My year of Non Fiction

Canary friends! Remember when I posted about how great it would be to diversify my own reading, dip my toes into some non fiction, try some new stuff out?* The dip turned out to be an all inclusive two-year stay.

But I’m back now. Fantasy and sci-fi, here I come.

2015-2016 Books Read List:

 The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson Under and Alone by William Queen Blessed Unrest by Paul Hawken The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry by Kathleen Flinn Everything is Obvious by Duncan J. Watts The Immortal Game by David ShenkAll the Single Ladies by Rebecca Traister Ghettoside by Jill Leovy Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates How to Fly a Horse by Kevin Ashton Let's Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny LawsonCathedral of the Wild by Boyd Varty Animal Wise by Virginia Morell Being Mortal by Atul Gawande Pandemic by Sonia Shah The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami Rising Strong by Brené BrownThe Big Short by Michael Lewis I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling Bad Feminist by Roxane GayThe Only Pirate at the Party by Lindsey Stirling Originals by Adam M. GrantWaste-Free Kitchen Handbook by Dana Gunders Spinster by Kate BolickDark Money by Jane Mayer Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari Never Broken by JewelSounds Like Me by Sara BareillesEat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert The Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery America Again by Stephen Colbert Escape from Camp 14 by Blaine Harden Salt Sugar Fat by Michael Moss Kitchen Confidential by Anthony BourdainDaring Greatly by Brené Brown Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert Pirate Hunters by Robert Kurson Yes Please by Amy Poehler You're Never Weird on the Internet by Felicia Day First Bite by Bee WilsonMy Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem A Brief History of Creation by Bill Mesler Elon Musk by Ashlee Vance Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell Grain Brain by David PerlmutterDays of Rage by Bryan Burrough When to Rob a Bank by Steven D. Levitt Born with Teeth by Kate Mulgrew  Without You, There Is No Us by Suki Kim Working Stiff by Judy Melinek Kill Chain by Andrew CockburnThe Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee Endurance by Alfred Lansing Surprise by Tania Luna Growing Up Amish by Ira Wagler Girl in the Dark by Anna Lyndsey Moody Bitches by Julie HollandThe Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot We Bought a Zoo by Benjamin Mee The Mormon People by Matthew Bowman Countdown to Zero Day by Kim Zetter Future Crimes by Marc GoodmanIt Was Me All Along by Andie Mitchell Made to Stick by Chip Heath It's What I Do by Lynsey Addario The Powerhouse by Steve Levine Fields of Blood by Karen Armstrong The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill LeporeHow Google Works by Eric Schmidt Angry Optimist by Lisa Rogak Now I See You by Nicole C. Kear Talk Like TED by Carmine Gallo Switch by Chip Heath The $100 Startup by Chris GuillebeauBehind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo The Monuments Men by Robert M. Edsel Drive by Daniel H. Pink Blink by Malcolm Gladwell Born to Run by Christopher McDougall How to Survive a Sharknado and Other Unnatural Disasters by Andrew Shaffer

 

*This is why I am not allowed to have reasonable sounding goals anymore. These things escalate quite quickly.

New Year Reading Resolutions 2014

One of my big resolutions last year was to read more and read across genres. I met my yearly reading goal of 100 books, with 114 books read in 2013! Canaries, how did you do?

Reading Pie 2013

Though, if you break it down, about a third of the books in the romance category were paranormal or science fiction romance, and 22 out of the 31 Fantasy books I read in 2013 were Urban Fantasy. Still, I’m getting closer to my goal of variety reading.

For 2014, my goal is to take this pie, and keep slicing it up. Let’s see if, by this time next year, I will have a few slivers of literary fiction and mystery in there, as well as beef up that science fiction slice. Brownie canary points to myself if I manage to slip in some international authors too!

Happy New Year, canaries!

What are your reading goals for 2014?

[Small Chirp] Top Posts of 2013

10. Urban Fantasy For Every State

We start off our countdown of our top ten blogs of 2013 with our attempt to find an urban fantasy novel set in every single state in the United States. We got pretty far! How many states have you visited while reading?

