2014 End of Year Book Survey

For the last few years, readers have jumped on Jamie’s End of year Book Survey bandwagon (or perhaps I should say ‘bookwagon’) and I am nothing if not a lemming.


Number of Books You Read: 27 “adult” novels, 21 YA, 3 graphic, 2 memoirs, 1 non-fiction for a total of 55, well short of my goal of 65 books

See my shelf here

Number of Books You Re-Read: 0

Genre You Read The Most From: Contemporary


Best Book You Read In 2014?

(If you have to cheat — you can break it down by genre if you want or 2014 release vs. backlist)

Best YA: More Than This – Patrick Ness

Best Other: Life After Life – Kate Atkinson

Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

Heading Out to Wonderful – Robert Goolrick

Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read in 2014?  I read a lot of duds this year, more than normal: Creep, Firefly Rain, The Birthing House , Kiss Crush Collide

Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did) In 2014?


More Than This – Patrick Ness



Best series you started in 2014? Best Sequel of 2014? Best Series Ender of 2014?

Not a series starter, generally, although I have started a couple  that I really need to finish – none of them in 2014, though.

Favorite new author you discovered in 2014?

I discovered a few new authors this year that I will definitely be looking to read more from: Megan Abbott, Tammara Webber, Erin Kelly

Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

Nada – I’m up for just about anything with the exception of sci fi/fantasy…and since I’m not really into it, I don’t read it.

Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

The Lantern – Deborah Lawrenson Certainly not action-packed, but this was a real page-turner and a lot of fun to read.

Book You Read In 2014 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

I really wish I had more time for re-reading. I would like to re-read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn in 2015. It’s probably been 40 years since I read that book and I just remember loving it.

Favourite cover of a book you read in 2014?

myidealbookshelf1_grandeMy Ideal Bookshelf – Thessaly La Force and Jane Mount

I loved everything about this book.


Most memorable character of 2014?

Addy Hanlon from Megan Abbott’s Dare Me. Caustic and compelling.

Lucas from Tammara Webber’s Easy. Hot. Hot. Hot.

Most beautifully written book read in 2014?

Life After Life – Kate Atkinson

Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2014?

The Children Act – Ian McEwan. McEwan always gives you something to think about.

Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2014 to finally read? 

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children – Ransom Riggs

My own kids were always after me to read this book when it first came out, but it wasn’t until the teachers in my department suggested this book for a teachers’ book club that I got around to reading it. Loved it.

Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2014?

““What if we had the chance to do it again and again, until we finally did get it right? Wouldn’t that be wonderful.” Teddy from Life After Life  I’m not in the habit of writing down passages that I like, but this quote – which is central to Atkinson’s novel – also  resonates with me for other reasons.

Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2013?

Alia’s Mission: Saving the Books of Iraq, 32 pages

Life After Life – Kate Atkinson, 544 pages

Book That Shocked You The Most (Because of a plot twist, character death, left you hanging with your mouth wide open, etc.)

The Raft – S.A. Bodeen. Didn’t see that coming!

OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)

Hands down: Jacqueline and Lucas from Tammara Webber’s Easy

(OTP = one true pairing if you aren’t familiar)

Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship of The Year

Seth, Regine and Thomasz of Patrick Ness’s More Than This

Favorite Book You Read in 2014 From an Author You’ve Read Previously

More Than This – Patrick Ness

Best Book You Read In 2014 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:

None – it’s not the way I generally choose books

totally joeNewest fictional crush from a book you read in 2014?

I have to admit that I fell in love with Joe Bunch, the 13-year-old protagonist of Totally Joe. He is a great character.



Best 2014 debut you read? throughwoods

Through the Woods – Emily Carrol

Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

Tie between The Coldest Girl in Cold Town – Holly Black


More Than This – Patrick Ness

Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

My Ideal Bookshelf – Thessaly La Force and Jane Moun

Book That Made You Cry or Nearly Cry in 2014?

