2014 has been quite a year for me here on the blog. Not only did I post consistently all year long, but I read more than a book a week on average, re-did the look of my blog (twice) and added a couple of features (The Sunday Review and Book Thoughts On Thursday).

Book blogging has become so much more to me over the past year and a half than I ever expected. Through it I've redefined my relationship with books, lit a spark that has replenished my enthusiasm for reading and, most importantly, had the chance to engage with like-minded people about what we love (or don't) about the books we're reading.

It's a community, and one that I am thankful to be part of every day.

So, to wrap up what has been a truly stellar year for me, I'm going to look back over the bookish moments that made 2014 for me. I'm basing this year-end review on the link-up hosted by Jamie at The Perpetual Page-Turner (go check it out and link-up yourself - it's a lot of fun and she has a giveaway!), but with a few of my own questions added, a few small tweaks and a couple of skips. So here we go, let's check out my 2014, shall we?

Number of books read: 64
Number of pages read: 19,809 (this is just books finished, not DNF or partially-read)
Genre I read the most from: Literary Fiction

1. Top books you read in 2014 (in no particular order because I couldn't decide on one): 
2. Book you were excited about but ultimately found disappointing: This one is a tie between These Broken Stars and The Vacationers.I had heard such good things, so much hype, and with both of these books I got to the and and just sat there thinking, "That's it?" and "Well, that was underwhelming."

3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read in 2014? Station Eleven. I went into this without any expectations, really, just a fair measure of curiosity. And then my socks were blown clear across the room.

4. Book you “pushed” the most people to read (and they did) in 2014? There are some pending reads - books I've recommended and that I know people are planning to read, but I think in 2014, this would go to Station Eleven, which I got at least two people to read.

5. Best series you started in 2014? Best sequel of 2014? Best series ender of 2014? This entire series:

6. Favorite new author I discovered in 2014? I absolutely cannot pick just one. I can maaaaaybe get it down to three, if pressed. The first is Rita Leganski. Her book The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow was brilliant, and I can't wait to read her next book (plus she's super nice on Twitter)! Station Eleven was a wonderful surprise, so Emily St. John Mandel must be on the list (plus: Canadian!). And Newjack by Ted Conover was one of the most thought-provoking books I've read in a long time. Possibly years.

7. Best book from a genre I don’t typically read/was out of my comfort zone? The Martian by Andy Weir. I'm not normally into space travel or sci-fi in general, but this book was excellent.

8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year? Again, probably the Razorland books by Ann Aguirre. Particularly Horde.Though The Martian was pretty pulse-pounding too!

9. Book you read in 2014 that you are most likely to re-read next year? I honestly can't see myself re-reading any of the books I read this year in the upcoming year. In the future at some point, sure, but not next year.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2014?

11. Most memorable character of 2014? Hmmm. I think the most memorable were actually real people - Helene Hanff from Q's Legacy and Lena Dunham from Not That Kind of Girl. Though if I had to pick a fictional one, it'd probably be Mark from The Martian.

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2014? I was lucky this year. I read many beautifully-written books. But there are three that stand out as having taken my breath away: The Opposite of Loneliness, The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow and Station Eleven.

13. Most thought-provoking/ life-changing book of 2014? Probably The Opposite of Loneliness - both for its content, and for the untimely death of its author. I couldn't help but dwell on not only how unfair dying so young is, but on a selfish level, what we readers lost. This young woman was immensely talented, and, grateful as I am for this book, I will always feel just a little bit cheated because I'll never get to read her first novel.

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2014 to finally read? Gone Girl. It's been on my list for ages, and there was so much hype! (Thanks to Martha for sending it to me!)

