Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Goodbye to Gobo (1999-2015)

I am truly saddened that recently it was time to say goodbye to my cat Gobo. When I got him he was the second-to-the-runt of a litter, a very cute and excitable kitten that was adventurous and got into everything. 16 years later, he was still getting into everything. Until one day he wasn't. After a few trips to the vet it was clear something major had happened, and he continued to decline until it was time to say goodbye.

Although that memory is the one freshest in my mind, and is the most sad, it certainly isn't the bulk of the wonderful memories that I have of him. Memories of him greeting me when I got home, sitting on me when I watched movies and read oodles of books, purring like a mad, sleeping in the crook of my knees and randomly guest appearing on videos I filmed.

He was also super friendly to everyone he met, which made him not the best guard-cat but he was great with company. He was with me through 8 apartments, from a tiny 1-room to a huge third floor space, and he seemed just as happy in one as the other. He was very laid back that way. In every way.

I feel like I probably won't miss him knocking things over every night at 3AM, chewing my hair as I sleep, changing the time on my clock radio or needing to clean the litter, but I know I will miss these things because they were a part of my life for so long. I wish there is more than I could think to say, but I'm still so sad. I caught myself yesterday looking for him sleeping to be on the bed in his spot. And he wasn't there, as he won't ever be again. He was my first cat. And he was *my* cat.

Since I started this blog, it became a tradition to end update posts with a picture of him. I'll have to figure out what to do differently from here on in, but for today let's stick with tradition.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Time Capsule: March 2015

I can't believe we are more than halfway through the month of March, and now have officially hit Spring. I'm really happy it's warmer out and have been loving each and every above zero degrees day. I hope that's all we get from here on it!

1. What are you reading?
I recently finished Fortune's Pawn by Rachel Bach and absolutely loved it, science fiction with a strong female protagonist who literally kicks butt. Definitely my favourite book of the year so far. I'm reading but struggling with Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy, it's pretty wordy and not quite what I expected. This is my second go at it and at least this time I am understanding it, but I think it will be more than challenge to meet my deadline of reading before the end of the month. For non-fiction books, I am very close to finish Gretchen Rubin's The Happiness Project which I am absolutely loving. Gretchen is so awesome, and the book is so inspiring and insightful. I'm a huge fan of habit formation, so I'm really looking forward to checking out her new book which just came out Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives.

2. What are you watching?
I watched both seasons of The Fall for an upcoming episode of Before the Dawn, and wow, that show is very tense and disturbing. Even though it's been renewed for Season 3 I don't know if I would keep watching. I think the acting and writing are excellent, but it's so disturbing I'm not sure I would want to spend more time there. On a way lighter note, I totally enjoyed the first episode of The Royals, a drama centred on a fictional (and scandalous) version of the British Monarchy. Very entertaining, and first episode was free on iTunes. Woot! The last film I watched was Housebound, an excellent New Zealand haunted house-ish horror film that blew me away.

3. What are you listening to?
The album I keep on coming back to on my playlist is Blake Shelton's Bringing Back the Sunshine. I bought it a while ago, but at some point recently I realized I knew all the songs really well. Do you even have that with an album? You listen to it, and listen to it and then BAM you know all the words to all the songs. Wild. I also picked up Sam Smith's In The Lonely Hour when it was on sale recently, and know a lot of the songs from that too! Weird. But good weird. I've also been listening to a lot of music via The Voice, which started up again and is now in it's 8th season. There are so many amazing artists this year. I have made a playlist of my favourite performances and am in denial about how quickly artist I love will be eliminated. The show moves fast from here on it.

4. What are you playing?
I'm not playing a lot of games these days, mostly just Farm Heroes Saga on my phone. I think I hit level 250. Too many roadblocks! And I hate the bomb-type-fruit that you have to clear or it poofs the veggies you've collected. Not cool!

5. What are you loving?
The weather! Thank goodness it's spring and the snow melted. I hope there is no more ice and snow this year. Hand in hand with that, I'm loving going out for coffee and journalling.

