Book 44 of 2017: Moving Pictures

240px-Cover_Moving_Pictures.jpgI always bring a Partchett book with me when I’m traveling since I’ve started reading this series. They are always light hearted, jovial, and easy to read and Moving Pictures is no exception.

Moving Pictures starts off a new sub-series, The Industrial Revolution, which I have decided to put all my misgivings about the novel onto the world building side of the start of a new series. I did, however, enjoy the majority of the book. It is probably the longest thus far in the series, which is also a part were I found that it struggled as a book because it had more room to drag in the middle.

It follows a whole, very large, cast of characters, which may be another part of the problem with the novel the sheer number of characters, who are involved in the discovering of moving pictures and their creation. This discovery, of course, came about because something was wrong in Discworld and magic was behaving badly and giving people inspiration. This also makes the novel a bit weird because there really isn’t something that’s a bad until close to the end.

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Aside from the nice group of new characters that we get to see, many of our old favourites from the other books also made short appearances, one of my favourite elements of the series as a whole.

Also, there are talking dogs. A big winner in my book.

I rated this book a 8 out of 10. Although I really enjoyed reading the book the middle was a bit slow when you were waiting for things to happen and there were too many characters to keep track of at some points which made the action slow down a bit. Overall a very enjoyable book though. If you’re a fan of discworld you’ll be a fan of this novel too.

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Book 43 of 2017: Obasan

obasanThis was the pick by Vivian for the next book that we would read together. As you may recall in January I read Nineteen Eight-Four with Vivian and we both really enjoyed it. Back in May we chose Obasan but it took several months for us both to get copies so there we were at the end of July starting our books. In hindsight it may not have been the best time for us to choose to do a buddy read as we were both going away and I have yet to hear her thoughts on the novel, but I still thoroughly enjoyed reading it and look forward to our upcoming discussion.

Obasan is mostly a story about the Japanese internment in Canada post Perl Harbour during the Second World War. As this is not something, at least on the East Coast, that is talked about a lot I found it to be both an interesting and enlightening read. Obasan is also a story about family and how important those bonds are in times of strife.

For those of you who are unaware of my countries great shame, the Japanese interment was when the Canadian government, for the safety of it’s citizens, rounded up its citizens of Japanese decent, for the most part second and third generation Canadians, especially those who were living in Vancouver and moved them into work camps in the interior of British Columbia. The government also sold all their property and belongings and barred these citizens from moving back into Vancover until around ’49. You may note my use of the word citizen. I have chosen it, like to book, to highlight the true atrocity of this event.

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The novel follows an Albertan teacher named Naomi through the death of her Uncle and discovering of this dark path. She and her family were expelled from Vancouver when she was a child and the story of her upbringing is told in combination between memories, stories told to her by other relatives, and various documents that one of her Aunt’s sends her to try and help her learn this past that her Aunt believes to be of vital importance.

It is an incredibly sad and moving novel. I rated it a 5 out of 5. I think that it’s an important novel for every Canadian to read, but would also recommend anyone who is looking for a strong narrative and good writing.

Book 42 of 2017: The Midwich Cuckoos

d69103987aef6e7dd9a582a4bd7487fa.jpgFinally, Booksandquills announced the July books for the End of the World Book Club about a month ago and I was supppper excited because all of the books for the book club have been so excellent so far. The first book for the month was The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham and it was absolutely delightful and lived up to all my high expectations. The second book was The Fallen Children by David Owen and I’ll tell you what I thought about it in a review soon.

Unlike the other books in the End of the World Book Club I found that this one didn’t have the same apocalyptic feel to me, but it was a bit dark and definitely sf.  It follows the town, Midwich, for an event dubbed the Day Out and the resulting mysterious pregnancies and their outcomes. Not hooked yet? You will be by the first sentence.

The novel delves deep into social issues and what it means to be human. It also has some fun cold war feels. It displays an interesting view of a government’s reaction to science and how they can take responcibility for their population.

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It has great characters and character development. Despite dragging a bit in the middle, it was a wholly enjoyable novel. I will say, however, that although it does have shorter chapters than some books that I have read it is not really a book that is easy to pick up and put down, but would probably be better suited to reading in longer sections.

I rated this book a 9 out of 10. I really enjoyed reading it and it was an easy book to read. It didn’t fight you, but instead drew you in with ever changing circumstances and lines of thinking. A highly enjoyable book, and one that I’m glad was chosen for this book club.

