Tag Archives: Books

Books on My Christmas List 2020

Hi everyone! Today I am going to be sharing some books that are on my Christmas list this year. Do I really need more books? Not really, but there’s nothing like receiving a book for a gift so uh I made a list anyway. I blame the Black Friday/ Cyber Monday sales which have gotten me excited to buy books.

How the King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories by Holly Black

This book has a long title so I’ve just been referring to it as “King of Elfame.” I read The Folk of The Air series last year and while it isn’t my favourite series ever, it was definitely a lot of fun. I’m mostly interested in reading this to find out more about Cardan’s backstory. My friend Kayla actually recently did a review of the book here. I have a feeling I will agree with her thoughts on the stories as I enjoy novellas, but of course, they do not compare to a full-length book in the series. I have seen lots of comments about how fantastic the art is, so that is something I would definitely treasure if I was given this book for Christmas.

We Are Not Free by Traci Chee

I came across this book on Indigo’s “Best Teen Books of 2020” list and was instantly intrigued. We Are Not Free is a fictional historical novel about a group of second-generation Japanese-American teenagers who are detained during WWII. It sounds like it will be a heartbreaking story, but also hopeful as this group of teenagers must come together in the face of discrimination. It’s a new release but already has great reviews on Goodreads. I’m a sucker for books that focus on friend and family relationships so I think this book will be right up my alley. This semester, I also got the chance to take a Sociology course on race and immigration. It was a fantastic class and has definitely inspired me to seek out more migrant and immigration-related stories. Also isn’t this the coolest cover ever?

The Poppy War by R.F Kuang

The Poppy War is the first book in a high fantasy series. It has been all over Book Twitter and I have heard nothing short of amazing things about it. For these reasons (fantasy lover here) I had to add the first book to my Christmas list. It does seem to be quite a heavy read and is not YA, but part of the adult genre. Reading more about it, I have found out that it is a Chinese-inspired historical fantasy, which sounds incredible and unlike anything I have read before! I have seen so many emotional posts about it too, so safe to say I am ready to have my heart destroyed.

Circe by Madeline Miller

Lastly Circe! I am a Greek mythology fan thanks to Percy Jackson as I’m sure many of my fellow readers are. :’) I did get to take a Greek mythology class earlier this year which was super cool and I finally read some Homer. Still, I can’t help but remember Circe as the goddess who turns Percy into a guinea pig in The Sea of Monsters. So, that has definitely made me want to read this, along with the great things I’ve heard about Miller’s writing.

Have you read any of these books? (What are your non-spoilery thoughts?) Are you asking for any books this year?

Where I Get My Books

Hi Everyone! Today I am sharing all the places I get my books. One great thing about books is you usually have a lot of options to find what you want or even something new! Overall, I think it’s split 50/50 on buying and borrowing for the most part though I do love to have copies of books I love (to re-read/annotate) so sometimes I will buy a copy of a book after I’ve borrowed it. *cover photo was taken by myself ft. Musings of a Middle Child*

I made a Venn diagram to show all the places along with pros/cons and will be going more in-depth in this post.

Costco:

This is one of my favourite places to find new releases at a discounted price (usually around 50% off!). They often carry lots of new releases so this is where I go for the new Cassandra Clare or Rick Riordan books… Sometimes they even have special editions of books for Costco. They have great deals on box sets for popular series like Harry Potter and Twilight. A con would be that they only have a limited selection but this really is one of my favourite places to go especially for the books mentioned. (Except during a pandemic as I always feel as if I’m about to be run over by a shopping cart) If you ever lose me in Costco…you’ll know where to find me.

Used Bookstores,Thrift Stores, Library Sales

Some of the best places to find books for a steal! I would recommend going to one of these in the case that you’re looking for a popular book that’s a few years old. The cheapest books I’ve gotten are from the sale shelf at my library where they are around 25 cents each or at the thrift store on sale for 10. At the library, they usually are trying to get rid of books that are damaged but I’ve also found some in great condition (besides the library stamp and lamination). One of my favourite finds was a hardcover copy of Clockwork Princess (the family tree!). 

Indigo

Okay, yeah I love visiting the huge stores even if it is just to look at the books… They do usually have discounts from the list price online and sometimes in stores which is nice, but I usually won’t go on a crazy haul unless I have gift cards.

Independent Bookstores

I talk about a few in this post! I definitely am happy to have come across some new bookstores and plan to go/ order from them more! I also love to visit local bookstores when I am travelling as it feels extra special. 