15. Favorite passage/quote from a book you read in 2014? 
Once, when I was old enough to ponder these things and young enough to think there might be credible answers, I whispered to Dad during Rosh Hashanah services, "Do you believe in God?"
"Not really," he said. "No."
"Then why do we come here?"
He sucked thoughtfully on his Tums tablet and put his arm around me, draping me under his musty woolen prayer shawl, and then shrugged. "I've been wrong before," he said. And that pretty much summed up what theology there was to find in the Foxman home.
Jonathan Tropper, This Is Where I Leave You

16. Shortest & longest books read? Shortest was The Library of Unrequited Love and the longest was The Diviners. Strangely enough, these both happened to be among my least favourite reads of the year. Unrelated.

17. Book that shocked you the most (because of a plot twist, character death, left you hanging with your mouth wide open, etc.): Gone Girl. Definitely. And I can't say another word for fear of giving something away!

18. OTP* of the year (you will go down with this ship!)? Well, I'm not that big on romantic entanglements, though I'll root for a couple as I'm reading a book if I like them both. But once in a while one will get under my skin. This happens more often in a TV show or movie than a book, so my first pick shouldn't come as a surprise: Veronica Mars and Logan Echolls from the first Veronica Mars book, The Thousand Dollar Tan Line. Obviously a ship that first sailed in the TV show. At this moment, to be precise:


My other pick was one that just couldn't be denied: Tiny Cooper and the second Will Grayson from Will Grayson, Will Grayson.

*OTP = one true pairing if you aren’t familiar

19. Favorite non-romantic relationship of the year: It's a bit of a cheat because it's a re-read, but it's got to go to Helene Hanff and Frank Doel, a real-life pair who "met" when Helene, a New Yorker, started ordering books across the Atlantic from Frank's bookstore in London. They feature in Helene's collection of letters, 84, Charing Cross Road and in her memoir Q's Legacy (which was new to me this year, so I guess it's not a total cheat).

20. Favorite book you read in 2014 by an author you've read previously: I didn't read much along these lines this year, but I did finally finish The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith (aka J.K. Rowling) which I thoroughly enjoyed. Was it perfect? No. But for Rowling's first foray into a new genre, it was pretty darn good. I'll definitely be reading The Silkworm - and any other Cormoran Strike novels that come along!

21. Best book you read in 2014 that you read based SOLELY on a recommendation: Newjack by Ted Conover. I mean, there were a bunch of books I read mainly because I'd heard good things about them, but they were already on my radar. This one, I hadn't even heard of. But I'm really glad I gave it a try - I discovered both a new favourite book, and a new favourite author.

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2014? This one, I'm skipping. I don't really do fictional crushes.

23. Best 2014 debut you read? Hmmm. I'd have to give this one to two books: The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow and The Opposite of Loneliness.

24. Best worldbuilding/most vivid setting you read this year? This one goes to Station Eleven, hands down. What made this book was the details she imbued her setting with. They made the post-apocalyptic setting imaginable in a way that was both horrifying and beautiful.

25. Book that put a smile on your face or was the most FUN to read? Oh, any good book will put a smile on my face, even if it's a sad story. I'm vaguely sociopathic that way. But if pressed to choose one, I'd say The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry. That book was whimsical and a breath of fresh air.

26. Book that made you cry or nearly cry in 2014? Both The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry and The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow had this effect on me, though Bonaventure probably cut me slightly deeper. You know, in a good way.

27. Hidden gem of the year? I can't even remember where I heard about it, but The Uncommon Reader was just brilliant. It's a tiny book, easily read in a sitting, but one I'd heartily recommend to any booklover.

28. Book that crushed your soul? The Opposite of Loneliness, not so much because of the content, but, as mentioned in #13, because of the context.

29. Most unique book you read in 2014? The Strange Library was definitely unique. (Though I have to complain about the term "most unique" since unique is absolute and doesn't have degrees... but there goes the grammar nazi in me again....)

30. Book that made you the most mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)? Oh gawd. Shatter Me. THAT BOOK. I very nearly threw it out of the window as I struggled to make it through the first 2/3 or so. It did get a bit better, though, so there's that. These Broken Stars on the other hand... inconsistent plot and worldbuilding, annoying characters, less than convincing premise and the sense that the two authors wanted to write entirely different books but mish-mashed their ideas together anyway. Definitely not for me.

