Sunday, December 31, 2017

2017: My Year in Books

I normally write a post for My Year in Books, but this year I'm breaking with tradition and sharing a few videos as the truth is I talk a lot more about books on YouTube than I write about them! Above I share how my reading year went, specifically in terms of the very tangible goals that I set myself. It's actually quite an interesting experiment to have very specific goals over general goals. I knew whether I did them or not, but I'm not totally sure it was a more a satisfying or resolved way to feel about the year.

I am happy I tried out this way of goal setting, and I certainly learned a lot about my reading habits, both in the actual reading and also in how I like to organize my books and book adventures. I've also included a video of my favourites of the year at the end if you are interested in specific books that spoke to me this year.

The biggest project I took on this year in terms of books was definitely my TBR Unwrapping Project, where I wrapped up all my Owned/Unread books in a different colour by genre or project. I did this mid-year and it totally took over my life for a while as I scoured magazines for colour heavy images, pulled out all my books from my storage nook, and cleared off as many shelves as I could. Since then, I've done a monthly-ish video where I unwrap a bunch of books and it is so much fun! The only hitch is that I thought I would read the books faster! Apparently I didn't take into account that I would still enjoy books from the library, read what I have on Kindle, borrow books and even... buy more books! That said, I've read 14 of the 23 books I've unwrapped so far, and that's not too shabby! I am looking forward to finishing the rest, and of course to unwrapping more in the very near future.

I always look forward to when the GoodReads "Year in Books" comes out, and this year was no exception. I hit a huge landmark of 200+ titles read, which I think is something I will never surpass and oddly for me I'm not even going to try! It was a great year, and I'm happy to have it be possibly my best year for numbers. A lot of the titles were short works, short stories, poetry collections, plays, fairy tales and kids books but there was still a lot of full length novels and non-fiction books too. The numbers are staggering!

Are you on GoodReads? Let's be friends!


Now for my favourites. There were so many this year. It's 20+ books. I couldn't pair it down further than that. All of these books affected me in a positive way, some were enlightening, some where heartbreaking, many were beautifully written and all of them are ones I am thrilled I read this year.

Sidenote: I misquoted the amount of romance I read, it's more like 15-20%. I think I had not finished entering all my books into the amazing Let's Read spreadsheet when I filmed.

If you'd rather read than watch, here is a list of all the books in the video:
  • An Illustrated Life: Drawing Inspiration From The Private Sketchbooks Of Artists, Illustrators And Designers by Danny Gregory
  • Art and Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of ARTMAKING by David Bayles and Ted Orland
  • Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur
  • Wenjack by Joseph Boyden
  • The Wild Duck by Henrik Ibsen
  • Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare
  • Descender Vol 1: Tin Stars by Jeff Lemire | Illustrated by Dustin Nguyen, Lettered and Designed by Steve Wands
  • 2001: A Space Odyessy by Arthur C. Clarke
  • The Fionavar Tapestry by Guy Gavriel Kay
  • The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman
  • The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
  • I'm Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid
  • Mongrels by Stephen Graham Jones
  • Osho Zen Tarot: The Transcendental Game of Zen by Osho | Illustrations by: Ma Deva Padma
  • The Annotated Mona Lisa: A Crash Course in Art History From Prehistoric to Post-Modern by Carol Strickland
  • 500 Handmade Books, Volume 2 | Juror: Julie Chen
  • What It Is by Lynda Barry
  • Making Art a Practice by Cat Bennett
  • The Wander Society by Keri Smith
  • Warrior of Fire by Michelle Willingham (Warriors of Ireland #2)
  • Tales of the Valkyries: An Anthology of Short Stories, Viking Romance and Viking Paranormal Romance - A Collection of Short Stories by Various Authors
  • Complete Fairy Tales of Oscar Wilde by Oscar Wilde
  • Proof of a Tongue | Poems by Sandra Alland
  • FXXK Writing by Jason Ridler
  • A Triumph for Sakura by Jason Ridler
  • Hex-Rated: A Brimstone Files Novel by Jason Ridler

C'est tout for 2017! I hope you had an awesome year, in books and beyond!

Saturday, August 12, 2017

The Reading Quest ~ TBR

In this vlog I share the books I have chosen to read for #TheReadingQuest, which is a readathon based on a questing through a game card. You pick a character class, and pick books based on the challenges of their quest line. There are also side quests you can do, and you can also pick a new class to play after you finish one quest line. I picked the quest line of a Knight, because in gaming I always pick playing a tank first.

The Reading Quest is created and hosted by Read at Midnight and the artwork was created by CW of Think, Read, Ponder. The quest runs from Sunday August 13 - Sunday September 10, 2017

There is a Goodreads Group for of you want to play along but don't have a blog or YouTube Channel.