Friends

I love borrowing from friends and loaning to friends too. It’s like your own little library system! However, I would only really do this with people I trust because there are definitely people who will never return or damage your books… I realize I will also hold onto books for forever before I read them, so I usually offer my friends to take them back if it’s been a while. Overall, if you have close friends you can switch with I would recommend this as it’s really sweet to share/ recommend your favourite books and be able to talk about them together! At first, I was listing no annotations as a con but if they’re okay with you leaving little notes or sticky tabs in their book this can be really fun. I lent my friend a book once and she left all her sticky sumo wrestler tabs in it (so cute). 

Library/Libby

I love the library! I can thank it for helping me grow into the avid reader I am today. A few years ago when I started buying more books I didn’t go as much but now I’ve kind of switched that around to borrow more books (& save money)! I mostly want to buy/ own books I love and will want to reread so the library is a great chance to read something I’m not sure if I’ll love. Libby is also great for ebooks to download on your phone or other devices. I usually prefer physical copies, but e-books are great for reading on the go. Cons are wait times because sometimes I’ll want to read a book asap and the wait time is 3 weeks+. Still, I love having the option to renew books so it’s a double-edged sword. Another con would be that you also need to be very careful to not damage any books. I still remember a time when I was little and I knocked a book my mom got into the bathtub… I also like to read while eating which has the potential to be disastrous… You can’t annotate, but I find I often use sticky tabs anyway while reading and then take note of the pages in case I get my own copy of the book.

And that’s all! Hope this was helpful if you’re looking to expand your shelves or time reading! What are your favourite places to get books?

Process Post #9: Why has my reading count gone down?

This week I put together a bar graph showing the number of books I have read during “My Reading Life” from 2014 to my current number for 2020. One conclusion was clear: my reading count has gone down over the years. Why is that? I certainly haven’t run out of books to read as my TBR is never-ending. But even I know I haven’t been as ambitious this year with my Goodreads 2020 Reading Challenge. In past years, I had it up to 40 books (seemingly reachable after 2014) but this year I completely cut it in half to 20. I think I did this in part because I knew it was attainable and it seemed appropriate for 2020 (little did I know…). In this post, I also reflect on habits that I can work on in order to find time to read amidst the chaos of life and university.

Recently, I read a peer review of my blog, written by Genevieve at Let’s Talk What I Watch, where she mentions that as a child she loved to read but as a university student with a ton of academic readings she does not get to as much anymore. As an English student, this is something I can relate to as I often have other books to read for class. In a way, these are helpful to my overall Goodreads challenge count, but they also take away from what I actually want to read. I also tend to like only reading one book at a time and give it my attention rather than reading multiple books and oftentimes not finishing all of them. To balance both, I find the best thing to do is just to stay caught up on the assigned chapters or sections of the one for school and continue the book I want to read on the side during any downtime. (Even though this sometimes does result in me procrastireading).

When I think back to 2014 (my highest read at 38) I was just starting high school and I remember a classmate remarking to me that I had a new book at my desk every week. I was reading the Heroes of Olympus series and had just read The Mortal Instruments series (both with 5+ books) so no doubt these helped add to my count. I think this was right before my family got a Netflix account so maybe that also had something to do with it… Overall in grade 8, I didn’t have a very heavy workload, and I hadn’t found my friend group yet so I filled my free time with reading. Flash forward to today, I often feel as if there are “too many books to read, too little time.”

Still, I’ve found that when I want to read a book really bad (like a new release) I can. This is usually because I will take the book wherever I go and read in any free time I get. This could be on the bus, after finishing an exam, on my lunch break, or waiting for an appointment. Books are the perfect thing to fill these moments because even if you only have 10 or 15 minutes, you can get a few pages read. Even now that I am not going out as much, I can still find these moments by taking short breaks throughout the day. I’ve found that when I don’t have a book with me, I go on my phone. Maybe I reply to a message or two – but otherwise it is usually aimlessly scrolling. (Having an e-book on your phone is also convenient for these situations! I recommend the library app – Libby) Limiting my screen time is something I want to try and do now especially with a complete online semester but so far it’s been a challenge. (Thanks TikTok) Instead of always going on my phone, I would like to turn it off earlier so I can spend more time reading before bed or have a laid-back morning with a book and breakfast. Despite having a busy schedule, these small pauses are so important and can be a great time to get lost in a book even if it is just for a moment.

reading on the bus

As I plan to include more book reviews on this blog, I am going to have to follow my own tips as so far this semester all I’ve finished are 3 required books. Even if it isn’t reading multiple books a month I’ve found these tips still help me to read something. In grade 12, my English teacher made us do a log for reading 10 pages a day and though I often didn’t stick to it, this kind of goal and consistency could be helpful to some people. Still, knowing myself, I am definitely a mood reader and as reading is something I enjoy, I definitely don’t want to force myself to do it. Sometimes I’m just in a slump or would rather do something else like read a fanfic (hey it’s still reading!) or binge-watch a show. Book challenges are also supposed to be fun and allow you to reflect on what you read for years to come!

