Tag Archives: Books

What I Read in 2023

The words “wishing you a prosperous new year” have been printed on a white sheet of paper and glued to an off-white wall. There are evergreen boughs surrounding this cheerful message. Happy New Year, readers!

In January of 2013, I began blogging about everything I’d read that previous year.  This tradition began when my dad asked me how many books I’ve read in my entire lifetime.

I couldn’t begin to give him an answer to that question, but it did make me decide to start keeping track from that moment forward. The previous posts in this series are as follows: 2022,  202120202019, 2018,  2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, and 2013.

I read 55 books this year not counting the ones I review pseudonymously for other sites. That number is a little lower than usual, but I also tended to read longer books this year than I did in 2020, 2021, and 2022.

2023 was a year of me diving more deeply in the biography genre and less deeply into the history genre than usual. My brain is can handle a little horror now if I stick to the psychological or paranormal flavours of it that avoid the gory stuff. Before 2020, I read much more about zombies and pandemics and such, but these past few years have changed my preferences.

I’m enjoying the gentler sides of fiction and nonfictions these days.

Here are the books I’ve read (or reread) over the past year. I’ll wait for Top Ten Tuesday tomorrow to share my favourite stories of the year, so stay tuned.

Biographies, Autobiographies, and Memoirs

Closeup photo of an opened handwritten letter, a bundle of handwritten letters that have been folded in thirds and tied with a rough brown string, and a few faded photos tucked underneath the open letter. “After the Annex: Anne Frank, Auschwitz, and Beyond” by Bas  von Brenda-Beckmann

“Never Give Up: A Prairie Family’s Story” by Tom Brokaw

“Don’t Let Them Bury My Story: The Oldest Living Survivor of the Tulsa Rase Massacre in Her Own Words” by Viola Ford Fletcher

“Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder” by Caroline Fraser

“Kukum” by Michel Jean

“Quiet Street: On American Privilege” by Nick McDonell

“The Story of Tutankhamun: An intimate Life of the Boy Who Became King” by Garry J. Shaw

“Waswanipi” by  Jean-Yves Soucy

“Peace by Chocolate: The Hadhad Family’s Remarkable Journey from Syria to Canada” by Jon Tattrie

“Little House in the Big Woods” by Laura Ingalls Wilder

“Little House on the Prairie” by Laura Ingalls Wilder

“On the Banks of Plum Creek” by Laura Ingalls Wilder

“Farmer Boy” by Laura Ingalls Wilder

“By the Shores of Silver Lake” by Laura Ingalls Wilder

“The Long Winter” by Laura Ingalls Wilder

“Little Town on the Prairie” by Laura Ingalls Wilder

“These Happy Golden Years” by Laura Ingalls Wilder

“The First Four Years” by Laura Ingalls Wilder



A photo of a black woman lying on a bed and petting her dog with her right hand as her left hand holds open a book. She is wearing jeans and a white button-down shirt and looks as if she just came home from work to spend time with her beloved pup and read a good book in her well-lit, comfortable bedroom. Light is streaming onto the bed from a nearby window, and you can see a few potted plants on the white dressers behind her and in front of her. “Destination Prairie” by Cathie Bartlett

“Don’t Cry for Me” by Daniel Black

“Yes, Miss Thompson” by Amy Boyes

“Small Things Like These” by Claire Keegan

“Foster” by Claire Keegan

“Gender Queer” by Maia Kobabe

“Looking for Jane” by Heather Marshall



“Ghosts of the Orphanage: A Story of Mysterious Deaths, a Conspiracy of Silence, and a Search for Justice “ by Christine Kenneally


Psychology and Sociology

A group of young Asian people are laughing and talking as they sit on a large couch together. One of them is reading something on his cellphone. They all look happy and relaxed. “50 Ways to Soothe Yourself Without Food” by Susan Albers

“CBT for Social Anxiety: Simple Skills for Overcoming Fear and Enjoying People” by Stefan G. Hofmann

“NPR Funniest Driveway Moments” by NPR

“NPR Laughter Therapy: A Comedy Collection for the Chronically Serious” by NPR

“Bootstrapped: Liberating Ourselves from the American Dream” by Alissa Quart


Science Fiction and Fantasy

A young red headed girl is reading a book and attempting to cast a spell with a wooden wand. She’s holding the wand above her head and looking expectedly for some sign it’s working! “The Girl With All the Gifts” by M.R. Carey

