Monthly Reading Wrap-Up: August 2018

This August, I had a bit of a slow reading month. I’m usually able to read a lot in the summer because as a teacher, I’m off work. However, my husband and I spent over half the month travelling, and I tend to read far less when I’m away on vacation. This month, I read 6 books. A Court of Mist and Fury was quite long, so just finishing that was an accomplishment I think!

Here it is, my August Wrap-Up!

I also read Precious Cargo, which I left in New Brunswick for my mom. I actually read Crazy Rich Asians in July, but I read it as an audiobook so I couldn’t picture it for my July Wrap-Up and ended up buying a physical copy this month!

The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo – Amy Schumer  ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Precious Cargo – Craig Davidson ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
A Court of Mist and Fury – Sarah J. Maas ⭐⭐⭐⭐
P.S. I Still Love You – Jenny Han ⭐⭐⭐⭐
The Princess Saves Herself in This One – Amanda Lovelace ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
China Rich Girlfriend – Kevin Kwan ⭐⭐⭐⭐

That comes in at a total of 6 books 🙂

Did I Meet My TBR Expectations?

I set a giant August TBR, which I planned to mood read from. Then, I ended up having to make an Indigo order for a textbook for one of my grad school courses. Naturally, once the order came, I was more interested in those new books than in the ones I had put on my TBR. I also didn’t read as many books as I’d hoped, but that was mostly due to travelling, not motivation, thankfully.

The Unread Shelf Project 2018 July Challenge

Over at theunreadshelf, the July challenge was to have your friends on Bookstagram choose your first read of the month. The votes were overwhelmingly for A Court of Mist and Fury. I decided to finish reading The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo, which I started at the end of July, first. Then I dove straight into ACOMAF!

Notable Reads This Month

Overall, my favourite book of this month was The Princess Saves Herself in This One. I always have a soft spot in my heart for poetry books, especially ones as creative and unique as this one. Shoutout to Precious Cargo for being awesome and for being CanLit.

As for ratings, they were all pretty great!

What’s Next?

I started grad school this week and it was also back to work (school). Things are quite busy, so I’m not sure how much reading I’ll get done. We’ll see!

Happy reading!

– Paperback Patronus

Book Reviews: Shades of Magic by V. E. Schwab

Shades of Magic is an adult fiction trilogy by author V. E. Schwab, who also writes as Victoria Schwab for Young Adult readers.

I read the first book in the series, A Darker Shade of Magic, in February.  Books two and three, A Gathering of Shadows and A Conjuring of Light, I consumed while on vacation in Cuba in March.

Here are the synopses and covers of the three books in the Shades of Magic series!

The first book is pretty great as a standalone. However, if you read the second book, you will definitely want to read the third pretty much right away.

Book One: A Darker Shade of Magic

Kell is one of the last Antarimagicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel Londons; Red, Grey, White, and, once upon a time, Black.

Kell was raised in ArnesRed Londonand officially serves the Maresh Empire as an ambassador, traveling between the frequent bloody regime changes in White London and the court of George III in the dullest of Londons, the one without any magic left to see.

Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they’ll never see. It’s a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.

After an exchange goes awry, Kell escapes to Grey London and runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She first robs him, then saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.

Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they’ll first need to stay alive.”

Book Two: A Gathering of Shadows

“Four months have passed since the shadow stone fell into Kell’s possession. Four months since his path crossed with Delilah Bard. Four months since Rhy was wounded and the Dane twins fell, and the stone was cast with Holland’s dying body through the rift, and into Black London.

In many ways, things have almost returned to normal, though Rhy is more sober, and Kell is now plagued by his guilt. Restless, and having given up smuggling, Kell is visited by dreams of ominous magical events, waking only to think of Lila, who disappeared from the docks like she always meant to do. As Red London finalizes preparations for the Element Games-an extravagant international competition of magic, meant to entertain and keep healthy the ties between neighboring countries-a certain pirate ship draws closer, carrying old friends back into port.

But while Red London is caught up in the pageantry and thrills of the Games, another London is coming back to life, and those who were thought to be forever gone have returned. After all, a shadow that was gone in the night reappears in the morning, and so it seems Black London has risen again-and so to keep magic’s balance, another London must fall…in V.E. Schwab’s A Gathering of Shadows.”

Book Three: A Conjuring of Light

“As darkness sweeps the Maresh Empire, the once precarious balance of power among the four Londons has reached its breaking point.