Book 41 of 2017: Paper Girls Vol. 1

PaperGirls_Vol01-1.pngThis was such a delight to read. Right now I’m finding it hard to describe how it felt to read this book. I’m counting it as my second graphic novel, though technically it may be my third. Back in my teens (which I say it like it was long ago, though at the point that I’m thinking about was about a decade away) when I was in love with Eion Colfer and the Artemis Fowl series (anyone want to do a reread with me??) I got the graphic novel of the first book one year for Christmas. I loved it. I thought it added so much more dimension to the story and I thought the art was fantastic.

You may be thinking about the fact that I recently read the first volume of the Explorers Guild, which would be true. However, I’m still unsure about how to classify it so I’m not counting it into my graphic novel count.

So here we are, at graphic novel number two.

This is a collection of 6 comic published in a full volume. I can say that I don’t think I could have read it as individual comics because that would have been way to stressful and I wouldn’t have been able to wait with such weighty cliffhangers.

If you’re looking for a nice story that’s not super weird, this may not be the book for you. It may be close to the strangest scifi experience I’ve ever had. But strange in the best way imaginable.

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The cast is funky and well balanced. There is time travel, dinosaurs, and weird future tech. There is also a healthy dose of feminism.

The only problem with it was that it went by so fast. I read this in about an hour. The pictures help the plot move but it also makes it super quick to get through. I rated it a 9 out of 10. It was a super fun read and perfect for vacation.

Book 40 of 2017: A Dance With Dragons

51oe-hbvKTL._SX301_BO1,204,203,200_A Dance With Dragons is the fifth and penultimate book in George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. It is a 1000+ page monster and took me about a month to read (especially because I took a long break from it to read three other books).

I have often struggled with Martin as an author. When the television series was first coming out I was working at Chapters who classifies this series as fantasy. At the time I was 18 and I was told several things about the series from customers and one of my coworkers: that I was to young to read it and that it’s a series that could be skipped because the writing is only so/so and there are better fantasy novels, respectively. I was a bit surprised by both these assertions and have come to the conclusion that one was correct, I could have skipped it.  That being said I did really enjoy the first two novels, A Game of Thrones and A Clash of King’s, and read quickly in quick succession. The third book, A Storm of Swords, fell into that common hole that all third books struggle in (unless it’s a trilogy). The fourth, A Feast of Crows, because of it’s different narration, was lovely. The fifth, however, is another story.

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I don’t know if it was because the fourth and fifth instalments were supposed to be only one book or not but the whole novel felt stale. There were several scenes that we had seen before and the new perceptive didn’t help them. Characters that I had before loved became laborious and boring.

All of the narrators were lonely and angsty. Most of them only had short appearences which didn’t give you enough information about them so you’re just left with questions. The whole novel is so discombobulated.

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I feel like Martin made a big mistake when he split the fourth and fifth book the way he did. This would have worked SO much better if it had all just gone in chronological order because with the way it is we’re left with one book that was a lot of fun to read and felt like it was going places and another that just makes you wonder why he even bothered taking 10 years to write it.

I didn’t really like this book. It made me mark this series as a pass. Will I read The Winds of Winter when it comes out? Probably. Will it ever be published? I’m starting to doubt it.

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I rated this book a 5 out of 10. It’s nothing special and it’s really long for the amount that happens. It was all a bit of a disappointment. If you haven’t read this novel yet but liked the others in the series I don’t think what I’ve said will stop you, but if you’re thinking of picking the series up just put it back because it’s definitely worth it to skip the books and just go with the show.

Book 39 of 2017: Never Let Me Go

9781400078776This has been one of my favourite films for a long time. When I first watched it I didn’t know it was based on a book, but loved the aesthetics. When I found out it was a book I went out and bought it. Now four years later I have actually read it.

I always find it harder not to talk about the film when I watched it before I read the book. There are a lot of similarities and differences between the two, and they both offer a different view on the situation. I can’t say that I like one more than the other, just that they are indeed different.

The story follows a group of children as they grow up who live in a boarding school together. This part of the story sounds rather normal, but they are not normal children despite this relatively normal life. They are being raised for organ donation. The story is narrated by the now adult Kathy as she reflects on her life before she begins her donations.

This is a topic that has come up in other books and films in different ways. Although the ethics of forced organ donation does play a large part in the novel, I wouldn’t call it the focus which sets it apart from the others. It does raise questions about whether or not they have souls and what art is and means.

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One thing that differs from the books and the film is the focus on love. In the novel there isn’t the same pressure put on the characters to be in love and the relationships don’t develop until later. Ruth also isn’t quite as petty as she is portrayed by Keira Knightly.