“The Boy on the Bridge” by M.R. Carey

“A Psalm for the Wild-Built” by Becky Chambers

“A Prayer for the Crown-Shy” by Becky Chambers

“The Last of What I Am” by Abigail Cutter

“Bloom” by Delilah S. Dawson

“A Canticle for Leibowitz” by Walter M. Miller

“Botanical Folk Tales of Britain and Ireland” by Lisa Schneidau 

“The Necessity of Stars” by E. Catherine Tobler

“War Bunny” by Christopher St. John


Science, Health, and Medicine

Mysterious blue liquid in a beaker, a pipette, and a series of glass test tubes that are lined up neatly in a row. “Cave of Bones: A True Story of Discovery, Adventure, and Human Origins” by Lee Berger and John Hawks

“Ravenous: How to Get Ourselves and Our Planet Into Shape” by Henry Dimbleby

“The Last Cold Place: A Field Season Studying Penguins in Antarctica” by Naira de Garcia

“Into the Forest: The Secret Language of Trees” by Susan Tyler Hitchcock

“The Invaders: How Humans and Their Dogs Drove Neanderthals to Extinction” by Pat Shipman

“Homo Sapiens Rediscovered: The Scientific Revolution Rewriting Our Origins” by Paul Pettitt

“The Autumn Ghost: How the Battle Against a Polio Epidemic Revolutionized Modern Medical Care” by Hannah Wunsch


Young Adult

An olive-skinned father reading a bedtime story to his son as the child lays in bed. The book is spread out over the child’s lap. “Still Stace” by Stacey Chomiak

“The Other Pandemic” by Lynn Curlee

“Sarah, Plain and Tall” (#1 in series) by Patricia MacLachlan

“Skylark (#2 in series)” by Patricia MacLachlan

“Caleb’s Story” (#3 in series) by Patricia MacLachlan (Middle Grade)

“More Perfect Than the Moon” (#4 in series) by Patricia MacLachlan

“Grandfather’s Dance” (#5 in series) by Patricia MacLachlan


Filed under Personal Life

Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: Older Books More People Should Read

Hosted by Long and Short Reviews.

Click here to read everyone else’s replies to this week’s question and here to see the full list of topics for the year.

A black woman with a large Afro is sitting on the ledge of a window in a dark room. Light is pouring into the room around her as she holds up a hardback book to the light and reads. My questions for this week’s prompt are how far back are people going to go when selecting older books and how many of us will have already read what other folks recommend?

I wish I could peek at everyone’s answers ahead of time to see what you’re all picking and when they were published.

Here are two books I’d add to this list. Their publication years are in parentheses.

Woman on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy (1976)

Why: You don’t often seen both dystopian and utopian futures described in the same novel. I like the ambiguity of the main character’s connection to these futures as well as the idea that nothing is set in stone.


The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields (1993)

Why: Other Canadians may have already heard of this book, but it doesn’t seem to be as well known elsewhere. This is a literary fiction novel about Daisy, a bitter woman who was born in 1905 and lived a long, hard life. You are not always going to like her (or at least I sure didn’t), but her journey was well written and explained why she was so angry with the world when she grew old. There’s something to be said for books that explore the lives of unlikeable characters and show why they behave the way they do.



Filed under Blog Hops

What I Read in 2022

A drawing of 11 cardinals sitting in a forest filled with trees as snow falls all around them. The text says, “Happy New Year’ in a swirly white font. Happy New Year, readers!

In January of 2013, I began blogging once a year about everything I’d read that previous year.  This tradition began when my dad asked me how many books I’ve read in my entire lifetime.

I couldn’t begin to give him an answer to that question, but it did make me decide to start keeping track from that moment forward. The previous posts in this series are as follows: 202120202019, 2018,  2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, and 2013.

2022 was a year of me glancing at old reading habits and thinking about if I’m ready for them again. In 2020 and 2021, my interest in topics like horror, medicine, and anything too dark or serious crashed. I craved light, fluffy stories where everyone lived happily ever after. While I still have a strong preference for those sorts of reads, my brain seems better equipped now to handle a little more scary stuff, too, even while I’m still doing a lot of rereads and hanging out in the young adult genre.

Here are the books I’ve read (or reread) over the past year.