1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2014? Trisha from eclectic/eccentric commented on my blog, which led me to hers - and I'm so glad! I love her reviews, am in awe of how many books she gets through (and I like how varied they are), and really enjoy her comments when she visits me. I can't remember if I discovered Karen's blog One More Page in 2014 or 2013, but I feel like it deserves a mention, because not only is it one of my favourite bookish online spaces, but Karen herself has become a great bookish friend. I'd highly recommend checking out both of these ladies' blogs if you haven't yet!

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2014? Hmmm. I don't really know - I wrote a lot this year. Possibly  Will Grayson, Will Grayson just because I had fun writing it.

3. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog? I started a new feature, Book Thoughts on Thursday, so I've been pretty happy about sharing some bookish thoughts. Check out the very first BToT here.

4. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)? Oh, the Vancouver Book Fair that I went to in October with my friend Jaime, for sure. I don't go to that many bookish events, but I'm really glad I made it to this one!

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2014? You know what? I don't have one big moment. The year was full of lots of little ones - relationships forged, frienships made and books discovered. These all added up to one of the best years I've had in my reading life so far. For that I'd like to thank each and every one of you - you've all played a part with your comments, posts, Tweets, reviews and recommendations. I love you all!

7. Most popular post this year on your blog (whether it be by comments or views)? The post on popular authors I've never read got quite a few comments, as did the one on YA books for adults new to the genre. My list of favourite books of 2014 so far also got a fair number of views!

8. Post you wished got a little more love? Probably any of my discussion posts - not because I feel that they were particularly well-written, but because comments lead to discussion. And I like talking about books! If I had to pick one, though, I'd probably go with my post about diverse books, because I think it's an important topic and I also feel like I need to make more conscious effort to read diversely.

9. Best bookish discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc.)? Book Outlet. Though it was also the worst.

10.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year? I did, you can check them out in the sidebar of my blog ==>. I did pretty well at the TBR Pile Challenge - I managed to read 44 books that met the criteria of having been published in 2013 or earlier. I also managed to meet my Goodreads goal of 64 books (barely!). And, though I didn't *quite* manage a full board, I did get a few rows in both the original and YA Book Bingo Challenges. I also managed 23/26 of the A-Z 2014 Reading Challenge. I didn't complete the Official 2014 TBR Pile Challenge, only completing 5/10 of my chosen books. This wasn't much of a surprise since I'm a big mood reader and committing to 10 books in advance, even with 2 alternates, really doesn't work for me. Overall, I'd say I did pretty well, but I think I can do even better in 2015!

1. Favourite book-to-movie adaptation of the year: There were some really great movies that came out this year. The new installments from The Hunger Games and The Hobbit, The Fault In Our Stars and Gone Girl were among the most-hyped. But I'm going to say that my favourite was This Is Where I Leave You. I thought it was excellently cast, they did a great job with the screenplay, and I loved some of the small humorous touches they added (like the kid with the potty). If you haven't seen it, I'd highly recommend it.

2. Best books about books and reading: This is a genre (is it a genre? Or a category?) that I absolutely love. My top picks this year were Q's Legacy and The Uncommon Reader, which were both amazing. I also really enjoyed Ex Libris by Anne Fadiman (review to follow).

3. Best YA book of the year: Will Grayson, Will Grayson. I loved the characters in this book, and it's one example of two writers writing alternating characters that worked out brilliantly.

4. Best book-reading tea: I've become a huge fan of Harney & Sons teas over the past year. Their blends are pretty much the best around and they come in funky tins. Vanilla Comoro is my all-time fave.

5. Favourite notebook for jotting down thoughts and quotes: I'm now a dedicated Moleskiner. I've got a regular journal, a pocket journal and a book journal by them, and the paper is the best.

6. Favourite note-taking pen: I know it's a bit old-fashioned, but I love writing with a fountain pen. There's just nothing like it. Writing in a Moleskine with a fountain pen... well, now, that's pretty much journalling heaven.