There were lots of lump in the throat moments in Life After Life

Hidden Gem Of The Year?

icecreamThe Ice Cream Girls – Dorothy Koomson Maybe this book got a lot of love when it came out, but I’d never heard of it nor the author. It is well-written and a real page-turner, too

Book That Crushed Your Soul?

Living Dead Girl – Elizabeth Scott

It was so bleak

Most Unique Book You Read In 2014?

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children – Ransom Riggs

It maximized quirky photos and a unique story. I really enjoyed it

Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

Birthing_HouseThe Birthing House – Christopher Ransom

Utter Crap! And a frustrating waste of time. I can’t believe I actually read the whole thing.


New favorite book blog you discovered in 2014? 

Electric Lit – although I guess it’s not strictly a book blog.

Favorite review that you wrote in 2014?

 The Coldest Girl in Coldtown – Holly Black

Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog?

I loved that I got to share how I used My Ideal Bookshelf in the classroom.

Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?

I was very lucky to welcome best-selling Canadian novelist Kelly Armstrong intokelly my classroom in October. She was in town to participate in FogLit, a literary festival, and came to my school to speak with about 70 students and then work with about 20 in a small group setting. There were sooo many excited students at school that day!

Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2014?

Another cool, bookish thing that happened in 2014 was that I started doing book columns on CBC Radio’s Information Morning in October 2014. I love talking about books and this is a really fun gig. You can listen to past columns by clicking on the links in the sidebar.

Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?

This post got the most views all year I credit Ryan Gosling. 6fa389c166845d58b0b214b55af9eccd

Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?

I’d love to have a little more interaction overall on my blog, but I do it because I love to do it – not for site stats…so it’s all good. That said, I loved sharing this activity I did with some grade ten students and wish it had received a little more attention.

Best bookish discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?     I am looking forward to diving into this post from the Guardian: Top Ten Best Book Bloggers – all YA.

Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

I intended to read 65 books this year – just up from the total of 62 I read last year, but I didn’t make it – for a variety of reasons.

looking-ahead-books-2015-1024x278One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2014 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2015? Oh, please.

Bookship of theseus You Are Most Anticipating for 2015 (non-debut)?

My son gave me J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst’s novel Ship of Theseus for Christmas. We’ve long been intrigued by this books, so I am looking forward to reading it.

2015 Debut You Are Most Anticipating

No idea.

Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2015?

I would like to make it a priority to finish Ilsa J. Bick’s Ashes trilogy, Kelley Creagh’s Nevermore Trilogy and Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy. There. I said it. Of course, none of these are new series.

One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2015

Setting goals for myself in this regard is just asking for trouble

A 2015 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend to Everyone. Nope.

Interested in reading more End of Year surveys? Go here.

A bookish alphabet…a to zed

A. Author You’ve Read The Most Books From:

I am cheating a bit here and naming two authors. I read Stephen King voraciously as a teen and young adult…and then didn’t read anything by him for a couple decades until I picked up Joyland, which reminded me of why I read him in the first place: he’s awesome. I am looking forward to reading Revival, which sounds terrific. Carolyn Slaughter is probably the other author whose work I’ve tracked down relentlessly over the years based on her novel The Banquet, which remains one of my all-time favourite reads.

Stephen King: Joyland; Misery; Bag of Bones, On Writing; Cujo; It; ‘Salem’s Lot; Christine; The Shining; Firestarter; The Talisman; Carrie; Nightshift; Pet Sematary; Needful Things; The Dead Zone; Rose Madder; The Dark Half; Dolores Claiborne; Skeleton Crew; Danse Macabre; Gerald’s Game; Nightmares and Dreamscapes

Carolyn Slaughter: Story of the Weasel; Magdalene; Dreams of the Kalahari; The Banquet; A Perfect Woman; Before the Knife: Memories of an African Childhood

B. Best Sequel Ever:

ask and answer

I am brutal for starting series and not finishing them, except when it came to Patrick Ness’s Chaos Walking series, which begins with the book The Knife of Never Letting Go. and continues with The Ask and the Answer and Monsters of Men, both of which I devoured in short order.

