My 2017 Books in Review!

What I Read in 2017

In 2017, I read 152 books. I think I had scheduled myself to read 75, because I figured with grad school and thesis-ing, I wouldn’t be able to do it. Turns out, when you have to bus for an hour-and-a-half every day to get out to your co-op job, you still get to read lots! I’ve included a list of some of my favourite books from the year, although it’s certainly hard to remember each book clear enough to know if it was one of the best.

Check out my Goodreads 2017 challenge to see the complete list of what I read, and follow along on my 2018 challenge! #whatjanessareads

Favourite Mysteries:

  • Cocaine Blues (Phryne Fisher #1) by Kerry Greenwood – check out the series on Netflix, too! Australia in the 1920s, she’s a lady who becomes a lady detective. And she gets to sleep around like James Bond, but no slut-shaming!
  • As Death Draws Near (Lady Darby Mystery #5) by Anna Lee Huber – another historical mystery, but during the Victorian period. The main lady’s got gumption. Her husband is pretty smoldering, too.

Favourite SciFi or Fantasy:

  • I read most of Lynn Kurland’s The Nine Kingdoms, and I straight-up couldn’t pick a favourite of the series. It’s just as grungy as Lord of the Rings, but faster, and actually has women.
  • Tower of Dawn (Throne of Glass #6) by Sarah J. Maas – this book was a departure from the usual characters we follow, but I grew to love it. I can’t wait until the next book!
  • A Court of Wings and Ruin (A COurt of Thorns and Roses #3) by Sarah J. Maas – I wasn’t a fan of the first book, but the second and third totally redeemed it. Such a great YA fantasy.

Favourite CanLit:

  • Winter on Diamond by Soren Bondrup-Nielson – got me pumped to go on a canoe trip through Temagami, and I was able to look for some things that happen in their story!
  • Quantum Night by Robert J. Sawyer – this book is seriously creepy. It’s way too relevant to Trump-era, of the zombies people become and sociopaths… I got to a particularly scary part as I was drifting off to bed, and since Nic was away on a work trip, I had to put on Netflix to sleep to.
  • Company Town by Madeline Ashby – kinda Newfoundland oil rigger? Post-apocalyptic. People can get 3d prints of body parts, and virtual body parts to appear perfect.

Other Books:

  • The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid –  without giving up too much of the shocker, Evelyn decides to share her story finally, about all of her personal story.
  • The Virgin Cure by Ami McKay – about a girl who ends up in a brothel in New York, it’s pretty sad. Very well-written.

What did you love in the past year? What are you looking forward to reading in 2018?

July Books - JanessaMann.Com

July Books

July Books - JanessaMann.Com

In July I read 16 books, and I boosted my GoodReads 2016 challenge from 100 to 150 books. I’m now at 116, and still going strong. There were a bunch of duds in my to-read list, so some I pushed through (“The Goddess Test” and “Bone and Bread,”) and some I just stopped reading .

“Bone and Bread” – Saleema Nawaz [3/5]
Since this is the 14/15 Canada Reads books, I had to keep going even though it was both depressing and kind of confusing. The book takes place in Montreal and Ottawa, around Quebec’s attempts to separate from Canada. We start the book discovering Beena’s sister has died from prolonged years of anorexia. Quickly we also find out that Beena’s dad died when they were young, and when Beena and Sadhana serve their mom a chicken on her birthday, she dies. Beena is an orphan at age 16-and-gets knocked up. Yup, pretty depressing book. It’s also super confusing with the jumps in time.

“206 Bones” Temperance Brennan #12 – Kathy Reichs [3/5]

“How to Be an American Housewife” – Margaret Dilloway [3/5]

“Buying on Time” – Antanas Sileika [3/5]

“The Goddess Test” Goddess Test #1 – Aimee Carter [2/5]
They could have done this a lot better. It’s a modern take on Hades and Persephone-Kate trade’s herself in order to save her friend’s life. She promises she will stay with Henry (or Hades) every winter for eternity, and needs to pass certain challenges to be allowed to stay. We don’t find out what the challenges were until at the end, and you feel so uncomfortable about the Stockholm Syndrome the whole time.