Biographies, Autobiographies, and Memoirs

Michelle Obama smiling and posing for a photo while wearing a black dress and a string of pearls. “The Child Who Never Grew” by Pearl S. Buck

“Vintage Christmas: Holiday Stories from Rural PEI” by Marlene Campbell

“Happening” by Annie Ernaux

“To Walk About in Freedom: The Long Emancipation of Priscilla Joyner” by Carole Emberton

“This Boy We Made: A Memoir of Motherhood, Genetics, and Facing the Unknown” by Taylor Harris

“The Girls in the Wild Fig Tree” by Nice Leng’ete

“The Annals of a Country Doctor” by Carl Matlock, MD
“Dreams From My Father’ by Barack Obama
“The Light We Carry: Overcoming in Uncertain Times” by Michelle Obama
“The Adoption Machine: The Dark History of Ireland’s Mother and Baby Homes and the Inside Story of How ‘Taum 800’ Became a Global Scandal” by Paul Judd Redmond
“Three More Words“ by Ashley Rhodes-Courter
“Lucy Maud Montgomery: The Gift of Wings” by Mary Henley Rubio
“Listen, World!: How the Intrepid Elsie Robinson Became America’s Most-Read Woman” by  Julia Scheeres
“Been There, Ate That: A Candy-Coated Childhood” by Jules Torti
“Farewell to the East End” by Jennifer Worth
White woman wearing black-rimmed glasses and looking studious as she reads a hardback book. “Little Women” by  Louisa May Alcott
“Forever” by Kris Bryant
“The Good Earth” by Pearl S. Buck
“Once Upon a Wardrobe” by Patti Callahan
“My Antonia” by Willa Cather
A Christmas Memory” by Richard Paul Evans
“The Snow Child” by Eowyn Ivey
“Foster” by Claire Keegan
“Rebecca” by Daphne du Maurier
“Marmee: A Novel of Little Women” by Sarah Miller
“Anne of Green Gables” by L.M. Montgomery
“Anne of Avonlea” by L.M. Montgomery
“Anne of the Island” by L.M. Montgomery
“Anne’s House of Dreams” by L.M. Montgomery
“Rilla of Ingleside” by L.M. Montgomery
“The Story Girl” by L.M. Montgomery
“The Golden Road” by L.M. Montgomery
“The Blue Castle” by L.M. Montgomery
“The Only Child” by Kate Nunn
“The Secret Lives of Church Ladies” by Deesha Philyaw
“A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” by Betty Smith
“Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck
“The Little Stranger” by Sarah Waters
“Miss Jane” by Brad Watson
“Cold: Three Winters at the South Pole” by Wayne L. White


Two sheep looking curiously to their left hand side and straight at the viewer. “A Short History of the World According to Sheep” by Sally Coulthard

“The Girls Who Went Away: The Hidden History of Women Who Surrendered Children for Adoption in the Decades Before Roe vs. Wade” by Ann Fessler

“Let’s Get Physical: How Women Discovered Exercise and Reshaped the World” by Danielle Friedman
“Women’s Diaries of the Westward Journey” by Lillian Schlissel

Psychology and Sociology

The white portion of the image looks like side profiles of two people looking at each other. The black portion of the image looks like a vase. You decide which one you think it should be!“You Have More Influence Than You Think: How We Underestimate Our Power of Persuasion and Why It Matters” by Vanessa Bohns

“Big Panda and Tiny Dragon” by James Norbury
“Winning with Underdogs: How Hiring the Least Likely Candidates Can Spark Creativity, Improve Service, and Boost Profits for Your Business” by Gil Winch

Science Fiction and Fantasy

Pluto and Venus hanging quite largely in the sky over a desolate stretch of highway at night. The planets look like they’re about to crash into Earth!“World War Z” by Max Brooks

“Ghost Stories for Christmas” by Shane Brown (My Review

“Semiosis” by Sue Burke

“A Prayer for the Crown-Shy (Monk & Robot Series Book 2)” by Becky Chambers (My Review)

“Brave New World” by Aldoux Huxley

“The Turn of the Screw” by Henry James

“Veiled Threats” by Melissa Erin Jackson

”The Cybernetic Tea Shop” by Meredith Katz (Review coming February 9)

“Nettle & Bone” by T. Kingfisher (My Review)

“In a Glass Darkly” by Sheridan Le Fanu (Review coming January 12)

“Animal Farm” by George Orwell

“On Sundays She Picked Flowers” by Yah Yah Scholfield (My Review)

“Station Eleven” by Emily St. John Mandel

“The Hobbit” by J.R.R. Tolkien

“Annihilation” by Jeff VanderMeer

“The World More Full of Weeping” by Robert J. Weirseam

“The Future Is Female” edited by Lisa Yaszek (Review coming January 19)

“The Future Is Female Volume 2, The 1970s” edited by Lisa Yaszek (Review coming January 26)

Science and Medicine

Two doctors looking at a chart in a hospital hallway. “The Last Days of the Dinosaurs: An Asteroid, Extinction, and the Beginning of Our World” by Riley Black

“Tiny Humans, Big Lessons: How the NICU Taught Me to Live With Energy, Intention, and Purpose” by Sue Ludwig

“Vaccinated: From Cowpox to mRNA, the Remarkable Story of Vaccines”  by Paul A. Offit, M.D.