C. Currently Reading:

The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes; When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead and Long Lankin by Lindsey Barraclough

D. Drink of Choice While Reading: Tea

tean and a book


E. E-Reader or Physical Books:

Oh please. Physical books. My brother gave me a Kobo a couple Christmases ago and I still haven’t figured out how to work it.

F. Fictional Character You Would Have Dated In High School:

Some bad boy who is really good beneath the tough exterior.  (I have a type; don’t judge me.) Lucas from Easy comes to mind.

G. Glad You Gave This Book A Chance:

The Book Thief  I know, it seems ridiculous considering how much I love this book but in the beginning…not so much.

H. Hidden Gem Book:

ourdailybreadIt’s amazing how many books get published each year to little or no fanfare. I don’t know enough about the publishing world to understand why mediocre books get all the bells and whistles and books like Lauren B. Davis’s riveting novel Our Daily Bread, despite being shortlisted for the Giller,  barely made a blip on the literary landscape. I only discovered it by accident and I am so glad I did. Read this book!

I. Important Moments of Your Reading Life:

I find the moments that I bond with my students over books the most meaningful. I love it when they discover books because of my recommendations. I also love it when they offer suggestions to me – although it doesn’t always work out. (John Dies at the End!)

J. Just Finished:
Love Remains by Glen Duncan

K. Kinds of Books You Won’t Read:
Straight up Science Fiction.

L. Longest Book You’ve Read:
Probably Stephen King’s It, which clocks in at over 1000 pages and I loved every single moment I spent with those characters.

M. Major Book Hangover Because Of:

I don’t know what this means. Does it mean books that I can’t stop thinking about? Or books that drove me crazy? I dunno.

N. Number of Bookcases You Own: 

lr shelves


I have beautiful built ins thanks to my brother, Tom. He also built me a nice set of shelves for behind my couch. Plus, let’s not forget the TBR shelf, which you can see in this post. I have a really nice IKEA bookshelf, too, but it is currently being used for a non-book purpose.

O. One Book That You Have Read Multiple Times:


I have read Kristin McCloy’s novel Velocity multiple times. I bought the book at the Strand in NYC probably the summer of 1984 and I’ve read it every couple of years since. Maybe it’s time to revisit and write a review, since I talk about it so much.

P. Preferred Place to Read:

Reading is the last thing I do before I turn off my light – so in bed. But I’ll read just about anywhere, though maybe not as comfortably.

Q. Quote From A Book That Inspires You:

“Imagine the sense of peace that comes from knowing you’re in control of your life.” Gail Vaz-Oxlade, Debt-Free Forever

R. Reading Regret:

I don’t really have too many reading regrets – maybe that I don’t have all my childhood books. Or maybe that sometimes I do other pointless stuff when I should be reading.

S. Series You Started and Need to Finish:
The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins…seriously. Also Ilsa Bick’s Ashes and Kelley Creagh’s Nevermore

T. Three Of Your All-Time Favourite Books:

This is like asking a mother to choose her favourite child, you know that, right?

Velocity –  Kristin McCloy

Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte

A Little Princess – France Hodgson Burnett

U. Unapologetic Fangirl For:

Ryan Gosling. Enuf said. (Oh, okay, an actual writer – John Green. Love him and everything he stands for.)

V. Very Excited For This Release More Than Any Other:

This is not something I follow because I don’t run out and buy books as soon as they come out.

W. Worst Bookish Habit: 
Buying way more books than I can possibly read in the time left in my hourglass.

X. Marks The Spot (Start On Your Bookshelf And Count to the 27th Book):
(I used my tbr shelf for this instead of my books read shelf) – Best Friends by Thomas Berger

Y. Your Latest Book Purchase:
The Shining Girls – Lauren Beukes…let’s not talk about the box of YA books I received via Bookoutlet this week.


