Saturday, March 1, 2014

Apologies and March TBR

Firstly apologies for not blogging. So far, my return has not been a successful one. Between crazy work hours, illness, and a severe book slump, I don't have much to say.

I read one book in February. One. I think I'm just going to give up on some titles and just start from scratch.

I am also way behind on reading review copies, so that is going to be a huge focus for me. I believe some of the books in my e-arc list have already been published, I'm that behind.

Soon there will be a separate page devoted to the review books I have to read to try and keep me on track. Other than review books, I don't really have goals for my March reading. I have picked up Where'd You Go, Bernadette?, Twelve Years A Slave and a couple Neil Gaiman works to try to get me out of the slump. (His latest: Fortuneately, The Milk and a short story collection Fragile Things).

I hope to have some posts done soon. Is anyone else being dragged down by winter?

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Monthly TBR -- February 2014

I created this meme to show off the books I want to read during the month. Though my reading lists are rarely set in stone, it's an attempt for me to get a bit more focused and organized in my reading habits.

Below are the books I plan to read during February, whether it be books I've already started that I want to finish, ongoing books that I am in no rush to finish, and books I know I'll read start to finish this month.

During the month of January I read:
Dash & Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
Before I Wake by Rachel Vincent
Dearly, Beloved by Lia Habel
I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up For Education and Was Shot By The Taliban by Malala Yousafzai
Great by Sarah Benincasa
How To Love by Katie Cotugno
Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare
Argo: How the CIA & Hollywood Pulled Off the Most Audacious Rescue in History by Antonio J. Mendez and Matt Baglio
The Freedom Writer's Diaries by Erin Gruwell and the Freedom Writers
Panic by Lauren Oliver

February's Delusional-ly Ambitious TBR from bottom to top:
Sandman Vol. 1: Preludes & Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman
Eternity (Fury #3) by Elizabeth Miles
The Pursuit of Mary Bennet by Pamela Minger
Demon Glass (Hex Hall #2) by Rachel Hawkins
Spellbound (Hex Hall #3) by Rachel Hawkins
Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker by Jennifer Chiaverini
Jackdaws by Ken Follett
A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin*
Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin*
Not pictured (ebooks):
A Study in Silks by Emma Jane Holloway*
House of Ivy and Sorrow by Natalie Whipple

* Due to length, these books will be ongoing, but I will be starting them this month.
I'm also participating in the Goodreads re-reads of Daughter of Smoke and Bone, and Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor in anticipation of the release of Dreams of Gods and Monsters in April. Details on the re-read here.

What are you all planning to read this month? You can add your links below from now until the 20th of Feb.

Happy reading!

Love, Jenn

Sunday, January 26, 2014

I'm back!!!

     Starting in February I am going to be back in the swing of blogging and things. I didn't mean to take such a long break but having done so, I realized not only how much I've missed blogging but all my bookish peeps.

     I've been without a computer/internet for awhile and have lost access to all the blogs that I did follow. I went through who I follow on twitter last night and made a list of the blogs that I know I followed. Consider that a warning that all my lovelies will get lots of comments over the next week or so. Also, if I followed your blog in the past, but you aren't on twitter, feel free to drop me a comment to let me know that your blog was once on my list. (My memory is awful, and google reader is deader than dead, so there's no accessing that list.)

   I made some bookish/blogging resolutions in January and I'm going to let you all in on the goals.

  • Read 100 books
  • Read more of the books that I own
  • Try to discover more new authors and just branch out in general
  • Book buying ban until I've read 20 books that I own ( I've got two books I've been waiting for for years those two will be the only exception. Fans of Daughter of Smoke and Bone and Stephanie Perkins will be with me).
  • Blog twice a week
  • Embrace the nerdy side of myself in my posts
  • Be on the ball with commenting (I'm really bad at this, any tips?)
     So I will see you all in February with a new Monthly TBR post! And thank you for sticking by my quirky little blog.

Love, Jenn

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Introducing Project Mount TBR

Hi All,

I am doing much better mentally and am reading to announce Project Mount TBR. Over the last week I have been busy cataloging all the unread books I have and am in process of making a database which I will share soon. I think that I've misplaced a list because I know the total is 107 and so far the database is stuck at 80...

I'm going to focus less on reviews and more on how I read and this personal project of mine. Eventually I plan on setting up a poll system where those of you that read this blog can pick a book from the pile for me to read in the next batch of books. I'm really excited about this new way of doing things!!