“The Heart of Caring:  A Life in Pediatrics” by Mark Vonnegut

Young Adult

A dad reading a book to his daughter. “Empty Smiles (Small Spaces #4)” by Katherine Arden

“Beezus and Ramona” by Beverly Cleary

“Ramona the Pest” by Beverly Cleary

“Ramona the Brave” by Beverly Cleary

“Ramona and Her Father” by Beverly Cleary

“Ramona and Her Mother” by Beverly Cleary

“Ramona Quimby, Age 8” by Beverly Cleary

“Ramona Forever” by Beverly Cleary

“Ramona’s World” by Beverly Cleary

“Secrets of the Under Market” by Kristen Harlow

“The Lost Girls” by Sonia Hartl

“The Giver” by Lois Lowry

“A Chair for My Mother” by Vera B. Williams


Have we read any of the same books? How was your reading year in 2022?


Filed under Personal Life

Top Ten Tuesday: 5 Reasons to Take a Reading Break

Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

A few years ago, I blogged about the general benefits of taking a reading break. Today I wanted to take a different approach to the topic and discuss some of the specific reasons why it can be a good idea to stop reading or to read less often for a while.

Reason #4 will mention grief and Covid-19, so feel free to skip that one if needed.

A beautiful park filled with large, healthy trees that are brimming with green leaves. 1. Enjoying Good Weather 

Southern Ontario is a humid and often stormy place. That humidity translates into chilly winters and stifling summers, so one quickly learns to take advantage of mild temperatures and clear skies when they occur.

To me, reading is an activity that makes more sense when it’s -30 Celsius (-22 Fahrenheit) or 40 Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) outside and it’s medically dangerous to be out there for long periods of time. If you’re lucky enough to have a balmy day in the15-20 Celsius (59-68 Fahrenheit) range, you’d better enjoy it while it lasts and go take a hike or enjoy a picnic or something.

2. Pursuing Other Interests 

I love my bookish and often nerdy interests, but that is not all that I am! It’s refreshing to switch between hobbies and interact with different social circles. Sometimes I also discover that there is more overlap between my various interests than I originally thought which is always cool to find.

3. Being More Physically Active

Yes, I know that some people listen to audiobooks while exercising, but that only works for me when I’m doing something like taking a brisk walk. I prefer to give my undivided attention to activities like weightlifting so that I can keep an eye on my form and stay focused on what I’m doing.

4. Resting My Mind 

This was especially true about eighteen months ago when a relative of mine caught Covid-19 and did not fully recover from it. (That is to say, they are still with us but have Long Covid now). Books can be a healthy distraction, but they can also be a little overstimulating when you’re waiting for news of even the smallest signs of improvement and do not necessarily get them.

5. Rediscovering the Excitment of Reading 

Nearly anything can begin to feel repetitive if I do it too often! As much as I love reading, taking breaks from it enables me to rediscover how exciting it is to crack open a book and once again anticipate what it will be like to discover all of its secrets.






Filed under Blog Hops

What I Read in 2021

In JA cup of coffee, a tealight candle, and an opened book on a mirrored platter that’s lying in the snow. anuary of 2013, I began blogging once a year about everything I’d read that previous year.  This tradition began when my dad asked me how many books I’ve read in my entire lifetime.

I couldn’t begin to give him an answer to that question, but it did make me decide to start keeping track from that moment forward. The previous posts in this series are as follows: 20202019, 2018,  2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, and 2013.

The pandemic has continued to change my reading patterns. I finished more books in 2021 than I did during the few years before it. Now more than ever, I crave happy endings and lighthearted storylines over the more serious themes I used to enjoy.

I’ve nearly stopped reading horror entirely. The only type of it I can handle these days involves haunted houses or other places whose spirits resort to psychological horror instead of anything that spills blood.

Yes, i know that’s super specific. I have no idea why my mind can handle those sorts of frights but no other.

As always, I’ve included links to the books on this list that I’ve reviewed here or will be blogging a review of in early 2022.

Biographies, Autobiographies, and Memoirs

Senior citizen gently touching a memory book. “American Bastard” by Jan Beatty

“No Cure for Being Human” by Kate Bowler

“Waves” by Ingrid Chabbert

“Fauci: Expect the Unexpected: Ten Lessons on Truth, Service, and the Way Forward” by Anthony Fauci

“A Womb in the Shape of a Heart” by Joanne Gallant

“American Baby: A Mother, a Child, and the Shadow History of Adoption” by Gabrielle Glaser

“One Pound, Twelve Ounces: A Preemie Mother’s Story of Loss, Hope, and Triumph” by Melissa Harris

“Baby Girl: Better Known as Aaliyah” by Kathy Iandoli

“Natural Killer: a Memoir” by Harriet Alida Lye

“The Plague and I” by Betty MacDonald

“Broken Spaces and Outer Places” by Nnedi Okorafor

“Costly Grace: An Evangelical Minister’s Rediscovery of Faith, Hope, and Love” by Rob Schenck

”Call the Midwife” by Jennifer Worth

“Shadow of the Workhouse” by Jennifer Worth



Drawing of dark-haired woman reading a book. An evening sky scene streams from the open book onto the white surface behind her.