Z. ZZZ-Snatcher (last book that kept you up WAY late):

Probably The Fault in Our Stars I was bawling into my pillow at 3 a.m. On a school night!

My reading/blogging year, 2012

My goal was to read 60 books this year but I didn’t make it. I blame Italy. (Too much Prosecco does not, in fact, allow for close reading – or any reading for that matter. I was, however, sober enough to snap a few picures of bookstores in Rome.) My summer road trip with the kids also took a chunk out of my summer – when I would normally be reading at the beach while the kids swim, I was drivingdrivingdriving…and shopping. Still I am currently on book 54, so I am happy with that. Of course if I only read 50-ish books a year, it will take me TEN years to read all the books on my to-be-read shelves. Never mind the titles listed in my want-to-read notebook (which I anally copied over into a new notebook yesterday).

Still, it’s time to reflect on what I have read. A couple days ago I did this nifty survey, which came from The Perpetual Page-Turner.

Here are some additional thoughts about my reading/blogging year:

1. Not all Young Adult books are created equal.

I have been reading a lot more YA fiction these days. I have two teenagers at home (a daughter, 15 and a son, 13) who are both avid readers. My son, in particular, is constantly telling me I have to read [insert title]. I also teach high school English and I am really, really working hard to create a culture of book love in my room. I am slowly, but surely, building a classroom library and I am trying to read my way through it so that I can offer real advice to those kids who need it.  So when I say that not all YA is created equal I feel like I have a little bit of credibility.  Here are the YA titles I read this year:100_2088
1. Reality Check – Peter Abrahams
2. I Am Not Esther – Fleur Beale
3. Things Change – Patrick Jones
4. Between – Jessica Warman
5. Chasing Boys – Karen Tayleur
6. Nevermore – Kelly Creagh
7. The Day I Killed James – Catherine Ryan Hyde

100_20908. Ashes – Ilsa J. Bick
9. The Fault in Our Stars – John Green
10. Drowning Anna – Sue Mayfield
11. Jane – April Lindner
12. He’s After Me – Chris Higgins
13. The Returning – Christine Hinwood
14. I’ll Be There – Holly Goldberg Sloan
15. Divergent – Veronica Roth
16. Nothing But Ghosts – Beth Kephart
17. Things You Either Hate or Love – Brigid Lowry
18. Monsters of Men – Patrick Ness
19. Gone – Kathleen Jeffrie Johnson
20. Nevermore – Linda Newbery
21. The Heights – Brian James
22. 40 Things I Want To Tell You – Alice Kuipers
23. The Death of Jayson Porter – Jaime Adoff
24. Surrender – Sonya Hartnett
25. The Ask and The Answer – Patrick Ness
26. The Invention of Hugo Cabret – Brian Selznick
27. Played – Dana Davidson
28. Right Behind You – Gail Giles

Of those titles here were my favourites.

#1   NO CONTEST: The Fault in Our Stars – John Green  ( I have SO MUCH love for this book. Everyone should read it.)

#2  Nevermore – Kelly Creagh

#3  Ashes – Ilsa J. Bick

#4 The Ask and the Answer /  Monsters of Men – Patrick Ness (Yes, I know it’s cheating to put two books in one slot, but these are the second and third books in Ness’s amazing Chaos Walking trilogy, which starts with The Knife of Never Letting Go.

#5 Between – Jessica Warman

#6 Nothing But Ghosts – Beth Kephart

#7 The Death of Jayson Porter – Jaime Adoff

#8 Surrender – Sonya Hartnett

#9 Right Behind You – Gail Giles

#10 Played – Dana Davidson

When I read YA fiction I am looking for good writing, authentic characters, good writing. I mean, if we want kids to know what that is – we have to make sure they have opportunities to read it.  I think YA has come a long way from where it was, but there is still a lot of junk  out there. (Sparkly vampire books, I am looking at you!)

