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?

Fall 2016 In Review

Yes, you are right, I ignored my blog for most of fall. I had great intentions to write a post or two a week, but when I did have free time I used it to work out, hang out with Nic, family, or friends, and relax. Hopefully in the winter I’ll be able to slip blogging back into my schedule, because last year I loved sharing about my life and projects here! While doing the final edit of our Christmas letter, I realized I really needed to get up a summary post.

Fall 2016 in Review - JanessaMann.Com
Studying hard!

Grad School:

This fall I started grad school at the University of Ottawa in Globalization and International Development. I’ve been so happy being back in school. My brain was definitely rotting at Bed Bath & Beyond and at GoodLife Fitness (co-workers, discounts, and lots of gym time were great but…) so it’s been fun getting back into it. I took Introduction to International Development, Research Methods, and Gender Security and Development. I worked very hard, and made some great friends.

Fall 2016 - JanessaMann.Com


Nic and I have loved exploring Ottawa now that we live here (Nic hasn’t lived in Ottawa since high school graduation). It’s been a lot of fun trying new coffee shops, restaurants, and going for hikes all over. We live very close to lots of cool places, so walking around is easy.

Fall 2016 - JanessaMann.ComFitness update:

Yup, I definitely fell off the bandwagon for a bit this term. I
gained 5 lbs and most of that was body fat (except I’m using a different body comp scale now that I’m in a different gym, so it’s hard to be sure what the exact increase is). It’s been hard going from working out 6 days a week to 2 or 3. I think it’ll be easier in the winter when I’ll only have two courses, and only one part-time job (which is a block away from my gym!). This means that my gains were slower, but I’m still happy with the new PRs I got. I’ve been focusing a lot on my bench and pull-ups, and am very proud.

Mental health:

I can’t tell you how happy I am to be back in Ottawa. It feels like home, and there are so many wonderful, soul-feeding people and places here. It’s been great being back at my home church, seeing my parents regularly, singing in choirs, and spending tons of time outdoors. You don’t see the pollution like you do in Toronto, and it’s way easier to get outside of the city. Of course I miss friends and family in Southern Ontario, but some of my strongest supporters are in Ottawa, so it’s good to be back with them.

Fall 2016 - JanessaMann.Com


Our new apartment is probably more than twice the size of our Toronto place. It’s cheaper, and less character, but man, that space has been fantastic! We even have a balcony, which we didn’t have last year. Our second bedroom is my office, where we store the bikes (Nic has a wall mount) and my closet. Hopefully soon I’ll do a blog post about what our apartment looks like!

I’ve loved having my own space to do my work, it’s super handy for times when I don’t want to go onto campus to do work.

We also have lots of plants which Nic keeps alive (I’m only good for cacti and succulents) and personal touches everywhere.

Fall 2016 - JanessaMann.Com

Thanks for reading!

Favourite Toronto Restaurants - JanessaMann.Com

My Favourite Toronto Restaurants

Favourite Toronto Restaurants - JanessaMann.Com

For our one year living in Toronto, we agreed that although we did not have much money (grad students and people who work at front desks of gyms aren’t rolling in it) we wanted to explore Toronto well. Sometimes that meant exploring it with our stomachs. We found some really great restaurants all over the city, and you should definitely try some of them!

For our first wedding anniversary we went to Byblos, which is a Mediterranean restaurant. Their drinks are amazing, their food is amazing, and we had a wonderful time.

Favourite Toronto Restaurants - JanessaMann.Com

There are many ice cream and gelato places around our neighbourhood of St. Clair West, but Booyah is the one we’ve loved the most. You can have these amazing dessert tacos, or ice cream sandwiches, all customizable.

Favourite Toronto Restaurants - JanessaMann.Com
Sea Witch Fish & Chips

The Sea Witch is another of our favourites in St. Clair West. We’ve taken several people there, and everyone always loves the awesome service (the owners remember you!), the spicy pickled onions, awesome fries, and best of all, the sandwich. For two people, you only need one order of fries since the sandwiches are so big and awesome. The first time we went, Nic only got the fish, not the sandwich, and he was definitely jealous.

Favourite Toronto Restaurants - JanessaMann.Com

Glory Hole Doughnuts

Nic and I love doughnuts. Glory Hole (don’t think about it!) is sort of difficult for us to get to in Parkdale, but it’s awesome. Nic had a malted doughnut, and mine was strawberry rhubarb. So fresh, the inside is delicious, perfect.

Favourite Toronto Restaurants - JanessaMann.Com
Box Car Social

The coffeeshop we’ve returned to the most is Box Car SocialBox Car Social. They’re one of those coffee shops that turns into a bar, so you can get flights of different alcohol etc. We love the service, the latte art, and their chai tea lattes are up to my standards. The location on Yonge Street near St. Clair is super cool with lots of different rooms upstairs to hang out or work in, and a patio on the first floor.

Favourite Toronto Restaurants - JanessaMann.Com
Pho Hung

Our favourite Asian cuisine has been at Pho Hung- a Vietnamese place in Chinatown. Their Vermicelli is delicious.

Favourite Toronto Restaurants - JanessaMann.Com

Taco Ice Cream Sundae at Booyah Ice Cream

Booyah Ice Cream - JanessaMann.Com

There are lots of specialty ice cream places in Toronto. Some of them live up to the hype (Sweet Jesus) and some don’t (Dutch Dreams), but all of them offer unique experiences, so if you like ice cream and don’t mind lines, check them out this summer!

Booyah Ice Cream - JanessaMann.Com

Nic and I were lucky on our trip to Booyah at St. Clair West and Vaughan (Bathurst) that there wasn’t a line ahead of us. Booyah  offers different ice cream sandwiches. You can pick the type of cookie and scoops of ice cream, but this summer they added ice cream tacos. In the folded waffle is three scoops of ice cream, two toppings, and a sauce.

Booyah Ice Cream - JanessaMann.Com

Booyah Ice Cream - JanessaMann.Com

We tried moose tracks, cookie dough, and blueberry cheesecake with whipped cream, brownie bits, cookie dough, and caramel sauce. Yes, it was worth the money, but I’m definitely glad we split it! It was soooo big!

Booyah Ice Cream - JanessaMann.Com