1. One book you didn't get to in 2014 but will be top priority in 2015? I did a whole post on this topic here, but I think top of the list are The Night Circus and All the Light We Cannot See.

2. Book you are most anticipating for 2015 (non-debut)? I heard something about a new John Green book, so if that's true I'll definitely be picking it up hot off the presses...

[skipping 3 and 4 because this has been a long survey and I want to eat dinner]

5. One thing you hope to accomplish or do in your reading/blogging life in 2015? As I said in my last Top Ten Tuesday post, I'm not much for resolutions and lofty goal-setting. But I guess I hope to come up with some good ideas for posts, I hope to continue posting consistently, and I want to meet or beat my reading goal. I also want to keep up writing at least a little bit every day.

6. A 2015 release you've already read & recommend to everyone: I haven't read any in their entirety yet, but I started The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins last night (out on January 6th) and though it's quite dark, it's really well-written. I'm looking forward to seeing how it ends!

That's officially it for 2014, so I hope you're all celebrating with loved ones and looking forward to 2015 as much as I am!


It's time for this week's WWW Wednesdays, hosted by Should Be Reading blog (head over and check them out!).

This link up asks three questions
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What are you currently reading?
  • What do you think you'll be reading next? 
Here are my WWW answers!

What did I recently finish reading?


I had a good reading week! I not only managed to finish three books (one of which was a pretty long one), but in doing so, I just squeeked in under the wire to complete my yearly Goodreads goal! 64 books!

What am I currently reading?


I just started The Girl On the Train, which is very well written, if a bit on the dark side. I'm not very far into it yet, so I'm interested to see which direction the plot takes.

What do I think I'll be reading next? 


I'm looking forward to starting in on 2015 reading. I'm not entirely sure what I'll be reading first, but I know this'll be in the mix somewhere!

What about you guys? Read any good books over the holidays? Got any new ones on the TBR pile you can't wait to get to? Share in the comments!



I just came across this fun set of bookish questions on my friend Katrin's blog (though I think it originally came from This Girl Reads A Lot) and I just had to post my own answers!

1. Rather read only a series or stand-alone books?
I rarely read series, and when I do, I often get frustrated with how much time I have to spend to find out what happens. There are exceptions to this (notably Harry Potter, of course, and detective series, though they tend to be nearly stand-alone except featuring a character from a previous book, so I don't know if they really count), but in general I like to dive into a world, and finish it one book later. So, if pressed, I'd choose stand-alone books.

2. Rather read a book whose main character is male or female?
I don't really have a preference - it's more about the individual. I like a protagonist who's honest and has a good sense of humour. Gender really makes no difference to me!

3. Rather only shop at Barnes and Noble (or other bookstore) or Amazon?
I suppose this question is getting at whether we shop online or patronize community bookstores. Though nothing beats hanging out in a real live bookstore, I do almost all of my book shopping online. Occasionally from Amazon, but usually from Book Outlet, AbeBooks, Chapters and Book Depository (wherever the books I'm looking for are cheapest). I'm all about more books for my buck! I particularly like using Book Finder because it allows me to compare prices at several online retailers in one fell swoop. It doesn't have Chapters, so I'll usually check there before purchasing, but it's so much easier than having to check four or five online retailers individually.

4. Rather all books become movies or TV shows?
Hmmm. This is a tough one. It very much depends on the quality of the production. Of course there are some books that lend themselves more easily to a movie, and others that have series potential. But assuming a well-done adaptation and decent production value, I'd probably go for TV show because I can always stop watching if it sucks, but if it doesn't... well, then I can keep watching indefinitely, and I'm always looking for some good TV to watch!

5. Rather read five pages per day or five books per week?
I don't think you'll find many of us bookish folks opting for five pages per day. That's... nothing. I'd have trouble fitting five books into my weekly schedule at the moment, but assuming I could magically find the time, I'd love to get that much reading done!

