a reader's life · Books · Challenges · read-a-thons

2018 Reading Challenge

December’s only just started, and everyone is already getting excited about their TBR piles for next year, it seems. I usually wouldn’t post about this so soon (I mean, I haven’t even finished my pitiful Goodreads challenge of 40 books yet. I have no idea what happened – actually, I do, it’s school), but I wanted to save the challenges I like before I lose them, so I thought that I would just go ahead and post.

I came across this amazing list from one of the reading groups on facebook I’m on, and it sure gave me many ideas from which to choose. First of all, I’m going to try to read 60 books. I read quite a much wider variety of books this year – from teaching books like The Elements of Teaching to political books like Ann Coulter’s Adios, America to some Victorian YA (Libba Bray) with even a little poetry (John Keats) mixed in.

Along with the Goodreads challenge, I want to try and do the Books ‘N Tunes challenge because when I read a book I really enjoy, I usually associate certain songs with it. Why not try to do it with all, or most, of the books I read this upcoming year? I’m also going to keep the A-to-Z Challenge (because it would be interesting to try to cover each letter of the alphabet) as well as the POPSUGAR Challenge (I’ve already printed it out) in mind for some reading inspiration, but I won’t be too sad if I can’t complete them because I’d rather focus on reading the books on my shelf that I’ve wanted to read for a long time.

Another sort-of-related-to-reading goal:

  • I’d like to try to improve my phone photographs and make my instagram a bookstagram. I took a couple pictures I’m pretty proud of (namely this and this and this and this and this), but those were far and few between.
5 stars · Book Reviews · Books · Uncategorized

Top Ten Reads of 2016

Most books I read aren’t new releases, but I thought I’d do my own list of my favourite books that I read this year. Some are new, others not. I decided to stick to books that I read for the first time this year, so that rules out favourites like Hamlet and The Lord of the Rings. I chose books that made me fall in love with them because they are clever, well-written, and just add to the literary discourse of the human heart.

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a reader's life · Books · Uncategorized

Ten Books I’d Buy Now (if I had a gift card)

Oh look! I’m not dead. You can thank thebookavid for inspiring me to come back with that latest post. Here are ten reasons why someone should buy me a gift card for Chapters! (Or at least the books on this list.)


1)) Cinder by Marissa Meyer. Several friends have recommended this one to me and it looks really intriguing! I love fairy tales retold and a sci-fi one?? Sounds pretty neat!

2)) The J. R. R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: Scholarship and Critical Assessment. I got this from the library and I’m in love with it. It’s perfect and I want to keep it forever and read it all.

3)) Collin’s Complete Works of Oscar Wilde. I have this one from the library, too.

4)) American Gods by Neil Gaiman. I still have yet to read anything by Gaiman but this looks like a perfect one to start with!

5)) Paradise Lost by John Milton. I really loved reading this work in university and I would love a nice copy of it.

6)) The Divine Comedy by Dante. I’ve read Inferno and I would really like to read the rest of this great work. Maybe the nice illustrated version?? 😉

7)) Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu. I love this novella a whole lot and it would be perfect to add to my bookshelf, along with all my other Gothic favourites. (I just really love Gothic literature.)

8)) Coraline by Neil Gaiman. I loved the movie and I really need to read this one. Soon.

9)) The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat by Oliver Sacchs. I read a couple excerpts from this book in my psychology class last year and I really want to read the rest! They’re so interesting and very humorous, too!

10)) Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton. This one sounds like a book that I would really enjoy. I’ve had it on my to-read list for a very long time.

5 stars · Book Reviews · Books · Dan Vyleta · Hope in Darkness · Literature Analysis · Uncategorized

Smoke {Book Review}




Wow. Magnificent. Oh my goodness gracious me. I was blown away by the utter magnificence of this book – I think it could even replace my beloved The Lord of the Rings as my favourite book of all time?? I don’t think I’m ever going to be able to completely process everything, but then a good book is one that captivates you every time you read, for years to come, isn’t it?

Anna’s rating: 5 stars



Thomas Argyle, Charlie Cooper, and Livia Naylor live in a world not unlike Dicken’s Victorian England. In fact, Dan Vyleta begins with a quote from the Master Author’s novel Dombey and Son:

“Those who study the physical sciences, and bring them to bear upon the health of Man, tell us that if the noxious particles that rise from vitiated air were palpable to the sight, we should see them lowering in a dense black cloud above such haunts, and rolling slowly on to corrupt the better portion of a town. But if the moral pestilence that rises with them … could be made discernible too, how terrible the revelation!”