Overall I really enjoyed reading this book. I found that it did lag a bit in the middle but otherwise it had good pacing. The writing is good and engaging. I rated it a 8 out of 10 originally on goodreads but have since edited it after reflecting on my feelings about the novel some more to a five out of five. It’s a really neat sf book and I would highly recommend it.

Book 38 of 2017: So Sad Today

25904473I was really apprehensive about this book going into it. It is a collection of personal essays by Melissa Broder based on her life experiences. In it she covers a wide range of topics from her struggles with depression and anxiety to sexuality and her vomit fetish.

All the essays are highly relatable and written in a witty fashion, even when covering tougher topics like eating disorders. These essays seem much more personal than others that I have read recently, like Notes By A Feminist Killjoy. They are deeply revealing  and allow the reader to feel as though they know the author like they would know their best friend.

My personal favourite was “Help Me Not Be A Human Being.” In this section she talks about love and relationship and lists titles for love stories that will make you laugh and remind you of your own past relationships. It was the most fun essay to read.

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I rated this book a 5 out of 10. It wasn’t really my cup of tea and not something that I’ll probably read again, but it wasn’t unenjoyable. I always find it hard to write about books that I’ve read for bookclub before I’ve actually gone because sometimes our discussions can change my mind a little bit. This again being a book that wasn’t my choice and not something that I would have picked up myself sometimes makes me worry that I’m a little biased in my opinions, but that’s where we are.

Book 37 of 2017: Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures

bloodletting199278Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures is a collection of connected short stories by Dr. Vincent Lam. It follows four main characters Ming, Fitz, Sri and Chen through pre-med, med school, and their practice. All four, like Dr. Lam, end up being emergency doctors. This book offers a unique perspective on medicine and those who practice it. It also deals with a lot of social issues such as family expectation and general family relationship, alcoholism, cheating, and sexual abuse amongst other topics.

I think that this novel best captures what it is like to live through an epidemic. The last few stories take place during the SARS epidemic of 2002 and were my favourites. They both encapsulated the fear that the medical profession has about working during such outbreaks, while at the same time finding them interesting. it also showed very well how it is often the people who work in medical fields are the population that is most acutely affected by epidemic incidents. I found this part particularly interesting after having read Station Eleven so recently which portrays a more serious epidemic from outside the hospital.

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Dr. Lam does an excellent job at uniting medicine with good story telling and strong characters. Unlike other books or television series about doctors, the characters in this book are mostly normal. They are deeply flawed and highly intelligent, but not so arrogant as doctors are sometimes portrayed.

I rated this book a 10 out of 10. I really enjoyed the complexity of the stories and how they were connected but also stood alone. I wish that we had seen more of Sri who was pushed more to the side in the drama involving Ming, but no book is perfect. I highly recommend this novel to anyone who is looking for a nice quick read.

 

June Book Haul 2017

In June I did end up buying more books than I had anticipated. I ended up buying 6 books. I am pretty happy with my purchases though, so I have few regrets. It was, however, another month where I bought the same amount of books as I read which isn’t really helping me bring down my TBR any.

 

At the beginning of the month I went to chapters and bought two books:

  • Disappearing Moon Cafe by Sky Lee was a book that I had had my eye on for some time. I had a dream about it the night before I went to the bookstore and decided to pick it up because it was clearly destiny.
  • A Court of Thrones and Roses by Sarah J. Maas was a book that I had heard a lot of hype around. I had picked it up a few times before but never decided to take it home until one of my good book friend Sarah gave it a good review and I talked to her about it. I have been burned by hype sooooo many times before that I really wanted to be sure that I wanted to read it before I picked it up.

I almost bought the hardcover 20th anniversary Ravenclaw edition of The Philosopher’s Stone by J.K Rowling that day too but I couldn’t justify it at the time because I already have a copy and the next copy I wanted to buy was the illustrated edition. But I did end up getting in on Amazon a few days later. The book that I bought in that mini-haul were

  • The Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling 20th anniversary Ravenclaw edition because how could any good Ravenclaw pass that up?
  • Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon. I had just finished reading Voyager and thought that I really wanted to read the next book right away. I did start it at the end of July but I have yet to finish it.
  • So Sad Today by Melissa Broder, the bookclub pick for the month of July
  • Obasan by Joy Kogawa, a book that I wouldn’t soon be reading with my friend Vivian

All in all a good haul. I’m pretty stoked to get reading these books. Two of them are Canlit which I think is really great because I’m trying to get more Canlit in my life.