6. Rather be a professional book reviewer or author?
While I'd love to say author, I honestly don't think I've got the talent or discipline for it. Reviewing, however, would be wonderful. I'd be able to spend my working hours reading books, which is basically a dream come true. I mean, I read and review books in my spare time around a full time job - that's how much I love doing it. So to make it my work? No brainer. Sold.

7. Rather only read 20 of the same books over and over or get to read a new book every six months?
I'm not sure what this means... does it mean I'd only get to read two books a year? If so, then that really sucks. But to only get to read the same 20 books forever? Well, that's not okay, is it? I really don't think I'm okay with either of these options, though if I was allowed to keep all the new books and re-read them, then I'd take the two a year, because at least after a few years I'd have some books to re-read in between new ones!

8. Rather be a librarian or own a bookstore?
Oh man, either one of these would be wonderful! But if I have to pick.... bookstore. I've always fantasized about this. I'd love to spend my time between customers reading behind the counter, to help people who come in find new books to love, and it would be great to be able to buy as many new books as I wanted, live with them for a while, but ultimately let them find new homes. I'd also enjoy making my store unique - I'd have book club meetings, social media, mystery books (as in books wrapped in plain packaging featuring a short description so you'd buy it not knowing what it was - like a present every time you go to the bookstore!), a bar and Harry Potter slumber parties. Karen and I have it all planned out. It would be wonderful.

9. Rather only read your favorite genre or your favorite author?
Genre. Definitely. I mean, I'd still get to read books by my favourite authors that way, but I wouldn't be as restricted.

10. Rather only read physical books or eBooks?

Physical books, because I absolutely love the act of holding a book and flipping pages. I'd have a hard time when I was out and about (I've got a bad back, so e-books mean I can carry a light e-reader or load them on my phone, which saves me a world of hurt), but I'd deal with that somehow!

Alright, that's it for me - but I'd love to read your answers! If you write a post (or if you've already joined in on this tag), share the link in the comments!



This week's Top Ten Tuesday on The Broke and the Bookish is: Top Ten Goals/Resolutions for 2015. I don't really do resolutions. I feel like the big ones that are kind of dicey are setting me up to fail, and creating smaller ones for the sake of reachable goals is kind of silly. So instead, this being Backlist Books, I'm going to list books I didn't get to reading this year that are top of my TBR list for the upcoming year. But in case you really want me to resolve to something, I will be signing up for the Goodreads challenge again, and probably aiming to read somewhere around 65 books in 2015. I'll also be checking out any other reading challenges around and about and joining in any that tickle my fancy! Here's my backlist TBR for 2015:

The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Where'd You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple

There are oh, so many  more, but looking around at my shelves, these are the ones I feel pretty chagrined not to have read yet. Now over to you - which books are you planning to read in 2015? And if you're the resolving type, what are you resolving for the upcoming year, book-related or otherwise?



Acclaimed journalist Ted Conover sets a new standard for bold, in-depth reporting in this first-hand account of life inside the penal system.

When Conover’s request to shadow a recruit at the New York State Corrections Officer Academy was denied, he decided to apply for a job as a prison officer. So begins his odyssey at Sing Sing, once a model prison but now the state’s most troubled maximum-security facility. The result of his year there is this remarkable look at one of America’s most dangerous prisons, where drugs, gang wars, and sex are rampant, and where the line between violator and violated is often unclear. As sobering as it is suspenseful, Newjack is an indispensable contribution to the urgent debate about our country’s criminal justice system, and a consistently fascinating read.
- Goodreads


I came across this book by luck. A new friend was chatting with me about books, and mentioned having read Orange Is the New Black for her book club, and having some issues with it. She said that after reading it, she'd watched an interview between the author of that book, Piper Kerman, and Ted Conover. The interview, she said, was intelligent and insightful - and Conover's comments really drew out some of the important issues in the discussion about America's penal system.

She lent me Conover's book after this conversation, so that I might see for myself. 

