YIR-2020 | Most Beautiful Cover

Circe by Madeline Miller. No explanation needed.

Honourable Mentions:

The Best Reads of 2020 is hosted by Sophie @ Beware the Reader and friends! Click here for full details!

YIR-2020 | Best Thriller

I didn’t read any thrillers this year … So I’m interpreting today’s prompt broadly: an edge-of-the-seat-must-keep-turning-the-page read.

Without a smidge of hesitation, the award goes to Bunny by Mona Awad … better described as a post-modernist acid trip than a thriller — but, man, do you want to see how it ends. It’s WTF?! in the best of ways.

Honourable Mentions:

The Best Reads of 2020 is hosted by Sophie @ Beware the Reader and friends! Click here for full details!

YIR-2020 | Swoon-Worthy Protagonist of the Year

Image in Lore Olympus - WEBTOON by Rachel Smythe collection by Melek

Today’s award goes to Hades from Lore Olympus … who is haaaawt, damaged, well dressed, a bit of a dweeb, definitely a cinnamon bun, a dog lover, AND so in love of Persephone.

I mean, look at him. He’s so suave.

Honourable Mentions:

The Best Reads of 2020 is hosted by Sophie @ Beware the Reader and friends! Click here for full details!

Review | Kiki’s Delivery Service by Eiko Kadono

Review Banner

I’m embarrassed to admit that I didn’t know Kiki’s Delivery Service was a book until it popped up on my library’s e-book system.

When I saw that it was only five hours of audio time, — even less with my settings set to 1.25 speed — I was sold.

I love Studio Ghibli’s films. They’re a visual delight, so much fun, and Joe Hisaishi’s accompanying scores are pretty stunning. But, more often than not, I’m left feeling unsatisfied. Unlike mainstream western film/books, the stories are … well, rambling. Sometimes plotless. Definitely with lots of unresolved questions.

I still don’t know what the purpose of Totoro is. I mean, it’s cute. But why?

mon voisin totoro | Tumblr

I read Howl’s Moving Castle a few years back, and really enjoyed how the book fleshed out the story, answered questions, and had a concrete direction. I was hoping that Kiki’s Delivery Service would do the same.

Spoiler: Nope. The book is — more or less — the movie.

What happens?

Kiki is a young witch on the cusp of coming-of-age. As per tradition, once she turns 13 she must leave home and spend a year on her own.

The book consists of 11 chapters, each documenting a different part of Kiki’s year. The first three — The Beginning of the Story, Kiki Comes of Age, and Kiki Lands in a Big City — serve as the set-up. The remainder read more like a collection of loosely-connected vignettes, and include titles like Kiki Solves the Captain’s Problem and Kiki Delivers the Sound of Spring. The overall structure reminded me a lot of Mary Poppins.

Aaaaaaand … that’s about it.

What I liked:

The whimsy. It’s been a while since I read a book as fluffy as Kiki. The stories are feel-good and slightly silly, and don’t carry much weight.

Jiji. Jiji the talking cat could be Salem’s little brother. He’s witty and sarcastic, and a bit dark. I loved him. Easily the best part of the book.

What I didn’t like:

Kiki … ironically? Kiki is one of those girls that 13-year-old-me would have despised. She’s silly and fickle, and is far too concerned about how short her skirt is.

Most of the other characters. Like, they’re sweet. And silly. And wholesome …

blazing-saddles-they-are-so-dumb - Born in the Eighties

Side note: If you haven’t watched Blazing Saddles before, please do. It’s hilarious.

Final thoughts:

Lots of style, very little substance.

Kiki’s Delivery Service has all the delights and whimsy of the movie … but, not much else. There’s very little story; no character of thematic development; and — really — no point other than to delight. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing: the book wasn’t meant to be a deep, gritty, plot-driven novel. And, given my recent book selections — including Man’s Search for Meaning, I Hate You – Don’t Leave Me, and Throne of Glass — it provided a bit of a breather.

But did I like it? Meh. Not for me.

The details:

  • The Book: Kiki’s Delivery Service by Eiko Kadono
  • Published: 2020 by Delacorte Press (English translation; originally published 1985)
  • My Copy: Library copy
  • Read date: November 19-20, 2020
  • Rating/5: 🧹🧹

YIR-2020 | Best Ugly Cry

Hello, friends! Welcome to Day 1 of the best (!!!) reads of 2020 — hosted by Sophie @ Beware of the Reader et al. You can check out all the official details here!