June 2017

June has by far been my most productive month. I ended up reading a total of 6 books and 3496 pages, which is kind of amazing and a number that I don’t think I’ll be able to top page wise. I really enjoyed most of the books I read this month so this should be a pretty great update.

20348453I started out the month by reading The Green Mill Murder by Kerry Greenwood. This is the fifth book in the Phryne Fisher series and I really enjoyed reading it.

This book was a lot different then the other books in the series. Like the others it still covered two mysteries that were connected, but the connection between them wasn’t as strong as they were in other novels in the series. It kind of felt like you were reading two books. In fact, halfway through the novel I thought it was two books before I realised that it was all one. This book was also a lot more sad than the others in the series and Phryne did not pick up any more strays.

All in all a good read. I rated it a 7 out of 10. I recently ordered the next book in the series so I’ll hopefully get to it soon!

18143977Next I read All the Light We Cannot see by Anthony Doerr. This was kind of a 360 from a Phryne Fisher novel because it was about 5 times the length, had a completely different structure, and although both are historical fiction pieces they cover vastly different histories.

All the Light We Cannot see is set in France before and during the Nazi occupation. It follows two characters Marie-Laure, a blind French girl whose father works in a museum in Paris, and a German boy who likes electronics and radios name Werner.

This book is incredibly touching and really shows what the human spirit is. It also talks a lot about how Germans felt about the war which I found really interesting.

I rated this book a 9 out of 10. I really loved reading it and I think it will be a favourite of the year.

pandp-modern-library-ed1w200After that I read the bookclub pick for June, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. It is not secret that I am not an Austen fan by this point and I didn’t overly enjoy this book.

This novel follows the Bennet family who are a middle class British family. There are three main sisters that it focuses on, Elizabeth, Jane, and Lydia, as they forage forward trying to find suitable gentlemen for marriage. Needless to say that nothing works out how anyone plans and the story is really all about why you shouldn’t judge people off their first impressions. My favourite character was Mr. Bennet because he did not have time for any of these shenanigans, the same way I didn’t.

I rated this book a 5 out of 10. I didn’t really find it that enjoyable to read and I didn’t like the characters or a plot so it was a bit of a flop for me. I know a lot of people really love this book but I just don’t see the appeal.

Gabaldon-Voyager-220x332Then I read Voyager by Diana Gabaldon, the third book in the Outlander series. I was a little hesitant going into this book because although I loved the first book, Outlander, I was underwhelmed by Dragonfly in Amber and I really didn’t know what to think going in to this book. One of my friends, Gillian, really wanted me to read it so she could talk to me about it so I did and I wasn’t disappointed.

I really enjoyed the fact that there was a sea voyage and the new world. I think that the expansion and adventure of Claire’s world was necessary for the plot. I also really enjoyed the parts of the book that were taking place in the present this time and was really missing Brianna by the end of the novel.

I rated this book an 8 out of 10. I thought it was super fun and despite its size I read it quite quickly. If you’re an Outlander fan I would definitely recommend picking up this book.

BeautifulCreaturesNext I read my first Young Adult novel in a while, Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl.

I thought that this was a really fun novel. I really loved the movies and had watched it multiple times before reading the book so there wasn’t too many surprised in it, but there were a lot of differences between the two that made the book a joy to read.

I rated this book a 6 out of 10. Though I thought it was fun there were some problematic parts of the novel and the writing wasn’t really the best. That being said I am really looking forward to reading the next novel in the Caster Chronicles, Beautiful Darkness, and will probably buy it shortly.

the-explorers-guild-9781476727400_hrFinally, I read A Passage to Shambhala by Jon Baird, Kevin Costner, and illustrated by Rick Ross. This was a book that I picked up because of its cover. It is an absolutely gorgeous book. It is part regular novel and part graphic novel, as well, so it was a very interesting read and quite quick.

It follows a secret society called The Explorers Guild during the First World War. There are lots of adventures and some nice twists and turns during the plot. What I really loved about the novel is that there wasn’t really a good-guy or a bad-guy but instead a lot of grey characters which gives it a fun feel because they are constantly questioning what is the moral thing to do instead of just having it thrust upon them.

I rated this novel  7 out of 10. It does say that it is the first volume so I’m really hoping that a second one actually appears because it was a really fun book. However, it might get turned into a television series which would be equally as fun.

So that was my June! What a month. You may have noticed that I did not get around to reading this month’s goal book The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan. This was one of the books that I was going to borrow from my father but I didn’t end up getting it until the beginning of August so its review is yet to come. Check out my youtube video before for more of my thoughts!