The book is an account of Conover's training and first year working as a corrections officer at one of the USA's most notorious prisons - Sing Sing. Originally, Conover wanted to write an article on the process of becoming a guard, in the interest of which he requested permission to shadow a prospective CO throughout their training. Flat-out denied access, Conover took the next logical step - he became one himself. 
As soon as I started reading, I knew this was going to be my kind of book. Conover's journalistic background is immediately apparent in both his impeccable research and engaging tone. His work also bears a striking similarity to ethnographic accounts I read while studying anthropology. It also brought to mind Hunter S. Thompson's  "Gonzo" style of journalism, whereby the journalist's own experience is placed at the centre of his or her account, rendering it subjective. Both pluses.

I can tell how much a book is impacting me by how many quotes I transcribe into my journal. After about the 20th page of transcription, I gave up and just ordered a copy of the book. So much of what he discusses bears serious consideration. If anything, the situation for the now est. 716 per 100,000 (one of the highest rates of incarceration in the world) US citizens currently behind bars has become more grim in the nearly two decades that have passed since Conover's stint at Sing Sing.

Among the points that most impacted me were: discussion of mandatory drug sentencing (and how it is counter-productive - for many communities that have few avenues for economic gain it makes prison an inevitability or rite of passage rather than a deterrent); the rate of mental illness amongst the prison population; the precarious balance of power between inmates and guards; race and how it connects to myriad issues for guards, inmates and society as a whole; and the problems created by privatizing prisons (i.e. the conflict of interest that arises from the incarcerating institutions having a vested interest in sentencing as many people as possible to prison time). 

And this is just a small sampling of the rich, issue-based journalism to be found between these pages. Conover provides thoughts on the emotional and physical strain of working or living in prison, a historical overview of how the prison system has evolved over time and even looks at how the reality of prison stacks up against pop culture's interpretations of it.

For anyone who is concerned with not only the number of inmates (mainly young men of colour) who are placed behind bars every year and the conditions they experience once they find themselves there, this book is required reading.


Book Title: Newjack: Guarding Sing Sing
Author: Ted Conover
Series: No
Edition: Paperback
Published By: Vintage Books
Released: June 2001
Genre: Non-Fiction, Journalism, US Prison System
Pages: 331
Date Read: November 19 - December 7, 2014
Rating: 10/10



Time to look at the books I added to my shelves this week with Stacking the Shelves hosted by Tynga's Reviews! Not necessarily books I bought - also includes books I borrowed, was given or otherwise ended up with. Weeks I don't buy any books I'll scramble around my shelves and find some I haven't shared in an StS post yet!

It was CHRISTMAS this week, so I've got a few books to add that I received as lovely, beautiful presents!

Plague - C.C. Humphreys

The Gathering - Anne Enright
The Sisters Brothers - Patrick DeWitt

Thank you to my dad, the lovely Katrin and my nephews for these lovely books! What about you guys? What did you find under your tree this year? Share in the comments!



It's officially Christmas in my neck of the woods, so let me take this opportunity to wish each and every one of you a wonderful Christmas Day! May it be full of family, food - and plenty of book-shaped parcels under your trees!



It's time for this week's WWW Wednesdays, hosted by Should Be Reading blog (head over and check them out!).

This link up asks three questions
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What are you currently reading?
  • What do you think you'll be reading next? 
Here are my WWW answers!

What did I recently finish reading?


You guys. If you haven't read this, you need to do so IMMEDIATELY. No, there isn't a good reason not to. I don't care if you don't like space, if you're not good at science, if you don't like sci fi, if you're scared of big open spaces. This book is excellent and transcends every single one of these objections. So, go forth and procure a copy to read right now.

What am I currently reading?


I'm trying to finish all three by the end of the year. Stop laughing. It could still happen.

What do I think I'll be reading next?


I'm actually part way through this (for the second time) but determined to finish the damn thing this time! Don't get me wrong - it's good - I just got stuck in it last time and never managed to get un-stuck. But I'm determined this time, dammit. DETERMINED.

In other news, it's Christmas Eve, for those of us who celebrate it! I'm very much enjoying my time off and extra daytime hours spent in pyjamas. I hope you're all doing the same!

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