July Books - JanessaMann.Com

“The Devil’s Queen: A Novel of Catherine de Medici” – Jeanne Kalogridis [4/5]
This book was really interesting. I haven’t read much in that era that wasn’t based around England, so it was cool to learn more Italian and French history. I love how historical novelists will pick and choose which rumors to decide are truth-Kalogridis showed Catherine as sacrificing a pregnant prostitute during some black magic in order to have her own children. The novel was well-written and super juicy.

“Digging Up Bones” Birdwell, Texas Mysteries #1 – Aimee Gilchrest [3/5]

“Working Stiff” Mattie Winston Mysteries #1 – Annelise Ryan [4/5]
This was a fun new murder mystery series for me. Mattie Winston is a former ER/Surgery nurse who ends up working for her friend at the coroner’s office. Her soon-to-be-ex-husband’s girlfriend happens to be Mattie’s first dead body.

“A Disguise to Die For” Costume Shop Mystery #1 – Diane Vallere [3/5]

“Terror in Taffeta” – Marla Cooper [4/5]

“Daisies for Innocence” Enchanted Garden Mystery #1 – Bailey Cattrell [4/5]

“Alice in Wonderland” – Lewis Carroll [2/5]

“A Murder in Time” Kendra Donovan #1 – Julie McElwain [5/5]
This book was a surprise-Kendra is an FBI profiler who goes on the run to catch a bad guy. In the process, she goes through a time portal, back to 1815 England. Kendra is mistaken for a maid. During her time, she ends up hunting for a serial killer of prostitutes. She’s a badass, and definitely shocking for the people in 1815. But be warned, some of it is definitely too creepy to read right before bed.

“His Majesty’s Hope” Maggie Hope Mystery #3 – Susan Elia MacNeal [5/5]
I really can’t get enough of this series. This book, Maggie is the first British woman to be sent over the lines as a spy into Germany, to retrieve important information. She ends up befriending her half-sister-their mother is high up in the Nazi party, and presumed dead in England.

“Death of Riley” Molly Murphy Mysteries #2 – Rhys Bowen [3/5]

“Me Before You” – Jojo Moyes [5/5]
I wasn’t sure how I would feel about this book, since I expected it to be very Notebook-ish, but I cried the whole time. Lou Clark is hired to be a caregiver for Will Traynor, a quadriplegic who is understandably very upset with his new lifestyle. Definitely a very emotional read.

What I Read in June – Done 100 Books for 2016!

What I Read in June - JanessaMann.Com

Six months into the year and I have read 100 novels and non-fiction books. Wow. I’m definitely under-employed and bored from my job. Now that I’ve hit my goal of 100 in 2016, I’ll probably re-adjust to be 150 or so since I start grad school in September. I probably won’t read for fun much then. In undergrad I did read for amusement, but it wasn’t my priority. I read 14 books in June, plus a few that I cut off after 20% of the book because they weren’t great. This month I’ll only include a couple reviews because I’ve definitely gotten tired of writing all those paragraphs.

“Rule of Two” Star Wars: Darth Bane #2 – Drew Karpyshan

“Grace Among Thieves” Manor House Mystery #3 – Julie Hyzy [4/5]

“Razing the Dead” Museum #5 – Sheila Connolly [4/5]

“Out of Circulation” Cat in the Stacks #4 – Miranda James [3/5]

What I Read in June - JanessaMann.Com

“Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear” – Elizabeth Gilbert [1/5]
This book had been recommended to me by several people. I thought it was terrible. Gilbert wrote “Eat, Pray, Love,” which I vaguely enjoyed. If I wanted to do a creative profession right now or was at a creative block, maybe I would have enjoyed it. However, I found myself gritting my teeth to get through the 100+ pages.