I think whether it’s reading a book or watching a show, what’s important is to have something you can enjoy as an escape from day to day craziness, without feeling guilty.

*all photos are my own*

The 9 Books I’ve Read in Self-Isolation: March Reading Wrap Up

In the past couple weeks I’ve have been self-isolating, and in order to keep myself entertained I’ve been 100% keeping up to date with ALL of my school work! Oh wait, no, sorry. I have actually been keeping up to date with about 0% (maybe 1%?) of my school work. What I’ve actually been doing is reading a lot of books and watching some movies and binging some TV. However, today I’m going to be focusing on the books that I’ve read. Mainly because there are 9 (NINE!)

1.) I Hope You Get This Message by Farah Naz Rishi

This first book is actually one I read as part of a book club! It’s essentially a “soft sci-fi” which pretty much means it’s a contemporary book with some sci-fi elements mixed in. Following three teens on the journeys they each embark on after earth is contacted by aliens, telling everyone they have seven days until hey are put on trial. I enjoyed this book, but found myself disconnected from the characters due to the way that it was written. And the ending kind of feels like the author just stopped. That being said, I would actually recommend this to anyone looking for an “end of the world” type thing, especially seeing out current situation.

2,3,4.) Tales of the Shadowhunter Academy, Chain of Gold and Ghosts of the Shadow Market by Cassandra Clare and others

The reason I have lumped these all together is because they are all part of a much larger series of books known to many as The Shadow Hunter Chronicles. Cassandra Clare has three (going on 4/5 now) complete series, as well as three short story compilations that follow characters known as Shadowhunters — humans with angel blood who fight demons. The problem with the three books I’ve read this past month is that I can’t really recommend them to anyone who hasn’t already read her books, because they do contain spoilers for her other series! That being said, I really enjoyed all three books and if you’ve read Clare’s other books and liked them, I would definitely suggest checking them out. And if you haven’t read any of her books, check out either The Infernal Devices or The Mortal Instruments first.

5.) A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi

This is an extremely sweet as well as heart wrenching — but also warming — book. Following a young muslim girl who moves to a new town just one year after the 9/11 attacks. chronicling her year at a new school, the new people she meets, as well as the break dancing club she starts with. her brother. I really enjoyed this book, especially because I have never read anything with this subject matter. Being an own voices story, inspired by the author’s adolescence (break dancing and everything!)

6.) Almost Midnight by Rainbow Rowell

This book isn’t really a book, and is rather two (very) short stories compiled into two bindings. The first Midnights follows a girl who pines after her best friend and has to watch him kiss a different girl at midnight every single New Years Eve. And the second story, Kindred Spirits, follows a young girl who waits in line for the first movie in the new Star Wars sequel trilogy. And the trials and tribulations of sleeping outside a movie theatre for two days and with two people who don’t know — despite the fact that they share a love for Star Wars. Now I’m not a HUGE fan of extremely short stories like these, mainly because I’m an extremely character based reader. I love to get to know characters, and by the time I got to know these ones — the story was over. That being said I really enjoyed the second story, being a Star Wars fan myself. There were lots of cute little references mixed in that I was able to enjoy.

7.) In the Hall with the Knife by Diana Peterfreund

This next book I read was yet again for the book club i’m a part of! inspired by the board game Clue, this is a modernized murder mystery. Taking place in a fancy boarding school and following the few students who get trapped in one of the school buildings when there is a horrible storm. The only way I can describe this book is fun. It’s extremely easy to read and gets it’s point across easily. My only complaint is the different points of view that it’s told in throughout the story.