TBR for The Reading Quest - Knight Questline:
Highlander's Challenge by Jo Barrett (Challenger #1)
Lure of the Dragon by Anna Lowe (Aloha Shifters: Jewels of the Heart #1)
Warrior of Fire by Michelle Willingham (Warriors of Ireland #2)
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
The Best of Me by Nicholase Sparks

Potential Side Quest Choices:
One Fell Sweep by Ilona Andrews (The Innkeeper Chronicles #3)
Descender Vol 3

I created a playlist of all the TBRs for The Reading Quest I could find (and I'll update it over time - let me know if your TBR isn't on there and I will add it!).

Are you playing along? What class did you pick?

Love reading? Let's hang out on GoodReads and YouTube!

Sunday, July 09, 2017

Sketchbook Summer: Week 1

I'm having so much fun playing along with Sketchbook Summer, which is a art challenge for July where the goal is to finish a sketchbook cover to cover in the month of July. There is a Facebook Page where they share daily prompts, which often include not only a theme/subject but also a style or starting point suggestion (like two-toned or chicken nuggets). I'll admit, I wasn't sure what to do with chicken nuggets...but it led to one of my favourite drawings.

Above: Day 4 - Cave Men Chicken Nuggets

A big focus for me on taking part of this is practice. Not practice-makes-perfect practice, but get-back-in-the-habit practice. Get to the page. Every day if I can. Make marks, explore ideas and don't get tripped up if something doesn't turn out as expected. In fact, not everything has turned out as expected, and there are a few I don't even particularly like, but I'm actually feeling okay with that. I have gotten to the page more often that I have in a long time and I do also have several drawings that I truly enjoy.

Above: Day 3: Skeletons, Two-Toned and Day 6: Cats, Watercolour Washes

One challenge is that have more ideas than I have energy to draw, which isn't super awesome and I'm not sure the best approach for this. Right now I've added a post it note with the idea and left it on a page somewhere near where that theme was. I'm not sure if this was a good idea, or a bad idea, as I've yet to be able to go back and fill in those pages and I really want to get the whole sketchbook filled up. Maybe I'll schedule in a 'catch up' hour sometime during the week for those ones.

Above: The not-quite dones

Overall, I am having so much fun. It's really exciting to see what the prompt will be every day and I've found so many new people that I've enjoyed seeing their work including: Frederick Michaelsen, kyounza and Nick Perkins.

Want to see and hear more? I talk more about the experience of doing Sketchbook Summer on the most recent episode of stART: Creating As We Go and I post my sketches on Instagram,

Find out more about Sketchbook Summer on their Facebook Page and Intro Vid, plus find fellow sketchers and their work over on Instagram.

Above: More Day 4 Cave Man (Women) Chicken Nuggets and Day 7 - "Bad" Chickens with Non-Dominant Hand

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Spring into Horror Readathon Wrap Up

Two weeks have come and gone, which means Spring into Horror has come to a close. In the above vlog I share my thoughts on how the readathon went, how much I read and the ones that got away. Overall it was a positive experience, and I am really happy that I branched outside my normal reading comfort zone. I have a feeling I will keep horror titles in rotation of reading in the future.

The readathon started off a bit rocky as I was a bit hit and miss with my selections, and didn't settle on what exactly to read until I was well into the readathon. This led me to a feeling of being on edge as I hadn't "finished" anything, and that was a weight I carried for the majority of the readathon. For future readathons, I think I need to either set myself up for an early win with a short work or simply get over needing to finish something to feel like it was a success.

My favourite read was Mongrels by Stephen Graham Jones, which landed on my TBR after reading the Barnes and Noble Best Horror of 2016 List. This is a list I will definitely keep for reference and continue to work though reading the other books on the list. One of the most exciting things about this experiences is to have a whole new genre to explore.

Fellow #SpringHorror YouTubers:
Maija Reads
Reads and Eats
Bookworm Eve

Books and Stories Finished:
The Call of Cthulhu by H.P. Lovecraft
The Descendant by H.P. Lovecraft
He by H.P. Lovecraft
Thinner by Stephen King | via Audiobook, Narrated by Joe Mantegna
Mongrels by Stephen Graham Jones
The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

Books Started and Still Working On:
Meg by Steve Alten
Gothic Tales by Elizabeth Gaskell (Penguin Classics)
The Darkest Night by Gena Showalter (Lords of the Underworld #1)

Find out more about Spring into Horror at Seasons of Reading here.

Find Me Online:

Friday, April 14, 2017

Spring into Horror Readathon 2017

I've very excited to participate in the Spring into Horror Readathon hosted by Seasons of Reading. The Readathon takes place from April 17 - April 30, 2017. I'm being pretty ambitious with my reading list, but this is a genre I don't read that often so I have no idea if I will take to every choice. I also managed to sneak in two book to film adaptations (woohoo!).