“Undead and Unemployed” Undead #2 – MaryJanice Davidson [4/5]

“The Amazing Absorbing Boy” Rabindranath Maharaj [3/5]
I have 2 Canada Reads books to read after this one, I’m so close! This book is about a boy who emigrates to Canada to be with his inventor father. Turns out his father has been unemployed all the years he’s been there, and Samuel ends up making the money for them. The book is full of interesting imagery drawn from the comic books he found in Trinidad as a child. Wasn’t my top 5 for the Canada Reads list, but still interesting.

“Woman: An Intimate Geography” – Natalie Angier [4/5]
Angier’s huge book discusses different topics about women’s bodies-how we become female in the womb, hormones, sex, and it’s all very well-researched and explained. It was so empowering to learn so many cool facts about my body! My only gripe was that it was incredibly heteronormative- all the relationships she would mention (except a few) were between a man and a woman. Maybe it would have made the book longer to include other options, but I was disappointed on that missed mark.

“The War Against Miss Winter” Rosie Winter #1 – Kathryn Miller Haines [4/5]
Rosie Winter lives in New York during 1943. She’s a struggling actress who works as a secretary for a private detective. Her boss shows up dead, and she discovers his underhanded involvement with the mafia, and sets out to prove his death was murder, not a suicide. It’s a pretty fun book, so I look forward to reading the next ones in the series.

What I Read in June - JanessaMann.Com
I started this just before the month ended, and spent the day I finished it bawling.

“The Book of Lost Tales, Part 1” History of Middle-Earth #1 – J.R.R. Tolkien [3/5]
If you’re a super nerd, this series is wonderful. It’s a bunch of short stories Tolkien wrote to piece together his universe, and his son Christopher published posthumously. It wasn’t the most riveting read, but some stories I remembered references to, so that was good.

“Not the Killing Type” Booktown Mystery #7 – Lorna Barrett [3/5]

“Murder Most Howl” Paws and Claws Mystery #3 – Krista Davis [3/5]

“Basket Case” Silver Six Crafting Mystery #1 – Nancy Haddock [3/5]

“Feta Attraction” Greek to Me #1 – Susannah Hardy [3/5]

What I Read in May #whatjanessareads

What I Read in May #whatjanessareads - JanessaMann.Com

During the month of May I read 17 books, putting me at 93 for the year. I’m almost done my Goodreads 2016 challenge– 100 books! I guess I could probably update it to be 200 books since we’re almost halfway through the year, but with possibly starting a third part-time job soon, and grad school in the fall, I don’t want to pressure myself. Not that I’ve been feeling pressured to read all this, my brain is just so bored with my job (I work front desk at GoodLife, and it doesn’t use much brain power most of the time) that I have to fill it with stories. This month I decided to include my ratings out of five like I put on my Goodreads account.

That Old Flame of Mine” Sweet Pepper Fire Brigade Mystery #1 – J. J. Cook [4/5]
Stella Griffin moves to Sweet Pepper, Tennessee, for a break from her situation back home in Chicago (typical cozy mystery, found her partner cheating on her). Stella works for three months in Sweet Pepper to start up a volunteer fire brigade. One of her friends, Tory, dies in a house fire. Turns out it’s murder.

Poles Apart” Terry Fallis [5/5]
Terry Fallis is a Canadian political satirist. I discovered him through some magazine article which featured one of his books, “The Best Laid Plans,” which is about an old, grumpy man who ends up becoming an MP because the other options in the riding were terrible. It’s great. “Poles Apart” features Evertt who is inspired to create the Eve of Equality, a feminist blog. Literally overnight his blog breaks the internet and he gets thousands of followers. Everyone wants Eve to come out in public and show herself. In typical Fallis style, things go wonky.

Sitting Practice” Caroline Adderson [4/5]
# 11/15 Canada Reads! – Iliana and Ross get married. Two weeks after their marriage, Ross crashes the car, and Iliana is paralyzed from her hips down. The book follows them for a couple years while he tries to deal with his guilt, and Iliana is hurt that they aren’t intimate after the accident. It’s really well written, and very weird.