6. What are you creating?
I've been participating the course Year of the Spark and really loving it, and most recently created a creature that has wings (or big ears) and shuffly snowshoes. He's pretty great. I also have been doing little sketches on my morning pages. And now I'm starting to flirt with the idea of doing some self portraits. We'll see about that.

7. What's are you thinking about?
Habit formation.

9. What's the theme of today, today (or this month, etc)?
The theme is that it's sunny and spring-y out there! YAY!

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Spring TV 2015 ~ Where to Watch TV Shows Online In Canada

We are still up to our knees (or eyeballs) in snow out there, but that doesn't mean it isn't time for the Spring 2015 Where to Watch TV Online in Canada Listing. It's been quite a year so far, but we have so many more new and returning shows coming at you this March and April and I'm going to be happy to share where you can watch them online.

Even if it feels like the mid-season of normal seasons, that doesn't mean we won't have lots of new additions to the schedules. I'm looking forward to a fair number of returning reality shows including Big Brother Canada Season 3 (which switches from airing on Slice to Global), Cold Water Cowboys Season 2 and Hell's Kitchen Season 14 (even this many seasons in, I bet there will still will be scallops that are RAW!). We'll also get to see new series, and I'm particularly curious about the thriller Secrets and Lies (based on the Australian series of the same name), E!'s faux-British royalty show The Royals and conspiracy drama DIG starring Jason Isaacs.

This listing is for shows that began as of March 2015 or have continued on from Fall 2014/Winter 2015. If there is an earlier show you are looking for that's already finished, feel free to check the Winter 2015 or Fall 2014 TV Listing. Online viewing has been pretty consistent recently of having only the most recent episode available online for 1 week after broadcast, with exceptions for Canadian series (or co-pros) which often have the full season (or series) available like. We've started to see more transparency here, and I've noticed that both CTV and Global now indicate when new episodes will be available online and how long it will be available for. This is a huge help for us who watch shows online, thank you CTV and Global!

This list will be updated as new shows become available at their legitimate Canadian Broadcasters websites including CBC, CTV and CTV2, Global, CityTV, Space, Showcase, Slice, HGTV Canada, Food Network, Lifetime Canada, Discovery and History.

Can't find what you are looking for? Try the individual Canadian TV broadcasters websites video pages:

Sadly, there are always a handful of shows that are not available to watch online, such as Outlander which is one of my new faves, and if history repeats itself Supernatural, The Originals and The Walking Dead all fall into this category. For these shows, you often have the option to buy via iTunes or at the Google Play Store. The big pay off there is: no commercials!

For online-only viewers, shows often are available for 1 week starting the day after they air, unless you have a cable subscription and can log into the TV station website. The exception to the rule is Canadian shows on specialty channels, which often have the entire season/series available online.
* A few online viewing options do not have a specific page for watching a singular show, but rather a video player for watching any of their offerings. In those cases I've put the link to the broadcasters website, as opposed to the show. Then either select the show if it's displayed prominently, or click their video library, select your show, the season and then the episode.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Time Capsule: February 2015

Time to take a time capsule look at February. I think I'm noticing the winter months will be heaving on the watching/reading and less heavy in some of the other categories. I think the snow has something to do with it. Feel free to play along and create your own time capsule post!

1. What are you reading?
I'm in the middle of several books including In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex by Nathaniel Philbrick for the 2015 Book to Film Challenge, Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe for the Those Books Exploration, and Le Morte D'Arthur which will probably take me all year (or longer) to read. I'm also having a blast over at Good Reads with the new Harlequin group that was created, and readers and authors alike are sharing stories of enjoying romance.

2. What are you watching?
In terms of TV, I'm still feeling overwhelmed by how much there is to watch and yet I don't feel like I'm watching much at all. I am thrilled that both Bitten and Face Off have started new seasons, and am also quite enjoying Eye Candy. I'm also catching up on Season 2 of Beauty and the Beast, which I am really enjoying and even more so now that I know it has been renewed for a fourth season, before the third even airs. Films I've enjoyed recently including The Maze Runner and Kiss of the Damned (hear Marina & I discuss it over at Before the Dawn). I've also been exploring romantic thrillers as a genre, and I didn't even think of that *as* a genre until recently and now I realized I was previously just thinking of them as not-good horror films, rather than a genre all their own.