In the wake of tragedy, Kell―once assumed to be the last surviving Antari―begins to waver under the pressure of competing loyalties. Lila Bard, once a commonplace―but never common―thief, has survived and flourished through a series of magical trials. But now she must learn to control the magic, before it bleeds her dry.

An ancient enemy returns to claim a city while a fallen hero tries to save a kingdom in decay. Meanwhile, the disgraced Captain Alucard Emery of the Night Spire collects his crew, attempting a race against time to acquire the impossible.”

And finally, here’s my review of the Shades of Magic trilogy!

I LOVED this series.

Without giving too much away, it’s a very unique setting – there are four different Londons. Red, White, Grey, and Black. Each London has different characteristics, and special, rare magicians called Antari are able to travel between them.

The characters are lovable and unique, and their goals and challenges are full of believable, though incredible, twists and turns. It’s an exciting series that reads quickly, but that’s not all.

I think what I love most about this series is V. E. Schwab’s beautiful writing. It’s poetic, dramatic, and lyrical. Full of metaphor and imagery, the author paints an exquisite picture of a fantastic world and its people. It’s an image I can’t get out of my head, even a month after reading.

Other Great Stuff

The concept itself of these books is really awesome, as I’ve already mentioned.

I also love the physical design of these books. The whole series is really fluid and thematically well stitched together. The cover designs are gorgeous, as are the section and chapter dividers. I even loved the font more than I usually do.

Overall, 5/5 stars for all three of the Shades of Magic novels.

This is a fantastic take on magical worlds. I highly recommend it, for young and adult readers alike!

Pick it up as soon as you can and travel to a world with four Londons! Who wouldn’t love that?!

Happy Reading!

– Paperback Patronus

Book Review: Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson

Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things is the second book by blogger The Bloggess, aka Jenny Lawson.

I have been wanting to read Furiously Happy since it came out in 2016. I have no idea why I only got to it now. First, because of its seriously eye-catching cover, and then because I found out about its content. We’ll get to that in a second.

Here’s that cover:

Yes, that is a taxidermied raccoon. And yes, it belongs to Lawson.

And here is the synopsis of Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things from Amazon:

“In Furiously Happy, #1 New York Times bestselling author Jenny Lawson explores her lifelong battle with mental illness. A hysterical, ridiculous book about crippling depression and anxiety? That sounds like a terrible idea. But terrible ideas are what Jenny does best.

As Jenny says:

“Some people might think that being ‘furiously happy’ is just an excuse to be stupid and irresponsible and invite a herd of kangaroos over to your house without telling your husband first because you suspect he would say no since he’s never particularly liked kangaroos. And that would be ridiculous because no one would invite a herd of kangaroos into their house. Two is the limit. I speak from personal experience. My husband says that none is the new limit. I say he should have been clearer about that before I rented all those kangaroos.

“Most of my favorite people are dangerously fucked-up but you’d never guess because we’ve learned to bare it so honestly that it becomes the new normal. Like John Hughes wrote in The Breakfast Club, ‘We’re all pretty bizarre. Some of us are just better at hiding it.’ Except go back and cross out the word ‘hiding.'”

Furiously Happy is about “taking those moments when things are fine and making them amazing, because those moments are what make us who we are, and they’re the same moments we take into battle with us when our brains declare war on our very existence. It’s the difference between “surviving life” and “living life”. It’s the difference between “taking a shower” and “teaching your monkey butler how to shampoo your hair.” It’s the difference between being “sane” and being “furiously happy.”

Lawson is beloved around the world for her inimitable humor and honesty, and in Furiously Happy, she is at her snort-inducing funniest. This is a book about embracing everything that makes us who we are – the beautiful and the flawed – and then using it to find joy in fantastic and outrageous ways. Because as Jenny’s mom says, “Maybe ‘crazy’ isn’t so bad after all.” Sometimes crazy is just right.”

Finally, here’s my review of Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things!

This book was fantastic. I’m going to get that out there right away.

As the title states, it’s definitely a funny book. I don’t normally have visceral, physical reactions to books. It’s very rare that I cry while reading (the last time was Lily and the Octopus (review upcoming), but that was really a case of grief I was already sitting in and poor timing, and I can’t remember a time before that). I laugh out loud at books far less often (read: pretty much never). But I was laughing out loud at Furiously Happy. Throughout. Poolside in Cuba while people were eating a fancy à la carte meal nearby. In the hotel lobby while drunken revelers sang raucously beside me. On a bus full of half-asleep homeward-bound travelers at 12:30am. On my armchair, at home in my apartment, all by myself. Everywhere. This book is really funny.