Guilty as Cinnamon” A Spice Shop Mystery #2 – Leslie Budewitz [3/5]
Pepper runs a spice store in Seattle’s Pike Place Market. One of her friends who is in the process of opening a new restaurant is discovered murdered. The victim’s old boss happen’s to be Pepper’s ex, and he is the main suspect. It’s allright. I’ll probably get the third book in the series and see if I want to continue.

Slayed on the Slopes” Pacific Northwest #2 = Kate E. Dyer-Seeley [4/5]
The first book in the series was super exciting for me to find: a cozy murder series with a character who is in her twenties, just graduated from journalism. Finally, someone whose stage of life is relate-able to me! I get kind of tired of all the women in their thirties and forties who’ve just gotten divorced and moved back home to start some ridiculous business that somehow stays afloat despite being very specific. Meg works at an adventure magazine despite not knowing how to do any of the things she writes about. In the second book in the series, she is featuring the Range Riders, a new mountain rescue team. While they’re stuck in a cabin at the top of a mountain during a blizzard, the leader of the team is murdered. Meg has to solve it.

Magic and Macaroons” Magical Bakery Mystery #5 – Bailey Cates [4/5]
Very cute series. Katie Lightfoot is a hedgewitch who uses “intentions” to infuse her food at her bakery with whatever is necessary-figs in the muffins for the writer with writer’s block? A young woman collapses at Honeybee Bakery, mumbling about a voodoo talisman. It turns out she is the niece of an ex-detective who was hunting down dark magic. The detective turns up murdered by voodoo ritual. Katie has to hunt down a voodoo queen to find the murderer and the missing talisman.

Murder with Ganache” Key West Food Critic Mystery #4 – Lucy Burdette [3/5]
Hayley Snow writes for Key Zest magazine. Her best friend, Connie, is getting married. Hayley’s teenage stepbrother disappears from the rehearsal dinner. The family discovers him on a small island, beaten and bruised after having stolen a jet-ski with a new friend. The new friend is discovered dead on the other side of the island.

Dead in the Family” Sookie Stackhouse #10 – Charlaine Harris [4/5]
In the previous book, the faeries have been locked in their dimension, except for Sookie’s cousin Claude and a few others. Sookie’s vampire lover, Eric, is visited by his sire, and is being challenged for his control of Shreveport. As usual, there’s lots of ridiculous drama, but I’m going to be sad when I finish the series.

What I Read in May #whatjanessareads - JanessaMann.Com

The Readaholics and the Poirot Puzzle” Book Club Mystery #2 – Laura DiSilverio [4/5]
Amy-Faye is helping her brother open his new pub. Derek’s business partner ends up murdered at the grand opening. Derek is under suspicion, for Amy-Faye and her whole book club band together to help the pub going as well as prove it wasn’t him.

Niko” Dimitri Nasrallah
I’m almost done the Canada Reads books! This was # 10/15. Niko is born in Beirut during civil upheaval. Niko’s mother dies in a bombing, so him and his father escape. In Greece, Niko’s father manages to contact his brother-in-law who sponsors Niko to immigrate to Canada when he is twelve. The theme for the Canada Reads list this year was to do with starting over, and Niko certainly does this. It’s interesting and upsetting to read about his experience as an immigrant in Canada.

Plantation Shudders” Cajun Country Mystery #1 – Ellen Byron [4/5]
Maggie Crozat helps her parents run a B&B in their old family home in Louisiana. An old couple stays with them-the man dies of a stroke, and the woman from arsenic poisoning. Maggie has to clear the name of their B&B so they won’t lose customers-and, of course, the arsenic is found in their kitchen.