So! Day 1! — Whooooo, Sophie! Starting off on an optimistic note, aren’t we!? 🙃 Today is the best ugly cry of 2020.

I’m not someone who typically cries while reading … but, the book that brought me closest to tears this year was The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab. If you want an emotionally complex (one part devastating, one part hopeful) book … look no further!

Honourable Mentions:

Progress Notes | November 2020

Progress Notes

After a very book-full October, things quieted down for November. I’ve been balancing a lot of different tasks — between work and my postdoc — which has translated to less reading time in the evenings. In summary: I’m not thrilled with my stats this month, but I do understand them.

My book of the month: Winter of the Gods by Jordanna Max Brodsky

It is really, really rare for me to like the second book of a trilogy (*cough*) … so, the fact that Winter of the Gods is my book of the month should tell you everything you need to know. I am so impressed with Max Brodsky’s writing. The story builds right from the half-way point, with multiple chapters of climax … non of this one-chapter-at-the-end stuff that’s so common in plot-driven books.

What else did I read this month?

  • Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas – ★★★★☆
  • Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas – ★★★★☆
  • Kiki’s Delivery Service by Eiko Kadono – ★★☆☆☆
  • Lonely Planet’s Ultimate Travel – ★★★☆☆
  • Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger – DNF
  • Man’s Search for Meaning – ★★★★★
  • The Long Guest by Jennifer Mugrage – Just finished! Rating TBD!

What do I want to read in December?

… it’s feels like a good month for re-reads. The days are dark. My blanket is warm. The Christmas lights are glistening. And, it’s been a really crappy year. I’m craving familiar stories and comfort. Adventure can wait to January.

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Good lord. It’s the end of November.

I spent the weekend finishing up my Christmas shopping and helping my mom coordinate gifts from a distance … we’re under travel restrictions, and it’s uncertain whether I’ll be able to make a trip home for the holidays. (Or, whether not they’ll want me. Cases are not good.) My lil’ apartment is decked out in fairy lights, and I’ve filled my hearth with mercury glass candle holders. It’s not exactly the same as a real fire, but it’s pretty and golden and feels very cozy.

In bookish news: A friend tipped me off about Jólabókaflóð — an Icelandic Christmas Eve tradition where people swap books and spend the evening reading and eating chocolate. (I know, right!?) We’ve decided to do a long-distance book swap, and the book is now in the mail! I had a ton of fun visiting used bookstore trying to find something vintage and lovely.

What did I finish last week?

I finished The Long Guest last night — and, I will say: it’s a long book! A massive shout-out to Jenn @ Out of Babel for accomplishing such a project! (I struggle to compose short stories!) Glowing review to come, hopefully this week depending on work crises 😊

… and, my Throne of Glass re-read continues. The series is so much better the second time around. So much better.

What am I currently reading?

Oh, god. I am so thankful that COVID is a respiratory infection and not the tox. If you want a horrific plague SFF novel, — something with the imagery of Annihilation — then Wilder Girls is everything you’re looking for.

What am I listening to?

I just subscribed to a new music streaming service, and am loving its really creative playlists. I’ve discovered so much good music this past week — including YaYaYa by RY X.

What are you reading this week?

LDW #7 | Le plan for le week

Alright. Mixed success last week. My plan for 6x YouTube workouts turned into 3x YouTubes, 2x very late nights at work, and 1x 4-hour Saturday walk. Not a huge failure, but also not a raging success.

This week, I’m continuing with my beginner-friendly cardio and stretching. I’m starting to notice improvements in my stamina, and want to give myself another two weeks of beginner cardio before progressing to more challenging workouts. This week is 3x cardio and 3x stretching, all around the 30-40 minute mark. All my (best intentions of mice and men) sessions are below.







LDW #6 | Back to cardio-land

After yesterday’s Richard Simmons inspiration, I went on the hunt for cardio-friendly memes. Turns out, there aren’t a lot of them.

But, for those of you who dislike cardio, Google images is a gold mine.

cardio exercise Archives - Rickio MeMes

My workout today was a bit on the longer side … 40 minutes of of beginner-friendly cardio, low-impact, and apartment friendly.