(Beginning a section of a book with a quote from Dickens or Dostoevsky or Dante or one of those other great authors is my new favourite thing.)

That quote really summarizes the setting of the novel. In this world, any baser emotion, whether that be lust or anger (or even joy), causes a human being to emit Smoke. The Smoke is seen as a sign of one’s fallen state – therefore, the common people live in Smoke, the aristocracy using Smokelessness as a sign of their right to rule. (Of course, they are just able to hide their Smoke because they have the money to do so – nothing to do with morality.) The Smoke is therefore highly entangled with both religion and politics. In the boarding school which Thomas and Charlie attend, the slightest sign of Smoke brings great punishment upon the unfortunate boy whose clothes are found stained with the soot which will not disappear. However, the two boys soon begin to learn that everything they have been taught is a lie and there are deeper, darker secrets to be found in the streets of London.

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4 stars · 5 stars · Anna's Life · Book Reviews · Books · Maggie Stiefvater · Music Reviews · on writing · The Lumineers · Thoughts · Troye Sivan · TV Shows · Uncategorized

(I’m not gone, I promise.)

I’ve got a bad cold, so it looks like it’s going to be a lazy day. Perfect time for a blog post, eh? I thought so, too.


I just finished reading The Anatomy of Curiosity by Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton, and Brenna Yovanoff. It’s a book that teaches writing by showing examples of writing, a technique of which I most heartily approve. I put this book on hold at the library because after reading The Raven Cycle, I am absolutely spellbound by Maggie Stiefvater. Her writing has such magic to it, and she makes me fall in love with writing in a way that only my friend Gina (author of the recent The Rose and the Sword) has been able to do before.

This was such a great read not only because I got writing advice from my beloved Maggie (if I was born in the time of Homer, I’d probably offer sacrifices to beg her to be my Muse), but because I discovered a new favourite – Brenna Yovanoff (now I have to go look for books she’s written). Not only was her story right up my alley (modern YA with a twist of the Gothic), but she showed her writing process in a very different way from Maggie and Tessa (just the short story with comments here and there). Brenna first told a story from her childhood of a drowning that stuck with her the rest of her life before showing the short story as well as a very different earlier draft. While I wasn’t a big fan of Tessa and her world-building, her story at least kept my interest. The book also had a few sections of words from the author s – for example, how to gain ideas and the overwhelming doubt that plagues readers.

Anna’s rating: 5 stars (note to self: need to buy a copy of this book to have forever)

Continue reading “(I’m not gone, I promise.)”

5 stars · Book Reviews · Books · gina marinello-sweeney · Reviews · Uncategorized · YA Literature

The Rose and the Sword {Book Review}


Anna’s rating: 5 stars

Rebecca Veritas is excited to be beginning her psychology internship. She’s made a few new friends and found a delightful bookstore. However, not all is butterflies and sunshine – an old dear friend seems to be drifting away and Dr. Yin, the psychologist Rebecca is studying under, uses many methods that make Rebecca uneasy. As time passes, a growing sense of unease quickly transitions into more disturbing events that make her question if all is as it seems. When circumstances take an eerie turn, Rebecca will find herself a player on a larger scale than she had ever anticipated, a scale that could cause one to pay the ultimate price.

I was so excited to hear that my friend Gina had published her second book of the Veritas Chronicles!  And while I thought I Thirst was amazing, I was absolutely blown away by The Rose and the Sword. (Those who follow me on tumblr will attest to this – I was live blogging about this book all night.) I finished the entire 373 pages in a few hours – I didn’t even know I could read that fast?? I guess it’s just because I was just so captivated and had to find out what happened next. Some of my thoughts that I sent out last night…

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1 warning flag · 4 stars · Authors · Book Reviews · Books · Flagged media · Maggie Stiefvater · Reviews · Uncategorized · YA Literature

The Raven Cycle ~ Book Series Review


“The king sleeps still, under a mountain , and around him is assembled
his warriors and his herds and his riches. By his right hand is his cup,
filled with possibility. On his breast nestles his sword, waiting, too, to wake.
Fortunate is the soul who finds the king and is brave enough to call him to wakefulness, for the king will grant him a favour, as wondrous as can be imagined by a mortal man.” (The Raven Boys)

Anna’s rating: 4 stars (1 flag)

I haven’t read many YA books due to the fact that there tends to be the same storyline to most of these books. I recently got re-introduced to the genre with The Foxhole Court, and because I really enjoyed that series, I decided to try another of Tumblr’s favourites – The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater.