The Cakes of Monte Cristo” Piece of Cake Mystery #6 – Jacklyn Brady [4/5]
Rita’s cake shop, Zydeco Cakes, is catering a big New Orleans ball. In a clumsy accident at the store, an old, cursed necklace is discovered. Rita brings the necklace to be appraised, and the jeweller is discovered murdered.

Minister Without Portfolio” – Michael Winter [3/5]
After a breakup, Henry goes to Afghanistan as a contract electrician. On a mission, one of his friends dies, so he returns to Canada. The friend’s girlfriend is pregnant, and they get together. Very typical of the weird stuff that happens in Canada Reads books.

What I Read in May #whatjanessareads - JanessaMann.Com

Copy Cap Murder” Hat Shop Mystery #4 – Jenn McKinlay [4/5]
Scarlett gets hit on by a creep at a big party. The creep ends up murdered. Scarlett has to prove that it’s not her quasi-boyfriend’s fault. Always a fun series.

Better Homes and Corpses” Hamptons Home & Garden Mystery #1 – Kathleen Bridge [4/5]
Meg has moved to Montauk where she has established her decorating business, Cottages by the Sea. Meg visits her old college roommate, Jillian, in the East Hamptons. Jillian’s mom has been murdered.

Frozen Tides” Falling Kingdoms #4 – Morgan Rhodes [5/5]
For the first hundred pages I couldn’t remember the previous books in the series, so I was extremely confused. I finally figured out what was happening. Basically everyone is very confused, and hunting for elemental crystals. I can’t wait for the next one.

The Bitter Kingdom” Fire and Thorns #3 – Rae Carson [5/5]
When I realized this was a trilogy, I got incredibly mad. The series just kept getting better, and I wish it kept on going. Queen Elisa is a #GirlBoss, defending her country against civil war, invasion, and evil magicians.

Saturday Afternoon

This past Saturday afternoon after my shift at the gym, Nic and I took the streetcar out to High Park to meet our friends Dayna and Christian. It was a beautiful day, but definitely colder than it looked. We sat on their blanket for a while, and if you were in the right spot, the sun was bright enough you were almost warm.

The trees are starting to bud, which is wonderful!

After separating, Nic and I went to the Annex, where we had drinks and the most amazing nachos at Hey Lucy. Again, in direct sunlight on the patio you sort of felt warm.


My Outfit: H&M army green jacket
Gap striped top
Black jeans from Forever 21
Joe Fresh tennis shoes

What I Read in March #whatjanessareads (18 Books)

For the last day of the month, what else would I post than what I read?
I got through several more of the Canada Reads books (including the one that won!) as well as some more relaxing ones. As usual, most of my reading was on my KOBO, so the picture is pretty barren.

Check out my Goodreads 2016 challenge here! I’m waayyy ahead of the 100 I pledged to read. Nice.
What I read in February
What I read in January
What I read in 2015 (200 books in one year)

Not sure what to read? The Novel Cure gives you suggestions based on your mood. Homesick? Travelling on a train? They’ve got you covered.

My Top 3 Books in March:
“Mr. Churchill’s Secretary”
“Jesus Feminist”
“The Heart Goes Last”

The Ultimate Guide to Homesteading: An Encyclopedia of Independent Living” Nicole Faires
I bought this book several years ago while I was working at camp. It teaches so many insane things: how to deliver calfs (and even human babies), how to check your soil, making soap, hunting… It knows everything. After many years of perusing, I have finally finished it. I’m very excited to use the gardening section this summer with my friends in our “community” garden.

Mr. Churchill’s Secretary” Susan Elia Macneal 
During WWII, Maggie who is a British and American citizen, moves to England to sell her grandmother’s house. She happens to be a math genius who has to defer her PhD at MIT for a year because of it. She ends up working as a secretary for Mr. Churchill, the new Prime Minister. Maggie gets involved in some IRA and Nazi conspiracies as well as a murder or two. Seriously great book, the whole time I had no idea what would happen.