2. I have less patience for books than I used to. ( aka I am aware of the dwindling sand in my reading hour glass.)

Last year I started a Book Graveyard, a place to keep track of the books that I just couldn’t get through – for whatever reason. If I give a book a couple tries, or a few dozen pages and I just can’t read it – I make note of it here. Robby Benson’s novel Who Stole the Funny? recently landed there. Sorry, Robby. I still love you.

3. I don’t love any books. (At least that’s what my kids tell me.)

I actually love all books; I just don’t like some of them. Here are some of the  titles  I read this year, which I didn’t like at all.

Now You See Her – Joy Fielding

The Heights – Brian James (YA)

The Returning – Christine Hinwood (YA)

Jane – April Lindner (YA)

Death Comes to Pemberley – P.D. James

Graveminder – Melissa Marr

Until It’s Over – Nicci French

4. But here are the ten titles I did love this year. (I’ve left the YA books off this list and the titles aren’t in any particular order.)

#1 The Casual Vacancy – J.K. Rowling

#2 A Spell of Winter – Helen Dunmore

#3 Room – Emma Donoghue

#4 The House at Riverton – Kate Morton

#5 The Sense of an Ending – Julian Barnes

#6 The Slap – Christos Tsiolkas

#7 Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand – Helen Simonson

#8 Stitches – David Small (graphic novel)

#9 So Much Pretty – Cara Hoffman

#10 Evidence of Blood – Thomas H. Cook

If I am going to consider my entire year of reading, though, my absolute favourite book would be John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars – which I can’t recommend highly enough.

5. Blogging failures.

I started 2012 with this ridiculous notion that I would post book-related content every day. Yeah. That lasted until April 17th.

6. My blogging year in review. A look back at some of my favourite posts.

I posted several entries this year I was really proud of. Who knows if anyone saw them but me.

Become a fangirl of writers

Let’s talk about love

My shelves, my life part one (although I don’t think I ever did a part two, come to think of it!)

Me and Mr. Jones (my thoughts after the death of Davy Jones)

The importance of a classroom library

Scary books for All Hallows’ Eve

7. Some content that wasn’t mine, exactly, but which is worth a second look.

The Fantastic Flying Books of Morris Lessmore

The Joy of Books

Ryan Gosling loves books

8. Blogs I admire

Bella’s Bookshelves –  crazy smart reviewer and Canadian!

Books I Done Read –  witty and honest and also Canadian

Nerdy Book Club – keep your finger on the pulse of kid-related books and stuff

Savidge Reads – Simon is a voracious reader and promoter of all things literary

Dot Scribbles – I always add new titles to my want-to-read list after visiting this blog

The Perpetual Page-Turner – content galore, well-written, too

bite by Michelle – if you are even remotely interested in food, this is a keeper

9. And my first ever giveaway…was

The Golden Book of Bovinities by Robert Moore which went to Lynne from Dartmouth, NS

10. Looking ahead to 2013

I am currently reading Gillian Flynn’s novel Dark Places…I might even finish it today (although it’s not likely).  I’ll head over to chapters.indigo.ca and roll the calendar over on my little group 50 Books in 2012…Speaking of Chapters/Indigo, I have a shopping cart order just waiting to be placed. I will continue to read read read – nothing gives me quite as much pleasure.

And how about another giveaway. Hey, if you made it to the end of this really long post, you deserve the chance to win something…so I’ll draw a name at random from anyone who comments on this post between Jan 1 and 31st…and send a book-related gift your way!

Happy New Year…and all the best for 2013.


Best in 2012

This meme comes from The Perpetual Page-Turner. I love an opportunity to reflect on my reading year, so here goes.

Best In Books 2012

1. Best Book You Read In 2012? (You can break it down by genre if you want)

I spend most of my time reading either Young Adult fiction (mostly chosen from my classroom library) or books from my own massive to-be-read pile. (And I am not exaggerating, I’m talking hundreds of books).

Best YA  – no contest…The Fault in Our Stars – John Green.