Readation info:
Spring into Horror Readathon:
Twitter Hashtag: #SpringHorror

Books Mentioned:
The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
The Fisherman by John Langan
Meg by Steve Alten
Kane by Michael Prescott under the name Douglas Borton
The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker (The Golem and the Jinni #1)
The Darkest Night by Gena Showalter (Lords of the Underworld #1)
Thinner by Stephen King
Creepy Archives Vol. 1 by Dark Horse Comics
The Complete Works of H.P. Lovecraft
Gothic Tales by Elizabeth Gaskell (Penguin Classics)

Games Mentioned:
Murdered: Soul Suspect
Dark Echo

Other Stuff Mentioned:
Barnes & Noble Best Horror 2016 List
Meg (Film)
Mark of Kane (Film)
Gothic Tales by Elizabeth Gaskell (Public Domain)

What kind of scary books do you like to read?

Monday, February 13, 2017

Music Mondays

Watching The Grammy's for the first time in years got me thinking about music. So here is what's been playing at my place recently, and a little bit of what's been on my mind.

I've always loved music. But I've noticed that I haven't really seeking out new music, but rather listening to the same albums I have over and over again. My first step to try and get back into music was to scour sales and even free music on Google Play (great resource here), but then I realized I was making choices based on accessibility, not based on what I enjoyed. Often I liked what was available or on sale, but it limited my thinking. Which made me wonder, what do I want to listen to?

Starting with what you want is always a good place to start, no matter what you are working on. So I really thought about it, and I realized I wanted to add new music to my library on a regular basis. To go one step further, I wanted to have both a regular album plus an instrumental album for when I prefer to listen to music without words.

Notice how those choices were about format? How odd that it wasn't about a kind of music. It might not have been a perfect place to start, or even answer to my question, but it did get the ball rolling.

I have started picking up albums, and most recently I got The Sheepdogs - Future Nostaglia for my regular album and the Pacific Rim soundtrack for my instrumental pick. The main them of Pacific Rim just makes me so happy, I loved that movie in all it's over the top-ness, that ever time I hear the music it makes me smile. I have lots of new faves on from The Sheepdogs on the Future Nostalgia album including: Back Down, I Really Wanna Be Your Man, Plastic Man and The Bridge City Turnaround. BUT, since there are no videos for them... here I will share the album trailer:

I also picked up Ingrid Michaelson - It Doesn’t Have to Makes Sense which is amazing and I don't even really know how to describe it other than emotionally compelling and open. I also have devoured two albums by the Norwegian music group Wardruna, whose planned trilogy of albums has the goal to "musically interpret the runes of the elder futhark." How extraordinary is that? The music is very cool, extremely earthy and magical. I've enjoyed the two albums they've released so far: Gap Var Ginnunga and Runaljod Ragnarok. Here is the video for Wardruna's song Raido.

Pretty amazing, eh?

I have not yet picked my February albums yet. Currently in the running is The Strumbellas - Hope and Music from Penny Dreadful by Abel Korzeniowski. I heard The Strumbellas at the New Years Eve celebration on CBC and had a listen to Penny Dreadful (Season 2 and 3) via Hoopla. Both are really good.

What have you been listening to lately?

Sunday, January 15, 2017

stART: Episode 73

It's time for the first episode of stART for the year! On this episode of stART: Creating As We Go, Jamie, Suzie and I share a look ahead into our creative year including our word of the year. I share about some of my recent videos over at my YouTube channel and I'm sure there will be many more projects, videos and art makes throughout the year.

See more at stART: Creating As We Go blog and YouTube Channel.

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

New Year, New Coffee Maker!

My first outing this year was to get a replacement coffee maker. I was so excited about lounging around during the holidays that one day I didn't leave enough time for an empty pot to chill before adding water to it to make more coffee and the carafe cracked. It was a sad moment.

I'm glad I had my back up of Nescafe on hand, which is what I had for for about a week. I was a bit zingier that week as I drank the same amount of coffee, not remembering initially taht I brew coffee at half caf/half decaf strength. No wonder I was awake later than normal each night!

So now my new carafe is all clean and drying in the drying rack. I hope it lasts longer than a few months. Last year I ended up buying at least one replacement coffee maker during the year, alternating which part I broke or just stopped working. One time the maker part stopped working and another time the carafe busted from me forgetting to turn it off in time. Feels like a high mortality rate.

I know this isn't a terribly interesting post, or story, but I wanted to share it and also be able to remember when I got my latest coffee maker. I hope this one lasts at least the year because I think there will be a lot of coffee in 2017!

December 2019 TBR

Happy December All! It's time to look at the books I plan on reading in December. I have three different things I'm working on...