Leviticus NIV
Probably one of the most boring reads in the Bible, but at the very last chapter in my student NIV Bible from Zondervan, it explained that God was giving them laws so that they could reclaim the identity as his chosen people. The Israelites had been slaves of Egypt for 400 years, so they now needed their own identity. When you think about it that way, it’s kinda cool. It also shows God caring about every aspect of their lives.

All the Broken Things” Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer
One of the Canada Reads books for 2016. Probably my second favourite of the 7/15 I’ve read so far. It’s a super weird story: Bo is a refugee from Vietnam during/after the Vietnam War with his mom and sister who has been severely affected by Agent Orange (chemical warfare used on Vietnam). He ends up being a bear wrestler for various fairs in Ontario.

Life-Changing Magic: A Journal: Spark Joy Every Day” Marie Kondo
So many YouTubers read Marie Kondo’s book and said it was the best thing that happened to them. Since I’m a hoarder and not too neat, I figured I’d check it out. Her basic concept is to reduce your personal items, and then find places for everything. For each item, it needs to “spark joy,” otherwise you can’t keep it. While I won’t be getting rid of everything, I did take some of the ideas to heart and am in the process of sorting through everything.

The Readaholics and the Falcon Fiasco” Laura DiSilverio
New mystery series focused on a mystery book club. The main character is a party planner who is hired to plan her ex-boyfriend’s wedding, and one of her friends gets murdered. It was alright.

The Outside Circle: A Graphic Novel” Patti Laboucane-Benson
The one graphic novel in Canada Reads. It discusses issues faced by a young Aboriginal man in Alberta. It’s pretty upsetting at times when they include stats of abuse and violence, but don’t worry, it has a semi-happy ending. Very dark.

Jesus Feminist: An Invitation to Revisit the Bible’s View of Women” Sarah Bessey
I tried to read this once before and the library reservation ended, so I didn’t get to read it. This is a phenomenal book which details why Sarah is a feminist (because Jesus was one, and she is a Christian) and how we should be feminists if we are Christian. She has lots of really great interpretations of the Bible.

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie” Alan Bradley
This book is pretty funny. Flavia is a young girl in the 1950s who comes across a murdered man in her garden. She is a very advanced chemist, sassy, and somehow solves the mystery. I’m excited to read more of the series.

Gospel of Matthew – NIV
Reading Leviticus was divided up through Matthew, which was a good way to handle the depressing rules in Leviticus.

The Illegal” Lawrence Hill
This book won Canada Reads. I still like “Station Eleven” and “All the Broken Things” more, but I’ll have to watch the debates to see why the book won. It’s set present time and follows a boy from the made-up country of Zantoroland. He becomes a marathon runner to escape the political danger in his country, and ends up having to hide from authorities in the Freedom State, which represents any democratic country.

The Martian” Andy Weir
I loved the movie, which I watched in theaters. Somehow the movie followed the book exactly, so I didn’t actually enjoy it that much. Especially the math. Anyway, the book is about Mark Watney, who gets marooned on Mars, his attempts to survive life on Mars, and NASA’s attempts to recover him.

The Pirate’s Wish” Cassandra Rose Clarke
Still a really weird series. Ananna the pirate and Naji the assassin are still trying to break the Unbreakable curse that has linked them together. They travel to mythical islands and meet some royalty. I had kind of expected there to be a third book, but it just ended. It was fine.

Landing Gear” Kate Pullinger
This book confused me. Another of the Canada Reads books. Basically the book follows the crazy intertwinings of characters following the volcanic eruption in 2010. There were some crazy moments but it wasn’t the most interesting.

Murphy’s Law” Rhys Bowen
First in a series about Molly Murphy who escapes from Ireland to America after committing defensive murder of her attempted rapist. She ends up posing as the mother of two kids who are going over to America since the mother is sick and wouldn’t be allowed past Ellis Island. While they’re on the island, a man she argues with on the boat is murdered. Molly goes badass on us.