The “horrible things” this book was about, however, were more important to me. And they were what really drew me to the book in the first place. Jenny Lawson has an anxiety disorder. She also has multiple sleep disorders, a personality disorder, rheumatoid arthritis, and goes through periods of clinical depression.

Lawson talks a lot in her book about having people on Twitter to talk to about her mental illnesses and the struggles she deals with in her daily life, and how it helps her to know that there are other people out there who feel like she does. That’s the way I felt reading this book. I have an anxiety disorder and a couple of chronic health conditions, and her struggles were so relatable. She also talked about several really great coping strategies that are definitely going to be helpful to me in the future. And I think most importantly, she consistently talked about her struggles with humour and optimism, even if they were dark and scary. It gave me an enormous sense of hope, and great ideas for how to help myself and others when things are not good.

Other Great Stuff

I loved the formatting of this book. It had relatively short chapters. The chapter titles were hilarious and were inevitably explained in gut-splittingly humourous fashion. Funny images were dispersed throughout. It also had really funny footnotes. I’m a sucker for a good footnote. All around, I loved the formatting of this book almost as much as the content.

Furiously Happy.

The book’s namesake, this is an idea that Lawson first came up with on her blog. She explains it best, and that explanation is quoted in the book synopsis I posted above. However, I do love how she elaborates on it:

“In fact, I’m starting a whole movement right now. The FURIOUSLY HAPPY movement. And it’s going to be awesome because first of all, we’re all going to be VEHEMENTLY happy, and secondly because it will freak the shit out of everyone that hates you because those assholes don’t want to see you even vaguely amused, much less furiously happy, and it will make their world turn a little sideways and will probably scare the shit out of them. Which will make you even more happy. Legitimately. Then the world tips in our favor. Us: 1. Assholes: 8,000,000. That score doesn’t look as satisfying as it should because they have a bit of a head start. Except you know what? Fuck that. We’re starting from scratch. Us: 1. Assholes: 0.”

Theoretically I love this idea, and I think that the amount of laughing I did at this book suggests that my body loves it just as much as my mind does. There are many things I’m going to take away from this book, but I think I’m most excited about trying to bring the “furiously happy” mindset into my life.

Overall, 5/5 stars for Furiously Happy: A Funny Book about Horrible Things.

I highly recommend this book, both for those suffering from mental illness(es) and everyone else in the world, because everyone is touched by mental illness, even if not directly. And it’s just a really funny book that will brighten anyone’s day, whether you connect with the subject on a personal level or not. Guaranteed.

(Furiously) Happy reading!

– Paperback Patronus

Monthly Reading Wrap-Up: January 2018

In December my wrap-up was pretty impressive. I read 15 books, which I think was a record for me. Consider that record smashed, in fact, annihilated, this January. Again, I had a week off work just like I did in December, which helped. I also participated in my first read-a-thon, and several of the books were poetry anthologies, but I’m still very proud of coming in hot with 23 books read in the first month of 2018.

Without further ado, here’s my January Wrap-Up! Kicking ass and taking names!

Harry Potter: A History of Magic – The British Library ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Journey Through A History of Magic – British Library ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Caraval  – Stephanie Garber ⭐⭐⭐
Rebel of the Sands – Alwyn Hamilton ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
#GIRLBOSS – Sophia Amoruso ⭐⭐⭐⭐
The Hate U Give – Angie Thomas ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Chasers of the Light – Tyler Knott Gregson ⭐⭐⭐
Our Numbered Days – Neil Hilborn ⭐⭐⭐
Helium – Rudy Francisco ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Braving the Wilderness – Brené Brown ⭐⭐
Quiet Girl in a Noisy World – Debbie Tung ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
The Graduate – Charles Webb ⭐⭐
Depression & Other Magic Tricks – Sabrina Benaim ⭐⭐⭐
Adultolescence – Gabbie Hanna ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Just Little Things – Nancy Vu ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Astrophysics for People in a Hurry – Neil deGrasse Tyson ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Dear Ijeawele, Or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
whiskey words & a shovel volume I – R. H. Sin ⭐⭐⭐⭐
whiskey words & a shovel volumes II-III – R. H. Sin ⭐⭐⭐
Station Eleven – Emily St. John Mandel ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Commonwealth – Ann Patchett ⭐⭐⭐⭐
A Court of Thorns and Roses – Sara J.  Maas ⭐⭐⭐
Lily and the Octopus – Steven Rowley ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

In total, that’s 23 books! Also, I didn’t read everything I’d planned, as usual (see my January TBR). However, I did read far more books than I expected!