“Searching for Sam” by Sophie Bienvenu

“Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Brontë

“Between Before and After” by Maureen Doyle McQuerry

“A Funny Kind of Paradise” by Jo Owens

“Gratitude” by Delphine de Vigan

”A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens

“Once Upon a Wardrobe” by Patti Callahan



An abandoned stone castle on a hill. “White Unwed Mothers: The Adoption Mandate in Postwar Canada” by Valerie Andrews

“The Toronto Book of Love” by Adam Bunch

“The Secret History of Home Economics: How Trailblazing Women Harnessed the Power of Home and Changed the Way We Live ” by Danielle Dreilinger

“A Short History of Humanity – A New History of Old Europe” by Johannes Krause and Thomas Trappe

“How to Survive in Medieval England” by Toni Mount

“Four Lost Cities: A Secret History of the Urban Age” by Annalee Newitz

“The Doctors Blackwell: How Two Pioneering Sisters Brought Medicine to Women and Women to Medicine” by Janice P. Nimura
“Ancestors: A Prehistory of Britain in Seven Burials” by Alice Roberts
“The Secret History of Food: Strange but True Stories About the Origins of Everything We Eat” by Matt Siegel


“A Thousand Mornings” by Mary Oliver

“Blue Horses” by Mary Oliver

“Dog Songs” by Mary Oliver


Science Fiction and Fantasy

A space ship taking off from a planet that has a large moon hanging in its sky. “The Children of Green Knowe” by Lucy M. Boston

“A Psalm for the Wild-Built” by Becky Chambers

Remote Control” by Nnedi Okorafor

“In the Company of Men” by Véronique Tadjo

Project Hail Mary” by Andy Weir


Science, Health, and Medicine

Close-up of a glowing strand of DNA.“Why Smart People Make Bad Food Choices: The Invisible Influences That Guide Our Thinking” by  Jack Bobo

“Unwell Women: Misdiagnosis and Myth in a Man-Made World” by Elinor Cleghort

“The Book of the Earthworm” by Sally Coulthard

“People Count: Contact-Tracing Apps and Public Health” by Susan Landau

“Rituals & Myths in Nursing: A Social History” by Claire Laurent

“Exercised: Why Something We Never Evolved to Do Is Healthy and Rewarding” by Dan Lieberman

“A Story of Us: A New Look at Human Evolution” by Lesley Newson

“You Bet Your Life: From Blood Transfusions to Mass Vaccination, the Long and Risky History of Medical Innovation” by Paul A Offit

“Beyond Soap: The Real Truth about What You Are Doin to Your Skin and How to Fix It for a Beautiful, Healthy Glow” by Sandy Skotnicki

“Lifelines: A Doctor’s Journey in the Fight for Public Health” by Dr. Leana Wen

“American Contagions: Epidemics and the Law from Smallpox to Covid-19” by John Fabian Witt


Sociology and Psychology 

Silhoutte of a counsellor talking to a client. “The Hospital: Life, Death, and Dollars in a Small American Town” by Brian Alexander

“The Comfort Book” by Matt Haig

“May We Suggest: Restaurant Menus and the Art of Persuasion” by Alice Pearlman

“The Lost Art of Doing Nothing: How the Dutch Unwind with Niksen” by Maartje Willems

“Veils of Distortion: How the News Media Warps Our Minds” by John Zada


Young Adult

Teenager who has placed a book on top of her head so that the spine is pointing towards the ceiling and the book is opened. “Dark Waters” by Katherine Arden (Review coming in 2022)

“Dead Voices” by Katherine Arden (Review coming in 2022)

“Small Spaces” by Katherine Arden (Review coming in 2022)

“The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot” by Marianne Cronin

“The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” by C.S. Lewis

”Prince Caspian” by C.S. Lewis

”The Voyage of the Dawn Treader” by C.S. Lewis

”The Silver Chair” by C.S. Lewis

”The Horse and His Boy” by C.S. Lewis

”The Magician’s Nephew” by C.S. Lewis

”The Last Battle” by C.S. Lewis


How did all of your reading habits change over 2021? Did you read any of these books?