Dead and Gone” Charlaine Harris
Number 9 in True Blood. The werewolves and other shifters “come out” on television. Of course, this causes even more upset. Sookie’s pregnant sister-in-law is murdered and strung up on a cross. Is it just regular murder? Or a hate crime?

Sweetland” Michael Crummey
The most boring Canada Reads book I’ve read so far. Basically Sweetland lives on an island off Newfoundland that the government is trying to empty. They’re paying off everyone to leave the island. Everyone agrees except old Sweetland, who tries to fake his own death and stay there.

The Heart Goes Last” Margaret Atwood
Love Atwood. In this post-modern book, Charmaine and Stan agree to be a part of a social experiment where half their time they live in a perfect town and have jobs, and the other half they are in jail. Obviously, it’s weird. Stan falls in love with the elusive woman who lives in his apartment while he is in jail. That’s a problem.

What I Read in February #WhatJanessaReads

What I Read in February #WhatJanessaReads

My Goodreads challenge for 2016 is 100 books. Looks like I’ll be ahead of myself for a long time, which makes things easier in case I’m in grad school in September and won’t have time to read for fun quite as much. Check out my January books post, follow along on #whatjanessareads, and look at which Canada Reads 2016 books you’re interested in reading!

This post is considerably longer than my January one, since I actually wrote about every single book, instead of picking certain ones to highlight. Hopefully you love it!

Top 3 Books of February:
“Station Eleven”
“Bad Feminist”
“Silent in the Grave”

What I Read in February #WhatJanessaReads

Birdie” Tracey Lindberg
One of the short list for Canada Reads 2016. It was an easier and faster read than I had expected, but I would recommend reading it on a hard copy, not an e-book. There are a bunch of footnotes explaining references and Cree words which I couldn’t flip back and forth to, so that was frustrating. The book is about Bernice/Birdie, a Cree-Metis woman, who grows up on a reserve in Alberta, and later migrates to Gibsons and Vancouver. Lindberg has a very dark sense of humour, which makes childhood sexual abuse scenes a little less (or more?) shocking. I enjoyed the book, but I got a little confused sometimes with the changes in timeline and narrator.

Foul Play at the Fair” Shelley Freydont
Liv moves from NYC to be the festival organizer for Celebration Bay, New York. The day of their fall festival, a man is discovered in the apple press. Turns out he is the long-lost brother of the owner of the farm, and he was a major troublemaker. Without spoiling the book, I was disappointed by the end.

A Hedonist’s Guide to Art” Laura K. Jones, ed. 
I purchased this book years ago at the National Art Gallery, and never got very far. I decided to start it this month, and read a few essays a day–it worked, I finally finished it! The book discusses modern art, collecting and selling art, and the process of creating it. Some of it was hilarious, other parts shocking (most of the pictures included were very phallic), but I found myself frustrated that it was obviously UK-centric. Most of the essayists were British, or had moved there, so I didn’t recognize most of the important names. Also, some of the people used big words I had never heard of.

To Brew or Not to Brew” Joyce Tremel
It’s about time that someone came out with a cozy murder mystery series to do with beer, with all the craft breweries everywhere now! Max (Maxine) is starting up her brewery when her assistant gets murdered, but no one believes her. There is also some opposition in her Pittsburgh neighbourhood about opening a brewhouse, so she has to convince the naysayers. Cute characters, and actually made me interested in drinking beer–I’m a strictly Corona on the dock beer-drinker.

Interview with the Vampire” Anne Rice
I thought I had watched the movie in grade 8 with my friend Anya, but it turns out we must’ve only watched the first half, because I got very confused and surprised. The book follows Louis, a plantation owner in Louisiana through his vampire life both in America and Europe. It was a little slow at times, so I interspersed it with other novels, but I did really enjoy it. Also, I’m apparently in a “vampire phase” if you look at what books I’ve liked to read!