3. What are you listening to?
I have been loving Jessie J's album Sweet Talker, in particular the songs Masterpiece and Bang Bang.

4. What are you playing?
I haven't been playing as much these days, although I still continue to play Farm Heroes Saga (level 200-ish) and Just Dance. I gotta get back to Destiny!

5. What are you loving?
I'm a little stumped by this one today! Oh.. maybe nail polish. Been slightly obsessed with doing my nails recently.

6. What are you creating?
I feel like I'm in the middle of lots of things, and one that I'm on the home stretch for is a v-neck sweater. I have the front and back done, so it's just the sleeves to go and then assembly & a neckband (first time for that). I was going to start a new sweater, but then considering I'm in the middle of 2 I thought it might be better to finish one especially if I want to wear it before this winter is done!

7. What's are you thinking about?
So many things! I'm thinking about drawing. I'm thinking about habit formation, and a way to share the habits I've been working on so far this year. I've also been thinking about apartments because it is time to find one!

8. What are you looking forward to?
Spring! Or at least no snow. We had a long-delayed snowy part to winter this year, and I'm not loving it. I love the beauty of it and the calm of it, but not the hard-to-get-around part of it!

9. What's the theme of today, today (or this month, etc)?
The theme is today is facing things head on. With a cup of tea, of course.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

2015 Book to Film Challenge

Do you like to read the book before the film comes out? I know I do! Year after year we a huge number of adaptations hitting the big screen and there are so many to enjoy it's hard to keep track of them all. This year, I've picked 12 titles with adaptations in the works, and will be reading one a month throughout the year and will share my thoughts on it over at my YouTube channel. See me talk about these 12 selections here. I've picked titles from a variety of genres and time periods and have included both fiction and non-fiction.

I enjoy diving into books without knowing too mcuh about them, but I have included just a smidge of information about the titles that may not be as widely known. For each title I've noted the anticipated release date for the film adaptation. The majority of the titles are scheduled for this year or next year, with a few yet to be determined. Release dates are always subject to change, but my reading schedule is firmly set.

Feel free to play along, or set your own Book to Film Challenge for the year!

2015 Book to Film Challenge

January 2015: Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
Book is available via Public Domain *
Anticipated film release date: 2015, specific date TBC

February 2015: In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex by Nathaniel Philbrick
Non-fiction book on the historical events that inspired the book Moby Dick
Anticipated film release date: December 11, 2015 (REVISED)

March 2015: Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
Book is available via Public Domain *
Anticipated film release date: May 1, 2015

April 2015: The Martian by Andy Weir
Science Fiction/Survivalist
Anticipated film release date: November 25, 2015

May 2015: Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín
Irish drama set in the 1950's
Anticipated film release date: 2015, specific date TBC

June 2015: The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling
Book is available via Public Domain *
Anticipated film release date: April 15, 2016 (REVISED)

July 2015: The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith
Lesbian cult classic/pulp novel
Anticipated film release date: 2015, specific date TBC

August 2015: Story of Your Life by Ted Chiang
Science fiction novella available within the anthology "Stories of Your Life and Others"
Anticipated film release date: 2016

September 2015: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Film name is Victor Frankenstein
Book is available via Public Domain *
Anticipated film release date: October 2, 2015

October 2015: Your Voice in My Head by Emma Forrest
Non-fiction memoir
Anticipated film release date: Currently in development

November 2015: The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
Young adult fantasy novel about annual water horse races
Film is currently in development, release date TBC

December 2015: The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Anderson
Story is available via Public Domain * in the book "Fairy Tales of Hans Christian Anderson"
Film is currently in pre-production, release date TBC

* Toronto Public Library Public Domain Database (no account/login required)

Love Books? Feel free to friend me on GoodReads.

Happy Reading!