This is the first batch of books that I am going to read. (Note how most of them are library books). I've been slowly reading Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum. (It's a great read, but the author doesn't use quotation marks when characters speak.) The other reads from top to bottom are:

It's In His Kiss by Julia Quinn
On The Way To The Wedding by Julia Quinn (Sarah been patiently waiting for these)
The Reincarnationist by M. J. Rose
Need by Carrie Jones
If He Had Been With Me by Laura Nowlin
Gone by Michael Grant

Once I'm nearly done with this stack I will put up a poll for a book to be included in the next batch. My friend Dan has suggested that I just "start from the top" and work my way down. I'm convinced that I have book ADD and have to be reading more than one book at a time.

Speaking of my friend Dan, he suggested a challenge between the two of us. We are racing to see who can read 1,000 pages first between the two of us. We decided that I have an advantage as I am allowed to read at work. So we decided to go with Dan's usual reading habit of two hours a day.

I've discovered that this may give Dan the slight advantage as I have been falling asleep on the couch after work lately. Though I do read faster than Dan does. This is going to be an interesting race. The winner gets a book of their choice from the other.

It's very exciting. Have anyone of you done a reading race with a friend?

Will keep working on the changes to the blog over the next couple weeks. Also expect to find a few posts on the summer reading programs we are doing at the library starting next week. I get to turn a table into a pirate ship for one of the upcoming events. (I love my job!)

Thanks for sticking by me, my wonderful readers!

Love, Jenn

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Changes They Are A'Comin'

Hey all,
Those of you who read this blog regularly will notice that I have been rather silent as of late.

Part of this is due to my on-going battle with depression and anxiety. I am fine and perfectly safe. So no worries there. While I have wonderful and supportive family and friends around me and medications that help immensely, I realize that they are not miracle drugs. Sometimes I still have to struggle to find motivation to do basic things let alone blog. It will pass eventually. I just need to struggle through.

On the blogging front, I feel bored. I think that a revamp of the way I blog is in order. I'm not sure exactly how I want things to change, but I am excited about figuring out the new direction.

Thank you all for being patient and wonderful through all my struggling and indecision. I am so grateful that book blogging is more than a hobby, it's a community of wonderful people that support each other.

A new version of Booksessed coming soon....


Monday, May 27, 2013

Review and Author Interview: Harem by Safia Fazlul

Book: Harem by Safia Fazlul
Published by TSAR Publications; October 2012
168 pages
Format: Ebook
Genres: Contemporary/Women's Rights
I received this book via the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis: How far would you go to be free?Humorous, though tinged with a sense of the tragic, at times risque, and utterly contemporary, THE HAREM, is a fast-paced novel about young Asian women and their quest for freedom.Farina has only one dream: to be free and move away from Peckville, a Muslim ghetto in a large city. She is eager to escape the clutches of her strict parents who will not let her drink, party or have any kind of contact with males. As soon as she turns eighteen, she sets her dream in motion and gets her own apartment. The only problem is that her minimum-wage job leaves her feeling anything but liberated. How can she resist when her ambitious best friend Sabrina proposes an infallible business idea? How harmful can running as escort agency really be? Will she finally be freed by her increasing wealth and independence, or will she remain enslaved by her increasing guilt?

My Review 

Harem wasn’t exactly what I was expecting based on the synopsis. I was expecting a storyline more based around girls forced into and trapped in a lifestyle of prostitution. I definitely wasn’t expecting to read a story about a group of women who willingly run a prostitution ring. Harem was also much more sexually graphic than I had anticipated. 

I really liked that most of the female main characters were very progressive in asserting their independence and started a business. While I may not agree with the how or what, I liked that they were taking control of their own lives and making their own choices rather than relying on others to make decisions for them. 

The cultural and religious differences between Muslims and their non-Muslim counterparts was pretty amazing and I think that it is safe to say that in that regard, Harem will definitely start a dialogue. 
 I think that Ali was the character that I rooted for the most and could really identify with, and ultimately was the most disappointed by. I was a little surprised that he was my favorite characters as he was one of the few men that had a significant part in the novel. I also really appreciated that despite all the defiance and struggles, things come full circle. I wasn’t left feeling like the story was lacking. 

Harem was a thought provoking and quick read and I would be open to reading more from this author. 


