Category: Readalong

Before & After Canada Reads

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Each year around this time, I take a social media break, and in 2017 it’s more extreme than usual: for the month of March, I’m not only staying away from Twitter and Facebook, but also YouTube, Instagram, Goodreads… anything with a “feed.” And this blog. I’m going to pretend the internet stopped evolving after 2006, basically.

I’d be remiss if I took off with out reminding you all about Canada Reads, which is going down March 27-30 on CBC (I am allowing myself to watch broadcast TV on YouTube. I gotta keep up on Workin’ Moms too!) AND letting you know that Write Reads podcast is staging its own version of the national reading debate.

“After Canada Reads” will be released in a special edition Write Reads podcast in late April. It’s sort of a homage to Canada Reads, but also sort of an anti-Canada Reads. If you enjoy the general concept of debating books, but find the topics and criteria for those debates to be somehow both insipid and alarmist (“the book Canada MUST READ RIGHT NOW”) – or if you just have a lingering ick factor due to the ex-host – this maybe be the reading event for you.

Oh, and I’m taking part! Of course.

The theme: The best/most memorable/most inspirational female character in Canadian Literature.

The books:

  • A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki
  • Malarky by Anakana Schofield (this one is mine!)
  • The Break by Katherena Vermette (also on the legit Canada Reads)
  • A Chorus of Mushrooms by Hiromi Goto
  • Fifth Business by Robertson Davies

Check out all of the defenders and their book choices here.

So, while you struggle through the official Canada Reads without my insightful commentary about who lays the best smack downs, who has the best lipstick, and who needs to shut the hell up, remember to read along and get ready for After Canada Reads. See you all in April!

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2017 Reading Plans: Hello, boys

After numerous self-imposed reading restrictions in 2016, I’m leaving 2017 wide open in terms of what and how many books I read. I plan to reintroduce men into my reading life, after a 2016 of #readwomen. I toyed with the idea of reading only men this year, but would rather have some freedom.

I have some projects in mind, of course. This wouldn’t be a book blog without needless complication of the simple act of reading!

  1. Author of the Year – or, The Complete Works of…: Adam at Memento Mori read all of Cormac McCarthy’s books, in order of publication, in 2016 and he’s doing it again this year with Faulkner. Some other Booktube types are taking the challenge with other authors, like Steinbeck. I don’t want to settle on an author just yet; rather, I’m going to read debut novels and embark on the project when the mood strikes. My shortlist includes:
    • Gabriel Garcia Marquez (debut novella The Leaf Storm)
    • David Adams Richards (debut novel The Coming of Winter)
    • Charles Dickens (The Pickwick Papers)
    • Haruki Murkami (Hear the Wind Sing, #1 in the Trilogy of the Rat)
    • Jean Rhys (The Left Bank)
    • Dostoyevski (Poor Folk)
    • Zadie Smith (White Teeth)
    • Jonathan Franzen (The Twenty-Seventh City).
  2. Franzen in February: Speaking of the Fran Man, I do plan to reprise Franzen in February in some manner, and you can help! Get in touch if you want to write a guest post, particularly if you’ve never read Franzen and want to review one of his books. I would love someone to do The Corrections! Last year my Franzen first-timers were not impressed by either Strong Motion or Freedom.
  3. Canada Reads: The longlist is out, the “theme” is announced. Though I’m not sure “the book Canada needs now” is a theme. At the very least, I will watch, and possibly, do a shadow or parallel Canada Reads with WriteReads – check out their latest podcast for details.
  4. Authors in Edmonton: Emily St. John Mandel and Heather O’Neill: Yep, I’m finally going to read Station Eleven, as it’s the 2017 Macewan Book of the Year. Hype be damned. And O’Neill is giving the 2017 Kreisel Lecture at the University of Alberta, which will force me to read more of her work – I’ve been afraid that nothing can surpass Lullabies for Little Criminals.
  5. War and Peace Summer Readalong: No details just yet, but after completing a thousand page readalong last year, naturally I’m going to go for a twelve hundred pager this year. Watch this space.

One thing I didn’t realize til I wrote this all out is that by reading men again, and focusing on debuts, I’ll end up reading a lot of novels by men in their early-to-mid twenties.

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Ew! The semi-autobiographical musings of a 23 year old!

Wish me luck!

(If this is tl;dr you can check me out on Booktube talking about my reading goals here.)

 

 

Cecilia Read-Along Books IX and X: Fifty Shades of Morty

Fair travelers, journey to the master post if thou art lost.

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We’ve talked about fantasy casting a little bit here, and I’ve had several spirited conversations with fellow readers-along about who could play Cecilia or Mortimer. I preferred Saoirse Ronan for Cecilia, and one reader in particular is gunning for Ben Wishaw as Morty.

But readers, I saw a movie trailer this week that changes everything.

Masquerades. Mind games. Meddling mothers. WE HAVE OUR MORTY.

And you know Jamie Dornan can rock a periwig:

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Jamie Dornan as Axel Von Fersen in Marie Antoinette

Anyhoo, readers, chime in with your dream casting and read on for my last recap:

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Good Morning, Shopaholic

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Sophie Kinsella cites Jane Austen as a major influence on her writing, and her Shopaholic series in particular. It makes sense: Becky Bloomwood is, like Austen heroines, a quirky, endearing character with a fatal flaw – not pride, or predjudice, but a propensity to overspend. Kinsella’s books, like Austen’s, skewer contemporary society while guaranteeing a happy ending.

