June’s been a slow month for me Top Ten Tuesday-wise. The topics just haven’t resonated with me. But this week’s is doable – best books read this year. Not published this year, but that I’ve read this year. I love topics like this. It lets me share my new loves with people. Maybe someone else will find something on my list that they love as much as I do. So, let’s not take too long to get to the good stuff. Here, in chronological order, are the best books I’ve read in 2015. You only get eight. My reading has been slow this year. I only have 29 to choose from and not all of them deserve a best of ranking.
Choose Your Own Autobiography by Neil Patrick Harris
One of the most entertaining autobiographies I’ve ever read. It feels honest and genuine. And after getting to see him on a panel at a recent convention, this feels even truer. (my review)
You know how sometimes you see a book on the bargain table at the local branch of your big name bookstore chain and it’s like $4.99 (in Canada that’s a deal) and has a compelling cover. And you already have a giant TBR stack, but you just can’t help yourself and you buy it anyway. And then you take it home and put it on the shelf and totally forget about it? Yeah, that’s what happened to me with The Replacement. But then I ended up reading a couple of Yovanoff’s other books (also picked up because of the cover – she’s got gorgeous covers guys), and absolutely loving them. That’s when I remembered that this book was sitting on my shelf. So, I put it on my TBR where it promptly got set aside again for my ridiculous library compulsion. But the other day, I was sorting through my dud pile of library books (seriously, nothing I’d signed out was worth reading) and decided it was time to tackle my own shelf. I finally, finally picked up The Replacement. It was the right choice. I probably could have powered through it in a day, but it’s been hot like the sun here so my reading was dispersed between chunks of trying to cool off and doing other things to distract me from the heat.
Honestly, the damp, dreary setting of the book kind of helped distract from the crazy heat. The world in which the book is set is beautiful. Dark and chilling and beautiful. Now, I’m aware Yovanoff’s writing is divisive. She has a very distinct, minimalist style that people seem to either love or hate. I love it. I like that there isn’t a lot of fooferah, and yet we still get all the things we need to know. Exactly the right amount of description to make the world real but still allow us to fill in the details for ourselves. It’s like the perfect scary movie. They never give you too much. The unseen is the most unsettling. I could absolutely picture Gentry in my mind. I could walk the streets with Mackie as he tries to figure out what is happening to his life.
Canadian content requirements are responsible for a huge part of my childhood development. Some were amazing (Degrassi). Some were less so (I can’t think of anything specific right now, but I know there are many). Some were just plain strange. One of these latter installments comes in the form of Harriet’s Magic Hats. When I hear the name Harriet, I immediately think of this show. Now, this was an Access TV program, so not really surprised that it was so weird. We’re talking tiny budgets here. Tiny budgets trying to be entertaining are sometimes painful. But somehow, this show lasted for four seasons in the early 80s.
In fifteen minutes installments, the viewer hung out with a woman named Harriet and her magical hats. The name is really bang on. It tells you everything you need to know. Her nieces or whoever came to visit, picked a hat, and as soon as she put it on, was transported to whatever profession was associated with the hat. I don’t know exactly where this show was filmed, but It may have been Alberta. We were one of only two provinces where the show aired – and there were a butt-ton of episodes related to farming and farming related activities. Although, it seems much more likely that it was filmed in Ontario (the other place it aired). Ontario got all the stuff back then. Continue reading
A couple months ago, my brother-in-law brought me a request – could I take some of his old shirts and turn them into dresses for his daughter. As you know by now, this little girl is basically my living dress mannequin. I make her dresses and get her to size check new patterns and what not. So, I was like, yeah, sure, probably. Then my sister gave me the shirts. She could not wait to get rid of them. These things are not attractive. Not at all. They scream the early 2000’s. It’s hard not to look at them and think about spikey hair and puka shell necklaces. But my b-i-l loves these shirts. Loves them. If he could, I’m sure he would still try to wear them. My sister would probably have something to say about that.
But a couple other guys I know have seen these shirts and they don’t get my dislike for them. They all think they’re not so bad. They’d wear them… Ladies tend to agree with me. Ladies are in the know. But I said I would do it. I could probably do something with these things – even if they are made from fifteen year old rayon. So, for months they sat on the edge of my sewing table. I even sat down and started taking them apart one day in late April. Carefully opening each seam so I could get the most available fabric. One sleeve and side seam and I tossed them back on the table. That was annoying. I’d get back to it later. And they sat for a few more weeks. Then my sister gave me a little prod and asked if I could something done before father’s day. Sure, I said. Totally… Crap. The mad rush begins. Continue reading
I finished reading All the Rage a few weeks ago. I’ve been thinking about how to review it since I flipped the last page. Summers’ books always give me all the feels, but when I was done this one, I wasn’t 100% sure what I thought. It wasn’t that I disliked it. Not at all. I knew I liked it quite a bit. I knew I would be buying a copy to go on my shelf. But I couldn’t put my finger on how the book made me feel. So I’ve been thinking about it, and the more I do, the more I think I understand why. It’s because no one in the book really knows what they feel either. Every character is so buried under layers of self-preservation that they’ve lost sight of what drives them.
That and the fact that the book blurb sets up the wrong expectations for the reader. It sets you up for a girl who wants to talk. A girl like Regina or Parker (Some Girls Are/Cracked Up to Be). Girls who do not give two shits what anyone else thinks. Who are in your face assholes (and I mean this in the best way, I love both of these characters). You expect Romy to have that kind of conviction. Even if she isn’t going to say anything about the rape, you know she’s going to be raging on the inside. We’ve got rage in the title. But that’s not Romy. That’s not what this is about. It’s not that kind of rage. This is All the Rage in the bandwagon sense. The blurb also sets us up to believe that Kellen has a pretty big role in this novel. But I don’t think he appears even once. And if he does, it’s so brief I can’t exactly remember it. What we should have been prepared for is what happens when you fuck with someone’s family. What we should have been prepared for is what happens when no one believes you – even when you’re telling the truth. What we should have been prepared for is being drowned in our own self-loathing. Continue reading