2018 Challenge:

This year I’ve set my Goodreads reading challenge goal to 110 books, 10 more than last year’s 100, which I beat by 5.

Overall, my favourite books of this month were Station Eleven and The Hate U Give. Shoutout to Lily and the Octopus for also being awesome and making me ugly cry.

Compared to last month, this one was a bit of a mixed bag as far as how much I enjoyed everything I read. It’s doing my string of 5-star reviews some good!

Stay tuned for some upcoming reviews, and finally, happy reading!

– Paperback Patronus

My Favourite Reads: 2017 Wrap-Up

It’s the fifth day of 2018, and I’m ready to talk about my favourite reads of 2017!

This year was probably my best reading year ever.

I read 105 books, and I really enjoyed almost all of them. That made it difficult to choose favourites. So, I decided to pick one per month and then add some honourable mentions. I’ll also give each book a little blurb, because I didn’t start posting my reviews on here until November. I’ll link my review if there is one.

Here we go!

Title links take you to Amazon, and the links underneath are to my reviews, if applicable.

January: Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo and Me by Ellen Forney

This is my favourite graphic novel of all time. It’s a stunning, true memoir of the author’s experience with Bipolar Disorder, medication for it, and her relationship with her psychiatrist.

February: For Today I Am a Boy by Kim Fu

This is a book I had heard nothing about when I picked it up, and it was a haunting story of coming of age  as a transgender person.

March: Caliban’s War by James S. A. Corey

This is the second book in the futuristic sci-fi saga called The Expanse. I recently wrote a review of Nemesis Games, the fifth book in the series. Clearly I’m enjoying it, having read four of them this year.

April: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

This is another great sci-fi with some pretty fantastic 80s references. And it’s coming out as a feature film this year!

May: everything I never told you by Celeste Ng

This was a haunting story of family and growing up.

June: The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg

The Paper Magician was a really interesting, unique take on magic, and I’m hoping to read the second book in the series, The Glass Magician, this year!

July: On Beauty by Zadie Smith

A “The Breakfast Book Club” choice, On Beauty was a chuckle-worthy and deeply moving story of a multiracial family and their feud/relationships with another such family.

August: Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

Illuminae is quite possibly the most original book format I’ve ever read. Pieced together from case files, text conversations, letters, reports, images, etc., it is an exciting story of futuristic political and physical battles, family, friendship, and love.

September: A Feast for Crows by George R. R. Martin

The fourth installment in the Game of Thrones series, A Feast for Crows was an excellent fantasy read. My only beef is that as the fifth book follows different characters, I will not get to follow along with these characters’ stories until Martin finally publishes book 6!

October: It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini

This was a story of depression that was incredibly realistic and heart-warming.

November: Another Day by David Levithan

Another Day is the sequel to Every Day, which is one of my favourite YA contemporary books. This sequel definitely did not disappoint.

December: Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

I have read everything John Green has written solo, and this is hands-down my favourite. A story exploring anxiety and the meaning of life. Check out my review if you’re interested.

Honourable Mentions!

Some books didn’t quite win out as best of each month, but they were awesome and I have to recommend them on here! In no particular order…


the sun and her flowers; milk and honey – both by rupi kaur

Simultaneously heartbreaking and uplifting poetry and illustrations. I recently reviewed the sun and her flowers!


The Smell of Other People’s Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock

A beautiful story of intertwining narratives set in small-town Alaska and Canada. Also the most recent review I’ve posted on my blog!


The Break by Katherena Vermette

Another “The Breakfast Book Club” choice, this was a harrowing story of connected Métis voices in Winnipeg.


Warcross by Marie Lu

This was a really exciting story, similar to Ready Player One, but also with an interesting speculative fiction/warning feel. My review is also on the blog!


Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

This book was incredibly inspiring and I definitely agree with Gilbert’s premise about creative ideas.


When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

This was a crushing story of hope and perseverance in the midst of debilitating illness.


The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking

This is now my Bible.


scrappy little nobody by Anna Kendrick

A hilarious look into the life of a wonderful woman.


Renegades by Marissa Meyer

A fun superhero/sci-fi novel about family, revenge, and justice. I wrote a review for it in December.

Well, there you have it! My favourite reads of 2017. I hope you enjoyed this list and you take some inspiration from it for your next read (or several)!

– Paperback Patronus