apartment.

The first time I remember knowing who Kendrick was with Up in the Air. I didn’t really care for it; I remember trying to read the book and then abandoning it, not liking the movie, and promptly forgetting about it. But this was really her first major role and she was nominated for an Oscar for it! I found it fascinating though because she still never really made any money until after this movie because it was never anticipated to do so well. So even when she attended the Oscars for the first time as a nominee, she was still pretty much broke and had to be forced by her stylist to buy a $1000 pair of Louboutin shoes because evidently these things matter. I enjoyed her commentary on how ridiculous it is that when you’re starting out that you have to spend money you don’t have on purchases like this, but once you legit become famous and can afford it, designers give you their stuff for free.

Kendrick had a lot of meaningful insight into Hollywood and I like that she never takes herself too seriously. I felt this was a very honest memoir and I really did feel that she wasn’t so different to me. Even though she obviously is, she now feels like a real, down-to-earth person versus just another famous person living in a fantasy world with no clue how the rest of us live.