8.) All Your Twisted Secrets by Diana Urban

This is an audio book that I ended up listening to as I cleaned my room one day. I signed up for the Scribd free one month promotion, and chose a book I saw a few people talking about online. Putting a modern twist on Agatha Christie novels mixed with The Breakfast Club. X teens are invited to a scholarship dinner with the mayor, but he never shows. With the door slamming shut and trapping them in the room, stuck with a bomb, a syringe, and a note saying: they have an our to kill someone, or everyone dies. Although, unfortunately I just don’t think it was for me. I had trouble believing the overall “reveal” and like many of the other books I read this month — I didn’t love the way that it was written.

9.) If We Were Villains by M.L Rio

The last book I read this month is one I have been DYING to read. Following the 7 teens that make up the fourth years of a very prestigious Shakespearean theatre program. It goes back and forth between their 4th year and ten years in the future when one of the students is being released from jail, for murder. I really really enjoyed this one. It is so pretentious, but that’s something I really enjoy — so if you get annoyed at 21 year olds who quote Shakespeare in everyday conversations it’s not for you. I will also say that I started to read this one day, tried to stop, but then ended up staying up until 3am so I could read the whole thing. But if you don’t like Shakespeare, this is probably not for you.


So there we have it! the 9 books I read in March! I hope everyone is doing well and staying safe and healthy. If anything this is the best time for us to be turning to things like literature and film, as they help us escape the world outside.

The post The 9 Books I’ve Read in Self-Isolation: March Reading Wrap Up appeared first on [NOT SO] ELOQUENT EMMA .

Process Post 7 – Feedback

Peer reviews are daunting. Completing a review for someone else is difficult, especially when you’re not necessarily an expert on the content (blogging), or when you, yourself have a blog that will receive a review in return… in exchange for a grade. They are also challenging to read when you’re under scrutiny; will they like what I have to say? What will they think about my photos? Will the content of my writing be clear, offensive, engaging or just plainly boring? I feel this is one of the issues we face as bloggers (I’m calling myself a blogger now, apparently); personalizing a space to reflect yourself and your interests, then publishing it for the universe to troll, critique and destroy. Blogging is simple, but it is not easy. What you post, share or reveal is vulnerable to what others think, and what others think can be as destructive, like Cyberhate, which you can read about here,  as it is liberating, enjoyable and of course, democratic (see a variety of #Posiel posts debating this). I argue for.

For the latest review I received, I was delighted to attain significant positive feedback from Jill’s Book Blog, which you can access here, but also some constructive feedback that will greatly benefit ReRouted. In being transparent, of course I take delight in reading her humbling feedback, but I truly value her primary suggestion that images/photos within the posts would better serve the overall layout and theme of the blog, as well as make the reading more approachable and intriguing. With this in mind, the process in which I encountered this week was incorporating photos directly into the blog and process posts, which involved consideration of suitability for the post and aesthetics.

Because much of the photography on my blog is of myself, I wanted to balance the images with ones that are less personalized, but still reflective of the content and overall theme of my experience of change. I feel that my blog is very personal, so in seeking greater balance, I am enhancing relatability and hopefully broadening the appeal of my content by doing this. I have done a lot of thinking about how my writing is interpreted by others, but have neglected the idea for how images can or haven’t been doing the same. Brown University has a fascinating presentation on why people perceive text differently, which made me think, perhaps my text isn’t what I think, and if so, or even if it is, how do photos support either conclusion?

In consideration of images, I wanted to be cognizant of colour, size and focusing on finding relatively simple images that support the writing as opposed to detracting from it. Likewise, I wanted the images to be a part of the writing itself, so as the image itself can offer some greater context or meaning of the conversation. I want the image to be an anchor in the post that organically reveals some of the content. I feel this is important because for many readers, busy ones especially, as well as keyboard warriors on the prowl, photos provide a quick glimpse into what’s new, relevant and a part of my thoughts and life. I also took some of Jill’s advice in having the layout of images reflect that of the landing page; like an advent calendar, which is what I was kind of going for from the conception of this blog. Notorious blogger, Neil Patel has some great insights on selecting images which you can read here. Additionally, Shout Me Loud outlines several reasons why including images on your blog is valuable, which you can also see here.

There is still some general tidying-up that needs to be done to enhance upload speeds, function and layout. I have been working on paper to come up with something a bit more user-friendly and hope to make these changes soon. I’m hoping to implement some more major edits soon, as I would like the blog to be a little more polished. That said, Jill’s comments regarding her appreciation for the content and the theme or feel of the blog is reassuring that I’m on the right track… for some people at least. For others, they can go here for entertainment value.