Filed under Uncategorised

What I Read in 2020

book opened on top of white table beside closed red book and run blue foliage ceramic cup on top of saucer In January of 2013, I began blogging once a year about everything I’d read that previous year.  This tradition began when my dad asked me how many books I’ve read in my entire lifetime.

I couldn’t begin to give him an answer to that question, but it did make me decide to start keeping track from that moment forward. The previous posts in this series are as follows: 2019, 2018,  2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, and 2013.

Over half of the books I read in the average year are for a review site that I volunteer for under a pseudonym. I always omit those titles from this post for obvious privacy reasons.

2020 was a below average reading year for me, even more so than 2019. This was particularly noticeable when it came to the sci-fi and fantasy genres. I started so many books that I never ended up finishing due to *gestures tiredly at the countless emotionally draining moments of this year that all of us are already keenly aware of.* 

For some reason, nonfiction was an easier read for me this year in general. I’ve included links below to the few SFF novels I not only finished but blogged about.

Biographies, Autobiographies, and Memoirs

Tombstone that reads "born" and "died"“Mrs. Beaton’s Question: My Nine Years at the Halifax School for the Blind” by Robert Mercer

“Republic of Shame: How Ireland Punished ‘Fallen Women’ and Their Children” by Caelainn Hogan

“Gay Like Me: A Father Writes to His Son” by Richie Jackson

“Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter” by Kate Clifford Larson



“The Pull of the Stars” by Emma Donoghue


A fountain pen lying next to old black and white photographs and a bundle of documents wrapped in brown paper and tied up with black stringHistory

“A Good Time to Be Born: How Science and Public Health Gave Children a Future” by Perri Klass

“How the Other Half Lives: Studies Among the Tenements of New York” by Jacob Riis

“Epidemics and Society: From the Black Death to the Present” by Frank M. Snowden

“Nobody’s Child: A Tragedy, A Trial, and a History of the Insanity Defence” by Susan Vinocour


woman wearing a white nightie holding a lantern as she walks through a wormhole. There is a space ship flying through from the other side of the worm hole.Science Fiction and Fantasy

“Greenwood” by Michael Christie

“The Ghost Child” by Sonya Hartnett

Everfair” by Nisi Shawl

The Deep by Rivers Solomon

“The Emissary” by Yoko Tawada

“Silver in the Wood” by Emily Tesh


Science, Health, and Medicine 

“Zombies Run!: Keeping Fit and Living Well in the Current Zombie Emergency” by Naomi Alderman

Photo of human skeleton in a teaching lab“The Great Indoors: The Surprising Science of How Buildings Shape Our Behaviour, Health, and Happiness” by Emily Anthes

“The Turnaway Study: Ten Years, a Thousand Women, and the Consequences of Having – Or Being Denied – an Abortion” by Diana Green Foster, Ph.D.

“High Risk: Stories of Pregnancy, Birth, and the Unexpected” by Chavi Eve Karkowsky

“Natural: How Faith in Nature’s Goodness Leads to Harmful Fads, Unjust Laws, and Flawed Science” by Alan Levinovitz

“Big Chicken: The Incredible Story of How Antibiotics Created Modern Agriculture and Changed the Way the World Eats” by Maryn McKenna

“Overkill: When Modern Medicine Goes too Far” by Paul A. Offit

“Monarchs of the Sea: The Extraordinary 500-Million-Year History of Cephalopods” by Danna Staaf

“Kindred: Neanderthal Life, Love, Death, and Art” by Rebecca Wragg Sykes


Sociology and Psychology 

“The Kids Are All Left: How Young Voters Will Unite America” by David Faris

Black and white sign that says "polling station"“The Narcissist in Your Life: Recognizing the Patterns and Learning to Break Free” by Julie L. Hall

“Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times” by Katherine May

“The Polyamory Breakup Book: Causes, Prevention, and Survival” by Kathy Labriola

“Librarian Tales: Funny, Strange, and Inspiring Dispatches from the Stacks” by William Ottens

“Cynical Theories: How Activist Scholarship Made Everything About Race, Gender, and Identity” by Helen Pluckrose

“Strange Situation: A Mother’s Journey into the Science of Attachment” by Bethany Saltman

“Learned Hopefulness: The Power of Positivity to Overcome Depression“ by Dan Tomasulo

How were your reading habits affected in and by 2020? Have we read any of the same books this year?


Filed under Personal Life

Book Recommendations Based on Emojis

I borrowed the idea for this post from Ally Writes Things. Definitely do go check out her post to see which books she recommended. She came up with some very interesting ideas!

The premise was simple:

After tweeting about it, I waited for the responses to roll in and got to work.Whenever possible, I combined emojis in my responses to make things more challenging.