9. Book Review: The Host, or the trials and tribulations of the victorious alien invader

When I saw that The Host was coming out as a movie, I saw the writing on the wall. I was gonna read myself another Stephanie Meyer book. And, surprise, it was a pretty fun popcorn read. Plus, I’ve always wanted to read a story from the point of view of the brain-stealing alien invader! Continue reading

[Small Chirp] Top Benevolent Governments in Fantasy and Sci Fi

Every Tuesday, I open twitter for post-topic suggestions. This week timely topic, courtesy of Elisa Nukle, is government in literature.

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My gut instinct: write about all the terrible futures in dystopian fiction. Brave New World, 1984, Hunger Games, the works. Except…except what about the positive depictions of government in fantasy and scifi?

The beard. Beard of Evil.

On the hunt for examples of good governance, I ran into plenty of stink-toads in sheep’s clothing. All too often, the shining example of Good and Order toddles along for a few books before revealing its hydra heads of evil or its sheer bureaucratic ineptitude in dealing with the endless crises the hero has to resolve. Harry Potter‘s Ministry of Magic stayed on the straight and narrow for a while, before taking a hard turn into fascist pamphlet printing.

And then there’s Saruman who decided to use his good wizarding skills and build himself an army of orcs. But who could blame him after all that time he spent cooped up in a tower with nothing better to do than comb his beard? The rooms must have been tiny!

But I do have a few candidates for the Benevolent Governance award. Requirements of this list include sincere benevolence (or the convincing veneer of it), the ability to achieve world peace, and the mad skills to do it in style.

This post will involve spoilers! You have been warned. Continue reading

[Small Chirp] Those books you just can’t make yourself read

I suspect everyone has a few of these books. They’re the guilty secret – the great books you want to read, but over the course of weeks, months, and years, just can’t seem to get around to opening. Ugh.

The mental block.

The agony.

The what-is-wrong-with-me?

Here is my short-list of books I want to read, but just can’t seem to.

1. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games #1)

There really is no excuse for me not to have read this book – or this entire series, really. For about three years now, I’ve put it off.

Thing is, I have it on good authority that the Hunger Games series is awesome. That Collins is awesome. That I will read this book and feel that happy zen zing of a great book devoured. I know I can munch my way through all three books over a weekend, then finish off with the movies.

And that brings me to the other reason I really ought to read The Hunger Games. I can’t watch the movies until I read the books. It’s a rule. But it just doesn’t seem enough yet.

2. Last Light of the Sun by Guy Gavriel Kay

The Last Light of the Sun

This book sits on my shelf. It’s been sitting on my shelf since my birthday two years ago. And it judges me. Oh man, it judges me.

I even read the first page (and liked it!) but then the book went back to my shelf.

Where it sits to this day.

Judging me. Continue reading

[Small Chirps] Surviving the Crazy Romance Novel

Those of you who follow the The Canary Review even a bit might know that I have a weakness. This weakness comes in the form of popcorn fiction of the romantic sort. Gimme chick lit, and paranormal romances, and romantic fluff, and I am set.

…or the respective eye size and placement (see above).

However, those of you who’ve been around me a little longer may also know that I am a born again feminazi of the most lovable sort who enjoys constructivist theories on the side and watches adorable Disney movies with one eye trained on the waist-hip ratio of the characters.

So what’s my trick? How do I manage to get through the truly ridiculous without throwing books against the wall?

Easy: I have a very well developed coping mechanism. Let me pull out an example.

I’m going to pick on Feehan’s Dark (Carpathian) series because, well, I haven’t been able to get through a single one of her books without eye-rolling since I was sixteen. But my love-hate relationship with them means I can’t resist the books whenever I spot them.

From what I’ve sampled, this series has all the hallmarks of overblown paranormal romance, from the Good & Noble Vampires™ to the Irresistible Soulmates™ trope used in lieu of relationship-building. Gender roles are crisply defined: The Carpathian Male (read: the vampire guy) is an instinct-driven creature, overwhelmingly possessive and territorial when it comes to “his” woman. Even if our petite, lovely, and compassionate lady is independent and modern, she finds that she much prefers to cuddle with Dominating Male, courtesy of  the aforementioned Irresistible Soulmates™ effect, than do her own stuff. Continue reading