In fact this might have been my favourite book of the entire year despite the fact that, you know,  it ripped my heart out.

Best Fiction – Room – Emma Donoghue

I actually had a harder time choosing this one. I read a handful of books that I really liked this year, all of them for different reasons. This one, though, was just so unusual and compelling I had to put it on top.

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

Graveminder – Melissa Marr

This was the first book I read in 2012 and I’d been really looking forward to it. I loved the cover. I loved the premise. But the writing and the plot and the characters = hot mess.

3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2012?

I just wasn’t anticipating liking The Casual Vacancy at all. I haven’t read the Harry Potter books (except for The Philosopher’s Stone) and I just couldn’t imagine liking a really long book about a small British town. But I did like it. A lot.

4. Book you recommended to people most in 2012?

I have happily recommended The Fault in Our Stars over and over to students in my classes. That’s generally who gets the brunt of my bookish enthusiasm. Other books I’ve flogged include: Patrick Ness’s Chaos Walking trilogy (which I can include here because I read the second and third books in 2012!), Nevermore by Kelly Creagh and Ashes by Ilsa Bick.

5. Best series you discovered in 2012?

Nevermore by Kelly Creagh The second book, Enshadowed, is currently available in hardcover.   This series features a feisty heroine, a creepy Edgar Allan Poe-ish nightmare world and some terrific writing.

Ashes  trilogy by Ilsa J. Bick. The second book, Shadows, is currently available in hardcover. This series features a world gone horribly awry, flesh-eating zombies and a fabulous main character.

6. Favorite new authors you discovered in 2012?

John Green. Emma Donoghue. Kelly Creagh. Ilsa J. Bick. Kate Morton. These are all authors I will definitely read more of.

7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?

Because I am reading a lot of young adult fiction these days I find that I am reading genres (fantasy, for example) that I wouldn’t normally read. I still don’t think I would enjoy straight up sci fi, but who knows. I want to be able to have those discussions and if I’m gonna talk the talk, I’m gonna have to walk the walk. (Or, read the book!)

8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2012?

Nevermore – Kelly Creagh

I’m not sure it was the most thrilling book, but I did have a hard time putting it down.

9. Book You Read In 2012 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year:

If I re-read any book from this year, it would probably be The Fault in Our Stars…or I might skim through Ashes and Nevermore before I read the second books in the series.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2012?


11. Most memorable character in 2012?

Samantha from J.K. Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy. I totally got her.

Hazel and Augustus from John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars. I just can’t say enough about these characters and my love for them.

Jack from Emma Donoghue’s Room. Incredible.

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2012?

Oh dear. I am going to have to go with…Helen Dunmore’s A Spell of Winter. I am a longtime fan of Dunmore; she never fails me when it comes to the quality of her prose. But I was also really surprised by how impressed I was by Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy. It was really good.

13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2012?

The Fault in Our Stars. I laughed out loud and I sobbed uncontrollably  into my fist in the middle of the night.

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2012 to finally read?

I actually don’t get all hung up on not reading books when they first come out. I don’t often jump on the hype wagon. I just add books to my tbr list, purchase the books eventually and read them when I get around to it…or I am in the mood.

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2012?

Oh dear. I will have to get back to you on this one.

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2012?

Shortest: The Uncomon Reader – Alan Bennett, 120

Longest: The Casual Vacancy – JK Rowling, 503

17. Book That Had A Scene In It That Had You Reeling And Dying To Talk To Somebody About It? (a WTF moment, an epic revelation, a steamy kiss, etc. etc.) Be careful of spoilers!

I can’t tell you of any one particular scene. I can tell you that my book club had an excellent night discussing The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas. I have also loved talking books with students in my class.

18. Favorite Relationship From A Book You Read In 2012 (be it romantic, friendship, etc).

Hazel and Augustus from The Fault in Our Stars. Just perfection on the page.