Thursday, January 08, 2015

2014: My Year in Books

2014 Reading Wrap Up and Reflection

Books Read: 65
63 Fiction, 2 Non-Fiction

I went into 2014 with no reading goals. After several rough reading years, this felt like the right thing to do. In fact, I was so dedicated to it I actually created what I called "The Un-Plan", which was a plan...not to plan anything. As odd as it sounds, it really worked and it was exactly what I needed. I needed to follow my reading heart, wherever it was going to take me.

With that in mind, let's looks at some of the highlights of the year.

Shannon Reads "Those Books" Exploration

The biggest bookish thing for me in 2014 was embarking on the Shannon Reads "Those Books" Exploration. I compiled a list of 400+ titles from 5 different book lists to cover what I call "Those Books". Books that everyone seems to have read (or says they do), from classic books to zeitgeist books, books that are influential, books that are highly referenced, and books whose themes pop up in pop culture all the time. I started the exploration in May, and read seven of "Those Books" throughout the year. I have absolutely loved this exploration, it has sparked a deeper interest in books and has me engaged in reading on a whole new level.

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway was the first book I read for the "Those Books" Exploration, and it will always hold a special place in my heart for starting me on this journey. Another impactful read was Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald which took me ages to finish, but through it I was able to discover 99 New-to-Me Words as well as be able to Get Through a Reading Block. My favourites reads were A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews (also my favourite of the year as a whole), The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame and Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town by Stephen Leacock. The only title I didn't enjoy was Fifty Shades of Grey by EL James, although I am glad I finally did read it.

Favourite Books

There were many books that I loved in 2014, for all different reasons. A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Teows is hands-down my favourite of the year, it's a Canadian novel and it has that Canadian way of sneaking into your heart when you aren't looking. I hesitate to do a run of the mill description because that doesn't feel like it does the book justice, so instead I will say it's insightful, curious, painful and sensitive. I loved it. When I finished reading it, I just held the book and stared into space. I didn't want to jump into another book, but rather sit and stay with this one.

Another of my faves is another Canadian pick: Wondrous Strange by Lesley Livingston. It is set in New York and follows a young actress who is performing in A Midsummer's Night's Dream, and has a hidden world where where fairies are real. Theatre, fairies, ... I didn't need to know anymore than that to be hooked. It's a YA title, and I flew through it, and I look forward to reading the rest of the series.

For the first time I decided to read a spooky book in October, and for this I chose The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. Unfortunately I didn't finish reading it in October (it was too scary to read at night!), but I did end up loving it. It was thematically deeper than I expected and was expertly written. I took down a lot of quotes while reading it it, and "Insist on your cup of stars." is one that sticks with me. I imagine this will be delightful book to re-read. Quite a surpirze from a book that was made into what I consider the scariest films of all time.

Book to Film and TV Adaptations

It's no secret that I'm a fan of reading adaptations. I've known and shared this for years. I also know that I love reading book to film adaptations before the film happen, and preferably before trailer or casting information is out so I can visualize the characters without being influenced. But this year I also realized that for book to TV adaptations, I would rather watch the show first and then read the book. This was a huge revelation, and the reasoning came down to the fact that I like to think about all the possibilities of what could happen in the show and if I have read the book that mystery is gone (unless they make changes). Knowing this is a huge relief too, because it takes the pressure off trying to finish any books before series come out AND it lets me enjoy reading the book afterwards, which I did several times this year.

Book to Film titles I enjoyed reading this year including Labor Day by Joyce Maynard and The Maze Runner by James Dasher , which I have been trying to read this one for years. On the Book to TV side of things, I quite enjoyed reading The Cold Dish by Craig Johnson (A Walt Longmire Mystery #1), which is connected to the TV series Longmire which I only just found and fell in love with this year. I also appreciated reading Hemlock Grove: or, The Wise Wolf by Brian McGreevy, which the Netflix series Hemlock Grove was based on. It's a bit of a confusing read, even though I had watched the first season which this follows, but I did find some fascinating character insights which is what I like in this kind of read.