And it’s totally on-brand. Shopaholic titles are aimed directly at people who love Jane Austen (or think they would, if they get around to reading her.)

But I think Kinsella took some inspiration from another pioneering British woman author. One who might not resonate so well with her readers, being far too dark and dreary and depressing.

I read Good Morning, Midnight for Reading Rhys Week and in many ways it was a singular reading experience; but destructive heroine Sasha Jensen reminded me of something I’d read before. The fixation on clothes, accessories, and hair. The reliance on handouts from friends and family. The failed attempt at being a shopgirl. The time and effort spent on hiding from both her past and her future.

I thought it was all a coincidence till I got to the part where Sasha lies about knowing a second language to impress an employer. Just like Becky Bloomwood does in Confessions of a Shopaholic.

Then it dawned on me: Sasha Jensen is an older, broken Becky Bloomwood.

Don’t believe me? Let’s play a game.

Who said it: Becky Bloomwood or Sasha Jensen?

For each category, I chose one quote from Good Morning, Midnight, and one quote from Confessions of a Shopaholic. Can you guess who said it? Answers at bottom. Continue reading

Cecilia Read-Along Books VII and VIII: Move Morrice (Get Out The Way)

Fair travelers, journey to the master post if thou art lost.

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First, some housekeeping. Let’s drain the moat, and polish the chaise, and powder the wigs, etc.

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And uh, iron the hankies

My schedule as posted here has been thrown to the wind, and I just realized I made a mistake: The schedule has me posting a wrap-up on September 19, while the image I’ve used everywhere says the readalong ends on September 9. I’m a little disappointed you guys didn’t notice!

I want to finish sooner than later, because #ReadingRhys week starts on the 12th and I clearly can’t handle one blog event, let alone two (please follow along, I’m planning to show how Jean Rhys invented chick lit.) So to hurry things along, today I’m going to post on Books 7 and 8, and (fingers crossed) Book 9 & 10 over the weekend.

Oh yeah, I finished the book. Going camping in the rain means a lot of reading time! I must save my conclusions for the next post, but it feels good to be done.

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Cecilia Read-Along Book VI: And I feel so much depends on the weather (so is it raining in your drawing room?)

Fair travelers, journey to the master post if thou art lost.

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Another week interrupted by travel – and my reading progress was thwarted by *talkers* for two out of three flights. Only conceive how provoking!

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Despite these set backs, I am still reading, if not writing as much. I’m at that point in the readalong where you just want to barrel through and finish the thing. I know a couple of participants who were stalled are finding their stride as well – check in, how are you doing?

In Book VI we finally get a semi-romantic scene between our heroine and Morty, while he’s saving her from a sudden storm. I love me some romance in the rain, even if it is a huge cliche (big Wuthering Heights fan here. Okay, and The Notebook.) Thank god the storm came and forced Morty’s hand (metaphorically!) because I was beginning to think we’d never see the day!

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Disclaimer: Cecilia and Morty DO NOT ACTUALLY KISS

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Cecilia Read-Along Book V: Mr. [Spoiler redacted]-he dead

Fair travelers, journey to the master post if thou art lost.

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This past week, two readers-along have finished the bookand at least one has run into a roadblock (or lack thereof – see Read the North’s thought provoking post). I know that most of you are trucking along, like me, but between work, travel, and being an unfit person at a fitness conference, I’m phoning it in on this update. Please, talk amongst yourselves, or read on for my super short recap.

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Cecilia Read-Along Book IV: Blackguards and revelations

Fair travelers, journey to the master post if thou art lost.

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Over on Twitter, the fantasy casting continues. After determining that most of us are too old to know of any actresses young enough to play Cecilia, I reached out to one of our younger readers-along (early 30s! If you’re younger, please weigh in) who is pushing hard for Juno Temple, but I’m all about Saoirse Ronan. Both potential Cecilias have something to say to young Delvile (I’m not a fan right now):

Juno Temple

Juno Temple

Saoirse

Saoirse

Book III ended with everyone hiding the truth, so of course, some truth comes out in Book IV. Read on for the revelations, and more than a few blackguards.

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Cecilia Read-Along Book III: Briggs better have my money

Fair travelers, journey to the master post if thou art lost.

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Predictions about Cecilia’s suitors are running rampant in last week’s post, but this week, it’s all about money. Cecilia seems to the be only person with enough of it, but until she turns 21, she must rely on her guardians to access it – and none of them are making that easy. I am uneasy about her money being in the hands of these three peculiar, and in at least one case, horrid men. That usually doesn’t turn out well. Just ask RiRi:

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A few readers are off the wagon, while a few are just climbing on. I’m reading ahead in Book V and believe me, you wanna stick around. Book III is short but can be confusing, so let’s break it down with gifs o’ plenty:

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Cecilia Read-Along Book II: It’s all happening

Fair travelers, journey to the master post if thou art lost.

Cecilia Readalong Button edit

It’s all happening for Cecilia this week! Our Frances vs. Fanny discussion is still going strong in last week’s post. Rick of Read the North pulled some of Burney’s sickest burns in his Book I wrap up. Much discussion about who should be cast in the roles of Mortimer Delvile took place on Facebook and Twitter. I’ll get you caught up with all that in a minute. But first, this happened:

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I’m still not sure why, after years of blogging about live Canadian authors, I got called by the CBC for blogging about a dead British one, but, I’ll take it. Have a listen here. Welcome CBC listeners: if you’re reading with us, please say hello in the comments!

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