19. Favorite Book You Read in 2012 From An Author You Read Previously

Evidence of Blood – Thomas H. Cook

A Spell of Winter – Helen Dunmore

I really love both of these authors and enjoyed both of these books in 2012.

20. Best Book You Read That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else:

None. Other than books I read for book club, I don’t run out and buy books based on someone else’s recommendation.

Considering books w/ thanks to @suchabooknerd & @ShelfAwareness

I followed a tweet to Such A Book Nerd‘s post answering these questions, which she got from Shelf Awareness. I can never resist a good meme.

On your nightstand now:

Kelly Creagh’s fabulous YA novel, Nevermore (which I am thoroughly enjoying.)

But my bedside table (actually a hope chest) is  home to a big pile of books – some of them waiting to be read, some half read, some destined for my Book Graveyard. They include:

The Flight of Gemma Hardy (which I hope to read in the next few days as Margot Livesay will be reading at The Lorenzo Society  on November 9.); Midnight is a Lonely Place – Barbara Erskine; Juliet – Belinda Seaward; Pharos – Alice Thompson; The Night Bus – Janice Law; The God of Small Things – Arundhati Roy; The Essential 55 – Ron Clark; The Tarnished Eye – Judith Guest; When I Was a Loser – John McNally; Girls in White Dresses – Jennifer Close; The Savage Garden – Mark Mills; The Hand That First Held Mine – Maggie O’Farrell and The Golden Book of Bovinities, the latest book of poetry by my dear friend, Robert Moore. Yeah, I have a small problem.

Favorite book when you were a child:

I have a lot of favourite childhood books. Going WAY back: Uncle Wiggly, which I remember my mom reading to my brothers and me. I was a huge Bobbsey Twins fan. I always got a couple new books for birthdays and Christmas. I loved Trixie Beldon. I loved A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Your top five authors: (subject to change, of course)

I love Carolyn Slaughter, Helen Dunmore, Helen Humphreys, Thomas H. Cook, and Lisa Reardon

Book you’ve faked reading:

Sometimes I just say…I read it a long time ago; I don’t really remember it. Ha!

Book you’re an evangelist for:

Sorry – I pimp lots of books.

The Knife of Never Letting Go – Patrick Ness (so far I have two girls in my grade ten class reading through the Chaos Walking Series)

The Book of Lost Things – John Connolly

The Book Thief – Marcus Zusak

Book you’ve bought for the cover:

While I do enjoy a good cover, it’s rarely the sole reason I buy a book. There are too many books I want to read (too many on my physical shelves waiting to be read) to waste a purchase on a pretty cover.

Book that changed your life:

Jane Eyre changed my reading life at a young age, but lots of other books have impacted me in positive ways. For example, Carolyn Slaughter has written a couple books – The Banquet & The Story of the Weasel – which showed me a fearlessness that has stayed with me. And the book I’ve  reread the most, Velocity by Kristin McCloy, continues to speak to me in ways I can’t explain.

Favorite line from a book:

I love this line from Thomas H. Cook’s novel Breakheart Hill: This is the darkest story that I ever heard, and all my life I have laboured not to tell it.

And from Velocity:  Sometimes in my dreams you rise up as if from a swamp, whole, younger than I remember, dazzling, jagged, and I follow you into smoky rooms, overwhelmed by the sense of being in the presence of an untamed thing, full of light, impossible to control.

I would quote more, but the question asks for a line, so I’ll resist.

Book you most want to read again for the first time:

Jane Eyre – but it’s been so long since I first read it, that it would probably feel like the first time.

If you could encourage any beginning writer, what would you say?

Just write. Don’t edit yourself; don’t second guess yourself; don’t censor yourself; be fearless.

If you answer this meme, be sure to let me know; I’d love to read your answers.

30 Day Book Meme – Day 30

Your favourite book of all time

I don’t know whether or not I have a favourite book of all time. I mean, who knows what’s right around the corner…of my bookshelf. Maybe I haven’t read my favourite book of all time yet.  Instead of trying to name one book, I am going to direct you to my reader’s table, an idea dreamed up by Simon over at Savidge Reads.