Berthold Gambrel requested a jack-o’-lantern, an alien, and a robot: 🎃👽🤖


Attack of the Jack-O’-Lanterns by R.L. Stine might be right up his alley for aliens and jack-o-lanterns. It’s a middle grade Halloween novel about sentient, shape-shifting jack-o’-lanterns who attack earth on the one night a year it wouldn’t be odd to see such creatures walking around.

I, Robot by Isaac Asimov is the quintessential robot story. It was about a cop who investigated a murder that may have been committed by a robot.  The 2004 film based on this book starring Will Smith was excellent.


A.N. Horton requested a skeptical emoji who was wearing a monocle: 🧐

Skeptical Music: Essays on Modern Poetry by David Bromwich seemed like a good match for this one. I was the sort of student who was really good at interpreting and discussing poetry. This is the sort of skill that can be taught and learned. Poetry is subjective by nature. You can have multiple right answers or end a discussion without finding at of them at all (for now).

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger is my second recommendation for this emoji because something about it reminds me of Holden Caulfield. He was completely aware of his intelligence and honestly a little smug about it. I often wonder how differently this character would have been written if we could have met him twenty or thirty years later!

Emer requested an ocean wave: 🌊

The Deep by Rivers Solomon was my automatic response to this one because it was set in the Atlantic Ocean so far away from land that the mermaid-like characters in it barely even knew such a thing existed.

Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys is another fantastic pick if you have any interest at all in Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre. This book was written from the perspective of Mr. Rochester’s first wife many years before the events of Jane Eyre.

Tammy requested aliens, human brains, and strands of DNA: 👽🧠🧬


The Alien franchise of novels based on the  films are a nice combination of all of these emojis for reasons I’ll leave up to new readers and viewers to discover for themselves.

Species was a film and later a series of novels about a group of scientists who decided to create an alien-human hybrid after making first contact with what appeared to be a friendly alien species. It also used all three of these emojis in its storytelling.

An ereader tucked inside of a hardback novel. The novel is sitting on a wooden surface, possibly a table or floor.

I had such a good time putting this post together. Thank you to everyone who participated.

Which books would you recommend for these emojis?

If you’re not on Twitter or missed my tweets about this, leave one ore more emojis below if you’d like to participate. I’m happy to write another post on this topic in the future.

Happy reading, everyone!


Filed under Science Fiction and Fantasy

Science Fiction and Fantasy Stories About Easter

A white rabbit sitting on grass next to coloured easter eggs.Two years ago, I wrote Are There Any Science Fiction and Fantasy Stories About Easter?

This is a follow-up to that post that has been slowly compiled over time.

Just like in 2018, I was interested in non-religious Easter stories that fit somewhere into the speculative fiction spectrum.

There were no other criteria. I was totally open to short stories, novellas, or novels. Something written in 1800 would have been just as welcomed as something that was published last week.

So it came as a surprise to me to see what a short list I came up with. The vast majority of the titles on this list are children’s picture books. This was after I trimmed out all of the storybooks about Cartoon Character X’s first Easter. I’m sure they’re adorable stories, but I didn’t want them to crowd out everything else I found.

Children’s Picture Books

These were the picture books that appealed most to me. My parents read The Runaway Bunny to us when my siblings and I were growing up, and it was lovely.

The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown

It’s the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown by Charles M. Schulz

The Story of the Easter Bunny by Katherine Tegen

The Easter Rabbit’s Parade by Lois Lenski

The Easter Bunny That Ate My Sister by Dean Marney

Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy

After coming up with these titles, I had some success with speculative fiction that was written for an adult audience. In order to add this section, I needed to loosen up my “no religion” criteria a tad. Both of their blurbs do make references to non-secular celebrations of this holiday, but they don’t appear to be written in a proselytizing manner from what I can tell.

The Loney by Andrew Michael Hurley

The Circle of Six: Emily’s Quest by Dan Sanders

What Would You Add?

What books can you add to this list? I’d love to write a follow-up post if or when the speculative fiction community realizes how much fodder there is in Easter for all sorts of different tales.

Who knows? Maybe I’ll even write one myself!

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Filed under Science Fiction and Fantasy

Safe Haven: A Review of Everfair

Book cover for Everfair by Nisi Shawl. Image on cover is of a pair of hands holding a globe that's illuminated by gold light and surrounded by flying birds. Title: Everfair

Author: Nisi Shawl

Publisher: Tor Books

Publication Date: 2016

Genres: Fantasy, Alternate History, Steampunk

Length: 384 pages

Source: I borrowed it from the library.

Rating: 3 stars


From noted short story writer Nisi Shawl comes a brilliant alternate-history novel set in the Belgian Congo.