Books in order: The Raven Boys || The Dream Thieves || Blue Lily, Lily Blue || The Raven King

It’s definitely got a different storyline from the usual girl-meets-boy in a story with x plot but-really-the-whole-reason-for-the-story-is-that-she-learns-something-about-herself-and-falls-in-love (bonus points if contains love triangle) – you know, the type of story that makes me roll my eyes and sigh from desperation.



Blue Sargent lives with her mother and several other women (some are cousins?) at 300 Fox Way. Blue is different because she isn’t a psychic like all the other women are. In fact, she would just be ordinary if it weren’t for the fact that she is an aid to the other psychics because she ‘increases the energy’ – which doesn’t change the fact that Blue still feels basically useless. But all of this is about to change when Blue meets Richard Gansey III and his friends from Aglionby Academy.

Gansey is searching for a Welsh king named Glendower. This king is sleeping, not dead, and he will grant a wish to whoever will wake him. Gansey’s friends Ronan Lynch, Adam Parrish, and Noah Czerny – as well as Blue – come along on the quest with him. Blue meets the boys when Adam asks her on a date, but falls in love with Gansey. However, there’s a catch – before she met Gansey, Blue learned that he was on a list of people to die. And Blue is fated to kill her true love when she kisses him (i.e. Gansey). Adam wants to use the wish to make sure Gansey doesn’t die. Ronan wants to use the wish to make sure his little brother Matthew doesn’t die. But other, more extreme, situations arise…

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Anna's Life · Books · Uncategorized

Beginning Vacation 2016

My third university semester is over!

Status: halfway done cleaning through all the mess that piled up during the semester (I found several old papers that I want to read through – a Samuel Johnson and Les Misérables paper, for instance)

Listening to: this gorgeous siren playlist

Book last read: I finished Blue Lily, Lily Blue this morning – such a good book. I am torn between my favourite character being Adam Parrish or Noah Czerny.

Movie last watched: Yesterday I watched Disney’s Descendants with my best friend Emma. While the Disney Channel movies/shows aren’t my favourite thing in the world, I quite enjoyed this movie. It follows the characters from Melissa de la Cruz’s Isle of the Lost – the children of Maleficent (Mal), Jafar (Jay), the Evil Queen (Evie), and Cruella de Ville (Carlos – who is a precious child who must be protected at all costs). Given a chance at another life in the Kingdom of Auradon, among the Disney heroes and their children, the four children suddenly find themselves realizing that being good actually feels really good.

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Books · TV Shows · Uncategorized · YA Literature

Update: The Raven Cycle and The Mortal Instruments

Wow – it’s certainly been a while since I last made a post. It’s been a whirlwind of the past weeks – papers are almost complete, but there’s still exams to follow in the two and a half weeks. But I’m almost there, and my first draft of my paper on Alice in Wonderland, using the theories of Freud and Michel Foucault, is almost complete. I’m listening to Mumford & Sons, have my Western Religions textbook at my feet, and I thought I’d do a quick update before I get back to it all.

The Readathon challenge was a miserable failure, but papers came on a little faster than I had expected they would. I finished with three out of five books – The Book ThiefAlice in Wonderland, and My Anastasia. I definitely enjoyed all three of those books more than I thought I would – reading a childhood book when you’re an adult certainly changes the way you read it, and, thankfully, it was in a good way with these three. I had never realized the relationship between Anastasia and Dunia in Stewart’s was so close and I teared up at least once or twice. There was so many good quotes in The Book Thief – that entire book is such a masterpiece. And Alice, well, I was smiling the entire time I read it.

Besides those three books, I’ve read six others since my last post. Six! I haven’t read so much since I was a little girl, but I guess it helps when you get books from the library and have a clear deadline, otherwise you won’t get to finish the book until the four or five people behind you have finished with it.

Continue reading “Update: The Raven Cycle and The Mortal Instruments”