I want to extend a kind thanks to Jill for providing such a positive and helpful review; I only hope that I offered her even half the same in return. As many people as blogs reach, the act of blogging can actually be quite lonely. You are trying to build a community, but the vacuum in which you do so is a cyclone within yourself and your own interests. Your reach is far in terms of potential, but you’re in isolation, behind a screen, sharing what it is that you find shareable. This in and of itself is intimidating – here you are, in front of the world, one in which can judge you without repercussion, offering your thoughts, feelings and fears. The blogosphere is yuge, but like the universe, there are many constellations and systems to discover, view and get lost in.

Peer Review – 2

I had the pleasure of peer reviewing Jill’s Book Blog, which you can find here. From the onset, this is an engaging site, as it explores accessible reading, an aspect of publishing that the majority of the population is somewhat unfamiliar. Jill’s Book Blog is completely transparent; the creator offers insights and perspectives on the development and design of a blog through an access aide. As Jill articulates here, there are certain challenges one faces when visually impaired, with design in particular being an understandable barrier. As I am not overly committed to reading books, especially during undergraduate where we do have a high quota of readings, I was, at first thought, somewhat uninterested in the content of this blog; however, in exploring the pages and being introduced to the works under review, an appreciation was established and is hopefully reflected in this review.  Here, I have divided my review by examining the content, design and overall impression.

I find book reviews challenging. To take a relatively long piece of writing and condense it into a concise and engaging review is difficult, so I feel that Jill’s Book Blog tackles an ambitious topic, especially for a weekly update. Likewise, in attempting to reach her goal of 96 books in 365 days, time is of the essence, and here, she does this well. I find the writing to be clear, effective and brief, and despite this, she negates jeopardizing the offering of a polished summary and well-written opinion about the book. There are some minor grammatical errors that are revealed through missing commas and dashes, as well as some repetition, but overall the posts are strong and any wordiness can be reflective of the vernacular a blog can sometimes evoke. I appreciate Jill’s sentiment that “I feel like I have become stuck in the formal, uninventive, dry essay/assignment writing and organizing we have to do in University, that I perhaps lost my creativity and imagination,” and understand how the concept of blogging for a course is refreshing. One post that I found highly entertaining was this interview with Batman.  Using a strong sense of humor, playful language and clear objective of interpreting a novel through Bruce Wayne’s understanding of crime, Jill effectively entices the reader to explore the content afforded throughout her blog. I would like to see this extended with more links to other reviews or related-sites.

I like the design of this blog; it is simple, clear, focused and easy to navigate. I can’t really relate to the challenges in creating and maintaining the design via an access aide, but I can certainly appreciate the effort that was made to vocalize the desired outcomes. I like the black border, which in most cases I do not, but here it reflects the pages of a book. I am also fond of the number of tags for each post, as for me, when creators attribute too many tags, the page starts to look cluttered. There are two things I would like to see considered for alteration. First, I think that Jill has two important tag-lines for her blog; “Adventures of Accessible Reading” and “96 Books in 365 Days;” however, the latter is difficult to locate, and for me, is one of the interesting aspects of the blog. I would prefer to see it alongside “Adventures of Accessible Reading.” Also, I am not entirely fond of the main image of the lagoon and book waterfall. I appreciate the creativity of the books being employed as an abundant fall, but the image is somewhat unclear and too low of quality. I am also less enthusiastic about the type of image; I feel that the natural wonder-like photo does not really reflect the types of books being reviewed. This is of course, personal preference, but for me, I would like to see something different.

Overall, I like this blog. I found it incredibly approachable and accessible (pardon the pun), and unlike some opinion-based blogs, I feel that I truly learned something, or became interested in learning more about accessible reading. In fact, I would value further links to other resources outside of just the book, not just about the book itself, but how accessible reading is made available. I don’t need to read more about accessibility on this blog, but resources that are vetted by someone with a visual impairment would be interesting. Likewise, more links in general would be intriguing; I would like to know who Jill agrees with, disagrees with or what other books the focal one could be related to. One could also link to where to find the book, which I like about this book blog found here.

Jill’s Book Blog is a well-developed and organized site that provides visitors with approachable and strong synopses of various books. With some minor edits and slight alterations to some design aspects, this blog is very appealing and worth revisiting – for 96 days.

The Wolf Road, by Beth Lewis: A Review

The Wolf Road by Beth Lewis Published by Crown Publishers, Penguin Random House Elka hasn’t had much luck in her life. Between the nightmare of the thunderheads that keep her awake at night, and the raging memories behind the locked doors in her memory, she can count the people she’s cared for on a single…