Favourite Author Alert

I remember watching a YouTube Book Tag at some point this year that was about favourite authors. I felt completely stumped with not being able to think of any authors that I add as a favourite, beyond the same list I would have come up with 20 years ago. I really wasn't thinking about books in terms of authors at all (sorry, writers!). And then I read Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman. And then The Graveyard book by Neil Gaiman. And I loved them both dearly and I just want to give him a hug. I think it's safe to say Neil Gaiman is likely now one of my favourite authors. The worlds he creates are so fantastic, and the characters so wondrous. I fell in love with those books, hard.

Harlequin Faves

Given that 17 of the 65 books I read in 2014 were Harlequins, I think it's only fair to share the ones I loved this year. I've been very lightly continuing my Harlequin exploration of trying out at least one book from each of their lines. This year I managed to dive into both Harlequin KISS and Superromance. I LOVE the KISS title I read, The Dance Off by Ally Blake, it was very flirty and fun and had a proactive female protagonist! What a thought. And, it has a dance studio setting which seriously, why hasn't anyone else thought of that for romance novels? The Superromance I read was That Wild Cowboy by Lenora Worth, and I really enjoyed it. The difference with the Superromance line is that that they are longer stories. That actually wasn't the draw, it was the female TV producer wrangling in a cowboy to be on a reality TV series that was the pull. Although I did enjoy this one, it felt clear that it was the story I enjoyed not the fact it was a longer book.

My absolute favourite Harlequin of the year was a Harlequin Historical called To Tempt a Viking by Michelle Willingham and it was in second of the Forbidden Vikings miniseries. I was literally waiting for this one to be released so I could read it. The characters were introduced in the previous book in the miniseries, and I knew I wanted to find out where their story would go. I now always keep my eye out for what Michelle Willingham is writing, and hope there will be more viking ones in the future!

Habit Changes and A-ha's

One of the big changes I made this year was to reading a lot less YA (Young Adult) novels. I still have a few series I'm enjoying, and I'll admit I've even started a new series or two, but generally I was feeling like I wasn't enjoying YA as much. Although they are often enjoyable light reads, all too often I could easily predict what would happen ages before it did. I'm not pulling the plug entirely, but I find I enjoy it more if I sprinkle it throughout the year as opposed to have it be the bread and butter of my reading.

Other big changes include actively decided not to finish reading a book for the first time, ever. That was huge for me. Plus, I've realized that reading any super-hyped books, trendy, or brand spanking new releases that everyone seems to be talking about, doesn't serve me well. The few times I've tried to jump on this train, I haven't enjoyed the books. As much as I love being in the know, the fact that this has fell flat for me time and again lets me know it is time to let it go.

Another big realization was that I don't read a lot of science fiction, which I consider to be one of my favourite genres. I think I do, and I often love it when I read it, but I don't read a lot of it. In all of 2014 the only science fiction title I read was Childhood's End by Arthur C. Clarke. I had some issues with it (mostly gender stuff, and given when it was written it's not surprizing), but otherwise it was a fascinating read and had a true science fiction heart to it. I really want to add scifi back to the mix of what I'm regularly reading.


This year I've also being sharing my reading and thoughts on books over at YouTube. As much as I love the idea about writing about books, I find I'm much more of a talker about them than a writer about them. Throughout 2014 I shared 50 book and reading related vlogs. Youtube, or "BookTube" as bookish folks call it, has a thriving community of people that love books and it's wonderful to connect with like minded folks from around the world about the awesomeness of books. I started the Shannon Reads "Those Books" Exploration on YouTube and have reviewed all of the books I've read for the exploration over at my YouTube channel, which is the most consistent thing I've been able to do all year! Speaking of, if you'd rather hear me chat though what my year was like, I did just that here:

Overall I'm very happy with how 2014 went in terms of reading. There were so many amazing books that I enjoyed, I became more directed in my reading choices and have read more than I have in many years prior. This feels absolutely wonderful.

If you want to keep up to date with what I'm reading and how I feel about the books I read, please swing by my YouTube channel or friend me on GoodReads.

Happy Reading!