What if the African natives developed steam power ahead of their colonial oppressors? What might have come of Belgium’s disastrous colonization of the Congo if the native populations had learned about steam technology a bit earlier?

Fabian Socialists from Great Britain join forces with African-American missionaries to purchase land from the Belgian Congo’s “owner,” King Leopold II. This land, named Everfair, is set aside as a safe haven, an imaginary Utopia for native populations of the Congo as well as escaped slaves returning from America and other places where African natives were being mistreated.

Shawl’s speculative masterpiece manages to turn one of the worst human rights disasters on record into a marvelous and exciting exploration of the possibilities inherent in a turn of history. Everfair is told from a multiplicity of voices: Africans, Europeans, East Asians, and African Americans in complex relationships with one another, in a compelling range of voices that have historically been silenced. Everfair is not only a beautiful book but an educational and inspiring one that will give the reader new insight into an often ignored period of history.


Content warning: Racism and sexism. I will not be discussing these things in my review.

Strap in for a wild ride.This book has a bit of everything!

Ms. Shawl did a very good job of explaining the political and historical landscape of the setting. I didn’t know a lot about how Belgium colonization of the Congo went so horribly wrong in our world, so I was grateful for all of the details the author provided about why Belgium made that decision and how they expected to make it work before she imaged how things could have turned out much differently for the Congo if they’d already had steam technology when this conflict boiled over.

The cast of characters was massive. Rather than telling this tale from the perspective of one or even a few different people, there were dozens of narrators and other protagonists to sort out as I read. Given the fact that each chapter was written in a form that was pretty similar to a short story and that previous characters often weren’t revisited until many years after their previous entry, I had lots of trouble keeping up with everyone and the plot at the same time. This felt like something that really should have been separated out into several novels or many more novellas. There was so much going on in the plot that nobody got all of the attention they deserved.

There was a list of characters, their relationships to each other, and approximately when and where they lived included before the story began. I was glad to have this information and would highly recommend taking a look at it before beginning the first chapter. As I mentioned earlier in this review, the cast of characters is humongous. Having a basic idea of everyone’s identity and when they lived is crucial in order to understanding the plot, and this list did help with that even though I still believe the plot would have been better served if it were divided into a series and no more than three or four narrators were included in each instalment.

Anyone who loves alternate history speculative fiction should check this book out.


Filed under Science Fiction and Fantasy

What I Read in 2019

Black book with floral design at the topIn January of 2013, I began blogging once a year about everything I’d read that previous year.  This tradition began when my dad asked me how many books I’ve read in my entire lifetime.

I couldn’t begin to give him an answer to that question, but it did make me decide to start keeping track from that moment forward. The previous posts in this series are as follows: 20182017, 2016, 2015, 2014, and 2013.

There are links included to the books that I also wrote reviews for here.

I had some trouble finishing books this year. There were so many more titles that I started but then gave up on. I think I was pickier about what I read over the last twelve months, and the lure of social media also made reading a little less appealing than it normally is for me.

If any of you have advice on how to get out of this sort of slump, I’d sure like to hear it!

Biographies, Autobiographies, and Memoirs

“Living like Livvy: A Mother’s Story about the Girl Who Refused to be Defined by Rett Syndrome” by Andre Govier
“Pure: Inside the Evangelical Movement That Shamed a Generation of Young Women and How I Broke Free” by Linda Kay Klein
“Little Dancer Aged Fourteen” by Camille Laurens
“Diary of Family G” by Ami McKay
“Shut Away: When Down Syndrome was a Life Sentence” by Catherine McKercher
“Identical Strangers: A Memoir of Twins Separated and Reunited” by Elyse Schein



“The Paying Guests” by Sarah Waters


“Charlotte: A Novel” by David Foenkinos

“The World According to Fred Rogers: Important Things to Remember” by Fred Rogers

Science Fiction and Fantasy

The Testaments” by Margaret Atwood

Let’s Play White” by Chesya Burke

The Lost Ones” by Anita Frank

“The Haunting of Hill House” by Shirley Jackson

The Farm: A Novel” by Joanne Ramos

The Spellbound Spindle” by Joy V. Spicer

Sociology and Psychology

“Why We Elect Narcissists and Sociopaths (and How We Can Stop)” by Bill Eddy

“Constructive Wallowing: How to Beat Bad Feelings by Letting Yourself Have Them” by Tina Gilbertson

“Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and how It Can Help You Find – And Keep – Love“ by Amir Levine

“Gaslighting: Recognize Manipulative and Emotionally Abusive People – And Break Free” by Stephanie Moulton Sarkis


Filed under Personal Life