Star Wars Lost Tribe of the Sith” (Secrets, Pandemonium, Purgatory, Savior, Paragon, Pantheon, Sentinel, Skyborn, Precipice) John Jackson Miller
This is the second set of books I’ve read in the Star Wars chronology, and it takes place 5000-3000 years before the destruction of the first death star. A ship of Sith and their humans crashland on a planet with little hope of finishing their mission or returning to space. The humans survive and implant themselves in the native theology, become their rulers, and encounter rebellions over the 2000 years. I read each of the novellas which can be found together in a very large compilation, or separately.

From Dead to Worse” Charlaine Harris
I was kind of surprised where this book started out after the crazy drama of the previous one. There are some werewolf battles, new vampires in town wanting to claim the kingdom, and Sookie gets to learn about her heritage.

Scent of Magic” Maria V. Snyder
This is the second in the Healer series. I hadn’t read the first book for a while, so it took me a few chapters to remember everything that had happened before. Avry is caught between warring kings and queens, and is also supposed to be dead. Avry infiltrates one of the armies, and is her usual badass self. The series involves re-animated corpses, which is a fun, fantasy take on zombies.

What I Read in February #WhatJanessaReads
Reading date at Box Car Social

Station Eleven” Emily St. John Mandel
This was absolutely one of the best books I’ve read in a while- no wonder it was on the Canada Reads 2016 long list! The book starts day one of a world-wide pandemic, and travels back and forth in time to explain how the characters are related and how they experience the pandemic. It’s very realistic, and makes you only a little freaked out for the future!

The Remains of the Dead” Wendy Roberts
This is the first in a new series about Sadie, who owns a crime scene cleaning company. Not only does she have a really gross job (wiping up blood splatters, picking up brain fragments) but she sees ghosts. In the book, Sadie is hired to clean a murder-suicide scene, but something is off, and she’s on the case!

Undead and Unwed” Mary Janice Davidson
For some reason I thought this was going to be a murder mystery. Nope. The series is probably more of a fantasy-romance, so that was surprising! Betsy gets fired on her birthday, then killed in a car accident, and wakes up as a vampire. Because she reveals herself to her family and friends, she gets caught between two vampire factions.

This is How you Lose Her” Junot Diaz
This collection of short stories was mentioned in “Bad Feminist,” and I immediately requested it from the library. I won’t say that I enjoyed it. The short stories follow Yunior, an immigrant from the Dominican, through various relationships, hookups, and his family life. I think what made me uncomfortable during the read was how raw some of the writing was, and I also missed out on a lot of the Spanish references.

Malice at the Palace” Rhys Bowen
Lady Georgiana Rannoch is 35th in line to the English throne, but is penniless in the twenties. She is hired by her relative, the Queen of England, to welcome Prince George’s bride, Princess Marina to England. George is a playboy, and one of his ex-lovers shows up dead outside the palace. Uhoh!

Silent in the Grave” Deanna Raybourn
Lady Julia’s husband dies at the beginning of the book, and a local detective tells her it is murder. Julia, who didn’t really love her husband much, dismisses it, until her year of mourning is over and she discovers a threatening letter in his desk. Julia and the detective have to navigate the rules of the Victorian period to solve the mystery.

All Together Dead” Charlaine Harris
Serious vampire summit- all the kings and queens of the States get together to solve legal issues. Unfortunately people get murdered and there are bombs planted. Shit goes down.

Bad Feminist” Roxane Gay
I bought this book of feminist essays last year and never got around to reading it. I’m glad that I finally did. Roxane talks about patriarchy, gender roles, homophobia, racism in pop culture, and everything else. I have tons of underlining in my book of the “WOAH” moments throughout the essays, and would definitely recommend this book to any people who like to think hard.

Death Wears a Mask” Ashley Weaver
I love this series: it follows a young woman in 1930s London, who has a sometimes-cheating husband, and she gets involved in murders. In this particular book, she is roped into solving jewellery thieving at a masked ball, but one of the guests gets murdered. The characters are a lot of fun, and the Dirty Thirties are such a fun period of time.