How did you come up with the idea for The Harem?
I’ve always spent my free time writing and I was working on a story when I took a job as a receptionist for one of Toronto’s most popular high-end escort agencies during my first year of university. What I thought would be an innocent part-time job turned out to be something much more different and interesting. So I threw out my other story and begin to write The Harem!

Is there a deliberate connection between the religious and sexual oppression of women?

Yes, I wanted to show how religion and secular ideology can both be used to exploit women and thus it’s not fair to judge religious cultures exclusively as inferior with respect to gender equality. The example in The Harem is clearly Islam and the exaggerated false ideas about it that Farina, the main character, has internalized. She blames her unhappiness, low position in society, and basically everything else that’s wrong in her life solely on her Islamic upbringing – and yet she can’t find the freedom she seeks when she enters “the other side”.

Does it make a difference if the oppressors are women rather than men?

No, because the gender of the oppressor does not ultimately affect the damage done to the exploited (and it’d be a blatant lie and wishful thinking to say that women have never oppressed women). So what I find interesting about today’s sex industry, and try to demonstrate in my book, is how feminist views are often twisted to lure women into the field. Many agencies are owned by men but advertised as being “female-owned”. Wives or girlfriends do the interviewing and assure potential employees that they know how they feel because they’re women too and that it’s a truly “empowering career”. In the book, Farina’s friend Sabrina does exactly this; she justifies her actions by cramming feminist ideals down Farina’s throat when in reality it’s all completely irrelevant.

Did you do any research for The Harem? If so, how?

Fortunately, I was still completing my major in sociology while writing the book so there was a good amount of reading material readily available to me. However, empirical data just doesn’t reflect the complicated lives and emotions of sex workers so I based my story and characters on people I had met during my time at the agency – I guess you could call it “field work”. I also interviewed friends I had and still have in the industry.

Was there ever a different ending to The Harem?

No, I knew from the very first chapter what I wanted and needed the ending to be.

Was The Harem intended to be an "issue" book or to start a dialogue?

I think all books have the ability to start a dialogue, whether it’s intended or not. Knowing this, my intention with The Harem was just as much to bring real-life issues to light as it was to pose a deep-thinking question. Ignoring the sex industry part of the book, there are several problems pertaining to the South Asian immigrant experience (or any immigrant experience for that matter) that I felt were important to write about: alienation, culture clash, tensions in the family due to external stress, discrimination in the workplace, and so on.

What is your next project?

I’m working on a story about a seemingly successful Canadian woman who returns to her humble Bangladeshi village to deal with an old trauma. I don’t want to give away too much, but I will say it has nothing to do with disobedient teenage girls!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Mini Review: Mozart's Letters, Mozarts Life complied and edited by Robert Spaethling

Book: Mozart's Letters, Mozart's Life compiled and edited by Robert Spaethling.
Published by W.W. Norton & Company; 2005
496 pages
Format: Paperback
Genres: Letters/memoirs/autobiograhy
I bought this book
This book counts towards my Classics Club List.
Synopsis via Goodreads: "Mozart's honesty, his awareness of his own genius and his contempt for authority all shine out from these letters."—Sunday Times  (London). " In Mozart's Letters, Mozart's Life, Robert Spaethling presents "Mozart in all the rawness of his driving energies" (Spectator), preserved in the "zany, often angry effervescence" of his writing (Observer). Where other translators have ignored Mozart's atrocious spelling and tempered his foul language, "Robert Spaethling's new translations are lively and racy, and do justice to Mozart's restlessly inventive mind" (Daily Mail). Carefully selected and meticulously annotated, this collection of letters "should be on the shelves of every music lover" (BBC Music Magazine).

I love biographies and classical composers, Mozart being one of my favorites so I couldn’t wait to read this.
I would definitely say that this autobiographical collection of letters is more suited for die-hard Mozart fans especially, but that even the die-hard fans will be a little surprised. For example, had I not read it myself, I would never have believed that Mozart included fart jokes in letters to his sister! 

It is clear from the letters that he was especially close to his mother and sister despite the many months he spent away from them trying to establish himself as a composer throughout Europe.

I was surprised that it was his father that seemed more driven and ambitious than Mozart himself. I really liked that as the letter’s continued throughout his life, you could tell that though he matured, and that he truly had a gift for music, he didn’t take himself too seriously and remained a bit cheeky in his correspondence.
After finishing this collection of letters I love Mozart a little bit more if that is possible. Though he was impulsive and a bit flighty, and died far too young, his charm may actually outweigh his vast talent in my opinion.