Back when I worked at Indigo, my favourite thing was to talk with customers…and I loved putting books into their hands. You must read this. Now I do it with my students and there is no greater feeling than when a student comes back to me and says, You’re right. That was a great book. I love it that my students know that I am obsessed with books.  I loved Simon’s idea of a book table – something that might greet visitors at your house, a place to display all your favourite books, with copious copies to give away.

I have spoken, over the past 30 days, of many of the books on my reader’s table. If you have a reader’s table on your blog, I’d love a link!

I just want to, once again, thank the Portrait of a Would-Be Artist as a Young Woman for coming up with this book meme. I have enjoyed thinking about each and every one of these book-related questions…and it was fun to post something every day, something I haven’t done since I started this book blog. It’s been so much fun.

30 Day Book Meme – Day 29

A book everyone hated but you liked

Billy Dead.

Lisa Reardon’s novel was chosen by several top ten book lists and Alice Munro called it a “brave, heartwrenching debut.”

People lose people. I don’t know why we’re all so damn careless. Folks lose their kids, men lose their women, even friends get lost if you don’t keep your eye out. I look through the windshield at the houses going by. For every person sitting in them houses, watching TV or eating a ham sandwich, there’s someone somewhere wondering where and why they lost them. All those lost people, carrying on their everyday business like the air’s not full of the sound of hearts breaking and bleeding.

Reardon’s novel tells the  story of siblings Billy, Ray and Jean. They’ve had nothing close to an idyllic childhood and now, as adults, they are estranged. I chose this book as my book club choice several years ago and I read it with a knot in my stomach. The subject matter is not easy and I knew that no one in my group would like it. And I was right.

But Billy Dead is a beautiful book about what it means to be family, love and redemption, forgiveness. It is also a love story, although the lovers might cause some discomfort for some (most) readers.

Lisa Reardon herself has had a troubled life. She was recently arrested for shooting (but not killing) her father. After reading that I wondered whether or not the subject matter of her books (dysfunctional families, violence) weren’t perhaps subjects with which she was intimately familiar.

She’s an amazing writer and Billy Dead is a fantastic book.



30 Day Book meme – Day 28

Favorite title(s)

I guess titles are important. As a writer, I am really happy when I come up with a title that speaks to the story;  sometimes I have the title before I even know where the story might be going, but that’s rare.

Sometimes the titles are the only good thing about the book.

Sometimes they pique your interest and you get lucky – the books live up to the promise in the title.

The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly is a great title and it’s an even better book.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows didn’t quite live up to its mouthful of a title.

Billy Dead by Lisa Reardon hints at the trouble ahead.

30 Day Book Meme – Day 27

The most surprising plot twist or ending

I don’t think it’s actually fair to talk about this. I certainly don’t want to give anything away! All I will say is read Fingersmith by Sarah Waters. It has plot twists galore and every single one of them is jawdroppingly fantastic! That book is SO much fun to read.

In the same vein, The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield, has a few twists and is definitely worth the read. And the ending of One Day by David Nicholls amps up the story in a really remarkable way. Loved it.

Of course, if you’re looking for twists – you can’t go wrong with Thomas H. Cook. I have yet to finish a novel by this master of mystery/suspense and not been totally surprised. He’s fantastic.

30 Day Book Meme – Day 26

A book that changed your opinion about something

I don’t read that much non-fiction except for books that relate to teaching, reading and writing. I am always interested in ways that I can be more effective and motivational in the classroom. I am privileged to teach writing and I am always looking for mentors. I am a huge fan of Penny Kittle’s book Write Beside Them, a book that reinforced my notion that you can teach writing and make it fun and relevant. Writing is important. Kittle didn’t change my opinion about anything, but she made me feel that anything was possible in the writing classroom. I refer to her book often and was lucky enough to attend a one-day workshop she gave in my home town this summer. I think she’s amazing.